Archive for January, 2007

We live near one of the major manufacturing sites of Daimler Chrysler, manufacturer of Mercedes Benz. Every so often we get to see a test car, like the one pictured above. Notice how it’s matte black? That’s special black tape, covering the finish and some specific details they don’t want to show the public yet.

It’s a new model, not yet for sale, and is generally being test-driven by a Mercedes executive. The Mercedes employees get to check out cars like this occasionally. Nice deal, but not as nice as the car purchase plan they have. They and retirees of Mercedes get to buy a new car at a discount, mind you, and turn it around and sell it after a certain short period, like maybe a year. Nice profit. They call them Jahreswagens, for “annual cars.”

But there are other collateral benefits to just living in the area. I really enjoy seeing a tractor-trailer carrying a million dollars worth of cars off the factory lot for delivery. Once in a while, when we drive by the plant, I estimate how much inventory I can see. $50M is not an unusual number of cars for Mercedes to have in inventory, right before a big shipment. A large portion of the inventory parking lot is covered by carports, but I can’t imagine what they do when a hailstorm comes through.

It also doesn’t hurt to have the benefit of having so many well-paid people living in the area, because that means nice shopping, counterbalanced by expensive housing. Oh well, can’t have anything.

But I discovered a new benefit! I was contacted by an employee of a supplier to Mercedes, who is desiging a voice recognition system. They are testing or training their latest system, and they need recorded voices for their new product. Of course, they need many different languages, and at the moment they’ve asked for new recordings of American English voices. I assume it’s some kind of usability test they are running, and I love usability, so I hope to learn more. Both my daughter and I get to record for them today! It’s going to be so much fun! I’ll let you know what happens.


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Yesterday was a tough day at work. Got in at a normal time, worked hard with a visitor from the US, and ended the day in overtime with a teleconference that went an additional hour over its scheduled time. Geez, I sound like a bad sports announcer: “Boss scores 8 points in a double overtime reorganization announcement, but rainbow replies, earning a 3 pointer with a quick snap question of “What makes management think we’re going to get to a billion dollars when our processes aren’t even stable?”

Back in the dugout after the game, rainbow can’t stop the trash talk.

“Sure, you can do anything when you have naive ideas and an endless supply of inexhaustable labor.”
“The journey to a billion dollars sometimes ends very, very bankrupt.”
“New management, same mistakes.”

Excuse me, I seem to have forgotten my hunger.

So I came home late, exhausted and slightly discouraged. DH took pity on me and heated the soup I cooked yesterday, plain vegetable soup that I was going to either make into a veggie-rich chicken casserole, or cook up some chicken breast and some cornbread. At first, I couldn’t believe that soup was a sufficient dinner, but the one bowl really satisfied me. I didn’t even eat any bread with it. Later, as I was fixing Hawaii toast for my sick kid, I ate a bit of cheese, but that was it. Both lunch and dinner that day were simply soup, and I wasn’t even hungry at the end of the day. Even breakfast had been lighter than normal.

Just another day of normal eating, I suppose.

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I ordered a pair of pants from Land’s End. They came today. After a long hard day at work, with a little frustration at the end, I arrived home exhausted, and didn’t want to face the judgement of pants. Trying on clothes used to be painful, and I would yell at myself so much just for being fat that I couldn’t stand to shop at all.

Pants never fit me. Being a pear, no make that a disproportionate pear, my hips are 3 sizes larger than my bust. And given that I was already on the edge of the available clothing sizes, large hips meant few pants were available to buy. No pencil skirts for me.

But I bought a pair last week, size 3X. After holding them and contemplating the situation, I asked DH to tell me something about how if the pants don’t fit, they go right back. He willingly complied, giving me a teensy whack on the head to help memory retention, and I tried them on. They fit. I am beside myself with flabbergastry. It’s another one of those things to get used to: wearing clothes that I never thought would ever fit. And it’s a reinforcement of the idea that I need to get used to the idea that many many clothes fit, and something that encircles my hips is no longer more important than actually liking my clothes.

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So I was going to go to Paris for my birthday, actually DH and my birthdays together, since mine is on Feb 3 and his is Feb 9. HOWEVER, Paris just faded into nothingness when I learned that an English theater troupe is going to do a version of Pride and Prejudice on the same weekend.

Check out the Hubbub players and their nearly non-existent web site. I do like their posters, but the one with the picture of Jane is my favorite.

Both DH and DD are slightly less than whelmed, but they are being kind, since it’s my birthday. DH will get to pick a nice place for dinner, since it’s his birthday too.

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Today I paid more attention to hobbies, chores, self-care and exercise than ever before! Tracking these things is really paying off.

I did: harp, scriptwriting, sudoku, and reading. I did kitchen cleaning, training the kid, cleaning up after dinner, and sorting books. I had a solid 25 minutes on the exercycle, followed by a nice bath, and now I want to go do some strength training.

Of course, it looks like I’ll have to take some memory training. Today, DH reminded me that I had forgotten that next weekend is my birthday and that in April we celebrate our 20th anniversary. Sigh. Sometimes it feels like I’m playing whack-a-mole. But not today! I did great!

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This month was a bit rocky, with a good start, one week with a gain, giving up daily weigh-ins, building new measurements, and getting back into a more satisfactory rhythm.

Weight: at one point I was up 4 pounds, but I have a net loss for the month of a bit more than 3 pounds. Giving up the scale is more beneficial than I thought, but I ought to be honest here: “giving up daily measurements” really means weighing less often, just a few times a week instead of every day. Sometimes I step on the scale in the morning, and deliberately forget it as soon as possible.

Building new habits is more important now. Rather than relying on an outside resource like Sparkpeople to erroneously tell me how many calories I’ve burned, I rely on myself to record my work intensity, my overtime, my physical activity, my hobbies, and my chores. This is actually great for me, because in this one simple list, I review my daily performance on every habit that’s important to me right now. My eating habit is developed, even if I know that I can improve consistency and will eventually reduce the volume of what I eat, so I don’t need to spend a lot of effort measuring it.

My biggest burden lately was not getting enough chores done, and this new measurement system has helped. Sometimes, when I want to exercise, I do heavy cleaning or decluttering. Friday I wanted to do strength training, so I decided that, rather than lift a weight for 30 repetitions, I would rearrange the books on my shelf. That was more lifting than I normally get in an exercise session. And I got plenty of core exercise done while cleaning the bathroom.

The one generalization I can make is that I succeed most consistently when I switch focus occasionally. Last year this time, I was discovering hunger and fullness, then eventually I started dieting, then exercising, now I’m keeping many of these in balance while I give attention to the habits of chores and hobbies.

It’s also true that this is going to go on for years. I feel better about the habits I’ve developed over the past years, but I know that they won’t become internalized for a very long time.

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Ice in the wild is my nemesis.

Once upon a time, I walked to school every day. Just three blocks, I had to go up the street, cross the railroad tracks on top of the hill, then back down the hill into the “wealthy” neighborhood, and on to school.

Running to the next puddle and splashing in it was great fun, even better in winter. Then I was sliding on the ice instead of splashing. Until one day, I slipped and fell, cutting my knee badly. Forty years later, I still have the scars. After the fall, I could no longer stand to slide on the frozen puddles.

Fast forward 15 years, as a young adult. My best friend loved everything icy, having been raised in Batavia, New York. She was also a great skater, and convinced me to take ice skating lessons. After many lessons, I actually had confidence to go out. I knew how to balance, how to move forward, how to skate. We went skating. One loop around the rink was all I managed before I fell and broke my wrist. End of ice for me again.

Fast forward again 5 more years. Living in Europe, I had a new circle of friends. As fate would have it, they decided to go skiing in the Italian Dolomite mountains. I went along to learn to ski. Got my gear, arranged lessons. Stood on top of the bunny slope, and went for it. The slope had no snow whatsoever, just ice. At that moment, I decided I was never going to force myself onto ice again.

Fast forward to tonight. The only barrier between me an aquajogging was several hundred meters of, you guessed it, ice. The normal walk involved a lot of poorly cleaned stairs. The parking lot with no stairs to the entrance was up an equally slippery hilly road. After some debate I decided to walk it. I didn’t get even a tenth of the way before the stress was too much. I kept my promise to myself and went home.

Once home, I broke into tears at this defeat. Somehow I had the irrational belief that I could beat this without practice. DH, bless his heart, came with just the right hugs and kisses and the words, “So you gave it a shot. Good job. Once you get some more practice, it will be easier.”

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