First Aid Skilz

Personnel at my gym are required to be certified as with CPR and the automated defibrillator.

Man, things have changed since I took this course when I was 14 or so.  The AED was not a common piece of first aid equipment and the CPR procedure has changed quite a bit.   Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, ferinstance, you were supposed to do 4 compressions to 2 breaths.  The ratio is now 30 to 2 on adults.

The equipment is different, too.  Does anyone remember those Annie dolls?  Creepy as they are, you now practice  on a bald torso, which is creepier and use a mask.  I was an idiot and forgot to buy myself the glove and mask kit I’m suppose to carry now.  I wasn’t told going in, but if you take the course, you’re suppose to render aid if needed, even when you’re not on the job.   I mean, God, who wouldn’t!  But they make a big deal of that now.

Glad to have the info, of course, but golly I hope I’ll never need it.

I have to say I don’t much like the dolls they have now, as they don’t have a feedback mechanism to make sure you’ve got the respiration right.  The old Annie dolls did.  I can only suppose they’re ruinously expensive.

Nothing Tastes as Good as Being Thin Feels

As I’ve mentioned countless times, swimming is an excellent time to ponder.

I was looking forward to a breakfast of fresh-from-the-farm eggs and a nice espresso when the title phrase of this post fluttered through my mind.

Now, I’ve never been thin. I really wouldn’t know. But I’m trying to imagine how it’s gonna feel great.

All my mind can go to is, “Well, it’d be easier to do pullups, and probably with less drag my swim times will improve” and then my mind goes blank.

Being thin won’t feel like anything that I can imagine. I don’t live in front of a mirror, so I won’t have any real, consistent feedback. My body will just feel like my body because I live in it. Whatever you get used to just feels normal. It won’t feel like a constant orgasm of thin. Possibly I’ll get more male attention. I know it sounds weird, but I’m not actually looking forward to that part1.

I used to be a diet counselor. I’ve watched many women lose large amounts of weight. Accomplishing a big goal? Hell yeah, that feels really good — for about twenty minutes. Then you move on to the next thing.

But, I never noticed that their lives necessarily improved from losing weight. They still had issues with their husbands, or had the same sour tempers they started with, or still hated their jobs, or found their children frustrating, or were scared their husbands were having affairs…

Or if they were happy and had positive attitudes (as many did. I don’t want to imply that all my clients were miserable. They weren’t), they were about as cheerful as they always were, laughed about the same amount and there really wasn’t a significant change in their basic attitude.

I know the phrase is supposed to help people focus on their goals. And you know what, “Don’t sacrifice a long-term goal for a momentary distraction” is a good thing to keep in mind.  The thing is: “Being thin will feel good” is a lousy motivation.  It won’t feel like anything. It’ll just be you and your body.  The change is gonna be gradual and it’s just gonna feel normal after awhile.  It’ll be your life and you’ll take it for granted after some small period of time.

1It’s not that I don’t like being flirted with. I do. A LOT. But, that sort of attention becomes less attractive when you’ve seen someone trying to ask a girl for a date when she’s at the squat rack. Free advice to the men that wanna date women who lift: Do not distract a person who is lifting enough weight to cause an injury if it is lifted wrong. You won’t score any points that way. Promise. Wait’ll she’s done. It’ll improve your chances.

Hurrah for the Farmer's Market!

I typically am not shopping’s biggest fan.

The exception is the Farmer’s Market.

The local farmer’s market is right in town on Thursday afternoons, so the kids and I can walk there easily, do some shopping and get the good stuff.

I like local, really fresh food and buy it when I can.  Living, as I do, in Northern New England, I don’t get to enjoy a long growing season.  But the fresh greens are already coming up, and the fresh eggs are marvelous.

I got to try raw milk for the first time today.  It’s good.  Next week when I go to get milk, I’m going to buy some.

I went to get an eye for what’s sold there to plan my shopping around it.  Yeah, the grocery stores where you can get something pretty much year ’round are nice, but it’s more fun and more… “real” feeling to buy it right from a farmer.  I know, technically food’s food.  I don’t even really believe it when they say that local food is more nutritious, though if someone can point me to a study that proves it, I’d be delighted to read it.  But there is something really satisfying about going to an open-air market and buying food from the people that actually grew it.

When I lived in Fredericksburg, I’d walk down to the Farmer’s Market in Hurkamp Park many mornings during the summer.  We’d get most of our produce there from about May until September –fresh snaps and butterbeans, sweet baby watermelons, cantaloupes and strawberries…  I still remember Hanover tomatoes and sorely miss them.

Up here it’s a lot of locally made cheeses, a elk farmer (don’t wince, elk is delicious.  I don’t care how expensive it is, I’m picking up some at least once this summer), local honey, and the really early spring stuff right now.  Strawberries aren’t even in season yet, and I’m already yearning for them.  I’m also looking forward to late summer, as there’s not much that can touch the really good cold-weather squashes.

There’s a lot going on about trying to eat food grown within a hundred miles of your home.  While it’s not really practical for me to do that 100%, I do prefer the local produce when I can get it.  I like buying directly from the farmer and certainly intend to get as much of my produce as is practical locally.  I was internally cussing the fact that we had a fridge full of lettuce, as I wanted to try the fresh greens for sale.

I picked up some eggs (and if you’ve never tried fresh eggs straight from the farmer, give yourself a treat.  They really do have a richer taste), some honey, and a little pot of rosemary so I can have my little herb garden.  I found out herbs grow really well in my jungle room along with the rest of the plants, so I think I’m going to treat myself to a year-round herb garden.

There are also bakers here, and the children tried cannolis.  It’s not something I’d generally think of as a farmer’s market type treat, but the kids sure liked ’em.

Being Down on Yourself

I’ve come to the conclusion that beating yourself up, being down on yourself, hating yourself and all that smack isn’t quite what it seems.

It’s not this hopeless condition from being treated badly when you were a child.

Nope. It’s being lazy. It’s procrastinating[1]. It’s spending time on something that is so non-productive, nay, damaging that it hardly bears thinking about.

And yes, I know that there are going to be people who read that and think, “Oh great, another reason why I suck. Gee, thanks.”

But think about it the time and energy you might be putting into it. Isn’t there something else you’d rather be doing? I’m not saying that you have to be super-productive here, but hell, going outside and drawing with chalk on the sidewalk would be a far, far better use of your time.

What if, every time you felt down on yourself, you thought, “Yep, thinking that again. I’d rather do something else. I’m gonna go finger paint[2].”

Notice that you acknowledge the thought without harsh judgment. Don’t look for yet another excuse to beat yourself up. The point is to STOPPIT. You look at it with dispassionate eyes and coolly choose to do something, anything[3] else.

It doesn’t have to fix whatever you’re down on yourself about. I mean, sure, if that’s what you want to do and it’s even something that’s fixable, cool. But chances are good that the habit of being negative to yourself is actually the more damaging issue.

[1] Think about it, how often do you feel down on yourself that you don’t feel like there’s something you “should” be doing, but aren’t. (Dieting, cleaning the house, earning more money, managing the money you have better, being more social…).

[2] Or read a book, or look up absurd trivia on Wikipedia, or whatever. Washing dishes is better than feeling down on yourself, you know? Okay, marginally. <grin> At least you get clean dishes out of it.

[3] Okay, don’t go around hurting people. If you deliberately choose to hurt people rather than being down on yourself you really do suck.

I'll Pass

I’m always checking out online work boards to see what I can find.

I signed up with oDesk (nope, not providing a link. If you’re that interested, Google will get to it just fine).

I asked them to remove me just as quickly after I downloaded the software and did a tour.

The company was trying to solve the problem of trust between an unknown remote worker and employer. Is this a serious issue? You betcha. You hear all those “Work in your underwear” stories and if you’re hiring someone, you will wonder whether or not that slacker with his laptop is working or not. I’m not arguing that it’s an issue.

One solution is to pay by the job. (i.e. “I’m taking bids on a 50 page e-book on the mating habits of hummingbirds. I’ll need it in three weeks after the contract is accepted. What do you bid?”)

That’s the way I usually work. I get a contract, say how long it’ll take me to do it, then deliver it by the deadline. After that, it’s up to me to make it work. If I don’t make it work, I get a bad review. I like this approach.

However, working to the job doesn’t really work out with everything. Sometimes an hourly rate seems like the better option. Then, trust becomes a serious issue. You don’t want to pay for slacking.

If you’re going to hire a telecommuter, a good way to handle it is to hire someone you know and trust. You know they’re not going to screw around. They’ll work the hours they claimed, you can see they put out a lot of good product, and it’s all hunky-dory[1].

What if you wanna outsource and you’re hiring a stranger?

oDesk’s option is… well, there’s no other way to put it, you might as well be working in a cube farm. If you get work through them, you’ll be getting a video camera to be trained on you while you work. No kidding! You download the company’s software, which takes a screenshot every ten minutes while you’re working, and logs mouse clicks and keystrokes. Friends, I’ve never had an office job with that level of monitoring, and I worked briefly for the Department of State! It seems to me that this is all the drawbacks of a “real job” (constant monitoring, stress) with none of the advantages (regular paycheck, benefits such as insurance, paid sick leave, etc.).

Why would you want the insecurity of going freelance if you’re not going to get the benefits?

Addendum:  Apparently there are buyers who don’t like it all that much, either.

There’s no point in outsourcing if you have to babysit your coders on the progress every step of the way (which would be how you would prevent bleeding too much money via oDesk).

[1] My father does this. But he’s been in his field 40 years and has a pretty solid rep.

What is the DPI of a Lite-Brite?

Because this is important information:

A 1973 Lite Brite has approximately 3.6 DPI.

This was actually researched for a professional reason for someone who lives in my house.

Yes, we’re nerds.

And You Can Work in Your Underwear!

Whenever those “work at home” scams hit my inbox, working at home in your underwear is often one of the “selling points” of the scam.

I won’t say I’ve never worked in a state of dishabille. I do sometimes.

But you know, Flylady has a point when she talks about “dressing to your shoes”. You do need a mental cue that says, “Okay, this is worktime![1]

Do I ever work sitting propped up in bed? Goodness me, yes, I do! Finished my last project exactly that way. Sounds pretty cool, dunnit? I’m not saying it isn’t fun. It’s a lot of fun. Knowing that my “office” is my laptop, and can go anywhere is really, really cool. I’m not gonna lie to you.

But friends, work is still work. I might be working naked,[2] but I’m still working. The project still has to get done. If I take off to flit around all day because no-one is staring over my shoulder and my deadline isn’t for another week, work doesn’t get done. Cyberloafing in a formal office? Dandy. Go for it. Work isn’t getting done there, either.

But there’s a big difference between me and the person who practices the 5 Habits of the Highly Successful Slacker. He’s figured out a way to get paid without producing much.

I can’t.

I get paid when the job is done[3]. How I did it, when I did it,[4] what I was wearing when I did it… None of that matters. All that matters is “Did you finish?” and “Was it of good quality?”

Sure, sure, ideally you’ll treat your office job like that. If you do, you’ll probably have a really good, successful career and that’s awesome. The reality is that it’s awfully easy not to.

I like being my own boss and working to the job rather than to the clock.

But those “Work at home in your underwear” scams just make me roll my eyes. It makes it sound like you’ll be making a lot of money, but you won’t be working.

Don’t fall for that nonsense. You know, TANSTAAFL and all that smack.

[1] Mine is turning off my email, getting off the social networking sites, and closing chat.


[2] Though living as I do in Northern New England, it really hasn’t warmed up enough that I want to do that!

[3] Or more likely at specific milestones of the job.

[4] Providing I meet the deadline.


Whenever I feel professionally insecure, I watch this. Then I feel a whole bunch better. I think I need a flugelhorn. In other news, I had my first orientation at the gym as an employee. I think it’s gonna be a nice place to work. Cheerful and friendly suits me fine. Also, they’re paying for the CPR course, and I get a discount on my lifeguard certification if I want one. I was warned if I get that cert, I’ll be called on to use it. Oh weep for me.

Captain Buzzkill 2000

I’d been oscillating since doing the 50 mile challenge at my gym whether or not to swim 1500 yards or 2000 yards as my workout. My normal swim was 1650. The last two times, I decided to do a 1500.

I woke up grumpy as all hell and feeling down on myself, so I chose to try a challenge and swam 2000.

I’d never done that before. Felt kinda good.

A lady in the gym got on the scales and commented (right beside me), “No way have I gained four pounds in a day!”

I laughed and said, “Don’t sweat it. It’s probably water weight.”

Another woman near us spoke up and said, “She’s working out, it’s probably muscle weight.”

In one day.

You wish.

A hard-training, unsupplemented1, young, genetically-gifted beginner female might put on about half a pound of muscle a week for the first five months or so if she specifically lifts to failure. If you’ve been following my listed workouts you will note this is considerably harder than I train2. I’m also hardly genetically gifted.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, strength training is important. But let’s be accurate with the numbers, ‘kay?

You’re probably not gonna jump four pounds of muscle doing aqua aerobics. Oh, do the aqua aerobics! It’s fantastic exercise, easy on the joints, gets your heart rate up, gives you some strength work. Absolutely. But it ain’t gonna turn you into a monster. It’ll help you be a little more healthy, and that’s great. It’s a wonderfully valid reason for doing it.

I don’t wanna be Captain Buzzkill here. I really do believe in exercise and I’m all for doing what you can. I mean, c’mon, I got my start swimming 400 yards three times a week, and lifting less than the weight of an empty barbell for my workouts. It’s taken me coming on to two years to get where I am. Doing what you can is something to be proud of. You don’t have to make anything up or distort it for it to be worthy and valuable.

If you think pop magazine articles on exercise get under my fingernails, you’re right.

1 A euphemism for “not taking anabolic steroids”.
2At the best I can estimate, I’ve put on about four pounds of muscle in the past eighteen months. In a way, we women are lucky at how little it takes to make wonderful changes.