27 May, 2016

Race Weekend

The Holy Day: Race Weekend is upon us.

Did I mention I live in Indianapolis? I live in Indianapolis. On the same side of the city where the racetrack sits. We can hear the buzz of the cars already as they practice. (The Indy500 is always the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.)

Prior to moving here, I took Memorial Day seriously. Well, I lived and worked at the beach, so never actually had the day off, but I made the requisite social media posts about remembering our troops - AS I DO, ALWAYS - and you know, said a prayer, watched something patriotic, like that.

In Indy, "Memorial Day" sales still happen, and I will still thank our troops on social media, but the weekend is not collectively hailed as "Memorial Day Weekend". Especially this year.


They've been celebrating it for months - 100 Days 'til the 100th running. Yep. Parties, concerts, special deals, celebrity events. It was everywhere even before Easter candy came out. The race is sold out. First time ever. Completely sold out. They lifted the television blackout that is usually in place, so we'll be able to watch it live, if we choose! (We don't, generally.)

It occurred to me after I moved here that Indy is really only known for this one thing. It's a race. Great, if you're into racing. But consider other international sporting events: 
The Olympics - every 4 years, always in a different place.
The World Cup - every 4 years, always in a different place.
Even the Superbowl, which isn't international, but is arguably the biggest deal in American sporting contests - always in a different place.
The Indy 500 is an international event that is ALWAYS here, EVERY year.

(I mean, yeah, there are golf and tennis tournaments, I suppose, but really? meh.)

My first Race Day living here, I got jammed up in traffic on my way home from church - the EARLY service! The next year I was very clever and left for my parents' house that afternoon - after the race traffic. I couldn't get home. See, on this side of the city, during the mass exodus after the race, the exit ramps going INTO the city are blocked off so people can get out of town without extra traffic coming in. I did not know that. I also did not yet know the area well enough to find an easy way back in. I drove an extra hour up the Interstate until I just plain turned around.

I kinda love that I'm in that situation. It's unique.

This year, we will go nowhere. Just enjoy the buzz of the engines from our balcony. Live and Learn!

19 May, 2016

My Apparent Disappearance

Howdy! (I know! Three posts in quick succession!)

This is a bit of a PSA/Excuse.

I may appear missing from your comment sections. Please note: I'm still there! I have screwed myself up royally, and cannot now comment as "Red" on WordPress blogs. I don't know why I did this, but in creating a WP login, WP will only ever let me use that one now, and that is not my blog persona. I thought I had it fixed, changed the email associated with it, etc., but it is still a mess today.

I'm looking at you, A Bit To Read, and Zen and Pi. (and others, but you two have actually posted in the short time this happened.) I read your blogs faithfully, but cannot currently express my thoughts thereupon. Break a leg this weekend, Isa-Lee!

...So okay, it may only have been two days, but it feels like being blocked out of a conversation. I'll sort it out and be back!

18 May, 2016

Mid-month Panic Attack

Okay, not really, but the next more-than-a-month really is jam-packed.

During this weekend we travel to Hot Stuff's hometown for his nephew's wedding.
We keep two hampers

The following weekend is laundry, packing, and last minute shopping before vacation. Oh, and it's Memorial Day weekend which means going nowhere on Sunday because the Indy 500 brings SO MUCH traffic that you leave your house at your own risk. (It's awesome. Truth be told, I love it.)
The following two weeks will include travel, my nephew's birthday, and my niece's graduation.
My luggage will get a workout, no doubt!
Days after the graduation, we get to recover from jetlag while driving the opposite direction to my family reunion. Oy vey. It'll be awesome and exhausting.
I'll return to work just in time for the next big monthly task, and THAT next weekend we are taking my little nieces on a 5K!

Then I can breathe.

OH WAIT! NO I CAN'T! Because we just found out a few days ago that Hot Stuff's aunt is getting married the following weekend, and that is a long enough drive that we'll be out of town all weekend, again. It's a good thing, though, because I don't know much of that side of his family, so I'm looking forward to it. 

Actually, with all that we are going to be doing, we both have to skip our work "summer party" type events. Just as well. I don't like socializing.

So far, July is free. I think I'll keep it that way.

16 May, 2016

The Picture on my Desk

Years ago for Christmas, my parents gave me a digital picture frame. By the time I decided I would never use it and took it back to Best Buy, it was past the return deadline so I kept it.

Last year I finally found a use for it: it now sits on my desk at work, rotating pictures of me with Brett, or of just him, with a couple vacation pics for good measure. I periodically add new photos to the flash-drive it uses. It’s fascinating to me, watching us progress from just dating, to our wedding, to comfortably married and vacation pics, over and over again all day.
The frame, showing a vacation image from Utah.
Why did I choose to do that? I know what he looks like, and it’s not like he travels for work and is gone for days at a time. But you know what? It always makes me smile. No matter what is happening in my day, I glance slightly to my left and see the grin of someone who loves me, FOR me, and remember…

  • The world is not, in fact, out to get me.
  • This workday will end.
  • I have to tell him that funny thing that just happened.
  • Someone in this world knows the true me, and it’s okay.
  • People can be surprisingly great.

Do you struggle to remember you are loved? It's very easy to feel unlovable, but you are loved. If you can, I highly recommend a digital photo-frame as a way to remind yourself of that fact!

13 May, 2016

Planning New Adventures!

When I did the A-to-Z challenge, I focused on places I've been. Now I'm planning the next major jaunt, and it's a biggie. I don't want to post details until after the fact, partly because there's some political turmoil there, and partly because we had some major hurdles to jump to even get to the point where we now have tickets! So I recognize that things could still go wrong.

I have a brother who lives outside the U.S., and we are going to visit. 
That's my teaser: It's an overseas trip.

Actually, my niece is graduating from high school, so the primary purpose is to be there for family milestones (there's a birthday, too), but we will also be visiting some pretty exciting historical locations. More on that after we get back in June. This post is about planning.

You see, I'm a planner, and I married a "pantster" to quote Isa-Lee Wolf of A Bit To Read. My Brett flies by the seat of his pants. I used to think I did that. Sometimes. And I can, within the confines of the plan. On our last major trip - to Utah - we had a plan, but within that I let him run. The plan included: 
  1. Flight to Denver
  2. Staying the first night with his friend in Colorado
  3. Wedding weekend events
  4. Staying the last night with my aunt near Denver
  5. Return flight

Within that plan, we took our time, picked up tourist brochures and found some out of the way gems. We even extended our hotel stay in Moab because it was a great hotel, at the bride's discounted rate, and we were having a fantastic time hiking and injuring ourselves.

For this overseas trip, I booked our tickets, got us travel insurance, and am currently researching which would be the most central place to stay when we are away from my brother's house - we'll take a few days on our own to do the touristy things they've done many times with every visitor. Oh, and car rental. We may need to rent a car. Then again, I'm told buses are pretty reliable. It's taking me some time to sort this out.

Brett scheduled our vaccinations, found us rides to and from the airport - it's cheaper to fly in and out of Chicago than Indianapolis, but we don't want to pay their long-term parking rate - and he has responsibility for getting us our visas.

Like the trip to Utah, some things are set:
  1. Flights
  2. My nephew's birthday
  3. My niece's graduation
Between the birthday and graduation we want to see things outside of the city they live in. I'm trying to limit myself to getting one hotel for a few nights, sort of central to everything we want to see, and then letting Brett take over as we get there and decide what site is the most interesting to spend the most time at. We'll probably never be back there, so we want to make the most of it. Then again, as he reminds me, we've never been there before, so everything is interesting.

Oh, and just in case I needed a little cloud in the back of my mind about this trip, it was on the return flight from visiting my brother 4 years ago that my dad had his first "mini" stroke. Sitting still on a plane-ride that long, apparently, makes it easy for blood clots to form. And now I know that I have his genetic predisposition for cardiovascular problems. I'm not really worried 'cause I'm 30 years younger, but I think I'll try to do yoga on the plane. That'll be fun! (If I manage to do yoga on the plane, I promise to post a picture.)

12 May, 2016

My Heart Hurts

(and this may turn out incoherent.)
Two students at my high school alma mater died today in a boating accident. Or something. See, I was not a huge fan of the school I graduated from, don't go to the reunions, have removed myself from the alumni newsletter list, and am in touch with about 5 people I knew back then.

High School was a not a good experience for me. So when I saw the first post about this on facebook, I read the article - two students were missing - and thought nothing. (Someone commented that they saw an article stating the bodies were found.) Alumni are up in arms all over facebook, praying for the families, the school, etc. Naturally so.

It just takes a while for me to feel anything for a place I spent so much energy despising. BUT, these are teenagers, whose families are hurting. This is a private school, and it takes courage for parents to send their kids away. (If you followed me during the A-to-Z challenge, you probably picked up the fact that I went to boarding school. This was not the same school.)

It finally hit me, and yes, my heart hurts for this incident. But I can tell no one here, because no one knows my past. I might be an anonymous blogger, but I am also "anonymous" here at work. It wasn't intentional, but no one asked or tried to get to know me that well early on, and after a year or so, it would be LUDICROUS to suddenly let my Indian bosses know that I grew up in their mother country! 
So I keep quiet. 

I'm uncomfortable saying anything on facebook, too, because some coworkers are facebook friends with me, and besides, my half-dozen high school friends know how much I hated it. It just seems hypocritical.

So anyway, this is my statement to the universe that yes, I feel. 

Sorry for the downer, folks. I'll be back on top soon!

06 May, 2016

A-to-Z Challenge Follow up

This was my first attempt at this challenge – whew!
Congratulations to Red!
Yay me!

When I set out, it was simply with the goal to get back into the habit of writing regularly. I was very active in my blog a few years ago, but it had fallen by the way-side.  I know some use this challenge to explore new styles of writing or to increase their audience and make connections. That was not my goal.
I’m happy to say that I am back in the swing of daily writing, although I will probably not post *every* day from here on. I am back in the habit. Success!
I’m also pleased to say that I have made some new connections – found new blogs to follow, and a few bloggers who regularly check back in with me, too. That’s pretty cool. I’d forgotten about the community within the blogosphere. I also reconnected with some of the ones I was following back when I was at it more frequently. 
I’m already considering topics for next year.

Notes to Self

I'm glad I planned my posts. I was still true to the "write every day" goal, but kept myself ahead of the game until one crazy week. I will definitely do the same next year.

I did not visit a ton of blogs. I'm happy that I spent the time nurturing the few connections I did make, though. Which is better? Visit hundreds of blogs, or visit fewer, but repeatedly visit new gems? I'll have to consider my priority for next year.

I'm not going to stress over comments. I reply to every comment on my blog, and visit blogs of commenters. I may comment on that blog, or I may not - what if I have nothing to say? (It happens) If I do comment, I may return to check for a reply, but don't usually subscribe to comments because it just clutters my inbox. If there's no reply - no worries; if I like your writing, I'll return to read your stuff anyway. 

Next Steps

When I was blogging before, I was fully immersed in the blogosphere and loved it, but got thrown off by uprooting my life and moving in with my parents, where I slowed down, then stopped, because it was hard to ensure anonymity in their house. I then married a fellow blogger, and we both kind of stopped because LIFE IS SO MUCH FUN TOGETHER!   

Most of the blogs I interacted with five years ago are not blogging anymore. :-(
So, for my new blogging friends, I may need to do a re-introduction post sometime soon. I should also organize my posts and clean up my page. This challenge was great for seeing how a blog's layout can be inviting or confusing, easy to read or difficult. 
Moral of the Story: Challenge accepted – Challenge won!

03 May, 2016

If it's not recorded, did it happen?

My Fitbit doesn’t work.
Don’t leave! Please… hear me out!

I’m not a Fitbit user by nature. I eschewed the call of “tracking” my exercise and general fitness in this way, and rolled my eyes with the rest of you when coworkers discussed ad nauseum “getting my steps in” and ranted about “I wasn’t wearing my Fitbit, so it didn’t count!” WHAT? Morons.

A co-worker who I occasionally walk with at lunch-time had her Fitbit break while on vacation, bought an upgraded new one, and found out later that the old one still worked. She offered it to me. Free.

Um, okay. I’ll try it – let me see what the hype is about. I've had it about month now.

I don’t get it. I don’t. Here are my observations:

My Fitbit (Fitbit One) automatically tracks steps, miles and flights of stairs. Sort of. 

1. The coworker advised me that the mileage thing seems to be off. (I can't tell.)
2. My first flight downstairs in the morning doesn’t EVER count. It only tracks beginning with the first flight up. WHY?
3. My primary workout is yoga. This is not tracked. At all.
4. Neither is time on a stationary bike. Presumably, if I had my phone linked up and with me on an actual bike ride, the GPS may provide mileage for a workout.
5. I went into the app on my phone where, allegedly, I can add untracked exercise. Only to find that I can only log “run, walk, or hike”. WHY? How is this beneficial to anyone maintaining a healthy, varied exercise regime?

I would be very interested in the sleep tracking feature available. BUT I need to have the wristband to clip my Fitbit onto in order to even see if it works. I don’t have this, so I don’t even know if it works.

IF this product worked to track all my exercise, I could see the benefit, but when the Fitbit says I’ve had 17 active minutes on a day when I busted my butt and got in over 60 minutes of legitimate exercise (weight training? Fuggedaboutit) I am loathe to put my trust in it. If I have to manually enter it anyway, why not just do what I do now and mark it on my planner?

I'm not sold.
Do you have a Fitbit One? What am I missing? How can I add my hours of cycling, weights and yoga?

(Please don’t try to sell me on an upgrade. I will not pay for a device to track what I could just as easily track in my planner.)