Monday, June 29, 2009

Going the distance

I just want to brag that I ran three miles in 30 minutes Friday and Sunday nights. I got hot and sweaty and gross and winded but I felt like a real champ when I was done.

I am proud of this achievement because I have come a super long way from where I was nine months ago.

My goal is to run 3 miles at top speed a minimum of twice a week and work toward improving my 5K time. Finishing is good, kicking ass is better - even if it is just my own.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ella = Mutt

Do due increased demand, I am posting the results to a DNA test that was done on my dog, Ella, earlier this year. I swabbed her chubby little cheeks with a Q-Tip and sent the sample in a sealed envelope to BioPet Vet Lab. Several weeks later, they sent me a certificate and a breakdown of the results.

Based on the DNA analysis, Ella has four different breeds represented in her DNA: cocker spaniel, border collie, Italian Greyhound and Belgian Tervuren. The traits that I have identified in Ella are in bold.

The Cocker Spaniel is eager to both work and hunt. They are trusting and respectful of their master. They are of average intelligence and may be difficult to housebreak. Some like to bark. They love everyone and want people to be happy. They are usually good with children. If not socialized well, they may tend to be shy.

The Border Collie is outgoing, friendly and affectionate with those with whom they are familiar and reserved with strangers. They are highly intelligent, very motivated, enjoy working and may become neurotic if not given enough to do. They are not usually nervous or aggressive. They have a very strong herding instinct which they will use to attempt to herd cats or other small animals.

The Italian Greyhound is submissive, affectionate and gentle. They can be reserved with strangers but very attached to their masters. They are playful, sometimes intentionally naughty and may try to take advantage. They can also be timid and high strung. They do best in a quiet household with no small children. They are very active and may be difficult to housebreak

Belgian Tervuren is smart and obedient, serious and watchful, with strong protective and territorial instincts. They are loyal to their master, and thrive on companionship. If left alone, they may find ways to entertain themselves that may be destructive to surroundings. They have strong herding instincts that they may display by nipping at people's heels. They tend to attach themselves and bond strongly to one or two people.

In conclusion: Traits from these four breeds were written on pieces of paper, put in a black magician's hat, and randomly selected by the angels in heaven and thus was born the "Ella" dog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I want to buy some knives for cutting fruits and vegetables.

But to be honest, I am a little intimidated.

I saw a set of Farberware Cutlery at Wal-Mart and considered them for purchase. Doing my best impression of an educated consumer, I read the back of the package.

Behind the window of tear-proof plastic was the printed promise of a limited lifetime guarantee... "UNLESS," the short paragraph stated, "they are not properly cared for." I inspected the back of the package for further information about "proper care" of knives, found none, then made a mental note of the Farberware Web site, where another line of text promised I could find "more information."

I visited the Web site and did not, however, find any more information. And so the care of knives remained a mystery...

Then I conducted a Yahoo search.

I learned that, in addition to washing knives in warm water with a gentle soap, "proper care" would also probably include "sharpening."

A few paragraphs attempted to explain the different sharpening methods, and revealed the existence of professional knife sharpeners.

Professional knife sharpeners?

I resisted the desire to find out more about these people: Who are they? Do they have degrees? Where do they work? What do they charge? Is this their main source of income or just a hobby to supplement their livelihood?

I was begining to feel way out of my league.

Who was I to undertake such an endeavor - this immense responsibility of knife ownership - without the proper training?

I took an Advil and closed my laptop.

I thought about my serrated knife in my kitchen drawer. I wasn't sure what it was meant for but I had, over the past five years, used it for everything from cutting watermelon to slicing into the hard plastic used for packaging knives and electronic devices like head phones and MP3 players.

Maybe this, too, is something that is simply a matter of trial and error.

But I don't know.

Sometimes I feel as if each day is merely an exercise in uncovering all of the things I don't yet know.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Financial 'whoas'

The transmission on my Pontiac Grand Prix needs to be rebuilt. Although not an imminent threat to my mobility, apparently some action will need to be taken in the near future. There is a lot of information on the Internet about the 2000 Grand Prix and it sounds like the transmission is (unfortunately) a common problem with this model after a certain number of miles. The total cost will be around $2,000, but since I just invested $500 in tires, rebuilding the transmission seems to be the wisest way to proceed. The mechanic said I could probably get another 50,000 miles out of my car with a rebuilt transmission. On the Internet it looks as thought I could sell my car for between $3,000 and $4,000 (that would be if it were healthy). I would rather keep it, though, than be saddled with a "new" used car with a mysterious past.

Other financial woes: something is very wrong with my laptop. I don't know what and I am not going to find out until it is in operable. Now it is difficult to use and inconsistent with a lot of weird error screens and spontaneous shutdowns. To take it in and get it fixed would be an assault on my already hurting finances: I am trying desperately to recover from wedding expenses/vacation and the impact of my work-imposed furlough. My grandfather recently dropped $200 to have his computer cleaned of viruses and I need that $200 for other things!

With all of these things hanging over my head, it would seem as though thoughts of going back to school for a master's degree are now in the same realm of possibility as becoming a rocket scientist.

My head is still above water, though, so I can't complain too much.

Wedded Bliss

Little sister tied the knot last month - twice. The first time (May 17) was on the gulf shore by a priest, the second time (May 20) was in a park by a civil servant. I guess they do things a little differently when an American citizen is marrying a Mexican citizen in his home country. The good news is they are married and they are in the process of having their marriage license recognized in the United States, as well. My hope is eventually (within the next two years) they move back to the United States. They are considering their official wedding date as May 17, by the way.

My first 5K

I ran my first 5K this weekend! I finished in 30:58 and improved my time with each lap of the mile-long track. I couldn't believe it! My goal was to simply complete the race without walking (or dying). I guess the gym time has been paying off. I suspect that soon I will be setting some new health/fitness goals. The feeling of accomplishment that I experience when I do something I never thought I could do is incomparable and worth the effort.