Saturday, October 15, 2011

The weight loss challenge is ON!

Every year for the past 4 or 5 years, my friend MaryEllen and I embark on a weight-loss program. Always begins at the official end of road season, the glorious "off season". Last year, we started it a bit early, as I had surgery and wanted to start the week of the surgery, due to the sheer volume of snack food that was available to me at work. I needed 2 weeks away from all of that crap before I could really resist it. That worked. It only took 1 week of longing, sideways glances before I was able to steer clear, and continue down the road to a lighter body.

Well, the challenge takes us into the holidays (accck), and into the new year, when racing begins all over again. Both of us reached reasonable losses, but neither achieved the lauded: GOAL WEIGHT.

Here we are in October. Both of us are at the same weight as January. Yeah, generally good not to gain it all back again, but this is the dreaded plateau. Ugh. For nearly 10 months, maintaining has been pretty easy. The first 3 weeks were fine. But I didn't drop a single pound. ME fluctuated a bit, but was generally heading in the right direction. My body is stubborn. Really stubborn. I actually gained a pound one week (sh*t), but quickly got rid of it again... What to do now? I had to employ serious tactics in order to start dropping weight:
  • Restrict ANY and ALL junk (stopped eating any candy,chocolate and/or chips)
  • Learn how to go hungry without getting into that weird "I'm so hungry I could eat my shoe" place... That's a fine line - trust me.
  • Employ drastic measures: my brain
Back when I was bodybuilding, the diet was the worst part for me. The WORST. I could lift weights, run, do whatever for however long, but when it came to dropping the necessary body fat needed to compete? Just shoot me. I remember being at shows, and someone would step out into the harsh lights, and the first thing that came to mind: "Damn. He/she should have dieted for another 8 weeks...". I never wanted anyone to say that about me! You're standing on stage, wearing 4 teensey triangles of fabric, under the harshest lights EVER (makes dressing rooms look weak, in comparison), and the last thing you want is for someone to see that Snickers bar you scarfed down a few weeks ago, planted firmly on your butt cheek. Sounds harsh, but it was a tough sport. Nobody cared what you looked like 6 months ago, how far you'd progressed, it only mattered what you looked like, for those 5 minutes (or so) you were standing on stage in a bikini. Nothing else mattered. You had to have a really thick skin... Totally unhealthy, for sure, and I blame that lifestyle for making it so darned hard for me to drop any weight now that I have a normal, healthy diet, but it was necessary to be that way for the sport. Of course, I had no butt back then, and was utterly unable to sit at the bus stop the last month or so before a contest, because any fat stores were just gone. Pfft. Just like that. But my brain was the most effective tool in my arsenal for dropping weight back then.

I'm using it once again. Much like the fear of being seen naked, the fear of "if I put this in my mouth, where will it end up on my body?" and "do I really NEED that? Or am I just wanting to eat something?"... Hey, it works for me. The weight is coming off now, FINALLY! All it takes for me is that first pound to be lost, then I'm on a roll... I won't eat the roll, but I'm on one. :o) And this time, I'm going for that elusive: super-stretch goal. I'm just 2 pounds from my goal as I write this, and it will be 4 to that weight which I've not weighed in over 10 years. When I get there, the first thing I want to go do is climb some big hill on my bike. Then I'll probably have to buy some new jeans, because even the skinny jeans are starting to be less and less snug...

Even using a scale, jeans are the better indicator of weight loss. They either fit, or they don't. No getting around it! I may have to go buy a new pair or two sooner than the holidays... Now that's an awesome dilemma!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Why I dont' like riding with non-racers

Okay. Not really non-racers. Mostly encompassing anyone who doesn't have a clue as to how to ride in a pack. I don't give a crap how SMART you are, if you don't know group etiquette, you are not someone I wish to ride with.

The first day of my new job, my boss introduces me to the group. They find out I ride, and I immediately get invited to a fund-raising ride on 10/1. "Sure, I'm in" I say. "But it's 50 miles", I'm told. "Yeah, so. That's fine." They had no idea...

As the weeks progress towards the goal, I'm continually talked to by the ring leader about how many centuries and double-centuries he's ridden. And I'm a bit nervous. It's only 50 miles, but he's talking 18-mph averages and I haven't raced since June. I'm way prone to leg cramps, so I'm thinking, "how can I keep up without cramping?" I settled on drinking a ton of water to stave off the cramps.

I get up a bit late on the morning of the ride. I'm tired from working for a living! 7 months of not working has totally ruined me for getting up and being someplace every day, and being PRODUCTIVE. I proceed to hurry to shower, eat, have a crapload of coffee and find the start of the ride. I estimate I'm leaving the house 20 min late. ACCCCCKKKKKKKK.

I arrive 15 min late. UGH!! I can get ready FAST, so I jam on my knee warmers, grab food, pump my tires, helmet and shoes on, set everything and am on my way to the start like 6 min later.... I saw one guy when I got there, so I head to reg, get my number and find the group. I only find 3 of the 7 others.

We head out on the ride, which is mostly uneventful. But I get the sense that 2 of the 4 of us aren't *that* used to riding in a group. We finally re-group at the last rest stop, and head out for the final few miles.

Then as we're crossing Monterey Highway, one guy gets a flat. So I go back. It takes him a LONG time to change that effing flat. I start giggling and say, "How many engineers does it take to change a flat?" because it was funny, but it was apparent that he was 'done for the day'. DONE. He gets it fixed, and starts to mount the bike, leaving the tube lying on the side of the road!!! LITTERBUG!!! I pick it up and hand it to him, and say, "You gotta take this along to toss it." I'm sure he hates me.

Off we go. I don't want the one guy to be last all day, so I let him go in front and give him a bit of room, based on his previous bad bike-handling skills. Apparently, one man had left his seat bag open, and stuff was starting to fall out. I noticed a tire lever on the side of the road, and when I looked up, the one guy was DEAD STOPPED, directly in front of me. UGH! I slammed on the brakes, managed to avoid slamming into his rear wheel with my front, but the back end of my bike came up and I endo'd. Fortunately for me, he had a saddle bag attached to his pannier rack over the rear wheel, which had his jacket in it, because I FACE PLANTED on that bag, and then continued my slow-speed endo, ending up on the ground, bike still firmly attached to my feet. I'm laying on the ground, still attached to my bike, I can't get up, and I'm confused why someone would dead stop for a tire lever - (it's an inanimate object! It's not as if it's a puppy and it's going to dart into traffic!!!!!). Luckily I didn't get hurt. I scared the crap out of one man who saw the entire thing. If he'd not had that bag on the pannier? I probably would have broken my nose, because I landed left side of my nose and cheek on that bag. My left sunglasses lens had an imprint of my cheek on it (thank God for shatter-proof sports glasses). I had not a scratch on me. My bar tape got a small tear in it, but that was it. I guess if anyone should have fallen, it should have been the one who KNOWS how to crash and not get hurt (me), but damn. Needless to say, after that, I refused to get within 20 FEET of the guy who braked, and I'd been about 3 or so feet behind him at the time of the wreck. Cripes. We were only about 4 miles from the finish, but still.

My neck is a bit sore, but nothing else. I have a few bruises. I can't post the picture of the one, because it's way too close to my kitty, but it's a pretty good mark. A couple on my knees, but literally nothing else. Okay, I admit it. My nose is still a bit sore. And frankly: it should be. Holy crap.

It could have been worse. Much worse. But I don't know what I'll do next year... full face helmet?

FINALLY, I have a job!

A bit behind, but I got a job. Finally. And what happens? 7 months of not-a-single-offer. Not even a crap one. And then what goes on? I get two offers. At once. It was awful. I know, I know. "You should have a choice!" and blah blah blah, but it sucked. I won't get into it, and sometimes you still wonder if you made the right choice, but I believe I did.

And now. How the hell do people do a full-time job, ride, grocery shop and keep up on life? Holy moly. I'm so freaking tired. ALL THE TIME. I'm just hoping that my "schedule" kicks back in. And soon!

Tomorrow marks 4 weeks of employment. And my benefits just kicked in last Saturday. That will be important in the next post...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bruised Bananas

Ah, the bruised banana. Much like the too-soft avocado, which is really only good for guacamole, the bruised banana is actually good for eating. To a certain point. Once it reaches that point, it's really just good for banana bread. But don't discount the bruised banana. Good banana bread isn't truly good with the elusive PERFECT BANANA. Good banana bread NEEDS the bruised bananas of the world.

Which brings up my point.

The job market. It pretty much sucks right now. I've been looking for a job since January. That's SEVEN months, tomorrow, since I lost my job. Dang. And I haven't been sitting around counting my cash. Well, I've been watching it disappear, but I digress. I've been applying, and interviewing, and applying and after countless applications and interviews, I haven't even gotten a LOUSY offer. Believe me. I'd take a low offer, or even a contract position, just to keep my brain from turning to mush. I need to feel productive!

I've had some close calls. One, in which, the hiring manager was checking references, asking about salary requirements, and throwing about titles. Only to do a 180 three weeks later and say she wanted something completely different. Talk about frustrating. What's actually MORE frustrating is that I'm finding that she never actually contacted any of my references. Just kept giving them the run-around. Much like I was given.

Last week, I got more bad news. I'd applied for a job about 2 weeks ago. Actually, 2 weeks ago yesterday. That went well enough that I got a request for a phone screen with the recruiter. Those are usually fun, and give you insight into the company, while they get some info about you. It turned out to be a very entertaining interview, mostly due to my getting caught with food in my mouth. TWICE. After I got off the phone with her, she called back. Yes, I had ANOTHER mouth full of food. Good Lord. I really don't eat 24x7, but it was funny. That was a request for a phone interview with the hiring manager the same afternoon. Totally open for it. It seemed to go well, with a few misses, mostly just due to my rustiness on intense DB operations. He indicated it went well, and the follow-up email the next day indicated it as well, as they were requesting a face-to-face last week.

Fast forward to last week. No word. Nothing Monday. I figured that if I hadn't heard by noon Tuesday, I'd ping them to find out. I got my answer Tuesday. "On second thought, the hiring manager felt your DB skills weren't good enough, so he doesn't want to pursue it any further." UGH. Really? Such a shame, because this is totally fixable - immersion in the DB world causes things to come back very quickly, but alas.... it was not meant to be.

This made me think of the banana theory. Trying to find a job is like online dating. If you're not perfect, the date passes, or the employer passes. Does any perfect candidate exist, in any realm?

I felt like the lowly bruised banana. The banana with a small bruise, which lies in the banana bin, being continually picked over for the perfect, yellow banana. Only 1 in 1,000 truly appreciates the bruised banana, knowing darned well that it makes the perfect banana bread.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Real Roadkill Ride

Sorry, no actual pics! Just a cruise from Woodside Town Hall to Los Altos and back, with a few loops in Palo Alto (where I kept wanting to count one dead skunk, multiple times, due to the "loop" I was riding...).

- 1 dead skunk (pee-yew)
- 2 dead squirrels
- 1 dead something-or-other (it was picked pretty clean and was unable to be identified)

Let's just say the dead skunk did NOT look like this --->

Roadkill Ride

Met a friend of mine (IronCLM) in Livermore yesterday for a ride. Started late @11 a.m., but gave me the chance to sleep in!

I think the East Bay must be tops in road kill for the Bay Area. I see a lot of dead stuff on the Peninsula and around the South Bay but not like East Bay. I admit that I got distracted by all of the live, and CRAZY squirrels racing next to us, across fields, across the roads (EGAD), and was also distracted by their "cute factor"... Why do their tails twitch when they run? I know. A squirrel is a rodent. But it's a cute rodent. :o)

Many mangled little bodies out there. So much so, that I lost count. I did not see any dead snakes, which was a relief since I saw a baby dead one around here the other day (forget where).

I did get a pretty cool pic of the a few turbine blades for the windmills. They were parked along 580 and holy crap. They're HUGE. I got a photo with my camera phone of a man walking next to them - for scale.
I'm glad I grabbed the pics, as I nearly fell over riding past 'em! I just wonder how much work it is to put a windmill up, esp given the size of these puppies. They don't look this huge from a distance, for sure!

All in all, a pretty darned good day, even if I did lose track of the roadkill. But dang, it was warm. I drank FOUR bottles out there!!!!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011


This has been an insane week, to say the least. I'm exhausted from applying for jobs, interviewing on the phone, and studying for the phone interviews! This week alone, I applied to 9 jobs, and had phone interviews with 4 different companies, one on each day this week (except today. Yay!). Yesterday, consisted of two phone interviews, with the SAME company (One screen, with their recruiter. The 2nd: a technical phone interview with the hiring manager.). Usually I have a few days to prepare for the tech interviews (as in the one I have next Wednesday afternoon - I'll start that later today and work on this weekend and early next week). This time, I had just a few hours.

My average rate of return on applications has been about 20%. Last week fit this model perfectly: I sent out 10 applications, heard back from 2. This week has had slightly higher numbers, with 9 out, 3 in. 30%. WHOOT. I guess the days of hearing from everyone are long gone... sigh.

In any case, since I have the "day off", I am going for a ride! I was supposed to do this ride yesterday, but hadn't accounted for the doubling-up interviewing - finding a job is more important! Then I get to ride all weekend! I haven't done a "roadkill count" ride for awhile, so maybe I'll try that! Have seen lots of flattened squirrels and black birds, and even a little, squished snake these past few weeks...

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The wedding of my friend!

The last weekend of July was the road trip down to Long Beach for the wedding of my good friend, Leilani. I have to say that I was so glad that she found her now-husband! The first time I met him was after driving to Long Beach and sitting in awful traffic. They came to pick me up and took me to dinner (and for a much-needed Margarita!). To see them together, was very comforting. She was just glowing. Their personalities are different, yet they mesh so well.

During the pre-wedding picture session, I got this picture of the Bride with my camera phone. She looked so beautiful, and SO happy. Whenever I look at this picture, or even think about that day, I smile. Yay!

I should have gotten a picture of all of the bobby pins we pulled out of her hair that evening, after all of the festivities. OMG. If I had 50 in my hair (I counted), she had at least double that, if not greater!

No wedding ever goes off without a hitch, and this was no different. Fortunately, it wasn't a disaster, and too bad we didn't have a person videoing it. America's Funniest Home Videos, for sure. During the ceremony, a friend of the Bride came onto the stage (the wedding was upstairs, but due to the Bride's challenging height, the decision was made to build a stage on top of the upstairs, and let me tell you: we were WAY up there!) to do his reading. Not 20 seconds later, his almost 4-year old son bounds up on stage behind him. I'm horrified. The Pastor is horrified. The bridesmaid next to me says under her breath (something to the effect of), "Oh no he didn't. Uh, uh. Mmm, mmm, mmm." Then, he moves over behind the column of the hoopah (half Jewish/half Christian wedding) and peeks around it, while holding it. OMG. I'm sure we were all thinking, "Don't let him knock it over...". By now, the Bride and Groom see him and are equally horrified. The kids Dad doesn't do anything, because he is reading! I look into the audience and don't see his Mom (she was outside, as the youngest was having a meltdown). Then, he moves over in front of us bridesmaids, and is kind of dancing. I am hearing, "Uh, uh. Mmm, mmm, mmm" and I'm trying not to crack up. The urge to laugh was unbearable. I'm worried the kid is either going to step on the Bride's dress, knock something over, or fall off the stage and we'll have to call 911 in the middle of the ceremony. I bent down a few times to whisper to him to go stand by his Father, but that would last about 2 seconds and he'd be back! I finally, panicked, reached down, grabbed him by the hand, whispered to stay next to me, and held him close, hoping he'd not start crying. The only thing that I could think of was to try to control him. When his Dad was done, I handed him off. No crying, no 911 calls, no stepping on the Brides dress, nothing knocked over - crisis averted!

After giving the speech, accompanying the bride to all of the tables, keeping the Bride calm pre and post-ceremony, and running around checking for cakes with one of the other bridesmaids (there were 18 cakes! We were on the hunt for carrot cake, and the white cake with lemon curd and fruit!!), I was just exhausted! Definitely more work to be the Maid of Honor, than the Bride. At least what I remember of it, since it was so long ago!

It was truly a memorable day! And I'll just keep looking at this picture of Leilani smiling, and smile as wide as a house. I'm so proud of her for finding "The One", and for just being herself. She's a great friend, very generous, very patient, and very loving. And she deserved to have someone who'd treat her like the Princess she IS!

For fun, some hair and dress pics, including one of the crazy amount of bobby pins I pulled out of my hair. My poor scalp was so sore!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Word of the day: C R E E P Y

I haven't been blogging for awhile, so I'd forgotten all the bells & whistles that make the Blogger tool useful and fun. I think useful is more appropriate for what I found yesterday...

You see, you can tell how many have been viewing your entries, and what web-site or method they arrived at your blog. This is kind of interesting, TILL you find the following:

I'm presuming a female was at the other end of the computer on this one... Someone arrived at my blog by Googling "my_first_name + my_last_name + slept with my husband". WHAT? I know that I have a pretty common name, but that totally creeped me out. Anyone who's ever had a spouse cheat on them (me) would never, ever do something like that! And here the person found me, and I list my location, etc. I know there was another bad person out there with my same name, as she was on the "no fly" list a few Christmases ago, and made my boarding a flight home for the holidays a nightmare. Maybe that one sleeps with others husbands too?

In any case, it prompted me to remove my last name from my profile. I may go through and scrub any other blog entries that refer to it as well.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Road Trip!

Bette, getting her nap on.

On Thursday, the dog, my bike and I took a road trip to Long Beach for a wedding. Ordinarily, Miss Bette will stare at me, for the entire trip. This time, she was pooped. Must be her advanced age (11, that's 77 in people years). This was the rare nap she managed to pull off (and let's not discuss how I managed to snap a photo with my camera phone while driving down I-5, m-kay? I know. HANDS FREE!!!), before the freeway got really bumpy. Those semi trucks sure do mess up the pavement. Filling-jarring bumps. Bette voiced her disapproval with many well-timed, LOUD snorts. Sorry, nothing I can do.

Took longer than I wanted (longer than the dog wanted, for sure) to get there, and the stupid Google maps failed by telling me to take I-5 all the way to 710. I should have taken the time to look myself and I swore I'd have been better off with 5 to 405 to 710.

Made it, safely. Checked into room, and went to dinner with the very-soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. Silverman for a well-deserved dinner, and MARGARITA!!!

Road Trip - part 2

Ugh. If I EVER choose to complain about traffic in the Bay Area, I'll just look at this picture. This was on I-5, around 7 at night. I was so tired of this sh*t. Every few miles, BLAMMO! Brake lights and stoppage. Not to mention the bone and filling-jarring WUMP, WUMP, WUMP on the slabs of concrete on the freeway. I know the state of CA isn't broke because of all of the freeway work, because this is definitely worse than 680 in the East Bay, and I swore I thought it was the crappiest, bumpiest freeway in the entire state. I see that I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

On my way home, I took I-405. You'd think it would be gentle and nice on a Sunday. Well, it was, for quite awhile, then it jammed up. I should have gotten a picture of that for the memory banks... 6 lanes (or so) in both directions, totally gridlocked. I'd kill myself if I had to drive on this stuff every day. Really. Couldn't deal with it. Once I-405 cleared up, it was only severely jammed going Southbound, near the Getty museum. But then... I entered I-5 northbound... Holy crap. I think I would enjoy my stays in SoCal if I chose to leave on a Monday morning, at 5 a.m. I think it must be like this often on Sundays... It is every Sunday I've ever been on it. And through a serious mis-judgment, I missed getting onto the truck bypass for NB I-5. Man, I regretted that... I very nearly drove over the curb, but thought otherwise. Good thing. Not 2 minutes later, a CHP passed by. I'm sure that would have been a fat ticket.

I ended up taking a detour (one of two), and taking highway 14 towards Santa Clarita. I knew I could sneak back through onto I-5, and even though the mileage was greater, it beat sitting in the God-awful traffic jam on I-5! I got off at Newhall, then followed to Railroad, then I think Magic Mountain Parkway. By the time I got back on I-5, it was smooth sailing (for awhile)!

This time, the dog slept nearly the entire drive home. :o)