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Tue, Jan. 10th, 2012, 11:00 am
Sporks: The Perfect Utensil, Plus Other Randomness

Hey there, peeps! I hope the new year is treating you all well. I'm
super! Thanks for asking! OK, technically you didn't ask. But
whatever. Let's just pretend like you did. If you're bothering to read
my blog, I can only assume you are interested in my well being for
some reason, because there's certainly nothing informative or
worthwhile to read here. So, it makes sense that you would ask. See.
It's all very logical. I'm not crazy. Really.

I've pretty much been up to my usual shenanigans. First and foremost
on my mind is rowing, of course. I've been doing the whole winter
training thing at the boathouse. I'll be doing the 2k erg competition
in February again this year. My time last year was 8:56 (2:14 split).
My fastest test, which I just did on Saturday, was an 8:37 (2:09.3
split). So, as you can see, I'm making progress. I'm pretty confident
that I can get it down to a 2:07 split by February. That would put me
close to 30 seconds faster than my time last year. These aren't
competitive times or anything, but I don't care about that. I'm racing
myself. I have to be realistic about this. I'm almost 38, I've only
been rowing for just under 2 years, I have short legs and crappy
knees. And, yes, there's the whole blind thing... But that's no excuse
to be a sucky rower. It's a non-factor as far as I'm concerned. I know
I'm never going to be a world class rower. But, I do enjoy trying to
get better so I'll keep racing myself and not worry about whether I'm
competitive. Being a recreational rower is just fine with me and I am
still having a blast.

A friend has been helping me with weight training so I can build up
some strength. I usually only get to lift weights about once a week,
but it's better than nothing and it is helping some. My upper body
strength has always been basically non-existent. Now, I actually have
little muscles. It's exciting. I've gone from having the upper body
strength of a 5 year old girl to that of about a 13 year old girl. I'm
still a scrawny weakling above the waist, but I'm trying. Naturally,
my leg strength is less embarrassing and getting better as well. I'm
really fired up about the whole process. It's exciting to see the
progress and it's helping me row better too.

Christmas was good. I did the usual family thing. Nothing too major
happened. I didn't get sick for a change. Unfortunately, Cinnabar was
the sick one this year. I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day
cleaning up numerous piles of disgusting things coming out of my dog.
I can only assume she ate something that she wasn't supposed to. It
wasn't anything out of the ordinary at first. She gets into things
every now and then and we go through this stuff. It's just part of
having a lab. They'll eat anything. There was a new twist this time
though. Early in the evening on Christmas Day, I noticed that
Cinnabar's ear flaps were swollen. I had never seen anything like that
before. I started to just give her some Benadryl and see if it would
pass, but I checked with my vet just in case. She thought it would be
best to have Cinnabar checked out to rule out a serious allergic
reaction. We made a minor emergency trip to the vet. There was no
fever or anything and the vet didn't think the swelling was too bad so
Cinnabar got a cortisone shot and we went home so she could sleep it
off. Things were much better the next day and Cinnabar started holding
down food. The whole thing was weird, but we survived and Cinnabar is
back to her usual self.

I got an iPod Shuffle for Christmas. I have the iPod Touch of course,
and wasn't really sure why I wanted a shuffle. I'm using it a lot more
than I expected though. It's a neat little doohickey. It just blows my
mind that I can carry 500 songs on something that is barely bigger
than a postage stamp. I remember back in the day when I thought it was
cool how I could carry around a portable cassette player and a small
case of tapes. Then, CD's came around and that seemed really cool. Now
I've got a gizmo that's so small, it gets lost in my pocket. It's kind
of cool to see how technology has changed and improved, but at the
same time, it makes me feel a little old. Oh well. At least I'm here
to enjoy it. Old is better than dead. And in the grand scheme of
things, I'm not that old. I certainly don't feel like I'm almost 38.
I'm having too much fun to feel very old.

Dad and I went to Dallas to watch TU play in the Armed Forces Bowl. TU
gave up the game winning touchdown with 11 seconds to go. It was a
pretty frustrating game. There were lots of missed opportunities, a
really bonehead and costly fumble at the end of the first half and the
offense just never clicked. But, you can't win 'em all. Dad and I
still had a fun trip. We drove down the day before and stopped for
half the day at the big casino on the Oklahoma - Texas border. I can't
ever remember the name of it. It's some combination of the words
river, wind or star. For some reason, every casino in Oklahoma either
has river, wind or star in the name. What's up with that? It's
impossible to keep any of them straight. Or, maybe I'm just not
putting much effort into it. either way, I can't remember the name of
the place. It's in Thackerville. At least I know that. Anyway, I got
kicked in the ass as usual, because Indian casinos hate me. Dad did
pretty good. He only lost $20 and we were there for 5 or 6 hours.
That's pretty good as far as casino trips go. We also had a really
good lunch while we were there. There's a burger place in there that
cooks a mean burger and fries. It was really good. Or maybe I was
really hungry. All I know is that I really enjoyed that burger.
Mmmmm... Burger...

While we were in the DFW area, Dad and I also made our usual trip to
Richardson Bike Mart. This is the biggest bike store I have ever been
to. The place is ginormous and they have lots of tandems. It's fun to
go check out the bikes. We're not getting a new tandem or anything,
but new bikes are just fun to drool over. Mmmmm... Shiny new

I am getting myself some neat stuff for late Christmas presents. I'm
still waiting on it all to get here and I am beyond excited. The big
thing is a new monitor for my erg. I stupidly broke my old monitor.
The monitor on the erg by itself is useless to me because I can't read
the screen. But, Concept 2, who makes the erg, has a free piece of
software you can download onto a computer that will speak some of the
information on the screen. To get it to talk, you have to connect the
monitor to a computer via USB. Once it's connected, the program,
called Erg Chatter, will read out time, distance rowed, split time,
stroke rate and a few other things that I don't bother with. Anyway, I
was settling in for a workout one day and forgot to make sure my USB
cable was clear of the handle. When I took my first stroke, I yanked
the cord and busted the USB port on the monitor. So, my monitor
instantly became a useless brick to me. My old monitor is a PM3. I
decided that since I needed a replacement anyway, I might as well
upgrade to a PM4. I'll still be able to use Erg Chatter, but I will
gain the ability to use Concept 2's iPhone app called ErgBuddy. You
have to buy this wireless adapter thingy called a Wahoo Key. By
plugging the Wahoo key into my iPod, I will be able to connect my PM4
wirelessly to my iPod and use VoiceOver to read the information from
my monitor. I'll get everything that I can get with Erg Chatter, plus,
I will add the ability to get heart rate information. I am completely
geeked out about this. My new monitor will arrive Friday and I can't
wait. It's going to be super cool to not have to lug my laptop to the
boathouse for my erg sessions with my masters team. And I am a big fan
of anything wireless. I have already proven that me and wires don't go
well together. Hopefully now that I will be able to go wireless, I
won't be breaking any more erg monitors.

I also ordered myself an Official Starfleet Academy titanium spork
from ThinkGeek.com. (Shut up. I'm a nerd and I don't care.) I have
always had a secret fascination with the spork. It's such an efficient
utensil. I really don't understand why spork usage isn't more common.
It's a spoon. It's a fork. What's not to love. It cuts utensil washing
in half and deals beautifully with all the foods that are too liquidy
for a fork but too chunky for a spoon, such as chunky soups or...
other stuff that I can't think of right now. All I know is that I eat
a lot of soup with big chunks of meat and veggies and I am going to
boldly eat like I've never eaten before. My spork is scheduled to
arrive today and I can't wait to give it a spin. All hail the genius
who invented the spork! Mmmmm... Spork...

OK. I'm done. Thanks for visiting and I hope you have enjoyed my
ramblings. Toodles for now!