Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Breakfast, Day One

I mentioned a few months ago about my plan to lose a few extra pounds. I've been doing pretty good, but seem to have plateaued in recent weeks. I'm pretty sure I know why. July started with a week-long celebration of JB's birthday, including the coconut cake I made from scratch. An unusually rainy summer has curtailed my running routine. And my work hours have increased as I've been taking on extra job responsibilities.

These are all just lame excuses, and I know it. That's why I'm kicking my diet plan up a notch (down a notch?) starting today.

I've written before about Good Measures Meals, a local meal service which raises money for Project Open Hand, a non-profit community meal delivery service. I've always had good results with Good Measures, and I like that the profits go to a good cause. The food isn't bad and the menu is designed to be nutritionally balanced over the course of the week.

This time I chose to start off with the 1400 calorie/day plan and augment this with a protein shake on workout days. Otherwise I'll be sticking strictly to the plan, which means no alcohol for at least the next month.  (Are you convinced now I'm serious?) I'll see how this goes for two weeks and adjust the plan if necessary.

Such a funny word, schmear.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Recess Disappointment

Guess which one is me. That's right, the cute one.
Although I rarely get to take one, I love a good nap. That's why it's funny to remember how much I hated naps as a kid. I don't think it was the actual concept of random sleep that bothered me. It just seemed like an arbitrary, authoritarian attempt by adults to modulate my energy output. I hated to be the one to break it to them, but I didn't come an off switch.

My kindergarten teacher would feed us milk then make us lie on matts on the floor for thirty minutes. I don't know about the other kids, but I don't think I ever once slept during "nap time". It didn't help that Mrs. Cordish would spend this time busily puttering around the classroom, carefully stepping over the scattered, rag-doll bodies of her students.

I have a distinct memory of looking up her skirt as she did this. And I remember seeing bandaids way up on her inner thighs. Not the strips, but those little round bandaids. Two on one side and one on the other. Yeah, ew. This was the same kindergarten teacher that told my mom to steer my interests toward any trade that doesn't require a high school diploma.

I was so happy to graduate from kindergarten. I remember my first grade teacher looked like Elizabeth Taylor. I'm sure that's a memory backfill on my part and she probably wasn't really that glamorous. But compared to the blister-riddled kinder-skank across the hall, Mrs. Sawyer was a goddess.

Best of all, as mature first-graders we weren't required to take naps. We did recess with the big kids.

It wasn't so bad. When I got home Mom would
make my brother give my lunch money back.
And recess was when I learned first-graders were pretty much the bottom of the playground food chain. A blissful visit with the Sandman started looking pretty good compared to a half hour of making involuntary face-down snow angels or having my underpants filled with sand. I started looking forward to rainy days.

It was on one of those rainy days that all the first-graders stayed in Mrs. Sawyers room for recess, clumped into circles around various activities. I was attracted to the group that was playing the best game Milton and/or Bradley ever dreamed up: Operation. I clapped with excitement each time the buzzer sounded and Cavity Sam's nose lit up, because that meant I was one incompetent child surgeon closer to having my turn.

After waiting what seemed like forever, it was finally my chance to show off my surgical skills. Since most of the easy body parts had already been picked clean, I was forced to perform the one of the more difficult procedures: removing the fat guy's Bread Basket. Slowly, carefully, I moved my surgical tweezers into position. This was when I could have used a scrub nurse to wipe the sweat from my brow. Closer. Almost got it...


Now this game has computer chips, LEDs, and
I'm sure"writer's cramp" has been changed to
"autocorrect thumb" or something like that.
Looking back, I guess I was wound kind of tight back then. I was so startled by the buzzer and flashing red nose that I reflexively jumped. And in doing so, yanked the electric tweezer wire clean out of the game board. Have you ever been surrounded by a dozen or so of your peers at the very second they realize in unison that you're a hopeless spaz? That kind of thing leaves a mark on a kid.

As my playmates muttered and dispersed, spreading their disappointment like bird flu to the other groups of children, Mrs. Sawyer walked over and saw me sitting with the detached tweezers in my hand. She started to put the game back in the box, but I asked her to please let me try to fix it. Since the game was ruined, she obviously didn't see any harm in letting me try. She even gave me a screwdriver.

I spent the rest of the recess taking the game apart, trying to figure out how it worked. I learned that if I shorted out two metal contacts with the screwdriver, the buzzer would sound. It was actually very simple really. Pac's first circuit! I took the game home and that night after dinner my dad took out his soldering iron and helped me reattach the tweezer wire.

The next morning with great pride, I presented the game to Mrs. Sawyer as good as new. Well, almost. Sam would have to learn to live with his Wrenched Ankle since the tweezers could no longer reach it.

Sometimes it's the time in between formal lesson plans that a teacher can most inspire a child. My first-grade teacher probably didn't realize at the time that, by giving me the freedom to try to fix my mistake, she was starting me on a path toward becoming an electrical engineer. Just like it probably wasn't my kindergarten teacher's intention to turn me off vaginas for life.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Unnecessary Compensation

Thanks Joe...
Do they make these for men?
After two weeks with Joe's computer taking up space on my dining room table, I returned it to him last weekend in like-new condition. To express his appreciation, he disappeared into his back closet and emerged with a brand new pair of Oakley sunglasses.

I'm sure he picked them up on one of his trips to Asia or the Middle East, where he usually stocks up on stocking stuffers. And by "stocking stuffers", I mean cheap knockoffs he likes to keep on hand as impromptu gifts.

Wow, Joe! Thanks for the...
wait, Boze?
Last time, after getting his TV back on the correct input, he thanked me with a pair of Bose headphones. I used them once when I couldn't find my Apple earbuds. They came apart on the treadmill. I worried for a moment I was going to have to make a trip to the ER, but I was able to coax the plastic fragment out of my ear canal using the same technique as when water gets in my ears at the pool.

Only it looks way stupider standing in the middle of a crowded gym tilting my head sideways as I pound the opposite temple with the heel of my palm. Especially considering my gym has no pool.

I obviously don't do favors for my ex for the Alvin and the Chipmunks bootleg blu-rays. I do it because he's my friend. And because he's good to JB. And because a happy Joe just makes the world a better place for everybody.

Thanks, StevieB, for noticing the
Axe bodywash in my shower.
How embarrassing.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


I found a new obsession in my life. Ginger ale.

Specifically, diet ginger ale. Because I'm on a diet. I know, I'm not supposed to be drinking any kind of soda on a diet. Call it a guilty pleasure.

How is it I've lived nearly half a century and am only now finding enjoyment in this fizzy delight? I blame Grandma. When I was a kid, perhaps five or six years old, my grandmother was making a gingerbread house for Christmas. She constantly kept herself busy doing stuff like that.

Being a small child, I was fascinated by this candy architecture. Particularly in what it might taste like. In order to prevent my curiosity from undermining the structural integrity of her building project, Grandma baked up some of the cutaway odds and ends of gingerbread to occupy me.

Yummy, yummy, umm... ugh... oooooh, my tummy. Having gorged myself past satiety on the rich, spicy construction scraps, the room began to spin. Grandma did what grandmothers do and attempted to soothe my upset stomach with – you guessed it – ginger ale.

I'm sure her intentions where good. After all, ginger ale is still the home remedy of first-resort for an upset tummy, right? However it seems that, in cases when the gastric distress is caused by too much gingerbread, the medicinal use of ginger ale for nausea relief is contraindicated. A discovery which has haunted me for decades. Not to mention what it did to my poor grandmother.

But time heals all wounds, even if some wounds take 40 years to heal. Such as it is with me and ginger ale. And corn dogs. It's only been within the past couple years I've been able to eat delicious batter-dipped deep-fried hot dogs on sticks... without the haunting memories of echoing laughter, the shrill screams for mercy and the smell of diesel fumes.

I wasn't much older, maybe nine, enjoying my favorite week of late Summer... the Upper Peninsula State Fair. (Yeah, we didn't know we weren't a state.) After enjoying cotton candy, a large orange Crush and two corn dogs, I thought it would be a splendid idea to ride the Tilt-o-whirl. You can probably see where this is going.

Everything was fine at first. Tilting, then whirling; laughing as the unpredictable changes in angular momentum had their way with my huge pumpkin head that my body had yet to grow into. Then the spinning intensified. A dark billow of exhaust fumes from a diesel generator wafted over me. My corn dogs started barking. This wasn't fun anymore.

At the top of my lungs I begged the man operating the ride to stop and let me off. This made the two older girls sharing my cart, they were probably twelve or thirteen, point and laugh at me.

Each time the rolling, spinning cart circled the undulating track and approached the operator, I would struggle against the escalating centrifugal force to implore him to end this torture. This made the girls laugh even harder.

"Why won't this man listen to me?" I wondered. Surely the prestigious universities that matriculate future carnival professionals would dedicate entire semesters of coursework to recognizing the signs that little kids are about to barf. Maybe this guy flunked out? Still, the state of Upper Peninsula would never allow a person without the proper qualifications to operate machinery as complex as the Tilt-o-Whirl... Would it?

That was my last deep thought before things got... messy. All I remember is that the older girls stopped laughing at me. Now it was they who were futilely screaming for the Tilt-o-whirl operator's attention.

I managed to project most of my midway munchies onto the semi-circular bench between myself and my ride-mates. They could only watch in horror as my former stomach contents were now subject to the same capricious dynamical forces that only a moment earlier we all found so amusing.

Up, down, back, forth, clockwise, counter-clockwise, the girls' screams would rise as my corn-dog slushy advanced on their position, then fall when it retreated, then rise again. As if their vocal cord power alone could overcome the laws of physics and keep the randomly sloshing menace at bay. But in the end it was hopeless. I knew it. They knew it.

When the ride finally, at last, came to a stop, the two unleashed a stream of profanities on me the likes of which I'd only ever heard once before, when I accidentally closed the car door on Dad's hand. Not that it mattered to me much as I slumped to my knees still convulsively heaving.

The worst part? When Mom, feeling sorry for me and doing what moms do, bought me some ginger ale.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cake Win

I was quite pleased how the Jumping Bean's birthday cake turned out, it was worth the effort. Despite the soggy weather here in Atlanta, I had a great 4th of July weekend. Hope your holiday was full of fun and fireworks too.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Codependence Day

I have an extra 6 minutes!
For the past 15 years, the holiday of Independence Day has changed for me in meaning and scope. It's now called "JB's Birthday, Day 2: The Fireworks Edition". I've been preparing for two weeks and I'm still not close to being ready.

Today, the 3rd, is his actual birthday. But I bought an extra half a day of prep because he had a trip to Munich that doesn't get back until this afternoon.

I spent my lunch hour Monday at Best Buy looking for a fancy new iPhone case. Lunch hour yesterday was at Target, buying up all their red, white and blue party crap.

Today's lunch hour I'll be back at Best Buy returning the iPhone case, since JB mentioned during last night's FaceTime call that he bought one in Germany.

(Breath Pac! Ain't got time for one of your sissy panic attacks. Now focus.)

After getting to bed late, I was up again at 5am to start baking the cake. I have a bunch of meetings today, so I only have time to get two layers done. I'll finish the rest of the layers and ice the cake tonight.

Tomorrow morning is the annual Peachtree Road Race 10K. As it's going to be another late night, I'm not expecting a new personal best.

Oh no! This shade of blue isn't going
to do at all. Clear my schedule!!
Oh how I wish I could really say that.
Except maybe for my cake.

Seriously Target? Exploding 4th of July beer cups?
It's not like people will be drinking in proximity to flaming
BBQ grills and children frolicking with white hot sparklers.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

101 Days To Pride

Four years ago, Atlanta stopped holding its annual Pride celebration in June. Georgia was suffering from a severe drought at the time and in order to keep the event in Piedmont Park while preventing undue stress to the grass and landscaping, it was decided to move Atlanta Pride to October.

I've been very happy with this change. Not only is the weather usually more comfortable in October, it moves our celebration away from the traditional month of June when most other cities' Pride celebrations are being held.

Along with this calendar change, the Pride weekend kick-off party was moved to the Georgia Aquarium which is perfectly suited to hosting such a large event. The fish don't seem to mind, and I think the beluga whale rather enjoys showing off his junk to a crowd that seems more appreciative than the usual daytime crowd of families with small children.

Last year I didn't plan ahead and missed getting tickets to the kick-off party before they sold out. I'm not going to let that happen again this year. I just pre-ordered tickets for myself, plus some extras for a few guests.

If you recently enjoyed Pride in your city, why wait a whole year to celebrate again? Now's a good time to start planning a visit to Atlanta!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tech Support

I should be happy my partner and my ex are such good friends. It makes perfect sense, actually. They're both flight attendants with the same airline. (Trust me, I didn't do that on purpose. It just happens to be a fairly common occupation here in Atlanta.)

So when JB told me last week that Joe invited us to hang out Sunday at his pool, I thought "that's nice". Then I remembered it was Joe. "Wait... what does he need?"

"I don't know, something about not being able to send email from his computer."

I've known Joe for eighteen years. I met him in a club called "Backstreet" one night and by the next morning I was hooking up his video cassette recorder to his television and setting its little flashing clock. Only then did it dawn on me why our small-talk from the night before sounded more like a job interview. "Did you say you're an electrical engineer? That's hot!"

While ordinarily I'd feel no obligation to keep providing free tech support to my ex boyfriend, Joe's job seniority is of great advantage to JB when it comes to swapping trips and bidding for vacation days. So it's not for Joe anymore that I do these things. It's for JB. And nobody understands this better than Joe.

So as the gays frolicked at the pool, I powered on the PC it seemed like just yesterday I helped Joe pick out at Best Buy and then set up for him one weekend while he was away on a trip to Dubai. Man that thing was messed up. Obviously riddled with porn transmitted diseases, I gave up all hope of producing any vitamin D and set to work.

After a while Joe came in to restock the cooler with beer and talked me into taking a break. He's very considerate when he wants to be. Plus the cooler gets heavy when it's full. After a little while at the pool, Joe fired up the grill for burgers and I got back to work. And while Windows 8 was downloading, I installed task lighting under his kitchen cabinets.

Finally, even though I still wasn't close to having Joe's email working, JB said it was time to go home. He was exhausted from all the sun and had to work in the morning. He and Joe are flying to Munich today. So for the next three days I'll have the whole place to myself. Just me and Joe's computer.