Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bolla bolla bolla!


This week is a big week back home, for Icelandic children (of all ages).
Monday was "Bun Day" - a day where Icelandic kids get up early in order to catch their parens still in bed. Mom and dad then get a spanking with a specially made "bun paddle" - screaming "bolla bolla bolla" as they spank.  Parents must pay with one cream puff (bun) for ever spank they take, so those mornings tend to be a lot of fun.

Following Bun Day is "Bursting Day" (Shrove Tuesday), and in the late afternoon you start picking up the heavenly smell of "Saltkjöt & Baunir" as most Icelandic homes and many restaurant start cooking up the feast (salted lamb and split pea soup).

Once the entire nation has passed out in a collective Bursting  Day food coma, Ash Wednesday morning comes along bright and early.  In the old days, ashes were collected into small bags.  As a prank, these bags were then secretly pinned on to peoples clothing.  Nowadays, this custom has given way to another one that more resembles the American Halloween.  Kids don costumes, form teams and walk from one business to another, trading songs for bits of candy.

My favorite has always been Bun Day, so this year I got a recipe from a friend in Iceland and set out to make my own Bollur.  Much to my surprise they turned out great, and they also turned out in large friggin numbers!   I'll be eating Bolla's well into next week if I don't manage to give some of them away.
That said, I better grab my bag and hit the pool, to burn off the Bolla calories :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A graph and a couple of good blogs

I keep up with quite a few blogs on the pages of the internet. Some I read in all their glory at their own proper URL's, some I read plainly through my trusty Google RSS reader, some come through my Mac's mail RSS feed. I read a variety of blogs: medical stuff, triathlon blogs, run/swim/bike specific blogs, all kinds of Lifehacks are greatly favored and then there are of course blogging friends and family members that I like to keep up with.

Laura who authors the running blog Absolut(ly) Fit had the dubious honor of joining me in unemployment recently. Her company gave her a severance package and a nifty little chart, plotting out how her emotions and moods would swing over the next few weeks.
My company politely requested that I would not let the door hit me in the ass on the way out (just painted) and skipped out on both the severance package and the chart.
Thankfully Laura shared her emotional roller coaster road map, so I borrowed a copy to share on my blog:


As the graph indicates I went through the first set of emotions like a BASE jumper going off a cliff and found myself sitting knee deep in my own sorrows for about a week or so. Thankfully Cute Boy was gone to France for most of that period, which was spent having deep and meaningful conversations with the newly adopted dog about this cruel world and diabolical ways of man. Since he'd been a bit down on his luck too, Harvey understood completely and was very sympathetic.
I'd like to think that right now I'm well on my way to the series of smaller speed bumps of anger and acceptance and on the way to all kinds of opportunities.

But, it's a sensitive topic - and an emotional workout and a half putting on a brave face every time well meaning buddies ask "soooo..... how are you doing?" (spoken in half whisper, whilst the person looks at you sideways like a sad puppy). Some are even so distraught on my behalf that I end up consoling them, which is ass backwards.
So. Don't do that. I only have so many of the overly chipper "oh I am doing just fine, you know it will probably end up being the best thing ever" replies left in me before I start throwing punches. If you want to talk about my life as a lay-off-ee (and I'm ok with that), visit Penelope Trunk's blog for allowable topics and tactics. Even if you don't want to talk about the dirty deed of laying me off, visit the blog because it's a damn fine one.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ideas

Eventually my current state of unemployment has to come to an end. It's been nice to take a couple of weeks off to clear my head, boost the body and generally enjoy the vacation I have been meaning to take. I guess it's technically a staycation since I didn't go anywhere - but sweet it has been.
Now that I am slowly preparing my return to the workforce, I must say that I am a little burned out on "working for the man" and will admit that I have been looking at alternatives. I worked my tail off for 9 years and I know what I did made a difference in dollars for the man - I have the spreadsheets to prove it. At the end though, that was all forgotten when new winds blew through management and the only solution to the rough morale was to get rid of all the unhappy people. Errr, lay them off I mean, uuhh, because of the rough economy. Yeah. That's it.

Working for the woman seems like a better idea, especially if that woman is me.
The thing is that I like to work. I like some form of structure in my life, I like working towards a goal, and I would friggin love to be able to set my own hours (even if that leaves me working a lot of them). I also want to reap the benefits of my hard work and I hereby promise that if I make money I will not save all of it, I will see it as my holy duty to stimulate the economy, in particular through buying workout clothes/equipment, shoes and travel to races.

So. I have been looking into a couple of things that would ultimately make myself my own boss.
It's scary and fabulous at the same time. Can I do it? Will it work out? Can I eek out a living and survive the start-up? Will I fall flat on my face? Am I going to be an embarrassment to my friends and family? Is it going to make me run slower or faster?

All these questions.... well I guess there is only one way to find out.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Uphill


Tómas Guðmundsson is a well known Icelandic poet and writer (well known in Iceland at least).  One of his poems (Fjallganga or Mountain Climb) tells a tale of a young man scrambling his way to the top of a mountain. It's funny, but only if you know Icelandic (I'm not aware of an English translation).

A line in the poem says something along the lines of "landscape with names is so much more interesting than landscape without" - so true.   I was reminded of that yesterday when I joined two friends on a cycling trek to Clermont, which can only be described as the "Florida Alps". The hills might not be huge, but they are many, and nothing is flat for more than a tenth of a mile.
For 3 neverending hours we rode up one hill and down another, rinse lather repeat.
I kept asking Sue (the ring leader) the names of the hills, because to me they were big enough to be worthy of names. She kept replying "nothing" so I decided to name a few.
The first one I named Three Hump Camel hill, fitting because it was sort of 3 hills rolled into one. Next one up was Buckaroo hill, named so for the uneven pavement patchworked in a semi straight line.   Then there was Sweet Jesus hill, named after a sign close by. I liked that one because it was pretty much all downhill.
Sugarloaf Mountain was already named, and the picture of me with this post is taken just before I attacked was attacked by the hill. Oh how I wanted my good old Cannondale with a triple chain ring on the front when I was about a third of the way up.
Sugarloaf happens to be he highest point of Florida peninsula, standing proudly at 312 feet (95 meters) above sea level. It seems so very little when you type it out like that, but oh-so-very-much when you are standing at the bottom of that hill knowing you have to balance on two wheels and self-propel your ass up the thing.
The final hill was one in a quiet neighborhood named Skyridge or something like that, and there was this demon of a hill.  After struggling up that beast 3 times (not even ashamed to admit that I zig-zagged like a drunken sailor) I named that one "I-think-I-have-Asthma hill".
Thankfully it was mostly downhill back to the cars after that.  All in all an excellent workout in great company, on a beautiful day.
Unemployment doesn't get much better than this.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Really, Kellogs

This is just too good not to share - was sent to the group by our masters swim coach, who clearly has a decent sense of humor.

Wii Fit Gravely Insults Man

Cute Boy was lucky enough to stumble over a Wii Fit board the other day and brought it home with him. I was over the moon, been coveting one for a while. We hooked it up to the Wii and then had a small fight over which one of us could go first. Cute Boy argued he had been the one to find it and thus should start, and I couldn't argue with that logic.

He grinned broadly, hopped up on the board and got started with the set up. You get to use your own Mii (a mini-me of sorts that represents you in games and during Wii Fit activities).
The Mii is made to look like you, cartoon style, and for the Wii Fit they are outfitted in groovy little workout clothes.
First time on the board, the Wii Fit puts you through a series of evaluations designed to test your balance, figure out your BMI and  and then proceeds to give you a 'Wii Fit Age' based on it's calculations.  Once Scott was done with the series of tests, his Mii appeared on the screen, bathed in a spotlight.  The Mii was clearly anxious: twiddling thumbs and beads of sweat dripping. After a quick drum roll, the Wii Fit Age plonked down behind the Mii in big giant green letters.  42 it said - and the Mii's shape rounded a little as a result.  It was priceless, especially since my future husband is a very fit and athletic guy. He does carry a bit of muscle though, which is not accounted for in the BMI indexing, so the poor little Wii had no option other than come to the conclusion of fat.
Cute Boy (Fat Boy?) was stunned and completely offended and then skeedaddledd off to lick the wounds.  As a result me and the Wii Fit board have been able to enjoy a lot of time together since, as the boy is avoiding it. We have put a few more people through the test since and it seems that the Fit board is generally more polite towards women than men, which is fine by me :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

In Bruges

In this day and age of unemployment, I'm managing to keep busy with projects around the house and projects outside of the house and of course the occasional workout here and there.
New pup Harvey was happy to meet Scott and the two of them instantly fell in love. I'm still head over heals for Harvey, to the point that I occasionally allow the beasts up on the couch (I'm a big old softie).
My friends from Iceland came for a visit for a few days - it was great to have them around, especially since they brought some tasty Icelandic candy with them. They also introduced me to one of the most fantastic movies ever: In Bruges. If you haven't seen that one yet, I highly recommend that you put it on the list. Colin Firth is easy on the eyes and the humor in the movie is awesome. Pitch black, just the way I like it.
The reviews say it is full of existential dread, which also happens to fairly nicely sum up my current emotional situation as well, the whole unemployed situation is starting to feel a little unproductive.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Man vs toilet

Public restrooms can be dangerous places, but I never knew just how dangerous. Yesterday I happened upon this post here, telling the tails of a gentleman in my very own hometown, quaint little DeLand, who was mauled by a toilet at a public restroom. To add insult to an injury, the assault took place in the public restroom located at the police station!

The NewsJournal ran a story on it, but in case they might take it down or disturb the link, here it is below.

Loose toilet seat sends man to emergency room


DELAND -- A man who stopped in at the DeLand police station to use the public restroom was injured when a loose toilet seat shifted, smashing his penis, police said.

Robert LaBollita, 51, said today he had to go to the emergency room because no one at the police department or the fire department, which was called after he reported the injury, would provide antibiotics. He said he was worried about an infection because the injury happened on a public toilet.

"All the fire department people gave me is sterile water and a bandage," LaBollita said.

LaBollita said he was on his way to the library Monday and stopped at the police station at 9:34 a.m. to use the public restroom. LaBollita told police he sat down and the seat moved and "pinched his penis." LaBollita suffered a bruise and broken skin, he said.

LaBollita said he had no access to medicine and asked for an antibiotic to treat the injury, the report said.

DeLand fire paramedics came to the police station and told LaBollita how to treat the injury, handing him a bandage, the report said.

"It was painful. I was quite traumatized when it happened," LaBollita said. "I am 250 pounds. Imagine that, that's all my weight pushing on that."

The investigating officer wrote in his report that the toilet seat was loose and that he gave the information to the people responsible for repairs. Police are required to file a report anytime someone is hurt on public property.

LaBollita said he is not litigious but has not dismissed the option of a lawsuit.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Aqua jogging

I swear even the damn shrimp is faster than I am.
It also has way more legs....
Turn up the sound for music that makes you want to go out and run!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sore and tired, but setting benchmarks

Working out, err, I mean training, is taking it's toll.  I'm sore and tired, achy and feeling old enough to race in the 70+ age group. 
But the magical things are happening.

1. My running has improved, sort of.  For the past couple of weeks when I have set out for my runs (well, jogs), the first mile has SUCKED.  No small suckage either, but full blown Dyson-bagless-lifetime-hepa-filter suckage.  Complete with intersperced 30 second walk breaks at random intervals because I simply can no longer bear the agony.  Complete with a powerful urge to rip of my running shoes and throw them in the nearest ditch (my running & biking routes usually always include at least one ditch for this very purpose).
But, after the first mile goes beep on the Garmin, my legs all of a sudden decide they would like to get home faster and I easily drop anywhere from 30-60 seconds of my min/mile pace. And then am able to sustain that semi-comfortably all the way home.

2.  Bike is improving, but that part is sort of going as expected. I usually get my bike fitness back easier and quicker than running.

3.  Swimming is going so awesome that I don't even know where to begin.  I ended up joining the most awesome masters group ever this fall, and the coach has spent a lot of time and laps refining my stroke and building endurance and core strength in the pool.  We are now getting to work on speed, and I'm already faster than I have ever been - and feel as if I have just started tapping into the awesomeness.

Well, now it's on to a new week and new challenges.  Along with training my J-Lo bootie off I plan to get cranking on my employment situation, or lack there of.
Oh and you might wonder what the featured picture has to do with the contents of this post. Short answer would be "nothing", long answer would be "well, in training there are benchmarks aren't there, and maybe I sort of am comparing my current state to previous states and kind of setting the *now* as a benchmark for future states".
And the really long answer would be that I want to start paying more attention to photography and take more pictures.  So from here on out, just about every picture featured on this blog will be either taken by me, of me or somehow about me (and in rare instances, stolen off the internet by someone who shall remain nameless).  Cuz tiz my blog and I do what I want.  Meh.  Oh and naturally I expect compliments on my beautiful photos, so get to it.

Happy February every one - shortest month of the year so get on with enjoying it!