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Even though I’ve been running for practically a decade, this time around feels like I’m running for the first time. Taking last year off from running & racing was a great decision.
In the past, my mental state definitely wasn’t very positive. And especially not during running. I generally say that I hate running. Even while doing it. Even after doing it. Even when racing. Even after running for so long. I say it is horrible terrible. I say that I hate running culture, and runners, and races, and outside, and parks, and shoes, and clothes, and gadgets. Everything. I would run and think to myself how much I hate everything. That is far from relaxing.
Now I’m at a point in my life where I can be kind to myself. I don’t have to be “that type of runner.” This race can be mine. My time is mine. My run is mine. These shoes are mine. Not yours.
I feel like I’m finally discovering all those things people have said about running. It can be relaxing. It is time for myself. It’s as hard as I make it. I don’t have to be fast. Listen to my body, instead of other’s.
As expected, this has really changed how I feel during running. Instead of negativity and anger filling up my head, I’m trying to empty it. Think positive or think nothing at all. The latter is what usually happens but that’s better than nothing.
This week I did not do a long run but I did listen to my body. I did some strength training, something I’ve never focused on before, and really enjoy it. It helps me feel fit all over. From that, I was feeling sore and tired. Listening to my body, I did some shorter comfortable run instead. I’m not racing to win, here.
Sub 2:15 Half Marathon – Week 5
Treadmill: 4 mi / 0:44:08 / 11:02 pace
Running: 2 mi / 0:20:00 / 10:00 pace
Treadmill: 3.1 mi / 0:34:40 / 11:10 pace
Elliptical: 1.86 mi / 0:20:00 / 10:45 pace
Week Total: 10.96 mi / 1h 59m 48s / 10:44 pace
Quesadilla’s are a staple of my cooking rotation. They can be as simple or complicated as I make them. Cheese ones are perfect for a quick dinner. Vegetable + chicken are perfect when I want something heartier. I always have my mexican spice mix on hand which adds just the right flavor.
This week I wanted to try something new with quesadilla’s. So with the help if the Internet, I decided to make a quesadilla quiche. A quiche-adilla if you will. It turned out really tasty and I definitely recommend it.
As I stated above, I was never a fan of running culture. So I never spent time reading books, magazines, articles, or anything else about running. It felt none of it related to how I ran. Or it perpetuated the running culture that I did not like. Either way, this is why I had never heard of George Sheehan until this year.
The Essential Sheehan is an anthology of sorts of selections from articles & books written by Dr. George Sheehan. Dr. Sheehan retired from cardiology at 44 and took up long distance running in the 70′s. He was one of the first to incorporate fitness into medical science. And looked at life and running in a different way.
It is notable that I read this book immediately following Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less because they are both quite similar. On the content that crosses over from one book to another, both author has the same opinion on it. The only difference is Babauta tells his in bullet points and Sheehan tells his in essay form. This is personal preference but I really enjoyed Sheehan’s essays. Adding context and personal stories can provide much more motivation than a simple bullet point statement.
For example, both authors say to start with one, simple goal. Don’t try to do too much at once. Don’t attempt to quit smoking and take up running in the same week. Don’t attempt to run a marathon a week into running. Sheehan provided examples that he saw from his fellow runners and even the mistakes he himself made. This really helped to hit home why doing these things were important.
Another example is both authors say to hold yourself back. Which might not make sense at first. Dr. Sheehan explains this is to prevent burn-out and injuries. He then tells stories of runners who take 3-6 months or more off after a race because of feeling staleness in running. Babauta explains burn-out as well but in terms of momentum. We start out a change with so much momentum and excitement that if we do too much at first, we will not be able to motivate ourselves when it becomes challenging. Even if you know you can 4 miles today instead of your usual 3, hold yourself back. Run 4 next week as that will give you something to look forward to.
I recommend Dr. Sheehan’s writings for everyone, runners and non-runners alike. He writes a lot of good life stories and incorporates positivity without this coming off as self-help at all. It is also interesting seeing his perspective change throughout his life. Since this is a collection of his works, he goes from being an intense racer to being a social runner. There are also some articles about his experience with cancer, which is a whole other thing altogether.
Why I Don’t Set Long Term Goals – Budget and the Beach
Traditional IRA: Saving Broke Millennials Hundreds of Dollars – Broke Millenial
Sunset Park is home of Brooklyn’s cheapest pizza pies – Brokelyn
10 Things I Like About Myself: A Link-Up – Avoiding Atrophy
Why My Business is Breaking Up With Facebook – Nuts + Bolts Media
This Infographic Shows You How to Delete Yourself from the Internet – Lifehacker
Onions! The Never-Made-the-NCAA Tournament Club, 2014 edition – SB Nation
Jobs & Life
A Day in the Life of a Cruise Ship Stage Manager
Living without a microwave takes some getting used to but after an adjustment, you really will not miss this appliance. I haven’t owned a microwave since living in nyc. Kitchens and your apartment in general is smaller than you’re used to. Counter space is a precious commodity!
Many apartments weren’t supposed to be apartments and have strange set-ups. Or have been remodeled so the layout no longer makes sense. For example, my kitchen has one outlet and it is on a wall that is opposite the counter. There is not an outlet accessible on my counter! I only have one electrical appliance (excluding refrigerator) out in the open, my stand mixer. This sits on a table in my foyer, where there is an outlet. Thankfully it’s a short distance between the two.
Usually I see microwaves on a table in the ‘living room’ or on top of the refrigerator making an awkward cord stretch to the nearest outlet. In such a small space, a microwave really isn’t necessary. Let’s think about the common things we use microwaves for and I’ll share my stove-top/oven alternatives.
My preferred method of microwave popcorn was using a paper bag and kernels. Thankfully I still had a lot of kernels leftover from my microwave days so I could use them to make stove-top popcorn. The only downside of making popcorn this way is you’ll have to wash an extra dish. But other than that, it tastes better and takes just as long as the microwave version.
This my favorite way to make stove-top popcorn. It never burns and practically all the kernels get popped.
You can also customize this to add any flavors or additions that you want. I put some salt into the oil so I don’t need to add as much later on. You can also put some salt on the unpopped kernels right after you put them in the oil. Or just wait until after. It’s flexible.
If you’re using the oatmeal packets, ditch them! There is so much unnecessary sodium and sugar in there. If you’re using the microwave to cook your oatmeal, forget it! Using the stove means no exploding cups of oatmeal.
To recreate the texture of the oatmeal packets, you’ll have to invest in a $9 food chopper. Even the frugal of you should be able to handle that. (They’re very multi-use. I also use mine to make hummus frequently).
This is my standard quick method. Oatmeal is so flexible. Honey and maple syrup are also great sweeteners. If you like creamier oatmeal, feel free to use milk. I just never have it on hand.
Here’s another ditch-the-packets item! Hot cocoa is essentially cocoa and sugar. You don’t need to buy a packet for that. Heating up cocoa on the stove is simple. But requires lots of stirring so the milk doesn’t scorch. This isn’t hard work.
That’s the basic recipe I use. You can also jazz up your hot cocoa with some cayenne in the dry mix.
Pour directly into mugs or use a ladle to serve.
The hardest part to adjust to cooking without a microwave is that it requires some patience. Not a lot. But not all food will be ready in a minute. Soup is one of these. Of course it took me a while to figure this out. As initially I would put the burner on high, then come back to the pot 1-2 mins later to find it scorched. I still ate it of course.
To properly warm up soup on the stove, keep the burner on low and stir. The good part is that you can eat it whenever it gets to your preferred temperature. I know you’re used to taking it out of the microwave boiling hot just to have to wait 5 minutes before it’s safe to eat.
Just keep taste testing it on the stove. Then take pour it into your bowl to eat when it’s just hot enough to be yummy without burning your tongue. If you’re eating canned soup, feel free to jazz it up with some spices you might have on hand. Pepper and parsley work well. Just stir them right in.
Now that I’ve been spoiled by reheating things on the stove or in the oven, every time I use the microwave at work to heat my lunch, it’s pretty gross. The outside is atomic hot and the inside is cold. Or the pizza is soggy. It’s never as good as it first was. Sure it only takes 30 seconds but it’s hardly worth it.
It will take longer to reheat food in the oven or on the stove. Again, this is nice in a way because you can take it out when it’s just warm enough for you to eat.
The key to oven reheating is setting the temperature at 200 or “warm”.
You want to warm it up, not cook it! This also prevents concerns about burning.
Reheating in the oven works great for pizza and casseroles. Even things like rice I’ve put in a baking dish covered with aluminum foil and reheat on low.
Sauces can be easily reheated on the stove.
Reheating via oven/stove also means you can add additional spices or add-ons to your leftovers to jazz it up. Add chicken to that mac n cheese. Or don’t. Totally up to you.
You probably know by now that scorching stuff on the stove is very easy to do and should be avoided at all costs. Chocolate is no different.
The preferred method is a double boiler. You can recreate this by heating water in a sauce pan on medium. Then put a stainless steel bowl inside the pan but not touching the water.
The idea is to heat the bottom of the bowl indirectly.
Add your baking chocolate pieces. There should be directions on the package as some melt differently.
Like most things on the stove, stir frequently! Stirring keeps everything in motion so they don’t have a chance to sit on the heat and burn.
As soon as the chocolate is melted through, turn the burner to low/off and use the chocolate asap. It can harden pretty quickly. If you need to soften it back up, just put the bowl back over your pot of water on low temperature.
Working with melted chocolate can be a pretty tedious process regardless if you’re using the stove or microwave.
Look, you shouldn’t be using a microwave to soften butter anyway!
You might not like this but you really gotta plan ahead. The best way to soften butter to make perfect cookies and other baked goods is simply by setting it out at room temperature. Yes, this requires some thinking ahead. But it is the only way to ensure they are melted through evenly.
If your butter is too soft your cookies will spread. If it’s too hard, they will stay flat. Butter is really important.
My personal trick for softening butter only works because my pilot light runs warm. I can put a stick of butter in the oven, with the oven off, and it’s warm enough to soften the butter (without melting it) faster than merely at room temperature. However, even this still requires planning ahead.
The first useful microwave-alternative is a rice cooker. It’s smaller and more portable. And it’s practically a crockpot. Here are some ideas for your rice cooker:
The second useful microwave-alternative is an electric tea kettle. This is also small and portable. This will save you from having to boil water on the stove every time you want to make oatmeal, tea, or whathaveyou.
An unavoidable caveat to not having a microwave is that you will dirty more dishes. One solution is to buy several oven-safe bowls for reheating that can also be eaten out of. But for things like soup or oatmeal in the pot. you will be dirtying two dishes. The pot you made it in and the vessel you ate it out of. It’s something you get used to.
I’ve started writing individual thoughts for each book I read per week in my Weekly Updates posts. Look at those to stay on top of what I’m reading. At the end of the month, I’ll list all the books read here with a mini-review of each.
Also reviewed in my weekly updates.
If you’re looking for books to read in March, start right here with Horns by Joe Hill. This is one of the more intriguing and well-balanced novels I’ve read in a while.
First there’s the plot. Main character Ig woke up after a long night of drinking with a hangover and horns on growing of his head. Yes, like devil horns. Along with the horns comes the ability to see into someone’s mind at just a touch. Along with other’s telling him their sins. Both things are more of a boon than a gift.
On top of this, is the real meat behind the story. About a year ago, Ig had been accused of raping & killing his girlfriend after they had a loud public break-up. He was never charged nor cleared. Using his new-found ability to see people’s memories at just a touch, he is able to go back in time and discover what happened that night.
Hill technique of writing different perspectives from different characters works very well. Some characters are left in the dust but that can’t be helped. Everyone in the book is terrible. Except Ig and his girlfriend I guess. I suppose we would all sound terrible if you only knew us by our sins.
The book doesn’t go too supernatural or too horror at all. It is curious and adventurous. You really start to feel for the main character which is a strange emotional conflict because at the same time he is turning into a devil. The ending was all that I hoped it to be. No letdown. No soft ending.
I haven’t read any other of his novels but am certainly looking forward to what Hill brings us in the future.
I recommend Horns if you like light supernatural or light mystery novels.
As a web analyst and someone who likes numbers & spreadsheets, I thought this would be more interesting than it was. Silver stays to his argument pretty well, which is that forecasts should be flexible to various environmental changes (whether that’s biological or economical).
Unfortunately, his writing and multiple examples muddle this argument throughout the entire book. He is very long-winded and repetitive. For a book on numbers, there are far too many words.
His examples are good, following the recent economical recession, baseball, and the weather. The weather section was the most interesting for me, probably because it directly affects me most regularly. With that said, reading this did motivate me to watch Moneyball, which I recommend. In fact, I suggest watching that movie over reading this book – something I don’t do very often.
I recommend The Signal and The Noise if you like economics.
Warren Ellis is known as a comic book writer and that is very clear in the novel Gun Machine. It is also clear that without the support of illustrations, Ellis cannot tell a complete story.
I absolutely loved this story right up until the end. Seriously, the last 5 pages were SO BAD that it completely ruined everything before that. Which is a shame because boy were the first parts good!
Ellis does a great job setting a scene and atmosphere. Since the story is set in NYC (kind of in this world, kind of not), there were definitely times that I felt creeped out reading this in my apartment alone. There is a real sense of fear, dread, and mystery built around the killer. Unfortunately, what starts out as brilliantly ominous turns into a joke by the end of the book.
I recommend Gun Machine, if you like comics, detective stories, and creepy atmosphere’s. With that said, be prepared for a shallow ending.
Also reviewed in my weekly updates.
This part memoir-part environmentalism story works surprisingly well. This is the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tried to be. McMaster’s grew up in the Long Island town she writes about, providing the reader with a unique and emotional perspective of growing up in a town where the near-by national laboratory happens to have a leaky reactor. The juxtaposition between her warm childhood memories in the first part of the book, with the sudden change in tone when the community starts getting sick is a perfect balance.
The second part of the book involves more of her research and discussions on activism within the community. The first part is straight-forward memoir. I could complain that the research is a bit soft but it’s actually perfect for the type of story she is trying to tell. Being able to see the experience through the eyes of someone who lived through it and just as important as reading legal transcripts and government reports.
I recommend Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town if you like memoirs, like Long Island area stories, like reading about the health impact of toxins released into the environment.
Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams (not that John Williams) is a tricky one. The writing is great as to be expected. The plot is very western as it’s about buffalo hunting and exploring the wild west. It is West in the sense that the only female characters in the book are whores. And the novel focuses on four men. One man in particular reminds me of the gruff western characters in True Grit. Then another man is softer, fresh from an Ivy League school on the east coast wanting to explore the new wild country. This should be a coming-of-age tale but falls a bit short.
The middle section of the book is pretty dry and I almost gave up on it, thinking I already knew the ending. But Williams surprised me. The ending was not quite what I expected and actually pulled everything together very well. But first, you have to get through some pretty gruesome buffalo hunting scenes involving killing animals for hide (and leaving the rest of them to rot). Williams also goes into detail on the skinning process. It was a little bit graphic and I have no idea if it was accurate.
There is kind of a lesson told in the story but again falls short there too. After some thought, I’m really not sure what the story was supposed to tell. A lot of it was predictable and then nothing really happened afterward. This is the second Williams book I’ve read so I might wait some time before checking out another one.
I recommend Butcher’s Crossing if you’re interested in westerns, men’s men, and hunting.
I love Zen Habits but really did not enjoy this book. Leo Babauta has a great personality, a good life story, and excellent writing style. Zen Habits is very easy to read and never comes off preachy. This book would have been better as a collection of his essays or even an autobiography type of story.
Unfortunately, it is straight-forward self-help which really leaves little explanation of how to do anything. Babauta can write too well to be using bullet points.
I recommend subscribing to Zen Habits for motivation and productivity. Skip the book.
I wish I never started writing about my training. Because now I have to admit to all my mistakes. In week 4, I skipped my long run, again. That’s twice in a row. I spent a lot of time beating myself up over it, which certainly didn’t help anything. I need to remind myself that it’s still February. I have three solid months before the race.
Training is starting to be a boon to my working out. If I miss a day I feel guilty for most of the morning. Missing a day certainly isn’t going to seriously affect my running. And for the four half marathons I ran in the past, I never even trained at all! I need to relax and enjoy what I’m doing – currently working on the mental aspect of running which I’ve never been very good at.
Aside from cardio, I have began taking advantage of the other stuff in the gym by strength training. I’ve got a handle on lat pull downs and the leg press. Then at home I can do some squats, stair work, and lunges. Surprisingly, I’ve never done any of this stuff before. It was always only about the running. Probably because that’s the free part.
Sub 2:15 Half Marathon – Week 4
Treadmill: 5 mi / 56m 22s / 11:16 pace
Spinning: 4.7 mi / 20m
Elliptical: 0.9mi / 10m
Running: 4.7mi / 55m 56s / 11:54 pace – Ocean Parkway to Coney Island
Week Total: 15.3 mi / 2h 22m 18s / 11:35 pace
Several years ago I wrote about bringing diy oatmeal with you to work. But since then I’ve perfected this!
Here’s what I do for an individual serving but I suggest multiplying this and storing the bulk mix in a jar. Then when you want oatmeal in the morning, just take out about a quarter cup and you should be good to go.
Ideally, this requires use of a food chopper or food processor. I bought this mini food chopper for $9.
Add these to your food chopper then run for about 30 seconds. This mixes everything together, gets rid of brown sugar lumps, chops up the nuts, and cuts the oats almost to a flour texture. That is the key! Adding this “oat flour” helps thickens your oatmeal and makes it very creamy without needing milk.
In a plastic bag or container (I use a small tumbler glass covered with saran wrap), put in another 2 Tablespoons of quick oats, then add your blended mixture. This is one serving.
To eat, pour very hot water into the oats, stir. Let sit for 1+ minutes. Water & sit time depend on your preference of thickness. I prefer mine thicker while a friend prefers to drink his.
This is a quick and super filling breakfast, especially great for wintertime. I promise it will leave your belly warm and full.
There’s more I could say about this book but really it comes down to this: just read his blog
After this, I started reading “The Essential Sheehan” which is a compilation of various George Sheehan articles and talks. He was a runner but what he talks about can apply to life in general. A lot of his principles over lap with Leo Babauta’s as well, so I will write about them as one next week.
The Cost of Living in Paradise – Budget and the Beach
114 Side Hustles: Ways to Make Money – Broke Girl Rich
Running Every Block in Ditmas Park – The Weekly Nabe
There are three separate new york city library systems that run independently from each other. The New York Public Library (NYPL) serves Manhattan, Bronx, and Staten Island. The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) only serves Brooklyn and the Queens Library (QL) only serves Queens.
Combined, these three systems have 209 branches total with 63 million items in their collections.
Library cards at all of the library systems are free and you will need a separate card for each system. Check online for your local branch hours as they are pretty limited. Donate to your local branch! Maybe someday they’ll have Sunday hours!
The NYPL is the second largest public library in the US with 53 million items. Their collections span from books to maps to historical documents. Many of these items can only viewed in the building but you are welcome to schedule a viewing for free.
The main branch of NYPL, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, does not allow any books to be taken out of it. Go here for beautiful architecture and use a different branch to read and take out books.
NYPL consists of 77 neighborhood branches in the three boroughs of Manhattan, Bronx, and Staten Island. This means you can get books from any of these branches transferred to your near-by branch. That is a near endless selection of books!
If NYPL’s branches aren’t enough, you can also take out from the Brooklyn Public Library‘s 58 neighborhood branches.
You do not need to live in Brooklyn to get a library card from here. But you do need to hold residence or employment in NYC. BPL library card holders can get linked to NYPL and take out books using the same card. However, books must be returned to a branch within their system. And you cannot request books from out of a library system. BPL stays within BPL.
If you still can’t find what you need, the Queens Library system has 62 neighborhood branches. You must get a separate QL card to take out from any of these branches. You cannot take out books from any other system using this card.
As an avid reader, I love exploring the numerous independent bookstores NYC has to offer. Unfortunately, this can quickly become an expensive habit. I didn’t right away think of going to the library because I thought my local branch might not have what I was looking for. Then I learned about putting books on hold. And my life was changed forever.
Since there are so many branches in all of the systems, your local branch may not have the specific book you’re looking for. No worries, just get yourself to an Internet device and go the library website.
On their website, search for the book you want to read. At the search results, find the format you want it in. Many libraries offer e-book and audiobook versions, along with paper. Right on the search screen, it shows you which locations the book is available to take out and how many other folks are waiting for the book.
If you don’t mind the wait, click “Place A Hold.” Then select which branch you would like it sent to. Now, when a copy becomes available, it will be automatically transferred to your local branch!
Putting books on hold is fun! It’s like adding items to a shopping cart except your total is zero every time.
And with the free price tag, you do have to wait days/weeks/months sometimes for a popular or rare book. If you really want to read it so bad, no one is stopping you from buying it. Besides, I like when a book on hold suddenly becomes available to me. It’s like a little surprise birthday present!
NPYL will email you when any of the books on your hold list become available at your local branch. You will then have about two weeks to pick it up before it gets put back in circulation.
Books on hold are usually on shelves in the front of each branch with printed numbers on pieces of paper on each side. For NYPL, these are the last four numbers on your library card. BPL is different. Ask your librarian the first time if you need assistance.
You can continuously check your hold list (as I do) to see where you are on the wait list. The status will also change when a book you requested is in transit.
With my love for libraries exposed, I want to add that I do still buy books! If a book I read from the library was amazing, I will go buy it. If I want to keep a book for reference, I will go buy it. Using the library for books saves me money on books I would not want to buy. Books that I heard were good but I did not enjoy. There’s plenty of them out there.
Since libraries are in desperate need of funding I wanted to highlight some other useful things libraries do other than loan out free books! All of the NYPL branches of free wi-fi. There are often tables and chairs for reading, studying, working. Some branches of tables and outlets to use as laptop workstations. These resources are all free. No coffee purchase required.
There are also classes, book groups, tax help, and more offered. Take a look at the bulletin board at your local branch to see all upcoming events.
Stacking Benjamins wrote a wonderful post about how getting out of debt isn’t a goal. Debt is an obstacle getting in the way of you reaching your goals.
Your goal shouldn’t be to get out of debt. Your goal shouldn’t be to early retire. Your goal shouldn’t be to get X degree.
I wouldn’t say this if I hadn’t experienced it.
Because I was actively discouraged from going to college by my mother and stepfather, I made up my mind that I was going to prove them wrong. They told me numerous times that I would get knocked up and drop out of school. They said I would move back in a year because it was too hard. They said I wouldn’t be able to handle it. They said I wasn’t smart enough. They said I would fall in love and get married. They said a lot of things to keep me under their control in a hostile living environment.
I spent my four years of undergraduate remembering every hurtful thing they said. And every day I lived to “prove them wrong.” I was going to college to “prove them wrong.” I graduated just to “prove them wrong.”
And I did prove them wrong. I didn’t get knocked up. I didn’t drop out. I didn’t move back. I have a college degree.
Once I graduated, I stopped and asked myself, “what now?” I was only 21 and already achieved the only goal I had been focusing on. I proved them wrong…. and so what?
Did they care? Nope. Did it make me feel better? A little bit. But I had never stopped to think about what college would provide me. I never made goals past graduating. I didn’t have plans of what I actually wanted to do with that degree. I focused so long and hard on obtaining it. What was I supposed to do with it?
There can be a tunnel vision with goals. It is important to stop away for a moment and ask yourself:
Why is this important?
Do I still want this?
What will this get me?
What will I do after this goal is reached?
Especially for long-term goals like debt repayment, schooling, and entrepreneurship. Your values change over the years. Your goals and priorities change over the years.
When thinking about the student loan debt I still owe, I’ve been telling myself “I want to be debt free” for a while now. I will feel better. I will be able to say it. I am tired of ‘being in debt.’ But when I stop to think about what that debt is preventing me from doing… I can’t think of a thing. I could travel more but that’s not something I’m sad about now. I would have a big emergency fund, but again not a big deal. Luxuries. I am missing out on luxuries.
This helps to provide a release. I have my repayment plan in place (automatic withdrawals) so I don’t need to spend mental exhaustion worrying about my debt. It’s there but it’s not hurting me. I don’t need to let it hurt me. Instead I can focus on bigger things. Let the debt sit on the back burner. Because what will happen when I pay it off. I didn’t have a plan last time so I better get one now.
Let’s take a minute to reassess goals you may have now. Generally, “getting rid of X” isn’t a good motivator which is why we often don’t do it. Instead you need to look at why you want to get rid of X. Whether it’s getting rid of debt, getting rid of clutter, getting rid of clothes that don’t fit, or getting rid of negative influences; without having a solid reason to focus on, you will never do these things.
Stop and think for a minute, how will you feel when these things are out of your life? Now, what will you be able to do in your life without them that you cannot currently do now?
Really take a minute to think about it and write it down. How will your life be different after you’ve gotten rid of these things? I could simplify my thought of “prove them wrong” to actually be “getting rid of negative influences.” I wish I had that chance to stop and think about what I could do with my life once those influences were gone.
Thinking about “removing something” because you don’t like it or it makes you feel bad puts a lot of focus on that “something”. You are spending a lot of energy thinking about that “something.” Saying “I want to get rid of debt” puts so much energy onto the word “debt”. You are constantly thinking about debt and how you don’t want it. I was constantly thinking about my negative family and all the hurtful things they said. By saying “prove them wrong”, I was focusing on “them” rather than on me.
Change these negatives to a positive! Replace the word “remove” with “build”. Replace “get rid of” with “gain”. You don’t want to get rid of debt, you want to build a solid financial future. You want to build a cushy emergency fund. You want to gain travel experiences. You want to gain business opportunities.
I didn’t want to prove my negative family wrong, I wanted to gain an education. I wanted to build a solid foundation for my future. I wanted to gain independence. I wanted to build a strong life for myself and my own family down the line.
Start thinking long-term about what you want out of life. Think about what is preventing you from doing things. And what things are you being prevented from doing. Focus on positive words like growing, gaining, building, or learning. Give less energy to the words that bring negative feelings like debt, work, “them”, or clutter.
Last week I wrote about the beginning of my training for the Brookyln Half in May. This is the first time I’ve really adhered to a training schedule instead of just winging it before a race. For me, having a gym membership really has helped keep me on track and provide motivation. Sure the treadmill isn’t the same environment as outdoors but I no longer have weather-related excuses.
I’ve also started cross training for the first time in my life. Not belonging to a gym and wanting to keep my workouts as cheap as possible, I’ve pretty much only engaged in running as a workout. I’ve dabbled in pilates but that gets expensive fast. I have a bicycle now but that’s been impossible to ride outdoors this winter. I like being able to do more than run. The gym allows me to learn new workouts and use new muscles of my body. For as much as I’ve ran, I can tell you that some days on the elliptical are downright tough. Do you know how out of shape that makes me feel? I can run 10 miles but doing two minutes in reverse on the elliptical has me in tears!
My training plan doesn’t include cross training so I’m trying to integrate it myself. I believe in the necessity of rest days so instead of doing 4/5 miles on a Tuesday, I’ll do half running and half elliptical. Or half spin and half weights. If anyone has a good strength training routine for runners, please share!
Sub 2:15 Half Marathon – Week 3:
Treadmill: 3.15 miles in 37 mins with a pace of 0:11:51/mi
Elliptical: 1.97 miles in 25 mins with a pace of 0:12:41/mi
Treadmill: 3.11 miles in 39 mins with a pace of 0:12:42/mi
Treadmill: 5 miles in 1 hr with a pace of 0:12:00/mi
Week Total: 13 miles in 2 hr 41 min with an average pace of 0:12:18/mi
All week long I felt tired and out of it. Even after sleeping for 10 hours Fri and Sat nights, I was still groggy. Listening to my body, I decided to skip running 10-miles on Sunday. I just didn’t have it in me. On Monday I did five-miles on the treadmill and it felt much more comfortable than any of my runs the previous week. Ramping up my mileage so much has definitely taken a toll on my body. I want to avoid injuries as much as possible and will listen closely to my body from here on out. Missing one long-run isn’t going to ruin my entire training.
As a lover of instrumental rock, I thought I’d share some of my favorite experimental/math/post/ambient rock bands. I even made a Spotify playlist for you!
Spotify Playlist: The Instrumental List
Here’s a sample of what this is like. You’ve probably heard a few This Will Destroy You songs by now, they’ve been used in commercials and on soundtracks:
Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town by Kelly McMasters is a very well-written and researched memoir + environmentalism piece of non-fiction. McMaster’s moved to the town of Shirley, Long Island when she was a child and shares the pleasant memories she had of the town growing up. The community feels real to the reader and the writing sincere. This isn’t just anyone writing the story of a toxic town. This is someone who actually lived in it.
Hearing the quirky stories from her point of view really allows the reader to grow with McMasters. You start out viewing the town positively, though always knowing in the background that something toxic is lurking. Yet when it finally comes into the picture, it is still rather surprising.
McMaster’s does a great job at keeping this memoir more about the town than about her. The entire time she focuses on sharing her experiences with the town, rather than simply her life growing up.
Reading Welcome to Shirley reminded me of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Both stories went between sharing researched information and also sharing personal experiences. However, McMaster’s really has an advantage here. Since she grew up there, she never passed judgement. Skloot on the other hand, tried too hard to give the Lacks’ family some credit and turned the second half of the book into a circus. McMaster’s doesn’t have this problem because she is honest. When she explains the day she realized that Shirley was not a nice place to live and was actually thought of as “white trash” by the nearby Hamptons’ folks, you can really feel for her.
This is certainly more of a memoir than a heavily researched piece of environmental activism. With that said, McMaster’s did do a good job interviewing locals and employees from the Brookhaven Laboratory – the site of the toxins leaking into Shirley causing an abnormal rise in breast & rare cancers in residents.
As a perfect combination of light yet researched non-fiction that is told by someone who lived through it and not just a scientist or doctor, I really recommend Welcome to Shirley. The writing is tight and the story is very readable – McMaster’s rarely loses focus of the story she’s telling: 4/5 rating from me.
How I Conduct My Business – Zen Habits
How Non-Theater People Can Make Money in Theater – Broke Girl Rich
Freelance Business & Taxes – Diversified Finances
7 Tips to Raising a Financially Fit Kid – Financially Blonde
One of the better 1980′s teen Cusack films about a guy, Lloyd Dobbler, who loves a girl, Diane Court. It’s that simple. He loves her more than anything. It’s not romantic as much as it’s a fact. This is what he does. He loves Diane. What is he going to do with his life? Love Diane.
“Say Anything” is a bit of a departure from the Molly Ringwald John Hughes teen movies from the 1980′s. It’s a little simpler and a little less hokey.
Starring: John Cusack
Runtime: 100 min
Leslie Rating: 3/5
Summary: “What I really want to do with my life – what I want to do for a living – is I want to be with your daughter. I’m good at it.”
1) Marry a rich man
2) Send in daughter to seduce new husband
3) Catch him in an affair with “another woman”
4) Divorce him and take all his $$
Sigourney Weaver and daughter Jennifer Love Hewitt have this plan down to a science. But what will happen when one of them actually falls for someone? Who knows! But I bet Jason Lee is going to find out.
Look, the plot is corny as hell but the movie knows what it is. Plus, the chemistry between the actor’s really helps to save things. All in all, Heartbreakers is better than it sounds, I promise.
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jason Lee, Gene Hackman
Runtime: 122 min
Leslie Rating: 3/5
Summary: Cheesy gold-digger plot but Hewitt and Lee’s interactions save the film
Here’s a small tip of the hat to Philip Seymour Hoffman in a lesser role.
For those of you who want to learn the art of manipulation, you only need to do two things: 1) Read “How to Win Friends & Influence People” and 2) Watch “Leap of Faith”
Steve Martin plays Jonas Nightingale, an evangelist preacher who puts on a big show and will happily take all your donations. The plot revolves around them getting stuck in downtrodden Rustwater, Kansas so they make the best of it and put on a big show. There’s some cheesy subplots where one of his crew falls in love with Liam Neeson in 3 days. Neeson, by the way, is the sherriff of this small town though there is no explanation of his background. Okay.
Meat Loaf and Philip Seymour Hoffman play as two members of the Nightingale crew. There’s a cute scene where Steve Martin is rocking out to “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”. Otherwise, Meat Loaf plays organ the whole time while Hoffman flirts with teen moms.
This is a Steve Martin film in the sense it’s not quite the feel-good story it could be. And it works just fine that way.
Starring: Steve Martin, Liam Neeson, Meat Loaf, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Runtime: 107 min
Leslie Rating: 3/5
Summary: A satirical look at con-men evangelists and small town hopes.
The small town I grew up in is surrounded by factories. Our town was centered around an International Paper mill (closed in 2002). A lot of my family has worked at factories as it is one of the better paying (for no education) jobs around.
In the summer of 2001, between my freshmen and sophomore college years, I was employed by Tyco Kendall at their manufacturing plant in Argyle, NY (pop. 3,700 as of 2010). A lot of this is going off of decade-old memories so take this as you will.
The gender make-up of the plant was 75% women due to the clean work environment. Only medical supplies were produced there so everything was sterile and clean. Hair nets were required for all hair (including men’s facial hair). The building was temperature controlled because windows couldn’t be opened (to avoid air contaminants). Many assembly line positions had chairs so you could sit during your tasks.
I learned about this job opportunity from my brother who was working there at the time. We were both working night-shift and carpooled. The job was different for both of us. I was working there as a summer job to pay for next year’s tuition. He was a 35-year old with a wife and two kids.
The rumor around the plant was Tyco Kendall were employing summer help to stock up on inventory before closing the plant to move to Mexico within the next year or two.
And that’s exactly what they did; 335 employees lost their job when the plant closed in 2003.
Manufacturing currently done at Kendall Sherwood will be moved to Tijuana, Mexico. The Mexican plant is newer and more technologically advanced than the one in Argyle, said Gary Holmes, a company spokesman. Holmes declined to say if labor costs factored into the company’s decision.
Working in a factory on night shift is a strange work week. Your week starts Sunday night at 11:00pm and ends Thursday morning at 7:00am. We, surprisingly, had weekends off. Meaning Friday night and Saturday night. However, because our schedule was so off during the week, having two “normal” days was never enough to get back on a normal schedule. I had never felt so tired as that summer. I could never get enough rest.
Working night shift also means that you didn’t always have time to do errands, like going to the bank. I remember a few times going to the grocery store, bank, or library at 8/9am and feeling like a zombie because I had been up all night. Forcing myself to stay up those extra hours just so I could do errands like a ‘normal’ person.
Working night shift did have one perk – a small pay increase. We were paid $0.75/hr more for working nights. If I remember correctly, this made our hourly wage $10.75. Minimum wage at the time was $5.15/hr, so this was ‘good money’.
At the beginning of my shift, I’d walk in the building and punch in immediately. Then head to the locker rooms to put on a smock over my clothes and put on a hair net. Remember, sterile environment. Also in the locker room was the day’s schedule. We were each assigned to a machine & starting position.
You were on the same machine all day long but assembly line positions changed every 30 minutes. There were bells, like in high school, that sounded for each shift, position, and break change. Our shift started at 11:00pm and we started at the position initially assigned to us. Every 30 minutes a bell would ring in the machine room signalling us to move to the next position on the line.
According to employees who had been working there for years, the 30-minute period was rather new. Some remembered when you sat at one position on the line for the entire 8-hour work day. Then it was broken down to four hours, then one hour, then finally every 30 minutes. Even though you’re still doing repetitive monotonous activity all night long, breaking it up into small sections was helpful mentally.
We were allowed two sanctioned breaks: A 10-minute break from 1:30-1:40am and a 20-minute lunch break from 4:15-4:35am. Even though these were both signaled by a bell, you couldn’t actually leave your position until you were relieved by another worker.
Similarly, if you needed a bathroom break at any non-break time during your shift, you needed to draw the attention of a supervisor to take your positions on the line. As they were running around to different machines, it was sometimes difficult to find one. And there was nothing you could do about it. Your actions revolve around the machine. It doesn’t stop because you need to stop.
I was on one machine about 95% of the time. The machine I used the most was Machine 13. When I came in, I would see on the schedule next to my name “13-coiler” or “13-glue1″. Something like that. It told you the machine you would be on that night and your starting position.
On this machine there were seven positions. Seven employees. There were three machines in this one giant room. I drew a little graphic above to help you mentally picture it.
I learned from the other employees that back in the day, each of these three machines required seven workers. That’s 21 employees plus additional supervisors at each machine. The women I worked with remembered the room full of workers, their friends. They remembered being able to yell to someone at another machine or jokes that could be passed around the room. They painted a jovial picture of chatter among the monotonous work.
Over the years, two of the machines had robotic arms installed. One robotic arm took the place of six workers. A room of 21 assembly line workers dwindled down to 9. The women who had been working here for years literally saw their coworkers replaced by robots.
The machine I worked on made medical tubing, like for IVs. The machine created the connectors and the tubes, then we had to glue the connector onto each end of the tube, feed it into a coil machine & package, then inspect each package to make sure the seal was tight. A non-tight seal meant the product would become non-sterile and useless.
Glue 1 & 2
You and another employee are sitting on the same side of the table at a distance away from each other. It’s not too far but far enough that you couldn’t maintain a conversation with them. As you sit there, a clear tube appears on the assembly belt in front of you. You and the other gluer each grab an end and remove it from the belt. You are working with the same tube so these movements have to be coordinated. If two gluers have different paces, this can become frustrating. There is a small basin in front of you where you can put the tubes to collect if you need to. Each tube needs to be taken off the assembly belt immediately. The machine waits for no one.
You both take an end of the tube and insert it into a hole in a container next to you. This puts industrial strength glue onto the end of the tube. This glue, which you inhale the fumes of all night long, has the wonderful side effect of drowsiness.
There is a little container of blue connectors next to you. Once there is glue at the end of the tube, stick a connector on it then the both of you have to coordinate putting it back on the assembly belt for it to move onto the next position. The belt only moved in one direction.
There were four glue positions, two on each side of the table. You couldn’t easily talk to the person next to you but could talk to the person across from you. Sometimes you did, sometimes you didn’t.
There was part of the machine that would coil the tube and put it into a small half envelope. You would put the tube + envelope in a large sterile package . Then you ran it through a hot-glue sealing belt so the package was securely sealed. This was important because if the seal is not perfectly closed, the tube would then become non-sterile and couldn’t be used in the hospital/medical facility it was delivering to.
This position was one of the trickiest. You had to coordinate with the gluers because whenever they put a tube back on the belt, it would immediately go to you to get coiled. Sometimes you needed to replace the envelopes or packages in the machine. A rather scary task because if you were too slow a metal plate would come down on your fingers. Remember, you can’t just stop the machine. You could tell the gluers to wait a few seconds but this just meant that they got backed up and you’d have to make up for it later.
We did have a sign in the cafeteria that said “It’s been ___ days since an injury in this workplace.” I think the highest number I saw it get up to was 5.
The last position was that of inspection and you were placed at a table outside the main machine room. The job of the inspector was to collect the packaged tubes, inspect them for contamination, then put them in cardboard boxes for shipment. If you didn’t think some packages were sealed enough you would have to bring them back in to the coilers.
This inspection position was the only remaining human position for the machines manned by robotic arms. The robotic arm handled the gluing, coiling, and sealing, but they still needed a human to check for contamination and fill the boxes. The arm didn’t always work correctly and sometimes it would seal the packages crooked. An employee would then have to go back and reseal them all by hand. Many times the robotic arms were down completely. I have no idea how the cost analysis broke down for that.
There’s something strange about working on a machine that never stops. Knowing that the person who replaces you at the end of your shift can do the same exact thing you were doing. Not better. There is no better. If you show up, you’re doing great. The machine I was on required black & white skills. Either you did your job or you didn’t. You either kept up with the machine or you didn’t. No one could be an individual and just go their own way. No one could ever stand out and shine. It wasn’t possible to glue the connectors “better” than the person before you. You couldn’t coil faster than the machine allowed you to. It was not only monotonous in action but also in overall performance.
There was little training. There was zero creativity. The job allowed for a lot of thinking time, both good and bad. And a lot of boredom. Talking to others was allowed. Sometimes you could distract yourself but usually you couldn’t. This was not a job you could use as an escape from your real life. If you have something on your mind bothering you, you’ll likely be dwelling on it for 8 hours because your brain isn’t doing much else. On the plus side, having that much ‘free brain time’ is nice if you are creative to use for brainstorming, etc. It’s hard to say what filled the brains of the long-term workers there.
I mentioned earlier about human workers being replaced by robots but you can see why that is so easy with some of these tasks.
Every hire had to become part of the Union and dues were automatically taken out of our pay checks. You couldn’t work there unless you were in the Union. This didn’t affect me as I was there for such a short time. But I heard from others that the Union was helpful in negotiating time off and pay increases.
From time to time I heard about open supervisor positions that employees could apply for. Though I am not sure the education required or the hiring process.
My experience working on an assembly line was very different form most since I was not counting on that job or money for my livelihood. I remember some nights a machine would break down or the factory would lose power and we were sent home early. That is money lost. I can’t imagine hearing that my place of employment for years is being shut down and moved to Mexico. I have no idea how hard it is knowing that my friends used to do what that robotic arm is doing now. While the daily tasks I performed there were not challenging physically or mentally, I can see working there full-time to be an emotional challenge.
Hopefully I will not be employed in such a position in the future but I am glad to have had the unique experience. If you’re curious about anything else on this experience, let me know below.
“Gyms Are Bad”
I’ve heard so many negative things about gyms from bloggers, runners, and well, everyone. I never even considered one until very recently. I heard that you’re not a real runner if you run on a treadmill. (And apparently you’re not a real runner if you run below a 10 min mi/pace so there goes my title). I heard that gyms are a waste of money. I heard that gyms are an uncomfortable environment for women. I heard a lot of things. But mainly due to the cost, I have always ran outside. I’ve been running outside since I started running for health back in college (over a decade ago!)
But it’s cold outside!
Recently I realized that I haven’t been running because of the weather. It’s been cold, snowy, and rainy here in nyc. It’s hard to motivate yourself to run in those conditions. I’m sure ‘real runners’ do it all the time. So call me lazy but I have no desire to go run in a blizzard. So, I decided, that something is better than nothing despite what “everyone” else says. At the beginning of February I joined a gym.
Maybe it depends on the gym
Unlike the chain gyms, this is a private facility. It is very nyc-esque in it’s size. A reviewed referred to it as a hotel gym. There aren’t classes and the treadmills don’t have screens. But everyone who’s there, is there to work out, not instagram themselves. Thankfully the pricing isn’t contract based. So after I did a trial run of 3 days/$25, I signed up for a full month for $50. I plan to do this for the wintry month of February. I’ll gauge the weather for March. Then probably go back in the summer because running in July is just as bad as running in a blizzard.
Yep, I’m not a real runner
I guess I’m not a real runner because I don’t mind the treadmill. I like that I can control my pace. I’ve tried using a Garmin watch and it’s just too distracting for me. I don’t like to run with any gadgets. So the Treadmill is nice that it provides me all the information of a gadget without actually getting in the way.
Running is Boring
The “treadmills are boring” argument doesn’t up for me. In my opinion, running is boring. Running is hard. Whether you’re outside or inside or on the moon, running 9 miles is a challenge. Sure, outside the scenery changes. But things change inside too. The one disadvantage I’ve found on the treadmill is that at anytime, I can just stop and walk the three blocks home. When I’m out on a long run, even if I stop running, I still have to either walk to a train or walk the rest of the way home – so I might as well just keep running. For the record, I have yet to stop mid-run on the treadmill and bail.
After running four half-marathons and not using an actual training plan, I’ve decided to try one this time. I’m currently following Run Keeper’s Sub 2:15 Half Marathon Training Plan. I’m at the end of the third week now. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a safe snow-cleared path for the 10 miler scheduled on Sunday.
Using a Training Plan
I’m enjoying following a training schedule. It takes a lot of the guess work out of running. Instead of asking myself how far I feel like running today, I already know how far I have to run. Whether I feel like it or not. It also forces me to do speed work. Without ever using a treadmill, I’ve never been able to really do speed work. I’m excited to give that a go and hopefully will see improvements.
In the spirit of taking advantage of my $50/mo gym membership, I’m also trying to use some of the other equipment like the elliptical and weights to build up my strength in other places. I have been running for a decade but that’s it. I haven’t done much other cross-training other than biking around Manhattan in the summer. Doing non-running workouts helps to bring more variety into my life as well.
Fine, I don’t actually hate running
One thing I’ve been trying to incorporate into this training is a positive attitude. Although I have been running for over 10 years, I have never enjoyed it. I can flat out say that I hate running. It is always hard. It is never fun. I hate runners. I hate how expensive running clothes are. I hate the pretentious attitude in the running world. I hate I hate I hate. Clearly, thinking such negativity is not helping my running! So instead of telling myself how stupid running is while I’m running. I’m trying to flip this around a little bit. I’ve been saying, “I don’t feel like doing this right now but I’m already here so let’s make the best of it.” It’s actually been helping!
Training for Speed
Again, I’ve been running for a long time but never cared about speed. My half marathon PR is 2:20, which I’m proud of. Since I have ran four of these races, I’ve decided to try to up the challenge by using this sub 2:15 training plan. It would be nice to PR this one. I’m guessing this will be my last half for a while. I don’t really enjoy the races (as I don’t enjoy running culture). I’d prefer to just run 4-5 miles in the morning to keep up my health. I don’t really need long runs or speed work if I’m not racing.
Here’s the first two weeks of my sub 2:15 training plan workouts:
# Workouts: 5
# Workouts: 5
“Horns” by Joe Hill is a great page-turner that is not quite fantasy and not quite horror, but it is about the Devil. I appreciate Joe Hill not trying to bank on his father’s name, Stephen King. Especially because the writing is so different. I enjoyed this more than most of King’s stories.
Hill tells the story from almost every character’s perspective, which keeps things interesting even though it is the same story each time. Using the multiple perspective technique, eventually you are able to piece together the entire story.
At it’s heart, this is a mystery crime solver. The story starts by the main character, Ig, waking up with horns and with some strange super powers. As the story goes on, you never learn why this has happened to him but that isn’t really important. The crime happened a year ago when Ig’s girlfriend was found raped and murdered in the woods on the same night she broke up with him loudly at a bar. Everyone in town and his family assumed he did it but he was never charged nor cleared. The story of that night unravels through the perspectives of various characters until you finally learn who did it.
The Devil’s powers are explained well and I enjoyed seeing the transformation of Ig from “a man with Horns growing out of his head” into a full fledged red devil with a pitchfork. It’s an easy read but well-written. The characters could have been a bit less caricature but it worked fine in this story.
I rate it 3/5 and recommend it as a good weekend read.
Six Ways to Increase Productivity and Get Shit Done – Johnny Moneyseed
Best Manhattan Coffee Shops by Subway Stop via Poncho
February statistically proven to have the shittiest movies – AV Club
Affordability in Kensington – NY Times
Letting Go of Judging People – Zen Habits