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Friday, February 27, 2009

Movies I Must Watch

These are the movies that I must watch if they are on when I'm flipping channels:

  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Forrest Gump
  • 50 First Dates
  • Pretty Woman
  • Superbad
  • Titanic

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dear...

Dear Yahoo,

I appreciate the fact that you have been so diligent in sending me email alerts every day for the past year or so, letting me know that my stocks are below the price that I paid for them.  However, this service has become irritating.  I realize that I can update the alerts, since for a while I did update this feature to let me know only when it was REALLY down (as opposed to just down), followed by only letting me know when a stock was REALLY REALLY down.  I feel no need to update the alerts to tell me that stocks are REALLY REALLY REALLY down, as I can see and hear about it on the news - television, radio, and internet.  In fact, even commercials are now reminding me that the economy sucks.   It is all anyone ever wants to talk about.  Therefore, I do not need an individual alert for each individual stock, every single day.  Thank you.

Your faithful user since 1997,
Kim


Dear Blog Readers,

I am tired of hearing about and talking about the economy.  Therefore, I have avoided posting about it.  I think you know the deal.  It's down (and I LOVE that image on that link).  So, let's not discuss it anymore, ok?  Certainly there are better things to discuss, such as what movies I should be watching.

Your Buddy,
Kim



Dear Economy,

You are dead to me.

Sincerely,
Someone you used to love

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Help!

One thing is certain, This AFI 100 Movies thing isn't working out. You know why? Movie #100 was Ben-Hur...

Ugh. What a way to start. It's not even that the movie was bad, because it wasn't, and it certainly wasn't bad in the scope of 1959. It was just LONG. Long. And there were many, many things that could have been shortened or cut out. Nevertheless, it won for best editing. We watched it via Netflix "Watch Instantly," so it certainly was less impressive on a laptop screen than it would have been had I rented the DVD. Alas, I didn't want to waste the Netflix rental. We watched the first 2 1/2 hours at once (Todd fell asleep), and then had to catch the last hour later on. Seriously, that is a long movie. If I could get past that, I would have liked it.

The thing is, we never caught the last hour. I don't know if we ever will. We have #98 - Yankee Doodle Dandy on hand, but I can't stand the idea of watching it.

This is really sad, truly.

So, I ask this. Go over the list and give me the movies that you think I really should watch. I'll make a new list and work off of that.

Hooray!

We got seat assignments!

I just randomly checked and some seats opened up, apparently. This is good news. The only bad part is that we are a little bit too close to the front for my taste - this particular flight has a lot of photographers and so bin space is a hot commodity.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Photo Shoot

Today in the sun...

From Random Photos 2009

What's this? A cat in the sun??



From Random Photos 2009

It IS a cat in the sun!!!



From Random Photos 2009

So sleepy...



From Random Photos 2009

Hamming it up



From Random Photos 2009

Loving the sunshine



From Random Photos 2009

What a life...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentines Day Sushi

I prefer eating in on Valentine's Day, as it is cheaper, more relaxing and just plain better. This year, we took a bit of a different tactic by deciding to make sushi at home for Valentine's Day. Awesome idea, poor planning.

In the afternoon, we went down to Wegman's. Someone had told me that they'd have sushi grade fish, which was nice because that meant I could buy the sushi grade fish and the fruit tart that I was craving in the same shopping trip. Great, except the entire state of Maryland decided to hit Wegman's on Saturday and because apparently they DON'T have sushi grade fish. The only other place that I knew to get sushi grade fish is on Route 40 in Catonsville (yes, I know where it is, there is no need to point this out, Catonsville folk). That was too far, since it was already about 4:30. So, we bought crab stick, avocado & cucumber (I had bought the rice, vinegars, sushi making items, nori, etc earlier in the week). We also picked up some nice steaks to have as a main course, moving the sushi to appetizer.

We brought it home, and I started making the rice at about 5:30. It took FOREVER. Rinse the rice, drain the rice, cook the rice, season the rice, let the rice sit... During the process, we started snacking on some Brie cheese and baguette that we'd bought from Wegman's. We opened a bottle of wine (Silver Oak that Todd had been saving and was DELICIOUS!!). Drank the wine.

Finally, the rice was done, after about an hour and a half of wine, baguette and cheese. We made a couple of rolls. Mine weren't that great, Todd's were better. I had made the rice wrong (too much wine) and the sushi was too vinegary. We ate the rolls, and then honestly we were full. And drunk.

So, for Valentines Day, we ate a baguette and some cheese a couple of poorly made sushi rolls. LOL! It was a great night, full of comic relief.

Plus, that meant that we got to eat the steaks last night and they were delicious!! It was like Valentines day was many days long.
From Random Photos 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Presidential Fitness Test

This morning I was reading about the Presidential Fitness Test on Runners World.  Oh, but do I remember the PFT.  For the record, I don't remember it past moving to the Annapolis/Anne Arundel area in 1986, so the earliest mile that I recall being forced to run was fourth grade.  The Presidential Fitness Test was the absolute worst thing about PE in elementary school, and the mile was by far the worst of it all.  I was a dancer, not a runner.  I had little to no experience running, and my PE teacher did absolutely NOTHING to get me even remotely interested in anything having to do with sports.

I think the real problem was that we didn't have gym clothes in elementary school.  I mostly wore a lot of hand me downs from my sisters (until around the end of the fifth grade when I was pretty much fatter than my sisters ever were, and I couldn't fit into their clothes anymore).  Anyway, I ran the mile twice, fourth and fifth grade, and in my memory now I can't distinguish between the two.  I am certain, though, that for at least one of those miles I was wearing corduroy pants and a sweater/turtleneck combo.  OMG!  If someone had me run in that these days, even if it was just a mile, I would slap them silly. I just remember being uncomfortable, and wishing I'd remembered the fitness test so I'd have been able to wear something different (although what, I don't know, I didn't exactly have breath thermo available).  I doubt I was even wearing running shoes (did I own running shoes?).

I remember it being morning and winter and it was cold.  I wasn't used to really strenuous activity and my lungs felt like they were burning from the chilly air.  Both years, there were other kids who were fatter than me or more out of shape, one each year.  My goal for the mile run was to finish before they did, so I wouldn't be last.  I think fourth grade I was second to last and fifth grade I was third to last (hooray!  Improvement!).  

We didn't have a track at my elementary school (hell, we barely had enough classrooms).  So, we had to do four laps around the playground.  Fifth grade, I decided to try skipping instead of running.  I looked stupid, but I thought it would be more fun.  It was actually inefficient, and not particularly successful, but I've been known to skip now and then during runs these days just to be nostalgic (very rarely, I might add, before anyone starts fearing running with me).  I watched in awe of the girls who could seriously run - 8 minute miles and better.  I had no idea how they accomplished it, except that it seemed so easy for them.  My time?  I don't know exactly, but I'm fairly certain that I tended to run 14-minute miles in elementary school, and that was my top speed.  At least now I'm up to 10 minutes flat.  Would I like to run an 8 minute mile?  You bet.

Once I had run that horrible mile, there was the rest of the test.  Sit ups - I think I actually did ok at sit ups, as dancing did help out with that one.  Pull ups - zero.  I still, after all of this time, cannot do a pull up.  It's a goal, but not a very big one.  Sit and reach - where I learned that I have tight hamstrings, and I must admit that now that I run so much, my hamstrings are even tighter than ever.

Basically, what I learned from this stupid test, was that I was not fit.  I didn't know how to BE fit, and I don't even think I was ever really encouraged to do anything to get off my ass.  Sure, I rode bikes a lot with my friends, but that essentially counted for nothing in this stupid fitness test.  I learned to dread it, and to hate PE so much that I didn't take it at all in the three years of middle school, because I didn't have to.  What did I take?  French and chorus.  Chorus has not proven to be particularly useful as an adult, so perhaps I pretty much wasted that time.

In high school, I was forced to take a semester of PE in order to graduate.  It was a general fitness class, and once again I was forced to take the stupid Presidential Fitness Test.  This time, I had a gym teacher who was more motivating (I still remember him singing "Do the workouts and the warm ups, if you don't you're gonna fail!"), and he used to tell me he was proud of me if I ran even a short distance.  By this time, though, the damage had been done and it was going to take a whole lot of years of weight struggles to get me motivated to hit a track again.  I don't remember my mile time in high school, and I might actually have the 14 minute time mixed up, but regardless, 14 minutes is the only time I can recall before 2005 for me running a mile.

I did take a fitness class in college, and I know we ran, but I think that I mostly walked those laps (Mary or Jess might remember, as they were in my class).  I think I can safely say that I didn't truly run a mile again until 2005.

What do I think of all of this?  I think it's shameful.  Certainly my elementary school PE teacher could have found a way to reach out to us fatties.  I don't think anyone really cared.  I guess if I could go back, I'd make myself try harder.  I'd start out slow, I'd dress myself in workout-appropriate attire.  At least I found it eventually, but I never seem to go very long in my running without wondering how things would be different if I'd gotten an earlier start.

Continental: Why Won't You Assign Us Seats?!

So, we're going on vacation (surprise, surprise).  I bought the tickets on Continental.com, as I always try to fly Continental over US Airways or American Airlines.  No problems, except that they won't assign us seats for any flight except one.  This is a major issue, since the flight that is going to the island only flies once a week.  That means that if the flight is overbooked, we will get bumped and then what???  I have no idea.  Perhaps we could get a flight the next day, but that flight takes off from across the country from where we'll be (Newark, when we'll be in Houston).  WTF, Continental?  You know, I paid good money for these tickets and if I get bumped I'm going to be PISSED.

Step One:  Go after all online help I can get.  Find nothing.  Try to assign my seats on Continental.com about 20 times.  Fail.

Step Two: Call Continental.com's internet help desk.  Wait on hold about 5 minutes.  Guy explains that I can get seat assignments at checkin (which, frankly, is too late for me.  I want it NOW!).  But, since it's an international reservation, he wants nothing more to do with me.

Step Three: Transferred to international help.  Very nice lady, but also very little help.  She did get me seats on the return flights that I couldn't seem to book online, but we still have one flight with no seat assignment.  I'm going to have to wait until the day of.  That blows.  At least she was able to assure me that the flight is not overbooked, and as long as we check in on time, we shouldn't get bumped.  Blah.  I hate airlines.

More to come, I'm sure.  And I do want to talk about Valentines Day and running, but those posts will come later, as they are not written yet.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Here

by Rascall Flatts
Happy Valentines Day!

There's a place I've been looking for.
That took me in and out of buildings,
Behind windows, walls and doors.

And I thought I found it,
Couple times, even settled down.
Then I'd hang around just long enough,
To find my way back out.

I know now,
The place that I was trying to reach,
Was you right here in front of me.

And I wouldn't change a thing.
I'd walk right back through the rain,
Back to every broken heart,
On the day that it was breaking.

And I'd relive all the years,
And be thankful for the tears,
I've cried with every stumble, step,
That led to you and got me here.
Right here.

It's amazing what I let my heart go through,
To get me where it got me,
In this moment here with you.

And it passed me by,
God knows how many times.
I was so caught up in holding,
What I never thought I'd find.

I know now, 
There's a million roads I had to take,
To get me in your arms this way.

And I wouldn't change a thing.
I'd walk right back through the rain,
Back to every broken heart,
On the day that it was breaking.

And I'd relive all the years,
And be thankful for the tears,
I've cried with every stumble, step,
That led to you and got me here.

In a love I never thought I'd get to, get to, here,
And if that's the road God made me take,
To be with you...

And I wouldn't change a thing.
I'd walk right back through the rain,
Back to every broken heart,
On the day that it was breaking.

And I'd relive all the years,
And be thankful for the tears,
I've cried with every stumble, step,
That led to you and got me here.
Right here.

And I'd relive all the years,
And be thankful for all the tears,
I've cried with every stumbled step,
That led to you and got me here, right here,
Right here.
Oh, got me here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Should I Run Disney?

I'm facing a huge choice:  Do I want to run the Disney Marathon or not?  I have months still to decide, but there will come a point where I need to be certain if I am running a marathon in January, 2010 or if I'm running a half marathon.

I didn't really think that when I ran the Disney Marathon in 2008 that it would be my last marathon.  I had been anticipating another full marathon season for 2009 - a fall marathon (Richmond, Philly or San Antonio) and then Disney in January '10.  The plan was to use my 2008-9 season to do half marathons, to gain confidence and speed at a shorter distance, and to give myself a chance to lose some weight.  In fact, my initial plan was to run the Goofy Challenge (the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday) in 2010, but I've since decided that doing so would be miserable, and perhaps suicidal.

In 2008, I had a pretty great running year.  I had some terrific long runs, I lost some weight, and I stayed motivated for the vast majority of the year.  Things were going so well that in October I decided that I could potentially ramp up to do the full Disney Marathon instead of the Disney Half (the one in 2009).  I chose to wait until after the Baltimore half to make my final decision.  Then, Baltimore was a miserable, horrible race.  I hated that race.  I hated everything about it, and it brought back vivid memories of how miserable a hot race can be.  My confidence in both running in the heat and in running distances over 13.1 miles was shaken.  I haven't gone much over 13 miles since.

The 2009 Disney Half was a success.  I had a great time and the weather was very nice.  I had so much fun, that I really didn't know if I wanted to do the Disney Marathon in 2010.  If the half marathon rocked so much, why would I want to put myself through that?  As I stood and watched the runners (4:45 through 5:15 or so) passing me at mile 24, I knew what they were in for, and I didn't want to be them.  Why run 26.2 when 13.1 is so nice??

The answer is that I've never had a good marathon. 

That simple fact is both what keeps me from signing up and what makes me want to sign up.  I mean, I've had marathons that I was proud to finish.  My 6:24 at Disney 2007 was only a minute slower than my 2006 Marine Corps time, and yet it was 25 degrees warmer.  I'm proud of it, but I still don't like sharing my time with people (especially runners... sometimes non-runners find a 6+ hour time impressive).  If I could just complete a marathon in under 6 hours, I would have a time to brag about.  I would have a time I could be happy with.  I would never have to do another marathon, or at least I'd never have to do one where I was struggling for time.  I could run all future marathons for fun!

So, if I want that sub-6 so bad, why am I not racing to sign up for it?  Because I'm afraid.  I'm afraid of putting myself through all of that misery, all of that training, all of that BS and then failing.  What if I get another 6+ time?  Do I want to feel that pain in my feet again (because my arthritis in my feet doesn't bug me unless I run over 18-20 miles)?  Do I really want to feel like death, like I could just roll over on the grass and shut my eyes and never wake up (incidentally, I felt that way at the Baltimore Half, too)?  Imagine putting yourself through hell, only to fail.  Imagine running 26.2 miles, only to cross the finish and start to cry because you didn't get the time you want.  Because you failed.  Sure, people preach that it's awesome to at least have tried finish a marathon, and it's a success to just finish one.  That preaching only goes so far.  There comes a point where just finishing isn't good enough anymore.  You just can't turn around and run another marathon the next weekend.  I would need at least 6 weeks in between, and even then there is no guarantee that I'd be able to get the time that I want.  

I don't really know what to do.  As it stands, I have many friends who have already signed up for the Goofy Challenge in 2010.  Todd is among them.  I have a bunch of folks who will run with me and help me get over that finish line before the clock strikes 6.  Still, I have to use my own legs to train and get there.  I am the one that has to do the work.  And, I'll eventually need to decide.  I mean, how am I going to feel marathon weekend when everyone else is running 39.3 and I'm only doing 13.1?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kim's Chili

I've had some requests for my chili recipe after Super Bowl.  It's really easy and I don't think of it as much of a recipe.  It works, and it's light and healthy.

1 lb ground beef or ground turkey
1 can light kidney beans
1 can dark kidney beans
1 can diced tomatoes w/jalapenos
1 can diced tomatoes w/peppers & onions
1 can tomato paste
chili seasoning, to taste

Brown ground beef in a pan.  Drain fat.  Put beef and remaining ingredients in Crock pot and mix.  Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.

I use 95% lean ground beef, as I prefer beefy chili.  I will change up the flavors of diced tomatoes depending on my mood, but this shows the most likely combination I'll use.  I use Tastefully Simple's Wahoo Chili mix and usually add 3-4 tablespoons per pot.  There are other chili seasonings out there, but I've found that Wahoo Chili mix is the best (and no, it's not just because I used to be a consultant).  If you choose to make it on the stove instead of in a crock pot, just brown the beef, mix in the ingredients, bring to a boil and then simmer on low for 30 minutes or so.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Nothing to Blog About

So, I've spent a few weeks now with very little to blog about. I've been spending my time working, enjoying time with Todd, running, playing with our new Wii and trying in vain to schedule a spring vacation.

Working
Well, what is there to say? I started a new job in December, which was a very strange time to switch jobs. Things thus far are going well.

Running & Workouts
After the Disney Marathon, I pledged to increase my cross-training, in order to gain some strength and definition in my upper body. I cut down my running quite a bit, and I've been just doing enough to maintain my base. After one week of success, one week of nonsense and a week of total failure, I've spent the last week waking up at 5:30am in order to get in my workouts in the morning. This means that I'm totally tired all day, but I'm so happy at night when I get home and don't have to work out.

Right now, I'm doing Cathe's January and February rotations (I think I am fully in the February one now), but I've modified them to fit my weekend runs in. I've had to do premixes in order to get my workout time down to 60 minutes or less (or else I run out of time). Last week, I did a couple of extra workouts in the evening while Todd was on the treadmill as well.

In similar news, I had dropped out of Diettogo in December when I switched jobs, but just started up again a few weeks ago. A couple work friends are doing it also, which is nice because we all eat the same thing and can chitchat about it... plus, I don't feel so damn weird.

On the racing front, I'm signed up for the Shamrock 5k on March 15, and unless dates don't work (see "Vacation Planning" below), I'll also be doing the Frederick Half Marathon again this year. I'm still debating about whether or not I'm joining the Galloway program, and whether or not I will lead a group. I'm on the fence about running the Disney 26.2 in January 2010, but that is another post.

The Wii!
We bought a Wii. I might have mentioned it, I don't know. So, a lot of our spare time has been spent playing Guitar Hero (also a favorite at work), and Wii Sports. I'm on the fence about getting a Wii Fit, so if anyone has any feedback on whether or not the Wii Fit would be a good purchase for me, let me know. Note: I don't think that I would use the Wii Fit in place of my regular workouts, but in addition to them.

Vacation Planning
Yeah, we were supposed to go to Honduras, but with changing jobs and such, we waited to schedule it and now the deal we wanted is booked/gone. So, we're left trying to figure out what to do and have run prices and discussed everything from Bonaire and Belize again, to Hawaii, British Virgin Islands, Cozumel, Nicaragua, Atlantis: Paradise Island, and other places we haven't been (well, together at least). We even discussed just going to Disney World and Florida to visit Todd's family. Right now, none of it is looking ideal, so we might be putting off the trip until the fall. Which is fine, since we're already going to Little Cayman this summer, so it's not like anyone needs to shed any tears over the situation.

There you have it - many weeks of nothing. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Recipes: The Losers

Well, usually I only post the recipes that I make that I really enjoy and therefore want to share with people.  You've seen that I usually only post Cooking Light recipes, because that's usually what I cook, but occasionally I cook from other sources (if you have not before, please checkout Crockpot 365).  

Things are not always successful...  I've made some real stinkers.  So, here are a few of the recipes that I've made and plan to never make again.


Caramel Corn Ice cream.   For the record, I thought this one was pretty good.  I'd had it on my "want to try" recipe list for quite some time.  Todd was against it from the start.  He was turned off by the thought of what is essentially ice cream made from pureed vegetables.  You could really taste the corn in the ice cream, and so that wasn't good.  The great news, though, was that I purchased a bag of caramels and didn't use them all, so we ate caramels for a while afterwards.  I ended up throwing a lot of the finished ice cream away, and I couldn't get Todd to eat more than a spoonful.

Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Potatoes.  My mistake with this one was trying to serve it as a main course.  I had planned the meal (I mean it got great reviews!!) and like I usually do, I gave Todd the option of this meal or that one, and he kept putting off the stuffed potatoes until there wasn't anything else for me to make.  It was a weekend and we'd been working in the yard.  Todd sounded less than excited.  It turned out that they seemed like a lot of work, and then once done, weren't that great at all.  Bland, unexciting, part of the problem was I maybe used too much broccoli??  Who knows.  I served it with tomato soup.  This was double bad.  Baked potato as the main course was bad enough, but serving it with soup...  not good.  Todd was still hungry and generally unhappy and still occasionally brings this one up as what not to do with dinner.  I will say, though, that these might be good if taken to a dinner party.


Tomato-Basil Soup.  I should have known about the "no soup for dinner" rule since before I even made the stuffed potatoes & soup, I made this disaster of a meal.  I'd been at work and the podiatrist and just had a real hankering for tomato soup and caesar salad for dinner, so I found a recipe and stopped at the grocery store on the way home.  I think I was pre-menstrual at the time, so I was already walking a thin edge of sanity.  Todd was being resistant to the "soup for dinner" idea, and was baffled by my apparent determination to make this particular dinner.  It was stressful.  I eventually reached the part of the recipe where you pour the hot soup in the blender and purree it.  The blender was not put together properly, or else something horrible went wrong and tomato soup went EVERYWHERE.  Hot soup.  Hot RED soup.  In my hair, on my clothes, on the [unpainted, matte finish] walls, all over the stove, microwave, counters, floor... everywhere.  I burst into tears.  I think we ate the soup anyway.  You can still see soup splatters on the walls if you look carefully.  Todd was a gentleman and helped me clean it all up without getting mad.  

I know there might be more bad recipes, and there are at least some good stories about good recipes ruined (such as the awesome steaks that we had over the summer that caught fire on the grill and went unnoticed for quite a while... we ate them anyway).  Perhaps I'll post some more at a later time.  :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Oh noes!

I'm allowing anonymous comments again.  A sign of the apocolypse?  Perhaps!  


Monday, February 2, 2009

Random Thoughts About the Superbowl

Mostly since I haven't blogged in a while....
  • I missed all of the ETrade Baby commercials, so I guess I need to catch those online.
  • I missed the national anthem as well, because I was busy playing Guitar Hero.
  • The game kept my attention for a lot of it, which is unusual for football.
  • I totally forgot to put my strawberry poppyseed salad out for people to eat, so guess what Todd and I are eating for dinner tonight?
  • I thought Bruce Springsteen did a good job.  Even though I'm not a fan, he sang my two favorite Springsteen songs, so that is good (or were they everyone's favorite Springsteen songs?).
  • The highlight of the whole night was the AWESOME episode of The Office that came later.
  • We had a few friends over, I don't have the energy anymore for entertaining large crowds. 
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