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December 30, 2010

Little bit of this, little bit of that

Hello and Thursday! Also, even though it is crazypants early, I still have a cat trying to sit on my keyboard. It is Bob. Bob is like the TSA of this little home-based operation. He believes his job here at the shop is to make sure there are no weapons of mass destruction hiding behind the monitor, also he checks for edibles. During his thorough inspections, plenty of cat hair sticks to the monitor. That way we know the monitor is working.

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Reader Marlena asked:

So this Nike band... it looks like there's a piece that needs to attach to your shoe. Have you ever managed to do that on a shoe that doesn't lace up? Or do you just use it with sneakers?

The Nike + shoes have a hidden compartment for the chip, that's the short answer.

The longer answer is this: I think I am one of the rare few who use the Nike+ Sport Band. From what I can tell from people I know who also use the Nike + chip, most run it through their ipods or iphones (here's a link to the Apple Nike + iPod Sport Kit). Those folks listen to music while they work out and the chip coordinates with software running in their iDevice.

I don't listen to music while I walk, that's purely my meditation time. So I got the sportband.

Basically, to get on this bandwagon you need three things:

1) A pair of Nike+ shoes (the plus sign means there is a little pocket inside the shoe to hold the chip) AND/OR you can buy an aftermarket thingamajig to hold the chip on your shoes, like the shoe lace sensor pouch. OR! OR! You could knit one, like my friend Rachael Herron.
2) The chip itself, which is about the size of a plastic fava bean.
3) Some device to read the data off the chip, either an ipod or iphone or a sportsband.

Nike sells the SportBand (which comes with the chip) as a package if you want to go that route. There is also the much more popular Nike+ ipod starter kit. And you can buy replacement chips for about twenty bucks if your chip starts to run out of juice in time. I have heard from other readers that if you wear your athletic shoes (with the chip inside) for doing daily errands and stuff it will dramatically decrease the chip's life.

I wear mostly flipflops in my daily life, so your mileage may vary.

You will also need to download some free software on your computer, or at least I did. It's how I upload my "runs" (which for me are all "walks") and track my progress. I'm just a consumer (not a paid advocate for running products) and I was skeptical if I could even get this thing to work but it was easy enough to get started and I really like it. It can display runs (again for me these are all walks) in a graph or by month, week, or day. You can set goals and the software will track it. The software is free, you do have to register a username with it, though.

Through my years of aggressively optimistic new starts (Hello, New Years Resolutions long past!) I managed to acquire both a treadmill and a recumbent bike and yet still the only exercise I really love is walking outdoors. Thank goodness I live in L.A. where we can walk outdoors just about year round.

Since we're on the subject, though, for those of you doing your own new start who are deciding between the bike and the treadmill, I would say go for the bike. Yes, the treadmill is probably a better workout in theory but I use the recumbent bike much more. It doesn't require electricity, it's easier to move around, less bulky and it's super quiet. And relatively cheap -- less than a quarter the price of a good treadmill! I was even able to put it together myself (I have this bike which was $160: Phoenix 99608 Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike).

I use it when I watch TV. It's so quiet and easy to do that I can make it through a whole episode of Hawaii 5-0 just pedaling away.

Honestly, I've never been a huge fan of exercise no matter what the device or machine or the cute new outfit I bought just to do said exercise. I'm no expert but I figure the only exercise that really works is the one you stick with on a pretty regular basis. I like walking best but the stationary bike is a good second.

I exercise because I can tell that it dramatically helps improve my sleep and it's decreased my depression. And one day I may be able to actually walk all the way up to my laundry area on the third floor without huffing and puffing.

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Reader Sheila asked:

How is your dad? Much better I hope!

Yes! And thank you for asking. He is better. He's a tough cookie, and my folks are back on the road adventuring across America. And I saw Grandma on Christmas and she is doing well, too. We decided to go to the movies with Aunt Pam and Uncle Arnie and Grandma picked the movie -- she decided she wanted to see True Grit. Got to love my Grandma wanting to see a Coen Brothers film. It was good, we liked it. I complained about the poor movie horses, but we had a good day.

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Reader Chris asked:

I would love it if you ever felt like posting about your acupuncture experience and if you feel it has helped.

Hello, Chris! You would think a crunchy granola such as myself would be all over acupuncture but I was extremely nervous about it at first. My doctor (read: shrink) suggested it because one of her clients had good results using acupuncture to treat his very intense depression and my doctor thought it may be something I'd want to investigate.

I did not care to investigate. Screw that. You want to put needles in my head you're gonna have to pay me! Or so I said.

Surprisingly enough in all of this my biggest pro-acupuncture cheerleader was my Dad. He had gone years ago and had great results and my Dad kept urging me to go, so finally I decided that if my very conservative un-granola Dad could do it, I could at least try.

It took me a few weeks to get up the nerve, but one day I called the acupuncture doctor and I made an appointment. I decided ahead of time that no matter what I would go at least three times before deciding to quit (I know how I can be.)

The first appointment was just a big ball of crazy. I was so nervous I was literally shaking. Physically. I have not ever once voluntarily asked someone to stick needles in my body. Plus, my acupuncture doctor is kind of hot, and that was a little disconcerting. The doctor will ask you very detailed questions about your health, stuff my own primary care doc never asks. And I was honest, and I told him I was there for depression, hopefully for help with weight issues and also with general health and well-being. I did not have high hopes for this needle thing but whatever. I figured I would try it.

On the first visit I was so incredibly anxious that I'm not sure I got much out of the session. I was just wound up so tight. Plus, lying in a darkened room alone for twenty minutes with needles sticking out of my hands and forehead while trying not to sneeze was just about enough. When he came in to take them out the only thing I felt was relief to have gotten through without bolting.

But I had promised myself to try it three times, so I went back the following week.

The next session was day and night's difference. Since I now knew the drill -- I had already met the doctor, been in the room, had already experienced the slightly odd sensation of having needles placed in your hands and ears -- it was less unknown and that itself made it less anxiety-producing. This time he added a few more needles and I think the session was longer, maybe 30 minutes. By the time it was over I knew I felt calm but as I sat up and reached for my shoes I realized I felt like I had been drugged. The good kind of drugged.

What I mean is that I had a calm, softened, still feeling inside me that I almost never feel. In fact, to feel that still and calm I usually have to numb out with a combination of food, TV and wine. You know that calm feeling I mean? The one where you stop feeling coiled up for just a little bit?

So anyway, that's what acupuncture does for me and now I am hooked. Totally hooked. I think it's a good thing. The obvious question for many people is ... is it worth it? For me, yes. I can't tell you the acupuncture itself is a golden bullet but I love and look forward to it and I think it's part of an overall strategy for good living. When it comes down to the money, I have decided I would rather spend money on my physical wellness and calm and find other ways to cut back on spending. Since I almost never drive anywhere, I'm probably saving so much gas money that it pays for itself.

Also it reminds me how good we are in general at rationalizing spending money on all kinds of crap like DVDs and gadgets and stuff from ebay and cars and handbags and shoes but when it comes to paying a shrink or a massage therapist or an acupuncturist or paying for a service that is not exactly tangible but could lead to long-term happiness, we balk.

Because we humans are funny little people.

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Other Stuff:

• I have a printer still here in a box that I have got to set up today. I have had this printer for months, just there in its box sneering at me. I find tasks like this daunting and require a cocktail. So I have to wait until cocktail hour to get started on it. I have actually managed to exist without a working printer for well over two years but now I have to print something out and that means I got to git 'er done. Oh, technology. Why are we sometimes so hateful of each other?

• Something I wrote the other day got picked up for syndication on BlogHer and here is the link. Also, while I was registering for the site I found what looks like a delicious recipe for jalapeno creamed corn, doesn't that look good? Anyway, I'm sharing because I like what BlogHer is about. It reminds me of back in the day, what we were trying to do with ChickClick even though that sort of fell apart with a thud.

• I have one knitting project that has to get done and shipped by tomorrow and then I have to finish a couple of hats for my nephews oh, and I still need to post that newest hat pattern. What is everyone knitting these days?

• Does anyone have a good recipe that contains butternut squash? I'm not sure I love butternut squash all that much, even though I know it's good for you. But I have one here in the fridge and I want to do something with it other than just roast it. Worst case scenario I guess I could peel it, cut it in cubes and freeze it for later. I wonder if I could shred it and eat it raw in a salad, like you can with beets?

• When the clock strikes midnight tomorrow night and I am not 100% totally done with the manuscript I will look back at this blog and the eleventeen hundred words I have dumped on all you hearty souls lately and think, ah well. Typing is my cardio. And won't it be nice to say, in 2011 I finished my first fiction novel? Oh yeah.

• One of my goals for 2011 may be to learn how to say Hey! Hey! Hey! in a Fat Albert voice.

• It is wacky windy outside! Apparently there were tumbleweeds on the freeway this morning and everything. Very exciting!


And finally, are ya'll getting excited about a new, fresh year coming? I am. I'm ready to be done with 2010 and go on to Prime Year 2011.

Posted by laurie at December 30, 2010 5:50 AM