Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fitness progress (a little bit, anyway)

So I've been somewhat slack on my fitness goals (from my impossible list)... I'm gonna blame it on being busy prepping the house for sale (which is actually a workout in and of itself) but frankly I could still do better.

Anyway, I did finally get myself to do three solid runs in a single week (yes, that's how bad I've been) and today I got my pace under 9 minute miles! I don't get to cross that one off yet as I didn't go for 2 full miles; just 15 minutes... but now if I can keep the pace and stretch it to 18 minutes I can finally tick something!

I think I might be down close to 170 lbs as well; though I sold my scale in the garage sale so I have no proof...

I've been using an iPhone app called Runkeper to track my funs; it definitely helps with the motivation -- you can see where you ran on a map online, track progress over time, etc... and it's free!

There's also a website called Fitocracy that now integrates automatically with Runkeeper, so your runs get pulled into your workout log... and you get points, badges, and encouragement for everything you complete in Fitocracy. Sounds a bit hokey, but it's actually pretty addictive and motivating. Other users also can specify and share "quests" (workouts) that you complete for points... it makes fitness into a came.

If you're wanting to increase your fitness at all, check out Fitocracy!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Political rant: debt ceiling

The current debate over raising the debt ceiling exemplifies so much about what is wrong with American politics right now.

The Republicans have done a great job controlling the conversation as usual. Let's face it, they are really really, really good at this.

They have repeated the mantra over and over again that you can't raise the debt ceiling without fixing the long-term debt problem *at the same time*. Just. Not. True.

Let me clarify with an analogy:

We have a bomb, and it is going off shortly.

The Republicans would have you believe that we should not disarm this bomb until we have a long term plan in place that guarantees that nobody will every build a bomb again.

I can't even find the words to express how asinine this is! And they're getting away with framing the argument this way YET AGAIN.

Disarm the @#$%@$#%^@ bomb. Just @#$%@# do it! And then yes, let's tackle the long term debt problems that we have, with everything option on the table.

(By the way insisting that any and all tax increases -- specifically on the wealthy -- would kill the economy is also patently false -- just read what independent experts say on the subject. Taxes right now are near 50-year lows. We could easily raise them to Clinton era levels, have a great economy, and help pay off the debt. But the Republicans won't allow that to happen, because the middle class would benefit more than the rich and corporations would. Starting any conversation with "anything YOU want is off the table" is not a negotiation.)

I just don't get how we (the collective we):

a) Let the Republican's control every conversation,

b) Buy into the shock-and-duh sound-bite 24-hr media cycle,

c) Fail to listen to any facts that don't agree with what we already believe, and

d) Have such an incredibly short attention span.

We needs more history teachin' in our schools, I think.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Garage Sale -- Slices of humanity

Had our first ever garage sale today -- all in all, it was an interesting and entertaining experience. We netted $450 (2 big items; the rest was $1-20) which is not bad for a few hours work. Of course we shouldn't try to guess how much we paid for those $450 worth of items new... It felt great to get rid of perhaps a thousand pounds of stuff that we would otherwise feel obligated to haul across the country; and extra good to have those items not end up in a landfill.

Garage sales seem to bring out some interesting personality types. Here are some that I observed today:

The Chatty Grandparent

Probably has nothing much else to do, so this person (usually female but not always) sidles up next to the register and shares some tales about where they came from, how the neighborhood changed, and what old country singer or actor you my look like. Perhaps they buy a $1 item (but they ask to get it for 50 cents, of course) -- likes frilly things.

The Pro

Gets there at least 15 minutes before you open (even though your ad says you will kick any early-birds square in the nuuuuuts), and exhibits a laser-like focus as they scan for under-priced merch that they can resell on eBay/etsy/craigslist. No time for chit-chat; though sometimes they call their lackey to check the value of a particular item... I had one of these folks drive by a full 50 minutes early as I was setting up the first table, and shook their head in distain that I wasn't ready for them. (They also pillage the "free table".) Get a new hobby, people.

Latino Families

Usually with kids in tow, but not always... they are the group that really get into the grand tradition of haggling. First they'll talk amongst themselves in Spanish about how much they like something or where they would use it; then they offer exactly half the tagged price. This must be an oral tradition; because the first offer was almost always exactly half. (The funny part is I can understand Spanish.)

I even witnessed the passing of this practice to the next generation. A mother had her little girl approach the cash box with a $1 trinket and asked (with big eyes) "50 cents?" ... Way too cute to resist.

Bonus Latina story: I had 2 bigger electronic items that I set a mental reserve price for; 75% of what the tag read. Early in the day a senorita tried hard to get me to agree to 50% of the tagged price; I just didn't feel good about parting with the item at that price... felt sure that (a) it was worth more, and (b) I could get more on craigslist or ebay... so I said sorry, no. A couple of hours later the same senorita came by, acted like it was her first time seeing these items, and offered the same bargain -- because clearly all Mexican people look alike to me, si?

The Shopper Girl with Whipped Boyfriend in Tow

Self-explanatory. These are common to every retail establishment; but it was really entertaining to watch a few come by today.

Surprisingly Pleasant Neighbor

They aren't really shopping, but take the time to come by and say "hi". We met 3 seemingly great new neighbors today; should have done this much sooner... the conversation sort of stalled out after we said we were moving away soon... definitely should have done some kind of neighborhood event sooner.

The Free-coholics

We had a "free table" today... some stuff that we really just didn't want to go to a landfill, but which didn't seem to merit a real price tag. Odd mismatched logo glasses, not-fun-at-all books, things like that. Certain people seemed unable to resist the charms of this table; after verifying that indeed these items were "really? free?" their eyes glazed over and they were unable to resist whatever dreck was on offer.

Here's why it really amused me -- there were a great many $1 items at our sale today. As the morning wore on, I moved a few things at a time (which weren't getting much action) over to the free table. Once they hit the free table it was a feeding frenzy! (And sometimes, it was the same people.)

If something is not worth paying $1 for, why would you possibly want to bring it into your home?

The Free Vulture

This type was a bit of a surprise to me... toward the end of the sale I put away anything that I didn't want to just give away, and left the rest with a "free stuff!" sign and went inside; just hoping to have these things become someone else's problem. At least 2 or 3 people come around right at the end of the day, apparently looking for just such a helpless dead carcass of a sale... and yes, almost everything left unattended for that 10 minutes was taken. I guess this practice offers all the benefits of the "free-junk-to-sell-online" without the nasty need to actually interact with another human being.

So in any case... garage sale was a success. One more step in getting ready for the big move across the country... and really some great people-watching as well.