Yes yes it’s been ages and ages since I’ve posted here. The primary reason is laziness. The secondary reason is that Emma and I have started a new blog: It Never Snowed, which is documenting our family adventure to Bangalore for a two-year assignment. See you there, and hope you enjoy it
Archive for the ‘personal’ Category
For almost a year now I’ve been running two or three mornings a week. It started when I was talking to my neighbor Greg who used to do loads of running when he was in the army but had fallen out of practice and wanted to get moving again. I had done a little bit before and had kind of enjoyed it, and also knew I needed to shift a few pounds as I was really porking out.
So we started pretty light, largely by necessity as going two miles would pretty much kill us. I think the important thing was getting in a routine, which we did pretty well. My weight wasn’t going down yet but that was because I went on rewarding myself with food: I had run a mile and a half so I totally deserved cake. And fries. And beer.
We took a break over winter but I joined the YMCA and got in the rhythm of working out two or three times a week which I found made a really positive difference when we started running again in March, and I’m still going, usually alternating mornings of running or going to the gym.
I’ve been pretty amazed at how my increasingly creaky old self has gotten used to this. I haven’t had any aches or pains to speak of, and despite getting up so early every day I actually find I have much more energy than when I sleep in. Also my running distances have gotten way further – at weekends I’ve been doing 9, 10 or even 12 mile runs and feeling great for it. Also I finally started watching my food and drink intake and have lost 16 pounds in the last four months to get to 170 pounds. I still want to hit 160 but that feels fairly achievable as long as I keep focussed on not snacking or overdoing portion sizes. Wii Fit suggests that I should be down to 145 pounds but that seems slightly insane!
Toby and Emma were at the grocery store tonight choosing bread to go with dinner.
T: let’s get that bread – the one we have when Opa and Val come to stay
E: um OK. So what goes with challah?
T: I dunno … Ham?
One of my favorite blogs, The Daily Dish, written by Andrew Sullivan, runs a feature called The View from Your Window. I always thought it would be cool to have one of my views published – they do some pretty cool views, and it’s also one of the top five most-read single-author blogs (here are their stats)
At the end of last week I sent in what I thought was a pretty nice shot of the view from my office window in the early evening, and today they published it. I think it looks pretty nice. They don’t ever publish contributors’ names, for photos or feedback, but it’s nice to have some anonymous fame.
So it’s only taken four months, but I finally got around to putting together the photos from our Bermuda trip and posting them to Toby and Dara’s site. Hope you like them!
An exchange yesterday:
Emma: We have enough kids’ toys in the house. I don’t think we should get the toy kitchen for Dara.
Me: We should, otherwise how will she learn womanly skills?
Emma: Probably by watching you.
Me: Well played, madam, well played.
Today it’s ten years since I arrived in these United States (specifically, this particular one – the Great State of Minnesota (whenever politicians refer to a state, it’s always a “great state”)).
I can’t quite believe I’ve been here this long, but I’m pretty happy about it. When I got on the plane in 1999 I had never been to America before, and to be honest I’m not sure what I was thinking apart from that it would be something of an adventure, and it would be good for me to see if I could do it – live in a different country. It was quite a culture shock when I arrived – much more than I expected. I had visited a couple of friends shortly before I moved here, one in Berlin and one in Tokyo, and while they found the culture differences quite challenging I think that they expected it more than I did. My take was that people speak English here, so how hard could it be? Well some things weren’t too bad, but as most people know there are a lot of differences between American and British English, but actually more than you would expect. Apart from the words themselves, there are a lot of subtleties, word ordering in sentences, idioms, turns of phrase and even body language. Also I had never really lived in a suburb before – certainly not one without obvious public transport. It took quite a while to make friends beyond my initial circle of expat buddies (and thank goodness for them!) and sometimes I would go a whole weekend without really speaking to anyone. But you know, that was actually OK, and it was probably good for me to have that time.
Anyway, still here, and at a quick reckoning here’s what I’ve done in the last ten years:
Lived in a couple of different apartments
Bought a house in a great neighborhood
Joined a great choir, of which I am a section leader and also choir president
Made some wonderful friends
Built up some decent retirement savings (even with recent stock market disasters)
Learned to barbecue a fantastic steak
Traveled to several states in the US, plus Canada
Traveled to India a few times, and to Bermuda
Got my green card, and now my US citizenship
Progressed in my career in a way I really wanted to, got a bunch of great opportunities, and have learned a ton
Put on a few pounds, but not as much as I deserve to
Gained tons of confidence by doing pretty much all of the above through a combination of good fortune and hard work
Had two wonderful kids
Speaking of those kids, I also just put up some new pics here – hope you enjoy them
We had a bit of a surprise tonight when we got home from work: there was a small dead sparrow lying on the kitchen floor. Apart from the shock Emma got when we saw it, it was quite a strange thing to see. I assumed that the cats had done it in, but there was no sign of struggle – although I didn’t inspect it too closely as I was taking it outside, it seemed to be reasonably intact and there were no feathers lying around the kitchen. Plus the cats barely seemed to notice it.
The other puzzle was how it had gotten inside in the first place. Because of this never-ending winter the house is sealed tight as a duck’s arse, so it’s not like it could have come in through a window. However I was just down in the basement to do some laundry, and noticed that the cover of one of the old vents to the chimney seemed to be loose. I guess it’s possible that the bird could have fallen all the way down there, gotten through the vent and made its way to the kitchen (maybe the cats carried it there so that we would find it) but it’s still pretty strange.
Well we were back to the doctors’ again today, this time with little Dara. She got quite sick last night, with a lot of wheezing and a fever of about 103, and while we wouldn’t normally take her to the doctors’ right away, there has been a bit of pneumonia going around at her daycare, so we thought it was worth getting checked out – we didn’t want to be negligent parents (or at least get found out).
Of course once we arrived at the medical center, she was all happy and saying hello to everyone, and her fever was right back to normal. Plus she only coughed when she wasn’t near a member of the medical staff. But when the doctor started to check her out she immediately saw that she has an ear infection (which surprised us because she hasn’t been showing any signs of ear distress). She also noted that Dara’s oxygen levels were at the low end of normal, and that she was breathing quite fast and with effort. So she was sent off to get a chest x-ray. When I had mine last week it was pretty easy – stand in front of a screen and wait for the picture to be taken. For a toddler, it’s not so easy to hold still, so she was put in a sort of plastic tube which held her body still and her arms out of the way. For anyone who knows toddlers, they will appreciate that being held still is probably the thing toddlers like the least, so this didn’t go down well, especially when they had to re-take the shot, but apart from that she did really well. The doctor said that if she has pneumonia, we’ve caught it good and early so it should be easy to get rid of quickly.
She’s now got some amoxycillin, which should kick in really quickly for both the ear thing and the pneumonia – I think at the moment she’s just really wiped out (as are we after not much sleep last night). It now means that both of the members of the family Toby refers to as “the D people” (Dara and Daddy) are a bit under the weather, and I’m continuing to be in awe of how Emma’s dealing with all this. Right now she’s on the sofa watching TV, eating fruit crumble and drinking wine, looking like the picture of calm, so I’m impressed.
Incidentally, the title of this and the previous post are from Billy Connolly’s The Wellies song, which you may have got if you are Scottish. I wasn’t actually planning it that way when I wrote my post yesterday, which is a bit alarming. At least Dara doesn’t actually have pleurisy, which while also being a lung infection, sounds a lot worse than pneumonia.