Sunday, January 17, 2010

weekend catchup

and so ends a fairly uneventful weekend. We watched a couple movies, had some migas, did some shopping and I got in at least one workout. I also ate way too much. This week will be focused on eating out as little as possible. We overdid it a bit over the past couple of days.

Being payday weekend I finally caught up on a couple of the workout related upgrades I've been wanting to do. Some of those upgrades were exciting (new running shoes) and others less so (new swim cap and nose plug). I got to try everything out today and when I get my iPod from the car tomorrow morning I'll port the nike+ graph over here.

Saturday afternoon before meeting up with friends for a barbecue adventure we went over to the local sporting goods store to check over the shoe selection. A couple of weeks ago I checked out the local DSW but was a bit underwhelmed by the selection. I also really wanted to try out the current range of Nike Shox shoes. I did Ironman Wisconsin in a pair of Nike Shox and they were maybe the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. For whatever reason I never bought another pair.

First things first, if there was a dearth of options at the DSW, the Academy had WAY too many running shoe options. This wouldn't be a bad thing if there were decent sales people around to help out but I couldn't grab the attention of the ones who WERE there because they were busy trying to hunt down a shoe shoplifter. I grabbed a couple of things off the shelf that looked interesting (one of the Lunarglide shoes and a Nike Air Moto) and started to go through the shoe investigation process.

Saturday afternoon probably wasn't the best time to go shoe shopping. As I put on the first pair of shoes I realized that I didn't really have the room to jog back and forth and feel how my feet responded. I also realized that my shin splints hadn't quite healed up from earlier in the week (one of the reasons replacing my running shoes was suddenly more imperative). The Lunarglides were kind of hard to get into. Once I was in them, they felt OK but not great. The insert didn't really fit my foot. It felt like their were weird lumps underneath my right foot.

The second pair, the Nike Air Motos felt much better. My foot felt like it settled in where it needed to be but I was a little concerned that they were the cheaper shoe. I jogged back and forth, noted that everything seemed to be good and went to try and find the Nike Shox the shelf told me I needed to find a sales associate to help me with. I found a rep, convinced him to temporarily ditch the stakeout and he procured me two pairs; a Nike Shox Turbo and a Turmoil. Honestly? After trying both of them I tried the Motos back on and realized that I was better off with the cheaper shoe.

I present to you my new babies.
I did my first two miles in them today. It felt really good. My shins gave me a little grief early in but I adjusted a little bit and finished strong. I still don't completely trust the numbers the Nike+ is giving me, but they jibe fairly closely with what the treadmill said so it's probably true that I did each of the two miles in about an 11:30-12:00/mi range. I did get a little celebratory message from some unknown woman after I completed my workout. The first time this happened I was a little confused. I hit the workout finish button and this woman in my headset says "congratulations. This is Paula Radcliffe, you've just run your fastest mile." I know that I should know who Paula Radcliffe is but I don't so it's just odd when I hear her tell me her name and tells me that I've set a new personal record. Thank you strange anonymous lady.

While I was at the sporting goods store I also picked up a new swimsuit. For whatever reason, neither of the two 24 Hour Fitness locations near me have a swimsuit dryer. I've always found this odd since everywhere I worked out in Colorado had a dryer but apparently YMMV. Because of this 'lack of dryer' problem I've generally ended up laying out my suit on the little raised platform in the back of the PT Cruiser. This tends to dry the suit fairly quickly but it's left the car smelling chlorinated... kind of a lousy side effect.

I have an easy solution, I could just wear my old racing speedo. Aside from being fairly hydrophobic it just has less surface area... it doesn't take nearly as long to dry. That said, in my current state, that's not such a great idea. I tried it the other night at the gym and I just felt naked. It wasn't a good experience. As a compromise solution I picked up a pair of trunks that look more like bike shorts. I felt much better with the extra coverage.

(if only this were me. heh.)

Today, at Old Navy I picked up a couple of technical shirts and running shorts. Nothing completely exciting but having a much lighter fabric (I'd been running in sweat shorts and a t-shirt) seemed to be beneficial.

On to a little movie review as a way to wrap this up.

Ang and I finally caught up with A Serious Man this morning. This is yet another Fantastic Fest film that we missed because we didn't have VIP passes. Oh well. Next year that won't be an issue. I love the Coen Brothers. I love that they grew up in Minnesota. I love the way they write. I love their revolving cast of character actors and I love the way they use music (that's often researched by another person I love, T Bone Burnett). So with all of that prefacing my comments... I just have to say, "I don't get it." I appreciated the few little Minnesota touches (they eat at Embers at one point in the movie, they visit a Bloomington Red Owl grocery, they hire Ron Meshbesher, famous Minnesota ambulance chaser and star of many many local afternoon commercials... look at this classy example from his son...

but aside from that? It left me cold. I'm excited to see what they do next with True Grit but I don't know that I ever need to watch A Serious Man again.

more tomorrow.

Friday, January 15, 2010

catching up on movies (continued)

ok. Movie 6 down, now on to 7-9.

Movie 7:
Sunshine Cleaning

Honestly, I'm not sure what to say about this. I sort of enjoyed it, but it's a relatively depressing dramedy about a family coping with past losses and trying to figure out a way to grow in the future. I was much more impressed with Amy Adams in this than I was with her performance in Julie & Julia. The movie also doesn't paint Albuquerque in any sort of a flattering light that would make me want to move there. The Detroit for Austin scenes in Whip It made Austin seem more appealing than the ABQ for ABQ scenes in this film. This is another example of one of those arthouse films that has a deceptive trailer. I went in expecting one thing and was left at least moderately underwhelmed.

Movie 8:
The Book of Eli

Our third Albuquerque/New Mexico movie of the evening. In an inverse of the previous movies great trailer/less great movie. The marketing for this had completely underwhelmed me but I was happy to be proven completely wrong. The Book of Eli has flaws but it's one of those films that just seemed to be firing on almost every cylinder. Gary Oldman and Denzel Washington are wonderful foils. There are great supporting performances from Ray Stephenson and Tom Waits. There's a very specific attempt to shoot the action in a way that is anti-Bourne... showing the kinetic choreography of how the fight flows. Small win piles up on top of small win.

There are areas that bothered me. Some of the cinematography choices seemed to exist in the realm of "We only make a movie every few years so we should try and use every trick we can while we can". Also, there were a few areas that had really old fashioned dissolves. It took me out of the story for a moment.

I never expected going into this that this had more to do with Lone Wolf & Cub or Zatoichi than it did with the Road Warrior and it was a pleasant surprise. I think I might need to see it again just to watch all of the pieces fall into place now that I've seen the story once. It's a rich enough movie that I think it'll be a rewarding revisit.

Movie 9:
A Boy and His Dog

Finally, a movie not shot in New Mexico. Actually. Wait. Let me check. Ok. Good. California. phew.

During the q&a portion of last nights Book of Eli screening Harry and the Hughes brothers talked a bit about this film. They're both apocalyptic quest movies. In Eli, the lead character is on a quest from God to deliver a Bible 'West'. In Dog, the Boy is just on a quest with his telepathic dog to find women for recreational sex. Both movies feature the character having a run in with a small bit of post apocalyptic civilization and both movies feature some sort of female sidekick... but Dog features seventies country soundtrack music and an acerbic telepathic dog. I'm not sure what I was expecting when Harry suggested that everyone of the 50% of the audience that raised there hands when asked if they hadn't seen the film watch it, but I know this film was odder than my expectations.

If you're an apocalyptic film completist or a Harlan Ellison junkie, check it out. Others probably don't need to apply.

Now that I've seen this, I should make a weekend of it and check off a couple of the other low-budget post-apocalyptic movies I haven't seen... particularly Luc Besson's directorial debut 'The Last Battle'.

Phew. caught up. more tomorrow?


Catching up on movies

hey everyone, back to busyness the past couple of days. After a slow December it's seemed as if everyone's come out of the woodwork this month. Figured I should try and catch up with the past weeks worth of movies so that I don't fall any further behind than I already am.

This week I'm going to try and catch up with The Road. I've heard plenty of mixed reactions about the film over the past couple of months and as I've heard people comment on similarities or the lack thereof between The Book of Eli and The Road, I think it's important that I make sure that I've seen both of them.

Also, the discount theater added Ninja Assassin and 2012 to the lineup this week. Ang and I will try and catch a double feature at some point. I'm not sure whether I'm going to try and log 365 movies this year, but I think there's a chance that between festivals and weekend double features we could do it. The only reason I'm curious at all is that I've never sat down and calculated how many films I watch in a year. I'm looking forward to seeing what the final tally is.

It's interesting that movies 6-8 were all shot in New Mexico over the past few years. There are still days where I wonder whether I should have moved to Albuquerque to try and get into film work. That said, I think Austin is where we're supposed to be and aside from the movie work, there's nothing that would ever make me want to live in Albuquerque over the ATX. (addendum to that: I do remember there being a pretty kick-ass poster store in Albuquerque. Hundreds and hundreds of one sheets and press kits were crammed into this small storefront off of the college drag. I wasn't collecting posters at the time so I didn't buy anything but it was mesmerizing. It's one small leg up on Austin but it's not enough to be the siren that drags me to ABQ)

Ok, without further adieu, movie 6 of 2010...

The Men Who Stare At Goats

I started to write this up last Friday. I've gone back and edited it tonight and tried to form it into something cohesive. Apologies for the length.

Did everyone have a great today? Don't be too quick to respond. I know there are at least a few people out there reading. Thanks. I know that I've been gone for quite some time. But, I’ve consistently posted for the last week so hopefully I can keep this up. We have kind of a significant milestone tonight. After 8 years and many hiatuses I'm finally typing my 500th post.

Tonight we went and had dinner with some friends at Chuy's. Every year, the restaurant (and our favorite Tex-Mex place) celebrate's his birthday. Go in as Priscilla or Elvis and you eat for free. It was fun. Post dinner they give everyone a twinkie.

Afterwards we wandered up towards the discount theater in Round Rock so that we could see The Men Who Stare At Goats. I was excited to see it showing up at the Round Rock 8 today. I had really hoped to have seen the film earlier this year but missed out during the two opportunities we’d had. The first miss happened during Fantastic Fest. Ang and I didn't have VIP passes and it was shown during one of the screenings most easily attended by being a VIP. The second time was a preview screening some film blogger friends helped put on. (That night also happened to be the night of the Fort Hood shooting. Ang and I got stuck in the mother of all traffic jams on the way down to the theater and ended up listening to radio coverage of the tragedy. By the time we got to the theater (an hour later) there was no chance that we were actually going to make it into see the film. Instead, we wandered off to the Screaming Goat (ironic in light of the fact that (spoilers ahead) the goats in the movie have been de-vocalized) where we stumbled upon their trivia night and took 2nd place.)

As we were driving home from the movie I was thinking about contrasting Goats with 1999's Three Kings. I thought about trying to find something poignant about how each of the two movies looks back at their preceding decade and their own Iraqs and Kuwaits. But after thinking about it, I think I want to take another another tack.

The movie is a semi-true, farcical tale about a group of soldiers who were rounded up to try and form the nations first group of super-powered soldiers. Soldiers that could truly 'be all that they could be'. It hops between the founding of the battalion through it's dissolution combined with a modern (fictional) story that takes place sometime in the first couple years of the current Iraq war. I haven't read the book or seen the original British documentary (I know the documentary is online.) But I knew going in that it was oddly true... or at least that there were semi-factual elements in it.

After Chuy's tonight we hit the bookstore to kill some time. At one point my friend mentioned to his wife and I that they had some Benny Hinn books. I've always had some sort of weird fascination with Hinn. In the aforementioned group of friends there's always been a running joke about me starting a rockabilly band called the Benny Hinn Experience. All of the members of the band would wear white suits with big silver pompadours and during musical interludes we'd slay people in the spirit.

Before I had an ironic appreciation for Hinn though I was really kind of into him. There was a period in a youth group where Hinn's "Good Morning Holy Spirit" was a really big deal. There was a certain zeal amongst the teenagers that we could be ‘special’... something I think every teenager who’s trying to sort their lives out wants. Hinn’s book delivered on that in spades. Telling the story of how he originally received the ‘gift of the Holy Spirit’ it’s sort of a thrilling read for a clueless kid. Imagine reading a book that claims to be the cardinal truth, that seems to jibe with what you’ve been taught in the church you’ve grown up in and that seems to promise you all sorts of wonderful things that God can do ‘through you’. It’s kind of addicting.

That addiction spread. Through other circumstances and a general desire for ‘revival’ the choir and youth group focused more and more on prayer time and trying to receive the spiritual gifts. While I believe in scripture and believe that it’s inspired and believe what’s written about the various gifts there was something unhealthy about what the youth group wanted. But what we wanted was what the Men who Stare At Goats wanted. We, in a way, wanted super powers. We would have claimed that these things were from God if they actually happened, but I think deep down we would have found validation in it. Look at what ‘I’ was able to do! For about a year it seemed to become a sort of singular focus.

Each week, often instead of singing, the choir would gather and we’d pray for anointings, we'd have nights where we'd lay hands on people and while speaking in tongues ask God to 'slay them in the spirit'. One night, during one of these ‘choir rehearsals’, I got into a line of people that were being prayed over. When I got to the front of the line, one of the leaders put her hand on my head and started speaking in tongues. I wasn't feeling anything. After another minute I started to feel the leader pressing on my head as if she wanted me to go down. I wasn't feeling anything. I wanted SO BAD to feel the Holy Spirit knock me down but I was very aware of the fact that there was a distinct lack of anything supernatural happening. I pondered whether or not I should just walk away and whether I would be castigated for walking out of the room. Eventually, after another minute or so and more pressing, they gave up and I did walk away.

During these times of prayer I'd end up practicing trying to hear the 'still small voice' while we were praying. I'd almost will bible verses to come into my head and see if they were prophetic messages. A good deal of the time the verse and chapter didn't exist at all.

The Men Who Stare at Goats wanted something. They wanted to feel special. They wanted to develop their powers for good.

Did I mention that this was a Lutheran church?

It wasn't too long after these various evenings that I wandered away from the choir. Honestly, it wasn't just the prayer nights. I had a roiling soul. Battling depression amongst other things, I just never really felt like I fit in. I was neither popular or completely unpopular. Looking back now I had more friends than I ever thought I did, but it never really felt like I had many. I mostly wandered away because I was sick of feeling different. My theology started to diverge from the rest of the youth group, though I don't think my hope that there was a Holy Spirit that could do miraculous things ever went away. It just grew more jaded. Many of my friends from that choir eventually stepped away from the church. I don't blame them. There were all sorts of weird things that went on, but for whatever reason I never lost my faith. I've experienced too many weird things that I can't attribute to anything but some sort of a God and so I go on believing, but maybe my history makes me more sympathetic to the idea that some soldiers could get the idea that they want to figure out how to develop superpowers.

So having been through that, I could oddly relate to the idea that there were people who REALLY truly believed that they could try and tap into something beyond themselves. They thought they’d find their answers outside the church in the eastern philosophies and the hippy tropes, but the universal feeling of wanting to tap into something bigger than who they were to transform themselves and their world was teh same.

The main narrator of the movie takes an almost inverse character arc. He goes from being the jaded and cynical journalist to believing in it himself. He's a bit of a doubting Thomas, not able to put any stock into what the people around him are saying until he's able to experience them for himself. He's quite the empiricist. I think we're all empirical to some degree. We're able to have faith in something but we always have the desire to find some empirical knowledge that would prove that it's true.

I wanted the same thing. I wanted to believe and did believe to a certain degree, but I really wanted to have that experiential moment where I could absolutely know that it was true because IT (whatever ‘it’ happened to be) had been done or been done through me.

There was an interesting sermon I read recently from a pastor/novelist/philosopher named Frederick Buechner. He sort of covered some of the same territory. While he's talking about our desire for proof that God is there. I think it applies to this story as well… the hope for there to be something more than just our corporeal existence.

"If God really exists, why in Heaven's name does God not prove that he exists instead of leaving us here in our terrible uncertainty? Why does he not show his face so that at last, a despairing world can have hope? At one time or another, everyone asks such a question. In some objectifiably verifiable and convincing way, we want God himself to demonstrate his own existence. Deep in our hearts, I suspect that this is what all of us want, unbelievers no less than believers. And I have wondered sometimes what would happen if God were to do just that...

...We all want to be certain, we all want proof, but the kind of proof that we tend to want---scientifically or philosophically demonstrable proof that would silence all doubts once and for all----would not in the long run, I think, answer the fearful depths of our need at all. For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but who in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world. It is not objective proof of God's existence that we want but, whether we use religious language for it or not, the experience of God's presence. That is the miracle that we are really after. And that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get...

...God speaks to us, I would say, much more often than we realize or than we choose to realize...His message is not written out in starlight, which in the long run would make no difference; rather it is written out for each of us in the humdrum, helter-skelter events of each day; it is a message that in the long run might make all the difference...

...But I believe that there are some things that by and large, God is always saying to each of us. Each of us, for instance, carries around inside himself, I believe, a certain emptiness--a sense that something is missing, a restlessness, the deep feeling that somehow all is not right inside his skin. Psychologists sometimes call it anxiety, theologians sometimes call it estrangement, but whatever you call it, I doubt that there are many who do not recognize the experience itself, especially no one of our age, which has been variously termed the age of anxiety, the lost generation, the beat generation, the lonely crowd. Part of the inner world of everyone is this sense of emptiness, unease, incompleteness, and I believe that this in itself is a word from God, that this is the sound that God's voice makes in a world that has explained him away. In such a world, I suspect that maybe God speaks to us most clearly in his silence, his absence, so that we know him best through our missing him.

...These words that God speaks into our own lives are the real miracles. They are not miracles that create faith as we might think that a message in the stars would create faith, but they are miracles that it takes faith to see--faith in the sense of openness, faith in the sense of willingness to wait, to watch, to listen, for the incredible presence of God here in the world among us."

excerpts from "message in the stars" by frederick buechner

Anyway, I know the movie wasn’t particularly theologically deep, but it made me think of all of that old junk. Knowing that there were factual elements I was quite surprised after the movie to hear from one of my car-ride companions that they found the idea implausible, almost to the point of complete incredulity. I guess I was a little surprised. It wasn’t enough to take me at my word that I’d read about some of the various events. The person didn’t think that rational army people would ever do something so seemingly irrational... I've known this person for quite a while but i guess we’ve never really discussed anything of a similar vein. I had projected my beliefs and assumptions on to them whether that was a belief or not.

I guess, having lived through the youth group, it really wasn’t that much of a stretch to think that, yes, there were people out there who would do something irrational in the hope that it was entirely rational and that people just hadn’t discovered quite how rational it was.

I’m probably being too introspective about the movie. It’s a pretty light comedy really. But maybe it hit me because as much as I’ve changed and grown up over the 16 years since those original youth group events transpired, there’s still a part of me that wants to stare at my own goats and see if I (God) can make something happen.

Ok. that went much longer than I thought it would. Reviews of 7-9 will have to get bumped to the next post. More in a few.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

today's run

Today's run wasn't the most exciting workout in the world. I crawled out of the office after I finished up with the design work I was doing and made it to the gym around 6. Had to come back into the apartment before I actually left the complex because I'd forgotten my shoes that had the Nike+ sensor in them. Tomorrow I'll do some lifting at the gym but tonight I really just wanted to get on the treadmill and run for a while. Here's run #1

it's short. I've discovered the one thing so far I don't like about the Nike+. It REALLY wants you to set up your playlist ahead of time. The only option it gives you to change your music during a workout is to go to another playlist. Want to listen to something that's not included in a playlist? Too bad. You need to end your workout and start over again. It's more than a little annoying. Also? If you've switched to album shuffle? There's no way to get into song shuffle either. While I like Phoenix, there's a reason I put multiple things in that playlist. Let me switch to another shuffle mode please.

Which brings us to run#2. Playlist and playlist mode switched, I started again.

I'm much better at staying around a single speed when I'm on the treadmill but I never reached any sort of flow. I kept fiddling with my iPod and speeding up and slowing down. It was sort of a painful run. Not physically, though my shins hurt a little bit towards the end, just mentally. Went and sat in the sauna for a few minutes afterwards. I could tell I was dehydrated, didn't feel super great afterwards and my weight was down a couple pounds on the scale. Sucking back fluids now. Oh. One thing of note. I found out how to trigger my 'power song'. I'm not sure what I'll set it to permanently, but tonight it was THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

10 miles in over the first 12 days of the year. I wonder if I can hit at least 30 by the end of the month or maybe even 40. I know that once I get birthday money next month it'll be used for either running shoes or cycling shoes. I'm overdue to replace both.

OK. Back to work. Still have some things to finish before bed.

Here are the designs I was working on earlier today. Nothing super exciting but I'm fairly happy with them.

sometimes you just have to start..

I was sitting at lunch this afternoon thinking about the project I was working on this morning. There wasn't anything particularly interesting or abnormal about the project (it's just a series of design options for a sales conference a good friend hired me to create) but the circumstances. For the first time in a while, I hit the zone. At least, I've always called it the zone. As soon as I started to dig into the problem I felt my brain turn on and the 'design program' kicked in. I dove in to my project and found myself zoning out for an hour at a time.

I've experienced this on various occasions. Mostly while riding my bike. It's sort of like an oasis in the desert. You long for those moments where you stop existing in the moment and can disassociate and let the rest of your body take over. I guess it's a coping mechanism. When people ask about how one could ever do an Ironman, that's the reason. If you had to be acutely aware of every moment of the race, you couldn't do it. Time is too slow in those moments you need to figure out how to let the rest of your body take over and do the work for you.

Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi (say that three times fast) called it 'flow theory'. He's a professor and former chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. He's devoted his career to investigating flow. He's described flow as
"being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost."
Flow tends to be driven by concentration. Depression impedes concentration... I've been mildly depressed for a while now. As a result, the times I've really felt that design flow creep in have been few and far between. Whatever the cause, seasonal affective disorder, lack of exercise, I became pretty aware of the fact that I've needed to change something. It's why I've been introducing running the past couple of weeks (and eventually triathlon) and it's the reason that I've started to blog again. I'm methodically experimenting on the things that make me feel better so that I can more effectively live my professional life in front of the computer in my zone.

I need to get back to work but I hope to continue to expand on this. I started to talk to a friend about why I started running the other night and didn't really get to expound on it all that much. This is the beginning of that reason.

Song of the day (which has been playing in the background as I wrote this)


here's an interesting article I found while doing a little research on Csikszentmihalyi. It's more about programming but a lot of it can be applied to design as well.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

less like a run, more like a crawl...

Sorry for not posting yesterday. I meant to and then time got away from me. Using some Christmas money while I was running errands yesterday, I picked up a Nike+. I haven't had an iPod in a while. I have a 30gigabyte iPod Video somewhere in the apartment but at one point it got fried in a faulty car charger and while it powered up it wouldn't hold a charge. Not a great characteristic in an iPod. Angela thought that hers was acting up so she used some Christmas money to purchase a new one off of Craigslist. I got to inherit her old one when it turns out that for whatever reason it IS working ok. Yay me! Or something like that anyway. I know I need to maintain decorum around here)

Anyway, I had a $5 Rewards Zone coupon to use and I needed to pick up a new cassette adaptor for my car and while I was there I was swayed by the fact that the little Nike+ was only $30.

Last summer Wired did an entire issue on how we use data. One of the articles delved into the little +. The thing that piqued my interest was this.

Nike+ isn't a perfect tool; it wasn't designed to be. But it's good enough, and more crucially, it's simple. Nike learned a huge lesson from Apple: The iPod wasn't a massive hit because it was the most powerful music player on the market but because it offered the easiest, most streamlined user experience.

But that simple, dual-variable tracking can lead to novel insights, especially once you have so many people feeding in data: The most popular day for running is Sunday, and most Nike+ users tend to work out in the evening. After the holidays, there's a huge increase in the number of goals that runners set; this past January, they set 312 percent more goals than the month before.

There's something even deeper. Nike has discovered that there's a magic number for a Nike+ user: five. If someone uploads only a couple of runs to the site, they might just be trying it out. But once they hit five runs, they're massively more likely to keep running and uploading data. At five runs, they've gotten hooked on what their data tells them about themselves.
When I got home I logged on to the Nike+ website and created a little Mini and putzed around a little on the site before I had to get back to work. I really intended to go out yesterday and do a short run but ended up not being able to until today. I woke up tired, in fact my first tweet this morning was "ugh. morning already? haha. lots of stuff to check off the list today. hope it's not as long as yesterday and more fruitful."

All morning I struggled with waking up. A can of Mountain Dew didn't help. Getting a little bite to eat didn't help. Nothing was really contributing to my becoming coherent so I got my gear together and headed out. Here's the little pouch for my sensor since my shoe doesn't have a pocket for it.

After being waylaid by having to fish the draw string out of my sweatpants (it was cold! I know I'm not from Texas and I realize that it was 17 in Colorado Springs today and colder than that in Minneapolis/St. Paul but it's all relative and in the last year I've lost the heartiness to go out and run in shorts on a windy 40 degree day.) I got out the door and started to jog. So far, so good. I made it out of the complex and ended up stopping almost immediately to try and sort out my playlist. I really didn't want to listen to all of my quiet music while I was trying to get out of the house. Crisis averted, I got going again. I guess I didn't realize how hilly our neighborhood is. After I got back I pulled up the route in Gmap Pedometer and was kind of surprised.

You start heading downhill a little but almost immediately start to climb out of a hill. Not a major one but it's enough that you feel it. Very quickly my jog turned into a walk. Jog. Walk. Jog. Walk. I'm only not frustrated at my performance because I know how close to ground zero I am and it's my first non-treadmill run this year but it was still frustrating. Also, almost immediately my back started to complain. I stopped to stretch but it never really got better. Thankfully it didn't get worse.

It was really a rather pedestrian stroll. Just a big loop around the neighborhood. Total mileage was around 4 miles. Right before I turned onto the highway that runs past our complex I saw this beautiful, flat, completely empty road. My route was NOTHING like this.

The only thing of note was that I discovered one a new favorite 'hate on a state' song. I'm not sure that's a category, but there has to be a whole list somewhere filled with songs that make fun of neighboring states. No offense to my friends from Ohio, but this song cracked me up... and I'm not sure there's ever been a rock songs that name checks US House Reps John Boehner and Jean Schmidt.

Anyway, I got home and dumped plugged my iPod in and the computer automatically asked me if I wanted to head over to Nike's site. Once there it imported my run and gave me this.

Then, it asked me how I felt. Nice to have a really simple way to keep a training log.

And I went ahead and joined my first Nike+ group...

I had to. It's like a state obligation.

So, summary, the Nike+ turns out to be kind of cool. It's really nice to be able to press a button and have a voice tell you your current running time, distance and speed. I think the tracking is going to be AWESOME. I'm quite out of shape (but I already knew that)... and I came home from the jog feeling much better than before I went. Another win. Hopefully I can keep it up.

More tomorrow. I've been thinking a lot about rides I'd like to do this year and I'd like to write up the options. Hopefully we'll also have some time for movies this weekend. It's been a couple days since I've written anything up.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A small update today

no movie watching this evening. I worked throughout the day on a couple of projects that HAD TO BE FINISHED (gotta love those days) and around 8:00 forced myself to head to the gym. I always find it incredibly odd to get out of the gym with a second wind. I went in tired and ready to sleep and came out ready to take on the world (or more realistically to come home, see Angela asleep and proceed to sit and read gadget and political blogs for a half hour).

Tonight at the gym was mostly spent doing one of the weight circuits they have. Sometimes it's easier not having to think... just proceeding from station to station doing as many reps as I can before moving on to the next machine. Now, there being a couple of circuits at the 24 Hour Fitness that I work out at, the key is to pick the one that looks the emptiest. I THOUGHT that I had picked right. There was one other guy and he seemed to be moving fairly quickly. I sat down at one of the stations and started my routine. As I finished I slipped over to the next one (clock-wise) and discovered that my fellow traveller was doing his circuit counter-clockwise. blergh. Oh well, no big deal. I move over to the other half of the circuit so as to not be in his way and start to do some leg presses.

While I'm not the buffest guy in the world, I take a certain pride in my quads. They've always been the one area where I've had some power. I think that might be the reason that I originally got back into cycling. I might not be able to climb but I can sit and pedal all day. Anyway, I dig doing leg presses because it's the one time of my workout where I can just set the pin all the way at the bottom of the weight stack and watch the entire set of bars go up and down. I realize that it's not the same thing as a squat and that I need to be adding more squats into my various routines but allow me my one parlor trick indulgence.

In the middle of my set an interloper invaded the circuit... Not that I had communicated with my 'circuit partner' but I felt like we had an understanding... heh. He'd work his way around the circuit on the other side and I'd work around from my side. But to add a third person, a late middle aged, slightly overweight woman in wearing a skin tight jet black polyester jumpsuit carrying a yellowing tan towel. Miss tan towel went straight to one of the machines and set the towel down gingerly on the seat pad. Then, striking some sort of a pose reminiscent of a Congolese fertility dance she entered into a weird sort of gyrating squat and sat down. Keep Austin Weird indeed.

She did a few reps on her machine and got up. One would hope that she'd notice that I and the other guy had moved one machine to the right and continued our workouts and that she could follow suit but that would be too easy. She got up, shook out her towel, and bounced off to a seemingly random machine in the same circuit. The delicate balance was even more upset! Again with the dainty setting down of the towel, the V-ing of the legs and the weird squat and derriere extension into a sit. About this point, the other guy left. I'm not sure if he left because he was done or if he was annoyed but I didn't really want to have to fend for myself. I continued my circuit and hoped as I finished each exercise that she wouldn't decide to pogo over to the machine that was next in my loop and managed to avoid her for the most part.

Anyway, workout done, I headed off to the sauna. I have a gym membership mostly so that I can get out of the house. That said, I have some sort of a strange addiction to sitting in saunas. Maybe it has to do with growing up in Minnesota. It's vaguely Finland-ish an the Finn's certainly love their saunas. Anyway, I went in with my iPod and vegged out as best I could. I opened my eyes to see the older asian guy sitting next to me talking to a wiry graying white man with his head buried in a newspaper a little further over. Apparently the conversation had been going on for a while by this point and the wiry one was giving, well, really barking directions to the guy next to me about how to get healthy. Every few seconds I'd hear "Eat more vegetable." "Don't eat bread." "Eat breakfast every day." "Go to bed earlier." It went on like this for a while. There wasn't really any interlocution just these barking instructions. Then, the barker walked out of the sauna and the asian guy started talking to his friend/wife(?) in japanese. He looked kind of dejected. It was really rather odd. Anyway, I sat for a few more minutes and finished the game of solitaire i had started on my iPod and headed home. There are odd people everywhere. I've just always seemed to run into more of them at the gym.

More tomorrow.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Up In The Air - Movie #5 of 2010

Ang and finally saw Up In The Air tonight. I'll keep this short since it's edging closer and closer to 1am and I really need to get to bed but I promised myself that I would try and write up everything this year the same night I see it. I think that's the only way I can keep up to date and keep everything straight in my head.

I've liked both of Jason Reitman's last two endeavors but haven't LOVED them. I was more than ready to love Thank You For Smoking after seeing the trailer and I think the trailer set the movie up to fail. Too often indie movie trailers misrepresent the movie to such a degree that I feel robbed when I get in to the theater. I know that the marketers responsibility ends when they've gotten you into your seat but I think there are ways to do that without being disingenuous. Anyway, I liked Thank You For Smoking and Juno but I didn't fall head over heels in love. I felt the same way about Up In The Air.

Reitman has an almost Wes Anderson-esque mastery of music. All of his soundtracks fit the movies they're designed for like a glove. Imbuing the movies they belong to with all sorts of layers of additional substance. The opening and closing songs in this movie continue that trend. The jazzy cover of This Land Is Your Land really sets the tone. I've NEVER liked the twangy regular verson of the song, but hearing the horn section kick in while Sharon Jones adds a soulful layer to the song really kind of grabbed me.

Then, after we've faded to the credit scroll on the black background a voice pops up and says hello to Jason (Reitman) and says that he wrote this song after he got laid off from his job and thought that maybe he could put it in his movie. A couple weeks ago I read this...

according to an interview with Reitman that aired on National Public Radio last week, the director decided to use real-life people who had lost their jobs as stand-ins for the people being fired by Clooney's character, a corporate hit man.

"At a certain point during scouting, I realized that the scenes that I had written of people getting fired were just inauthentic," Reitman said in the interview.

"We needed something that spoke to the times and what was really happening. I cut out all the firing scenes in the movie and we put ads out in the paper, both in Detroit and St. Louis, saying that we were making a documentary about job loss."

According to the Detroit Free Press, about 10 people from each city made it into the finished film.
So hearing the song at the end was really kind of cool. Pulled the whole thing together.

There was really only one moment that punched me in the gut. It didn't have anything to do with Clooney's character Ryan Bingham's job or the idea of traveling around all the time. It was while he and the woman he meets were in Milwaukee at his sister's wedding. Bingham offers to walk his sister down the aisle and after being rebuffed hears that he's not even really part of their lives. He doesn't exist. While Ang and I don't travel all that often. It's sort of a similar situation. We left Minnesota going on seven years ago. Since then, we've been back maybe 10 times? Everytime we go back there whole sections of town spring up and building get replaced. Everything there evolves and changes without us being there and influencing or taking part in it. We have our lives here and people and friends we invest in, but the family that we grew up with continue to live their lives back in Minnesota without us. We don't exist, really. So hearing Ryan(which sounds way too much like Brian)'s sister tell him that he abdicated his responsibilities really hit me kind of hard.

Should you see the movie? Yeah, I think so. It's worth seeing. If it were to win some Oscars, I wouldn't be offended in the slightest. It's quality film-making and it shows through how little it has to do thematically with Reitman's first two films that he's got versatility and is growing into a pretty great director. I'm curious to see what's next for him.

More tomorrow.

A day of successes and unsuccessfulness

I got a lot done today and hardly got anything done at all. One of those days, really. Sometimes I'm thankful when I can just finish up one or two things. My list of projects this week is fairly long. A video project that carried over from last week, designs for a friend and his game store in Colorado that I haven't been able to devote enough attention to, the normal projects for my church client. It can be overwhelming. I need to be doing a better job of utilizing my project management corkboard.

While professionally I didn't get as much done as I would have liked today I did have at least a couple of minor accomplishments. This afternoon, while my machine was busy rendering, I drove over to our credit union and finished paying off our PT Cruiser. Angela and I try to follow Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover plan and for the most part we've been successful with it but we've strayed once or twice. Once, earlier this spring, we hit a hiccup in finances before my work really started to pick up again. My parents offered us a small loan and it really helped us make ends meet for a month or two. Then, when my church client came on board this summer it became apparent that we really needed a second car. Angela being a courier has meant/means that the Santa Fe was never available when I needed it. That's a problem when there are shoots that need to be attended and clients that have to be visited. We had a system for a while where she would swing home and pick me up in the middle of her route or I would travel with her in the morning until it was time to be dropped off. It SORT of worked but it was causing an increasing level of stress between Ang and I as a couple and Ang and her supervisor. Enter the PT Cruiser.

Being, or at least attempting to be Dave Ramsey-ites, I felt kind of guilty when we opened the loan for it. That said, we got a really great deal on it and we worked to try and pay it off as quickly as possible. I would have held off and waited until we had the cash, but in the crucible of stress and the need for some sort of a second vehicle and the knowledge that I had a new client that was going to be giving me regular hours, we took a gamble.

I love our Hyundai Santa Fe. Because of that, we headed out to try and find some sort of a used Hyundai somewhere in town. We looked up hyundai dealers in Austin and headed off for a showroom that turned out to not exist anymore. Just up the road from where the Hyundai dealership used to be sat the Kia used lot. When we got there we mentioned our absurdly low price range. They didn't really have anything that low but the salesman told us that he had something that was slightly higher. We walked into the lot and he took us over to the little PT Cruiser. A grandma's car that had only been driven 55,000 miles or so since it was purchased new in 2002, it was also in pretty incredible shape... and price wise it was in a range that we could pay off in way less than a year. So, after a test drive and much haggling (along with a text messages between a friend who also has a PT Cruiser and price comparison shopping on Craigslist with our cellphones) I drove our little addition home.

Fast forward a few months... One of my other main clients caught up on my invoices last week so that I could close out my accounts for the year. Being that my outstanding invoices dated back to August we were in a position to pay the car off. I paid off a big chunk of the car last Friday but I wanted to wait to pay the balance off until the rest of my deposit cleared. Seeing that the money was sitting in there today I drove over to the bank and wrote the final check.

Anyway, it felt really good to write that check and get that receipt that says 0.00. It'll feel even better when I get the title in the mail in a couple of weeks.

After going to the bank I finally made it to the gym. I meant to go yesterday evening but failed to get out of the house again. First, dinner took much longer than I thought it would. Then, we had our alternate dining arrangements. After we got home, I needed to let everything settle and we watched Stick It. Post Stick It I had to finish up the cooking that was still incomplete earlier. I never made it out the door again. So today, I rectified it.

I need to put together a workout plan. Right now the main goal is to just get moving again. I ran for a 1/2 hour and got a couple of miles in and lifted some weights. Tomorrow I'll aim to do a fuller weight lifting routine. My goal this month is to get to the gym AT LEAST 15 times. If I can make those gym visits happen I think I'll be back into a routine. It's been too long since I've had any sort of excercise routine and it's something I think I desperately need. It's too easy for me to roll out of bed, head to my office and then not get up again until it's time for lunch. Then, lunch in front of the computer and more work (or the lack thereof) in front of my computer until 5 or 6. Bedroom-->office-->kitchen-->office-->bathroom-->office-->balcony for a minute-->office.... you can get the picture. it's a very exciting life.

Anyway, I made it to the gym. Tomorrow I'll try and make it to the gym and we'll already have two of our fifteen gym engagements checked off. I added a box in the right hand column to keep track of movies, miles and visits. It'll be interesting to see how they add up.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Stick It

movies seen in 2010: 4

Today I sat down and put together a set of randomized pairings for all of our Netflix instant queue. We're adding things to it on a regular basis, but I realized that there are just way too many things currently on the list that don't get watched because we never seem to be in the mood for them. So, in order to try and check a few of them off I decided to pair them up and let fate take control. Throughout the year I'll select a number from a small bowl and that pairing will be our double feature for the night.

Basically, here's what I did. Using Netflix's personal RSS feeds, I grabbed my entire list of instant queued films and created a text file out of it. Then I used a randomizer to jumble that list. After running the randomizer a few times I split that list in half and jumbled up each chunk again and pasted them into a spreadsheet side by side. Then, just to create one additional layer of randomness I created a number list as long as the list of titles, randomized that and pasted it into a third column. Each movie has a partner and a random number assigned to it. Each number has a little piece of paper in a bowl. Throughout the year we'll draw a piece of paper from the bowl and force ourselves to watch whatever it tells us to. Yes, I realize that I'm a dork.

Anyway, after last night's pairing, Angela mentioned that she thought I had said we were going to watch STICK IT and not WHIP IT. Tonight after getting together with some friends we stuck in Stick It.

Have I mentioned the incredible backlog of movies Angela and I have to watch? The last few years we've tended to buy a lot of films in bulk during various sales. Pawn shops, video rental places, DVD stores... you name it and we've probably bought a handful of DVDs there. We were buying films at a pace where we'd never be able to catch up. Because of that, lots of things ended up on the 'we'll see it at some point list'. So, while Stick It came out in 2006 and I'm sure we picked it up sometime in 2007 it's 2010 and we're just getting to it tonight.

Another day, another Texas movie. You could have had me fooled. The movie screams southern california. A look at the IMDB page confirms it. The biggest giveaway is a running scene in 'Houston' where, in the background, you can see what look like mountains in the distance. It's kind of fitting since Whip It, also a Texas movie, was shot in Detroit. Thank the Lord that the legislature improved the state's film incentives. Hopefully more movies set in Texas will actually film here.

I didn't have high hopes. I mean, this is a film from the writer of Bring It On, First Daughter and Aquamarine... after she wrote and directed this, she hasn't had any additional credits save for 'industry mentor' on a horror film called Cheerbleeders. I guess having my expectations set extraordinarily low let me enjoy it slightly more. Don't get me wrong, there's very little in this movie that makes sense. Characters are flat, the main character is annoying and probably more than anything, the thing that drove me up the wall was that the movie geography is completely asinine. The main character in our movie lives in Plano. She's sentenced to rehabilitation at a gymnastics academy, a gymnastics academy that's a good four hours from where she lives in Houston.

. At one point in the movie, as she's being driven to the school her driver mentions they have a 3 hour drive ahead of them. So why, if they have AT LEAST a 3 hour drive between Plano and Houston do her 2 male friends (who we're led to believe live in Plano) seemingly show up all of the time as if on a whim? Don't expect the film to answer that question for you.

The main character isn't that appealing. They never show a great transformation for her smart-assness. She just suddenly decides to participate and all of the people who don't like her begrudgingly accept her friendship. There's no logic. Still, for whatever reason, the movie wooed me. Maybe it was the catchy soundtrack. It could have also been Jeff Bridges' bizarre channeling of Kurt Russell. Most surprising though was a little bit of adventurous cinematography from Daryn Okada. More than once they sort of evoke a little Esther Williams with the gymnastics performance. I've always dug the old synchronized swimming musicals. It's amazing how beautiful they are.

I guess I never really expected to see an homage to that in this movie. Check this out. Like I said, I never would have anticipated that they'd shoot it like this. (btw, if the clip doesn't stop at :43 seconds, go ahead and hit pause.)

They used a similar technique in one other place that I also thought was kind of cool, and putting Electric Six on your soundtrack? That's serious 'win'.

Should you check the film out? Probably not. I can't imagine I'll ever watch it again, but I think it's sad that it seems like this movie killed or damaged Jessica Bendinger's film career. While it's not a great film, it's better than at least a good chunk of the dreck that I saw last year. Looking at Bendinger's wikipedia page, it appears she came out with a young adult novel towards the end of 2009. Maybe with that book out she'll try and make a cinematic comeback.

Tomorrow I vow to get back to the gym and I also vow that I'll sit down and write out some of my goals for the year. If I blog about them at least there's a possibility that someone will see it and check in/harass me to see how they're coming along.


Saturday, January 02, 2010

Another day, another set of movies: Fighter and Whip It

Films Seen in 2010: 3

I started writing this after we watched our first film tonight and realized, after we started watching the second film that I would need to start over and reinstitute something this blog used to do before it went on hiatus... “Oddcoupling”.

Oddcoupling is a fun game. Basically, you take a long list of movies that you haven’t watched, throw the names on pieces of paper and then randomly draw two of the names out of a hat. You’re absolutely locked in to watching those two movies together and you have to figure out some way to tie the two together. It could be a character actor that shows up in both, it could be a thematic element or it could be a common crew member, the key thing is that you find SOME way to tie the two movies together. Here’s the very first Oddcoupling we did. Danny DeVito’s ‘Hoffa’ and the sorority comedy ‘Pumpkin’.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I didn’t set out to try and tie the two together but I realized that it might be an easier way to talk about the two movies so this will be the year’s first unofficial oddcouple. Tomorrow Ang and I might set up a bracket of things we haven’t watched (which was the original intent in the first place... get Angela and I watching the things in our collection that we owned but couldn’t necessarily find the motivation to take off the shelf and throw in the DVD player.). Will ANY of this change how you feel about these two movies in any possible way? No, it’s nothing more than me goofing off, but it may be amusing.

Our first contender of the evening is 2007’s Danish film Fighter (trailer here). It originally made it on to my ‘I really need to see this at some point list’ after it played Fantastic Fest in 2008. The movie focuses on Aicha, a Turkish Muslim high school student struggling with her classes who has a passion for Kung Fu.

Our other contender for the evening is 2009 film Whip It (trailer here), the Drew Barrymore directorial debut all about Roller Derby in Austin, TX (but shot in Detroit... such a sad, sad thing). Ellen Page plays Bliss Cavender, a small town Texan girl struggling with her classes who discovers she has a passion for roller derby.

There are at least seven things that I’ve been able to find that loosely tie the two films together. In our loosest connection, both films feature TRAINING MONTAGES! Since at their heart both movies Rites of Passage sports movies it goes without saying that there are training montages. As Team America said it’s the easiest way to go from a beginner to a pro.

Connection #2
The girl hides what she’s doing from her parents because she fears their disapproval.

Connection #2a
This fear of disapproval is brought on because both sets of parents want her to be doing something that she doesn’t particularly want to do. In Whip It, Ellen Page is clearly not cut out to be a pageant girl. In Fighter it’s quite evident that our main character needs to be kicking butt and not fixing butts as a doctor.

Connection #3
Both movies feature a bad guy who threatens to or actually does out the character. The stakes are much higher in Fighter. Being accused of being a promiscuous woman who spends time around non family-member men in a muslim family could mean an honor killing. If Bliss’ parents find out she’s been driving to Austin to be a roller derby star she’s probably just going to get grounded.

Connection #4
By participating in their sports, they inadvertently punish characters close to them. After being accused of promiscuity in Fighter, Aicha’s brothers engagement is broken off which is a big deal when it turns out that the ex-fiancee is pregnant. Their pre marriage picadillo never would have come to light if the marriage had gone through as planned... and the brother wouldn’t have suffered a pretty savage beating. Again, the stakes in Whip It are much smaller. Bliss’ best friend gets caught drinking underage and goes to jail for the evening.

Connection #5
Both characters after they’ve ‘been found out’ make a decision to not participate in their crowning achievement. Both end up going to the event anyway.

Connection #6
In a slightly stronger connection, both films have a Bad News Bears-esque twist and they don’t actually win the events that they, in the sports cliche movie should probably win. In both films the characters come in second.

Connection #7
Strangely, and this actually really bothered me in Fighter. both lead characters make amends with their ‘outer’ after their ‘outer’ beats them. Seriously though, if your opponent could have gotten you murdered by accusing you of being promiscuous, I’m not giving him a high five as we stand next to each other on the podium. I don’t care how into the spiritual aspects of kung fu you are.

Minor connection #8 - both leads sort of end up running/frolicing with their romantic interest. That’s pretty minor and insignificant.

I think I appreciated Fighter much more as a film than I did Whip It. But I think that I'm generally more swayed by straight dramas than dramadies. That said, I really struggled with how I should react to the muslim parents. In our pluralistic society we're told not to judge but I have real issues with how women are treated a lot of times in Muslim society. Thankfully in our fictitious girls case she wasn't murdered to right her fathers honor but at the end of the story she only begrudgingly gets her fathers catatonic recognition of her worth as a human being. My original review dealt more with that aspect. That's honestly something that I'm still sorting out and maybe I'll try and collect my thoughts on another occasion.

So, what do you think? Are these movies the same film? Probably not. I’m kind of surprised at how many little connections there were though. There are only so many character arcs but it’s interesting when two plots line up like they do. Check out Whip It later this month when it comes out on DVD and Fighter is currently available over at Amazon.

More tomorrow.


Friday, January 01, 2010

Movies Seen in 2010: 1 - or, Brian comes out of Where the Wild Things Are slightly confused

apologies in advance. This is a bit stream of consciousness.

Ang and I ran over to the discount theater to see Where the Wild Things Are this afternoon. I know it's something we should have seen earlier this fall but often, for whatever reason, if I don't see something right away it ends up either not being watched in the theater or we catch up with it at the discount theater. Sometimes, if the movie in question doesn't happen to be anything high profile, this extra time period before catching a flick neither helps nor hinders my appreciation for the film but sometimes films are better fresh... without a lot of outside opinion... experienced on their own merits. I think that WTWTA might be one of those movies.

If I had been able to go in to the film fresh I might not have heard from friends that they could really relate to the story or that it's very episodic. I wouldn't have had the rave reviews from other friends and internet film columnists in my head. Going in fresh and not thinking about other peoples opinions, combined with seeing it in a theater that doesn't have cell phones and crying babies and a dim projector, would have probably helped everything. The sad thing is that while that would have helped, I don't think I would have loved the film much more than I did. I think I would have still been left with that underwhelmed feeling I left the theater with. Annoyed at how songs took me out of the movie. Annoyed at plot point that felt very slight but were exploded out into major narrative threads... and annoyed at the photos I've seen of hipsters wearing Max's outfit in the movie.

There were elements I loved. James Gandolfini does a great job voicing Carol. The creatures are amazing. Jim Henson's Creature Shop did a brilliant job. But, in the end, I'm underwhelmed. I'm a little sad. I really wanted to love it. I think it will be remembered for the visuals it created and I think it will be a good tool for (slightly older) kids who are having those issues to begin to unpack their inner turmoil but I can't put this on my best of 2009 list and that disappoints me.

Day one of a new year

Movies watched: 0
Food consumed: couple pieces of leftover christmas chocolate
Current weight: 263
Current state of mind: for the moment it's pretty clear

Settling in to a new year has always been sort of cathartic. While I don't necessarily believe change will happen, it's nice to think that it COULD happen. 2009, while not the greatest year I've ever lived turned out to be pretty darn good. We successfully moved, we made quite a few new friends, I managed to stay self-employed for an entire year (no small feat) and we finally started to learn how to save money ( turned into one of the year's best finds).

Not everything was positive. Disappointing to me was that I didn't get back to cycling. I tried riding on a couple of different occasions and ran into issues. A couple of times this year I aggravated a bunion or did something that had me hobbling around on crutches for a couple months at a time. Just as my foot would seem to be getting better, I'd step on it the wrong way again and be right back to square one. I'm still not sure what caused it... I know, I know... get thee to a podiatrist! Well, now that we're finally established and surviving in Austin, that's probably a good possibility, but it wasn't at the time. Like I mentioned, I'm not sure what caused it but I think at least one of the contributors was putting my feet into my cycling shoes. It took so long to recover after each injury that any momentum I could build up would dissipate. Things have been good for the last few months so I'm hoping that I'll be able to start doing some limited testing.

As I start to do that testing, I'm going to try and make it a point to take note of any progress or setbacks here so that I can go back and do some tracking over the course of 2010. I also dealt with some depression during 2009. I'm sure there were a lot of contributing factors amongst those being money stress at the beginning of the year as we were settling in, working at home all of the time and thus not getting out of the house sometimes for days at a time, seasonal affective disorder and the lack of physical activity. It' s something I need to deal with and that's another one of the things I'll hopefully be sorting through on this blog over the next year... along with the list of every movie we watch. Another one of those things I'd like to be able to go back and track.

Ang and I are off to see Where the Wild Things Are at the dollar theater. I leave you with this. One of my favorite bands with their take on New Years Day.