Saturday, January 31, 2004

Cold Snap 

Too quiet around here for ya? It’s not that I have nothing too say. It’s that I have too much to say and not enough time to write it.

That, and the fact that my fingers and brain are frozen due to Pennsylvania's cold snap. Ya know, "cold snap" just doesn't do this rotten weather justice. "Cold snap" makes it sound cute and fun, when it's really malicious and cruel and gray and mean.

Mean weather sucks.

Pennsylvania weather is mean.

Ergo, Pennsylvania weather sucks.

I can be so utterly poetic at times, can't I?
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Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Why, why, why do I live in Pennsylvania? Why?
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Friday, January 23, 2004

The Friday Five (Favorites) 

  1. At this moment, what is your favorite song?

    • Well, according to my iPod’s “Top 25 Most Played” playlist, it’s “Sheep May Safely Graze” by Johan Sebastian Bach, but I think that’s only because I use my “Bach at Bedtime” CD as background music while I am working. Lately I have been listening to Edie Brickell’s new album “Volcano.” There is a song on there titled “Once in a Blue Moon” that is just gorgeous – I can’t get enough of it.

  2. At this moment, what is your favorite food?

    • Easy choice: salt and vinegar potato chips. I can’t seem to get enough of them

  3. At this moment, what is your favorite tv show?

    • Lately, the start of the third season of American Idol has me questioning my taste in television. I cannot get enough of this show. I just love it. They could televise the auditions every night of the week and I would tune in to watch. The only problem is that I supposedly hate reality television. Don’t tell anybody, OK?

  4. At this moment, what is your favorite scent?

    • Onions and garlic being sautéed in a frying pan.

  5. At this moment, what is your favorite quote?

    • "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." —Mark Twain

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Wednesday, January 21, 2004


I am not the kind of person that would…

Can you tell I have phone issues?

I don’t know when or how this started, but I truly dislike speaking on the phone. My husband has informed me that most people know this about me as I make it very obvious by sounding short with them. Or bored. Or silent. (I obviously failed the telephone etiquette portion of "How To Win Friends and Influence People.")

Sorry. It’s nothing personal.

I know that when I was a teenager you could hardly keep me OFF the phone. In fact, I have some very fond memories of party lines and titillating teenage talk. (Yes, there were still party lines in the late 60’s and early 70’s…stop laughing.) I also recall that my friend Jane and I spent a very long stretch of 6th grade enchanted by phone conversations with “Bill” and “Private” whom I met accidentally one day by misdialing Jane’s phone number by one digit. This fascinated us for some reason, and soon all four of us were the best of phone friends, racking up the hours. I can’t remember what we talked about, but I am sure it was of the “who likes who” and “my teacher is worse than your teacher” variety. Loud farting was probably involved on the boys’ part and giggling on ours. This was the 70's version of IM-ing, I guess.

I think part of my phone issue is that I find it almost impossible to do only one thing at a time anymore. I am the master of multi-tasking. Or perhaps, more accurately, its slave.

It’s not that I don’t want to talk to anybody; it’s just that doing so usually prevents me from doing anything else. In fact, I find that I typically make most of my phone calls when I can combine the call with something else, such as folding laundry (the perfect phone call activity), emptying the dishwasher (too noisy, really, but I do it anyhow), or cooking (sometimes dangerous, but generally OK). I have even started to call people when I walk the dog (not fair to him) or drive places (not fair to other drivers).

I am not the kind of person that would…

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Thursday, January 15, 2004


OK, this is just pure silliness, but I liked the graphics it created! (This one if for you -- Mom -- my favorite Scrabble opponent even though you always beat me.)

Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble© Score is: 18.

What is your score? Get it here.

Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble© Score is: 19.

What is your score? Get it here.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2004

RTFM for World Peace 

Every time my husband buys a new piece of technology, I wish I could head for the hills.

He is totally seduced by new technology, but unfortunately it is more like a moth being drawn to the bug zapper than the sweet siren call of successfully installed software or hardware.

Within minutes of slitting the shrink wrap on a new application or freeing a new piece of hardware from its box, the muttering and cursing begins. Fist pounding soon follows. And if things get really bad, books fly, keyboards rattle, and the dog heads for the safety of the basement.

First he usually blames Apple. "Macintosh computers suck! I shoulda never bought this piece of crap. Six months after you buy it it's worthless. Why didn't I get a Windows PC?"

Then he usually blames the company who made the product he is trying to install. "This product sucks. I shoulda never bought this piece of crap. I read the reviews; none of them said this would happen."

He even blamed the washing machine once. "Why did you turn the washing machine on? It's effin up my computer!"

Frankly, I am surprised he doesn't blame the dog sometimes. "This dog sucks. We should have never adopted this dog. He smells bad and it's affecting my computer/concentration/mood."

Then he finally reads the manual and more times than not, figures it out. He emerges from his office grinning from ear to ear, the man triumphant.

If more people would just RTFM thoroughly BEFORE trying to install something, they would be more peace in the world, as well as in my home.
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Monday, January 12, 2004

Testing, Testing, 1-2-3 

I love taking those silly little test they have in magazines. You know the kind: "What Your Hair Care Routine Says About Your Personality," or "Are You a Selfish Lover?"

The Internet is full of such tests. Here are a few that I tried recently:

Want to find out if you have a Personality Disorder? Here's a fun little test you can take.
Personality Disorder Test

Disclaimer: A personality disorder is basically a set of traits that combine to negatively affect your life. This is not meant to be used as a diagnostic tool, but rather as a tool to give you insight into a potential disorder that may be having a negative impact on your life.

Here are my own results:

So, what's wrong with a writer who is a little histrionic and compulsive-obsessive? :-) Nothing, I say, nothing!

Want to know what color your personality is? Here's a fun (and very quick) test:
The Spacefem.com HTML Color Quiz

My color is a wild shade of aqua, which I certainly wouldn't have chosen for myself, but it's not bad.

you are aqua

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is very high - you are all about getting things done. The world may think you work too hard but you have a lot to show for it, and it keeps you going. You shouldn't be afraid to lead people, because if you're doing it, it'll be done right.

Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.

Happy test taking!
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Sunday, January 11, 2004

Assess This, Pal! 

So many of you who responded to my "Assessing the Fitness Assessment" blog entry expressed such outrage about my experience, that your collective ire has actually increased my own.

More than a few of you were a little disappointed in me.

I guess I must seem like more of an outspoken in-your-face type than I actually am. Many of you asked WHY? Why didn't I say anything? Why didn't I do anything? Unfortunately I don't have a good answer for you. And you are right -- in many other circumstances I have been the bold bitch who blurts out exactly what I am thinking. Others of you asked WHAT? What am I gonna do about it since I've had time to stew? What would I want to accomplish by doing or saying anything at all? I've been thinking about that.

I decided to go to the gym today and work out. On my way there I was wondering if the trainer would be there, and if he would speak to me. I fantasized about him asking me if I'd given any thought to our previous conversation and his suggestion regarding personal training.

In my fantasy my reply was something like "Seriously? You really think I took anything you said into consideration? If you really want to know what I thought of your so-called fitness assessment, you can read all about it at geekygurl.blogspot.com. After you've read it, get back to me with a sincere apology and your plans on how to improve your future fitness assessments and I will decide whether or not to send a copy to corporate."

Aren't fantasies wonderful? They allow us to exact revenge (at least in our own minds) without anybody actually getting in anybody’s face. I know that’s sorta like sex without orgasm, but sometimes the foreplay can be just as satisfying on a different level – don’t you think?

The trainer wasn't at the gym, but I enjoyed the revenge fantasy.

I am still considering handing the trainer a revised copy of my blog, or sending it directly to corporate. (Many of you have suggested that.) But, although I would like to change what happens at my gym during a Fitness Assessment, I don't want to get anybody fired, which is what I am afraid would happen.

By the way, I had a great workout today. I worked up a fine sweat upstairs using the cardiovascular machines (along with all of the other “fat girls,” most of whom were well-tuned women and men, by the way).

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Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Assessing the Fitness Assessment 

I went to the gym yesterday for a “Fitness Assessment.”

What a crock!

It came “free” with my membership, which I’ve recently begun making more use of. Before I begin to tell this story, take a few seconds and think about what you might expect during a “Fitness Assessment” at a gym.

OK, as far as a Fitness Assessment, here’s what I anticipated: I figured I’d go in, meet with a trainer, fill out a form, discuss my fitness goals, get weighed, get my body fat measured, maybe have my BMI calculated, and then take a nice little trip around the gym to learn how to use a few of the bazillion mind-boggling and potentially painful machines they have. I also eagerly anticipated receiving a large index card that we would fill out together reminding me which machines to use and what weights and seat levels to set them at – a routine, in other words.

Sounds fairly reasonable, right? Well, after my so-called Fitness Assessment yesterday at my local LA Fitness, what I really feel like doing is quitting the gym. No joke.

I found my meeting with the trainer so totally demoralizing yesterday and physically painful today that I don’t even feel like going back. Ever. And no, it had nothing to do with me feeling badly about myself. I am not the type to get bent outta shape in that regard. I don’t hate my body and I am not hung up about not being 20 anymore. In fact, I kinda like myself just the way I am, and I just want to maintain a high-enough fitness level so I can age gracefully and stave off osteoporosis and other such aging-body type of problems.

I arrive at 2:25 for my 2:30 appointment (which they wrote down for me on a piece of paper when I made the appointment earlier in the week, and which I had in my possession upon arrival). The receptionist tells me that my appointment isn’t until 3. OK…no problem; I don’t bother arguing because I knew it wouldn’t get me anywhere. I go upstairs to walk on the treadmill for a half hour, which I was going to do after my Fitness Assessment anyhow.

At 3:00 I go to the trainer’s desk. The trainer, a handsome 30-something jock-type with a huge tattoo on his forearm, is on his cell phone saying “No, I’m not calling to cancel, don’t worry. I just need to push you back a half hour.” (Hmmm, I wonder why.) He hangs up, smiles, and motions for me to sit and I do.

He introduces himself and starts to fiddle with his computer like he’s trying to look something up, all the while muttering under his breath. Not knowing what else to say, I try and break the ice by asking him if he’s having computer troubles, and he acknowledges that he is. Apparently he needs to print out a form for me to fill out and can’t seem to locate it. Eventually he does (on the floor somewhere, actually) and he hands it to me.

Well, at least I got a form to fill out. That much I anticipated correctly.

I start to fill the form out, when he grabs it and decides that he’s gonna fill it out for me by way of an interview instead. We start to discuss my fitness goals, and what I have been doing over the last few weeks since I started coming to the gym again. He shakes his head and clucks at everything I say. Apparently I have been doing everything wrong and he’s about to fix all that. Oh – and I should seriously consider a personal trainer if I really want to accomplish anything. Since I am no fitness neophyte, this does not bode well for the rest of the session.

As I am explaining that one of my fitness goals is to age gracefully and avoid osteoporosis, he very forwardly compliments me on my figure, especially my legs, which I found truly odd since I was sitting behind a desk where he couldn’t possibly even see my legs. Not that what he said was at all done in a sexual manner or anything, in fact I honestly believe it wasn’t; it was just weird that he commented in this way at all. If I were a hundred pounds overweight, would he have commented on that? (“Yes, I can sense that you favor couches and potato chips, right?”) If I were an anorexic/bulimic stick-figure of a woman, would he have commented on that? (“Yes, I can tell you’ve been spending some time worshiping at the porcelain shrine.”)

After the “compliment,” he continues on apparently in delayed response to my “aging gracefully” comment, telling me, “You’re not old!” Well, I never said I was. But what do you do when somebody says this to you? Of course! You smile coyly and respond “How old do you think I am?” “Early to mid-forties,” he replies.

So now my internal background dialog is running wildly amok: “Didn’t anybody ever teach this guy how to guess a woman’s age politely? You’re supposed to guess an age that is at least five years younger than what you actually think. Oh my God, what if he DID do that? Does that mean I look like I am in my late forties?”

I squelch the paranoid background dialog just in time to hear him telling me that he is ready to take me through a few exercises using free weights and “explosive” anaerobic exercise. I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this. I patiently explain to him that my body has a tendency to bulk up quickly when I use weights, and I want to avoid that. I also don’t want to start a program that is so difficult that I avoid the gym.

I go on to explain that I would prefer to burn fat while very slowly building muscle and upper body strength, which is why I’ve been doing the treadmill/stair-mill/elliptical machines followed by an upper body (with light weights/high reps) and abs workout. He patently assures me that as far as my body bulking up, “it could never happen,” and that I really should consider working out with a personal trainer to ensure this.

Sigh. Now I know he’s just an idiot who’s just trying to sell the gym’s personal trainer service. I gamely continue the farce of the Fitness Assessment. After all, I could learn something, right? And I’m here already, right?

As we are making our way towards the free weights section of the gym, he compliments me on my legs again, especially my “muscular calves,” which I then of course complain about never being able to fit into zip-up boots. He laughs and enthusiastically exclaims about how much he would rather see a strong shapely body than a skinny weak one. He then goes on to theorize about how the fashion industry is run by gay men. (And he should know, his wife is a designer and all of her coworkers are gay, wink, wink.) Continuing, he explains how these gay men who are running the fashion industry like to design clothes for extremely skinny women because extremely skinny women resemble twelve-year old boys. Somewhere this part of the conversation he slips in that he’s an ex-Marine with three children (I guess he needs to announce his virility.)

I only wish I were making this up.

As we walk he totally disses the rows and rows of pretty weight machines the gym contains as well as all of the gym’s cardiovascular equipment and aerobics classes in general. (I’m thinking “Does his boss know he has so little respect for all of the equipment and programs in this brand new state-of-the-art gym?”) He asks me if I’ve ever noticed how many “fat girls” (yes, those were his exact words) frequented the upstairs portion of the gym (where all of the cardiovascular equipment is)? He assured me that they will all stay chubby if they keep working out that way. He then enthusiastically mentions how much better my body will look with muscles. And how much faster I will lose weight because the muscles in my body will burn fat even while I sleep. And how much I would benefit from working with a personal trainer.

Again with the paranoid background dialog inside my head: Who said anything about losing weight? Do I look like I need to lose weight? How much weight does this guy think I need to lose? I HAVE read that muscles are fat-burning machines. What WOULD I look like with muscles? Hmmm…I wonder.

Sigh. So much for having a strong self image. Now I am starting to wonder if he’s right and I’ve been doing everything wrong. This is how it starts, right?

He takes me through a killer 25-minute upper body workout using free weights that were too heavy for me to do any more than 10-12 reps with, and “explosive” anaerobic exercises in-between each set, both of which I am painfully feeling today. The in-between exercises included 1-minute intervals of climbing up and down on a knee-high bench and doing those insane crouches where you put your hands on the floor and then shoot your legs out backwards and then in again and then stand up. I’m beginning to wonder if this guy is set on killing me. He does giggle a lot for an ex-Marine.

When my face is embarrassingly red enough and my breathing is obviously labored, we go back to the desk where he then tries to work out how he can give me a special bargain if I were to “sign up right then and there” for two sessions a week of personal training. While he is apparently fiddling with the numbers on his computer (and I am admittedly playing along because I wouldn’t mind working with a personal trainer -- as long as it wasn’t him), he calls over another trainer and laughingly asks him what he finds more attractive, “skinny little nothing calves, or strong muscular calves.” His pal plays along and answers muscular, of course, but confides that, personally, he’s more into “that spot where the torso meets the leg.” Marine trainer giggles and good-naturedly agrees with him.

I am beginning to wonder if I am on some sort of anti-reality show or something. Are these people for real? Is this 2004? Am I trippin’?

I wish I could say I had a strong ending for this story, but unfortunately I don’t. This is just my real life on a very screwed-up day. I didn’t have the nerve (or the energy, or the creativity) to tell them off or point out the error of their ways, or to serve up a massive crippling blow to either their egos or muscles. I just thanked the Marine and assured him that I would discuss the importance of working with a personal trainer with my husband and report back to him the next time I was in the gym.

At that moment, I was thinking that might be never. Now I know better. But still, how much does that suck?
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Sunday, January 04, 2004

Unhappy By Choice? 

I read an article in one of the Sunday newspaper magazines today. (I already disposed of the paper, or I would tell you its title and author – sorry!) Its premise was that our ability to be happy has become more difficult because we have too many choices. The writer started the article describing how he went to the store to buy a pair of jeans. When the salesgirl asked if he needed help, he told her his waist size and inseam length, thinking that would do the trick. She then went on to ask him what type of fit he wanted: slim, regular, relaxed, straight-leg, or boot-let. Then she asked what kind of rise he wanted: low rise or regular rise. Then she asked him what kind of denim he wanted: light fade, sandblasted vintage, stonewashed, sandblasted rinsed…etc. You get the picture. He was stymied. (Obviously not a metrosexual.)

All he wanted was a pair of jeans. He didn’t really know the difference between all of the choices she was offering him. But because he wanted to make sure he got the right jeans, he spent the next hour trying on every kind of jean combination possible. And he still wasn’t entirely satisfied with what he ended up with. Why?

Apparently, all of these choices make us extremely picky, always wanting perfection and never getting it, and therefore satisfied by nothing. Choice Related Unhappiness.

Hmmm, ya know, this almost sounds like it could be a psychologist-inspired label: “I am diagnosing Patient X as a victim of CRU – Choice Related Unhappiness – I strongly recommend daily anti-depressants and a monthly sea salt scrub with vichy shower.”

Occasionally I (almost) wistfully look back on my “poor” days. Not that we was ever truly poor, but I can remember when going out for pizza and a movie with my husband was a once a month treat (if that). When we started making a little bit more money, we would have this treat every other week. Now, if we wanted to we could go out for pizza and a movie several nights a week. But am I any happier for it?

I don’t think so.

Going out to dinner these days can almost be a frustrating experience because we have too many options to choose from. What are you in the mood for? I don’t know -- what are YOU in the mood for? Italian (Northern or Southern? Chain or mom n’ pop?), Mexican (gourmet or franchise?), Cuban (downtown or uptown?), Chinese (eat-in or take-out), Greek (BYOB or bar?), pub food (city or suburb?) -- hell, we can even get excellent take-out grub from the local grocery store. Somebody just tell me what to eat!

Going to a bookstore these days can be equally frustrating. When we were poor, we’d comb through the used book stores in search of the perfect $2 read. Now, I whip out the credit card and greedily buy a huge pile of books and magazines. Am I any happier for it? NO! Why? Because I don’t have enough time to sit and relax and enjoy them all! I skim more books and magazines than I actually read these days.

Why can’t money buy time? It’s what people who work hard to make money need! But we are too hard working to make the money.
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Saturday, January 03, 2004

Same Ol' Same Ol' 

New year, new calendar; but in reality it’s the same ol’ same ol’.

Why do we have this totally unrealistic belief in what a new year holds? Is it just wishful thinking – hope beyond hope?

Why do we believe that we will magically organize our homes or offices, lose weight, eat healthier, improve our minds, practice piano, be kinder, go to church, and exercise more just because the calendar changes?

The only thing that can change overnight is the calendar page. I read somewhere that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. I wonder how long it takes to break old ones?
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