I’m a spinner. I like my pedals to spin fast and easily and I use low gears to achieve this. Lance Armstrong is a spinner too. (The similarities end there. He’s fast and I’m slow, among other things.) A spinner is someone whose cadence is between 75 and 95 pedal strokes per minute. An easy way to calculate your cadence is to count how many times your right leg goes down during one minute.
Most people mash, hammer, and grind the pedals, using the higher gears and standing in the pedals. A masher is someone whose cadence is less than 75 pedal strokes per minute.
You are probably a masher and I’m going to try to talk you into changing your ways. My dad was a masher. He thought it would be a point of pride when he could get up a certain hill without having to shift all the way down. To save his old and renovated knees, I convinced him otherwise.
First, an example.
I was biking with a friend who had just bought her bicycle. We got to a sort of steep hill. She was red and working as hard as she could to keep her bike moving. I pedaled fast and easily alongside, chattering away. She glared at me. “Why are you pedaling so fast?” she gasped.
“I’m in my lowest gear,” I explained. By spinning, I could travel as fast as she could travel by mashing. I didn’t hurt and I wasn’t out of breath. She was miserable and could barely speak.
When we talk about low and high gears, we really mean the gear ratio. Look at your bike (or the picture at the top of this article). There are two sets of cogs, one set where the pedals are and one set on the rear wheel. Each set has cogs of different sizes, big and small. By the pedals, the smallest cog is closest to the bike. On the rear wheel, the smallest cog is furthest away from the bike.
When your chain is on the cogs closest to your bike, it will be on the smallest cog by the pedals and on the largest cog on the rear wheel. Those two cogs are close to the same size. If they were the same size, the gear ratio would be 1:1. That’s the lowest gear ratio and that’s what you use for climbing a hill. Every time the pedal goes around once, the wheel goes around almost once.
When your chain is on the cogs furthest away from your bike, it is on the largest cog by the pedals and the smallest cog on the rear wheel. These two cogs are the most different in size of all possible combinations. Depending on the sizes, the gear ratio might be 1:4. That’s the highest gear ratio and you use it going downhill with a tailwind. Every time the pedal goes around once, the wheel goes around more than 4 times.
In the lowest gear, all the energy you put into pushing the pedals around once will move the bike almost 1 wheel circumference. In the highest gear, the energy you put into pushing the pedals moves the bike 4 times as far. That’s why it’s so much harder to pedal in the highest gear.
The more force you put into the pedals, the more pressure you put on all the moving parts, from your knees to your chain. Mashing in a gear that requires a lot of strength is hard on your joints and hard on your bike. It’s uncomfortable and it hurts as the lactic acid builds up.
Spinning in a lower gear doesn’t hurt. You can go just as fast spinning as you can mashing. Spinning is more efficient than mashing. You can keep up spinning for longer than you can mash. You will enjoy biking more if it doesn’t hurt.
So downshift and enjoy the ride.
I went to the Holocaust Museum today. The experience was powerful and for some time, words failed me. Finally I realized that there are words, but it can’t be summed up in a text or a Facebook post.
People do horrible things to other people. After a certain point, the scale becomes meaningless. The Holocaust was not the biggest atrocity that has ever occurred. I believe that Chairman Mao’s reign of terror holds that title. I once read about a tiny island (I forget the name, but it starts with an A maybe) with just a few hundred inhabitants. The island is sometimes called the Island of Love because everyone gets along so well. Everyone is descended from one of four brothers and brothers-in-law who slaughtered all other males on the island a few generations ago.
In the wrong circumstances, people do horrible things to other people.
The Nazis used the Hollerith machine– a forerunner to computers– for the census and they used the census data to track down all the German Jews. IBM manufactured the Hollerith machines.
Information technology was one of the things that made the Holocaust possible.
It was sobering, but I was ok until I saw a display of a pile of luggage.
The luggage was carried by Jews who thought they were going somewhere to work. That’s how the SS troops got them to voluntarily climb on board the trains. They carried luggage with them.
The display wasn’t just a recreation of that luggage. The display was the actual luggage carried by people. People who died shortly after the last time they touched that luggage.
For some reason, the luggage got to me. Stuff started leaking out of my face.
I believe that in the wrong circumstances, anyone can be a person doing horrible things to other people. I’d sure like to believe otherwise– I’d like to believe that I could never be such a person. I’d like to believe that I’d be the person risking my life to defy the pressures to do horrible things to other people, risking my life to help other people.
The people who are heroes for risking their lives to help Jews all said the same thing. “We aren’t heroes. We just did what had to be done.”
The stories of people who defied the Nazis made more stuff leak out of my face. The story of rebellions, rebellions which resulted in defeats yet seriously inconvenienced the Nazis, made stuff leak out of my face.
My face was getting pretty leaky.
I left the museum and went to the cloakroom to retrieve my coat & my bag. As I picked up my bag– it looked like a bright version of the luggage in that display. Stuff kept leaking out of my face for quite a while.
It’s another book report! I just finished “Urban Bikeway Design Guide” from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).
This is not exactly a book I’d recommend reading just for fun, any more than you’d read the owner’s manual of your car for fun. It’s intended to be a resource for city planners. But a funny thing has happened in the world of transportation: bicyclists. Bicyclists don’t take “no” for an answer. If we’re told we can’t bike on this road or it’s impossible to put a bike lane on that road, we find out why. We study public policy and engineering manuals.
Therefore, the Urban Bikeway Design Guide, intended to help city planners as they build bicycling infrastructure, has been scrutinized by bicyclists, including me.
Faced with cities building unusable and unsafe bike lanes, bicyclists welcomed the Urban Bikeway Design Guide which helps cities build them right the first time. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen bike paths or bike lanes with serious flaws: the bike lane on Normal St. in Kirksville that used to go straight through the door zone (this was changed after I pointed it out). The signs on the old Wabash rail-trail that parallels Osteopathy St, which instruct bicyclists to stay to the right and pedestrians to the left– the opposite of the usual rule of traffic, in which slower traffic stays to the left and faster traffic to the right. A bike lane in Columbia which tapered to almost nothing (it was fixed after bicyclists complained).
The engineers and planners who design bicycle lanes aren’t always bicyclists. Until the Guide was published, there was little information to help them.
Advocates have noticed that a flaw in our transportation system is that we make our highly educated engineers do everything “by the book”, ignoring their own judgment. If there is something missing from the book, they can’t do it! Or if the book dictates it be done one way, they have to design it that way, even if it is not appropriate for the situation.
The Urban Bikeway Design Guide provides that book. But throughout the Guide, the phrase “use best engineering judgment” allows engineers to think for themselves and design bike/ped accommodations appropriate for the context.
Small cities will primarily focus on bike lanes, signing and marking, and if they are ambitious, perhaps a bicycle boulevard (a path or network where bicycle travel is prioritized above other motor vehicles). The Guide also contains information on fancier bicyclist accommodations, such as cycle tracks, bike boxes, and special traffic signals.
I found one small item to criticize. The Guide repeatedly recommends allowing 3 feet between the bike lane and parked cars so that bicyclists don’t get hit by an opening car door. The to-scale drawings show the open car door in this situation as extending slightly into the bike lane, and most car doors do open at least 3 feet or wider. I typically allow 5 or 6 feet when I pass a parked car. I think the Guide should recommend 4 or 5 feet.
However, that is a minor point, and the fact that the Guide recognizes the danger of the door zone, and therefore city planners will also, is a major step forward.
Thanks to Royce Kallerud for loaning me the Guide!
“I could have hit him!” I hear from indignant drivers about bicyclists who have poor bicycling skills or make mistakes. “Maybe that bicyclist has a death wish, but I’d be liable,” they complain.
Well, you needn’t fear. Sadly, in this country, the bicyclist or pedestrian is assumed to be at fault. Even drivers with terrible records receive no penalties. Comments from the public on news stories about bike-car collisions typically include, “The bicyclist deserved to be hit.” “The bicyclist was asking for it.”
It’s not just the uneducated masses who believe that bicyclists are inherently at fault in any collision. Police rarely ticket a driver in a car-bike collision. They are more likely to ticket the cyclist. Judges and juries side with the driver. That’s because we are almost all drivers, but few of us are bicyclists. We more easily sympathize with the driver.
In many European countries, the opposite is true. The driver is assumed to be at fault and must prove that the bicyclist acted recklessly.
This makes sense to me, and not just because I’m a bicyclist. I’m a driver, too. I was in my car one day, turning right out of a parking lot onto a busy street, looking at the traffic to my left. I happened to glance back in front of me as I pulled forward–and slammed on my brakes, as a bicyclist was coming toward me on the sidewalk to my right. Many drivers would never have seen that bicyclist. I was furious. How ironic would it be if I, of all people, hit a bicyclist!
When I drive a car, I am essentially operating a 2-ton killing machine. I should be required to use the utmost care. Driving shouldn’t be a carefree, comfortable activity.
On the other hand, my bicycle has very little power to hurt anyone else. Try driving into a mailbox on your bicycle, then repeat the experiment with your car. Assess the damage to the mailbox after each wreck. It’s not impossible for a bicyclist to cause any damage, but it is less likely and any damage is typically minimal.
When I was a teenager, the brakes on my bike failed as I attempted a corner at the bottom of a steep hill. I hit a parked car belonging to a KU basketball player (a colleague of Danny Manning, remember him?). It was an expensive sports car, so the taillight cost $150 to replace. Bicyclists aren’t required to carry $100,000 insurance policies because it’s very hard for a bicyclist to cause $100,000 worth of damages.
In theory, our code of law states that motorists must use utmost caution. In reality, we don’t. Police officers don’t write tickets for failing to use utmost caution. Judges don’t issue sentences for failing to use utmost caution.
You should try not to hit bicyclists because you are a good person and that’s just mean. But don’t get mad at a bicyclist for putting you at risk. As described in a New York Times article, in this country there are no penalties for hitting a bicyclist, no matter how recklessly you were driving.
By the way, I’d like to change that.
I decided on my route before I knew the wind direction. It’s hard to feel disheartened by a tailwind, but I knew that tailwind was going to bite me in the– well, in the head, when I turned around!
The sun was shining, it was 70F, it was hard to believe how cold it was just a few days ago.
For the first time in my life, I exceeded a 30 mph speed limit, thanks to a steep descent and a stiff tailwind.
At the stop lights, I braced myself and my bike against the wind, and remembered a windy ride home a year ago, with an 80 mph wind blast, a funnel sighted a few blocks away, and trees all over the road. I felt a little nervous. But the sun was shining.
I found Hominy Trail and took pictures of the last remnants of snow. I was disappointed when my odometer read 5 miles at the end of Hominy. I had thought I would go no more than 10 miles out, which might take just 30 minutes with this tailwind, and then turn around and slog back for the next hour and a half. My total distance would be only 10 miles today. Still, 10 miles a day is better than 0 and if I only ride 10 miles a day from now until May 1, I will still be plenty prepared for our 40 Missouri State Parks trip.
I noticed my shadow was fuzzy on the edges, and I glanced up at the sun. Wispy clouds covered it.
I reached the end of Hominy Trail and turned around.
The wind hit me like a brick wall. I recently learned that wind resistance is a factor of wind speed and your speed. With a tailwind, it is (wind speed – your speed) ^2. With a headwind, it is (wind speed + your speed) ^2. So, a headwind offers far more resistance than a tailwind offers assistance. Furthermore, reducing your speed reduces the resistance of a headwind.
I shifted down, pedaled fast and light, and slowed down. My slowest options are 7 mph or 4 mph. It’s frustrating because sometimes I’d like to go 5 or 6 mph, but those aren’t options at an optimal cadence. It’s 7 or 4. (I’ve looked into different sets of chainrings and cassettes that would give me a better combination, but there’s always a gap. I could go a bit lower, or a bit higher, but it doesn’t matter, there’s still a gap between the lowest 2 speeds.)
The temperature dropped. And dropped. And dropped. When I saw a bank sign, it read 43F. I couldn’t believe it. In just minutes the temperature had dropped by nearly 30F. I was freezing. My fingers were freezing. I hated every stoplight passionately. I couldn’t wait to get moving again, pedaling at 4 mph.
At last I was home. I scurried into warm clothes and made a mug of cocoa.
Every winter a plethora of “how to dress for winter biking” articles appear. I’ve been remiss and have not posted that sort of article. This winter was particularly challenging as we were subjected to temperatures we haven’t seen in a decade. I missed the opportunity to bike in -10°F, but I set a new personal record at +6°F and again at +3°F. The basic principles of how to dress for cold weather biking are the same at +3°F as at +25°F: layers, circulation, extremities, and gaps. I stand by the saying that there is no bad weather for bicycling, just bad clothes.
Layers: Layers are preferable to a bulky winter coat. The surprising truth about cold weather bicycling is how quickly you heat up. You don’t want to start sweating when it is below freezing. I usually wear 3 layers, but for the extra cold stuff I wore 5 thin layers, and took off 1 after the first mile or the first hill. My layers were a thin wool undershirt, a cotton long sleeved shirt, another thin sweater (which I took off), a windbreaker, and a Gore-TexTM rain jacket. Wool and silk are preferable for the base layer because they wick moisture away. On the lower half, I wore long johns and jeans.
I’ve always known that I should stop and take off a layer when I get too warm. But I never do. I just hate to stop. This winter, I finally did get in the habit of pulling into a driveway or over to the side of the road to take off a sweater. What a difference that makes!
Circulation: Too many layers or layers that are too thick may cut off circulation, which will make you even colder. More than once I’ve put on too many socks or too many gloves and had cold feet or hands as a result. The other day, I put on thick wool socks. I debated wearing my boots or my shoes, and opted for my shoes. After 9 miserable miles, I loosened my shoelaces. Finally my feet began to warm up. Next time, I wore the boots which have enough space for thick wool socks.
Extremities: Hands, feet, and face are the most difficult to keep warm. I keep intending to buy a pair of ski mittens to replace my ski gloves. I have a pair of mitten covers which help, but keeping the fingers together will keep them warmer.
I always wear a balaclava which covers my entire face. I don’t like having something covering my mouth, so I often pull it down below my chin. Sometimes I coat the exposed part of my face with a thick layer of Vaseline. It’s a little messy, but it wipes off easily with a towel, and it keeps the chill away.
When it’s not bright enough for sunglasses, I wear safety goggles. This is good for eye protection, as a place to put my glasses-mirror, and to protect my eyes from the cold wind. In fact, that is why I started wearing them, because my eyeballs felt like they were frozen! I’ve heard ski goggles work even better because they don’t fog over as easily, and I keep intending to get a pair of those too.
A new trick I learned this winter is to put plastic grocery sacks over my socks before I put my feet in my shoes. This thin layer of plastic seals in the warmth where it’s needed most and blocks the wind.
Gaps: Gaps at your wrists, ankles, waist, or neck can be used to prevent or allow heat loss. If you get too warm, you can push up a shirt sleeve or remove a scarf and let a little air in that gap. Otherwise, be sure the gaps are covered.
Hopefully, winter is over for the year and this information won’t help you until next year!
It’s time for another book report! Barbara McCann’s “Completing Our Streets” hit the bookshelves in October and I just finished reading it.
Complete Streets are designed for all the users of the road, in contrast to our historically auto-centric road design. Our love affair with the automobile led to infrastructure that forces dependence on automobiles. The Complete Streets movement arose in response to pedestrian fatalities and ADA-accessible curb cuts that lead to nowhere. Now that the first few hundred cities and a few states in the US have adopted Complete Streets, Completing Our Streets helps the other 30,000 municipalities learn from their experience.
The data from these early adopters is compelling. Traffic fatalities are down. Business is up. Waistlines are down.
What did these communities do, so that small town Missouri can follow suit? What worked? What didn’t work?
Complete Streets are safe streets, wealthy streets, and healthy streets. The most persuasive argument advocates can use is that they are safe streets. Despite mounting evidence, city planners are skeptical about the economic and public health impacts of Complete Streets. They are also beautiful streets, but advocates have learned that talking about beauty turns city staff off of Complete Streets. Complete Streets are green streets, and that argument does help convince planners: many cities struggle with storm water runoff, and Complete Streets can be part of the solution. Finally, Complete Streets are fair streets: lower income residents suffer the most on streets that are designed only for cars.
Passing a Complete Streets policy is the first step but it doesn’t end there. Not all policies passed get implemented. Complete Streets practices need integrated into the system all the way through. The way we typically organize our transportation, staff from several departments need training. Complete Streets isn’t a band-aid but an overhaul. The decision points that result in auto-centric streets infiltrate our governmental system. It is difficult to root them all out. The people making these decisions don’t even realize that the result makes it impossible to walk safely anywhere.
As an example, the highest praise typically bestowed on a street is its level of service. Level of service means the highest number of cars in the shortest amount of time. We all want to get where we’re going as quick as we can, but a more effective street moves more people, not more automobiles. Part of ensuring that all users are included in street design involves changing how we think about concepts like level of service.
One concept many advocates find difficult to convey is that Complete Streets can’t be described with a single picture. A typical Complete Street solution might be converting a 4-lane road into a 3-lane road with bike lanes, sidewalks, and trees. But that is just one possible solution and it is not appropriate for every location.
Complete Streets can better be understood with photos of glaring incompleteness: an ADA-accessible curb cut paved over unevenly. A dirt track in the grass on the side of a road with no sidewalks. A bus stop that unceremoniously dumps riders on a street with nowhere to walk. These numerous, tiny oversights are the result of decades of practice that ignores everything but moving the greatest number of cars as fast as possible.
St. Louis County just joined about two dozen municipalities in Missouri that have Complete Streets policies. Columbia was the earliest adopter with a Complete Streets policy in 2004. Missouri’s largest cities and some of their suburbs have adopted Complete Streets, and now the smaller cities are starting to get on board. The Kirksville city council is currently studying a Complete Streets policy. Completing Our Streets is a valuable resource for bringing all our communities, rural and urban, into the 21st century of transportation.
Do you know a street in need of a sidewalk or crosswalk? A highway in need of wider, paved shoulders? A popular bicycle route that needs signs or a reduce speed limit? This is the time to tell someone.
After years of following the national trend of auto-centric road building, MoDOT now recognizes the importance of walking and bicycling for transportation. But MoDOT takes its cue from local planning organizations, so it is critical that the local planners know that their constituents value walking and bicycling.
This is a particularly sensitive time for these conversations, as the MoDOT funding crisis precipitates a fundamental change in how we think about transportation. The proposed funding mechanism is tied to a list of projects– promises– for the next 10 years. If the 1% sales tax proposal passes, and MoDOT delivers on this List, MoDOT believes that we’ll renew the tax in 10 years’ time.
If we want bicycling and walking to be a part of our transportation future, we must speak up, propose bike/ped projects, and insist that there is a fair share on the List.
The local organizations that advise MoDOT on transportation priorities and will develop the List are called Regional Planning Councils (RPCs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). MPOs handle the larger metro regions while RPCs cover rural areas. Find your RPC here: http://www.macogonline.org/rpcs.htm. Your RPC’s website should have contact information– although it can be difficult to find, especially for Kirksville, so I have specific instructions for that area. (If you have trouble finding contact info, please let me know at rachel at ruhlendavis dot org, or find me on Facebook.)
Adair County is one of six counties in the Northeast Missouri RPC, which for some reason does not have its website in the list of RPCs. If you live in the NEMO RPC area, please use this web contact form (www.nemorpc.org/contact-us/) to let the NEMO RPC know that walking and bicycling is important to you.
I’ve taken the liberty of drafting a statement that you can customize and submit. List specific roads which need sidewalks, shoulders, crosswalks, lower speed limits, or other solutions to be safe for walking and bicycling. And include a personal note about why walking and bicycling is important to you.
“I am writing because walking and bicycling is an important form of transportation in our area that has been sadly neglected for decades. Walking and bicycling for transportation improves public health and has been shown to have positive effects on the economy. State roads pass through towns and should have sidewalks in those areas. State roads with wide, paved shoulders are safer for all users, including bicyclists.
I encourage our RPC to adopt a Complete Streets policy, as some of the MPOs have already done. Such a policy will ensure that walking and bicycling aren’t overlooked when roads are being maintained or constructed.”
I’m most familiar with the needs of Adair County, so the projects I asked NEMO RPC to include on the List are the FLATS trail and wide, paved shoulders on Hwy PP, Hwy H, Hwy 3, Hwy 11, and Hwy 6. I also recommended that the NEMO RPC adopt a Complete Streets policy, so that highway maintenance will routinely add wide, paved shoulders and in towns, sidewalks and bike lanes.
While each RPC is structured differently, the NEMO RPC allows each county 3 votes: a County Commissioner, a City Councilman from the largest city in the county, and a member at large. Commissioner Stan Pickens, Mayor Richard Detweiler, and member at large Harriet Beard represent Adair County. I’ve spoken met all of them, and they take our transportation seriously. They will be happy to hear from you personally in addition to your input on the web form.
When the snow falls, everyone is suddenly an expert on snow plowing. If I believed all the complaints, I’d think that every public official is incompetent, mean spirited, and holds a personal grudge against your neighborhood.
I never hear anyone say,
“I’m so thankful for the snow plows.”
“Without snow plows and the dedicated drivers, we’d be trudging through the snow for several days.”
“We should pay more taxes so that we can buy more snow plows and hire more drivers and get the streets cleared more quickly.” (HA ha ha ha ha!)
Nope, this is what I hear:
“They never did plow my street.”
“My street is more important than that one, but they plowed that one first.”
“When they finally plowed my street, they did a terrible job.”
“They push all the snow into the bike lanes and on the sidewalks.”
“They stopped plowing. I didn’t see a single truck today.”
“The trail got plowed before my street did.”
In February of 1980, my mom called the Kansas DOT. “I’m 7 months pregnant,” she said. “Can you make sure our road gets plowed quickly when there’s a storm?” They did, and 20 years later, they were still clearing our road first! I guess she forgot to call them back after my brother was born.
With all these experts out there who know how to do the job better than anyone else, I would not want to be a Public Works director. Officials must consider emergency services first so that ambulances and fire trucks and police can get into all corners of the city quickly.
I interviewed Kirksville’ recently retired Public Works Director, John Buckwalter, who gave me some great information about snow plows.
Kirksville has 6 snow routes, each with a 1.5-ton snow plow. This type of plow costs around $8,000-$10,000. The city has an assortment of other plows, including one for sidewalks on city property.
Depending on the amount and type of snow, the entire city, 97 miles of streets, will be plowed in about 12 hours after a storm. Wet and heavy snow may take longer. With 6 plows, that’s 16 miles per plow, and each plow handles over 1 mile per hour.
Local streets are not cleared all the way to bare pavement, but major streets are. Clearing a street to bare pavement is tough on the plows and damages the streets. Not cleaning all the way to bare pavement is one way that the city conserves your tax dollars.
Columbia cut their plow time in half, from 72 hours to 36 hours, by designating some streets “snow emergency” which prohibits curb parking when there is snow. Columbia’s 500 miles of streets are cleared with 28 snow plows. That’s 18 miles per plow, and each plow handles about 1/2 mile per hour. I don’t know why Columbia snow plows are half as fast as Kirksville plows, but I suspect it’s more complex than the number of miles of streets.
Several years ago, a Columbia snow plow ran into a vehicle during a blizzard and a person died. The next snow fall after that, the plows did not run at all until the snow had stopped falling. That did not work out so well either! When plowing starts during snowfall, major streets may need cleared twice before some residential streets are cleared once. Even after snowfall has stopped, snow may drift back onto streets.
Facing the option of driving during a snow storm or being stranded in Kirksville for 2 days until the freezing rain ended in Columbia, I decided to drive slowly and turn back if it got bad. The MoDOT Traveler’s Information map showed Hwy 63 as “covered”. But MoDOT snow plows kept the snow from accumulating even an inch! It was impressive to see the huge plows with enormous clouds of snow billowing out behind them.
When snow falls, be patient. Take the opportunity to learn a little more about your Public Works Dept. And ask yourself, “Would I be willing to pay higher taxes for faster, better snow removal?”
The Daily Express blog site has a bug. It only publishes every other paragraph. While I’m waiting for that to get fixed, here’s some thoughts on running.
I hadn’t run since the Columbia Eve 5K, but I signed up for the trail 7K anyway because I love trail runs. I wondered about the timing though. What if the trail was full of snow? Or muddy? But the day was actually pretty good, considering. It was a little cold but these days 43F is a veritable heat wave. There was a bit of ice in spots. I wore the 5-fingered shoes because I wasn’t sure if it was too cold to run barefoot. I wore shorts, and regretted that at first. But 20 minutes in, I was stripping off the hat, gloves, and jacket.
Coming up the hill at the end and around the bend I faced a wall of wind. (I didn’t mean for that to rhyme.) Before I finished I was cold again. I frantically put everything back on and biked home.
I finished well enough: 4th out of 5 in my age group (I’d have been just as pleased with 5th of 5) and 55 minutes. More importantly, I felt fantastic! Just as I had felt after the Columbia Eve 5K.
Why, I wondered, don’t I run on my own, when these races make me feel so great? Partly I guess it’s the weather. Both races happened on a day that was much warmer than the days before or after. It’s adventure enough just to walk to the store when it is 3F. But also I think that running on my own doesn’t make me feel as great as running a race. Maybe because I tend to go out for a 20 minute run, and perhaps the endorphins take 30 minutes to kick in. Maybe because on my own I have no sense of urgency and I go slower, so it’s not as much of a workout. Maybe the social component kicks in some dopamine.
I have been diligently going to the morning aerobics class at the gym and the Tues & Thurs XTrain/ BOSU with my favorite class, Punk Rope, on alternate Tuesdays instead. I wish Punk Rope was every week! The jump rope is not my favorite part of it. The games and relays are. And Mondays are To the Core followed by Monday Mixer, another fun aerobics class. It’s a puzzle how I can effortlessly make it to every class no matter what the weather is. Although the classes are in the gym, the weather still matters because I walk to the gym. But not only is it effortless, I schedule other things around my classes and I get a little upset if I miss a class. In fact, last Tuesday I went to Punk Rope even though that hour was my only opportunity to eat a meal since my breakfast at 6 am. I basically fasted (unintentionally) that day.
All those gym classes for the past couple months is paying off. When I ran the trail 7K, I could tell my core strength was making a noticeable difference. Trail running uses your core more than street running. Running at all uses your core more than you realize– it takes muscles in your back to lift your leg, as you discover when you injure your lower back. I know this from experience. Well, trail running has all sorts of interesting things to trip over if you don’t lift your feet high enough, and toward the end of a 7K you might be getting so tired that you aren’t lifting your feet as high and more prone to tripping. (At which point you might be prone.) I did trip a couple times, but that was early on. I didn’t trip or feel like I might toward the end. This was a really rocky trail too– I was glad I had the shoes on because of the rocks, more than the cold.
It would be nice if I could figure out how to get the motivation to run (and the resulting runner’s high) without paying for a race registration. Or with the race registration, but with some running in between races.
I was productive today, it was sunny & relatively warm, and I had a little time this afternoon so I went for a run. I went barefoot and in shorts & short sleeves, and 35F is a little cool for that outfit. I did warm up but it took 20 minutes. I wanted to get at least 30 minutes in, to test my theory that maybe a longer run would give me the runner’s high.
It was a good run and I feel good, but no runner’s high.
I only took a timer with me. One of the few things I miss about the smart phone is Map My Ride. I like going for a run or a ride and then posting it. But it was nicer not to know how far I went or how many minutes per mile. It was somewhat distressing, the last few runs I did before I gave up on my smart phone, that I was running 14 or 15 min miles. That’s when I run barefoot. On the trail, I ran 12.7 min miles. Today since I didn’t know I was running a 14 or 15 min mile, I didn’t care.
To celebrate the end of 2013, I ran in the Columbia Eve 5K.
A day or a year later, I hiked 2 miles at Rock Bridge State Park.
I biked to both events. Dec. 31 was perfect weather for running a 5K, maybe 45F. I registered onsite at 3:30 pm and I was #344 so maybe there really were that many people? Probably not but there was a good crowd. I recognized someone from the gym. “Hi, Nancy!” I called, proud that I remembered her name. We had been chatting for a while when someone else greeted her, “Hi, Mary!”
Oh no, I thought. I got her name wrong. I was sure it was Nancy. A couple minutes later, he corrected himself. “I don’t know why I called you Mary,” he said, “Your name is Nancy.” Whew!
Nancy is I guess upwards of 70 years old. She’s run a half-marathon, and used to bike the Katy Trail with her husband, but now confines herself to the occasional 5K. This was her 251st (or so) race. She asked about races etc that I’ve done and I found myself telling her about my Omaha trip. She sympathized with my mother. “How do you get allowed to do these things?” she started to ask, then answered herself, “Because no one can stop you, I guess.”
I’ve never done a race with chips before. High tech! I attached it to my shoe. That’s right, I wore shoes to this thing. My 5 finger vibrams, but I did wear shoes. I’ve discovered that I can’t run barefoot in the cold. Maybe I can someday if I work up to it, but so far it hasn’t happened. It’s far too uncomfortable. It was warmer than I realized, and I could have run barefoot, but I didn’t know that until I was well into the race.
She said I’d be ahead of her but after I’d been running for a few minutes I heard her right behind me. So I chatted with her until the turn around. The 70+ yr old woman was keeping up with me easily.
We had been running evenly with the dog pack and the kid pack. 3 women had brought dogs and were running with them. It was cute, but it annoyed me. I couldn’t seem to get ahead of them. Several people had brought kids who were burning up the 5K. They really annoyed me. One 5-yr-old girl in particular, I couldn’t even keep up with her!
Stupid kids. Stupid dogs. Stupid old women.
After the turn around, either I got faster or Nancy slowed. I left her behind.
The dogs slacked off. I kept going and left them behind.
The 5 yr old walked for a bit. I kept going but she started running again and caught up to me. I decided I wasn’t going to let her get ahead of me– I was going to hang with the 5 yr old girl if it killed me. But just then she stopped and walked again. She was tired. Relieved, I kept going and left her behind.
I’m not sure what my time was, somewhere around 33 minutes according to the clock but there should be a more accurate time somewhere since we had these chips. I’ve done faster but I’ve also done slower. I wasn’t trying to run it fast. The only thing that spurred me on was the kids & dogs. (I wouldn’t have minded if Nancy had smoked me.)
I felt AWESOME after running that and I biked home happily. There’s something about running a race that I don’t get when running by myself. Even if I’m racing against 5 yr old girls and 95 yr old women. (That was hyperbole. I’m pretty sure Nancy is considerably younger than 95.)
Jan 1 was colder, only 31F when I left the house. I put on my smart wool socks and boots. I had long johns and jeans, my merino wool shirt and a thick sweatshirt and a denim jacket. I wore a balaclava and my thickest gloves. I stopped halfway and shed some of the outer layers, because I was hot.
I studied my PedNet map for my route and ended up on a trail that I rode on several months ago when it was not yet paved. It is paved now and was considerably easier to ride. I took the MU Rec Trail and the Greenbriar Connector to Green Meadows, then got on the last trail that I hadn’t yet ridden on: South Providence. This is a curvy little thing that runs between Providence and the frontage road. I’ve looked at is disdainfully because why not just take the frontage road? Plus it has ridiculous crossings– the intersections of cross streets involving both Providence and the frontage roads are hopelessly difficult in a car.
I was pleasantly surprised. The trail crosses at crosswalks and (with one exception) the ped crossing buttons are easily accessible by bicycle. I normally eschew crosswalks when I’m on a bike, but these actually made sense– so long, of course, as you remember that cars will make right turns even when you have a walk light. What was most impressive about this trail was how far it went. I figured I’d be biking on Providence at some point before I got to the turnoff for Rock Bridge State Park. But the trail goes all the way to that light. That’s where the southern end terminates. It was a longer ride than I’d normally do on such a cold day, maybe 20 miles round trip.
The hike wasn’t super well organized. The information indicated it would start at 1:00 and we were to meet at the Devil’s Icebox parking lot. What it didn’t tell us is that from there we were to drive over to the Karst trailhead. That’s a good mile and a half with a very steep hill. I’d gotten cold standing around in the parking lot, so I didn’t mind the hill. I wondered if the hike would start without me, since everyone else drove. But they were all standing around when I pulled in, and the guide shouted, “There she is!” Most of them had passed me on the way, so they were going to wait for me.
The hike was fun. Karst basically means “sinkholes & caves”. So we saw lots of sinkholes. We saw a buck scrape. The grasses were different colors, gold and white and a darker brown. It was a gloomy, cloudy, cold day so we didn’t see much in the way of birds but the guide told us about birds we might see on a different day. Of course there are no flowers but we could see the coneflower seeds and the husks after the birds had gotten to the seeds. Some of the prairie we walked through is virgin prairie and some of it is restored prairie.
However, it was soooo cold. I had resumed my outer layers but I shivered constantly. My hands, my face, and my toes were freezing. The hike was too slow to work up any heat. There were a lot of little kids and a really old fellow. Unlike the youngest & oldest racers at the 5K, they all went much slower than I wanted to. Plus we had to keep stopping to avoid catching up to the group ahead of us.
I looked forward to getting back on my bike so I could warm up, but I knew the first thing I’d encounter would be that steep hill. Only it wouldn’t warm me up because I’d be going down it. At least, once I started descending, it would be over soon. That’s what I told myself as I froze in place. My left thumb hurt when I tried to shift into my middle chain ring. I spent most of my time in my granny gear, because the wind was in my face for the return trip. Eventually I got to a steep uphill and got the feeling back in my hands. My face warmed up because I had that balaclava up far enough that my goggles fogged over with every breath. But my toes wouldn’t warm up.
At home, I got my shoes off but before I could go much further my toes hurt so badly I had to sit down. But that didn’t help. They still hurt unbearably. Finally they thawed. I wrapped all the blankets I could around myself. Iain brought me hot tea and olives and cheese.
Why not hot cocoa? Because I did what I don’t like to do: I made a New Year’s Resolution. And it is the most trite New Year’s Resolution ever: to lose weight. What really happened is I decided I wanted something, and if I put it off until Jan 1, I could enjoy an extra hedonistic week or so. What I want is to take an inflatable raft with us on our 40 State Parks trip. The inflatable raft weighs 25 pounds. I would not be too skinny if I lost 15 pounds and then the raft would only cost me 10 pounds. If I can lose 15 pounds, I’ll get the raft. If I don’t, I won’t get the raft. To lose that weight I’ll use a combination of exercise and low carb diet.
The most important aspect of that is not drinking Coca Cola. That is my nemesis. I have quit coke and sugar many times. (See previous posts for my many attempts.) If an inflatable raft makes me succeed at that, even if I fail in losing 15 pounds and don’t get the inflatable raft, that would be a good reward. Yet I can’t seem to do it for its own sake even though that is what I really want.
The logic behind putting off starting to Jan 1 is pretty shaky. I spent the week eating anything I wanted to. Lots of sugar. That only adds to the weight and takes away from the amount of time I have to get there. I’d have been much better off just starting it before Christmas. I did start it a day early (Dec 31) because I got tired of waiting.
Nell made pineapple upside down cake today and it was just cool enough when I got home. So I did allow myself a piece of that. But not the baked potato which also has a high glycemic index. After eating salty & fatty foods (plus the cake), I felt a lot better than I usually do after a long bike ride. I ought to have had electrolytes with me. It’s hard to think of that when it’s cold like this, but I did sweat a bit. At least I had water with me and I was glad of that, I was very thirsty.
On the cold ride home, I had some speculations about race-type people and trail-type people and the eco-hippy kinds and how they overlap in some respects yet are so very different in others, but the cold slowed my thinking down and I didn’t get it to where I can articulate it. However I enjoyed both activities immensely and it was a great way to end & start the years.
When we were looking for a place to live, we spent a lot of time researching a lot of homes. We looked at several agencies, each listing dozens of houses, most of which weren’t at all suitable. We could rule out many of them with information we found online or with phone calls, mostly because no one allows pets. (One landlord ultimately rejected us because he doesn’t allow pets, but he kept stringing us along. Did he think we’d love the house so much we’d get rid of our cats??)
Even after eliminating places without seeing them, we viewed and/or seriously considered so many that it got difficult to keep the details straight.
We moved on Sunday/Monday. I went back to Kirksville on Friday to clean out the house there, and on the way home I ran into a deer. That was the end for our 15 yr old, 222,000 mile car.
I wasn’t wild about doing a lot of research on cars so soon after doing this for a house, plus in the middle of trying to unpack. In fact, researching cars and insurance ate up a tremendous amount of time and was a huge and unwelcome distraction from unpacking.
A friend has bought 3 cars from Mike Hoyt Auto. Mike fixes up salvage cars. I left several messages for him during the day on Monday. He’s only available evenings, I learned when he called me back. We arranged to look at his cars on Tuesday evening. He had 6 in stock. Iain took photos of the VINs. Since he works for Carfax, we can get as many reports as we want. I wasn’t sure we’d learn anything useful–they are all salvage titles. I was surprised at how much more information is in the reports.
Iain liked the Suzuki Forenza, but it didn’t fare well in Edmunds.com, and it wouldn’t be ready for 2 more weeks.
I eliminated the Ford Focus because that’s basically the same as the Escort that we had been driving for 15 years, and while being reminded of its deficiencies made me sad about losing something that had been in our family such a long time, nonetheless I wanted to live without its deficiencies if possible.
The Subaru Legacy was a bit pricey for our budget and all-wheel drive, which we don’t need, and which reduces mileage.
The Nissan Sentra was tempting but it wouldn’t be ready for a week. We were incurring rental car fees every day we were without a car.
I really wanted a Honda or a Toyota because they have such a good reputation. But I eliminated the Toyota Camry because it was as old as our wrecked car had been and I wanted something a little newer than that.
The Honda Accord was a 2005–a little older than I wanted. And it wouldn’t be ready for a few days. We test drove it, and it made a funny noise that Mike explained that’s why it isn’t ready quite yet. (He explained what it was too, but I don’t remember.)
Hyundai has a decent reputation, and the Hyundai Accent was a 2009 that had been a rental vehicle for a few years. I was really on the fence between the Hyundai and the Honda. We decided on the Hyundai and Thursday we went back to test drive it. It seemed ok. We arranged to pick it up Friday afternoon and take it to the mechanic for a look-over.
Driving it on I-70, I noticed it didn’t have cruise control. The steering wheel isn’t adjustable. Those two things concerned me. 15 years ago when we bought the Ford Escort, I made a point of not getting a lot of the options like power locks and power windows, because I figured the more complicated something is the easier it is to go wrong. But even then we got cruise control. We hadn’t adjusted the steering wheel until recently, when I started having an ulnar nerve entrapment issue which is aggravated by holding my left arm slightly up such as when driving. I really need the adjustable steering wheel.
It also doesn’t have power windows or power locks. I hadn’t thought it was even possible these days to get a car that didn’t have those. My attitude 15 years ago has changed just a little bit. In that, I would like to try living with the luxury. Sure, it might break, but things can be repaired, even complicated little fiddly bits with computers and electronics.
The owner mentioned he has a Volkswagon for sale. We test drove the VW while the Hyundai was getting checked out.
The ice-blue Hyundai Accent passed the mechanic’s once-over with flying colors. We drove it back to Mike and asked if the Honda has cruise control? No, it doesn’t. Well, we’d get our paychecks on Monday, so we had all weekend to make a decision.
We ran a Carfax report on the VW. It’s a 2003, and I had rejected the 2005 Honda for being too old. But the VW Jetta had cruise control and adjustable steering wheel. And power locks, power windows, heated seats, adjustable seats (up & down, not just back & forth), and even a sun roof! But it had 140,000 miles. (The Hyundai only 55,000.) The 2003 VW Jetta was a little cheaper, but in 3 years we’d make that back on the better mileage of the Hyundai, and even sooner if we knew how to calculate the differences in repair costs between the two.
Iain asked, “If we took the Hyundai to the mechanic to check out, who do we take the VW to?” Well, the mechanic had mentioned he’d gone over the VW pretty thoroughly recently, when his daughter had bought it. We know the mechanic through our mechanic in Kirksville, whom we had a pretty good relationship with. (The KV mechanic had loaned us his personal vehicle to drive for a week at no cost, while ours was in the shop. That was shortly after we’d moved to KV and he didn’t know us at all. That’s the sort of thing that I miss about that town.) Our mechanic had started out in Kirksville, and in fact had trained our Kirksville mechanic.
We went back and forth. VWs are more expensive to repair, they don’t have the reputation for reliability that Honda or even Hyundai has. They can have electrical problems. (I drove a Suzuki Samurai during college, which had electrical issues.) The asking price is maybe a little high– the mechanic explained that he wants to recover his costs–paying off his daughter’s loan, re-titling it in his name and paying sales tax. He’ll either sell it for that amount or keep it and drive it. (He has 2 cars, and intended to sell one of them and drive the other, and didn’t care which.) The difference wasn’t much. In fact, if Nell ends up buying another car he has for sale, which is a bit underpriced, we’ll more than compensate.
We were finally won over by the superficial bells & whistles: cruise control, power locks and windows, and the sun roof. We’ll pay a little more for it than if we’d gone with the Hyundai, but I think we’ll be happier with the bells & whistles. Maybe in another 2 or 3 years we’ll replace it. Or maybe not.
A long time ago I promised more detail about recent changes in our life. To wit, losing my job, Iain getting a job, and moving to Columbia. For someone who routinely shares TMI on facebook, I was uncharacteristically silent through all of this.
Every time I say “losing my job”, Iain objects.
“Your contract wasn’t renewed,” he corrects me. (In fact, my contract still has a year left on it.) Ok, but I expected my contract to be renewed. Sort of. I mean, I’m not astonished that it wasn’t. Yet I did expect it.
And frankly I think they’re making a mistake NOT renewing my contract. I’m not just saying that because I think I’m awesome. Nor because I want to keep the job. If they want what I think they want– generating evidence so that osteopathic manipulation will be acknowledged as evidence-based medicine– then they gave up on me too soon. The reason given was that I didn’t get a grant and it’s been 3 years. However, during this final 4th year, I expect to have 6 manuscripts published, in press, or submitted. In particular, the data going into 2 of those manuscripts would have made for a very strong grant application. If they’d given me one more year, I’m fairly confident I would have had external funding. In fact, if I had wanted to, I think I could have successfully argued for one more year on those grounds.
Now they have to start all over.
Unless what I think they want is not what they really want. I do have a suspicion that the fact that the failure of the project I worked on during my first year here, which didn’t pan out, was attributed to me, and not to the fact that the model didn’t work. Osteopathic manipulation did NOT improve the rats’ running. Neither did anything else we tried, so it was the model that didn’t work, not necessarily osteopathic manipulation But I suspect that I’m being held accountable for the failure of manual therapy to work. Because some people believe in osteopathic manipulation more than they believe in science.
I might be wrong about that. There could also be numerous political games that I’m completely unaware of. I’m not too concerned. Because for me personally, this change is NOT a mistake.
I found out about the grant rejection on July 9. I found out about the effect of the grant on my contract on July 11. It was a blow, but even as I had the inevitable stress reaction I was thinking, “I’m going to feel relieved when this stress thing is over.” And in a couple days I did start feeling relieved.
Iain did some number crunching to reassure me that if we cut all unnecessary expenditures, we could save up enough to cover expenses an additional 5 months after my contract ended. I thought that was a funny first reaction, but I think he did that because I have this crazy irrational fear of being homeless. So much so that I go on long bike trips away from home. Or something. (Seriously, at one point I read a very good blog called the Survival Guide to Homelessness, which was immensely reassuring.) (I think it’s a genetic fear and I inherited it from my grandmother, who was terrified when she was moved into a nursing home because she was convinced she was going to be put out on the street.)
Then we prioritized geography. We can’t stay in Kirksville because there are very few jobs for him here. He’s put in applications for what few there are over the past 3 years, unsuccessfully. Our priorities are:
- Columbia, MO or Lawrence, KS
- Anywhere within 4-5 hour drive of #1 (including Kirksville).
- Anywhere else in the world except Chicago or Afghanistan.
- Chicago or Afghanistan.
After further discussion we created 3a and 3b, and added a few more locations to #4.
After a week or so of reassuring me, Iain started poking around looking for job openings, looking in our #1 places first. Apparently our #1 was actually a 1a and 1b, because we never got beyond Columbia. He’s been interested in Carfax since he graduated in 2010, but he never put in an application because we moved to Kirksville for my job. They just happened to be hiring for several positions! He worked on his resume, on his cover letter, and on his application for two weeks. He is a perfectionist and I was starting to wonder if he was ever going to hit “Submit”… He did submit an application. Then, almost as an afterthought, he applied for a similar position at Shelter Insurance, also in Columbia.
Immediately he had interviews with both. Over 3 weeks he had a total of 6 interviews, 2 with Shelter and 4 with Carfax. Shelter offered him a job and he had to string them along while he waited for Carfax to make an offer. He hated doing that! But then he had the offer from Carfax which he accepted. (Ironically, we’re ending up moving into a house one block away from Shelter.)
I still didn’t announce the big news widely. I’ll get to that in a moment.
So what about me? What are my plans?
I’ve been dissatisfied with my career since my 4th year of grad school. Yet I stuck with it (for various reasons which I might go into later but would make this far too long, as if it isn’t going to be too long already) for another 11 years. When I started bicycling for transportation, that’s when I really wanted to switch careers entirely. I’ve been active in bicycle advocacy so much, that it could be a natural transition. More recently, I’ve gotten interested in traffic engineering and urban planning. Not sure I want to get yet more schooling– education I’d have to pay for myself for the first time in my life, especially at a time when both my husband and my daughter have quite a lot of student loan debt. But there’s a lot of potential.
The question is, should I just resign now and pursue this new career? Iain’s new job can support us mostly; my income will be supplemental (and help pay off those student loan debts). I thought long and hard about when and how I want to leave my current job, and how to make it work with Iain’s job in Columbia.
That was the real reason behind my reluctance to broadcast the news widely. Because I wasn’t quite sure what moving to Columbia meant for my current job.
Because I am such an extrovert, I admit my silence on something so important bordered on painful.
Here’s what I came up with. I don’t want to just quit right now. I’ve put in a lot the past 3 years and I have 6 manuscripts coming to fruition. If I just find another job and resign, 5 of those manuscripts don’t happen at all.
This is a bit childish but honestly, the real motivation: those 6 manuscripts prove what a mistake they made. That’s right. I’m going to keep my job until those 6 manuscripts are done so I can “show them”. (Whoever “they” are.)
I might regret doing something for such a childish reason, but I might not. I enjoy writing (grants or manuscripts) more than any other aspect of research. After spending 3 years doing the research, this year could be the most fun of all.
I made a big push to get the last bit of lab work done, because I can do the writing from home. One of my most important collaborators, the statistician, is at the Arizona campus so I’ve been meeting with her by video conference for a few months now anyway. Except when working with students in the lab, I rarely see anyone in person, and I don’t have lab work anymore and therefore I don’t see even students. (I’m supposed to just write up the data that we do have.) I can easily make a trip to Kirksville now & then. I got my laptop set up so I can access my files.
Now my plan is to get these papers finished up as quick as I can so that I can move on to the next fun part of my life: my new career. Whatever that may be.
I’m cautiously excited about how everything is turning out for us. Of course, I also go through moments of terror & panic at the Great Unknown. After moving every 1-6 years my entire adult life, I hardly dare to hope that this might be our last move. (At least for a decade or two.) (You know, when I was a kid, I wished we’d move. My parents stayed in the same house for 22 years and finally moved when I was 24. As an adult, 22 years doesn’t seem such a terribly long time to stay in one house. Karma’s a bitch.)
Maybe I’ll make a career for myself that I love. Or maybe my personality is just chronically dissatisfied. Either way, I won’t be any worse off than I am now. So: cautiously excited.
Our house hunt wasn’t going well.
We had asked our Century 21 friend, “Do you have a Century 21 buddy in Columbia?” He did and put us in contact with him. We soon had a list of places and scheduled a day to view some.
It’s nearly impossible when you have pets. Most places simply don’t allow pets. We have 1 1/2 cats. (The 1/2 cat is nearly 20 years old and will not be with us much longer. Or else I will be dosing her twice daily for years to come.)
And what happened to trees? These new subdivisions are just a long, long line of identical houses with no trees! With limited time to find a place, I was resigned to probably having to live in one of these cookie-cutter houses on an ugly, barren street.
One place on the list was lovely but No Pets. And, it was already rented.
Another place was ok and it allowed pets. When we viewed it, I got excited. It has a cliff in the backyard! Not the kind where you step out your back door and fall off a cliff. The house was at the bottom of the cliff. In an earthquake the cliff might fall into your house.
But then Iain noticed the details that hadn’t been on the web page: nonrefundable $300 fee PER PET plus $25/mth additional rent.
The agent tried to steer us toward Jenne Hill, a series of condos that his company owned. They allowed pets. Only a single $250, refundable pet deposit. We weren’t excited about the condos, but that seemed to be our only option. We asked to see the lease.
The lease was a nightmare lease. If our car leaked oil, it could be towed. The move-out procedure was 2 pages long and itemized fees, such as $5 for every burned out light bulb not replaced! The property manager got mad at me when I said we weren’t interested because of the lease.
Our agent hastened to reassure us that was the wrong lease. But the damage had been done. We couldn’t be comfortable living in a place like that, with a property manager like that. But he didn’t have anything else to show us.
Worried and desperate, I got on craiglist, Zillow, and Trulia. I worked the friend-network. I spent hours researching. I considered houses as far away as Jeff City.
I spent a day making phone calls. I had a different approach this time. Instead of saying, “Is it available? Do you allow pets?”, I said, “Is it available? Tell me about it.” Then I’d work into the conversation that we aren’t undergrads, we are 40 yr old professionals. I’d mention that Iain is a computer programmer and I’m a research professor. (I thought computer programmer sounded more impressive than professor, but people seemed to be more impressed by professor.) Eventually I’d mention the cats.
Armed with my list, we headed to Columbia today. We only had one appointment, although between leaving home and arriving in Columbia we had 3 appointments.
It was 10:00 when we got to town and our first appointment was at 11. So we started with the 3 places that the manager had said, “Look at them first and if you’re interested, call me and I’ll show you around.”
This is the guy who had said, “$1400 a month or $350 per person,” to which I had replied, alarmed, “Oh, this for students? Sorry, we’re not interested.” He back-pedaled fast and protested, “Families have lived in it too!” and “It’s a mixed neighborhood of families and students.” While that was true, both of the houses in that neighborhood were surrounded by students. They were in terrible condition. They weren’t worth $1400/mth, and we think he is exploiting the students. The 3rd house was in a better neighborhood, and he spoke truly when he said, “You’re paying for location,” because the rent there was $1800/mth and the house wasn’t in any better condition.
We went to our first appointment. The house was a reasonable size, 1300 sq ft. The rent was reasonable, $1100/mth. The neighborhood was better than I expected. It would be very close to Iain’s job. It’s also very close to where we used to live. There were actually a few trees around, and not as small as I thought. But certainly not large. The houses on the street, while not identical, have a sameness to them. The lease seemed normal. (After Jenne Hill, we asked to see the lease when we saw the place, if not before.)
I wasn’t thrilled but it was ok. I felt a little better. At least, less desperate.
I got some food and we went to our 12:00 appointment. We were a few minutes early and we walked up and down the street. I loved the walk. Twin Lakes is just on the other side of the street. I could see its trees. There were enough large trees that we could walk a fair distance in the shade. We chatted briefly with the neighbor over the backyard fence. I loved it. The place was 2100 sq ft and the rent only $1200/mth. What was wrong with it?
Well, we soon learned what was wrong. Inside, it was nice. Except the cabinets weren’t really cleaned out. The owner hadn’t been able to get a copy of the lease. And he didn’t want pets. He was asking for first AND last month’s rent PLUS a deposit equal to one month’s rent. I thought that was exorbitant. Nonetheless, I offered, “We can pay a pet deposit.” He said he would ask his wife.
I was depressed. I had really liked that place.
Our next appointment cheered me up considerably. This was Callahan & Galloway, who had told me, “We charge a single refundable $250 pet deposit, and rent is the same. We don’t think it’s fair to charge a nonrefundable pet fee and raise the rent.” I agreed. We looked at an old house (1930′s?) in an old neighborhood. I love old houses. (Iain doesn’t.) There was a gargoyle next door. It was small, maybe 1100 or 1000 sq ft, but with a basement–although don’t put anything directly on the floor. Joe Callahan had played in that house when he was a kid. He lived in the neighborhood. (It is a good neighborhood–the same one the other manager was charging $1800/mth.) It was reasonable rent, $1100/mth.
He had another property that might suit us too, but it was being painted and not suitable for viewing yet. He suggested we look at it though. It was only $990/mth. “You know that’s the same as $1000/mth,” Iain pointed out. Oh. Yeah. It sure seems like a lot less. We drove out to it. I loved the neighborhood. It’s from the 1960′s. There were big trees. The house looked big. It was pretty far out there, and not a very bikeable area–but I do like challenges, especially biking ones. It would definitely be a challenge.
We were about to leave town when a friend called me back. He recently got married and his wife’s father’s house has been sitting empty. Well, not exactly empty. Empty of people. But not empty of stuff. “We need to clean it out,” he said. “We need someone who needs to live in it so that we’ll be motivated to get it cleaned out.” It’s in a lovely neighborhood, and around 2000 sq ft. I thought there’s no way we could afford it. But they hadn’t thought yet about what they would charge. However, at least we could use it as a sort of hotel if we couldn’t find a place before Iain’s new job started. “You should come see it,” he said. So at the very end of the day we toured it.
It’s in a lovely neighborhood. I glanced out the huge bay window. “Look at the neighbor across the street,” I said. “What realistic, life like deer under the tree.” I watched them for a moment. “They even move their mouths like real deer.” One of them stood up and sauntered off. Iain drooled over the screened in back porch. He’s always wanted a screened in porch. As soon as I saw the blue shag carpet I said “This would be Nell’s bedroom.” She thinks she loves shag carpet.
Given that the basement wouldn’t be available, at least for a while (they have a lot of stuff stored there right now), it seemed a lot more affordable. Within 5 minutes of leaving, Iain and I decided it was our 1st choice.
Iain’s 2nd choice is the one in the neighborhood near where we used to live. My 2nd choice is either the 1930′s place or the one in the far corner of the city. But the exciting part is that we have 4 viable options!
Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are either the wave of the future or the devil itself. These are free, online classes than anyone can take and thousands do. Lessons are videos and reading assignments. Students interact with each other primarily but sometimes also the instructor and teaching assistants through forums. Quizzes are multiple choice and machine graded instantly. The final is peer graded. If you complete everything, you get a certificate. Mostly course credit has not been offered, although there is now a paid version that offers some kind of credit.
I’ve enrolled in 6 MOOCs, all of them through Coursera, which is the main MOOC provider at the moment. Coursera is a consortium of around 100 universities and other institutions. The classes I’ve enrolled in are Math Thinking, Know Thyself, Food Sustainability, Networks Illustrated, Exercise Physiology, and A Brief History of Humankind (which hasn’t started yet).
I hear rants all the time against MOOCs. MOOCs are trying to replace colleges, they will ruin education, and they will put professors out of jobs. I don’t know about any of that, but it might be worth sharing my experiences.
My favorite class so far is Food Sustainability. Just like traditional classes, MOOCs can be taught more or less interactively, and Food Sustainability does a wonderful job of being interactive. Each lesson typically includes a reading assignment, a reading quiz, a video of the instructor interviewing an expert in some aspect relevant to the topic, and a forum assignment.
Reading assignments have been a chapter of a textbook, serious journal articles, and articles written for lay people. One wasn’t reading at all, but looking through 25 photos of families from around the world surrounded by a week’s worth of food.
The reading quiz is multiple choice. Once or twice it’s been more of a poll than a quiz, with no wrong answers. For example, after browsing through the 25 photos of families surrounded by a week’s worth of food we answered questions like “Which country’s family had the most sustainable diet? Which one looked most like your diet?”
The videos for this class are done really well. As much as traditional classroom lectures, video lectures can suffer from being terribly one-sided. Power points and virtual markerboards can only help so much. The instructor interviewed experts in fields related to food sustainability, such as agriculture and economy. The interviews sometimes felt a bit lecture like, and sometimes were more interactive discussions between the two. Sometimes the experts had slides for us. One of the most interesting was with a woman who had served on the USDA’s panel which updates dietary recommendations every 5 years. I’d never given any thought to the USDA dietary recommendations before, how they are developed, and what impact they can have. Theoretically you can post questions and comments on the forums and the experts might respond, but as far as I could tell none of them responded. The videos were all kept fairly short, and rarely was there more than an hour’s worth of video to watch in a single week.
The assignments are the best part of the class. They all involve posting something on the forum and reading, up-voting, and/or responding to other students’ posts. The forums, by the way, are very well organized, and for the most part students manage to select the right place to post. That has not been true of all of the Coursera courses. Just like traditional classes, it’s up to the instructor to make the best use of the platform and some do a better job of that than others. Two assignments stood out. One assignments was to take notes as I planned, shopped, prepared, and ate a meal, research the origins of the ingredients I used, and write up the experience. For the part of the assignment about commenting on other students’ posts, we were to try to find people in other countries. That got me looking at posts from people in the US and comparing those to the other countries’.
The other assignment that stood out was to interview two people about what motivates their food choices and what they think motivates other peoples’ food choices. I chose people from different cultures, and another student chose a very old and a very young relative (a great-aunt and a nephew).
There was an assignment that involved doing a bit of math, and one that required searching an online database.
I have taken any number of traditional classes that weren’t as well done as this one. I was engaged, I learned quite a lot about the subject, and everyone around me learned about it too because I talked about it all the time. As a result of this class, I’m eating organic bananas so as not to be a party to the routine poisoning of banana plantation laborers with pesticides.
The first two Coursera classes I took were fun, but not quite as successful. It was my husband’s idea that we sign up for the same class. I wanted to take Know Thyself and he wanted to take Math Thinking. So we took both. Since we’d both had philosophy courses in college and we’d both had extensive math (the target audience was high school transitioning to college math), both courses should not have been challenging, and they weren’t. We ended up dropping both about 2/3 of the way through, partly because we fell behind in watching lectures and doing the homework, but mostly because my husband got frustrated with the student interactions on the forums.
Some classes did better than others on their forums. Part of it is in how well the forums are organized, and part of it is how well they are moderated. Know Thyself and Math Thinking had an army of assistants to help manage the forums. Food Sustainability had excellently organized forums. Hardly anyone ever posted on Networks Illustrated forums, and when I did, I was encouraged to turn my comments into a blog post on their website, which was filled with spam.
The time investment for Know Thyself and Math Thinking together was a little bit too much. They were both a little heavy on the video lectures. Know Thyself had a lot of heavy reading assignments. Math Thinking had a lot of homework. That was just too many hours a week for something that we were basically doing for our own entertainment.
A key component of the classes is that all the required material is freely available. Math Thinking and Networks Illustrated had optional texts that could be purchased. Know Thyself had a lot of material on the course website, with some additional recommended texts that for copyright reasons couldn’t be posted on the website. Networks Illustrated was, in my opinion, particularly dependent on the supposedly “optional” text.
Networks Illustrated was very heavy on the video and light on everything else. I really didn’t like that all the work seemed to be done by a graduate student. It was theoretically taught by a professor but he didn’t do any of the videos, never responded to anything on the forums, and as far as I could tell did nothing at all. The video lectures were interesting, but that’s not my favorite way to learn. Because the only reading was the recommended (but not free) textbook, I had no way of looking back to see how to do this or that calculation other than re-watching the videos–and I barely had time to watch them one time through. This was supposed to be the math-lite version, and it still had quite a lot of math that in my opinion, was unnecessary. I can understand and appreciate how a cell phone and cell tower negotiate power settings based on interference and negative feedback without being able to calculate it. There wasn’t any practice homework, only a few quizzes, and they were all about the math even though it was a math-lite course. So after a couple quizzes I quit doing the homework and just listened to the videos.
Except for Exercise Physiology, the courses required only a basic high school education. Exercise Physiology required a having taken Human Physiology. I had Physiology in college, Endocrinology as a grad student, my PhD was in the field of reproductive physiology, and I TA’d the Animal Physiology laboratory. So I figured my physiology background would be good enough.
It wasn’t. I was completely lost in the first lecture. I un-enrolled. Before I did so, I poked around a bit to see if there was anything else helpful. The lecture had been dry and hard to follow, the reading was a repetition of the lecture, and it looked like a traditional lecture class plunked down into an online setting. I don’t think this would have been much good as a regular class either.
So that’s my experiences so far. Although we didn’t finish Math Thinking and Know Thyself, they were fun and we learned something or reinforced what we already knew. Food Sustainability was a wonderful experience and I learned a lot. While I was disappointed in some aspects of Networks Illustrated, I learned something about the mysteries of cell phones and Netflix recommendations and gained a glimmering idea of how that sort of thing works. Exercise Physiology didn’t work out for me, but if I’d really wanted it, I could have tried harder or taken Coursera’s Human Physiology first.
Are MOOCs going to destroy universities, ruin education, and put professors out of business? I see no reason to think so at this point. The quality of MOOC classes is on par with traditional classes: some are great, some aren’t, and the student who really wants to learn will learn in spite of the quality of the class. MOOCs have the potential to reach a huge audience, an audience who wants to learn but might not have access to universities. While I have taken a lot of university classes and I live in a college town, my access to classes is limited by the cost.
You might think since I’ve dropped out of 2 classes, unenrolled from 1, and quit doing the homework for a 4th that my success rate isn’t great (1 out of 5). While 20,000 or 70,000 students might enroll in a class, perhaps 3000 will watch the first video and maybe 300 will complete the final exam. Those numbers aren’t very inspiring but remember, these are free. There’s no penalty for dropping out or failing. You can freely taste without eating the whole meal. I would count my success rate as 4 out of 5– I got what I wanted out of 4 classes, and decided not to go for the 5th.
I’ve been using Zombies, Run! 2 for a few weeks now. If you’re not familiar with it, you go on missions. You have radio contact with the base, who is tracking your progress and giving you directions and information. Their talking alternates with music taken from your own music collection. It’s like a radio station–only without the commercials. It’s the perfect blend of music and story.
If you finish a mission but you’re not finished with your run, you can either start another mission or let it go into Radio Mode. The DJs are amusing.
I find myself wanting to run so I can listen to another mission. It’s like watching your favorite tv show. A little bit of “what happens next?” and wanting to spend more time with your favorite characters. Missions are episodic, with the occasional 2-parter or a plot arch across multiple missions. So it’s a very effective motivator in that respect.
The music and the talking (mission or radio) is punctuated with chases. A chase starts with a calm warning, “Zombies: 100 meters”, spoken in the same tone as “Collected: a pack of underwear”, so if I’m at all distracted I can easily miss the zombie warning. After 30 seconds (I think) you get an update: “Zombies: 68 meters”. Depending on how fast you run, the zombies have advanced on you. Another 30 seconds (I think) and another update, and then “Zombies evaded” –if you outran them– or “3 items dropped. Zombies distracted — if you didn’t outrun them.
You lose half of what you are carrying if the zombies catch you.
You want to collect those items because you can use them to expand your base and add buildings. I just added a hospital, which is such a large building that I had to expand my base twice before I could add it.
It’s taken me a while to puzzle out just how this works. Do the zombies shamble at a set pace for everyone, and very slow runners will always get caught while very fast runners will never get caught even if they don’t speed up? Based on my experience I don’t think so, I think it is individualized not just for the runner but for the run. I think it assesses your pace and sets the zombie pace off of that. If you don’t speed up you’ll get caught. But if you were walking, and break into a slow jog for the chase, you’ll escape as easily as if you were jogging and broke into a sprint.
What makes me think that is because during the Firecracker 5K, I lost 2 of 3 chases. Despite my intentions, my race pace was faster than my training pace. (I don’t know why that is. I didn’t mean to run any differently.) Instead of running 12:30 min miles, I was running 10:30 min miles. The zombie chase started and I sped up, as usual. Yet in the 1st and 3rd chases, the zombies caught me.
I can think of 2 explanations. One is that my higher base pace exhausted me so that my sprint wasn’t as sprinty as usual. The other is that the higher base pace set the bar higher so that my sprint wasn’t faster enough than my base pace.
I believe the 2nd option is the most likely. Otherwise long legged fast runners would have no challenge and short legged dumpy runners would have no chance. Which makes sense from a realism point of view but isn’t any fun from a game point of view.
Despite all the recent storms, the trail wasn’t too muddy. I walked barefoot. I heard the ticks are awful right now so I used plenty of bug spray. Iain let me spray his legs but he picked up a few ticks anyway.
The woods are beautiful right now. Birds chirping, flowers everywhere, green stuff including poison ivy all over.
When we got near the creek we found a section of trail had fallen in. A massive brier prevented us from going around on this side of the creek. I handed my phone to Iain and slid down the bank. My feet touched the mud and continued right on in up to my knees. I pulled one leg and then the other out and waded through the creek. The water was chilly but not uncomfortable. I stepped on pebbles and sand and then sank up to my calf in the sand, leaving me wet up to my thigh! I avoided the sand after that.
I stood on one relatively firm bit and Iain handed me my phone so I could take some pictures of the retaining wall that had given way.
I couldn’t find a way around so I came back up. Despite sinking into the mud and sand, I wasn’t horribly filthy. The creek had washed a lot of it away.
Because I’ve been doing barefoot running & walking, I have a massive collection of blisters on my feet, most of them old. One of the blisters filled with sand during my walk in the creek. I tore the dead skin away to clean the sand out when I got home.
We saw a plant that looked like a rosebush but the flowers looked like strawberry flowers. I know that strawberries are related to roses. It was growing wild all over the place.
After many many attempts to quit sugar, I finally did. I’m on an anti-metric kick right now, which means I don’t know how many days I’ve been sugar free. Theoretically I could figure it out and at least get pretty close, but it doesn’t matter and I’d rather not know.
When I run, I don’t know how long or how far I go. I just go. When I swim I don’t know how many laps or how fast or how long. Eventually I decide to stop.
I hate hate hate counting calories so I’m not. Smaller portions, especially of the carbs. No snacks after supper. It’s all very general and the only reason I know I’ve lost a little weight is because my jeans are more comfortable.
So I don’t know how long I’ve been sugar free. Sometime in March I decided to be 100% sugar free until my 39th birthday (May 28). Well, until that weekend, which is graduation weekend. Mom is going to make Better than Sex Cake for my birthday/ Nell’s graduation.
I already didn’t quite make it 100%. Friday on the way to Kansas I had a milkshake. It was a small shake, and I couldn’t finish the whole thing.
But Monday was a disaster. My allergies were acting up so much that the roof of my mouth itched like crazy. I hate that feeling and a carbonated beverage is just the thing to combat it. I was tired and I forgot all my little tricks for not getting sugar.
- I could have gone to the grocery store and gotten an Izze. (Carbonated, no sugar. High GI but not as high as a coke!)
- I forgot entirely about my bamboo-breath exercise which works by distracting me from thinking about the coke & candy bar.
- I could have gone for a walk. More than once–including this time–I head down the street to the gas station and as soon as I’m walking I don’t want so desperately the thing I’m walking for.
- I could have found someone to talk to. I love talking and that will distract me from anything.
So I ended up walking down the street and getting a coke & candy bar. And I drank the entire coke. It made me a bit light headed. As I walked to the gas station I thought of all those things I could have done instead. Could be doing instead. But once I’ve decided to sin I don’t waver. I persevere in the face of all obstacles.
But I was more prepared the next day. I took my allergy medicine and had the various tricks at the front of my mind. I didn’t need them.
I still have a chance to make it to my 39th birthday 99% sugar free. Which isn’t a metric because it’s a made up number. To get a metric I’d have to know how many days it was when I made the decision to be sugar free and figure out what percent of time (in days? hours?) I was contaminated by sugar.
There were way too many cookies & cakes around for the funeral. That was a little frustrating.
I’ve been reading about the unconscious and how much stronger it is than we realize. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the real reason I had a coke on Monday (and a candy bar) is because I didn’t have carrot cake, chocolate cake, and assorted cookies all weekend.
That carrot cake was really really good. I know because my little cousin Vivian was eating a piece and I got her a 2nd piece that she wasn’t supposed to have (she & I both knew she wasn’t–but she was so cute and liked it so much). A little bit of frosting got on my finger and I licked it off. Oh my gosh was it good.
I gave her a cookie too but her mama saw eventually and took it away. She didn’t know I gave it to her. She thought Vivian had gotten it herself, and she moved the cookies to the back of the table where Vivian couldn’t reach. Vivian didn’t need to reach because there were lots of long arms that could reach for her.
It’s not that I have no shame and that nothing can embarrass me. It’s that I know that there is nothing new under the sun. What I experience, thousands (at least) have experienced before and thousands (at least) to come will experience it. In talking about my experience with leaky running, I hope to bring comfort and perhaps solutions to other people.
It doesn’t make me feel embarrassed at all to announce that I am (sometimes) a leaky runner.
Just google “incontinence and running” and you’ll see what I mean. There’s tons of articles. It makes me sad to think of all the postpartum, slightly (or more) overweight women who don’t run because they are embarrassed.
I had been running for a couple years without any problems. I’ve steadily been gaining weight over the same time (my bike commute is too short and sugar is my nemesis), and I’m about 15 or 20 pounds overweight now. Not a lot, but just enough. With everyone around me worried about 50 or 70 pounds or more, I feel pretty silly to worry about 20 pounds. I have the “heart of an athlete” (a resting heart rate of 54 bpm), I sleep well, I eat lots of fruits & vegetables (and, sad to say, sugar), and the only reason to lose 20 pounds is vanity. Vanity, and so I can bike faster.
Being able to bike faster is a good incentive. But not quite enough. And ultimately, that is just vanity as well. For what do I need to bike fast? Even if I get a little faster than I am now, I’m not going to win any races. If I could win a race, I don’t care to.
Anyway, I had no reason to lose any weight, until I had stopped running for a little while and started back to it and discovered to my horror that I leak when I run.
The only thing that has changed since I had last run a few weeks before is my weight (and of course my age, by a few weeks). Only by a few pounds. I think there is a threshold weight above which I am a leaky runner and below which I am not. Years ago, long before I started biking, I had gained weight and I tried jump roping. With a small child at home it’s hard to go out and be active. Jump roping was something I could do at home. Only it’s awfully bouncy and I was awfully leaky and it didn’t last. I’m nowhere near as heavy now as I was then, plus I have a lot more muscle than I had then, but I guess I’ve crossed that weight threshold.
I made three changes with almost instant success. (It’s been about 3 weeks.)
1) I run slower. The leakiness is worse the bouncier I am. Running slower is less bouncy and less leaky.
2) I had just stopped eating sugar and I went lower carb for a while to lose some of the extra pounds. Of course I’d like to go all the way to “ideal” but the most urgent incentive is to get below the leaky threshold. I’m not really doing metrics but my slacks are fitting better. I think I was barely at the weight threshold and I’ve already gotten myself below it. I’d like to have a wide margin so I’ll stick to the lower carb (and no sugar) for a while longer until my clothes are too big.
3) Kegel exercises. All the time.
I thought about buying adult diapers to run in. I suspect they don’t make them with running in mind. Anyway with those 3 tactics, I have circumvented the need.
That reminds me of a story from grad school. Gather round, kiddos. My adviser had his own Cessna 5-seater airplane with a gold-plated engine. He was in the habit of loading up the entire lab (he always had a small lab) and taking them to conferences. By the time I was a student, he had mostly quit doing that, because he was so busy traveling to Japan and Italy (not in his own little plane of course) for meetings and publicity. We did take a trip in his plane once to visit a collaborator in Pittsburg, PA once. That was fun.
Anyway, one student who predated me went with him and others to a meeting that was a 5-hour flight. During their stay, she was looking for a drug store. “I’m trying to find some adult diapers,” she said. Like most grad students she was young–too young to need adult diapers–and they were concerned. Was she ill?
“Five hours is too long for all the coffee I drink,” she explained. Rather than forego her coffee, she was going to buy adult diapers–and use them.
“The plane can land,” our adviser told her. “You don’t need to buy adult diapers.”
So she didn’t. And sure enough, a couple hours into the flight, the plane landed so she could use the bathroom.
Most people don’t believe this. I’m certainly not the stereotype. But yes, I was a cheerleader one year. I count it as one of the 3 big mistakes of my life. The other 2 are not applying to more than one med school/ going to grad school as a back up plan for not getting into med school (I know, that’s 2 things, but they go together), and moving to Chicago for a postdoc when Iain didn’t have a job lined up and we couldn’t afford Chicago on my postdoc salary.
These 3 mistakes were made at ages 13, 24, and 29. I’m probably due for another.
That’s not to say I’ve only made 3 mistakes ever. Those are the 3 big ones. Other mistakes are less memorable.
Anyway, back to the cheerleader story. My class had very few girls. Only 3 were popular. There were 4 or 5 of us who weren’t. I’d guess we had about 30 in our class at that time and the rest were boys.
In middle school, 4 8th grade and 2 7th grade cheerleaders were selected every year by vote. Cheerleader tryouts were in front of the whole school, but it was really a popularity contest. Since only 3 girls were popular, we were 1 short for cheerleader when we got to 8th grade.
Two of the popular girls asked my friend Kerry to try out. She was borderline popular-unpopular. She could have been popular if she wanted, I think. She didn’t want to be a cheerleader. So I said, “I’ll try out.”
I’m not really sure why. They hadn’t asked me–they had asked Kerry. They didn’t want me. I did not harbor any delusions that being a cheerleader might make me popular.
I think I was experimenting with different identities. It’s an adolescence thing.
I tried out, the school voted, and because they were instructed to vote for 4 8th graders and 2 7th graders, and there were only 4 8th graders trying out, I made it.
I was unprepared for the scorn & derision of the other students. Not that I wasn’t scorned and derided routinely already, but it increased in the spotlight.
The other cheerleaders, particularly the two who had asked Kerry but NOT me, weren’t at all welcoming. They scheduled the 2-day cheerleader camp during the only time all summer I was gone. (I forget where I was that weekend.) To be fair, I don’t think they did that intentionally, but neither did anyone check with me. I didn’t even know there was a cheerleader camp I was supposed to attend until the week before.
It wasn’t all bad. I liked learning the moves to the fight song. I still remember the fight song. I liked some of the cheers. I liked learning the dance routine that we performed for the school. I liked the costume. I mean the uniform. (I still like costumes. Bike jerseys & bike shorts. Business suits. Etc.)
But in general it was a pretty miserable experience and then one of the other 8th grade cheerleaders, the only nice one, died in a car wreck. I wanted to quit but our “coach” (the person who was nominally our coach though he never had much to do with us) wouldn’t let me. That is, he persuaded me not to quit by dint of shaming and bullying and calling me a quitter. We only had a couple games left anyway.
I might have pictures somewhere to prove it.
I’m going to call it on the Lent project. It was fun at first but it definitely fizzled during the 2nd half.
This week was supposed to be all about me: Think kind & loving thoughts about myself, Accept that everything about me is as it should be, Celebrate everything about me, Give myself something, and Contemplate my relationship with myself.
Only there just doesn’t seem any point to all that because I’m feeling so great. I’ve been 100% sugar free for nearly two weeks. I started Couch to 5K this week and swimming on the alternate days. Work & family are all happy and good right now.
So I just don’t have any motivation to think deep thoughts about myself. There is no challenge at all to accept myself: Today I’m perfect.
I’m not complaining! Just explaining why the project fizzled.