Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Perils of Paradise

Sometimes I forget that I live on top of a major fault line. It's just not one of those things you think about on a regular basis. Yesterday, I was reminded.

I didn't feel anything in Moorpark, but it might have been because I was outside running at the time. It's not improbable that it was just too difficult for me to distinguish between the earthquake and my own shuddering gasps for air (?).

Matt felt it in Northridge though (see the map here - you may need to click on it to see the labels more clearly). He had the same sort of experience I did a few years ago - at first, it's a pretty novel, neat experience . . . and then it lasts just a little bit longer than you're comfortable with; you're jolted (if you will) back into reality, thinking about how serious the situation could be; and you're ready for it to stop. He did say it was at least a better experience than the one we felt about a year ago, which he would have been more than happy to sleep through. I'm a light sleeper and had been woken by the sound of the bedroom window rattling. Naturally, I thought a deranged, blood-thirsty serial killer was trying to break in, so I shook Matt awake harder than any earthquake could have. Wouldn't have irked him so if that wasn't like, oh, the 4th time that week I'd woken him up that way. What? We'd just moved in and I wasn't comfortable sleeping in the new place yet.

In the end, yesterday's quake was downgraded from a 5.8 to a 5.4 on the Richter scale. Not bad. Just the same, for several days after a quake like this, I find myself braced for potential aftershocks and hoping that the quake that we experienced wasn't actually a "foreshock" (precursor to a bigger one). And, while I worry unproductively, Matt typically double-checks our
earthquake preparedness kit and then we both pay lip service to renewing our CPR certifications. How much do you remember about first aid and CPR?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fitness File: Log Your Run

Well, here I am 2 weeks later and happy to say I'm still giving this fitness thing a fair go of it. Am I making remarkable progress? No. I'm still plodding along at a labored 10-minute/mile-ish pace and I max out at just over the 1 1/2-mile mark. But, you know what? I feel good. I've noticed immediate improvements in my energy level, mood, and food cravings. I'm building stamina; feeling positive and motivated throughout the day; and finding myself genuinely wanting lighter, healthier meals and snacks.

I've also stumbled upon a neat little online application called Log Your Run which allows you not only to do, well, what it obviously suggests but also log other types of exercise activity too, such as walking, cycling, swimming, strength training, and cross-training. It has endless features (e.g., articles, a blog, a calendar, etc.) that make it ideal for someone training seriously for a race or event, but it's also simple enough for someone such as myself who's just interested in keeping track of my progress and routes. I would highly recommend it. If you're put off by the thought of adding yet another site to your list of those that you need to check in with on a regular basis, you'll be happy to hear that you can also sync it up with your Google home page or Facebook.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Devolution of the Pedicure

There was a segment on NPR last week called "When Your Pedicurist is a Fish." Did you catch this (Sorry, pun intended. At least it's no worse than the Associated Press' line "Customers were quickly hooked." )

Reminded me of the last time I went to the San Diego Zoo. Pictured to the right here was one of their hippos having dead skin eaten off its belly by fish. And then that reminded me of the part in Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, when they talk about the hippo in formaldehyde. Ga. Know what it didn't remind me of? A good time.

Seriously, people. Why would you pay for this? I mean, I'm all for sustainable living, . . . but you have to draw the line somewhere. I have to think that if we were meant to live like host fish, we never would have come crawling out of the primordial soup. I realize that that crawling may have banged up your pedicure a bit, but you're evolved now. Let's leave the fish out of it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pet Peeves: "Technology in the Can"

Technology is ubiquitous, an integral part of our modern-day lives, and I, for one, am certainly thankful for that. I love technology! Yay, technology! But - as with most things - there is a time and a place for certain types of technology to be utilized. A time and a place, my friends.

[begin rant] For instance? Cell phone use in bathrooms. Soo wrong. For the same reason you don't defecate in the phone booth, you shouldn't be taking a call in the john. Why is this not common sense for some people? You're not in there that long; you can't wait 5 minutes to call someone back? This micro-multitasking is not impressing anyone. (News flash, if you are in there that long, it would stand to reason you're in no condition to be taking a call . . . and you might want to invest in some of this not this).

As with most things, there are exceptions to the rule. You've locked yourself in the bathroom because someone is trying to kill you. The stall door is jammed, there's no one there to help you, and you can't crawl under or over the door. You've "fallen and can't get up." You've . . . you catch my drift. Otherwise, it's not about whether or not you are comfortable talking to someone on the phone while you pinch a loaf. Your dearth of self-respect means nothing to me. It's about common courtesy to others. [end rant]

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Musicals & Metamorphosis

Over the past week, like thousands of others, I have watched the 1st 3 episodes of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog online. (I say 1st 3 because I can only imagine, after the great success they're seeing with these episodes, that more will follow.) Despite myself, I got sucked right in. And I hate musicals! Ask anyone.

Dr. Horrible was created by the same person behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon, and stars Neil Patrick Harris (from Doogie Howser, M.D. & How I Met Your Mother fame), Felicia Day (also of Buffy) , and Nathan Fillion (of Desperate Housewives). In my opinion, Dr. Horrible has been a hit for the same reason HIMYM has been a hit - Harris is that good. He totally commits to a character and a moment and he can actually sing quite well. And, in Dr. Horrible, he isn't tasked with carrying the whole show; the writing is good and his co-stars can actually hold their own - which is more than I can say for HIMYM.

I don't know what this world is coming to - up is down, left is right, . . . Cheri has enjoyed something called a "Sing-Along" (!!) and has plans to attend a full-blown musical in the near future. What can I say? I read and enjoyed Wicked the book (the primary character of which [don't hate me for the play on words] is an angular-featured atheist with poor patience - how could I not feel an immediate connection with the material). Now I feel compelled to see what all the fuss has been about with the musical. Next thing you know, I'll be eating pork, attending NASCAR events, and living on the planet Htrae!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fitness File: 1st Steps

I'm happy with my life and myself. I'm not obsessed with scales, dress sizes, the mirror, or counting calories (despite my tongue-in-cheek April post), but I decided I'd had one too many consecutive days (months?!) of feeling lethargic, out-of-shape, and unhappy about how my clothes were fitting me, . . . so I strapped on a sports bra, laced up my sneakers, and went for a run today.

OMG . . . There's nothing more defeating than that first foray back into the world of fitness. You've finally scraped together enough motivation to actually do something about your sad situation only to find out Things Are Worse Than You Thought! I ran. Slowly. For barely 20 minutes. When I finished, I was completely out of breath, my face was flush with every ounce of blood in my body, I had to fight the urge to regurgitate breakfast, and there wasn't a muscle in my body that wasn't screaming (even though, yes, I did stretch).

The obvious challenge I have ahead of me is whipping my butt back into healthier shape. What I need to admit to myself, though, is that the mental component of that challenge is going to be just as difficult as the physical component. I was bean-pole skinny throughout my childhood, adolescence, and much of my young adult life, and I ran track all through high school, so there's a part of my brain that has this notion that running and getting back into shape should be easy for me. This, of course, is the same part of my brain that has conveniently forgotten that my high school track-running days were 16 years ago.

I had done a good job back in 2006 of learning how to eat better (thanks to Weight Watchers), but I fell off the wagon and never got back on. Now, my plan is to combine the good eating habits I learned at WW with a much more regular exercise routine. And to keep myself accountable to this new mission I've set for myself, I'm going to try to keep track of how I'm doing on this blog.

I'm starting out from the standpoint that this should be a life change, something ongoing, so I'm not going to set a weight or dress size goal like I did with WW. I'm just going to judge my success by how I feel and work at maintaining good habits indefinitely. So, you can expect "Fitness File" to be a regularly occurring post from here on out.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Love Words: Interrobang

Word: interrobang


Function: noun

interrogation (point) + bang (printers' slang for exclamation point)


a punctuation mark (‽) designed for use especially at the end of an exclamatory rhetorical question

I found intterobang mentioned in an Editrix post last month and was intrigued to found out more about it. It allows for the messiness and reality of communication and doesn't demand you separate out the emotions but lets them coexist on the same plane. I've always found it to be the perfect punctuation for folks like myself who are often trying to say many things at once, trying to cram all the thoughts and emotions they can into a paragraph, a sentence, a clause (you know, something profound like "What the fuck‽"). And now I know what it's called. Thank you, interrobang. Thank you for being such an accommodating punctuation mark.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

One to Watch: Sarah Haskins

I think we'd all like to think that we've come a long way since these days:

Most product marketers nowadays don't need to be reminded that women have real buying power, but, unfortunately, there are still a glut of them out there who haven't quite figured out that we're real people too. Thankfully, Sarah Haskins over at's infoMania does a nice job of pointing out these ridiculous stereotypes and insults to our intelligence in her "Target Women" video segments. If you haven't seen one, you're missing out:

And it's not just me; Kate Harding over at Broadsheet has a girl crush on Ms. Haskins too. She's only been in L.A. for under a year, but people have already started to take notice, calling for her to be added to the cast of The Daily Show, and The Bastion and NPR have already cornered her for interviews. In the Bastion interview, she's asked if she's a feminist. Her answer: "Yes, I’m a feminist. . . . To me it means that as women we are individuals before we are gendered people and that we're not defined by our gender except in the ways we chose to appropriate that definition." Very nice. There are too many women out there who think feminism is a dirty word. I think Sarah, a Harvard grad, could easily join the ranks of smart comediennes like Tina Fey, also a product of Chicago's Second City. And that just makes me very very happy. There aren't nearly enough women of this ilk getting air time, if you ask me.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cheri, the Movie

It's come to my attention that I will soon share may name with a movie! Not as cool as sharing it with a town in southern Niger, but at least definitely cooler than sharing it . . . with a porn magazine/site [nsfw!]. (Yes, this is the 2nd time I've mentioned porn on my blog. Has she no sense of propriety? No, apparently not.) So, let's say the coolness level is somewhere on par with sharing it with delicious chocolate candy or a once-popular song by Stevie Wonder.

Anyway, the movie Chéri is in post-production, the screenplay an adaptation by Christopher Hampton of a novel by French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. This will not be the first time Hampton has teamed up with director Stephen Frears to make a movie. They also made another of my all-time favorite period pieces together - Dangerous Liaisons. In fact, this new film is a veritable DL reunion because also returning in a starring role is Michelle Pfeiffer as Lea de Lonval. (Chéri is actually played by a British actor named Rupert Friend. You see, in French, Chéri is the masculine form of the word darling; Chérie is the feminine. Yes, apparently my parents didn't know this - or, if they did, didn't care.)

The movie is set in 1920s Paris and promises to be very swoon-worthy. I can't wait. One knows how I love my period pieces.