Thursday, July 24th 2008

posted @ 12:20 pm in [ - - - - ]

It’s true, I haven’t been posting much.

Part of that is because I’m focused a lot on work and job stuff at the moment, and as we all know, I don’t blog about that. But here are the vagaries: I’m still teaching in the program where I’ve been teaching for the last few years, and that’s mostly good. I’ll also be teaching again at the same program where I taught last fall, and that should be fun. I picked up a little writing work for an ongoing media analysis project. I’m still trying to get the big honkin’ book published, and I have another article coming out later this year. In the meantime, I’m looking for a full-time gig with health insurance and stuff.

Looking for work is pretty much always a fairly soul-crushing experience if you give a rip what you end up doing, and it’s even more exhausting when you’re keeping up on other jobs while you’re doing it (which you have to if you’re addicted to things like food and electricity). Plus, I’m finding out that it’s a funny thing with advanced degrees: it’s still a numbers game, but instead of it being easier to get a better job with a fancy degree (which is what you’re told will happen), I’m finding it’s actually a lot harder. There are fewer near-perfect fits, employers are surprisingly inflexible about what they think you can do, and people want to put you through the ringer to see if it’s worthwhile to invest in you. The hopper has to be so much deeper and wider to yield the same result, and advanced degrees force you to specialize, not generalize. Plus, nobody will hire you for a job they think you’re overqualified for — which is a lot with a Ph.D. — because they think you’ll just leave in a month or two when you find something better. Can’t really blame ‘em for thinking that. So yeah, it’s draining. It does force one not to settle, though: the market won’t let me.

Dr. Meg will be on the air on Monday on KGNU Denver / Boulder / Nederland and at if you’re not in earshot. Syndication has been mentioned (and passive voice has been used). I’ll keep you posted, of course.

You have the bat and frog update below.

Lisa has been relatively close by this summer, which has been great. She’ll be around for another 5 weeks or so, and we have lots more fun to cram in before she goes home.

The thyroid deal is looking up. I found a delightful family practice in Boulder, brought my lab reports and stuff, had a brief but productive discussion with a sympathetic and fine, fine superfine physician, and walked out with a prescription for generic synthroid, which I got filled (wicked cheap!) on the way home. I already feel better, even after just a few days. I had the best dance class yesterday that I’ve had in months, in part because I didn’t feel sluggish at all. I haven’t been to the gym yet today, and I don’t even have unpleasant, depressive symptoms. I’ll probably get in a bike ride later this afternoon, which will be even better because I’ll know it’s actually going to have some sort of physiological result. Yee-haw!

Finally, the spambots seem to have declared open war on my moderation queue. I average a little over 100 pieces of spam an hour. In order to get akismet to work, I have to upgrade WordPress and install it, and I don’t have direct access to the server, so that’s taking some effort to resolve, and in the meantime, every time I log in, there are all those zillions of bits of spam (baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam), and quite frankly, after I’ve gotten through them all, I often don’t feel like posting anymore. I’ll try to be better about that, and get the spammage fixed shortly.

So that’s what’s up. Or most of it, anyway.

Tuesday, May 6th 2008

The truth behind the sucky metabolism
posted @ 5:55 pm in [ - ]

Well, gentle reader, I got my test results back today, and I don’t really have a sucky metabolism so much as I have wicked hypothyroidism. Out of a normal range of 0.4 - 4.5, my TSH is… (wait for iiiiit…) 13.43! I’m really glad to know. Now I can go about getting this bizniss treated.

Friday, April 18th 2008

Body project and sucky metabolism update
posted @ 5:42 pm in [ - ]

You may remember last summer’s rants about my sucky metabolism, and about ditching my nutritionist in favor of a nice, low-GI Mediterranean hedonist diet. Since then, I’ve tried a few other things, including another diet plan. A few weeks ago, though, when it wasn’t working and didn’t show any signs of working anytime soon, I decided I would, you know, stop doing that. A few days later, I finished the resolution: I am not going to diet anymore. It doesn’t work and it sucks, so the hell with it — forever.

However, I do still want to drop about one more size, and here’s the goofy part. I haven’t (habitually) eaten more than 1200 - 1400 calories a day in a few years. I exercise for an hour or two a day, six days a week. That last size should have come off, oh, like a year and a half ago, but nooooooo. “Gee,” the nice lady at the gym said to me when I told her about it, “Do you think you might have an undiagnosed thyroid problem?”

I doubted it, but I decided to do some research. It turns out that it’s a fairly common problem. An estimated 10 - 15% of American women have an undiagonsed thyroid problem (sometimes the number is higher, depending on the source). I quickly dismissed it, though, because people with thyroid conditions are really suffering, and I wasn’t. Symptoms included severe fatigue, dry skin and hair, and a number of others. Nah, I was fine. I just had a sucky metabolism. Or something.

Then in Feburary, I got sick, like most of the frickin’ country. For most of that month, I wasn’t able to get much exercise in while I recovered, and then got caught up on a ton of work and life stuff. The symptoms came flying out: Fatigue to the point of depressive symptoms, drier hair, and the skin around my cuticles was sort of like a powder that somehow remained attached to my hands. Huh, I thought, perhaps I’ve been aggressively treating thyroid symptoms with exercise. I also found out hypothyroid is a spectrum disorder: it gets worse over time. So the folks who are really suffering probably weren’t suffering much either at an earlier point in their treatments (or lack thereof). So maybe it’s not so much that I have a metabolism that just sucks. Maybe I have an honest-to-jeebus treatable medical disorder. I mean, who the hell eats 1200 calories a day and exercises and hour or two and nothing?! It’s freakish, really.

Speaking of freakish, has anyone attempted to utilize the American healthcare system of late? It’s a lot like driving around the Boston Metro area, where, if you follow all the rules, you will never, ever get where you’re going, there are multiple contradictory laws which must all be followed, and you might be killed by your fellow motorists. My experience went like this: I couldn’t get in to see an endocrinologist, even if I was willing to pay out of pocket, because I needed a referral from a primary care physician. But I don’t have one of those. And I don’t have one of those because I don’t have health insurance. And I don’t have health insurance because I can’t get on the hubby’s insurance. And I couldn’t do that because I didn’t know where the hell our marriage certificate was, because we’ve been married for over a dozen years, and when you’ve been married for a while, you have no friggin’ idea where your marriage certificate is. So I had to send away for a copy of our marriage certificate — that lived in the freakin’ house that Jack built! It showed up quickly (thanks, Ashby Town Clerk!), but I still haven’t been able to get on his insurance yet. So basically, I got flipped off by the entire American healthcare system.

Fortunately, Denver’s local NBC affiliate has an annual free and cheap health fair that happens over the course of a couple of weeks in locations all over the metro area, and it’s going on now. They have a multi-factor blood test you can get that includes TSH (thyroid hormone), among many others. So I went down there to get one.

Oddly enough, it was the best blood-drawing experience I have ever had! Okay, tallest skyscraper in Kansas, right? But seriously, it was only a few minutes, the health care professional was pleasant and caring without sacrificing an iota of efficiency (she must have drawn blood from thousands of folks today alone), and it was the first time I’ve ever been stabbed with anything and not felt it at all. Props to Cindy! It hurt more this morning when Petra gently raked me good morning with her claws. It was quite literally quick and painless — the antithesis of my experience with the American health care system up to that point, which was eternal and excruciating.

So now I wait. I’ll know sometime within the next six weeks what the story is with my thyroid. If the TSH number comes back between 5 and 20, I may even be able to get into a study about crappy thyroids and get paid for it instead of getting reamed for it both internally by the gland in question, and externally by American health care.

In the meantime, I met another health professional yesterday who was just terrific: a nutritionist at my local Vitamin Cottage. She was wonderful and helpful, and made some good suggestions for structuring the hedonistic nutrition plan I love. I also have an exceptionally good personal trainer, whom I see once a week. A cheery little slip of a thing with the will of a wolverine, she basically kicks my ass for an hour, during which I have to stop a few times in order to keep from fainting. I’m certain it’s effective.

So that’s the update. I’ll letcha know what happens.

Monday, October 8th 2007

The body project: an update
posted @ 3:43 pm in [ ]

I joined a gym a couple of weeks ago. My personal trainer lady is lovely, but it’s not easy to see her as often as I’d like. She’s a little bit scattered about getting information and appointments together, and she’s, well, expensive. Once I get her, she’s terrific… but still expensive. So I’ve been at the gym 4 days a week for the last couple of weeks. I do an hour of cardio, 3 sets on a series of weight machines, the occasional class, and a good stretch.

Performance-wise, I’d say I’m well recovered from the string of injuries I had. My extensions are far better in dance class, I’m bizarrely flexible for an adult, I can exercise as long as I want, and I’m pretty strong. When I was in my 20s, performance and the satisfaction of my vanity were coincidental. Now, though, I’m totally annoyed to report that my vanity is not entirely satisfied. What is that stuff on the underside of my upper arms, for example? It’s not just skin, and if it’s fat, it’s damn sad fat. My mantra at the gym is, “Get off me!” It’s directed at that stuff, whatever the hell it is, and similar stuff that seems to be stuck to my real body.

I’ve also been shopping at a new farmer’s market that just opened up near my house. Every time I go to the checkout line and put my stuff on the conveyer belt, I just have such a sense of well-being, and perhaps self-satisfaction, at all the good nutritional choices I’m making. Then it’s almost always a lot cheaper than I would have expected, which is great, too. They have such good produce all the time, and such a giant variety, that it’s pretty easy to get fresh fruits and vegetables I’ll really enjoy. It helps a lot.

This week, I got a bunch of different kinds of squash to experiment with. I like squash, and right now, of course, there’s a bunch of it available. Today, I took two kinds of baby squashes (sunburst and summer), brushed ‘em with a little olive oil and a little salt and pepper, and roasted those little suckers. I stabbed each of them once with a fork first, and they were super-cute in the roasting pan, each of them about the size of a walnut. They also whistled in the oven as they heated up, which was just hilarious. Then they were really tasty. I have about half a dozen other varieties of squashes to try, too, and some fun recipes to try. Good stuff!

Monday, July 9th 2007

Sucky metabolism bullying research
posted @ 3:32 pm in [ - ]

Today I went to a few different gyms (and one dance studio) and talked to a personal trainer. I looked at lots and lots of facilities, asked tons of questions, told everybody what I want to do. I’m going to meet the nice personal trainer lady in the morning. She has both an athletic and a dance background, so it seems like a great match. She’s experienced and not annoyingly perky or anything. I’ll let you know how it goes. I also got myself a new pair of hand weights. I’m looking forward to kicking my own butt into shape.

Saturday, July 7th 2007

I grapple with my sucky metabolism
posted @ 4:53 pm in [ - ]

It’s true: I have a sucky metabolism. Once upon a time it would not have been sucky; it would have saved me from starvation during successive terrible famines by simply slowing down to adapt to whatever nourishment it would get and making do. Apparently, most of my forebears survived such famines in this way, because here in the modern era, where we tend to eat daily, much of my family struggles with dieting and general chubbiness. It’s hard for any of us to stay trim. Except my dad, who survives on coffee and cigarettes like a hummingbird does on nectar. But he’s, you know, a freak. I got his hands and his chin and his lower-back birthmark — why the hell not his metabolism?! I didn’t get my mom’s fabulous gams, either. If only the gene pool were more like a cafeteria.

Additionally, I made this sucky metabolism even suckier with a years-long eating disorder in my teens and early twenties, with a bunch of yo-yo dieting (subsequent and concurrent) thrown in for good measure. So my metabolism is pretty much sucky and busted forever, but I can’t trade it in for another, like a sh*tbox rusted out Honda to which you lost the title years ago. You may recall that I had a string of injuries over the last few years, got squishy, and have been taking off the squish and getting back into shape. I succeeded in removing the vast majority of squish, getting back to my preferred size range, and riding my bike just about as often as I’d like, but these last months have been a real struggle. I’ve mostly worked super hard to ride four days a week and maintain a miniscule caloric intake with not a whole lot of payoff at all. Damn non-hummingbird sucky metabolism!

So there’s only one thing to do: Bully the sucky metabolism with exercise. The times when I’ve been happiest with my body have involved many weekly hours of exercise that I managed to enjoy somehow. With the added challenge of aging, which was not at all my plan in any way, I think the only thing to do is a ton of cardio and weight training. I’ve spent the last few days looking for a good, cheap gym to join. I’ve been resisting (no pun intended) getting one of those huge balls, because I think they only look fun if you can throw them around, and that’s just not an option in my house. I can’t say exactly what it is that annoys me about them. It might be the trendiness factor, or the fact that even one would pose a serious storage problem, and a few would transform my house into a Chuck E. Cheese-esque ball pit for grownups.

Denver has a whole bunch of these terrific little rec centers, which are dirt cheap, one of which is even close to my house. The Y also seems to be pretty reasonable, and includes a consult with a trainer and a customized training program. Surprisingly, DU’s fitness center is pretty good. I’ve been calling it the Bitchy Illness Center (instead of the Ritchie Wellness Center) for so long, I wasn’t prepared to be impressed with the value, or with the subsiding of the previously pervasive bitchy illin’. I tried a nearby branch of 24 Hour Fitness yesterday, but had an incredibly bad sales experience and split, taking my business with me. Their fitness manager was so fantastic, though, that I haven’t entirely ruled out a return.

I’ll keep you posted.

Monday, September 18th 2006

So how’s it going?
posted @ 1:55 pm in [ - - ]

The project I was working on daily for the last two months being over, I am attempting to return to a schedule of writing, cycling, working and blogging on a more or less daily basis. So far so good. I put in a good hour on the bike this morning, am caught up on the classes I’m teaching, I’ve started a new method of getting through the sources for the dissertation and getting writing done that I hope will keep the momentum rolling, and lo, I am posting. Petra is helping.

I have a new plan for getting OUT OF SCHOOL ALREADY. It is in part spurred on by a fine, fine, superfine job posting I saw; in part inspired by my annoyance at the fact that my friends keep graduating and leaving; and in part encouraged by a new discovery I’ve made about the current chapter I’m working on. You may remember from my postings in late January of this year that described my dissertation project that it’s basically in three parts: Part I is about Athens’ model of how people become dangerous violent criminals, and also about who else has done some sort of quantitative study of violence before me. Part II is a series of pattern studies of violent societies: Yugoslavia, Peru, South Africa, Gujarat, Tombstone. Yugoslavia and Peru took forever, but I think it will all go more easily now, because it turns out that South Africa isn’t a separate case — it’s just a different phase of the same process. This makes me feel like I’m over the “hump” of Part II and coming down the downslope. Part III is a bunch of wacky math analyzing the pattern studies.

The New Plan is this: 1. Finish Part II this quarter (by mid-November).
2. Do Part III during DU’s six-week break from mid-November to early January.
3. Submit my rough draft and defend during the winter quarter (January - March).
4. Graduate at the end of the spring quarter (June).

To that end, then, I gotta go get back on my head.

Monday, August 28th 2006

So how was the Moonlight Classic?
posted @ 7:55 pm in [ - ]

Why, it was extrasuperfabulous, thanks. Top 10 things I love about this event:

  1. The drunk people get weeded out pretty early on because it’s too hard to keep up with everybody on a bike when you’re wasted. I mean, so I’m told.

  2. It’s only 15 miles and it’s fairly flat, so one can feel pretty confident about being able to finish it and not make a complete ass of oneself (well, for that anyway), as well as being able to convince others to come along.

  3. Although it’s blazing hot and parched in the daytime, Denver can be very cool and pleasantly spooky at night.

  4. Even though it was rainy initially, I secretly thought it was refreshing, and it stopped raining and warmed up during the ride.

  5. It’s fun riding through the nighttime city with around 2500 other people, like a party on 5000 wheels.

  6. If it’s part of the route (as mine is) your commute looks pretty sexy.

  7. You get to ride through neighborhoods you might not ride through at night, either because you’re only there during the daytime, or because you’d consider them too sketchy. The latter is, of course, no problem with an entourage of 2500.

  8. You get a number to wear, even though the Moonlight Classic could really not be considered a race.

  9. You get lots of schwag and good coupons and stuff.

  10. This year, I got to ride with my friend Derek. I usually don’t ride with other people, in no small part because my riding style doesn’t generally mesh with those of others. We were really well paced to each other, though, and it was really fun. I’ve been considering beginning to ride with other folks, and this experienced nudged me in that direction. Thanks, Derek! You rock.

Saturday, August 26th 2006

Moonlight Classic
posted @ 11:58 am in [ - ]

So what does a foxy A.B.D. mama do on a Saturday night? Well, tonight, I’m riding the Moonlight Classic. It’s a 15-mile bike ride through Denver in the middle of the night. I did it a couple of years ago and it was crazy fun. If you’re local and you want to try it, or you’re curious about the event in general, you can check it out here. I’ll let you know how it went.

I’m also working on another item suggested by Greg: how to improve the viewing interest of various sports. I don’t want to give anything away, but be thinking about city-alliterative names for sports teams…

Saturday, May 6th 2006

Things I didn’t eat yesterday
posted @ 5:38 pm in [ - ]

Along with trying to get back into strong cycling shape by, well, actually cycling, I am inflicting upon myself a strict nutritional regimen. This is not always easy, particularly because nobody else around me is anywhere near as much of a culinary masochist. Here is a partial list of things I did not eat yesterday:

A single molecule from the largest bowl of Hot Tamales candies I have ever seen.

2 - 4 rolls, fresh from the ovens at Red Lobster.

Even a gooey fragment of the mozzarella sticks my husband had that looked really, really good (nor did I call him a sadistic bastard).

99% of anything in my kitchen, particularly those items left over from a few short weeks ago when I still ate things I would consider to be food.

The mashed potatoes on my dining companinon’s plate — I could totally have taken him, too.

All the dressing on the side that accompanied both salads I did eat.

A flippin’ crouton.

Dessert, even though one waitress’ children were apparently being held hostage by the cake distributor.

A pile of shrimp that would have choked a moderately-sized sperm whale.

The wooden skewer upon which were impaled the 6 grilled shrimp I did eat. Hey, it was grilled and it was hot.

The ketchup packets in the parking lot, despite the fact that they looked very plump and cheery.

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