Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happy and Content

I read an excellent blog from a writer I have come to appreciate as of late. The link to the article is right here. In it, she basically covers what it is like to be poor. Not dirt poor, but certainly not all set either. I have fond memories of the same type of living when I was in Chicago working for a non-profit. I think at the time, about 60% of my income just went to pay rent on the smaller-then-my-dorm-room room I rented. My meals usually consisted of a granola bar or some reconstituted vegetable beef soup.

My fun was found in doing things that were free. I used to ride my bike all over Chicago in my free time, or go to the beach, or just ride the El to a new and exciting location. These were the simple pleasures that constituted a good day. Did I long for something more... of course. It is hard when friends are going out and you cannot because you know it will be $40 you do not have. As Chelsea says in her article.. "Working out sounds nice... the weight of the machines, the sound of people breathing heavy and the smell of sweat, I miss that all....the first thing I'd do is get a gym membership, if I had the money."

I am not usually one to spew out advice, but let me tell you, you do not need a gym membership to be happy. I am also speaking as someone who, while not well off, is certainly NOT in the same position as I was in Chicago; and in fact someone who ironically belongs to a gym. If I want a really nice pastry from the bakery, I just get it. Ditto for a new pair of shoes or even my new Playstation 3. So it is NICE, not to have to worry about eating the food you want to, but I don't know if it actually makes you happier.

There is much joy to be found in the simple pleasures of life, and sometimes, keeping life simple is it's own reward.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Solo Life...Updated

Here us a quick snapshot of the solo week so far:

Saturday - Woke up and drove my wife to the airport....bye bye wifey. Then I went and had two showings at my parents house to people interested in buying it. Then I played some tennis in Ann Arbor at HVTC. Then I ordered some stuffed crust pizza on the way home. Ding - this would be where my day deviated from a normally scheduled Saturday. Then I proceeded to veg around ALL day and kill lots of fake people on Call of Duty 4. I ate the leftover stuffed crust pizza for dinner.

Sunday - Easter alone. Lets just say that church alone on Easter is not that great. If all of you want to see my church it is here. Then I went and picked up my brother and we went over my Grandma's... YEAH. My family ....all 45 of us, had a grand ole' time. On the way home my brother and I went grocery shopping at Meijer, which for those of you from the Midwest, you know is the originator of the 24 hour superstore...Wal-Mart is just a copy cat. We proceeded to buy such various things as a toaster oven, new plates, a griddle and lots and lots of Jose Ole' Chimichangas. No new tires or pet fish, but they were all there for the taking.

Monday - I had Monday off to celebrate my temporary singleness, and while fun, it got really really lonely later in the day. You know the time that your spouse would normally come home from work. I even busied myself with chores, washing some dishes and doing some laundry. I even went to the gym on a day off...I know shame on me. The highlight of the day was spending time talking to my wife, because she was finally somewhere in Texas in cell range. I ended the day watching Evan Almighty, which was surprisingly good.

Tuesday - Back to work. This was actually good to get back to work, as it helped me find purpose in something. I am a kind of person who likes to have SOMETHING to focus my energy on. My wife may think that i love to just sit around and read or play video games, but that is usually when my mind is overloaded and I NEED a break. When I have lots of free time I tend to want to focus on accomplishing something. Here is something that I would never have eaten if Wife were home.... Ore Ida Zesty Fries and a can of wax beans. That was my dinner, could you get any more man basic?

Wednesday - Another day at work, nothing too exciting there. I actually had a arealy hard time sleeping last night. I think I only got about 4 hours. I think that this is a true measure of how used I have gotten to sleeping next to Wife... Today my brother and I had decided we would meet up for dinner. We went to Mongolian BBQ, which is another Michigan Classic, although I understand that they are expanding and doing quite well. Check them out HERE, and be jealous. So now I am home and writing this and planning on going to bed soon. I am excited about talking to Wife tomorrow, so there is hope, and she will be here on Friday.

Check back then for another update.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Solo Life...For a Week

This coming week is going to be a bit strange around the JD household. That is because Wife is going on a trip. You see, wife is a teacher, and that means she gets spring break. She gets to go to Texas to see some family for a week. This presents two conflicting ideas in my head:

1. Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy: Wife is gone so I can do things like order pizza, play loud video games, stay up late...etc. This idea is attractive to my carnal male side. I mean no one asking me to fold laundry or help with dishes. What more can a guy ask for?

2. Lonely...I'm so lonely. It's going to be an awfully empty house this week. No one to greet me or give me a hug when I come home from work. No discussion of the day's events over dinner. Not to mention the fact that after being married for 2.5 years, sleeping alone in bed for a week is going to be a tad weird.

I think that overall, I will start the week more along the lines of No. 1, but probably end up strongly in the No. 2 category. it is amazing when you in love and married, how much the other person becomes a part of your life. It really as if you share all things. She is part of me and I part of her. Separation is a horrible idea, I imagine that I am addicted to my wife much life someone addicted to crack. Going a week without a fix does not seem like a good idea. I will report back at the end of the week on this and how I fared.

Monday, March 17, 2008

My 4-Mile Adventure

So those of you who know me know that I am not the prototypical runner. I am about 6-1 and weigh in at a solid 245. I am built more like a linebacker or tight-end then a runner. But there I was on a cold March day running a 4-mile race in Corktown.

This race has become something of a tradition with me. I ran it back in high school when I was a bit thinner. Then I took a nice long break that coincided with my getting an education and getting slightly out of shape. The last two years I have also ran, with my 1st years time being about 44 minutes or 11 minutes a mile. Last year it was 41:23. This year it was my goal to run it in under 40 minutes. Even I had my doubts.

The weeks before I was really trying to ramp up my training. On last Sunday I ran 4 miles on a treadmill on 37:55. This was an amazing experience for me, and frankly I thought that it was just luck or something else. It is conventional wisdom that what is run on a treadmill DOES NOT translate into a real time. Fast forward to race day.

Of course it had been in the 40's all week, but on race day it was only supposed to get barely above freezing. Let me give you a picture of what I looked like before the race.

OK, so it was not that bad, but lets just say it was not warm. Well we all started and I was feeling pretty good, and I crossed the 1 mile mark and looked at my watch it said 8:55. Now that was a little faster then I had even wanted to go, I was scared I would run out of gas later in the race. The second mile marker came and went and I was at 18:10 when I went by it. Now by this time I was mentally feeling pretty good, but there was a dreaded sidestitch forming on my right side.

This was the point in the race, and there is one in every run, where you really want to give up. The idea of stopping starts appealing to just about every sense in your body. Pain makes you want to stop, breathing hard makes you want to stop. The only thing that keeps you going is your brain. That inner drive to complete a goal. So this time the brain won over the body and I somehow managed to run the last two miles in 20 minutes. Thus completing my goal by running the 4 mile race in 38:13. not exactly an Olympic qualifying time, but great for me. This is an actual picture of me after the race.

OK, maybe not, but that is EXACTLY how I felt.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

7 Random Thoughts In My Head Right Now

1. My friend and great blogger extraordinare Srah, has recently posted on the merits of various girl scout cookies. Check out the blog here. I have to say that in general I agree with her, although I do believe that the Thin Mint is the Queen of cookies, especially frozen in the summer.

2. I am reading a great book right now titled "Serve God and Save the Planet" by J. Matthew Sleeth, MD. This is an excellent read about his personal experience and how his family has drastically reduced their footprint on our planet. He also sees it as a call to serve God's most basic commandment, love thy neighbor as thyself. Excellent read, pick it up here.

3. Spring is wonderful. The past few days have been in the high 40's, and around here that constitutes spring. The crocuses are coming up in our front bed... it is great to see life emerge again.

4. I have recently been humbled by my wife, and a discussion we had about purity of heart, and not just action. Thanks wife, I will try to do better :)

5. We had a good friend over for two nights, as he was in town on business. What a great thing friendship is! It reminds you that there are many many good people in this world. Should not we all try to treat everyone as a friend? It was a great time, and we passed it by eating voraciously and playing a crazy game of monopoly.

6. I am running in a 4 mile race tomorrow, and I am a little nervous. I have ben pretty good about my training, and think I should be able to hit my target of under 40 minutes. Everyone wish me luck, and pray that I do not hurt myself.

7. I will soon go outside and attempt to do some long needed maintenance on our 2003 Chevy Cavalier. I am the only one out there completely intimidated by cars? It seems there is always something that needs to be worked on, and it is always just out of my knowledge range. I am just glad if the thing is running when I am done...

Until next time...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Great Quote About Elliot Spitzer

Sorry for the short post of little or no consequence, but I just had to get this quote a little attention.

"If stupidity ever gets to $200 a barrel, I want drilling rights to Eliot Spitzer’s head."

You can read the full article behind this at Politico.

You Know You're In a Recession When...

There is a radio contest about it.

Officially the way we classify a recession in this country is “2 quarters of negative growth.” This is a bunch of mumbo jumbo for the fact that the economy is shrinking. Well being from the Detroit area, we have experienced “negative growth” for a couple of years now, but I truly knew we were in a recession when I was listening to a radio station the other day and they were talking about winning money off the “Recession Wheel.”

Apparently, you call in, and if you are the right caller, you get a set amount of cash as part of your “stimulus package.” Then they spin a “Recession Wheel” which lets you win additional cash. You cannot ask for more proof then that.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sodium...Stupid Sodium

I hate sodium, which for all us unedumacated folk is salt. I have been trying to eat better over the past few months, and have been generally succeeding, except for one problem: sodium. It seems that contrary to popular belief, our economy does not run on oil, but in fact on sodium. Everything has sodium.

The crazy thing is that even the reduced sodium stuff still has waaaay to much sodium. The standard stuff is just off the charts. A healthy amount of sodium is 2400mg per day. To give you an idea, a double cheeseburger from CrackDonalds contains 1150mg, get it with a large fry and you are over half your sodium for the day. I have been trying to eat more soup, you know vegetables and stuff. Soup, it turns out is like sodium central. A can of Cambell's Chunky Chicken Corn Chowder, while respectable in almost all other health categories has over 1700mg of sodium. This makes it very very hard to keep your sodium under 2400mg's while also eating at work and trying to eat enough to stay alive.

Now I know that all you super annoying healthy people out there are saying...just eat fresh fruit and veggies, they don't have sodium. Or maybe make your lunch and bring it. My lovely Wife does make a lunch for me often, and those are not usually too bad, but even then, if there is a sandwich, the lunch meat is loaded with sodium. Also, I do eat fresh fruit and veggies, but one cannot subsist on bananas alone.

Anyone out there got any ideas...?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thoughts on Snow

I like snow. It has amazing properties: solid but squishy, easily moldable, and it is cold. Being born and raised in the Detroit area, I am pretty familiar with the stuff.

When you grow up around here, you love the stuff. It has the magical ability to cancel school; which, when you are a kid, is something that even your parents cannot do. It is also the thing that all winter fun is based around. You build snow forts, and you attack and tear down snow forts. Snowballs are constructed and then hurled at your brother or his snow fort. It is truly an amazing substance.

This year in the Detroit area, we have received 58.9 inches of the powdery stuff, and we are forecast for another 5-10 in the coming few days. This is actually quite a bit above our average, which is 41.1 inches. Thank you NOAA. Now Detroit has a reputation as a snowy cold place, but rest assured there are places much much snowier then we are. The king of all snow hauls belongs to a city called Valdez, Alaska, where they receive a whopping 326 inches per year. That is ever 27 FEET of snow a year. I am from the cold North, and I don't even know how to conceptualize that much snow. For those of you who think it is unfair to bring in Alaska, the king of the lower 48 is  Mt. Washington, NH with over 21 feet, and 2nd is Blue Canyon, CA with around 20 feet per year.

If they cancel snow around here for 8 inches, to get the same effect in Blue Canyon, CA, they would have to cancel when they receive 45 inches. If we ever got that here, I am pretty sure I could not get out of my house. So I guess it really is not that bad here, and it always good to have something on hand to hurl at your brother's snow fort.

Monday, March 3, 2008

I Believe that the Word "Synergy" has Synergy with a "Pile-O-Crap"

Synergy - A mutually advantageous conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (as resources or efforts).

That is synergy defined by my good friends over at Merriam-Webster. Normally I would give them the benefit of the doubt, but this time I have to call them out. Synergy, is not as defined above, instead it is really a corporate BS word. Basically, if you are ever in a meeting, and someone starts spouting on about synergy, it is ok to start napping or checking out the danishes on the food table; because what the presenter is about to say will have absolutely NO impact on your day to day operations.

This word was invented by corporations to speculate on future possibilities. It just sounded better then saying "We think that SOMETIME in the future their MAY be a way to make these things work better and more efficiently together." The problem with that statement is that it is too vague and speculative. Now they just use synergy and it is all OK. When airlines want to merge, they make it sound all good by spouting on about synergies, as if this magical process will make everyone crap tons of money. The problem is this rarely happens. Ask K-mart about it's synergies with Sears, or maybe Cerberus and it's synergies with Chrysler.

Bottom line, when people higher then you on the food chain start talking about synergies, start looking for a new job. And if you are the person spouting off about "synergistic opportunities", realize that everyone you are talking to knows it is straight up BS.

Until tomorrow at about 6:30 A.M., I am going to explore possible synergies between myself and my bed. Later.