Thursday, January 24, 2008

Customer Service Doesn't Have to Be Awful

This makes me happy, especially knowing that I have to deal with Sprint one of these days and tell them they messed up my phone bill. Again.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

20 Miles Short of Success

As I look back on Martin Luther King Jr day, I look back on my goal set back in an optimistic October. 300 miles between October and Jan 21. I knew it would be hard once the snow fell, but I somehow thought I could accomplish it. In retrospect, I'm surprised I made it as far as I did. It's really hard running in the cold and snow!

Here's some improvements I plan to make, in order to meet my spring goal of training for and running the Madison marathon on May 25th.
  • Underarmor. Some people advocate it in the heat; I won't go out without my turtleneck if it's below 35 degrees.
  • Smartwool socks.
  • Running tights.
  • A fleece hood that covers my face.
  • 2 pairs of gloves.
  • Some sort of energy bar. I'm still looking for the right one, if anyone has any recommendations.
I've tried running at the Y and at the Pettit, and I'll still keep those as an option, but I just get bored to tears when I'm not outside. If the pros can run in blizzards, so can I!

Netflix On Demand: Chalk

I've discovered that the ability to watch any movie I want, right this second, is both a blessing and a curse. This is especially true when I'm not feeling well, which is when I'm most likely to utilize the instant feature and watch movies by myself.

After a few false starts with indecisiveness, I discovered Chalk, by director Mike Akel, a fictional documentary about a group of 1st-3rd year high school teachers. The style reminded me a bit of Spellbound or Best in Show, but had me in tears laughing. The combination of character development and proximity to home in regards to the trials of teaching made this a fantastic movie. A great mix of hilarity and seriousness combined with Office-like writing that just makes you uncomfortable for the characters, made me forget that this wasn't actually a true film.

Favorite bit: the Spelling Hornet, where teachers spell slang words that the students quiz them on.

An effective case study of the early years in a teacher's career.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Catching Up

I listened to a great sermon this weekend on pacing one's life. Part of what I learned is that Americans suffer from overload syndrome. Debt overload, commitment overload, stress, decision, choice, hurry, expectation, possession, activity, fatigue, information, noise, people, technology...

Since then, I've made it my goal to become less overloaded. I think I've become fairly famous for my Jessie Nights, but honestly, I've forgotten what those are like. I can't remember the last time I've sat on my couch by myself, done enjoyable things alone, or gone to bed before 10pm, without some sort of commitment or expectation.

So here's how I plan to spend the next two evenings:
Listening to the new Magnetic Fields album on MySpace, at least two more times, before forming any opinions.
Laying in bed with a stack of books, and NOT Book Club ones.
Writing a letter to Swaziland.
Folding my laundry.
Making "Thank You" phone calls for Christmas gifts.
Putting photos in frames.

I will also be going to bed obscenely early.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Housekeeping Tips from Jessie

Hate ironing? Before you hang up wrinkled clothes out of sheer disgust for your inefficient and labor intensive iron, try this tip.

Do your ironing immediately after removing clothes from the dryer, slightly damp. This will guarantee a swifter and cleaner smooth job, smiles all around.

Happy Homemaking!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Stardust - On Second Watching

How many miles to Babylon?
Three score miles and ten.
Can I get there by candlelight?
There, and back again.

Stardust is a charming story of fantasy, adventure, and finding one's Heart's Desire. Neil Gaiman has a tendency to produce some trippy films. Neverwhere was trippy and put me to sleep. Mirrormask was trippy, put me to sleep, and when I woke up made me ask "WTF?"

Stardust was no different in the fantastical weirdness, or in the fact that I was out cold in the first 10 minutes, only to awaken halfway through the movie. Gaiman is getting better, however, at making movies that are enjoyable to watch.

Not in any way a direct representation of the book, Stardust is fully watchable by anyone not having read the book (Mike seemed to enjoy it). Many events are left out that are integral to the book, but the film is seamlessly coordinated, resulting in a brand new adventure that immerses star-cross'd movie goers in a world of fantasy and love and a battle for a star.

A nice movie to digest on a Saturday afternoon on your own, or as a date movie that satisfies all tastes (as long as your date doesn't fall asleep).

Choose Your Candidates Based on Their Athleticism

So it turns out that Mike Huckabee used to be fat (280 lbs), and now he's a marathon runner at 175 lbs). Pretty cool. And he runs as fast as me, with a 28 minute 5K. Even cooler. Now I'd like to know Obama's P.R. before February 19th.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Tangerines =/ Clementines

Yet another Sam's Club produce aisle mishap. When will I learn? This time, I was standing between a crate of Cutie Clementines and Super Sweet Tangerines, the Tangerines being $2 cheaper, for a lot more. Being the economical shopper that I am, I went for the tangerines, seeing no difference. Oh, how wrong I was. It turns out that tangerines have seeds. Seeds, I tell you! And not just one little seed here and there. at least two per section. And the sections are small! To add insult to injury, the fruit is not even as easy to peel as my little Cuties, making even more work for me. So now I'm left with a fruit that takes longer to peel than it should, that I have to mangle with a knife before I can eat, or mangle in my mouth in a way that is not very conducive to social eating, in order to spit the seeds into a napkin.

At least I got the Kashi and the string cheese again.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

On My Way to a S.M.A.R.T. 2008

After having a difficult time judging the success or failure of y2007 goals, this year I thought I'd try something new, and make my new year's resolutions the same way many businesses make their employee goals. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-Oriented, and Timely. All except the first one.

  • Whine Less - Philippians 2:14 "Do everything without complaining or arguing."
  • Stay aware of the world around me, by reading one campaign and one international politics article per day, and one education book or journal per month.
  • Run better, by finding new long runs, i.e. in Kettle Moraine South, and by achieving a 2:10:00 in the Lake Country Half marathon, and by training for and running the Madison marathon.
  • Be a better friend, by writing letters to missionaries 2 times per month, sending birthday cards or emails to a list of 20 people, responding to emails within 2 days, and reviving 2 specific friendships.
  • Super Secret Fifth Goal