Friday, March 30, 2012

Wedding Planning Adventures

I don't really want to write a wedding blog. In part because I don't even read wedding blogs (though that's probably about to change), and in part because I don't think I have a single original idea or experience worth reading about. On, when you do a venue search (which I have done countless times in the last 9 days) they have an option for "Unique/Alternative" venues. This makes me laugh. The fact that it exists as a wedding venue means that, likely, hundreds or even thousands of brides have had exactly the same wedding you are about to plan. And who wants to read about the same damn wedding on 100 different blogs?

Alas, I have done precious little since getting engaged except plan my wedding, so that's all I really have to talk about. First on the list is to find myself a venue available on a date I want to get married. It's not as easy as it sounded. On multiple nights last week I came home, opened my laptop, and was "just going to return this one email" only to find myself 3 hours later, still looking at venues. I currently have 23 venues in my spreadsheet, all of which I have been exchanging emails with, crunching numbers on, and setting up tours for. The venues are different- indoor, outdoor, bring your own caterer, all inclusive, some inclusive, hotel, reception hall, resort, cabin in the woods... we don't know what we want. We don't know what there is available to want.

Houston, if you didn't know, is a massive city. Well the city itself is only ~30 miles across (still large), but the metropolitan area goes on for 50 miles in every direction. I live in a suburb to the south called Pearland. Work is even farther to the south, and boyfriend lives even farther south of that in League City. Here's a Google Map representing some of the venues we are looking at in the greater Houston area:

Last Saturday we drove 65 miles (that's only one way) from my house to the turquoise bubble in Magnolia and stopped at the red bubble in Tomball (red because we didn't like it). Thursday we went to the purple place at the bottom- a cool vineyard location but far from civilization, and really far from the airport. This Saturday we will be going to the green ones. That is around 200 miles round trip, which will take 4 hours all by itself. Plus there's the time spent at each venue.
The due north venues are most attractive for their closeness to the major airport (little blue airplane), especially since 80% of the guest list is coming from out of town. Yes, I am color-coding my Google map.

I'm not gonna lie, I was hoping that one of the ones we saw Saturday would be hands down the right place. Mostly because I'm already tired of driving around town. Spending 3-4 hours in the car on one weekend is enough, now we have to do it again! However, neither of them was the perfect spot, so the hunt continues. If the green bubbles aren't our place, we will go to the pink bubbles on the following Saturday. Those are 2 hotels and an event hall in Houston proper, and are more expensive because of being hotels and being in downtown. They also don't have the rustic, outdoorsy, not-so-fancy vibe we are hoping for . They are super convenient though, for our guests to stumble upstairs after a night of drinking.  And you never know, they might be awesome in person.
If we still have no luck, we'll be scheduling with the blue ones- many of them only offer tours on weekdays so we will have to take a day off of work to visit them together.
I know in the past week I have posted twice about wedding planning and once about work... because that's basically all I do anymore. Once the venue is sorted out, I think I can probably find some time to do something, anything else.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

MCC Update: ATV 3 Docking

Artist rendition of ATV.  Source
Today we are docking ATV 3. The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)  is a European Space Agency unmanned cargo carrier. They come up, full of food, clothes, water, science payloads, and more. The crew empties them of all these good things, fills them with trash, and sends them off. Since they are unmanned, they do not need to safely return. Instead they burn up in the atmosphere on re-entry... a giant, space-age incinerator. Two have previously visited space station, hence the number 3.
ATV 3 Launch last Friday morning. Source
Dockings of any kind are a busy day for the ISS Mission Control Team. They are considered complex operations and carry a higher level of risk for the station and crew than an average day, running circles around the Earth. In orbit, spacecraft are going extremely fast (ISS goes about 17,000 miles per hour), so you have two fast moving objects coming together in space. Of course, the relative speed (difference between one and the other) should be very small, but that doesn't mean something couldn't go wrong. To be sure that everything is as safe as possible, we do a lot of advance preparations.

At the Spartan console, we have 12 rotating joints: 2 TRRJs in blue (Thermal Radiator Rotary Joint- which move the external cooling radiators to get the best heat rejection angle), 2 SARJs in pink (Solar Alpha Rotary Joint- which move 4 solar arrays each in one dimension) and 8 BGAs in yellow (Beta Gimbal Assembly- which each move a single solar array along a different axis from the SARJ). Between the SARJ and BGA we can point the solar arrays pretty dead on at the sun to maximize power generations.

Source- follow this link for more truss and component details. And an interactive video.
 Well, usually we can point them at the sun. However, when a visiting vehicle like ATV is coming in, we have to park them at specific angles.This is for a couple reasons. We need them to be positioned where the thrusters from either the ISS attitude control system or the ATV attitude control system will not damage the arrays. Thrusters can be powerful and we have concerns both of them breaking the array structure, which could be dangerous to the crew if a broken solar array bit hits a module. We also need to protect them from being eroded by the thruster blast, diminishing their power generation capabilities. We also have concerns called "multipathing"- the communication system of the visiting vehicle works a lot like an aircraft's radar to find the range to the ISS as it is approaching and steer the unmanned craft in. The arrays and radiators are shiny and reflective, which could cause the signal from the vehicle to bounce off and cause the ATV to have no idea where it really is in space. Bad news for docking! Since we position the arrays in what is probably not the best place for power generation, we also have to be concerned with power limitations- some equipment on-board will need to be powered down to ensure we stay within our power generation abilities.
Starting at 10am today (Wednesday), I'll be in mission control, helping to prepare the ISS for ATV 3 docking. You can also watch the docking live on NASA-TV starting at 3:45 CDT or at

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Crazy Weekend

Since getting engaged just last weekend, I feel as if I have gone down the rabbit hole. I am now one of those girls who spends hours on The Knot, cramming wedding knowledge into my head. Venues, floral arrangements, party favor ideas. Thank god for Google. I know they're becoming the devil now, or something, but I literally cannot imagine doing this without them- Google docs, Google mail, Google searches. A whole lot of Google in my life.

 My crazy weekend started Thursday night. I went to see the midnight showing of The Hunger Games with a couple coworkers. We pre-ordered tickets (the movie was sold out by Thursday afternoon so it turned out to be a good call) and got there at 10pm. When we arrived there wasn't a soul in sight. We went into the lobby and same thing. Then we found out why... the theater had been open since 5pm for seating, so everyone was already inside. Luckily there were only 3 of us, and we found 3 together pretty quickly. The movie was fun, but LATE. We got home at 3am, and I slept in a little before getting up at 10 to head to the office.
Nicole and me at The Hunger Games. Like dorks.
Friday night Dan and I took it easy and made some homemade meatless Lent pizza on a store bought wheat crust. Pasta sauce, caramelized onions, spring mix, mozzarella, goat, and eggs cracked on top. Easy and delicious!
Homemade pizza, best easy dinner idea ever!
 After a week of venue searching and emailing, we went on a couple of visits last Saturday. We had to be at the first appointment at 10, a 90 min drive from my house. So we left home at 8:30, stopped for McDonald's breakfast (a guilty pleasure, for sure), and hit the road. An hour and 25 minutes of driving later, we made it to our destination.  It was beautiful- a big wooden building with beautiful grounds in the back.

 I definitely loved this place, but as I said, the location is just awful: in a small town without much in the way of hotels, restaurants, or bars. Not much to occupy our guests. After some exploring the town we grabbed lunch at a restaurant Dan found on urbanspoon (ok, but not excellent) and then had another appointment. The place was nice, but not exactly what we're looking for...I can't really explain why I didn't like it, objectively it was pretty and I like those chandeliers, but we both felt "meh" afterwards. Shrug.
After that we had the looong drive back to my place. We both flopped down on the couch and thought about napping, but eventually got up and drove (again!) the half hour to Dan's place. We were both pretty wiped so we had a quiet night of grilling and watching TV. All I do in this town is drive.

Sunday we got up and went on a run. What was supposed to be 5 miles turned into a 2 mile run out and 2 mile walk back. I got dizzy, probably dehydrated, so we took it slow back. It has gotten much hotter and I think I hadn't prepared adequately for the return of summer running (ugh!). After that I went home to clean. Well not clean, more just clear clutter. I am hosting a Passover seder for around 10 people next Friday, so I am already preparing for that. House needs to be presentable and I have tons to cook.

After that, I had some volunteering to do. My synagogue runs a non-profit that provides housing, food, and assistance to people coming to Houston's medical center. The Medical Center district here has world renowned doctors, so people with serious illnesses come from all over the world to receive treatment. Often they are far from home, traveling all alone, and must stay for weeks or months on end. The organization my temple runs, called Aishel House, takes people of any religion or nationality, puts them up in apartments they own, brings them food, arranges transportation to doctors appointments, the airport, and anywhere else they need to go. It's really incredible what they do... all the food is cooked by my rabbi's wife (who has 11 children of her own), funded by donations, and staffed by volunteers. Their main fundraiser is a benefit concert. For the past 2 years I have helped with set-up and cleanup for the event. Sunday I got there at 4pm and helped moving tables, setting up displays, taking donations, directing the junior volunteers (a bunch of high school students getting their community service hours... I think they originally thought I was a junior volunteer when they stuck me with them. Sorry, no, I'm a grown up!) and did a lot of heavy lifting and running back and forth through the venue. The next morning I woke up SO SORE. Every inch of my body hurts. So I guess volunteering is good for the spirit and the body, huh? I wish I had worn some kind of fitness tracker or pedometer to see how much I really worked. Feels like a lot!
I got home after midnight and fell into bed. And slept soundly until... 7:30. Rats!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Nerds In Love- Our Engagement Story

If you haven't read How I Met Your Mother My Fiancé, do that first!

Earlier in the week (I think Monday or Tuesday) Dan asked me if we could have a date night after my shift on Friday. Sounded good to me. I was a little suspicious, because as I mentioned in my last post, our first date was on a Friday night after my evening shift too. So Friday afternoon I went off to work. Dan employed some misdirection, telling me it wasn't a date really and that I could invite the rest of the flight control team, if people wanted to go out after the shift. Then, when I texted to tell him that handover was starting which meant I was almost done, he went from slightly sneaky to extremely shady. He asked me to go upstairs to the historic Apollo mission control room to "do something" for him. Now extremely suspicious, I decided not to test his lying powers and just let him have that one.
Historic Mission Control
I got out of work, headed upstairs, and there he was! So, ok, I wasn't really surprised that he was there. What exactly was I going to do for him upstairs, at midnight, if this wasn't it?

There he is, texting me from one floor up. Liar.
But I was still a little shocked that it was actually happening and I went into a bit of sensory overload. I noticed his helpers- Jen and Shawn. That was unexpected, since I had also talked to Jen earlier in my shift. She works in my group and was my on-call power analyst for the night and had called to ask about a potential Debris Avoidance Maneuver we might have to plan. While on the phone she also employed some misdirection that I didn't catch (because I didn't guess she would be in on it). Her husband Shawn has a fancy camera and is responsible for all these pretty pictures.
"Stephanie, you know I love you." "Yeah..."
So he handed me a bouquet of flowers and told me he loved me. Then he got down on one knee and popped open a little plastic space shuttle model, which had the ring inside. Still overwhelmed, I just nodded and he handed me the ring to put on. I spent a lot of the next few minutes staring at my hand.
Then I started to notice other details. Dan was dressed in a white shirt and skinny black tie, just like the Apollo flight controllers used to. The space shuttle model was hand built and painted, and he had made some modifications to it to hold the ring inside. And the best part... The screen in the Apollo room usually plays a slideshow of moon landing pictures and related Apollo snapshots. But he had gotten someone to put on a slideshow of pictures of us. So cool! Every slide said 'Will you marry me?"
"Did you steal all these from my blog?"
Jen brought root beer (couldn't very well drink real alcohol at work) and we hung out and drank as I picked up all the little details and stared at my hand a little more. Its so shiny!

Then Jen and Shawn had to get home so they could run Warrior Dash today. Since I was at work and a couple of my friends were on console, I stopped in the current mission control room (which I had just left half and hour before) to show off my bling. Then Dan and I headed out to a bar and had a drink while we texted everyone. It was after midnight in Houston, which means after 1am where most of our family and friends live on the east coast. We got in touch with a few people and had a ceremonial Facebook-status changing. We are big nerds. If that was not overwhelmingly obvious.

I know he couldn't make it a total surprise, but I am still shocked and amazed at all the planning and orchestrating, and little touches he pulled off. That room has so much history. It's the room they controlled Apollo 11 from, the first moon landing. And it's the room where I said yes. I wonder if any other NASA nerd couples have gotten engaged in that same room, or if we are the first.

Special thanks to Shawn Murphy for the spectacular pictures and to Jen Murphy for the misdirection and bringing a picnic! You guys are awesome! :-)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Nerds In Love

Sorry no proposal story yet. I'm waiting on the pictures. In the meantime, here is the story of how we met, and how we started dating. I knew Dan for 2 years before we had our first date, so it's a long love story. Here we go...

July 2008-- I have just moved to Houston, fresh out of college, for the job. I am trying a long distance relationship with my college boyfriend, who is still in school. A coworker drags me out for a night on the town. At a bar, we meet up with some other NASA folks. Dan is one of them, out celebrating a friend's birthday. Funny thing, I don't remember him. He doesn't remember meeting me either. Early in our relationship I told him a story about that night, and we both realized the other was there. No it's not because I was drunk, and I remember several other details from the night, but he wasn't one of them. Luckily the universe would give me a chance to correct that oversight.
Halloween at NASA in 2008 in Apollo mission control. Can you spot me?
August 2008-- The same coworker (his name is Naveen, it'll be easier to call him that later) who dragged me out last time begs me to join him at a party. Being new in town, I have no excuse. Being a lame grandma in a 21 year old's body, I wish I did. While I am sitting awkwardly (my usual behavior in a room of people I don't know) a social-butterfly-type guy comes over to chat with me.  He tells me about his co-ed softball team, and I give him my number in case he needs another girl. Soon I officially join the team. I meet Dan again there, only we think its the first time. I remember thinking that he is the only decently cute guy on the team. I mentally lament the slim prospects for my dating life, and how I hardly ever meet eligible bachelors.
Softball team- Is that a rocket on your shirt or are you just happy to see me?
We spend the next couple years playing side by side in the outfield. I tell jokes as we play and he laughs, even though they are mostly bad jokes.My college boyfriend becomes my ex in December 2009. As previously stated, I don't think I know any eligible bachelors so I do some internet dating in those first few single months. It's exhausting and I'm not finding what I'm looking for, so I have all but given up by April 2010, when softball picks back up for the spring season. I see Dan for the first time since becoming single. The first thing that I notice is that he has the most amazing hair. He's let it grow out since I've seen him last, and it has these perfect curls. I reach out over the dugout fence to touch his hair when he walks up and he stands on tiptoes to make it easier for me to reach. I love running my fingers through that hair. I decide, then and there, that I will date him.
One of our first dates- Drive In Movie
Weeks go by, and I find ways to show up where he will be. Softball games, happy hours, movie nights. He makes no moves, although I feel like I am throwing myself at him. Finally one night I get a bit too tipsy on margaritas at happy hour and he takes me to his house to sober up. Still he makes no moves. He drives me back to my car later that night. I figure he's probably not interested, so I go for it. As I get out of the car, I turn and say "I've been thinking... we should date." He stammers something about going out of town, so I get in my car and close the door. That was close enough to rejection for me, I thought. But the following week, when we're both back in town (I had gone to my sister's college graduation and he had gone to his cousin's wedding), he IMs me and we set up a date. A week later we meet for drinks at midnight, when I get off my evening console shift. It is pouring rain and quite past his bedtime, but he shows up anyways.
The next night we have our first official date. Before this date, I met up with some coworkers, including Naveen. When I tell them about this date, Naveen remembers Dan from that night at the bar and says "You're going to marry him." I protest, after all we've only been on one date. I meet up with Dan for the lamest house party ever- the host had his whole family there and it was much more tame than the bash we were expecting. After such a letdown, he thinks I'll probably never date him again. I think I might fall in love with him. He surprises me by kissing me in the driveway when we leave the party. I think those must be the fireworks all the movies talk about. We go out to a bar after the party. We hold hands under the table the whole time. That was May 14, 2010.
Emily's wedding in January
Sometimes I think about all the dominoes that fell into place to get us together. The party I didn't want to go to. The softball team I never would have joined. The timing of getting dumped, and of giving up on J-Date, of seeing him again. It starts even earlier really, two kids from thousands of miles apart. Our paths didn't cross in college, where many people find "the one," and they wouldn't have crossed at all if we both weren't giant nerds who wanted to be astronauts. As if every wrong turn and every right one, led me to Dan. The man I'm going to marry. See?
Me and my fiancé! I will not get tired of saying that!
I know I'm teasing you by not telling the proposal story, but I am still waiting for pictures so you'll have to hold on a little longer. But, as a bonus, there are a couple elements of this story that will come up again in the proposal story. So now you're prepared...

Photo credits: 1. Paul Reichert and 4. Blue Jade Studio

Saturday, March 17, 2012


I'm engaged!
Story and more photos to come, once I retrieve them from the photographer (a friend of ours) that my awesome fiance arranged to have there when he proposed! Exciting!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

For this week, I'm going to show you a day of eats.
Last Wednesday I took the day off work after working the weekend. I planned to sleep in, but you know how days off go... I woke up at 8:15.

 I had time before my appointment, so I fixed a yummy breakfast: 0% plain Chobani, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, an apple, and a drizzle of agave nectar.
 After the chiropractor snapped my neck around a bit, I came back home for laundry and lunch. My house was mostly empty after I worked 9 days straight and didn't grocery shop at all, so I scrounged in the fridge. I came up with: spinach, Oscar Meyer Carving Board turkey, chopped pecans, some Laughing Cow blue cheese, a toasted slice of bread, and Italian dressing.
 Then I headed out for afternoon errands: grocery store, packet pickup for Saturday's race and shoe shopping. When I got snacky, I broke out a LaraBar. I had never had one before, but the Apple pie flavor caught my eye. It was very good, I will be buying more.
After a quick 3 mile run, boyfriend and I hit up Rudy's Bar-B-Que. I got the turkey sandwich, he got ribs and brisket, and we shared some sides: (from left to right) Three Bean Salad- cold salad of green beans, red beans, and chickpeas; potato salad; and Green Chili stew. And an unpictured beer!

There's what I ate last Wednesday. Check out the WIAW party by clicking below:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bayou City Classic 10k Recap

A week ago I checked the weather for Saturday's race and it said 67 and sunny. But when race day came, it was anything but the nice running weather promised. The whole weekend has been scattered thunderstorms- alternating downpour, drizzles, and threatening skies. Here was Saturday's weather at race start:
Friday night we had a going away party for one of Dan's coworkers, at a very classy joint called Twin Peaks. It's like Hooters with younger, even more scantily clad waitresses, with a woodsman theme. So classy. After the party we battled the rain and traffic (downpour plus rush hour plus President visiting Houston does not equal a quick drive) so we could eat a good, healthy, pre-race dinner. I had originally planned rotisserie chicken and baked potatoes, but then Dan remembered it was Lent, so we switched our plan to tofu fried rice:
Terriyaki tofu
Brown fried rice
Pretty delicious dinner. The veggies were a frozen pack of "Italian Vegetable Medley" I bought at Kroger: zuccini, cauliflower, lima beans, carrots, and red pepper. I also tossed in some sliced onion and some frozen edamame. I used Minute Brown Rice (which takes 10 minutes) because I was too lazy to make regular brown rice. Who has time to cook rice for 40 minutes?! We set up our race stuff, and headed to bed.
His and hers race outfits!
 We got up at 6:20 Saturday morning (better get used to it for training in the summer) but thanks to daylight savings (or lack thereof) it was a little bit light out already. Shame we had to kiss that goodbye! It was only a light rain as we found a parking spot, walked over to the start line, and got ready to go.
The announcer said "Go!" and we were off. One of the cool things about this race is the Centipedes. People enter the race as a Centipede, multiple people who run as a group, in costume, holding onto a rope. There are prizes given out for the Centipedes too. At the start line we saw a group of Marilyn Monroes running with Joe Dimaggio, and their rope was a red feather boa. We were passed early on by a bunch of Mexican wrestlers; and we fell into pace with a group of hippie protesters carrying picket signs and being chased by two cops. Very cute! I'm sad that I don't have any pictures, but my camera would have gotten soaked!

My Garmin started flipping out- either I didn't set the pace zones right or it couldn't handle running through all the buildings downtown because it kept beeping to "slow down" but then our pace jumped from 7 min/mi (which I know I cannot run that fast) to 16 min/mi and back again. I canceled my program because it was driving me crazy, so it didn't have the correct time or pace for the rest of the race.  Around the 4th mile marker, the rain and wind got alot heavier. We were already soaked through, but then the rain started pelting us and the wind was really cold! At that point, of course, the only way to end your misery is to finish so that's what we did!

The results. Do you see what that says?! 1:14:00 exactly for my chip time. I did it! My goals for the race were:
  • Finish. Check!
  • Run the whole thing. Check! 
  • Finish in under 1:14. I think 1:14:00 counts. Check! 
The post race party looked pretty awesome: we snagged mini Clif bars, beer (!), breakfast tacos, and a bowl of fruit and chicken (?). It was all tasty, and there was plenty more options, but it was still raining hard and we were soaked and cold so we downed our beer, scarfed our food, and ran back to the car. I think I ran back to the car faster than I ran in the entire race. We stripped off our outer layers, but I was soaked all the way to my sports bra and my shoes were swimming-- it was impossible to avoid all the puddles.
Is the drowned rat look sexy?
We came home, warmed up in the hot shower, took an hour nap, and ate some grilled cheese. Yum!
I definitely want to run this race again next year, and hope for better weather. The organization, course support, and after party all were phenomenal.... I'm just sad I couldn't enjoy it as fully because I was freezing and soaked.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Fun: Girl Scout Cookies

I was a Girl Scout. I was a Girl Scout long after it was cool, from kindergarten all the way until senior year in high school. I loved camping, I loved the girls in our group, but most of all I loved selling Girl Scout cookies. In fact, even though I hate talking to strangers (says the girl with a blog, but it's totally true) I had no problem accosting them as they tried to leave the grocery store and asking them to buy cookies. As we got older, our sales tactics became a little more advanced- We would eye grocery carts and recommend types that go great with beer, soda, salad... and once- Mike's Hard Lemonade. We would tell guys how great they went with Super Bowl parties. It was serious.
I loved selling cookies so much, that I basically cannot turn them down when they ask me as I'm hurrying into or out of the grocery store. The only time I have ever paid for groceries with my debit card, it was just to get $20 cash back so I could buy Girl Scout cookies. I don't even eat them, all the time. I just buy them.There are some from last year still in my freezer, but I still bought more this year.

Snazzy infographic: Source
The Business of Girl Scout Cookies

My favorite cookie of all time was the lemon Chalet Creme (vanilla cookie with lemon creme), long since discontinued. No other lemon cookie has come close, even though I buy the new lemon cookie every year. This year's Savannah Smiles were particularly disappointing. These days I guess the Tagalongs (I will never call them Peanut Butter Patties) are my first choice.

Source. So now you know about me: Lemon cookies and Tagalongs mean I'm an old grandma (true) having a sordid affair (false) and pretending to be a movie star beaver (? you decide...). What about you? What does your favorite cookie say about you? Were you a Girl Scout? Do you have a pathological need to buy Girl Scout cookies even if you won't eat them? Please say I'm not alone...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Happy Tuesday/Happy Friday

As my tweeps know, I was on console last weekend, so Tuesday night I finished up 9 days straight. Weekend shifts are difficult, because usually we have office responsibilities during the regular week, as I did last week and this week, so its hard to find days off when your normal ones are spent at work. Just because I worked the weekend doesn't mean I automatically get another day off. But a couple weeks ago I was asked to stay late Tuesday, which I decided I would only do because Wednesday was wide open on my schedule. So I officially requested Wednesday as a day off, worked til 6:30 Tuesday and now... it's FRIDAY!
A Beautiful Sunday in MCC

Well, Friday for me anyways. Although, if it were Friday, this would be the lamest Friday night in history. I came home from work, made some scrambled egg mush for dinner because there wasn't any actual food in the house, got started on laundry (one load down, 2 to go!), and watched the season premiere of Army Wives.  Love that show and you can't stop me!
If loving them is wrong, I don't want to be right. Source
 Oh yes, party animal. Tomorrow, on my "weekend" I'll be going to the chiropractor in the morning, then I have bunches of errands to run.. including packet pickup for our race and I might squeeze in some shoe shopping. Work shoes though, nothing super exciting. Then I'll meet Dan when he gets off of work for a quick run and dinner date.

Though I was on console I did get a few things done during the actual weekend...
  1. Dinner date with my wonderful boyfriend on the real Friday night.
  2. E-filed my taxes! Feels so good to be done.
  3. A 5 mile run, simulating our race paces.
  4. I ate one of these beauties:
 That, my friends, is an Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bagel from Einsteins. And it was fabulous. (And I have looked up online that it apparently has 370 calories... and then I had cream cheese on it. Not the low fat kind.) Yum!

I think that's enough food pics to qualify as a WIAW. See others by clicking that badge:

Monday, March 5, 2012

10k Goals

So, my first ever 10k is coming up on Saturday. I know, a 10k is not even half of a half marathon (a quarter marathon?) so it's not so exciting for you. But its two 5ks, which is my previous longest race, and that makes it a big deal for me. So bear with me while I talk about it some more...

We started out pretty well with the training plan, but the last month or so has been a real mess. Between night shifts and travel there was definitely some slacking off.

Last Sunday we ran our second 6 mile run... the original plan had us running an 8 miler a few weeks before the race, but that didn't happen. 6 miles was tough enough. But having just run 6 miles last weekend and a fast finish 5 miles this weekend, I feel confident we can make it through this race. Just don't expect it to be speedy.

Baseline Goal: Finish.
I know that's probably selling myself short, but this being my first 10k, I want to have a goal I can achieve.

Better Goal: Run the whole thing.
My plan going into this is to walk the water stops and otherwise run the whole thing. A walking break wouldn't be the end of the world, but I'm hoping not to need one. Also I know that I would probably finish faster if I took walking breaks, because the rest breaks enable me to run faster otherwise. But I would like to run the whole thing, if possible.

Totally Awesome Goal: Finish in under 1 hour, 14 minutes.
That's the predicted finish time based on our last 5k race. It would require us to run a little faster than our long runs, an 11:56 pace. Our 6.1 miler was 1 hr 15 mins, so I would say this goal is still possible, but everything has to go exactly right.

  • Run the first 3 miles at a comfortable pace. We mimicked this during Saturday's 5 mile run, and averaged a 12:30 pace for the first 3 miles. 
  • Run the next 2 miles at a comfortably difficult pace. We again mimicked on Saturday and ran about 11:30 for the next two miles.
  • Run the last 1.2 miles as fast as we can. This is a high 10 to low 11 pace, usually.
  • I'm actually going to program this stuff into my Garmin as a workout. The first 3 miles at a desired pace of under 12:40, the next 2 miles at a desired pace of under 11:40, and the last 1.2 with no target because I don't want it beeping at me to speed up or slow down. I just want to give it my best shot. 
Whatever happens, I'm gonna earn my beer Saturday! Yes I already know where and what I'm eating for dinner. Feast your eyes on HayMerchant.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Life Tip Friday- Two things to do this weekend

1. Unsubscribe to junk mail!
Two weeks ago I made a resolution to actually unsubscribe from junk email instead of deleting it. Of course, I usually read my email on my phone, and its not practical to go and unsubscribe there. It's so much easier to just get rid of it right then and move on with life. But that only temporarily solves the problem. So I've been forcing myself to not delete, and then go on a computer later and unsubscribe. If you don't, one day your inbox will look like this:

 This is my email address from college, which I haven't used much in the 3 years since. I signed into it the other day and saw... 4619 unread Inbox messages. And its flooded with junk mail. Not a single one of those emails on the first page is one I would actually like to read. If you don't want your Inbox to look like that in 4 years, do yourself a favor and unsubscribe now!

There are 3 types of junk mail that you have to deal with:

1. The kind that companies send you. 
So you bought something from 3 years ago and your name made it onto their marketing list. Crap! Now every couple days you get a new email like "Dog bed season clearance!" I will remind you, you didn't save 10% on the dog bed you didn't really need, you wasted 90%. Luckily, because these are from commercial companies, they are required to put an unsubscribe link in the bottom of the email. So open that bad boy up, scroll to the bottom, and click unsubscribe. Some companies make you jump through hoops like typing your email address in a box or deselecting the types of emails you don't want. Don't be lazy now! DO IT!
Word of caution: if it doesn't look like a safe email from a real company, or if the site it takes you to looks sketch, don't click links or enter personal information. If you are unsure from looking at the email, you can hover over the sender name and see if it really came from or instead from who just happened to set their user name as "WellsFargo Bank" If you have even the slightest inkling of doubt, go ahead and use the response in #2 below instead of this one.
2. The kind that spammers send you.
Ok these are a little harder. When sends you an offer to enlarge your penis (newsflash, spammer, I do not have a penis and I don't want one) they usually do not include an unsubscribe link. Even if they did, it would probably not work as an unsubscribe but instead confirm to the sender that they got a good email address and make them send you more junk email. So all you can do is report it as Spam. Definitely do not click on any links or attachments in there, unless you want to have to reformat your hard drive. Besides, reporting as Spam is helping the Spam filter algorithm improve, so everyone wins! Except the spammer. Die spammer die!
Note that the email address is nothing related to the display name or the content. Gmail knows, this is SKETCHY!
 3. The kind you kinda want, sometimes.
Basically in this category fall the Groupon/Living Social/Bloomspot emails, and mailings from your bank or insurance company. Because sometimes you want those emails (like if there's a killer deal for a fancy dinner; or to let you know about suspicious account activity) but not others (like when they are sending you an email for a dog walking service halfway across town and you don't even own a dog; or when they want you to open a credit card). Usually you can tailor your subscriptions on these sites to only get the email you want. If you follow the unsubscribe link in the email or log into your online account, you can tailor your mailings to only the things you actually want.
Honestly, I am getting tired of the Groupon/LivingSocial/Bloomspot thing and am trying to decide if I would rather miss a deal because I forgot to check the site one day, or continue getting the emails every day. So far, still subscribed.

In addition to what comes to your inbox, there's also the Spam folder to contend with. So every weekend (starting with this one!) go into your Spam folder and deal with the first 10 (or more, or less, whatever works for you) emails in there. Follow the same steps above for the type of spam it is. No kidding, over just 2 weeks I have seen a drastic drop-off in annoying emails (groupon-type-things aside).
I figure I can't burn another email the way I did after college, this Gmail account is probably my internet identity for the next 60 years. Gotta take care of it!

2. For a second great thing to do this weekend... Go to this site and feel alternately REALLY BIG or really small! It's really cool.

Anyone have any fun plans for the weekend? I'm working console Saturday and Sunday, but tonight is date night with Dan.