The next step

>> 3.21.2009

I took lots of steps today; I should have worn the pedometer. The setting on this beautiful Saturday afternoon: the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Lots of people came out of hibernation to see the newly awakened animals, but the great part is the paths are wide, so someone doing four 18-minute laps around the zoo while wearing her iPod had plenty of space to navigate, without coming near a double stroller.

What brought me to my favorite zoo? Well, the child was exploring the South Pole in zoo class, so I had two hours to myself. In keeping with this week's pattern, I left the car in the parking lot (the mall down the road held no appeal) and started walking.

(Side note: I've experienced zoos in DC, Tampa, and San Diego, and in comparison Milwaukee's is the best for accessibility and ease of navigation -- especially during the stroller days.)

The iPod selected a marvelous variety of music to pace me while I moved past the elephants, wrestling brown bears, sunning hippos, and pacing zebras. Even the badger had emerged from hibernation. (His NCAA basketball counterpart barely woke up in time to stay alive in the big tournament yesterday).

I took a break after two laps to do some work. Outside. In the warm sunshine. At a picnic table. With golf carts driving by. The only thing missing was an ocean. I'm very productive in such a setting.

Reflecting on my afternoon several hours later, I have but one regret: I should have worn walking shoes. Selecting fleece-lined, Croc-type clogs (shown at right) was not my best move. I was fine until the very end, but my feet are a bit raw now.

(Side note 2: You'll notice how my blog posting picks up as the weather improves. I have time to think, plan, and analyze while I enjoy the outdoors, and I have more to talk about than "drove through snow on the way home; made dinner; too cold to leave the house again.")

Overall, I had a fun day. But I think I'll stay off my feet tomorrow.



>> 3.20.2009

If you're like me, two things can happen when you see "1985."

One, you have bad flashbacks to awkward early teenage years, or two, you start singing "She's seen all the classics, she knows every line, Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, even St. Elmo's Fire..."

Yes, it's the song by Bowling for Soup that recounts the mid-'80s, right down to my Duran Duran obsession (but I didn't marry a CPA).

And hearing that song tonight took me back to 1985.

I was standing along a wall during a school dance, barely knowing anyone, being ignored, not going near the dance floor.

Um, that was tonight, actually. I never even attended a dance as a student.

Yes, I took the six-year-old to her school's fundraiser, our first of many to come, while the husband stayed home sick (he really was...).

After dinner, at 6:00 sharp, the DJ kicked things off by playing "1985," aimed squarely at all of the uncool, SUV-driving parents in attendance, I'm sure. Ouch.

I now return you Back to the Future, because I have absolutely no desire to be 14 again.


Please rise

>> 3.19.2009

Since I obsessed about sitting in my previous post, I will make up for it by getting on my feet.

For four glorious days this week, I got to walk to my destination, instead of depressing an accelerator to move from Point A to Point B. It's all about location.

Walk number 1: While cleaning out the grandparents' apartment last weekend, we discovered a strong need for Magic Erasers, as nothing else would remove three years' worth of grime from the refrigerator and the walls. I quickly volunteered to walk "across the street" to the store. I believe it was faster to navigate by foot through the complex, down two blocks, and across the busy road and parking lot than it would have been to drive the vehicle over the same route. I rediscovered my need to live within walking distance of places I often visit.

Walk number 2: For once, we had a beautiful Monday night in March, so the child and I (with special thanks to Daylight Savings Time) walked to her golf lesson at the local community center (formerly our library... the new library is quite a haul on foot). We saw birds, we skipped, and we enjoyed a car-less night.

Walk number 3: The final two walks don't count toward lower carbon emissions, because a vehicle was still used, but I did get to walk somewhere. I stopped at the park on the way home from work, with the assumption that I'd find the other members of my household. They were located, and the child and I walked home while the husband drove.

Walk number 4: Again, thanks to mild weather, the child and I walked to my parents' house for dinner. The husband drove again, since the child wasn't going to last for the walk back, and it doesn't stay light and warm THAT long yet. Still, a 1.5-mile walk is better than nothing.

In summary, those are the three locations to which I can reasonably walk from our house, plus a bonus destination. This week has given me a taste of what living in my dream "walking community" would be like every day.

Move along.


Please remain seated

>> 3.10.2009

"Please remain seated with your seatbelt fastened until the plane comes to a complete stop." I haven't heard those words in more than a year. In fact, the last time I flew, you could check your luggage for free. How quaint.

My thoughts about seating are wide-ranging at the moment, so I'll ramble.

1. Today I received tickets for the right-by-the-stage seats I picked out for this summer's jaunt to the American Players Theater. The seat locations are outstanding, and the chairs themselves are comfy, so no seating issues there. We'll just hope for a 72-degree day in August, slightly overcast, with a light breeze to keep the bugs away.

2. I wish I were picking out my seat for a trip on a plane. (Can you still do that, or do you pay extra for that too?) But I'm not going anywhere, so I won't dwell.

3. My lunchtime seating today had a water view, normally a plus for a beach fan. Unfortunately, it was a view partially obscured by fog, and the river was full of debris and ice chunks breaking free from a mess upstream.

4. The days aren't getting longer just because of Daylight Savings Time (not being a morning person, I'm a big DST fan, by the way). My office chair has started making me long for shorter days.

Back story: At my previous place of employment, we had Chair School, where we rolled our assigned seats to a large open area and learned to use the very expensive ergonomic office chairs. Many people did not see the value in this exercise (and even suggested it as a topic for Dilbert), but I absorbed the lessons and actually used all the settings on my chair, depending on my task.

I could've been a Chair School instructor, but I think they gave up on formal lessons and just handed new employees a manual at some point.

Fast forward a few years: The first chair at my current place of employment came complete with stains of unknown origin, dog hair (I don't have pets, nor do I appreciate having their fur transferred to my clothing), and chipped armrests. You only can cover armrests with packing tape so many times before it becomes ineffective and you start scraping your arms on broken plastic, so I hid that chair in storage when we moved our offices.

At that point I "acquired" a brand-new-looking conference room chair (we had too many to fit around the table, trust me). Looks are deceiving: it doesn't roll on carpet, and as I've recently discovered, only has sufficient padding for sitting on through a short meeting. It's not an eight-hour chair. There really is a difference between this cheap chair and a $400 one.

Potential solutions: I could figure out a way to stand all day. (I always was jealous of art directors with stand-up desks.)

I could sit on a piece of foam or a tie-on cushion from grandma's old kitchen chairs. (I'll have to rifle around and see what I can find.)

I could buy an exercise ball to replace the evil chair. (I've investigated and shopped, but can't bring myself to buy, yet.)

Haven't reached a conclusion; I'm still thinking. Suggestions welcome.

You may be seated.


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