Sunday, February 28, 2010

Celebrating A Life

In the past year I've been to far too many funerals. More than in any other year of my life. Perhaps this is an unfair comparison, since before last April I'd only ever been to one funeral. So three in one year is a lot. I really hope this isn't a warning as to what my life is going to become as people I know get older and the world gets crueler.

When we got word that Father Mike had passed on Monday I immediately assumed the bells would be part of the ceremony. Although I thought perhaps the fact that we hadn't practiced in two weeks would hinder that. It wasn't a problem at all. Nancy chose music we were familiar with and we pulled it off quite nicely, considering the circumstances.

Knowing how far-reaching Father Mike had been, I asked Adam to just drop me at the church and come pick me up afterwards rather than trying to find somewhere to park. He couldn't get off work to attend the ceremony, so this worked out quite well. It was a zoo. The police officers arrived to direct traffic around the same time I got dropped off. The front doors of the church were closed off and the church itself was packed. There were people in the community room, the chapel, and across the street at the school gym. You can see the numbers for yourself, as well as pictures and a recording of the service (that was streamed live on Friday) on the Post-Crescent website.

Up in the choir loft we bell choir members were joined by the adult choir, the Emmanuel choir, the Resurrection choir, and Alice Pichler. Before the service these groups, as well as a bagpiper, did a short prelude concert.

Which reminds me of a joke:
A young Scottish boy decided to try life in Australia. He found an apartment in a small block and settled in. After a week or two, his mother called from Aberdeen to see how her son was doing in his new life.

"I'm fine," Angus said. "But there are some really strange people living in these apartments. The woman next door cries all night long, and the guy upstairs bangs his foot on the floor all the time."

"Well, I suggest you don't associate with people like that," said his mother.

"Oh, I don't, mom," said Angus. "I stay inside my apartment all day and night, playing my bagpipes."

The bagpiper was so young - I'd guess 16 or 17. He was very good - bagpipes can't be the easiest instrument to play. One of the selections he played before the service was "Going Home" (you know, the song played on the Titanic as it sank...oh and part of Dvorak's New World Symphony...) There were many moments where it was hard to keep it together and that was one of them.

The service itself was lovely, but difficult. Father Mike's sisters tried to keep it light, as did Father Larry, who gave the homily. I think we all try to lean on humor in sad situations (case in point, that stupid bagpipe joke up there...) But ultimately, I don't think anyone really wanted to be where we were, doing what we were doing. It still just seems so unnecessary. Although I don't share their religious beliefs, when they say that Father Mike was needed more "up there" than he was "down here" I still find that very hard to reconcile with. But what's done is done.

The service was a true testament to how many lives he was able to touch in his time here. The whole center section of the church was a sea of white with at least 70 members of the clergy in attendance in addition to the bishop(s) and deacon(s) presiding over and assisting with the mass. It's hard to imagine what the parish will be like without him.

Photographic Memory #13

These kind of fell by the wayside. Time to bring them back!

Jess, Catherine, and I took a road trip to Green Bay. Judging by where these pictures were in my album, I'd say this trip happened in the August before my senior year of high school (that'd be 1999.) I'm not sure what the motivation was, if there even was one. We went shopping at the Bay Park Mall in Green Bay. There was an exhibit of absolutely enormous insects for some reason:

Then we went to the Bay Beach Wildlife Reserve where we encountered the goose mafia:

Seriously, there were hundreds of them. They surrounded us. Apparently, they made Jess their leader:

Eventually they let us proceed:

It was on this trip that I was able to find the Debbie Gibson CD I'd been looking for. Score! I played it all the way home... using a tape adaptor for the portable CD player in the car.

Weekly Update #3

Status Update:
Pounds lost: 1.5 (ish)
BP: 125/81

Recap of the week:
I'm not going to lie, it was a rough week. With Monday came the news about Father Mike. Bells was cancelled again. I think we did Tae Bo. I don't really remember. I do know that on Wednesday we watched a movie (Defending Your Life - pretty good) instead of working out. On Friday I gave myself a pass since I had inventory in the morning. I had meant to bring along my pedometer to track just how much I walk around the plant in that hour and a half, but I completely forgot. Oh well. There's always next month. The other nights it was treadmill for me. So overall, not great in the exercise department for the week.

This week I also went back to a quasi-Weight Watchers kind of thing. I've never been part of WW, but the formulas and point calculators are all over the internet so I can figure out what my points should be and I can figure out the number of points everything I eat have. It's a pain in the butt and all this measuring things while cooking is killing me, but I suppose it's the "right" way to do things. It's depressing, how sneaky packaging can be. It also kind of takes all the fun out of eating. The price to pay.

Since I was out of the office for a good four hours on Friday and Adam had to work Saturday anyway I decided to go in yesterday morning to try and catch up. It was interesting to see how many people in the office actually come in on Saturdays. I feel good about where I was in the month-end process when I left. We had done our grocery shopping on Friday night so the rest of my Saturday afternoon was spent taking everything out of our cupboards, spice rack, and refrigerator, dumping all the expired and unwanted food items, and reorganizing. It was scary. I'm totally not kidding when I say I found something that had expired in 2007. For shame. (Note to Adam: The garbage weighs like 50 pounds. Sorry!) Surprisingly, the only things we had to get rid of aside from expired stuff was a box of Lucky Charms, a box of Fiber One muffin mix (have you looked at the nutrition info on these things? Terrible for something that touts itself as "good for you"), and a bottle of barbecue sauce. Everything else in the cupboards was still ok to have around despite our change in diet habits.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Not off to a good start...

So that whole having a better week thing isn't going too well.

Adam called me at work this morning and proceeded to tell me that one of our mututal friends (who just got engaged - congrats!) was diagnosed with breast cancer and multiple doctor sources have encouraged a very agressive chemo treatment plan. That can't be a good sign. What rotten luck. This is, of course, messing with their wedding plans and it sounds as though perhaps there will be a small ceremony in the next few weeks.

Then, as my dad and I were talking while I was at work this afternoon I discovered, via his Caring Bridge site (note: you will have to sign up to view) that Father Mike, the priest at St. Mary's, had passed away this morning. It was a week ago today that he fell outside his home and sustained major head injuries. I can't even quantify how terrible this is. He was a wonderful man and will be missed by countless people, myself included.

Of course, bell practice for tonight is off for the second straight week.

Things can only get better, right?

Ok. I think we could all use some Cute Overload. Seriously, if you need to smile, this site is almost as good as Cats in Sinks.

The caption on this one, that cracked me up this afternoon, was:

"Slowly, hesitantly, Olive arrived at a disturbing new theory: The intentions of the alien visitors were not as benevolent as had been originally claimed."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Another Week Gone

Status Update:
Pounds lost: none. again. (boo)
BP: 132/84 (gah)

Recap of the week:
Not such a great week, obviously. Monday afternoon Adam called me at work to tell me that bell practice had been cancelled - because Father Mike had fallen outside his home and was in a coma in the hospital and there would be a prayer service in the church that evening instead. He's still in a coma and things are all up in the air. It's just terrible. His family has set up a Caring Bridge site to keep everyone updated, but it's an awful situation. It's going to be a rough Easter season.

Anyway, with my usual Monday obligation cancelled, we tried the new (45 minutes long) Tae Bo DVD. I didn't like it. Maybe I'm set in my 1998 VHS version ways, but I thought it was boring are far less challenging, even though it was almost twice the time as the older version. I think I'll stick with the old version.

Tuesday was IMA. Adam decided to come along and I think it was a good time. Not what we had originally planned, seeing as how our Player Development speaker got replaced by a Strength Coordinator speaker. Eh. It all worked out.

Wednesday was another days of unexpecteds. Adam called me at work to tell me that he broke the range hood while making his lunch. So, instead of the salad we had planned for dinner we ended up at Cinder's while out shopping for a new range hood. Later on, after a successful installation, it was back to the treadmill for me. The five pound weights turned out to be a little more than I think I can handle right now so I went back to my twos. Maybe I'll look for 3 or 4s. Or not.

Thursday was a rough day. I had a headache for most of the afternoon and when I laid in bed after dinner to read for a little bit I was hit with such tiredness I couldn't even imagine doing the Tae Bo we had planned to do. So when Adam went downstairs to work on his models and was gone for like two hours I was perfectly ok with it. It was all I could do to haul myself out of bed to clean up the kitchen and scoop out the cats' litterboxes.

Friday was a little better. I think I might be getting a cold or my sinuses are just acting up for no reason in particular. Given my perpetual headache, I resorted to the treadmill again instead of Tae Bo and even that just about killed me.

Yesterday we did a bit of shopping and then some more shopping. I spent the afternoon watching a movie (A Serious Man), taking a nap to try and get rid of my continuing headache, and reading. Adam had overdone it a bit on the treadmill so it was another treadmill day for me as well. Hopefully we'll get to the Tae Bo tonight.

I was better about the chocolate this week. And though I'm not even Catholic I decided to give up potatoes for lent just to see if I can do it. So far, so good. Haven't even had a challenge. When we went to dinner on Wednesday I would have gotten the steamed veggies anyway since I cut out french fries back in August. We'll see how things go in this next week.

Speaking of this coming week, hopefully it will bring good news. It leads up to another month-end, and that's always fun...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weekly Weigh-In

Status Update:
Pounds lost: none (boo)
BP: 129/77

Recap of the week:
So, I know I had mentioned that I wasn't expecting great things this week due to my excessive chocolate consumption. Add to that a birthday cookie cake, a night out at The Melting Pot, and the fact that it's what we refer to around here as "Bad Week" (Happy Valentine's Day, Adam!) and I'm not at all surprised that there was no downward movement on the scale.

Monday through Wednesday we did old school (ca 1998) Tae Bo with Billy Blanks. Seriously - it's on a videotape.

Thursday was a night off. I got little bit tipsy from wine at dinner...

Friday and Saturday (and will be tonight) was back to the treadmill. (See above reference to "bad week" as to why I didn't want to be kicking around with Tae Bo...)

For this coming week we've got an updated version of Tae Bo to try out - Tae Bo Cardio (ca 2003) (on a DVD!)

We'll see what new things Billy has in store for us.

Yesterday I bought two things that I ended up returning this morning. The first were wrist weights. I was originally going to get 5 pound neoprene dumbbells. Right now we've got 2 pounds ones and I'm feeling like I need more of a challenge. I thought maybe it would be easier if I could just strap the weights onto my arms. No way. I can't even stand wearing a watch or bracelets so I'm not sure why I though I'd be ok with weights around my wrists. I got the 5 pound dumbbells this morning so we'll see how that goes tonight.

The second was a heart rate monitor watch. Our treadmill has the handles that you grip and it registers your heart rate, but I thought maybe it was off and it would be easier to have something on my wrist. This watch also gave the % of target and a few other nifty things. But it doesn't work while you're moving! What's the point of having a heart rate watch if you have to stop to use it?!?! So stupid. I was disappointed, but I'll just stick with what's on the treadmill for now. It appeared to be pretty accurate.

I had also been considering getting an aerobic step. I had one back in high school (not sure where it ended up - maybe my mom has it?) and I enjoyed it. They're not really expensive - about $30 - but I think I'll wait on that for now too. I even considered looking around for a step class at a local gym or the Y.

Right now I'm listening to a dance channel on Pandora in a search for some new music. I'm getting bored of the same old songs... I'm taking suggestions!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Back in July/August of last year I had my biometric testing for my health insurance through work and my doctor’s appointment within a few weeks of each other. At my biometric testing appointment I was informed my blood pressure was high (147/88) and was given a card to remind me to talk with my doctor. When I went to the doctor my blood pressure was high (138/90) and this time the doctor gave me this little booklet and asked me to track my blood pressure for a few months on my own to see how much the “white coat syndrome” might be affecting me. I ended up buying a small wrist blood pressure thing to monitor myself.

At the same time, I started changing my eating habits. I cut out fast food, fried foods. I never drank much anything other than water, but I tried to stay away from the soda that Adam had around the house. My weaknesses are carbs (especially potatoes) and ice cream. I tried to stick with baked potatoes (they’re lowest on the GI) and low-fat ice cream (like Skinny Cow.) I also started using the treadmill that had languished in the basement for over a year.

Just after the new year began, Adam kicked into “get healthy mode” as well. Not sure what inspired it, but he’s taking it very seriously. Whereas I just try to not eat so much and eat better things, he’s counting calories and drinking whey protein shakes. Whatever works I guess. In any case, for the last few weeks we’ve both been using the treadmill pretty much daily. He wakes up early and uses it in the morning. I use it after dinner, before bed. It works. Then last week I decided to resurrect my Billy Blanks Tae Bo videotape I got my freshman year of college. The VCR is in the office so that’s where the Tae Bo-ing goes down. Adam decided to join me on Monday and then again last night. It’s definitely more challenging and interesting than a treadmill. I’ve pretty much got the tape memorized. I did it every morning the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. I made my dad promise to stay upstairs until 6:30 every morning because I’m sure I look ridiculous. Anyway, now Adam and I look ridiculous together.

We also went out and got a new scale. I’ve had an old school scale since like 2001 and I wanted a digital one that had all kinds of bells and whistles – body fat, bone density, etc. It’s kind of neat. Back in July/August I weighed (mumble mumble) and as of this past Sunday, I’m down a total of 19 pounds, 4 of which came in the last week. My blood pressure at last reading (also done weekly now) was 128/83. So something must be working. I’ve got a long way to go before I’m where I want to be – ideally the weight it says on my driver’s license, which has been a laughable lie for a good 6 years now. More short-term, I want another 20 gone by May when we go to New York. Longer term, I hope by my next birthday to be where I want to be – which means another 40-50 between May and February. We’ll see. It’s not going to be easy.

But it’s not just about a number either. I noticed almost immediately how much better I felt when I stopped eating so much junk. I also never want to have to take medication for hypertension or cholesterol. I don’t want to be diabetic. I’ve got more important things to spend my money on. I’ll try and do a weekly recap from now on to keep me motivated and accountable. This week might not look so hot – I’ve been overindulging in chocolate. Stupid Valentine’s Day…

28 is the new.... 28

Another year older, though not necessarily wiser.

My birthday itself was kind of uneventful. We’d gone out to dinner last Friday with Dad and Cheryl. We tried this new(ish) Scandinavian restaurant in Appleton, Oslo’s. Everything was delicious, from the shrimp artichoke dip (I dipped around the shrimp, obviously) to the potatoes drowned in butter. Slight stomach displeasure as a result of all the cheese, but still an interesting time. We were supposed to go to the Monkey Bar on Saturday, but the rest of the group cancelled and I didn’t really feel like going anywhere anyway so we just stayed home. We’ll reschedule at some point.

Yesterday I took six dozen mini chocolate cupcakes with me to work. Well, six dozen minus the three I ate while baking and whatever Adam took before I left. They were very popular. Some people even said they were addictive. Excellent. My world domination by baked goods plan is well on its way. Or not. Anyway, it was a normal workday for me, birthday or not. It snowed off and on all day and I had to scrape my windows off for only the second time this winter before I could head home. I was greeted by wound-up kitties and a cookie cake.

I love cookie cakes… (although for some reason those sperm-y looking balloons make me feel like I should submit this photo to Cake Wrecks.)

Some reading before dinner, a dinner of improvised porcupines (I guess I neglected to make sure we had tomato soup. We didn’t. So I used diced tomatoes instead. Interesting twist.), and some cake. Some more reading, a rousing session of Tae Bo (more on that in another post), my nightly clean-up rounds, and "NCIS" before bed.

Also, some notable additions to my library:

(Don't know what this is all about? Go here and prepare to laugh your head off.)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Oscar Noms - Film List Update

Gah - so many new ones to add! (Haven't updated the list on the right yet, but I hope to get to that sometime this weekend.)

Bright Star
Coco Before Chanel
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Price
Il Divo
In the Loop
Paris 36
Star Trek
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Secret of Kells
The White Ribbon
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

I can tell you right now (despite Adam's protests) that I'm not going to watch Harry Potter or Star Trek. It's my challenge and I make the rules. So there. Ha!