What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

26 July 2008

12 Days, 20 Hours

Only two weeks until the Olympics begin! Yes, I am excited at the prospect. Why? Well, for one thing, there is currently nothing on TV worth watching. Okay, there is the Tour de France, but I don't have cable, so I'm stuck with nothing.

For another, it is so nice to have such a diversity of sports available for watching in such a short time. American sports broadcasting-- on network TV, anyway-- is consumed by football, basketball, baseball, and Nascar. You get the occasional soccer or tennis match and special events (National championships in figure skating and gymnastics, for instance), but that's pretty much it. I may only get the highlights of the Games on network TV, but we do the the highlights of a wide variety of stuff. Fencing, for instance. The only time I ever see fencing on TV is during the Games. Not to mention diving, swimming, archery... et cetera. One of the girls at work asked me a couple of weeks ago which Olympic sports I like, and I said without hesitation, "All of them. Except for beach volleyball, and I'm not really wild about weightlifting."

Which is true. I don't watch beach volleyball.

20 July 2008

No, I've not gone to that great blogroll in the sky... I've just been unmotivated to post. (Of course, I my have just run out of things to say.)

So, this week I begin training for my first half-marathon. (Yes, me, who as recently as six months ago had NO interest in doing such a thing!) It's easy going at first... running three times a week, and my longest run in the first four weeks is seven miles. After that, things start to pick up... leading (eventually) to long tempo runs, brutal intervals, and long long runs. I can't wait.

Oh, and I'm working my way through a transcription course. I really, really want to be a telecommuter.

07 July 2008

Where do you draw the line?

Yes, I am really hoping for comments/discussion on this post. Otherwise, it's just me talking to cyberspace.

So, I mentioned in my Going Green post this article, which gives 10 reasons to be happy about higher petrol (gasoline-- I call it petrol, to distinguish it in my mind from natural gas, which we also have to pay for), and then I read this post, predicting the potential dire consequences of Sen. Obama's proposed solution to high petrol prices. (Please don't use my comments section to comment on his post-- if you want to comment on the post, comment at his blog. Thanks.)

So I read the post, and thought, "I wouldn't drive if petrol were at $10 a gallon." Then I realised, I would probably stop driving before we got to that point. But I am not sure where my line is. So I put it before Chad: "At what price per gallon for petrol do you say to me, 'Honey, we're going to park the car until the price of petrol comes back down.'?"

In the course of the ensuing discussion, I said that I am almost to that point now; in fact, after filling up our tiny car for $40 yesterday, I am now wondering whether we can run all our errands on Thursdays, when I already have to drive anyway. (I can't take the bike to prayer group and still make it to work on time afterwards.) Chad says yes, we can, and I absolutely agree.

So, the final verdict? I think my line is somewhere around $5.50 per gallon. Certainly, we arrive at it by $6.

Where is your line? At what point do you park your car and pursue "alternative" transportation?

06 July 2008

I sense a disturbance in the Force...

Seriously? Roger Federer loses Wimbledon? It's like there is something wrong with the universe.

The final was the longest in history, and it was absolutely fantastic. If you missed it, boy did you miss a good one. My sister has informed me on more that one occasion that she is "tired" of Federer v. Nadal matches, but I told her today that if she couldn't find this match exciting, then there is something wrong with her. She is more of a Nadal fan, so she is a lot happier than I with the result.

All credit to Nadal, of course; he has worked hard for this title. And this is shaping up to be a good year for Spain. But I really, really wanted Federer to get 6 straight. And as I told Chad, I am more bummed by this than I thought I would be. Something wrong with the universe, seriously.

Also, I love it that the crowd at the Olympic Track & Field trials were chanting "Come to Oregon!" when Jordan Henesay set a new high school record with her 1500m time.

Going green...

...and saving some, too.

The day we got back from our Indiana trip (25 May) Chad and I had a discussion about how best to motivate ourselves to cut back on our car usage. $4 per gallon for the cheap stuff hit the greater Indianapolis area while we were in town, and while the cheap stuff here in Lubbock has (thus far) stayed under $3.90, it is only a matter of time. Besides, as I told my husband last week, if we must spend our hard-earned money, I'd rather spend it on things we choose to spend it on, not things we've left ourselves no choice about.

So! The Chad-and-Susan Going Green challenge is as follows: For every day that we do not use our car, we pay ourselves $1. The cash goes into a jar until we have enough to take out and do something meaningful/fun/whatever with it. Then, if we manage to go two weeks between fillups, we get a bonus dollar for each day. For instance: we last filled up two Saturdays ago. Last Friday (27 June) marked 14 days from fillup day. So, on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, we got a bonus dollar.

So for us, this challenge is working well. I don't know how long we will keep it up, or what form it will evolve into as the weeks go by. But so far, our original intent has been upheld: we are using the car a lot less.

An in case you're interested, Time published this article about the positive effects of $4-per-gallon gas. (Yeah, I was skeptical, too. It's a good read, though.)

05 July 2008

One Day More

I got up early (technically, late, but who gets up at 5:30 on a Saturday?) this morning so I could run for an hour before watching Venus & Serena Williams play spectacular tennis. If you missed their match, you missed out!

So in the course of the match, one of the commentators mentioned that the Williams sisters rarely complain, and that they don't take a point that they don't earn. Which, of course, adds to the enjoyment of watching them. They aren't prima donas, they don't whine, they don't stir up problems in their press conferences as so many atheletes are prone to do. They are polite and gracious, and hard workers who go out and play great tennis.

Long may they play.

100 Things

So I read this article about this guy who is choosing to whittle his possessions down to 100 things, and then live with only 100 possessions for 1 year. Yikes!

In a small move in the same direction, I went through our apartment to find out just how many things belong to me personally. Answer: far too many. I didn't count some things because they were put away (stuffed animals, winter clothes), and some things because I just couldn't be bothered (CDs, jewelry), and I didn't count my stash of craft supplies because I wasn't sure how to quantify it, and I still got a grand total of 510 things. Of course, without books that total comes down to 321, but that is still a lot.

So, along those same lines, I have a list going in the sidebar of possessions I do not want to live without. I don't know that I'm ready to take such a dramatic plunge as cutting down my stuff by two-thirds, though.

So, I pass along news of the "100 Thing Challenge" to those of you who may not have heard of it yet. Read, be challenged, sneer, act, ignore... it's entirely up to you.

04 July 2008

Go, Roger, go!

I'm watching Roger Federer warm up for his semifinal game. Today is the day that will set up the match I will be watching Sunday-- please, please, please, Federer and Nadal, play for us today as you always do, because I am still not tired of watching the two of you play this game so beautifully. (Denise is, though, so if you prefer her feelings to mine, then you can play poorly today.)

We'll be going downtown to see what kind of celebrating is going on there in just a little while, so I won't be watching tennis all day. The jury is still out regarding the fireworks later.

So we missed the parade this morning, because we were in Brownfield volunteering for the running club race today. The race director asked me to read out the winners of the awards (yikes!), and gave me the microphone. What a kind, trusting man. I stood on the tailgate of his pickup because, let's face it, I am probably the shortest member of the running club who is over 18. And possible the shortest over-15. After hearing names (including my own-- how hard is "Susan"?) being mangled at every race since we began, I read through the list to be sure I could pronounce them all (even going so far to ask one of my pals how to say her surname-- I've only ever used her first name). And, of course, the one I overlooked before starting is the one that tripped me up. Badly. In the second race, we had an out-of-towner entered whose name none of us knew, so I tried it a couple of times before giving the awards, the race volunteers came to a consensus as to how it was probably pronounced, and when he collected his medal, I asked, "Did I say your name right?" He said, "Close enough," so I guess it was. :)

I also got to have a nice conversation with another new 30-year-old, and a girl a couple of years older than us, about how competitive the womens' 30-34 age group is. This conversation was sparked because one of them did not collect her usual medal today, and we couldn't believe it.


So Paige recently posted a blog about water-related moments, and included among the trip down memory lane was a picture of Paige, myself, and a guy in my aim class (I think his name was Michael) standing in the fountain at Texas Tech. To be fair, Paige (probably) didn't know that is was me in the picture; I'm sure she thought it was some random aim student. Which, in fact, I was. I commented to tell her that it was me in the picture, and in return, she e-mailed me another photo from the evening. A photo which, by the way, will NOT be appearing on my blog. Ever.

The thing is, I remember that night very, very well. Why it should be so stuck in my memory I don't know, but there it is. Denyce came along to my apartment while I was doing homework, to ask if I had a Polariod camera (I didn't) and to tell me that there was going to be a photo scavenger hunt that evening.

So I tagged along to her apartment, where we discovered there were no Polaroids in aimland. Alas. So we got out the regular cameras, divided into teams, set a time to meet up at the Wal-Mart photo centre, and off we went.

I know for sure I was teamed up with Paige, Denyce, and Michael (and thanks to the photo, I can add Tami and Trent). So in addition to the afore-mentioned hop into the TTU fountain, we took a bunch of other pictures: something to do with a tombstone in the cemetery; a trip to the men's room at a restaurant (while one of the guys who worked there guarded the door for us); a bicycle (or two), perhaps with us riding them; and I distinctly remember climbing into (and back out of) a dumpster. Upon reflection, I really hope the dumpster picture came before the fountain picture.

And, our group lost the contest. It all came down to our final picture, which was something of our choice in Wal-Mart. (Paige also cleared up this one for me; I had it backwards in my memory.) We buried Paige in stuffed animals (which I'm pretty sure we put back again properly), but the judges preferred the other team all posing in flowerpots. So we had to settle for second place.

So, this little trip down memory lane was inspired by a trip to Paige's blog. I wonder what will be next?

03 July 2008

Alas, poor June. I knew him well.

So I was looking at my blog archive, and comparing last year's total posts to what I've posted thus far this year... I am waaaaaay behind. Or perhaps I have run out of things to say. :) Not likely, I suppose.

So, June is ended, July has begun. I love June; it is my favourite month of the year by far. I suppose September is second (which is new for me; I used to hate the autumn. It's amazing what the Texas heat will do for you.), and after that... hard to say. May, perhaps? I hate it that June went by so quickly. In fact, this year is flying, as years do. Soon I'll have to start thinking about my reflective, end-of-the year post. I'd better get to work on that.... no way, I don't want the year to go that quickly.

So I am going to enjoy July. I am going to grab each moment before it passes on forever. I am going to go down to the cliche factory and see if I can pick up some new ones.

Sisters Praying, Part 3

I have to say that my prayer life has been, at best, sporatic. That has been the case for my whole life. There are seasons that have been less sporatic than others, but I've never had a regularly-scheduled prayer time that I kept rigidly. I've prayed while cycling, prayed while walking, prayed first thing in the morning, last thing before going to bed, every hour on the hour (that was a good week), etc. The only predictable thing about my prayer life for the last 14 years is how varied it has been.

I hit a new low in April, though, when Sisters Praying has been the only thing that enabled me to say with any truth that I even HAVE a prayer life. I was walking at lunch one day, lost in whatever it was I was thinking about, when I noticed the grass in the park was getting dead and brown. I thought to myself, "I should pray for rain," and the very next thought (unfortunately, I am not making this up) was, "Oh, like that's going to make a difference."

So I knew it was time to bring it to Sisters Praying. And pray we did, and I took my turn in praying that week, although to call my prayer that week half-hearted would be extremely generous.

So, it has gotten better since then. My prayer life is still much more shallow than I would like. I am still completely without consistency. But Sisters Praying is there, the solid block of encouragment that keeps me going when I would rather not.

I wouldn't stop this ministry for anything.

02 July 2008

More Wimbledon

So Andy Murray lost to Rafael Nadal.

I guess I wanted it to be this way, because I really want to see more Nadal-Federer action, and the only way that happens is for everyone else, including Murray, to be eliminated. But it is still a wrench to see the only Brit left in the tournament, and a Scot (a Glaswegian!), no less, be knocked out. And really, if he had defeated Nadal, I would have been delighted. Gobsmacked, but delighted.

Next year is your year, Andy. I'll switch my allegiance from Federer to you.

Sisters Praying, Part 2

So, I've shared with you the beginnings of the prayer group... now we turn to what we've done with our 15 months together.

Sharlan bought a journal the first week we met, so we started using it the second week. It just happened that I had the pen at the beginning, so I wrote the date day-month-year (2 July 08), and that's the way we've been writing it ever since.

We've prayed for people who are sick. We've prayed for loved ones. We've prayed for house moves, job changes, doctorate degrees, and ministries. I dare say that South Plains has never been prayed over so well as it has been in the past year. We pray for children & teens, parents & teachers. And sometimes, for complete strangers:

Sharlan stopped into United Supermarket to pick up some fruit on her way to the church building one week. It is possible, at 6 AM, that she was the only shopper in the store. The man stocking the produce department asked, by way of making conversation, "What are you doing out so early?" So Sharlan told him she was on her way to an early-morning prayer group. I don't know if he was impressed, shocked, dumbfounded-- I do know he asked for us to pray for him. I don't remember his name, but pray for him we did, and he is written in our journal page from that week.

01 July 2008

Sisters Praying, Part 1

So I'm "in charge" (if you can call it that) of the women's prayer group at South Plains that meets at 6:30 AM on Thursday mornings. The reason I'm in charge is that I am the one who sends out the weekly reminder e-mail, and I go to the women's ministry meetings to report about how the group is going.

We've been meeting since the week after spring break last year; I can't remember the date, but we have it written down somewhere. It was a bit of a fluke that the group got started at all, so I'm going to share the story.

The adult Bible class we were in at the time had a men's prayer group that met on Friday mornings at 7. There were anywhere from 2-6 men who got together, and I said to one of them that I thought that was a great idea, and I wished we had a women's group. He said, "So start one!" While I was explaining to him that me starting things has historically not worked out so well, Kathy spoke up and said, "We'll do it!" So I finished off my lame excuses with, "Okay, I guess we'll do it."

That was the week before spring break. The week of spring break, Kathy went out of town (along with a bunch of other people), so we waited to start the week after. I sent out an e-mail announcing such to our Bible class, but the church's webservant, who manages the e-mail groups, thought it was for everyone and sent it out to every Bible class. Suddenly, I had a flood of e-mails in my inbox asking when & where we would be meeting (since our Bible class already knew where we were meeting, I hadn't included that information in the e-mail), and I was in hot water with the church office for not reserving the room ahead of time like I was supposed to.

Anyway, we got the kinks worked out, and the prayer group has now been meeting for a year and three months. And we got our name (Sisters Praying) from an innocent remark made to me by a woman who isn't able to join us on Thursday mornings, but who had sent along a prayer request: "I am so thankful to have my sisters praying about (the situation)." So the next week, I changed the title of the e-mail to "Sisters Praying", the week after that, it had mysteriously changed in the bulletin, and it's been that way for about 6 months now.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.

Race Day Recap

Yes, I know you just got a race day recap, but I'm trying to catch up.

So, I ran my first 10K on 14th June. I had to think about it carefully, but it really is true; I've run a 15K, a 12K, and three 5Ks, but this was the first 10K.

I've been following the training schedule provided by the Smart Coach on Runner's World, and I was feeling pretty discouraged in the couple of weeks leading up to the race. I felt like my long runs were getting slower, my speedwork was not getting me anywhere, and that I was more tired than energised after a week's worth of running. So I went into the race not expecting much.

Boy, was I wrong! For one thing, the trial and error of the last couple of months of races have given me a more or less infallable list of songs that really give me a boost on race day. The best, by far, is "Salt and Light" by Best Friends, with "Wonderwall" by Oasis in second, followed by "Do You Hear the People Sing?" and "One Day More", both from the Les Miserables soundtrack. There are plenty of others as well, but those are certainly my top four. And yes, I realise that it is an odd mix. I don't know why these work so well, but something in my brain likes them when my legs and lungs would prefer to take a break.

Back to the race... nothing much eventful happened for the first five miles. I just kept going, focused on not running out of steam, but also using the runners ahead of me to keep my pace up (which worked marvellously well in May's race). I tried to picture myself reeling them in, one by one, which worked-- I passed eight people before the race was over. And a tractor.

Since I mentioned it, let me tell you about the tractor... some unfortunate farmer was trying to get some work done, and was probably surprised to see 100ish people running down a road which, I'm guessing, he normally has to himself. I was trying to reel in Unsuspecting Runner # 5, when a tractor swung off a side road and planted itself between me and said runner. (Yeah, I was still a ways back.) My first thought was, There's a tractor in my way! But then common sense overtook me, and I remembered he could only drive as fast as the runner ahead of me was going anyway, so instead of trying to catch the runner, I focused on catching the tractor. And I did, right before I caught #5. It was my first race against a tractor (and I'm from Indiana, so that's saying something).

Runner #6 is the one who motivated me the most. I think I mentioned in the blog about April's race how much I hate passing people toward the end of the race, because I am so non-competitive when it comes to running. As slow as I am, I really have no other option, because if I were competitive, I'd be upset all the time. Anyway, I passed a man and woman just before the 5-mile mark, and I heard her say (over my iPod, by the way), "Look at her! I hope she's not in my age group!" Normally I would laugh this off, especially since I knew she was younger than me and therefore we are not, in fact, in the same age group, but the tone she said it in made it pretty clear she was about 20% joking and 80% serious. So I thought to myself, "Oh, I am so going to beat you."

So I reeled in #8 on my way to the finish line, and I heard the spectators calling #6's name, so I knew she was close behind me and had also passed #8... and she pushed me all the way to the end. I didn't know I had that much left in the tank, but when I saw my time at the finish, I almost forgot about her as I sped up again, because I was even faster running 6.2 in June than I was running 6 in May. I crossed the line just ahead of my opponent (about three seconds, I think), then went to sit down before I passed out. Chad came and found me (with banana in hand, thank goodness) and convinced me that this was not a time for sitting. And he was right, of course. I told him, "She really wanted to beat me to the finish," and he said, "Yeah, I could see that." So it wasn't just my imagination.

And I brought home a second-place medal. Chad also brought home his first medal; a third-place finish in the two mile. It was a great race.