Thursday, January 27, 2011

Carmagedon 2011

Queue the theme song to Gilligan's Island.


I set out thinking my commute home would be over 2 hours, 2.5 hours at the most. Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would be stuck with thousands of other DC Metro residents in the worst rush hour ever. I've heard it called "Commute from Hell" and "Carmagedon", whatever you call truly sucked.

My commute time took me 9 hours and I was home a little after 3 a.m.. While pretty horrible, I gotta say it wasn't as bad as others. My neighbor who left Tyson's corner at 3:30 made it home at 2 a.m....almost about 10.5 hours. There were people who got stuck on GW Parkway for 14 hours. My mom told me she couldn't imagine how terrible it was and she said she felt bad that I was all by myself. I told her I was thankful I was all by myself. While my situation was bad, I can't imagine being in the shoes of a parent trying to pick up a child at day care...or a parent who was able to get the kids only to get stuck in the traffic with no food, water or bathrooms.

Five hours into Carmagedon

Lets just say, I had a lot of time on my hands to think about things. The big questions this morning in the DC area was "How could this have been avoided?" Did OPM screw up allowing the federal government to close 2 hours early...essentially releasing the hounds all at the same time? Could public safety done a better job? Could radio and news outlets have done a better job?

Six hours into Carmagedon

This storm had been forecast since last week. For at least 3 days we'd been hearing about it. My first question, they kept saying it would hit during evening rush hour. There is kind of a big window that 3 p.m.? 5 p.m? 7 p.m.? I would have liked to have had a better idea of when they thought we'd get hit with the storm. While it was chilly and rainy all day, it really didn't seem like it was going to be that bad at noon, or even at 2:30 p.m. But an hour later, the snow was coming down. If it looked like it was going to hit us hard early into the commute, maybe an earlier release was in order.

6+ Hours of Carmagedon

What I'd have liked to have known was just how bad the roads really were at 6 p.m. when I finally left the building.

O.k. let me back up a bit. Why did I wait until 6 p.m. First, I'll be honest, it was Yankee bravado "This isn't going to be that bad...everyone here in DC are wimps" Second, cars were backed up in the parking lot for an hour. My co-workers watched one car for 45 minutes before it was out of the lot and then stuck in traffic on the road. My reasoning...if I leave at 6, most people will be home and the roads won't be so bad. That reasoning has worked for me in the past.

7 hours into Carmagedon

Even when told that visibility was a quarter of a mile and the snow was falling at a rate of an inch or two and hour...I thought, well, they've known about this and have been pre-treating the roads and they have plows out...the roads should be drivable. This is when my Yankee-ness should have kicked in and said, "This is DC, Virginia and Maryland, not Buffalo or Northern Ohio."

I think the weather service should have sent out a "shelter in place" command for everyone who hadn't gotten on the roads yet....kind of like they do when a tornado has been sited and is heading your way.

The next thing I found lacking for this rush hour...traffic reporters weren't telling us what was going on. I was stuck for 2 hours on the toll road, listening to the radio and there was no mention of the two buses and three trucks and numerous cars that wiped out two exits ahead of me. That would have been valuable information.

In the case of the toll road, there is the airport access road that is accessible from the toll road. There should have been an announcement for people to bail onto the access road. Police should have prevented people from entering onto blocked roads and directed them to alternate routes.

Preparation, or lack there of for DC Metro area drivers. We had warning, days of warning. I made sure to fill my gas tank on Tuesday night and fill my windshield wiper fluid. They were telling us it was going to be bad for our evening commute, so why risk running out of gas?

Common sense, or lack there of for DC Metro area drivers. Don't abandon your car in a travel lane. Come on people! If you find you are running out of gas, why not get over to the shoulder as quickly as you can BEFORE running out...or at least be in the right lane so you could chug onto the shoulder on gas vapors. And all of you cool, wealthy people with those snazzy, rear wheel drive, low to the ground sports cars...why drive those to work when they are calling for 5 inches of snow during evening rush. Or, why didn't you leave before it started snowing? Those cars can't hand a dusting of snow, let alone 5 inches. I saw so many sports cars parked on the shoulders of the roads or in ditches off exit ramps when going home.

Courtesy, or lack there of from DC Metro area drivers. So....the light is about to turn red as indicated by the Yellow light that always precedes it and there is no room for you to make it across the intersection....don't go through and block the intersection for the people on the cross road. Oh...and when everyone has to go right or left to get around one of the abandoned cars in the center travel lane, do the zipper thing, don't be a jerk and not let people in...they are going back into the center lane as soon as they get around the abandoned car. I'll confess, I flipped a beyotch off who wouldn't let me "zip" in.

My take away. Even though I live in the DC metro area, from now on, I am going to prepare a winter emergency kit. If they ever forecast five inches of snow during evening rush, I'm packing a blanket and pillow and plan on staying at work.

Things I'm extremely grateful for are: my Subaru Forester, it handled so well in the weather conditions from 4 inches of snow, to ice; my Eton emergency radio - - so nice when the power was out; my smart phone and the ability to post updates to FB last night; my friends who stuck with me on FB until I got home; and my wood burning fireplace.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Things That Make Me Mad

This weekend, I attended a little get together of divorced women. I have confirmed a couple things about myself.

1) I get really upset listening to other's stories.
2) It makes me angry when women make a bunch of excuses as to why they are overweight and blame their weight for the demise of their marriage.

One woman commented that her husband left her after she had gained weight. She turned to emotional eating while going through the divorce and gained even more weight. She said it really upset her that men weren't interested in her. Oh, they would talk to her at church, but as far as dating, they just weren't attracted to her. She said she decided she was not going to lose any of the weight she had gained until she met "the one" because she knew he would like her for "her".

My opinion on that....Bullshit. I know strong words. I wanted to say that. What kind of crap are you talking about? You're hiding, hiding behind the weight. You want a reason for men to not like you...its not my personality...its my weight. The sucky truth of it is, if a man had a room full of women to choose from, he'd pick the woman that he found most attractive. She might not be the skinniest woman in the room, she might not even be the prettiest or the woman with the best personality...he's going to pick the woman he finds attractive. Period.

Why make an effort to make yourself unattractive? Why?

I say that as someone who has gained 40 pounds over the past five or so years. Yes, 40 pounds. I'm not happy about it and my mom so kindly pointed out that the reasons I may not be getting any dates is because "you're not as young, thin and pretty as you used to be".

Bottom line, when I was young, thin and pretty, I really didn't get very many dates either. I got more than I do now, but that has something to do with the fact there are fewer single men at my age...and even fewer quality men.

Another woman complained that she had also gained weight due to an accident, being too busy with work and a PhD program and an illness. She was upset that men seemed to think she was invisible. I started to get angry and spoke up. Hey, I've gained 40 pounds the past 5 years. I used to be very athletic. I looked fabulous...but yes, my issue was I just got busy with work and didn't fit in fitness when I should have. But I realized, I'm killing myself. Seriously, I was. I decided the weight gain had to stop.

Not because men weren't paying attention to me. Who really cares?

There are so many things that I want to do in life. My life is active. I love being outdoors and traveling. There is a lot of walking involved with that. I can't enjoy that if I have to sit down every 20 feet or am huffing and puffing. I want to be in shape for me. I want to be the best I can be at my current age and be good to the gift of this body that God created for me. Now is a perfect time to start something and it shouldn't be about looking hot for a guy or losing weight. It should be about becoming healthier.

Of course both women had excuses. "I don't have time with work and school". Why not. Do you have 5 one exercise a day for 5 minutes. "The guy I'm dating says I don't have to lose weight, he likes me the way I am and says I should only do it for myself." Well why not? You are slowly killing yourselves (yes, I said that). Clogging arteries, increasing your chance of diabetes, increasing your chances of a weight related injury....come on! Aren't you worth a healthy body and lifestyle? Don't you value yourself?

I'll be honest, I might not have valued myself as much as I should have. I put work and other activities before myself. I'm claiming my value again. No more excuses. None.

These women made me so mad that they don't value their lives enough to get healthy or make an effort to get healthy. How can they expect a man to value them? How? I feel motivated to whip myself into the best shape I can get in so I can ...I don't the best me I can be. Why don't people want to be the best they can be? And its not about weight, people.

FYI. I am working through the 100 push-up challenge from I've also got a good full body circuit going. I'm improving on my strength weekly and I'm on target to do pull-ups of my own body weight sometime this summer. And after 6 months and a set-back of actually gaining 10 pounds at my December weigh-in, I lost 4 pounds my last weigh-in, January 17th. My next weigh-in is Feb 14th.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Holy Smokes! Its the Middle of January Already!

When adults said time moves faster the older you get...they weren't kidding!

Well, its almost three weeks into 2011 and I have not posted my New Years Resolutions. I like posting these as its fun to look back and see what was actually accomplished.

So, first intention for 2011 is to blog/journal a little more. The whole reason I started blogging was to get my thoughts, frustrations, experiences...whatever down, with the intention of using it as a source to scrapbook. Uh, ya, well, I haven't scrapbooked in like, um, 5 years. My intentions are to scrapbook my Bali trip at some point this year. I need to do that too. I was just talking to a friend of mine and his wife...both from Indonesia about my Bali trip and I couldn't remember the names of the places I had visited, and it hasn't even been a year yet. UGH!

Resolutions, intentions, goals, whatever I want to call them, the things I want to focus on in 2011 are divided into four areas: Fitness/Health, Personal Growth/Relationships, Financial, and Travel.


I'll be honest with you all, I was not happy with how I looked in ANY of my Bali pictures. I was on my dream vacation but who I saw, wasn't me...or wasn't the me I wanted to see. The nails in the coffin were a hike in June at Sky Meadow State Park with two friends....I could barely make it and had to stop and take a rest half way up the darn hill. Huffing and puffing with calves burning and sweat pouring into my eyes, I realized I was REALLY, REALLY out of shape and things needed to change. At least at my annual exam in 2010, I hadn't gained any significant weight from the previous year...not the 15 pounds in 6 months like the year before that alarmed my doctor. However, after making a commitment to eat a little better and to start working out a little bit here and there...I had still gained 2 pounds. We had my thyroid checked, my blood sugar...everything and it all came back normal. I was as health as an ox, and in my opinion starting to get as big as one too. Well, after that hike, I decided things needed to change.

I had been subscribing to Oxygen Magazine, in my opinion, the best women's fitness magazine out there. I read it from cover to cover, every month, but was not applying it to my life. Yes, I was book smart. What good is book smart if you don't use the knowledge. I went through all my back issues and cut out the workouts and healthy recipes and made a plan. That plan was, I was going to go work out everyday at lunch time, for an hour. I had been avoiding that because I am a girl who sweats, a lot. If I worked out at lunch, there would be no time to shower, I'd be a stinking sweaty mess the rest of the day. Well, I decided that yes, I would be a stinking sweaty mess the rest of the day. That beats being an overweight, tired, pre-diabetic, heart attack waiting to happen. I choose lunch time because, everyday, I had that time slot open. I also knew I couldn't drag myself out of bed at 5 a.m. to make it to the gym. After work was constantly a challenge as things would constantly come up or I'd just be to tired at the end of the day. The sweat part....well, it can't be avoided, I decided to wipe down with baby wipes afterward and pull my hair back into a pony tail. So far, no one has complained about me smelling bad. I might not look the greatest with my hair in a pony and faded make-up, but I'm getting healthier. I also found I was more energized for the second half of my day. I really think the lunch work out has made me a more focused, clear minded employee who gets a lot more done.

The other big thing that happened in Bali was I kicked my Coca-Cola habit. Seriously, I'd drink about 2 - 20 oz cokes a day to wake up and to stay awake. That is like 500 or more wasted calories I have kicked out of my day.

My fitness goals in the gym were healthier than they had been in the past. I decided to not focus on weight loss, even though I'd like that as a result, that wasn't the goal in 2010. The goal was to form a new habit and get consistent, get stronger. I did see those results, except for the weight loss. I'll be honest, I was shocked in December when I weighed myself for the first time in six months and had gained 10 pounds. What the heck!

I was discouraged, yes, very much so. But that hadn't been my goal. Had I gotten consistent? Yes. Had I gotten stronger? Yes. Was I healthier? I think so. I was at least on my way and off the path of slowly killing myself.

Deciding not to sweat it during the holiday season, I used the time to continue with my work outs and make my new plan of attack. Which I'll outline in a future blog. My bench marks for 2011 are:
  1. Remain consistent with my workouts
  2. Be able to do one pull-up of my own body weight by this summer (June/July)
  3. Eat Healthier
  4. Complete the 100 push-up challenge
  5. Complete the 200 sit-up challenge
  6. Lose 40 pounds.

I'll come clean with you all. December 15th, when I weighed myself I was 180 pounds. Horrifying for me, a former three sport varsity athlete. I have been determined that the scale will, and I mean, WILL go in the other direction this year.

Personal Growth/Relationships

What activities are important to me and who are the important people in my life? Hands down, my personal relationship with Jesus has blossomed the past two years. That has been helped along by a wonderful bunch of women in my small group Bible study and the wonderful community in the singles ministry at Fuel. In addition to that though, I really miss the friendships at my smaller church and the solid teaching there. If only I could clone myself! Photography continues to be a passion of mine, however, I find that my work seems a bit stale. I need to do something to freshen my skills and hone my 'eye'. Intellectually, I love to learn, there is so much to learn and so many opportunities here in the DC area. One of the things holding me back both in the Personal Growth and the Fitness area is the chaos of things in my life. I need organization.

The areas of focus for 2011 will be:

  1. Take classes to grow in theological knowledge and spiritually
  2. Take a photography course
  3. Make more time to do things with my friends
  4. Attend more events and lectures at area museums
  5. Get organized.

Maybe getting organized should be a the top of the list. Because with out that, I won't be able to keep things straight, nor will I be able to feel rested or have time to do things if I'm constantly looking at the mess on the dining room table...or looking for my keys in the mess on my dining room table.


My big goal has been to get my credit card paid off and to keep it paid off, I think every year since becoming single again 14 years ago. I get so close, even get it paid off...only to have something happen to de-rail the plan. Well, the plan may get de-railed again, who knows. But, my goal again is to get the credit card paid. In addition to that, I will be getting my finances organized in such a way that I am saving monthly for things that need to be maintained (house, car) and things I'd like to do (vacation).

  1. Pay off the credit card
  2. Set-up savings accounts for house maintenance, car maintenance, vacation, emergencies.


I love to travel. Bali was such an amazing trip and there is SOOOOOO much of the world I want to see. While I may not be able to afford an overseas trip every year, I am committed to taking trips, even short day or weekend jaunts in the local area.

  1. Make vacation reservations for this year
  2. Make a 5-year vacation plan
  3. Set aside a weekend each month to explore locally.

So that is the plan. You and I both will have to keep checking back to see how it progresses.

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Review

Well, I considered naming this entry 2010: The Good, The Bad and The ugly....but I don't have many bad things or ugly things to recall. Sure 2010 had its Ranger getting all matted with his own poop that he had to be shaved...right before snowmagedon. I mean Ranger was pretty ugly and he smelled bad...but he was really cute in that lion cut.

I looked back on my January 1, 2010 entry...the resolution blog to see if I had accomplished anything I had set out to accomplish in 2010. Surprisingly, I really did.

In 2010, my big focus areas were: Relationships, Personal Growth, Financial and Travel:

Relationships: I really wanted to get myself more inline with God's will for me. So often we are swimming against the current because the darn current is taking us where we didn't want to go. Its exhausting...and when we finally let go and float, not drown, but lay our heads back, rest and float...the current takes us for an interesting ride. We start to see that the places the current is taking us aren't too bad. This was the year I finally embraced my singleness. Not sure how God is using it but I'm feeling very blessed in the freedom it provides me. Oh, and peace...I am feeling more at peace. Maybe I'm seeing how God is working everything out and I'm learning to trust Him more. I'm liking the ride and look forward to how I'm going to be shaped and what things I'm going to learn in 2011.

Getting to know the women in my small group better...while I haven't felt closer to a group of women, than I do with the women in my small group, I think this is still an area I can work on in 2011.

Getting to know my co-workers better...also another area I need to work on. I'll be honest, I don't walk around and socialize much...I sit down and work. I'd like to get to know folks better as they are all pretty cool.

Personal Growth: The big goal was to get into better shape and be healthier, maybe lose a few pounds. I haven't lost any weight, yet. However, I have been working out regularly since June and have seen strength improvements. While I have seen results, not as impactful as I had hoped so for 2011, I'll be changing some things up to improve on what I've done in 2010.

I wanted to take dance classes, photography classes and maybe an improv class. I took dance classes and really learned I like rumba and cha-cha. While I have taken the past six months off, I have signed up for rumba and cha-cha classes in January and I hope to stick with them for the next year. Dancing with the I come! Didn't take the photog or the improv class...but hey I have 365 days in 2011.

Financial goal: Pay off the darn Credit Card. Oh I was so close! But Snowmagedon took its toll on my 10 year old Honda and the transmission started to go at the end of February. Half the money I was going to use to pay off the credit card went as a down payment on a new car. I'm really happy with my new car, a Subaru Forester. So nice to not be dropping $1000 every other month to get something fixed. So the Credit Card was not paid off...but, if all goes as planned, which it most likely won't because nothing ever goes as planned, it should be paid off this March.

Travel Goal: Do more travel, internationally and locally. So one word here: Bali.

Yes, I went to Bali at the beginning of the summer. I also checked out a few more places locally, not as many as I would have liked. There are plans for 2011 so stay tuned!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Baltimore Adventure #3: Fort McHenry


Above, Fort McHenry around 9 a.m. in the morning.

This is a statue of Orpheus and it was erected to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. A little boy walking to the visitor's center with his family caught sight of Orpheus and started to scream "Its a naked man!Completely naked!" And he burst out laughing.


Orpheus isn't exactly naked. He does have a leaf covering his private parts...barely. Interestingly, according to park lit, many people think this is a statue of Francis Scott Keys, the author of our National Anthem. Ha! Would Keys have objected?

Below, detail of the stone foundation of the statue, its face, foot and lyre.





Friday, October 29, 2010

Baltimore Adventure #2: The American Visionary Art Museum


From the top of Federal Hill, you can see a lot. The American Visionary Art Museum was right next to the hill. Like when I say next to was at the foot of the hill. I could have rolled down the hill and onto the museum's grounds.

What caught my eye was the amazing mozaic, glittering in the sun.


I am attracted to sparkly things and bright colors...I had to get a closer look. Was this a restaurant or a museum or both?


Well, as it turned out, it is an art museum with a cafe on the top level. One of these days I will have to make a return visit and check out the cool things inside and eat up at the cafe.

I didn't have a lot of time so decided to check out what was outside. Admission to the museum is $15.95 for adults, a very reasonable price. However, I'd want to get my full $15.95 out of my visit and really get a chance to linger at their exhibits....if they are as cool as what is outside, I think I could spend several hours there. They are open Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

So here is what I did see:


Is this not a fantasy garden? That "play house/tree house" is so cool. If I were a kid, I'd embarass my parents and immediately take up house and start playing pretend. I just imagine tree nymphs and faeries all over this garden.


The detail of the house is just amazing a true work of functional art.


Some of the magical critters, a pink donkey, I think. Much of what I saw outside was fresh and childlike. I mean childlike in the best of ways. The things I saw were right out of a young imagination that hadn't been stuffied up by what grown-ups consider art or beauty or a technique or the fact that in reality donkeys aren't pink (well why not?)


Now I just loved, loved, loved this sculpture! A bird and her nest. Talk about an industrial size bird...and a musical one at that.


Here is her beautiful egg. I love these glass mosaics. It reminds me of a place near my home. Maybe some of my homies may remember the house on Hayes Avenue up by Speigal Grove where they had these towers of cement with pieces of beautiful glassware, plates and mirrors pressed into them. I'm sure many adults may have thought the elderly couple's "glass and cement garden" an eye sore but I thought it was the lovliest thing. I always wanted my mom to stop to let us look through the chainlink fence at the sparkling, colorful rocks. The elderly man's works were no comparison to this egg or the mosaics around the museum buildings.


So back to the mosaic that caught my eye...oh, the balcony above is the restaurant.



Now is that a school bus or is that a school bus?! Below, close-up of the outer wall mosaic.


Biker chick is right over the entrance, you can't miss her.


This glittery mirror tree is right in front of the main building. I can't imagine how cool this must look if it gets hit directly with sunlight. It certainly sounded pretty, tinkling in the soft breeze that afternoon.


This is a close-up of some of the glass and mirror leaves on the tree.


Now, if something can be judged by its 'cover', I have to think the stuff on the inside is pretty cool. The welcome mat for the museum was made out of brightly colored tooth brushes, so who knows what other fun, imaginative, out-of-the-box stuff is inside. If you are in Baltimore, visit the American Visionary Art Museum...if you go, take me with you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Balitmore Adventure: Freedom Hill

Can I just tell you I hate driving in a city. It was almost a disaster for me as I almost got in a car accident trying to find my hotel. I was in the wrong lane so at the last minute I attempted to change lanes (often done in city, right). Since it was the weekend, there wasn't a lot of traffic so people were driving much faster than the speed limit. Before I committed to my lane change, I checked my rearview mirror to see a VW coming up at high speed. I stopped where I was. Lots of room for her to get by on my right but she still layed on the horn and screached to an almost stop and shot me a snotty look. So that's how it started.

After locating my hotel, but it being too early to check-in, I headed to the Inner Harbor. I went to check out Federal Hill which is on the other side of the Harbor, a view I've not really seen before.

What is Federal Hill?


Federal Hill was discovered by Captain John Smith in 1608 on his first exploration of the Chesapeake Bay. It earned its name in 1788, when thousands of Baltimoreans marched from Fells Point to the hill in celebration of the Maryland General Assembly's ratification of the Constitution. (Residents of the neighborhood reenacted the parade 200 years later.) Subsequently it was the scene of other civic celebrations. Shortly after Independence, an observatory was erected on the hill so merchants could get advance warning of the arrival of their vessels. The hill gained notoriety during the Civil War. Federal troops occupied the hill and trained their cannon on the city, whose loyalty to the North was in some doubt.


The city government acquired the hill in 1875 and made it a park. The marine observatory was discontinued in 1899. For much of the 19th century the Federal Hill shore shared with Fells Point the city's thriving shipping trade and related industries. Federal Hill itself was mined for sand for a nearby glassworks, leaving behind some caverns which exist to this day and are a favorite subject of legends.


Modern Federal Hill was born around 1960, when a few hardy pioneers bought and began renovating homes in what had become a dowdy neighborhood. But the existence of the neighborhood was threatened in the mid-60's by a plan to plow through it with an interstate highway, part of a complex of connecting freeways that would have demolished the Inner Harbor and Fells Point. The residents rebelled, joined hands across the harbor, and eventually defeated the plan. The rebuilding of the Inner Harbor area in the late 70s and early 80s greatly increased interest in Federal Hill as an enclave of intimate residential streets within minutes of the city's business and entertainment heart.


Below are some views of the Inner Harbor from the hill.