Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dear Credit Union, How many letters will I get before you figure it out?

I love my credit union. I've been with them for ages and we're a good team.

I got a letter from them offering me overdraft! protection! plus! Apparently I can get automatic overdraft protection on my debit/credit card, just like paper checks.

Wow. We have to identify checks as paper checks. I feel old?

The P.S. on the letter reads, "Think of overdraft protection plus as your "insurance policy" for being able to access funds in an emergency."

What sort of emergency requires me to withdraw huge amounts of money from all of my accounts - checking, savings and money market in this case - in such a hurry that I cannot even make one single phone call to the credit union first to transfer funds?

I'll tell you what kind of emergency. When someone has a gun in my ribs and is making me withdraw every.single.penny I have deposited at said credit union.

Am I the only one who sees the mistake in this? For years credit card companies have been telling me I need to have high credit limits in case of an emergency. The only person who is having a $14,000 emergency is the person who has stolen my wallet.

On the page included within upon which I place my signature because I won't get this fabulous benefit unless I ask for it, I am told that this option links my checking account to my savings account or even a line of credit so that funds are automatically transferred to cover the overdraft.

Automatic, eh? So no one will ask me why I'm buying a ticket to Rio and a little condo on the side? Fabulous. Sign me up.

And then there's fear-based marketing. The first paragraph tells me that by signing up, I "can avoid the embarrassment of a declined card and ensure that critical purchases are made even when funds are not immediately available."

Honestly, the last critical purchase I made with my debit card involved a package of Oreos. I'm serious. It was a matter of life and death.

Besides, I was 20 once. I've suffered through the embarrassment of having a declined card. I lived through it. Whoops! If it happens these days, which I guess it hasn't, but I'm a lucky one in this economy, I would still shrug it off. Math mistake? You betcha. Forget to register debits for the last 5 weeks? Been there. Always assume there's more in there than there really is? Guilty.

I want them to decline my card! If I don't have the money in the bank I then 1. won't spend it and 2. know it is time to sit down and come to grips with my checkbook register.

On the other hand, I got an email from Betty Crocker this morning. I get their newsletter, so you know, I signed up for it and all that technical stuff. So when I click on the one recipe I've wanted to look at in the last 18 months, I was told that to see the recipe, I had to log in.

I couldn't. Who remembers the password after that long? I went through the regular passwords I use for things like recipes. None of them work. You hear what I'm saying? Recipes. They're recipes. They are not state secrets, classified documents, instructions for making doggy wee-wee pads, love potions or the formula for making co-workers be nice to each other.

I had to send myself an email to get another password. The email told me that if I hadn't requested to reset my password, I could simply delete the email and "don't worry; your account is secure."

So you may (please, go ahead) pull every dime out of my bank account, but you absolutely may not (how could you even ask) view my recipe for black bean and corn enchiladas.

So there.

Don't get all puffed up

Before any of you start with the knowing nods, sitting up straighter and pointing with pride at your computer saying, "I know her. She set that watch herself and there is nothing she can't do!" let's have a reality check.

I went for a walk last night with my watch. I got it set up to do the intervals, but it looked like it wanted to stop after 9 repeats. It kept asking me something, but I don't know what it wanted. Stupid watch.

I finally got the 'chrono' to start counting my time after I had walked almost a mile. Coming into the driveway, I couldn't figure out how to make it stop. I had to come in the house and look at the directions.

That's me walking or running down the street with a snazzy light purple watch on my arm and directions in my hand not watching where I'm going.

Question Mark kitty was in the driveway Sunday evening. I took a photo and fed him.

Look carefully at his front paw and you can see that he is carrying it. Something didn't heal properly. I watched him wander around. He's a boy. I always figured so since he hasn't ever been pregnant, but I know for sure now. I would love to trap him and get the paw checked out and take care of business on the other end. He's awfully wily and as much as the neighbors feed him, I don't know if he would be lured into the trap by food.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Translation, please

I am sitting at my desk wondering if someone in the group of people in the break room right outside my door are going to shout, “Who made this coffee? It’s crap!”

But they are talking about something else. Maybe they haven’t figured it out yet. I don’t know what I’m doing because I rarely make coffee in the office, but I took the last of the coffee a few minutes ago and so I felt it necessary and polite to make more.

Normally, I am the one walking away from the coffee pot mumbling about how strong it is. I don’t mind strong. I like coffee. But most of the time the coffee in the office tastes like I imagine very hot furniture polish tastes.

There’s a line in a Cary Grant movie about coffee. He serves a cup of strong coffee and jokes that to make extra money, they let it cool, bottle it and serve it as furniture polish.

I love Cary Grant movies.

Back to the coffee! It’s a machine that makes the coffee and dispenses directly into a huge vacuum carafe. The measuring scoop inside the can of Folgers is 1-cup! That’s just a lot of coffee. I get weak-kneed pouring a heaping cup of coffee into the filter/basket.

I didn’t feel much like drinking coffee earlier this morning because I hauled my carcass out of bed and went for a 3-mile run. I ran the whole way because I have to go to work every morning and who can dilly-dally? I have yet to figure out how to earn money some other (legal) way.

I got a new running watch for my birthday. It was delivered on Saturday when I wasn’t home, so last night I read the directions. I’m pretty happy because it times your splits and it sets intervals. I’m sure the Garmin does, too. But I’ve only had the Garmin for what, a year?

I can’t be rushed.

I have no skill whatsoever for reading something and then doing what I’ve read. I can cook and bake from recipes, but I screw them up sometimes. The translation into action gets me every time.

I can read, thank goodness. I can read stuff like “press NEXT and + / - to select STOP AT END or REPEAT AT END” but once I actually press NEXT, my brain goes blank. To be honest, in that sentence, I really stop reading after the word ‘select’ after letting my eyes bounce over the + / - part. I tested myself and have read it three times now.

I will conquer this watch.

When I was learning how to golf, which is not something I enjoy very much, I could be told to lean forward from the hips aligning your spine from the hip at a 20-degree angle. No comprehension until another woman told me to lean over so that I could swing the club without letting my arms touch the girls.

Then I knew what to do. Mystery revealed. Those sorts of instructions for various postures and swings were the only reason I learned how to play golf at all.

So while you weren’t looking, I grabbed my watch and the directions and you will never believe it, but I set the time, the date and the two intervals I need. I haven’t conquered it yet, but I’ve certainly stood it in the corner to make it behave.

Will wonders never cease?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Another photo

Here's one not taken on my cell phone. The red you see is natural. I didn't add that, it comes out at times. I just used brown. Who hearts herself? Is it me?

Even when I wear it wavy, it's a huge bushy wig o'hair.

IRL friend Pippa sent me an email to say she likes it, which is huge since she is the #1 fan of me not coloring my hair.

My hair

OK, I won't tell you what I think of either the photo or the hair. Just notice that the gray is gone. I have three votes for and two votes against. The against votes I think are mostly against coloring my hair, not against the actual color.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I found my Garmin and other pointless information

I found my Garmin! I haven't done anything to my hair in a long time, but Sunday night I pulled out the bin where I keep all my hair stuff I never use anymore.

I grabbed my hair dryer from the bin and I noticed the band of my Garmin! I was overjoyed. I ran with it and was happily obsessed from the first step. For my birthday, I also got a simple Timex running watch. Woo hoo!

I don't really have much of interest to say right now, but I have complained so much about my Garmin, I thought I would let you know.
For two weeks now I have had the strange sensation of water running down the back of my left leg when I got done running. I thought it was odd, but at first thought it was sweat. Then I thought it was water since I pour water down my shirt at times. But now it has happened enough that I realize it is in one spot just above the back of my knee, it isn't a running down sensation. This morning it's been constant.

My hip is inflamed from my mileage, so I need to get some ice on it. I'll do that soon. It feels better when I move around, but at night it hurts enough to keep me from being comfortable.
I have sheets and pillowcases on the line right now. Isn't that the best?
I colored my hair this morning.

I know.

My stepdaughter is getting married in a month and I thought that maybe for the photos, I could try to get rid of the gray. I used non-permanent color, so it is supposed to wash out. It better wash out. I'll be ticked if it doesn't wash out properly. My hair never takes color seriously, so it should be fine. Anyway, I did it now in order to see if it looks ok. I'll do it again if it does. I'll post a photo and all of my two faithful readers can vote.

Just kidding! I know I have more readers who don't leave comments. You can vote, too.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Let the festivities begin!

Everyone wants in on this action early, so we celebrated with cake and ice cream tonight. My birthday isn't until tomorrow. Am sure a two-day birthday is perfect for me. Am sure I got whipped cream frosting because I complain about sugary frosting so often. It was wonderful and my niece put the candles on the cake.
Do yourself a favor and don't click on the photo. I ran 3 miles this morning and then spent the afternoon in the pool with five kids. Give a girl a break. At least I put on mascara since I knew the camera was out.

I am

I used to be
At least I'm not yet

Am I not the most clever girl you've ever met? You're welcome.

I thought about taking photos of actual records that belong to me. I would have to dig for a 45 and I believe the only one I still own is a song by a band called Trio. The song is Da Da Da and the lyric I will never be able to get out of my head is Ich lieb dich nicht, du liebst mich nicht.

I have a decent collection of LPs, so I don't know which I would have chosen to represent my birthday. Probably one of the Monkees would be fun, but I just have cassette tapes.

I have a lot of 78s and would have just grabbed one at random. Maybe Louis Armstrong or Dean Martin.

That's all I have to say now. I will try to be exciting tomorrow when I turn old.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How I learned to count

I ran 9 miles today.

I learned a long time ago that something public speakers do to calm their nerves is multiplication tables. I had the devil of a time learning my multiplication tables (MT from here on out because I don't want to keep typing that) in elementary school. In fact, I didn't learn them until I was in my 20s. I just couldn't get them memorized.

Public speaking may give me butterflies, but it's something I enjoy. I then read an article about how doing math stimulates the analytical side of the brain. Well, shoot. That's my favorite part of the brain! The study found that when people are in highly emotional situations, doing their MT can keep them calm.

I have used my MT to keep from crying during movies and funerals for years now. Yes, it works even for funerals! I have also found simple counting to help in medical situations, like pokey tests, anesthesia (which makes me very nervous) and even during my Lasik surgery until the actual panic attack took over. At that point, I don't think I could have counted to three in order.

So this morning, I got up early and got ready for my run. But then I fiddled with this and then I fiddled with that. I knew I was nervous and prolonging my start. So I gripped myself by the shoulders and I gave myself the glad eye. "Girl. Let's go!"

I had read (this is akin to 'I have a theory' for people who know me in real life) that Jeff Galloway's gig is about getting people to run-walk-run and he swears there is no loss of fitness, 20 seconds loss of time only (I didn't do the math - ha! Get it? I can count, but... oh forget it) and less chance of injury. That sounded good.

I also read that your long, slow, distance run should be both long and slow. Well, go figure that! I slowed down to a 12-minute mile pace by my best estimate and I ran three minutes, walked one minute. I do feel remarkably better this morning compared to last Saturday morning. I also, and this is important because the grandkids are here, do not feel like I must go back to sleep.

What does this have to do with my MT? Absolutely nothing. But I did count my steps for about 4 of today's miles. Over and over again, I counted and looked at my watch. I learned to feel what I was doing and pace myself up the hill, down the hill, around the corner...it didn't matter. By mile 6, I knew what it felt like and that's when I realized I was feeling the pace.

That felt good, but counting felt better to my brain. It gave me moments of laughter, too. Like the time I went 68, 69, 90. When I run or walk long distances, my brain gets a little foggy. I just shook it off, laughed and corrected myself.

I have a lot to do today, including a trip to see European vacation photos at a friend's house after supper in Pella. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Plus? I need to shower and make the world a better place.

A shout out to my aunt. I was named for her and she's great (not just due to the name). She got laid off from a company where she has worked since she was a teenager. That was pretty shocking. But on Monday, she starts a new job.

So Aunt Karen, you rock! Plus, clearly an omen for good things: Your first day on the new job is my birthday.

Could it be any better than that?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nature Notes - Insects all Around

Visit Michelle at the intelligent Nature Notes Thursday to learn something new.

Lady bugs and butterflies,
Buzzing bees up in the sky.
Teeny, tiny little ants,
Crawling up and down the plants
Many insects can be found
In the sky and on the ground.

I was walking into work earlier this week and this fellow caught my eye. I whipped out my camera and took a couple shots. When I came back into the office from lunch 5.5 hours later, he was still there. After work, he was gone. I think he's a very nice looking bug, but he may need some work on his camouflage skills!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why would a simple run make me crabby?

I’m in a bad mood.

I’m not slamming doors, stomping on ants or crying into a half gallon of Rocky Road. It’s not that sort of mood.

I’m in the sort of bad mood that has me overreacting like this:
~Seriously? Are you the dumbest person on the planet?
~How many times can I say I need this verbatim on your resume? I do not want you to paraphrase. No one understands a single thing you’ve written.
~Right: “You can’t miss it” is always a sure sign that it will be missed.
~If you drive like that during rush hour, you deserve to be a nervous wreck.
~Those are the ugliest shoes I have ever seen on a human being.
~Who the hell would pierce a cat’s ears? You should be in jail.
~WHY does your cell phone answer to a song? No one wants to listen to that. Get rid of it immediately.

Maybe I ate something aggressive for breakfast.

I am training for the half marathon and while my mileage is good my time apparently stinks. This has me stewing. Can you tell?

Have I mentioned that I can’t find my Garmin watch? I’m completely at loose ends over this. Can you tell?

Who needs to find her watch, get some sleep, eat some carbs and figure out how to run faster than she can walk?

Here’s how it happened. Here’s the scoop.

Last night I went to a beginner’s running group. I was nervous about it because I’ve never run with anyone and I was worried they would all run faster than me. I felt bold when I got into my car and left the relative comfort of my own neighborhood. I thought this would be good for me to step out of my comfort zone. You know, meet people who run.

I hated it: a bad situation from beginning to end. I have run 8 miles the last two Saturdays, so I know I can do this. I can run. It’s slow, but it’s prettier than it used to be. I ran 21 miles last week. Last night I just wanted a 5-mile run.

When I got there I noticed right away that no one was talking to each other. This group has been running together since spring. I sort of expected people to act like they knew each other. I overheard a conversation between two women and it really sounded as if they had never spoken before or had only just met.

I ended up with a 4.36 mile run because of one stupid thing after another. First the entire group ran off while I was still asking for clarification. The guy said run for 20 minutes, then turn around. That should give you 5 miles.

WHAT? That’s an 8-minute mile. I had asked before showing up and the guy who sponsors the group told me they were doing a 10-11 minute pace.

There were stringy, lanky young men there who were running very quickly. I couldn’t help but notice them waaaaay over there on the horizon as they were leading the bottleneck going into the woods before I even stepped on the trail from the parking lot. Beginners? Eight-minute miles?

I was still asking where the turning point was for 5 miles. Give me a landmark or something. I didn’t even have a watch on because silly girl here thought the group sort of ran within shouting distance of each other. He said I just needed to follow the yellow dots, which were spray painted every quarter of a mile. By this point I was in last place by several minutes.

The yellow dots were there for the first mile. Then the route turned and the trail I was on had been flooded. No dots. I knew what they looked like. I had seen them on the first leg. They were indeed difficult to miss.

On the new leg of the trail, nothing. No dots. I thought surely I had run at least a quarter of a mile. I overtook one person. She said, “You can’t miss them” and that’s when I knew I was doomed.

I ran and I ran and I ran. Every so often I became a little more angry. I haven’t run long enough to know what 5 miles feels like. It was an out and back course and I tell you at least 20 people left, but I only saw about a dozen people come back. So I kept running thinking that they must have really slowed down a lot to not have looped back on me already.

Then I got frustrated because I do not have enough experience yet to know what 5 miles feels like. I think I would know a 5-mile walk, but not a run. Not yet. It’s early days. Come to find out, I did do almost 5 miles so maybe I’m beginning to pick up cues.

Or maybe I just turned around because the path was getting dark, I was on a trail through a heavily forested area, there were no other runners in sight and I had been passed by several teenaged boys, one who decided to say “hi” as the rode past me two times.

This group obviously wasn’t interested in looking out for each other, either. No one said a word to me as they looped back. I did say to one runner that I wasn’t seeing the yellow dots, thinking perhaps he could tell me that they had washed away or were covered in mud or at least that it wasn't my imagination. He just said, “Oh.”

What does that even mean?

The 4.36 miles didn’t take a whole lot of physical effort while I was running, so maybe I was phoning it in. But when I got back to my car it was very close to being an hour later.

Folks, I can walk 4.36 miles in an hour.

That’s when my frustration turned to this aggressive, ticked-off, get-out-of-my-way mood I am in today. Being at work is only making it worse.

I ate a handful of Skittles, but that didn’t do any good.

Also, if you are a fellow blogger, you may have noticed that I haven’t been commenting as much as usual. I’ve been reading, but mostly in huge chunks. I enjoy training, but I have to admit that it sort of sucks the physical and mental energy out of me.

Dirty dishes? Check
Load of wrinkled clothes? Check
Dusty furniture? Check
Chocolate milk in my fridge? Checkity-check

The chocolate milk is a sure sign I am training. I get to drink right out of the carton now that the weekend is over and my grandkids have had as much as I am going to share with them! Anyway, training is fun in its own stupid, scary way. Last night was not fun and I am grumpy.

But I run again tomorrow: 5 miles with hill repeats. I’m looking forward to it because there are for sure no yellow dots in my neighborhood.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Where are my whereabouts? The good, the bad, the ugly

Thank you to faithful reader Rose for asking about my whereabouts, which I'm about to talk about.

1. Vacation ended. Vacation was very nice and is there a better way to end a vacation than spending two days with friends. These friends fed me two meals a day, drove me around town, let me nap on the couch and even let me have the last beer in the house.

2. The camper fell apart. This is not so groovy. The Lippert frame inside our camper...you know the one. It's made out of big, burly bars of steel and welded tightly together. Yea. It fell apart. Cracked in two pieces. The jury is still out. It was fixed and then it didn't do so well on the ride home. There's another plan afoot, but I am staying out of it until the final bell rings.

3. I lost my Garmin GPS watch between the last vacation stop (friend's house) and my house. I obsess about mileage, pace and heart rate. I keep track of this stuff. I am in a very sorry way over this development. Surely the watch has to be someplace nearby. Perhaps hidden and wishing I would find it. This is not the life it was made for. It was made to be strapped to my wrist fretting about my details. I'm hyperventilating over this situation. Srsly.

3.1. I have started training (probably left it late) for the Des Moines half marathon. Exciting!

4. It's hot outside. No, I mean it's really hot. My Garmin would be making sure my heart was still beating. I have taken to running in the morning, but this morning's run didn't happen because at 0530 it was 78 degrees and 94% humidity and the dew point was like 345,567% or something so that we had fog and at 0800 when I got in my car it was still dripping wet because the water couldn't evaporate.

5. It is raining. Does anyone remember the floods of 1993? Des Moines was particularly hard hit. It made the news. Maybe you recall. This year the floods are even worse than in 1993. Hard to believe, but it has rained 42 inches in Des Moines this year. That isn't even counting the never ending snowfall of the winter. What's different (besides the valuable precautions the city undertook many years ago) is that this isn't so much from the rivers rising. These are flash floods, so creeks are swelling and then disappearing quickly, waters rise like deadly magic tricks on the roadways and basements are floating in water. Sump pumps fail and stores are out of box fans. Thank goodness my basement is still dry, but who knows? It is supposed to rain again tomorrow.

6. Last week my computer crapped out at the same time our router died. Coincidence? I'm not sure. At any rate, the new router was installed last night and over the weekend I spent an hour making homemade pico de gallo and talking to a very nice HP employee whose name I didn't catch but I think it was Maxwell who was from West Africa. There's no country called West Africa. I asked him which country and he said "the English-speaking portion of West Africa." He apologized for being evasive, but said they were not allowed to go into details. You know why? I will bet you a dozen chocolate donuts that policy is in place because so many Americans are so incredibly rude about it. Most tech support people should be paid three times their salary just for putting up with ignorance. Yes, they were in the US. Every voice I heard in the background was without foreign accent. Oh, don't get me started! If it were a British, Australian or Irish accent, everyone would be delighted and clambering to talk to the person. Spare me. Have you ever tried to listen to someone with a deep Scottish accent? Impossible.

7. Yesterday afternoon I spoke to a Qwest tech support person who sounded like a older man. An American, check. An arrogant jerk, check. I was very tired from having run further than I am used to in heat I will never be used to and by late afternoon I was a little crabby. He enraged me and I was moments short of calling him out as a huge jerk. I took a breath and ended the call, but not before he was made aware of my contempt and dislike for his personality. And possibly his ancestors, but I didn't bring them up.

8. I am on the brink of a birthday that ends in a five. I sheepishly admit to being a little freaked out about it.

So life is good.

It may not sound like it, but life is good. On the plus side, I am apparently fit enough to run through water while breathing solid chunks of air and not dying. I am running distances (8 miles last Saturday!) I was heretofore incapable of. Gardens are producing goodness. I found a killer dress for an upcoming family wedding. It is the dress. It looks as though it was altered just for me. I can't wait to wear it!

And for now, I have to leave you. I will be back. Hopefully I will have found both my watch and something of interest to discuss with you all.