Thursday, March 31, 2011

Being homeless = :(

I didn't hit yoga tonight.  I felt a little too pitiful, with cramps and nausea.  A bean burrito and a couple of beers set me right.  (Go figure.)  And I've been doing extra yoga this week anyway.  Mostly because I had to. I got a freaky pain in one arm that (according to Marsha) is likely due to a pinched nerve.  So I was stretching away, doing the towel under the neck thing, and not doing upper body work to avoid aggravating it.  And so far so good.  I had the opportunity to get adjusted today and skipped it, so I hope agonizing pain doesn't come back over the weekend.

I had been thinking about getting "my" thruhiker a flat rate box in which to send a care package, and today I finally got off my duff and did it.  I'll put it in the mail tomorrow.  I hope he likes it!  The care packages I got last year were a huge big deal to me.  Out on the trail, you spend so much time alone that any contact with somebody who actually cares is enormous.  So, Goose, I hope you like it as much as I liked mine last year.  If not, spread the wealth.

I was thinking today about thruhiking (as one does.)  It's very hard on the body, of course.  One day of hiking is no big deal.  One week of hiking is a lot.  One month of hiking starts to turn you into a hiking machine.  Three months of hiking starts to see serious wear and tear on your joints, your skin, and your equipment.  Many thruhikes have been ended prematurely due to ACL tears, broken ankles, giardia, Lyme disease, and other afflictions common to those getting physical in the great outdoors.

I think, though, that the biggest strain of thruhiking is emotional.  Very few hikers have a partner the whole way.  Those who do, may not actually *like* their partner the whole way.  Spending 24x7 with someone doing something strenuous is pretty stressful.  When the reason you are doing it is internal, and you may have different reasons for doing it, conflicts can arise.  I want to take time off to rest and heal, and you want to push your physical limits.  I want to get to the shelter 20 miles away, and you want to stay in this pretty glen.  I need to be done by September 15 and you need to be done by October 11.  Hiking with somebody else is tricky.

So a lot of people end up hiking alone.  Not ALONE alone, there are still people out there.  But with no constant companion.  That can be a very lonely thing.  Most of us are used to having a home.  Being set adrift is alienating.  It leaves you feeling lonely and at a loss, for no readily definable reason.  Sometimes you just want to see someone and have them already know your name.

Home doesn't have to be much.  It can range from a full on mansion to a townhouse to an apartment to a trailer.  It doesn't matter.  Everybody knows what home feels like, and it's a good thing.  "Coming home" every night to a place where you feel you belong is such a subtle and accepted thing that I doubt you ever think about it until you don't have a home anymore.  It can be freeing.  But it means that you never get the feeling of safety and security every night that most people take for granted.

Not all hikers are truly homeless, of course.  I had a home to go to.. I just wasn't anywhere near it.  My tent or my spot on the shelter floor was my home every night.  I got used to it, but it definitely did not leave me feeling as safe and warm and welcome as coming to my house every night.  I woke up when coyotes howled, when trees creaked, when thunder rumbled.  When I was camped with friends I got a fleeting sense of security from the mass of humanity around me.  Even one hiker (Cody!  Miss you!) was enough.  But I spent a great deal of time alone on my hike, and it was hard.  I had no idea how hard it would be until I did it.  It wasn't enough to make me quit, but I did recognize the strain.

I know I will encounter this feeling again.  And I know there are thruhikers out there right now experiencing it.  Keep it up, my friends.  It is not a comfortable feeling.  But it is worth it to experience it.  It may make you more appreciative of friends and family.  It may help you reach out to strangers with a smile and a kind word.  It may help you appreciate humanity.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Low carb backpacking in reality, so far

I went on an overnight trip a couple of weeks ago.  The food I brought kept me going and feeling good, but it wasn't a good test.  I wasn't really out there long enough or working hard enough to put any strain on the system.  However it did speak to what packs well, at least a little.

For snacks I had
Lara bars
trail mix made from seeds, nuts and dried fruit
dried mango
beef jerky
100 calorie packs of almonds

I ate some of all of it, and they made good trail snacks

For lunch I had
crystal light in my water
low carb wrap
individual size cream cheese
individual size hummus
alfalfa sprouts (that DeLee brought)
and a piece of string cheese that DeLee also brought

The wrap worked pretty well despite the weird ingredients :)

Dinner got slightly low carb.  I couldn't find my quinoa when I was packing, so I packed
home dehydrated turkey chili
ramen to eat with it
dark chocolate squares

Breakfast didn't stick with me AT ALL.  And it wasn't low carb either so that's kinda my fault.  I had
Alpine Air Strawberry Granola with some kind of milk powder already in it.  Didn't taste that great and had no staying power.  Ah well.  I started in on the snacks early.  Also I had several hot mugs of Pero.

Of course, we happened upon a fantastic breakfast buffet a couple of hours after breakfast, and that *did* stick with me.. I can't even remember everything we ate, but I know it included scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, and a piece of Reuben casserole.  I justify the insane meal by telling myself I burned off a lot of energy trying to stay warm the night before.  (Which is true.)  Whether it was justified or not, DeLee and I enjoyed the heck out of the meal.

Anyway, so far it seems that staying away from processed grains is about 50/50 for me.  The snacks I brought gave me plenty of energy, which bodes well for future trips.  I really need to find the quinoa and/or corn pasta.  And I need a better breakfast answer. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Veterinary Updates

I'm sure you have been sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting for a veterinary update.  "Is Pluto still sick?" you are thinking.  "When was the last time Beauty barfed?"  And I have answers!

I checked Pluto on Sunday afternoon and his swollen gland didn't seem any smaller, but it felt softer.  And irregular.  I had no idea what this indicated.  Yesterday I felt a little poorly myself and didn't get out to see him.  But today I went out, and the gland was down to about 1/3 the size it had been on Sunday.  Yay!  Although, after I kissed Pluto on the nose and accidentally got some snot in my mouth, I made a mental note that he has a little sinus drainage.  (Blech.  Try to get *that* taste out of your mouth.  Not easy.  And me without any Drano.)  I sent off an email to the vet letting her know the gland is shrinking, and that he had snot.  Though she didn't get the gory details, lucky her.  Aren't you glad you read so you know all this stuff?

The dog is feeling *much* better.  Better than she has in a long time.  So much so that she is turning into a Monster Dog.  If you've never had a pet be sick for a long time, be thankful.  But if you have, then you know that after they start to feel better, they can be kind of poorly behaved.  Beauty has started knocking down the pet gates.  JD attached one as tightly as he could and I still came home to find it on the floor.  So for now, the dog has free access to the cats' room.  I've put the catfood up on a dresser (after some concern about whether or not Nazca could make it up there, it appears that he is not starving to death) and so far the dog has not climbed up there.  She is, however, eating cat tootsie rolls to her heart's content.  Which, gross.  But not fatal.  And they may supply some probiotics.

Unfortunately she is also hassling me nonstop for food.  For a long time she had to be persuaded to eat.  No longer.  And she will lie and say she needs to go out to pee just to get me to the kitchen.  I can't ignore her because the OTHER thing she is doing is peeing in the house.  We knew she would when she started on steroids, but now she isn't drinking as much and she really doesn't need to.  Now she's doing it because she wants to.  At least she isn't leaving huge puddles.  She's just marking spots.  And, of course, we don't really have much nice stuff so in the long run it doesn't make much difference, but it aggravates the heck out of me.  I mean, I knew we'd have to replace that rug.  If there were any question before, there wasn't after I ground silicone caulk into it.  But MAN it irks me that a formerly housetrained dog is piddling in my house.  She doesn't even wait for me to leave!  This morning she did it while I was getting dressed!

So.  My dog is feeling good (no barfing, much less sadness and pain) but she is going to drive me insane.  I guess that lands on the positive side of matters.  Barely.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I am shrinking unequally

As I was getting dressed this morning I pulled a pair of jeans out of the clean laundry basket (What?  I washed them.  What do you mean I have to put them away?) and put them on.  And they were slightly on the loose side.  The awesome thing about this is these are my small jeans.  I've barely lost any weight recently, but my pants are getting bigger!  This can only be a good thing.

So now I have three sizes of jeans in the house.  And I just ordered a size smaller, so I have something to move down to.  Because I'm an optimist.  I'm not such an optimist, however, that I'm getting rid of the old jeans.  Stuff happens.  Injuries.  Lyme disease.  Severe stress.  I'll shove the big jeans way in the back of a cabinet.  If I still don't need them in five years, they can get tossed then.

Still, ordering new, smaller pants was a very nice feeling. 

At the same time, I'm thinking about ordering myself some new riding boots.  I've had two pair of custom riding boots in my life.  My mom bought me the first pair during college.  I coughed up for the second pair a decade or more ago.  In both cases, the reason I got super expensive custom riding boots was my oversize calves.  They just didn't fit off the shelf boots, not by a long shot.  Despite my pants getting larger, my calves have not shrunk appreciably.  In fact they may be larger.  I just checked my right calf and it's at 18.5" circumference.  In case you haven't measured the calves of a population and taken any averages recently, 18.5" is HUGE.  And sadly, 18.5" is larger than the second, larger, custom made pair of boots will fit.

Fuller Fillies sells riding gear for larger women.  I don't fit much of their stuff because I'm not *that* large.  I think my waist is 4" too small for their smallest breeches.  Their boots, however, will fit up to 17-19".  I have to measure myself with breeches on to see if I can sneak under the 19" limit.  It'll be close.  But if I do, I could ride in leather boots for the first time in years!  I won't know what to do with myself.

The boots have zippers up the back so getting in and out of them should be a breeze.  Assuming I can get under the 19" limit with breeches on, my only real question will be "dress boots or field boots?"  Ah, to have the option..

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Today's top and bottom ten

Things that bug me:

People who pronounced Realtor as "Real-a-tor"
Big trucks tailgating passenger cars
Loud talkers going my exact pace so I can't get away from them
Just why *does* homeopathy appear to work, anyway?
Dogs who keep stealing cat food and cat poop (although I have a theory involving cat poop and probiotics)
Having to work when I clearly need to be a lady of leisure
Important pieces of equipment having seizures
Not being a model yet despite three months of diet and exercise
Non-cat-like cats

Things I like:

Wii Dance
Red wine
Trail running
Snuggling kittens
Clearing out some of my overload of camping gear by selling it to others
Weekend naps
A sweet husband who makes me a hot drink while he's up
Being able to instantly and magically procure music via itunes
Microwave ovens
Using my brain, sometimes

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Who died and made you..? Oh.

I saw something today that kind of pissed me off, and I can't decide if it makes me a bitch or not.

I was driving on a divided highway.  On the other side, the road was empty except for a funeral convoy with a police escort, lights flashing.  As we passed each other and I came to the end of the line, I saw a second police escort, with lights also flashing.

That is not what pissed me off.

Directly behind the second police car, there was a rolling road block.  Behind them, the road was jammed as far as I could see.  The people back there no doubt had no idea what was going on.  They probably assumed there was an accident ahead.

What gives the mourners the right to have the whole highway to themselves, and to enforce it on all the other unsuspecting citizens?  I realize that it is a very momentous occasion to the friends and family of the deceased, but death happens every day, people.  It doesn't give you the right to ruin the day and destroy the schedule of everybody around you.  (And if it did, we would all be in trouble because the highways would grind to a halt for every funeral.)

Have your funeral procession.  Put little flags on your car.  Get your cop buddies to escort you and honor the deceased.  But do NOT eff up the day of everybody else in our fair city.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fantastic news

And the verdict is:  It's definitely not strangles!  Bonnie and I, and Pluto and Mystery, are free to come and go!  Bonnie was out today (before the quarantine got lifted) and Pluto was running around and making a nuisance of himself, and being too hot in his blanket, so I hope yesterday was an aberration.

Of course, we still don't know WHAT is going on with him.  Vet says that by Monday the culture may come back with more information.  If not, maybe another round of sulfa drugs.  Cause that worked so well before.

Anyway, I am thrilled just to have the quarantine lifted.  And to know it's not strangles, so I don't have to worry about the responsibility of not infecting all my friends' horses.  So, now I can focus on Pluto getting better.  Not that my focus probably makes any difference.

In non-Pluto news, I posted another item on Ebay!  I am all puffed up with my own importance.  Look at me with my Ebay-selling prowess.  And my history of two whole sold items, which haven't even arrived at their final destinations yet.  Nonetheless!  I am psyched.  Yay for making room in the gear closet!  And yay for gear going to people who might actually use it!

I planned a bunch of stuff for this weekend.  I am quite, quite certain that it is not all getting done.  But for your edification, here's the list:

windy's party
caulk bathtub
hike greenbelt park
spend my dividend at rei
do the laundry
lower the paperwork level on the desk
dismantle backpack

And now I must add

hold Pluto for the farrier

So that's a lot for one weekend.  Three or four of those items is going to have to be pruned out.  Barring blizzard, I think it's safe to say we're going to the party.  And laundry is kind of important.  And I *have* to meet the farrier.  So my desk might still have a potential avalanche on it on Monday, and my dividend may still be burning a hole in my pocket.  And Greenbelt Park may remain unhiked.

Jury is out on the tub.  I'm not sure I can ignore it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stinker's not really feeling up to snuff

Pluto was not looking good when I went out to see him this morning.  It was raining, which accounts for some grumpiness, but he was far less lively than usual.  The weather is predicted to be cold and wet for the next while, so I had already planned to blanket him.  Usually he prances around and gives me a bunch of nonsense about blanketing.  Today he just stood there.  His hipbones stuck out.  I think he's losing weight.  He was eating hay steadily, at least.  I had wondered how good his appetite would be with a big old sore thing in his jaw.

I hope the blanket helped him feel a little better.  At least it made me feel better to know he would be a bit warmer.  His skin felt cold to the touch before I blanketed him.  I imagine the blanket was an improvement.

Tomorrow I should have test results, and possibly even a lead on what antibiotics might work.  Or maybe he'll start to heal on his own.  Whichever, I want my snarky pony back.  Stoic quiet horse just isn't Pluto.

I'm sure I'll pay, in spades, for that wish as soon as he is feeling better.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I have my first Ebay success

Just so you know, the whole US Government has its panties in a wad over the RSA hacking thing.  I don't feel too bad because I'm a belt and suspenders kinda girl, and the keyfobs are just, like, the clip on one of the suspenders.  But it sure did make for a lot of uproar at work today.

In non-work news, my first ever ebay auctions finally completed!  And I got $170+ for each of the items I put up, which was about $70 more than I was hoping to get for each one.  So you could say I'm mildly happy.  I printed out labels tonight, and I'll drop the boxes off at the post office in the morning.  And I sincerely hope the recipients have much joy and go on many adventures with their new tents.

With that success under my belt, I'm next planning to put up my ULA Fusion backpack and my Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis shelter.  I want to sell a saddle too but I need to get a good box first.  Maybe two good boxes.  I am dubious of my dressage saddle's selling prospects.  I'm not sure it's worth it to even try.  But the all purpose saddle should sell just fine.

I also got my huge REI dividend today and I am really looking forward to an REI trip.  Perhaps I'll get a new fleece top.  Or a new Steripen.  Or who knows!  REI is one of those stores where I can spend a LOT of money. 

In quadruped news, I have not gotten blood test results back for the horse.  The lab only does the tests on Tuesday and Thursday so if I didn't get them today I probably won't have them until Friday.  (I hold out hope for a late evening call from the vet.  She called at 9 with results last week.) And his lymph node has started oozing again, so he's back to wearing a flymask lined with a diaper.  I am sure he is thrilled.  The dog is feeling pretty good but is taking some liver damage from the drugs.  We're keeping a close eye on her - if she loses her appetite, that's very bad.  But so far she is acting almost normal, and far better than three weeks ago.  We're happy to have our silly little yellow dog back, after some scary times with a sad, moaning dog.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In which I contemplate replacing my sleeping bag with something that will actually keep me warm

Today was a much better day.  I didn't feel like a zombie, for one.  And I didn't have to pay any vets *anything*.  It was warm enough that I only wore a light sweater to work, not a down jacket.  If I recall correctly this is not normal for March, but I like it.  I don't like the thunderstorms we've been having, though.

Last night and this morning I did some online sleeping bag shopping.  My sleeping bag, a MontBell UltraLight SuperStretch Down Hugger #3 (say that a few times fast) is in theory a 30 degree bag.  However I froze my patootie off in it during my thruhike.  I don't think I've ever been warm in it at 30 degrees.  Probably not at 40 degrees either.  I don't know if it's under filled or what.  But it is a lame excuse for a sleeping bag.  That said, I really, really like the super stretchy part of it.  If I have to sleep in one of those bags where you have to lie flat and straight with your arms crossed over your chest, I ache like nobody's business.  The stretchy bag allows me to sleep like a 4.  Or on my stomach.  Or in a yoga pose.  Basically I could do whatever I want in the bag and it would accommodate me.  But it would not keep me warm.  Especially after a thruhike.  If it had any chance of working BEFORE I ground five months of dirt into it, it definitely doesn't now.  But like I said, I don't think it felt that warm from the get-go.

Googling indicates that in fact it is a common problem.  The bags are rated too low.  (I.e. the 30 degree bag is really more of a 40 or 45 degree bag.)  So I could get an UltraLight SuperSpiral Down Hugger #1 (They don't make the Super Stretch anymore, but the Super Spiral gets close to the same amount of roominess, or so I hear) which is sold as a 15 degree bag, and I would probably be warm at 30 degrees.  Or I could go elsewhere.  Western Mountaineering makes bags with a great reputation for being warm.  I'm not sure I could sleep sprawled in one, though.

After careful perusal of the WM website, I think I might like the AlpinLite bag, but nobody within a hundred miles apparently sells one where I can go get inside a bag to try it out.  So I'm thinking about ordering from a place with a good return policy (i.e.  If I don't like it, I can return it for a $6 shipping fee and Bob's your uncle.  (Not mine, though..  I have an Uncle Roger but I don't think there are any sayings about him.)  And then I would go ahead and get the lower rated Montbell bag.

Anyway, that's what has been occupying my thoughts today.  Not being cold.  Or achy.  And apparently spending a lot of money at an outfitter's.  Again.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Excellent weekend. Less excellent Monday.

Our backpacking trip went spendidly.  The weather cooperated quite well for mid March.  It was around 60 degrees on Saturday, up to about 55 on Sunday.  It got a wee bit cold at night.  Not below freezing, but my sleeping bag was wholly inadequate.  I've officially given up on that sleeping bag except for ~50 degree weather, and am now on a new search for something to keep me warm when it's cold out.  I think I might have gotten 4 hours of sleep, if that.  And I was in bed from 9-7.  That's a long time to be cold.

I'm planning to write up the weekend in trailjournals entries Real Soon Now.

Today was a day of multiple vet visits.  Beauty woke me up at 6:30 because OMG THUNDER!  We headed over to the vet at the appointed time to get her blood test done.  The results came back very high (i.e. bad) for liver values.  The vet thinks that is related to the steroids she's on.  We just reduced the steroid dose on Thursday, and you can't ramp down too quickly.  So we stay at the current dose, but we're going back for an examination and more blood work in a couple of weeks, barring any other negative symptoms in the mean time. 

After that I headed out to the farm to meet the equine vet.  Pluto's explodey node hasn't shrunk, and she got pus out of it this time.  Since the last blood test came out low positive, she repeated it (per the lab's instructions to repeat at 7-14 days - to make sure it's still a low positive, not a high positive, as it would be if the infection were increasing).  She is also sending the pus to the lab to be cultured.  The quarantine continues to drag on.  I am hoping very hard for a negative on the culture.  If it's positive it should at least tell us what drugs it's sensitive to, as the sulfa antibiotics didn't do anything.

Aside from the bad node, Pluto seems healthy and in good spirits.  So that's something. 

Me, I have a migraine, a couple of earaches, and some dizziness.  Yay spring?  JD gets the firehose nose, but I tend to get more painful symptoms.  IIRC the next round of spring things brings the "my eyeballs are going to fall out" feeling.  That's always a good one.

All in all I would not say today was a good day for my household.  But, we're all still alive.  I will settle for that today.

Friday, March 18, 2011

So ready for the weekend

It has been a hell of a week, Internet.  Sick horse, sick dog, back went out, all kinds of weird technical problems at work, and today just NOTHING has worked right.  For instance, I went to get my hair cut, and the lights went out.  And I wasn't even that surprised because it's just been that kind of week.  I think Shamika may be good enough to cut by Braille.  Actually at that point I think she was done cutting.  But the point is my haircut still looks good, which is all Shamika.  I try to interfere as little as possible with the creative process.  I ask her to get it off my face and otherwise do as she likes.  And it always looks nice.  Voila.

The dog is feeling a fair amount better, although she definitely goes through rumbly tumbly times still.  It's amazing how nauseated an expression a dog can have.  As far as I know she hasn't barfed in a while.  Though thanks to the steroids she is drinking constantly and therefore peeing in the house.  So we're still wiping stuff up.  Her steroid dose dropped today.  We are hoping for a more just and pee-free environment in the future.

In the morning I'm running out to check on Pluto again (status so far:  lymph node is still swollen, solid, tender) but after that JD and I are picking up DeLee.  And JD is going to drop us off in the middle of nowhere for some girly hiking time.  I can't wait.  Hiking with DeLee is one of my favorite things to do.  The weather is supposed to be in the 50's, which if you ask me is pretty much perfect hiking weather.  And we're supposed to have the biggest full moon in years tomorrow night. 

We might have to hike up to the ridge to get the full view, as we're staying in a little valley.  But I think it's going to be amazing.  And I have a little scotch to help it along, just in case.

I weighed my pack out of curiosity.  Base weight for a trip with nighttime temps in the 30's:  18.6 lb.  26 lb with food, water, and fuel.  And enough chocolate to share.  It's a little bit luxe, maybe.  It feels heavy to me but JD says it's either really light or he's gotten really strong.  Either way, it doesn't bode well for the weight in the hundred mile wilderness in a few months.  The sweating, cursing redhead in the first 40 or so miles?  That'll be me.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

All that and a bag of chips

My dinner tonight is two beers and a bag of chips.  Three beers if I get all crazy, and I can face the hangover tomorrow.  On a workday.  Possibly I should stick with two.  The problem is that beer interferes with your judgment.  By the end of two beers it might seem perfectly reasonable to  have three beers.  And so on.

In theory this is in honor of being part Irish but really I just like beer.  Especially this beer.  Also, my mom likes it so you know it's good.  Is there anything better than a mom endorsement?   

The chips are the result of poor judgment and beer.  I should have had vegetables and lean protein.  But I'm a rebel.  I crave fried potato products, dammit.  And fried other things.  Cabbage.  Sweet potatoes.  Snickers.  Hot dogs.  Mac and cheese (if you are at a Renaissance Festival.) (Actually I don't like mac and cheese that much, but they do fry it.) Also tempura fried veggies.

Ah, that was a nice trip down gustatory lane.  I'm not having any of those other things, but I enjoyed thinking about them.

I'm not having them because I'm on a diet.  I didn't think I was actually losing weight, but actually it was just happening so slowly that I didn't notice.  Turns out I'm losing about half a pound a week.  I suppose that's good and healthy-like.  It is frustratingly slow, though.  I like to exercise and I have a very hard time losing weight while doing so.  The other option is minimal exercise and quick weight loss.  That would quickly result in a skinny but insane me.

Pluto's progress has slowed way down.  He still has a lump.  It's less than golf ball sized, but larger than grape.  And I can't get in touch with the vet to ask about his bloodwork.  I am frustrated on the veterinary front.

But soon I will be in the woods where I hope to evade my frustrations.  Yay for weekends and backpacking!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Preparing for the first backpacking trip of the year

I spent this evening gathering my crapola together to get my backpack ready for an overnight trip.  It was all scattered hither and yon (and some of it still is!)  I am shocked at how heavy the dang thing is, and I haven't even put the food or water in yet.

If the weather forecast continues to be good, I think I'm going to take out the tent and tent accessories, and just put in a groundsheet.  If there isn't room at the shelter (unlikely in Maryland in March, I'd think) I can just sleep out under the stars.  Given the lack of leaves I might actually *see* some stars, too.  That'd be nice.

The forecast calls for highs in the 60's on Saturday, with lows in the lower 30's.  Might be a wee bit chilly in my 30 degree bag, but I'm bringing a sleeping bag liner and fleece to wear to bed.  Plus there's always the option of cuddling up to DeLee.  ;)  Though I think that's unlikely without us being crammed into a two man tent together.

DeLee and I are both looking forward to a night out.   Most would be aiming for a night out on the town, but not us!  We like a night out in the woods.  For me it provides a rather dramatic break from everyday routine.  We aren't doing a tough route (in fact, this is nearly as easy as it gets on the AT) but the act of walking with a pack is enough.  It breaks the mold of the typical Saturday.

I'm looking forward to checking out a shelter that has been built since the last time I went through the area.  My friend Felix stayed there a few weeks ago and it looked pretty swanky.  The finish on the boards looks better than the finish on my living room floor.  Admittedly, the shelter is probably less than five years old, and my living room is one hundred and forty, but still.  Finding a shelter that looks that nice is rare.

Before I go I'll have to run down to check on Pluto.  I'm still waiting to hear back from the lab about his blood test.  Given that it got mailed out Monday, and this is Wednesday, it really hasn't been that long.  But it feels like I've been waiting approximately forever.  His lymph node seemed a bit more swollen today than yesterday.  The area is dry, though, and the vet gave me permission to take the diaper off his face.  I'm continuing to check it every morning before work.  The vet is going to come out for a followup next week.  I hope nothing surgical has to be done to it.  I'm sure that in that location, any surgical activity would require full anesthesia.  It's too close to important stuff to be cutting around there when there's a chance he'd move.  That said, I don't actually expect it to need surgery.  I'm just speculating.  Probably it will eventually shrink (with time and antibiotics.)

And, when I get home I need to go through our storage and find smaller pants.  I may need to outright order some.  The pair I'm wearing this weekend is kind of unraveling in the hindquarter area.  I hope I don't have to make any emergency repairs.  All I have with me for thread is dental floss.  It'd be really, really obvious.  And I doubt it'd feel that great on my heinie.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why I am seldom found in girl groups

One of my coworkers is moving on.  We had her going away luncheon today.  I'll miss her, but I'm excited for her.  She's leaving 12 years of commanding an instrument on a spacecraft to become a physician's assistant.  She said she was taking a 30 month program, which if you think about it is not a long time to have to take classes to go into any medical field.  Apparently physician's assistants are in great demand, so once she finishes her training she will have a lot of opportunities.  And better, she seems really thrilled about what she's going to be doing.  I wish her the best of luck and happiness, and I am sure she will make a *fantastic* medical professional.

While we were at the luncheon I spoke with some of the people sitting near to me about women's groups.  I've been asked several times to join formal or informal women's groups, both at work and for recreational activities.  This has never appealed to me.  I think it's because I don't feel disadvantaged.  That's kind of the point, right?  You support each other in a man's world?  But to me it always seemed more like a hen party, at least as described.  I have no real need or desire to segregate myself off from men.  I grew up nerdy, and I fit in with the male nerds just fine.  Perhaps if I had to struggle to get where I am?  But I really haven't.  And I'm not struggling now - I'm the lead sysadmin!  I'm not seeing the discrimination.

When you grow up smart and nerdy and white, it's pretty easy to slide into tech fields whether you're male or female.  I can't speak to the problems experienced by smart, nerdy non-white women.  Maybe one of them can chime in.  But for me, at least, all the work done by the generations before me meant that I had equal access to the same education offered to all the boy nerds in my area.  And I feel that I took good advantage of those opportunities.  I took a full schedule of advanced placement classes in high school, I worked summer internships in nerd areas, and I used my full ride scholarship to study physics.  It turned out that I am not that great at physics (compared to the super nerds) but I tried.

Really there aren't that many kids who are full on nerds, so those of us who show the signs are typically encouraged.  The world needs nerds.  Had I shown a talent for art perhaps it would have been a hard road for me, but a talent for math and science?  And some actual language skills?  Yeah, no hardship here.  And I feel that I've repaid the investment that society and schools made in me by becoming an actual productive adult nerd.  Hometown girl makes good.  I may not be as interested in the nerd community events as I might be (I have no desire to to give talks at conferences), but I'm out there every day fighting the good fight, trying to protect our nation's investment in science and technology. 

I'm rambling a bit.  I think the point I was trying to get to was despite the fact that I've never had any use for women's groups, I have finally thought of a reason why I should maybe participate.  And that's to help younger women who maybe don't feel as comfortable with their nerd nature as I did back in the day.  I can't empathize with them, but I could potentially help them.  How, I really don't know.  And nobody from any of these groups has ever said "We need your help."  Which is too bad, because that is a sure way to get my attention.  I'm a sucker for people who need help.

That's not to say I'm actually going to participate.  I'm still not a joiner.  I still have no desire to kaffeeklatch or bitch about how oppressed I am.  But if somebody showed me a real, concrete way in which my participation might help others, I might think about it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's just like being on the trail, really

Today is the one year anniversary of my thruhike attempt.  In retrospect it was fairly apropos. 

I got up before dawn.  There was no heat on and it was chilly.  I ate in the dark and got my stuff together for the day.  I forgot to put out all the food I needed for my lunch.  I traveled all over creation, getting underway before it was fully light out.  I saw animals and walked in mud.  I took a picture of something interesting on a trail.

I had put my tent up poorly.  It collapsed before I was ready to pack it up.  I had to crawl under the slack fabric of the roof to get everything out so I could roll it up and put it away.

I munched my way through (fairly healthy) snacks all afternoon.  Dinner was kind of a hodgepodge but it was delicious.

I walked and felt fine doing it, but afterward I was pretty achy.  I decided not to lift any weights.

In the evening, small furry critters ran around and got into all my stuff.

And at the end of the day, I am happy to be alive and doing what I'm doing.  A pretty typical day for a hiker.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blood, pus, and smegma. So, how was your day?

This has been the slackest weekend I've had in a really long time, not counting times I was sick or the weather was horrible.  Pluto's illness, whatever it is, pretty much wrecked all my plans.  No horseback riding, no hiking.

I set my clock ahead. (Did you?)  That meant I woke up when it was still dark out.  On a weekend!  The horror.  But I had no idea when my vet was going to be able to get out, so I couldn't afford to sleep in.  Plus the dog is on a schedule with all the drugs. 

The vet turned out to be coming out at nearly 1, so I dawdled around the house, napped, and generally didn't do much.  Well, I did a little.  I put a couple of things up for sale on Ebay.  I've never done that before so it was a bit of a learning experience.  I also opened a new Paypal account because my old one was under my old name, and it was easier to open a new one than to mail them copies of my documents.  Oy.  It's still kind of a pain in the butt though.

I am hoping that the two tents I put up for sale will sell for more than the $6.50 that is currently bid on one of them.

The vet's visit wasn't terribly definitive.  She doesn't think it's strangles, but you can't tell for sure by looking.  She couldn't get any pus out to do a culture on (and that was a fun experience, trying to get a horse to hold still while an inch long needle got repeatedly jabbed into a tender part of his head) so she drew blood to test for antibodies to strangles.  In the meantime Pluto has antibiotics, another diaper, and a shaved area around his bloody, golfball-sized exploded lymph node.

As if that weren't gross enough, I also cleaned his sheath this afternoon.  He needed it anyway, and the sedation the vet gave him to be able to stick the needle in his jaw helped him relax while I cleaned him.  It isn't really a fun procedure for either of us.  I ended up filthy up to my elbow, of course.  I'll have to wait until the next time he feels safe letting it all hang out before I can check my work.

In less gross news I seamsealed my new Lightheart tent after I got home from the barn.  Upon rereading the instructions I find that I've missed some spots.  I'll have to go back out there tomorrow I guess.  I'm just hoping that when the tent collapses (again) the poles don't poke holes in it.  I have it set up on haphazardly on the porch, and it's really not holding together very well.  This particular tent design does not deal well with a sloppy setup.  The poles keep popping out of their little holders.  I'm pretty sure if I set it up taut (say, with stakes in the ground) it would work better.  It had better or it will find itself on Ebay too.  Hah!  I am ruthless with the tents today.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A totally unexpected Saturday

So far, very little of today has gone like I thought it would.

I mean, the alarm was normal.  Feeding the dog was normal.  Getting dressed, all that jazz, fine.

Then I told Tara I was thinking of going out to the farm early, and she informed me we had no farrier appointment.  But the reason sucked.  The farrier's mom died.  I'm okay with him missing appointments but I'm not okay with his mom dying.  That SUCKS.  Felt bad for him.

Anyway I went out to the farm and started grooming Pluto.  He is currently bicolor because I groomed half of him and then I noticed his jaw.  The underneath of his jaw.  It had blood and dried pus stuck to it.  Oh god.  Not good.

I called my vet and she verified that in fact we need to be worried about strangles, and gave me some instructions.  Pluto and his fieldmate are in quarantine.  Vet is coming out tomorrow to culture Pluto's pus (yuck!) and I had to go buy diapers.  Pluto is now wearing a flymask with a diaper wrapped around the velcro to catch any pus which might fall.  Which, also yuck.

So Pluto is quarantined.  I went to watch Tara ride since I couldn't ride myself.  Dang Timber does not understand "contagious" and wanted to follow me around.  I took some pictures (not posted here to save Tara's embarrassment) and got chilly since I wasn't exercising.  Then I went to the grocery.

There I purchased diapers, soap, vaseline, and Purell.  All necessary for the quarantine and treatment.  However, when I got back to the barn the Purell had disappeared.  I remember putting it in the basket.  I remember scanning it.  I remember putting it in the bag.  How'd it disappear?

Back at the farm I put the diaper on Pluto's flymask.  He looks *ridiculous*.  No bets on whether it's still on tomorrow when I get there.

Also?  Pluto badly needs his sheath cleaned.  Trying to remember to take warm water and disposable gloves out with me tomorrow.  Playboy used to like having his sheath cleaned.  Either my skills have deteriorated or Pluto doesn't kink that way, but he doesn't enjoy the process.  Alas.

This afternoon I thought about trying to seamseal my tent, but the 59 promised degrees never showed up, and the wind was pretty unfriendly.  Maybe tomorrow.  Or not.  How many people could there really be at a Maryland shelter in mid-March?  Will we really need a tent next weekend?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

All cat, all the time

A typical morning in our household.
Dory, Andy, and Beauty totally sacked out in the living room.
Nazca on the stairs.  A good location from which to run away.
Olli hogging the heated catbed.

Personalities are becoming more clear.  Olli likes JD, he likes to be on my lap, he likes to get into trouble.  Dory seeks out cuddling but is gradually becoming more independent.

Nazca likes Harry Potter.  I found this out last night.  I put on the first movie and settled in on the sofa.  Nazca bounded over to the tv and set up riiiight in front of it.  When I stopped the movie for a second he poked his nose at the screen to find out why it stopped. 

I have no idea what this has to do with Nazca being fat.  Maybe it's a coincidence?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pros and Cons: career vs chucking it all

I spent a few moments today pondering Here vs There.

Here:  Government language.  OMB Circular A-130.  And a mandatory survey that asks me for my opinion on a topic about which I know nothing.  I had to check with Wikipedia to find out what they were asking me.

There:  No sounds but my own breathing, leaves crunch, stones grating underfoot.

Here:  8 hours with a butt in a chair.

There:  8 hours climbing up hills, gasping for breath, feeling the burn in the calves, then the agonizing ache of knees holding me up on the long, slippery descents.  Unpredictable falls.  Blisters.

Here:  A cat on my lap every fifteen minutes or so.  Hot beverages available at will.

There:  As much food as I can carry and feel like eating. 

Here:  A cool, dreary day, but I'm indoors with central heat and a stool to put my feet up on.

There:  Storms, cold wind, rain leaking down your sleeves and neck.  But exertion keeps you warm, and there really isn't anywhere you have to be.  You can set up your tent on the next flat spot if you so desire.

Here:  Just SO sick and tired of bureaucracy.

There:  Satisfaction in a day's hike, conquering tough hills, meeting interesting people.

Here:  My beloved and a yoga class.

There:  Loneliness, hiking alone even when you don't want to, no room in the shelter.

It's a toss-up today.  Most days I'd vote for the trail, but when the weather sucks?  I'm not saying it makes bureaucracy look attractive, but it at least makes it more bearable.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Today's blog in tweet format

Went to Towson, ate too much really good sushi, was in sushi haze all afternoon.  Now tired.  You'll have to talk amongst yourselves.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I heart the Appalachian Trail flick

While I was on my daily walk today, I ran into some coworkers.  I waved, and was surprised to hear one say "We were just talking about you!"  Because we don't work *that* closely.. I run into him a few times a year.

He and his walking pal had just been talking about the National Geographic Appalachian Trail special.  I've heard great things about it.  I guess my name came up because they knew I was hiking last year.  At any rate, we got to talking about it, and I found out it's now available on Netflix!  So tonight JD and I interrupted our X-files marathon to watch the Appalachian Trail show. 

It was awesome!  Spellbinding, for me.  I don't know about JD.  I think he liked it too.  But for me, seeing all those places I've been was amazing.  JD had been to some of them too.  When they got to Harper's Ferry, he said "Hey, I've been there!" And then he instantly realized that not only had he been there, he'd been *right* where the picture was taken from (not from the AT, actually, but from the cliffs up over the town where we walked a couple of weeks ago.)  And that was pretty dang cool.  Not just that, but Laurie Potteiger was in the film, and we met her while we were walking up there!  I mean, JD met her.  I met her again.  I've run into her off and on for the last few years.  She works at the Appalachian Trail Conference office in Harper's Ferry so she shows up at a lot of local AT gatherings, as you might imagine.

I really loved the advance look at some of what I haven't done yet, including chunks of Katahdin.  I'm feeling more comfortable with the climb now.  I mean, it looks rocky, but doable.  Probably I'll be kinda sore the next day.  :)  I think I'll have to stop to look around a lot.  The views looked astounding.

Between the film and the incredibly delicious strawberries that JD picked up at the store today, this was a very, very good evening.

I don't think I've mentioned the gym much other than to say I probably shouldn't have started the hour before a yoga class.  I've been going twice a week, specifically not on yoga days.  So far I'm up to 17 girly push-ups and sixty sit-ups.  I've been varying my other exercises.  I have to be careful not to aggravate my neck bones so lat pull-downs and some of the tricep exercises are out.  But I've been using the assisted pull-up/dip machine and I am feeling very butch for doing pull-ups and dips, even though they're assisted.  It feels plenty difficult to me.  I'm doing big step-ups using a sturdy table, in preparation for climbing big rocks on the trail.  I'm also doing various lunges for same.  I'm doing leg extensions and leg curls to keep my knees and hamstrings strong.  I feel that along with yoga, this stuff is fairly basic maintenance.  Like flossing.  Going to the gym is like flossing.  So I can keep my original teeth and spine longer.  I hear getting either replaced kind of sucks.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Thank goodness it rained

I needed a day off.  I mean, I spent most of the day doing laundry and other things in the house, but I didn't ride a horse, hike anywhere, or go to a gym.  So that officially makes it a day off.  It's been lovely.  I've enjoyed hearing the rain hitting the house while I sit inside warm and dry. 

I realized I haven't spilled the details of the dog's situation, so here it is.  She has severe inflammatory bowel disease, not to be confused with irritable bowel syndrome.  She's had blood work, xrays, a sonogram, and endoscopy with biopsies.  We're lucky it's not cancer.  The doc indicated that the level of inflammation was heading that direction, but we've caught it in time to stop the trend.  I think.

The doc's description of the dog's intestines (after the biopsies came back and she knew we weren't dealing with cancer) was "I didn't want to scare you, it looks like hamburger in there."  Poor poochie's guts are swollen and ulcerated.  The amazing thing is she wasn't acting sicker.  Our little yellow doggie is quite the stoic, it seems.

Also she has heliobacter, which is not usually a big factor in dogs.  They're treating for it to be on the safe side.

The dog was already on an acid reducer, anti-nauseal, and something to coat her intestines before she ate.  In addition to that, she now also gets a wormer (in case there are any parasites hiding in there that didn't show up in the tests), two antibiotics, steroids, and an immune system suppressant.  Those are the short term treatments to try to get the inflammation under control.  She'll need regular bloodwork to make certain those drugs aren't hurting her pancreas, liver, or bone marrow.

Long term, she'll need to be on a diet of "unique proteins", i.e. foods her body hasn't dealt with before.  The theory is that her immune system is reacting to the proteins in the food she's been eating.  So no more chicken, beef, or anything else found in most regular dogfoods.  The vet suggested several alternatives including bison, venison, rabbit, salmon, and duck. 

This is a reasonably common problem, so JD was able to go to the store and buy a case of duck and potato canned dogfood.  The household dogfood taster (JD) says it tastes like BBQ.  One of the ingredients is "smoke flavor".  Why dogfood needs smoke flavor, I have no idea.  Perhaps it justifies the exorbitant cost of the special food.

Anyway, that's where we stand.  Dog is very sick but is being treated.  The steroids seem to have taken immediate effect - at least she's eating and drinking a lot.  We'll find out tomorrow if she's drinking so much that she can't hold it until we get home from work.  If that's the case, I may be doing a quick run home at lunchtime for the foreseeable future.  Here's hoping the dog has a will (and bladder) of steel.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I am conquered by crowds

Today, again on the advice of Ginny (Ginny is a great trail reference) I headed out to Great Falls to hike the Billy Goat Trail.  I tried to time it so I would get there before 9, so I might have a spot in the parking lot.  In fact I got there at 8:45 and got the next to the last spot.[1]  I headed out north on the C&O Canal trail.  I wanted to attack Loop A from the north end.  The last time I remember hiking it (fifteen years ago with.. David Cottingham?  Somebody from that era anyway) I remembered scrambling down a narrow lip of rock, and I would rather scramble up that sort of thing.  Leads to better footing.

On the way there I saw a few joggers and power walkers.  Not too many.  But shortly after I got on the trail, it became apparent that every healthy person and/or parent of toddlers had decided to do the Billy Goat this morning.  Man!  I can't remember the last time I waited so many times for people on a trail.  Given that it was mostly rock scrambling, opportunities to get off to the side were minimal.

That aside, it was fun!  I spent a lot of time using my hands for stability, or even in modest strength moves to help me get over boulders.  I was glad I've been lifting weights.  Even the piddling amount I've done has obviously helped.

At one point I sat on a smooth rock and slid to the bottom.  The mom behind me was horrified.  "You'll ruin your pants!"  I assured her that my pants were tough and didn't mind.

I was glad to be carrying nothing heavier or more bulky than my daypack.  At that, it got in my way a few times.  The trail was quite a bit more involved than I remember it being.  Of course, I was 25 then..  At any rate it was a good time and I made it through in significantly less time than the sign said it would take, so I was pretty happy with that.

After Loop A I had originally intended to do loops B and C but between the huge crowds and the blisters forming on my feet[2] I decided to bag it.  I had done about four miles, and I had worked muscles that hadn't been worked in a long time.  It was a good morning.  And then I went home, ate some lunch, and took a long, wonderful nap.[3][4]

[1] Of course when I came back two hours later, cars were parked along the side of the road for a half a mile, so maybe the parking standards aren't too particular.

[2] Rock scrambling makes your shoes move on your feet in an entirely different way than hiking does.

[3] The beeping UPSes from the power outage that happened right after I got home had no hope of keeping me awake.  Zzzzz.

[4] Maybe if I'd had a less modest lunch I would be less hungry right now.

Egret flying away from paparazzi

I'm a bad-ass blue blazer.  You heard me.


Is it just me or is this place really freaking scenic?

I was trying to sneak up on the egret in the middle of the pond.


Friday, March 4, 2011

In which running gets hind teat

I find myself in the unexpected position of trying to decide what sport to give up.  It's never been an issue before.

I was the most unathletic child you could imagine.  If I went outside on a beautiful day, you could be sure to find me under a shady tree, reading a book or comic book.  Probably with a soda and/or some candy by my side.  The books have served me well.  The candy not so much.

I've always been slow, ungraceful, and uninterested in sports.  *Actively* uninterested.  I never attended a pep rally.  I don't watch sports on tv.  I have no interest in Superbowl parties and view them as an excellent way to get the stores and parks to myself once a year.  I am that kid who was always picked last for teams.  I didn't mind, either.  I didn't want to play anyway.

So how do I find myself picking sports now?  It was an accident!  I didn't mean to pick up a sport.  It just kind of happened.  I eased into activities with no idea that they were considered sports.  And now I'd like to participate at a level that demands focus and training. 

I only got so much focus and training time to go around, folks.  This is a fact that was never apparent to me growing up.  I mean, I could read 24x7, given enough cans of Coke.  The idea that I would someday have a limited amount of energy to devote to any given task was as far from my reality as taxes and town ordinances.

However, now I have taxes, ordinances, and .. sports.  Go figure.

Some things are non-negotiable.  Pluto is a life responsibility.  If I absolutely can't be there, (like last year when I was geographically inconvenient) I have to find somebody else to look after him.  But he and I both prefer that I be there to do it myself.  And we have both made a lot of progress in dressage, and want to do more.  So no cutting back on the horseback riding.  In fact, I want to increase that.

Likewise, I don't want to cut back on hiking.  I love it, and it keeps me sane.  If I cut back, the hiking that I do will be more difficult and less enjoyable because I'll be less fit for it.  So the hiking stays.

Yoga is also non-negotiable.  I only do it one evening a week, which doesn't seem like a lot of time.  But 14% of evenings, in the long run, is kind of a lot.  Nonetheless, it keeps me limber and keeps my core strong.  These are Important Things.  The more so as one gets older.  Mom's current foray into the land of spinal surgery, titanium appliances, and occupational therapy really drive the point home.  I don't feel the need to increase my yoga time yet, but I do need to keep up the level I'm at.  Being able to walk upright and not having my back go out on me all the time are incredibly valuable benefits.

Going to the gym, while not super fun, is kind of important.  It's not really a sport I guess.  But it's a regular form of exercise that needs to happen.  Combined with yoga, it is meant to help me stay healthy enough for daily activities.  I lift weights there, stretch, strengthen my core muscles, and do bizarre exercises which are intended to help me to ride horses and hike.  So while going to the gym is not in itself a goal, it's pretty important to my other activities.

The only thing that really leaves is running.  Now, I love running.  I only started doing it last fall, but I find it to be fun and easy.  (The way I do it, anyway.. I'm not exactly a sprinter over here.)  However, it takes time.  Time that I can't spend doing all the other things.  And it involves its own recovery time.  Worse, it's using some of the same muscles I need for my other activities.  Every time I run, I'm using up energy that could have been used climbing a mountain or riding a horse, AND I'm delaying the next time that I'll be able to do either of those things.

So, sadly, it looks like I'm going to be giving up running for the time being.  If for some reason I should give up hiking (especially long distance hiking) I look forward to resuming my delightful little jogs through the woods.  But I'm giving up the idea of training for a 5k right now.  I just don't have the time and energy to do it all.

PS.. if you see me jogging in the woods?  It's just for funsies.  Not training.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ideas for low carb backpacking, which I shall try out soon

So I've been eating mildly low carb for the last few months, at the behest of my naturopath.  I am a bread/pasta/sweets lover from way back.  It was a big change for me.  I am planning a backpacking trip in a couple of weeks, and I realized I needed to really think about what I was going to carry with me.  I already talked to the doc and she was not okay with me doing my traditional high carb menu for backpacking.

I went to the grocery store to look around this evening and I have some ideas.

In no real order:

hard boiled eggs
baby carrots
beef jerky
trail mix made with seeds, nuts, and dried fruit - I grabbed a premade bag from the organic section at Giant
fantastic foods hummus or black bean mix
freeze dried bacon and egg mix for breakfast, from REI or online  Eggs and bacon at REI
peanut butter - either super wholesome but not individually packaged, individually packaged Jif, or those natural Justin's nut butter packets from REI
dehydrated chicken from online
foil packs of tuna, chicken, spam
individual packs of cream cheese
low carb wraps - I got some of these at Giant to try:
dried fruit - raisins, prunes, dried apples, dried mango, dried apricots

The organic section at Giant had a big selection of bars.  I got a variety of Lara bars to try.  The ingredient lists are impressively minimal and meet my nutritional requirements.  Will be interesting to see what they taste like.

If you haven't seen True Orange, True Lime, and True Lemon, you might want to look at them.  They're zero calorie additives to flavor water.  They are sweetened with stevia and cane juice, so there is a minute amount of sugar in them - probably like half a gram.  Not enough to show up on the nutritional information.  I tried True Orange in my water tonight and I like it.

So, what I'm planning to carry on this next trip is:

Breakfast:  either oatmeal, one of my alpine air granolas, or eggs / bacon - not sure yet
Snacks:  Lara bars (if they don't suck), dried fruit, nut/seed/fruit trailmix, maybe some additional almonds, jerky
Lunch:  baby carrots, wraps, cream cheese or string cheese, a hard boiled egg (in need of another sandwichy ingredient - chicken?  craisins?  walnuts?)
Dinner:  quinoa, spam if I can find it, if not spicy tuna, probably some spices to add to it
Other:  nido, olive oil, pero, crystal light, true orange or true lemon, truvia, maybe some herb tea, some dark chocolate for dessert

Whew!  That was exhausting.  Planning from scratch wears me out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Invasive species probably have the best chance of surviving the next apocalypse

From, this is the definition of an invasive species:

An "invasive species" is defined as a species that is
1) non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and
2) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.

Going by that definition humanity itself is an invasive species.  We're native to an ecosystem somewhere in Africa, IIRC.  And we cause economic, environmental harm, and harm to our own health.

When we identify invasive species we tend to go a little crazy trying to eradicate them.  We've poisoned and restocked entire rivers, spent hundreds of hours pulling up roots, and shot animals on sight because they were the "wrong" species.  Our own invasion goes unchecked.  It's pretty ironic when you think about it.

I saw an article today about the "Sixth Extinction".  There are five mass extinctions in the geological record, and the speed with which we are losing species now says we're in the middle of one now.  Here's one link of many:

Some animals are doing all right, I guess.  Those who live with us (there have probably never been so many felines on the earth as now) or those who live around us.  Rats are doing well, I believe.  Animals who can use our extensive sewer systems are probably fine. 

Today as I walked out to the car this evening in the fading light, my personal safety came to mind.  To be honest I don't think about it much at work, what with the guards at all the gates and the fences and the pointy wire.  But I practiced due diligence and I scanned the area around the car as I approached.  And I saw something moving!  I thought maybe it was a feral cat, but as I got closer it stood up and I realized it was a fat, cranky raccoon.  This raccoon was not afraid of me.  It was annoyed that I was interrupting it.  It glared at me and then hopped down into the storm sewer.

So the raccoons seem to be coexisting just fine.

I'm thinking I should check my car for missing antennae, hubcaps, and hoses.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I hope I'm not Neo. I look terrible in an egg.

Pretty much everybody was more happy, healthy, and energetic today than they were yesterday.  Rainy days always seem to lead to lackluster lives and performance.  It's like somebody sucks the life out of the populace.  Even the dog was kind of lethargic.

As I pondered this today, it occurred to me that rainy days support the Matrix theory.  If there is an event that causes all of us to feel low energy, as if something were sapping our energy.. maybe something is!  Until you try the red pill (or was it the blue?) you'll never know if you're dreaming in a pod or not.  The Matrix might pull more energy out of us just to keep itself going under the drain of evaporative cooling.

Personally, I have always thought that I am solar powered.  I don't have chlorophyll (or at least I'm not green, which seems to indicate same) but I definitely get peppy under the influence of the sun.  I'm sure some day some bright scientist will come up with a chemical reaction equation explaining how it works.

In less whackjob territory, I went to the gym this evening and finally got a decent workout.  I've been ramping up slowly to avoid the crazy muscle soreness I generally get at the beginning.  It's been working, too.  I upped the weight on pretty much everything today, and worked until my muscles quivered.  And then I breathed, and did it again.  I am ashamed to tell you how few pushups I could do.  Suffice to say "not enough".  But I borrowed the gym's end table and used it to do big stepups.  It's the best thing I've found so far for emulating the big rocks I encounter on the trail.  My legs totally felt it, too.

Assuming I don't blow out a joint, tear a muscle, or get Lyme Disease again, I may actually get fit!