Friday, August 31, 2012

Thirty years of running

Me finishing my first marathon 28 years ago. Over the next few years, I became faster but now I can't even run a mile at the pace I ran the marathon.

I started running sometime right before the Labor Day Weekend in 1982. I had just given up nursing Josh. I kept trying to extend my unpaid leave hoping that maybe, just maybe Josh would start sleeping through the night (he finally did several years later) but the workplace wasn't especially friendly to mothers in those days. I tried to pump ( with an old fashioned hicky-inducing hand pump) for a few weeks after I returned but this was getting old real fast.

It doesn't take much for me to convert from normal weight to obesity. Pregnancy especially I found was obesity inducing. I had gained 80 pounds with Shanna (but lost it all before she was 1) even though I had severe nausea for the first few months. Steve would not believe my whines about how bad I felt while noshing non-stop on bland food. I was more careful with Josh gaining a mere 60 but even though I was keeping him in the 99+%tile with breast milk alone, I was not losing. I swam and biked, both time consuming and especially hard to find time for with 2 little ones. I had run before gradually increasing to 3 miles but I hated every minute of it. Running seemed to be such hard work. There was a time I could swim further than I could run (2.5 swimming record). But I was tired of being fat.

My workplace was perched on a hill. Until this fatness went away, I vowed to run at lunch instead of eating. Then hopefully, the swimming would maintain my normal weight. The first time out, I ran a mile (steep downhill..I had good cardiovascular health due to the swimming) and I walked back. My labmates scoffed, anyone can run down hill, try running up it. By the end of 2 weeks, I could. After 6 weeks, I entered my first race, a 10K (Ann Arbor-Dexter, the reverse of Dexter-Ann Arbor). The running team, which was encouraging me, was running their race their weekend in the Irish Hills. I didn't think I was ready for hills yet. My race would be confined to the river valley though slightly uphill. My record for running was 4 miles without stopping. I thought I could run 5 miles and then walk the rest. I did the whole 6.2 miles without stopping though it took more than an hour. A year later, I could do it in 46 minutes (which would yield me a trophy). At some point, running started becoming easy. I became faster and faster as the weight dropped. In small races, I would place fairly high in my age group.

There has been only a few times that I haven't run. When I was 6 months pregnant with Naomi, during one run contractions started. This had happened before but up to that point, the contractions disappeared when I stopped running. The last time, it took a long time for them to subside and I was afraid. I switched to swimming and resuming running when she was a week old (very hard). When she was30 months old, my undiagnosed Graves' Disease (which I probably had on and off for 2 years)had progressed to this condition called thyroid storm. I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I showed up at the ER. It took a few weeks for the thyroid levels to subside to the point it was safe to run. Five years ago, I was bragging how lucky I was that I had been running for so long without a serious injury. That would learn me. Shortly after, I tripped on a tree root while running and broke my arm. It could not be set. It took 3 months to heal (and another 6 months to recover from frozen shoulder). During that time, all I could do was walk. Then cancer. I ran in the days following my surgeries though I could hear liquid sloshing in the surgical cavity. Also, it is really hard to keep the breasts motionless even with the tight bandages they supply. I tried to run during chemo. It was very, very difficult. My red blood cells went way down so I was easily exhausted. At some point, the best I could do was run a minute without stopping. I had 16 long weeks of chemo in the dead of winter. With each cycle, I would lose more and more energy. I didn't even try to run during the last cycle though I would walk. I started running while I was doing radiation.

All in all, I've run almost 38,000 miles ( I keep records as I am so weird). This amounts to more than 1000 pounds of fat. Yet I am not 1000 pounds underweight. I am fat! How unfair is that! A zillion excuses. The combo of cancer, hypothyroidism, menopause, orthopedic injuries has made the last 8 years a gradual slide into corpulence. I have lost the chemo steroid induced weight. I am firm but still there is way too much of me. This summer I have added biking..almost 900 miles since May. I haven't weighed myself in over a year. Maybe I have lost weight but my clothes aren't particularly baggy. At some point, I will figure out what I have to do. I will keep running even though I am so slow that some characterize it as 'power walking'.

Labor Day marks the end of summer. Sigh. The pool will close Monday. Already the UM students are back. Today it will be 94. Fortunately it was cool this morning for my run and a short bike ride after.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What not to say to someone with cancer

From the Blogsphere:

Cancer Has Its Privileges: Stories of Hope and Laughter"

by Christine Clifford, founder of the The Cancer Club


When I was diagnosed with Cancer:
My first friend came and expressed his shock by saying,
"I can't believe that you have cancer.
I always thought you were so active and healthy."
He left and I felt alienated and somehow very "different."

My second friend came and brought me information about different treatments being used for cancer. He said,
"What ever you do, don't take chemotherapy.
It's a poison!"
He left and I felt scared and confused.

My third friend came and tried to answer my "whys?"
with the statment "Perhaps God is disciplining you for some sin in your life?"
He left and I felt guilty.

My fourth friend came and told me,
"If your faith is just great enough God will heal you."
He left and I felt my faith must be inadequate.

My fifth friend came and told me to remember that
"All things work together for good."
He left and I felt angry.

My sixth friend never came at all.
I felt sad and alone.

My seventh friend came and held my hand and said,
"I care, I'm here, I want to help you through this."
He left and I felt loved!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Peppers and edelweiss

From the Farmer's Market this morning. The red is allegedly the sweetest

Geraniums in my front yard. I didn't buy these. I put clippings from a potted one (6 years old) into the ground and now they are full plants.

My edelweiss is doing especially well this year with different crops of blossoms. Next to it are my California poppies that aren't doing as well.

Pink cleome. Most of mine are white, some purple and just this one pink one.
Summer is disappearing fast. I do love the fall but it means my least favorite season is close behind. Evenings are cool so we watch the antics of the female hummingbirds trying to keep the feeder for just her use. Haven't seen the males in a while. Spent part of an afternoon with a friend on her patio with her pretty flowers and even a bigger flock of hummingbirds. Plus she has finch feeders with at least 3 yellow finches being regulars.

Took Ms. Maya to story time at the local library. What she wants to do most is wander around taking stuff out of others' diaper bags.

I was telling Siri last night what time to wake me up this morning. She typed back that I was not to wake her up too at that time. Even my phone has an attitude.

I did wake up early to take my friend to the market and to help her get some of her things on that surgery has made impossible. Although the drought has not been kind to farmers, especially the cherry and apple ones, peppers, eggplant, melons, tomatoes are doing especially fine.

A windless day, perfect for biking. I have been running too but on some mornings, my plantar fasciitis has made walking miserable. I have been doing special stretches that seem to be helping.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Science Education

From the blog Campanastan

One of the scarier aspects of Akin is that although he appears to be an uneducated moron, 
he actually has a degree in engineering. True, engineers do not have to take many biology 
classes so he might be forgiven for not knowing that women don't possess a kill switch to
 turn off fertilization at inopportune times. But he would need to have some grasp of 
scientific reasoning.

I thought my co-workers would have a certain level of scientific reasoning too given that
 they all possessed advanced degrees in science and our employer was known for only
 employing 'the best'. But all this education was thrown out the window during some of 
our lab arguments, the biggest one being whether gayness was an inherent or acquired 
trait. Does one actually chose gayness? To me, this defied all logic. One of my co-workers 
strongly objected to permitting a gay student speak at a high school 'diversity' day.

Even though the student's message was basically that he was a feeling, good person,
please don't beat me up, my co-worker deeply feared this was a 'recruitment' talk. 
When I told him that was utterly ridiculous, he told me that I didn't know what I was
 talking about and hinted that a close family member had been recruited and he certainly 
didn't want this happening to his son. I knew that I was getting no where by telling him 
that the family member was born that way (oh no! it's in his genes!). My other co-worker, 
whose religion strongly condemned gayness while stressing love the sinner, not the sin, 
agreed that gayness was probably inherent but people have a choice whether to act on it.
 Yeah they have a choice..

It is finally raining here. I can see that the storm sewers are overflowing. But it is finally
 cooler outside.

I did my usual long bike ride yesterday. I notice my foot doesn't hurt so much when I don't
 run but I really don't want to give it up. I had a nice lunch with Josh. Up for discussion:
 what does he really want in a woman? I tried to influence him as much as possible but 
in the end, it is up to him.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A day in Hell

The baby girls 3 weeks apart

View of the lake

Our day  in Hell (update: this is a town in MI)was quite nice and a homecoming of sorts for me with different parts of my past coming together.

The Brownies: These three girls were the cutest 6 year olds. Now they are 33 year old women (or close to might have a fall birthday with eight (8!!!) babies between them.
The Moms

The three Brownies are the bride and the two women right of her. This picture was from 2006 taken in  Palos Verdes. Shanna and the bride were roommates in LA.
So we had lots of kids running around with the two baby girls born this March and the rest boys ranging from 2 to 6. The six boys were equipped with life jackets in case they fell in. Oliver got a chance to apply what he learned in his swim class.The littlest boys kept to blow up swimming pools on the side of the lake.

The house in Hell: A beautiful 4300 sq foot home complete with numerous decks and balconies and a dock perched right on the lake with high end everything. House envy indeed. It belongs to the father (and his wife )of one of the women who was in from the western part of the state visiting. Shanna's other friend is in Ann Arbor this summer with her son visiting her mother. She normally lives in Paris. I knew the mom, who was invited also, from our girl scout days.

The hosts: I worked with both in different capacities. The wife went on that 400 mile bike tour with me many years ago(along with her then husband). We will resume our biking relationship especially as she is near a major trail. It was so good to catch up with her. It was as if we didn't have that big gap of time in between. Her husband is a cancer researcher working for a major Japanese company hot on developing new drugs. Learned about some promising ones in the pipeline. He is no longer in the lab but travels the world looking for promising anticancer drugs to develop and acquire.

A beautiful day spent drinking wine, eating BBQ and sitting in comfy chairs on the terrace holding Ms. Tess watching the boys play in the water while we grandparents caught up. the moms seemed to be enjoying themselves too.

Previous to yesterday, I was quite tired both physically and emotionally. I was throwing myself a pity party the other night..what a boring life I lead? does anyone even care to ask what I am doing? etc...but yesterday helped quite a bit. And later,  I visited a friend and had a nice evening catching up. Summer though is slipping away.

Ramy's grandfather died (at 105!) this week. Lots of visitations, viewings and a very long funeral over the past two days that the boys would not be able to handle so they have been here. Josh came over this morning to update us on his social life..some drama there. I just wish things were settled for him.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Siri doesn't understand me..

Or my smartphone is too smart for me.

I don't know what I am doing with this silly phone. Today I wanted to send a photo to my e-mail. Should be easy? Right.  I tried using voice commands..
  Send to
Sending to
Sending to Spottedpug...

Siri suck.

I guess Naomi will give me lessons.

I am going to Hell...


 as in  Hell, Michigan
Home of the Dam Site Inn. The town where they used to have runs named When Hell Freezes Over and The Run through Hell and The Helluva Ride bike ride. I've done them all including the 60 mile relay Dances with Dirt (should be retitled Slithering through Poison Ivy).

One of Shanna's friends father has a place up there that we have been invited to go there tomorrow. I used to work with the parents. The friend was one of my Girl Scouts, now a mother of 4. Should be fun.

Yesterday I did my Farmer's Market run to buy fresh veggies and one more plant. A gentian. In Italy, they made the most vile apertivo ever with these flowers, Gentsia? According to the label (assuming I translated it right) gentians are protected wildflowers there but the manufacturer has its own patch so it is legal. The Italians seem to love bitter apertivi. I managed to drink the centerbe (100 herbs) without choking but the gentian one was beyond bitter.

Wednesdays are also my day to help my recovering friend get dressed. She has finally been cleared to drive so we practiced together yesterday. She will no longer be housebound but can not bend beyond a 90 degree angle making somethings impossible. Then my bike ride. No wind, which is the best situation (unless you can have a tailwind the entire time such as the hilly day of my ride to Gaylord).

Then cheap margaritas with the Moms. Yum.

Today I took Maya to an indoor playground. She can now climb up to use the big kid slides. She had a good time running around while her mom caught up on her sleep. No she didn't want to go with me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dealing with pests

This summer, my hummingbird feeder has been plagued with ants and wasps. Solutions: a water moat that the ants have to cross to get to the feeder and shade, which discourages wasps.

For 2 months, we have had a collection agency call every other day. For our debts? No someone else's. You could swear up and down that you aren't the person they want but still they call. Solution? Threaten legal action.

I had a hard time getting going today. I put off running and the heat was rising. Finally I did it. Steve says: story time in a half hour. Rush through my shower, get Maya and take her there where Shanna and her three were. Naomi too busy to go but I think it is so important for Maya to listen to stories and be around others. Ended up having Maya for the day (finally! finally! went to sleep after throwing a series of temper tantrums that consist of her finding anything throwable and throwing them. We spent some time in the bad girl corner).

Had a triple workout yesterday. Could that be why I am tired? Ran 7 miles. Had yoga which centered on standing postures (double ugh as my heel hurts and I have no balance) and then Maya was with us. I rode around and around the neighborhood to amuse her in the Prowler.

All four kids were here this afternoon. Amusing but I was tired.

Monday, August 20, 2012

One year of marriage

When they were young

When they were married.

Happy Anniversary!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hummingbird moth redux

I've only seen a hummingbird moth once before today this summer. In the middle picture above, you can see its size compared to an impatiens flower. While it was oblivious to my presence (unlike the hummingbirds who carefully watch me), it does not spend much time on each flower so it was hard to focus. From the side, they look exactly like hummingbirds.

Keeping my feeder ant-free has been a problem. They are able to go through my vaseline barriers. I keep moving the feeder which slows them down but I am sure they will find the magic path to it in two days or so. I should buy one of those feeders with a moat to cross. That would stop the ants. Putting the feeder in the shade has cut down on the wasps quite a bit. The hummingbirds don't like to share with them.

A beautiful windless day, perfect for biking. I now have more than 800 miles under my belt. We have Miss Tess while her family goes to a wedding. Shanna pumped several bottles in anticipation of today. I thought I was going to meet Josh's new friend today but she backed out at the last minute: bad hair day or something. Both Josh and I were annoyed. Below is Miss Tess and her grandpa.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Daniel is three

Daniel 3 years ago
The world's biggest preemie has grown up quite a bit. His birthday was at Chuckie Cheese's today though C. Cheese himself seemed to terrify Daniel. But he had bright blue cupcakes, his choice, and lots of presents. What more can a little guy ask for?

This is our weekend of family celebrations: first Daniel's birthday, then Josh's anniversary (not sure that will be celebrated) then Naomi's 1st anniversary. How time flies!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Summer scenes

Morning glories amongst the petunias. Yeah I killed quite a bit of these. The Japanese beetles eat them before they move on to the other flowers so I kept a few.

Wall of impatiens and black-eyed Susans
Sunflowers from a friend

The only zinnia that bloomed. Must start earlier next year

Little purple bells. Not sure what the plant is called
Hummingbird wars: I love to sit on the patio and watch their antics. So much energy is devoted to making sure the other doesn't get to drink in peace. I have at least 3 of them. The alpha bird is the smallest and has a very dark head.

The pool: Playing with Maya in the water and listening to her chortle with glee

Prowler rides: That's the trade name of the bicycle trailer I bought. Sort of a sinister name. Reminds me way back when  my then friend asked her mom what 'horny' meant. The mom thought for a bit and finally said it means one is on the prowl.
I gave each grand child (not Tess) a couple of rides this week. Today each boy got his chance to explore a playground with me.

Bicycle rides: We had some cool, calm days this week. I finally timed myself..I am getting faster. Hauling those kids around must help build muscles.

Farmer's Market: My friend and I went there very early Wednesday. We were introduced to new varieties this week: Moon and stars melon and bitter melon among others. Bellaire peaches were still available despite being told two weeks in a row that these were the very last. Got some skinny eggplant to make a ratatouille with and some fresh corn.

Runs: Cool weather is perfect for running. Yeah my heel still hurts but the endorphins block it out during the run.

Sitting on the Patio with Miss Tess: She looks all around at the flowers and the dappled light and falls asleep against me. She is almost 5 months old now. I've been blessed that I can see her grow.

Dinner with my son: I am so lucky to have him (and my daughters too). We get along so well. When there is just the two of us, we have very good heart to heart talks. His life is unsettled right now. Hoping for some resolution soon.

Happy Hour outside: Some tasty G&Ts with a good friend surrounded by flowers. Very nice!

Reptile Zoo outing: Already discussed.

That's been my week. Not exciting but satisfying. Life is good. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Are you disgusted by male back and chest hair? You maybe under 35. I couldn't imagine any man my age back in our twenties shaving their backs and chest. Lots of the men I knew didn't even shave their faces and rarely cut their hair. The boyfriend I had previous to Steve hadn't cut his hair since he had hit puberty. It was thick and down to his waist. (I see on Facebook that it is now much shorter.)

How many hairy bodies were in the Olympics? OK I could see it for swimming. Those little arm hairs presumably produce little bits of drag. I have a cheap suggestion to improve ones speed: grow some fingernails. The larger the hand, the more water that could be displaced. There are ideal spacings for the fingers. If you spread them just a little, your hand turns into a larger paddle. Part of Naomi's early success as a swimmer was due to her much larger than average hands and feet. Coupled with her broad shoulders (good pecs), she was a superior breast stroker. But in races decided by a thousandth of a second, those fingernails may help you touch the wall first.

I was first alerted to this dread of male chest hair back when Josh was planning to go on a senior trip to The Bahamas. One night my kitchen became a waxing hub. My creusett saucepan was sacrificed to the cause. Although Josh's extra hairs were late to develop, he had some fairly hairy friends (many of his peers were held back so they actually older than he was). They took turns pouring hot yellowish-brown wax on each other and then pulling back strips of it. Yeck. If I had to guess, I would have thought that chest hair was a sign that they were growing up, something to be proud of, but no, it was a disgusting sign of age.

Josh was destined to become hairy. He certainly has a hairy father. My father was covered with a thick mat of red hair. An orangutan came to mind. Now that he is out in the dating world, extra care has to be taken to his appearance. Some manscaping must be performed. My duties are ever expanding.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Like father like daughter

Maya is trying to do a push-up here like her father.

Doesn't quite have the angle right.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Reptile Zoo

Oliver and Daniel touching a lizard

Technically not a reptile but a huge toad..a cane toad. I think some cultures get high licking them. 

One hundred pound tortoise

Fancy colored iguana
They had an article recently about this reptile zoo in Ann Arbor in our monthly paper. Never heard of it before but I knew the owners, former co-workers. The wife was a raquetball partner of mine years ago. Never knew that she had a fondness for reptiles. I asked if Shanna wanted to go knowing her hatred and fear of reptiles particularly snakes. On a Brownie nature hike when she was six, we came upon a nest of baby garter snakes. All the girls wanted to have them coil around their fingers, all of them except one. Once she stumbled about an adult garter snake in our yard. I thought someone was amputating her leg for the screams she made. But she decided that the boys would enjoy the animals even if she didn't. It was a good size place for young kids. They had a few tropical birds, scorpions, geckos, fancy spiders, tropical tree frogs too thrown in with the reptiles. The boys seemed amused.

I had the strangest dream last night. I was at Shanna's house in downtown Ann Arbor (she has no house anywhere at the moment as they were outbid on the cute porched one in my previous blog). I needed to go have some cancer check-up which I thought was just a few doors down from Shanna's. How convenient! Five minutes before the appointment, I am still undressed but no matter, I'll just wear her robe down the street. Too bad the robe would only fit a toddler and most of me is hanging out. She comes with me. The place is not where I think it is. We run back and forth up and down the street. Where is this clinic? If we are late, I don't get a scan and they will miss my cancer. They must have moved the clinic. I didn't have a phone (nude) but borrowed Shanna's which had poor reception. I asked information for the number and all I heard was mumbling. I asked the operator to repeat the number but she said I only get to hear the number once. I started screaming to noone in particular that I was dying of cancer and I needed to get to that clinic but where is it?

Rushing, always rushing.

I had a dental appointment this morning. I would have had time for a run if only I didn't find a million excuses to keep putting it off. Went for a short run. Even though it is not that warm now (yay!) I still get hot and need to cool down for sometime before taking a shower otherwise I will continue to sweat. No time to cool down, no time to eat! Still was sweating as I drove to the dentist. Fortunately, no cavities. The hygienist wondered why my gums bled so much. Could it be because you have a sharp object piercing them? She asked if I took aspirin. Yep, my attempt to stave off cancer (in an uncontrolled study, taking aspirin, no amount specified, cut recurrence in half..seems worth it to me bleeding gums and all).

After our zoo trip, all returned to my house for lunch and bike rides. I gave Oliver a longer one going to our nature pond to look at egrets ( I was hoping to show him a snapping turtle, something the reptile zoo strangely did not have). By the pond is a large weeping willow that forms a complete ground length canopy of branches. Some kids were in it saying it is the perfect climbing tree. Oliver wanted to go up it. No, I don't want to have to get you down.

More rain last night. Some of the grass is starting to get green and grow. Steve actually should mow the lawn. Hasn't since May.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Mastalgia isn't remembering fondly how your boobs used to be (Oh I remember when I had 2 of them, not just one and a half!!) but pain in the boobs. Mine comes and goes due to probable radiation damage to the nerve. I feel pain that isn't really there.

Anyway, it is part of a Monday morning Funny compliments from Campanastan:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Maya's bee dress

Went shopping the other day. Among my purchases was this cute dress for Ms. Maya.


This word has been bandied about during the Olympics quite a bit. The Chinese men's diving team is a juggernaut. ( Actually no as it turns out. Who would have thought the American would come out on top?) I do agree that the American men's basketball team might qualify as a juggernaut. So it is clear from that context that a juggernaut is an awesome force that is difficult to overcome but looking at the word, it is not obvious where it came from. Had to look this up.

Turns out that the word is derived from Sanskrit describing a festival of one of the Hindu gods that was mounted on a very heavy platform that was kept in motion. Worshipers would flock the platform and get crushed by its movement. It is not clear if they meant to die or died just from being crushed by the crowds. Somehow the word was picked up to describe a malevolent force who required sacrifice. Mr. Hyde (evil side of Dr. Jekyl) was described as a juggernaut.

Now the malevolent component has been morphed out along with the mandatory sacrifice. It just seems to mean a difficult to overcome force, a huge one.

After 3 days of rain that filled a 4 inch deep vase to the top, we have sunshine. A beautiful day for a bike ride, which I did bright and early. Shanna made an offer on a very cute house yesterday. Sadly, not in Ann Arbor but in this artificial village recently built to encourage a neighborhood feel by having front porches, lots of common land while cutting back on lot size, no garages in front, bike paths that the kids can use without being run over by a backing out car. Inside the house is nicely decorated but in very bright colors. Paint is cheap though. We took a field trip yesterday to see it. Very quiet, all we could hear were cicadas and crickets. They are close to a farmer's field. Seems to be soy beans..edaname anyone?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

More egrets

Steve with his better camera took these:

Egrets? I have a few....

From Thurston Pond. Two of these are actually blue herons

Still waiting for the hen and chick to complete blossoming a month later

Purple and white cleome: so pretty but so stinky. Bugs never bother it.

Yesterday as Shanna and I were driving by a pond off the nearby expressway, I was amazed to find it full of hundreds of egrets. Egrets are not rare around here; the local pond usually has one or two along with a few herons. Last night I tried to get close to it from the road I routinely run and bike on. No luck. Options: wading through wetlands that are probably private property or stop along the shoulder.

This morning I found our local pond had much more than its usual quota of egrets..maybe  twenty? (couldn't get them in one shot). I tried to get closer by walking around the path (hope I don't pick up poison ivy). I need to go back with Steve's much better lens. New title? More egrets.

Why are they amassing? Getting ready to migrate? They make such unworldly vocalizations.

I learned in school that puns are the lowest form of humor. I don't agree. Lowest form? Anything involving Adam Sandler. Worst scene ever: he is bonding with a 6 year old boy that somehow he is saddled with. They learn they share a love of tripping roller bladers on a steep downhill in Central Park. Yep he ill make a good parent.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tangerine Tatas

This is just one of the flavors of cupcakes available for purchase at a small bakery in Midland, MI. Part of the proceeds from the sale will go to support breast cancer research. The owner thought up this idea inspired by a friend battling breast cancer. She thought it would be a fun way to raise money for the cure. Fun and breast cancer, there is a concept. Many in blogsphere are outraged.

There is a fine line in being helpful to a cause and exploitative of a cause. How much of those pink purchases actually reach their alleged causes? Is breast cancer a marketing opportunity? Should you purchase a pink bucket of fried chicken to support the cause? Will the dietary fat consumed actually contribute to breast cancer?

Breast cancer is not pink and fun. Recently a husband prepared a photo exhibit of his wife battling breast cancer. Nothing fun about those pictures. They were to be hung in a cancer support community but were vetoed because they were so depressing. Maybe photographs of the multicolored cupcakes would have been more appropriate. To see the photo essay :

So more rain today and a high only in the 60s. Despite  the heel pain, I ran again. Still not sure if it is making it worse but if I sit around here all day, I will be very grumpy.

Shanna and her kids and I went to an indoor playground. Many had the same idea but the kids had fun running wild. Then back to my house for lunch and endless games of Thomas the Tank on my iPad. I hold the iPad like a vise.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Olympics

My own attempt at a meme
I am impressed.
I love watching the Olympics. I missed the last one as I was in Italy. TVs were rare in the little village I was staying in though there was one in The Bar but it was usually tuned to regional soccer (il caccio). The WSJ had an article about which states send the most athletes. CA by far; TX despite its huge population, not so much.

 Pure MI is also poorly represented but one of the athletes who does hail from MI grew up just a block away so it is fun watching her being the goalie for the US Water Polo team. Her older sister was in my Girl Scout troop that I led for 6 years. The future goalie did come along on one of the field trips with her mom we had the last year. International travel, oh boy! This would be much more difficult these days post 9/11. We went to Fort Malden guarding the mouth of the Detroit River built to protect Upper Canada (I keep thinking that they have things backwards) from land hungry Americans and their Manifest Destiny. Remember one of the Presidential Slogans: 54'40 or Fight? Yep that would have been a huge chunk of Canada into our greedy hands. We were to live like early 19th century soldiers cooking and eating the same foods. The girls made their own butter. I forgot the rest of the menu. What struck me most were the sleeping arrangements: wood barracks with a thin straw tick mattress. I was pregnant with Naomi at the time. Not a good sleep... The soldiers could bring their wives with them but the wife would need to share their narrow, hard bed and there was no privacy.

We are not amused: The scowling teenager annoyed that she only received silver for her vault has become a meme for not being impressed. Damn hard to impress a teenager.Sweetie, remember that any second, a camera could be on you especially on the medal stand. Take some lessons from Gabby. Her image is now being photoshopped into all sorts of scenes, first moonwalks, whatever. The gymnastic team felt they had to rename themselves The Fierce Five after a Michigan basketball player thought The Fab Five took away his glory somehow. I think they should retire the I am not impressed Meme to We are not amused  to honor their hostess, the Queen.

PC run amok:  One of the announcers excited about something said of an athlete: He is the first African-American from any country to do....
Hello: African-Americans come from only one country...although just how French is Tony Parker anyway.

Especially fun: Gabby Douglas, US Women's soccer team beating Canada, Women's beach volleyball finals, Allyson Felix, our dreadlocked hurdlers(so cute).

Not fun: Equestrian events, rowing (even though I was briefly a rower), archery, riflery, team handball.

It is cool and raining. Raining. What a concept! I will run in the brief time that it will stop. I don't mind getting wet but there is lightning.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Engineering made simple

My favorite son is a mechnical engineer and my son-in-law is an electrical I do like engineers.
This is from the blog Campanastan

nderstanding Engineers #1 
Two engineering students were biking across a university campus when one said, "Where did you get such a great bike?"  The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, "Take what you want."  The first engineer nodded approvingly and said, "Good choice: The clothes probably wouldn't have fit you anyway."

Understanding Engineers #2
To the optimist, the glass is half-full. To the pessimist, the glass is half-empty.  To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Understanding Engineers #3
A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.  The engineer fumed, "What's with those guys? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!"  The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such inept golf!"  The priest said, "Here comes the greens -keeper.  Let's have a word with him."  He said, "Hello George, What's wrong with that group ahead of us?  They're rather slow, aren't they?"  The greens-keeper replied, "Oh, yes. That's a group of blind firemen.  They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime!." The group fell silent for a moment.  The priest said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight."  The doctor said, "Good idea.  I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there's anything she can do for them."  The engineer said, "Why can't they play at night?"

Understanding Engineers #4
What is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers?  Mechanical engineers build weapons.  Civil engineers build targets.

Understanding Engineers #5
The graduate with a science degree asks, "Why does it work?"  The graduate with an engineering degree asks, "How does it work?"  The graduate with an accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"  The graduate with an arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

Understanding Engineers #6
Three engineering students were gathered together discussing who must have designed the human body.  One said, "It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints."  Another said, "No, it was an electrical engineer.  The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections."  The last one said, "No, actually it had to have been a civil engineer.  Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?"

Understanding Engineers #7
Normal people believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

Understanding Engineers #8
An engineer was crossing a road one day, when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess."  He bent over, picked up the frog, and put it in his pocket.  The frog spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn back into a beautiful princess and stay with you for one week."  The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket.  The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you for one week and do anything you want."  Again, the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.  Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter?  I've told you I'm a beautiful princess and that I'll stay with you for one week and do anything you want.  Why won't you kiss me?"  The engineer said, "Look, I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog - now that's cool." 
"You may be an engineer... If your ideal evening consists of fast-forwarding through the latest sci-fi movie looking for technical inaccuracies." - Unknown

How do you like dem peaches?

It is peach season in our fair state. Peach blossoms occur well after the cherry blossoms so they were not destroyed by the early warmth then freeze. The lack of water has caused the peaches to be smaller but more flavorful. The most popular variety grown in Michigan is the Red Haven, a free stone peach meaning the flesh doesn't cling to the pit (as it does in cling peaches used for canning, horrible things). I had bought them at the Farmer's Market to make my Italian peaches (stuffed with amaretti). They always have several varieties there. I asked which would be best for eating? I bought the different kind, knew there will 'l's in the name and  I associated the name with a town I biked through once but I forgot the name. They were especially tasty, juicy with much peach flavor. I have been looking at peach web sites (who knew there were 2000 varieties?) trying to see if the names would ring a bell. None did.
So back to the market today. The mystery name is "Bellaire" a town in Northern Michigan that Naomi and I stayed in on a bike ride (good brew pub there). Bought more of these peaches (last week of them) and shared them with my homebound friend. I am so bad at names.

The last day of hotness for awhile. I biked on my own (getting faster...yay!) this morning. Then the grandkids came. I had promised them bike rides. Theoretically I could haul both of them at the same time but I need to get in better shape. A wind had meanwhile whipped up (east so we might get rain). The trailer just slows me down a little unless I am biking uphill against the wind. Oliver wondered why we had slowed down. I said it was hard to go up hills. He told me that he pedals harder to get up hill and I should just try that. I did have to downshift quite a bit. Meanwhile he was cheering me on Go Grandma, Go! as I struggled up the hill.

As for the title, the original expression concerns apples, not peaches. Someone was translating Good Will Hunting into French. This expression was used when Will was able to get Minnie Driver's number and he was rubbing it in a Harvard Jerk's face. They could not come up with a suitable translation.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Birds of a feather flock together..

I am using 'birds' metaphorically.

I straddle two worlds (or maybe more):  that of bicyclists and that of  runners. When I go out for a run, other runners greet me but bicyclists just pedal on by. Then I am on my bike and these same runners give me the cold shoulder but the bicyclists now are all friendly (unless they are in a draft line, they probably don't even see me). I biked by a soccer dad running out in the sticks where I both bike and run twice last week but he refused to acknowledge my presence even though I said hello to him using his name. Is he mad at me for some reason? Does he like me? (yeah I am just that insecure). But yesterday, I ran by him and before I said anything, he whipped off his headphones  and exchanged pleasantries. So he will talk to me if I am running but not biking.

And even cars, did you ever notice how similarly colored cars like to park next to each other or even in same colored packs together?

Long ago this racist woman (from the South) living in our co-op  justified her bizarre views by saying that Robins don't flock with Blue Jays. 
She hasn't seen the winter flocks (probably hasn't seen winter) where the nut hatches, tit mice, wood peckers and chickadees flock together despite being entirely different types of birds.

As for birds, I thought I saw an eagle yesterday but on the eagle sighting website, none were listed for my area. All I saw were big, dark wings that were not tipped like the somewhat smaller vulture. Today a heron flew over me in about the same place but it is not dark (head way different too but I didn't get a good look at the head of my putative eagle). And where are my humming birds? All I have left is the lone female. Where are my boys?

Update: I just finished watching the HBO documentary Birding. Very cool! Central Park is a convenient stop for migratory birds. All they see for miles is cement and streets and factories and then...a patch of green with woods, fields, streams, ponds. There are a few year round residents too. The film follows the different birds each season and the birders that follow the birds and the joy that the birds bring them. What I would have appreciated was subtitles to let me know what I was looking at though. They asked each birder their perfect birding moment, that joy of discovery. Each named a different bird. I'd go with the first time I saw a bluebird about 15 years ago. Runner-up: seeing a vulture with Josh on our first long bike ride when he was 10. Vultures were rare then. Now a huge flock lives in the river valley by the high school. You can count on a few of them circling his soccer game.

Note that I said that I am running. Yesterday a woman reported that she saw me power walking on Green Road last week. Again, my mode of locomotion has been misidentified. But how can I run with plantar fasciitis or whatever I have been whining about? Well I don't think it is making it worse and perhaps biking is what caused this mess in the first place. I biked way more than ran last month. What would be worse if I didn't do anything at all.

In my restorative yoga class aka breast cancer yoga yesterday, I asked my instructor for advice on stretches that might help. She admitted to having some plantar fasciitis herself and said that she deserved it for wearing cheap flip flops. Ah, so we get what we deserve? Remember the setting, we all have or have had breast cancer. Did we deserve that too? No I didn't jump all over this gentle woman, not even when she keeps saying how we need to cultivate gratitude for everything. Not grateful for cancer..not grateful at all.

But I am for everything else..

I got up very early this morning to the soothing sound of dishes being unloaded  then loaded then unloaded then thrown around hitting the hardest surface possible while clanging together or at least that's what it sounded like. Steve has his 15 hour stint as an election official today and got up at 5 am. It was only in the 50s, just have to run in that. Yeah it hurts but then the endorphins take over after 5 minutes or so. After my shower, went to the city pool to watch Oliver in his lessons. The instructor seemed to know how to deal with little boys with their own agendas. No this until this. Went to a Farm Market to see if they had their orange cauliflower yet (very tasty) to take to my friend. No but they had purple carrots and purple peppers. I opted for orange patty pans and corn fresh (10 minutes) from the field and visited my temporarily housebound friend. Did a few things for her that she can't do for another few weeks. When can she drive again? When she can exit a burning car fast enough to save her life. Never quite heard that one before. Not sure how fast she could exit a burning house either. I made her promise to keep that cell phone on her person at all times. If she falls, she could not get up.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pro se

A pro se litigant is one who represents oneself. One is legally able to represent themselves in a lawsuit, criminal or civil. Where the law becomes murky is in the case where a person is representing an estate. Technically you are not presenting yourself even if it turns out that you are the estate. You can only be your own lawyer for yourself. Whether this is wise, is another issue.

I have had bad experiences with lawyers. Theoretically, they are to represent your best interests, but if  self interest is involved, you can bet that self interest wins out every time. There are two basic ways to pay a lawyer; by the hour or by the job. I have tried it both ways.  Going the by the hour route, my lawyer sent me outrageous bills. For example: if three papers needed to be filed, instead of filing them at the same time, he charged as if he made 3 different trips. Soon I became an expert in probate law and started filing things for myself (or for the estate as it turned out). He purposely dragged out a lawsuit so that he could get maximum hours. I eventually became wise to his BS and fired him. Then by the job: the lawyer we hired was going to do the barest minimum of work. If you asked a question, he generally didn't know the answer or pretended not to know and said that research was extra. Hello, I hired you for your alleged expertise.

This weekend I met a woman who went through a lawsuit from hell abetted and fueled by an unethical lawyer. Her ex-husband had borrowed money from his parents unofficially (no written contract) and then died due to bad choices he had made. He did not have a will so he was INTESTATE. Love that word as it sounds like he died without his cojones. Michigan probate law indicates that if there is no wife (exes don't count), any remaining children will be the sole heirs. The only time parents enter into the equation is when there are no spouses or children. The life insurance money would go to his teenage daughter who will need it for college. She was considered 'the estate'. Damned if these wealthy parents didn't sue their grandchild. Apparently having a relationship with their only granddaughter was not a priority. The lawyer indicated that they could defend the suit as there was nothing written. It went on forever racking up expenses. Finally they settled without the lawyer's help.

Josh is trying to go the pro se way for this divorce. Theoretically it should be easy as there are no children and it will be uncontested (hopefully..). He of course is too busy to research this but he seems to have parents with time on their hands. After much research, we finally found a way to get those forms (some how they are specifically unavailable online though every other legal document can be readily obtained). There is an organization that specializes in self-help cases. I have known people who have put off divorce as they could not afford the fees. Josh could afford the fees but there does not seem to be really a need for him in such an uncomplicated case.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sometimes being a Bitch pays...

Steve had quit his job more than 3 weeks ago. He had pointed out to them that there were 4 weeks of pay outstanding and of course 2 more weeks right before he quit. One of the missing pay periods was from early June. The bossman seemed suitably apologetic and promised to set things straight immediately but...didn't. Could the checks been delivered to the wrong address? They didn't come here. Again, after much prodding on my part, Steve e-mailed to inquire if the checks had been sent. No but they soon will be. Another week passed: Still no checks..Steve was getting annoyed but not enough to actually call the bossman up. I was very annoyed. I finally got a hold of bossman's e-mail and sent an email in angry caps. Subject line: Please pay Steve!!!!!!!!!
In the note, I reminded bossman that the chemistry community was small and it would not take long for word to get out that he has a habit of stiffing his employees. Within a half hour, I received an indignant reply how he would never stiff his employees and how well he treated Steve and how dare I insinuate otherwise.

Well then pay him like you said you would!!!!!! NOW!!!!!

Suffice it to say, the checks came within 2 days. Good for him because yesterday I had a good audience to spread the word. Lots of chemists...

I was a tad nervous informing Steve that I did this but as bossman had cc'd him, I had no choice but to fess up. Fortunately Steve wasn't as mad at me as I thought he would be. Who wants their wife to fight their battles? And what must this man think of me? Ms. Uberbitch. Not as bad as I think of someone who routinely makes people beg for their pay.

So In the Land of Falling Apart Bodies, my heel pain has come down from near ten to one or two. It hurt more in the morning. I didn't take the high dose ibuprofen today as it attacks my stomach lining. It doesn't hurt while at rest unlike classic cases of plantar fasciitis so maybe it is something else. Instead of running, I biked a my butt and arms take the brunt of my weight (too much as my left fingers are still numb). I will use a new pair of shoes once I get back to running even though the heel was very cushioned in the old ones (but not the toe..maybe that caused it some how). As for my fainting, I felt a bit weak Friday but was fine yesterday and today. Have no idea what went wrong.

Saw Josh for lunch. He went to a wedding with his new friend. Even though her parents have met him (and drove him to the wedding), I haven't got to meet her though she has asked.
Soon I am told.

Below are pictures of my friend and my grandbabies form the other day

There was an open house in our neighborhood that I went with Shanna and Ramy to see. This house hasn't been updated in 40 years but they still wanted a lot for it. And they might just get it. Suddenly our neighborhood seems to be very hot.


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