Friday, February 25, 2011

Confused Face

Well, if you've been following the saga of me and The Fresh Diet, you'll notice I've gone back and forth over it -- I find it acceptable when the portions are sizeable, the food is edible, and I lose weight.  I find that it blows when the portions are tiny, the food sucks, and I gain weight.

And yes, each set of three things seems to happen simultaneously.  Which is to say: there's no logical tiny portions/weight loss; big portions/weight gain thing going on here.  The weight loss or gain seems to happen wholly independently of the amount of food they give me to eat.

(And can I again add that the portions make no sense?  Seriously, what am I supposed to learn about portion control when my dessert can be:  (1)  a decent-sized piece of cheesecake; (2) a tiny cookie with four chocolate chips on it; or (3) a pineapple ring (singular) with a tiny dollop of mascarpone and a raspberry?  I'll tell you what I learned -- I learned to order the cheesecake every time it was offered.  And, when you get right down to it, I'm pretty sure "order the cheesecake" is not a lesson I should be taking away from a diet plan.)

But, I (tentatively) happily admit that my weight this morning was down to Target + 3.  That's 3.0, in fact.  Meaning that I've crossed (for two days now) the elusive T+4 barrier, and may be on the path to something in the T+2 neighborhood before this plan terminates on Tuesday.  (I say "tentatively" because this plan has yo-yo'd on me before.)  But if I end this thing with a substantial dent made in my 5.6 pounds over target, plus the discovery of a few more foods to eat (sweet potatoes = not bad), the whole experience will end up in the plus column.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Did NOT see that one coming

So, I read today that the Obama Administration will no long oppose legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act -- taking the position that, when you get right down to it, the law is kinda unconstitutional.

When I say I didn't see it coming, I mean from a political strategy point of view.  From a practical point of view, I did see it coming -- in the broad sense that I think that ultimately, there's only one way this dispute will actually end, and that's with equal rights for homosexuals.  But that's in an ultimate sense -- it might take a bunch of adverse court decisions and a whole new generation of Americans for this to happen.  So, I mean, yeah, I think that's how it will play out, but I didn't expect the current administration to go there and I certainly didn't expect it to go there today.

And here's why:  Just yesterday I was watching the news about how Republicans in Congress were targeting Planned Parenthood (and pretty much anyone who provides abortions) for budget cuts, and my thought was, "well, that's just going to help the Democrats take back the House in the next election."  Because, here's the thing -- it isn't the ultra-conservatives or the ultra-liberals who decide elections, it's the moderates.  And moderates didn't vote for Republicans because they're against abortions; they voted for Republicans because the economy is in the toilet and the Republicans promised jobs.  

And we've seen this before -- we vote a party in to do something, and instead, they see being elected as a great opportunity to push other items in their agenda forward -- which ultimately results in us then voting the other party into power (who will proceed to do the same thing from their side).

So, what I expected to see from Obama and the Democrats in Congress was either:  (1) a media poop-storm about how the Republicans forcing their social anti-abortion agenda rather than rational fixes to the economy; or (2)  sort of letting the Republicans get away with it with the understanding that they would point to it at the next election as a reason for voting the Republicans out.

What I did NOT expect was for Obama to play social issue against social issue.  To say, "I'll see your no-fiscal-support-for-abortion-providers; and raise you a no-legal-support-for-the-Defense-of-Marriage-Act."  I mean, DAMN.

(Amusing, though, that Republicans immediately picked up on the proper response to the play.  The above linked article includes this quote:

"While Americans want Washington to focus on creating jobs and cutting spending, the president will have to explain why he thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a controversial issue that divides the nation," Boehner aide Michael Steel said.

Hmmm.  "[S]tir up a controversial issue that divides the nation"?  Sounds an awful lot like abortion, from where I'm sitting.)

But, still, the very last thing I expected out of the Obama Administration was to counter with its own move on a social issue.  It will be very interesting to see how this one plays out.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'll Know...

I go on a lot of First Dates.

I've even done speeddating, which is, like, a dozen first dates in the space of two hours.  And what I learned there is that seven minutes can be a Very Long Time Indeed.

And once, when I was trying desperately to fill a slooooooow seven minutes with conversation, I noticed that the dude across the table was wearing an unusual pendant thingie (do you say "necklace" when it's a guy?), so I commented on it.  

From that point onward, I've generally made an effort to deck myself out in conversation starters when I'm going on a first date.  I'll usually wear an unusual necklace (little flecks of silver in a little glass container -- from a silver mine in New Zealand) and a very unique watch (Disney's Basil of Baker Street). 

You can't miss the watch.  It's actually a man-sized watch so it takes up most of my wrist.  It's big and green has a hand-drawn cartoon character on it.  And if it isn't the only one of its kind, it was certainly the first, and I don't think there's been a huge demand for them since.

(Pause while I google to see if I've ever blogged about the watch.  Google says I haven't.  I find this hard to believe.  Long story short:  The only place where you can get an original Disney-drawn item created just for you is in the watch store at Disneyland (and, perhaps, Disney World).  One year, my tax refund and I went to Disneyland, selected an artist (you get to flip through books of their drawings) and designed what I wanted on a Basil watch.  The artist drew it; it had to get approved by the Disney people (as a proper drawing of the character); and then the drawing was duplicated on a watch.  I got the original drawing, too -- it's framed on my wall.  Now, a copy of the drawing is in the artist's book, so if someone else wants it, they could request it.  But as far as I know, there hasn't actually been a run on these things.)

So, unique watch and fairly unusual necklace.  Worn on nearly every first date.  If you're staring at me looking for conversation starters, those are two things you can safely ask me about. 

Years ago, when I first started doing this, I figured I'd give points for noticing either one; extra points for the watch, because that means my date was looking someplace other than where the necklace hangs.

I have never been asked about either one.  Not ever.

Rethinking Food in a Box

I've been a bit grumpy this weekend, largely because of the aforementioned Food in a Box.  My weight actually went UP on Saturday -- it went down a touch on Sunday and today, and I'm right back at Target + 4.2.

Let me be clear about my target.  I have a variety of weight loss targets.  The one I'm calling "Target" is something I'd be pretty happy with.  Target + 4, however, seems to be the weight I'm able to get to and keep all by myself -- but I've been having a great bit of difficulty crossing Target + 4.  And this seems to be the same sticking point with the FreshDiet diet.

This annoys.  FreshDiet is expensive, often tasteless, sometimes leaves you hungry, and makes you eat alone.  All of these things kinda suck, but are worth it in the short term if I actually lose weight.  If my weight is going to keep doing this lurking-around-Target+4 thing while I'm on the plan, this won't give me any advantage whatsoever over what I can do myself.

I've still got more than a week to go on this here plan, so I'm still hoping it can manage to cross Target + 4 and make a decent deal of progress toward Target itself.  

Now, when I initially lost the weight, it was at a pretty steady two pounds per week.  Given my starting point last week, this is still possible, but I better start seeing the other side of Target + 4 sometime soon.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Yet More on Food In A Box

I'm becoming a bit more positive on FreshDiet -- largely because the scale had good news for me this morning (Target + 4.2), but also because of a couple discoveries I've picked up along the way:  (1)  Sweet potatoes = tasty; and (2)  Pork cutlets = also tasty.  (Growing up in a kosher home, pork wasn't really a go-to food.)  But I am, at this moment, chowing down on my dinner of "Braise pork cutlets [yes!  there's two of them], rosemary carrot mash, and cider baked sweet potato with red currants," and it's actually delicious.  The appearance of this stuff -- given as you get it in little reheatable microwave trays -- makes me feel like I'm eating airplane food.  But it's a good, filling meal, and (so far, at least) it seems to be doing the twin jobs of kick-starting the diet, and getting me eating less processed stuff, so I'm genuinely pleased.

It is not a good long-term solution.  I mean, I passed on the standard Friday lunch with my workmates at the restaurant across the street, and had to pass when the friend I'm meeting for a movie tonight asked about dinner as well.  FreshDiet pretty much sucks from the perspective of your social life, as, unless you happen to be in a BYO situation, you're gonna be eating alone.  (It does allow you to stop delivery for any particular day -- but you've got to do that 72 hours in advance.)

So, yeah, finishing up my yummy pork, off to the movies, and I have a dessert of (what purports to be) raspberry cheesecake waiting for me.  If I continue losing weight at the current rate, I will be genuinely thrilled with the experiment.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Food In A Box -- Day Two

I lost .6 of a pound this morning, putting me weight at an even five pounds over goal.

Am not sure whether this is good or bad -- also not sure whether random or permanent -- but it was surprising.

(Might have been due to me eating dinner much earlier than I usually do.  Might have been due to the food, or lack thereof, from the people.  Hard to say.  Will be really interested to see what the scale says tomorrow.)

Today's food:
"Cinnamon Apple Old Fashioned Oatmeal" = Cinnamon Apple my ass.  Totally tasteless.  Filling, though -- C.
"Sloppy Joe Sub" = Actually tasty.  And bigger than yesterday's lunch.  Point off, though, for not replacing the "Crunchy Asparagus" with anything. -- B.
Snack of Cucumber and Cheese tea sandwich was quite tasty; point off for presentation (it was falling apart) -- B.
Dinner is Grilled Chicken Breast with wrong veggies and barbecue sauce.  Wasn't intented to be barbecue sauce -- that appears to be their go-to substitution for me whenever I don't like their sauces.  There is going to be a lot of barbecue sauce in my future.  

(Haven't eaten it yet.  Nor the strawberry muffin -- for which I have fairly high hopes.)

Delivery schedule, by the way, is totally random -- first night, they came well after I'd gone to bed; second night, they came pretty early (by 9, I think).  Tonight ... nearly 11 and no food yet.

Food In A Box

Yeah, OK, long story less long:  I'm trying (there was a groupon) -- I get two weeks of their "premium" food delivery plan.  Hoping to kick-start a bit of weight loss.  I've been basically keeping to my food plan from a few years ago, which has resulted (more or less) in maintaining my current weight.  Which is all well and good, until I go on vacation or something -- next thing I know, I've put on a couple pounds, and then I can't lose them, because all I seem to do is maintain -- whether I exercise or not (which is currently not, thanks to tweaking my back).  So I figured one of the things I could do to improve things isn't so much to mess with calorie count, but to eat less processed foods -- enter TheFreshDiet, which delivers freshly made food to your door on a daily basis.

(OK, maybe that was the long version.)

So, there will be regular reports on the food.  First:  the baseline.  My weight is ... let's just say 5.6 pounds above where I'd really like it to be.

Report on Today's Food:
We need a little more truth in advertising from the FreshDiet people.  My breakfast was advertised as "multi-grain pancakes with strawberries."  My breakfast was actually "multi-grain pancake with strawberry."  You see the difference, yes?  One four-inch diameter pancake and four strawberry slices.  To be fair to the pancake, it was surprisingly tasty.  And, considering its multi-grain-ness, it wasn't what you'd call light and fluffy, which pretty much meant it was fairly filling, and you wouldn't want to eat a whole lot of them.  So, despite the small quantity, breakfast was edible, tasty, and filling.  A solid B.

Lunch was "Asian Flank Steak on Whole Wheat Roll" with peanut sauce.  Here, the surprise was how fatty the meat was.  I mean, when I'm buying my own food, I wouldn't buy meat this marbled.  It was, again, edible and tasty (except a particularly fatty bit), but I definitely expected lean meat from these folks.  That's a C.

My snack was billed as a "Grilled Shrimp Skewer" which was actually ... guesses, anyone? ... two grilled shrimp in a box.  (All the food was in plastic reheatable boxes -- and there was a note to not reheat sauce and dressing containers.  There was no note not to reheat the shrimp box.  There should have been.  In the microwave, the plastic box deflated and started melting around the shrimp.  Had I not acted quickly, I would've been left with shrink-wrapped shrimp.)  Edible, bland, poorly packaged, not all that filling.  C-.

Dinner was a pleasant surprise quantity-wise.  Considering the itty bitty quantities of everything else, I thought they'd actually made a mistake when I saw three sizeable pieces of chicken breast in there.  My normal diet includes keeping my protein portions at about 4 ounces per meal -- given the vast amount of chicken for dinner (and teeny amount of flank steak at lunch), I thought I might consider moving some dinner meat to lunch in future.  The chicken was allegedly in "Orange Tea Leaf Sauce," which I could politely describe as "delicate" and rather more honestly describe as "tasteless."  Edible, though.  Filling.  C.

Dessert was a chocolate chip muffin, reasonably-sized (although not what you'd get from a muffin store or anything).  Tasty.  B+.

Interesting note from tomorrow's delivery (just received):  FreshDiet's premium plan lets you select an unlimited amount of foods you WON'T eat -- they promise that if none of their menu choices are appetizing, they'll prepare something for you that doesn't include any of your dislikes.  Yeah.  So today's lunch is "Sloppy Joe Sub on Whole Wheat Bun with Crunchy Asparagus."  I am not an asparagus fan, so was curious to see what I'd get instead.  What I got was "Sloppy Joe no Asparagus."  I am not amused.  No substitution (not even a carrot or something).  I simply get LESS food.  And tomorrow's dinner includes a veggie I won't eat (I thought I put it on my dislike list, but apparently not).  Result being I'm going to have to go the store to buy some fresh fruit or veggies to supplement the FreshDiet food I'm getting, because they're either just omitting disliked veggies, or giving me veggies I don't like.  I am a bit ticked about this.  (I'd be a lot more ticked if I wasn't getting this on a discount groupon.)  But this is an expensive food plan -- the idea is that they deliver fresh food to you every morning so you don't have to buy ANYTHING to go with it.  And I have to buy something to go with it.

So, basically, so far I am pretty disappointed in my food in a box.  

Of course, if I start dropping weight on this plan, my opinion may turn around.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Last Day in Tahoe

I am a wuss.

I hurt my back yesterday.  Didn't say anything about it at the time, because of the phenomenal wussiness of the move and because I figured I'd be okay after a night with a ThermaCare wrap.

Did I hurt my back skating?  No.  Tubing?  No.  Hauling my tube up to the top of the big hill?  No.

Did I even hurt my back carrying Jacob's car seat back up to the room?  (This would have been embarassing, because they asked me if I was sure I could carry it, and I said, yes, I'm tough.)

No.  I brought the car seat up and set it down with no trouble.  I went into my bathroom and used the toilet.  I stood up from the toilet, turned slightly sideways, and BAM, wrenched myself.

Yes, I hurt my back going to the bathroom.  Those urinating injuries -- gotta look out for them.

I pay attention to this particular injury, as it's very likely a replay of an older one -- which hasn't reared its ugly head in years and years, but I recognize it and know it as one of those injuries that I have to be careful of -- I've stopped skating because of it several times in the past, and it was certainly going to stop me from getting on the ice again today.
Instead, I got a massage.  :)

(Had been considering one anyway, but it seemed like a perfectly good sedentary activity for the day.  Even though I would have preferred being active.  Really.  Peggy was skating today and I would've liked skating with her, but I would be really ticked at myself if I genuinely injured myself -- and, given how poorly I skated the other day, I suspected that was a possibility.)

So, it was a pretty low-key day.  Lots of sitting around, reading.  We went outside and made s'mores in the firepits, and I washed 'em down with some hot chocolate (which unfortunately, I spilled down my sleeve -- my down parka is now spinning in the clothes dryer) -- the men had hot chocolate with vodka, which was probably even more warming.

Nice part of the vacation.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the Ireland vacation and had actually been hoping for this to be another activity-every-day trip, because (to my great surprise) I'm actually HAPPY when I've been active and like going to sleep feeling that Good Kind of Exhausted.  But I also like sitting around a nice fire, with a nice hot beverage, talking with friends....

... about our next vacation.


If you want to go tubing at Northstar, you have to take the gondola to mid-mountain. This costs $15. Tubing itself costs $21 for the first hour, $12 for each additional hour. They have ONE tubing lane. Oh, and you have to make a reservation 24 hours in advance – otherwise you pay your $15 for the gondola and take your chances as to walk-up availability.

We decided, then, to go to Soda Springs, where we’d tubed before. It takes a car to get there, and a taxi would be expensive (and less than optimally convenient), so a few of our number took the bus down to a car rental place, and came back with an SUV. We road tripped out to Soda Springs – but first stopped at Squeeze In, a tiny little hole-in-the-wall place known for awesome omelettes. (Get something with bacon.)

Soda Springs is not the world’s best tubing establishment, but it’s way better than the one at Northstar. $25 for as long as you want. 6 or more lanes open. Jacob and his folks went over to the kids’ play area (with little tiny tubing) while the other two of us went grown-up tubing. You take a little “magic carpet” lift (your tube goes on the lift, too, but you sorta have to pull it along) up to the top of the lanes. Once we got there, they told us the UPPER lanes were open – two more tubing lanes starting WAY UP THERE. Problem: no magic carpet lift. So we just had to haul our tubes up to the top of the two higher tubing lanes. (This was a surprising amount of physical effort for the upcoming fun.) Just a few people got there before us, so they were the guinea pigs down the long tube track.

At Soda Springs, the bottom of the tube track curves uphill – this is supposed to stop your tube. They also lay some straw on the track (just before it curves up) to further slow your progress.

The first couple people go down the high tubing lane, and their tubes both go right to the top of the uphill bit – they hit the little mesh fencing at the top. Soda Springs employees spread a little more straw on the bottom of the lane. The next pair go, and similarly hit the top. My friend is among them. The guy at the top of the lane responds to this by moving the “start here” sign all of three feet down from the usual start line. As though this will slow our velocity enough to keep us from going all that high.

I take my turn. The course is fast and fun. The stop – not so much. The straw at the bottom hasn’t so much been SPREAD here as plopped in a pile, which my tube bounces off before continuing to the top of the lane, at which point it comes down and is stopped hard by hitting the pile of straw again. I’d had a bit of a headache earlier, and it just came back.

We decide to stick with the lower, safer tubing lanes – a call eventually made by the Soda Springs people, who shut the upper lanes after about a half-hour. The lower lanes are fast enough, and the stop is very gentle, as it should be. Way More Fun when you aren’t in fear, and my headache quickly subsides. We tube for upwards of two hours – joined, alternately, by one of Jacob’s parents (while the other stayed with him in the Planet Kids area). As the afternoon wore on, the tube lanes got faster – the Soda Springs guys kept moving the start line lower and lower, and eventually told us all to switch to tubes without the little “flying saucer” on the bottom (which smoothes the surface and makes for better tubing). By this time, we gave up, and just went to join Jacob in the kids’ area. (He was climbing to the top of a pretty big mountain of snow. When we got there, he was about halfway up and sliding backwards. He eventually made it to the top All By Himself, which was pretty impressive. Kid is determined – he’d apparently been on this for 45 minutes, and refused all assistance.)

On the way back to Northstar, we stopped at a grocery store – bought dinner supplies and the makings of s’mores for dessert.

We bought pasta for dinner. We had made pasta the night before, so decided we’d go out for dinner – especially since we still had the car. So we made our way to a nice place near the lake itself (somebody’s Waterfront Grille). The meal totally reminded me of restaurant meals when I was a kid – a big steak (which you cover in A-1), with a choice of fries, baked potato or rice, and a salad bar with no low-cal dressing options and a “fresh fruit” selection that’s a coupla slices of melon. Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoyed it – we were pretty darned hungry (sliding down a hill apparently takes a lot out of you) and it was good eatin’. Still, it isn’t the sort of place you can readily find in SoCal these days – come to think of it, it may be. There’s a “Steer ‘n’ Ale” near my house which probably serves a similar menu.

Came back to the condo – I ran upstairs for the s’mores fixins while the others went to stake out a fire pit (the ice rink is surrounded by sofas in little lounge areas around fire pits). I come off the elevator with fixins in my hand, only to be met by the gang, saying the fire pits are all off. We’re going to try again today.

The James Blunt hour

Yeah, we had some internet issues.  We still do.  Let's just say I'm happy to have this connection and I'm not asking any questions.

So, Saturday was our first full day here.  The ice rink didn't open until 1:00 p.m., so while two folks in our group made their first assault on the mountain (one of whom was doing so in a 6-hour first time snowboarder class), my friend Peggy and I wandered around the little village down here, with little Jacob.  Jacob is easily amused -- making snowballs, kicking little bits of ice down the stairs, or climbing a rock (which is all of about a foot or two off the ground).  I looked around the village shops, scoped out the restaurants, and found out the outrageous amounts of money at which the real estate agents are listing local properties.  (Even buying a small share of a condo will cost you about $10,000 just in fees every year, not to mention the over $100,000 for your 1/7th piece of a one-bedroom condo.  Location.  Location.  Location.)

Went skating around 2:00, while Jacob napped.  It has been an awfully long time since I've been skating (two years, at least, probably more like four) and when I first got out there, I was pretty unsteady.  

Before I went on the ice, I saw a Northstar employee politely informing people around the rink that "singer-songwriter James Blunt would be performing."  And, in fact, about a third of the ice rink was taken up by a seating area for the concert, leaving us to skate little ovals (rather than somewhat larger ovals) around the remaining the remaining two-thirds.  

Eventually, Blunt comes out (without fanfare) and starts singing one of his songs.  (Thankfully, not that "You're Beautiful" thing, which was way overplayed on the radio, and is probably hell to skate to.)  He's playing a peppy little number called "Stay the Night."  I start skating faster to keep up with it, which is good for me skating-wise, but causes a bit of a mental challenge, as there isn't much ROOM on the two-thirds size rink, and some folks are just standing there like idiots watching Blunt play -- so I've pretty much got to keep adjusting course so I don't plow into anyone, and there are several close calls (although nobody goes down).  Blunt finishes the song to what can only be described as a smattering of applause, at which time he says this is just a sound check, he'll be playing this song another ten times by the time he's done, and we should ignore him.

He wasn't lying, although it may have been a bit of an overstatement.  He plays the song in total about four more times, and takes stabs at the first verse alone a few more.

The speed helps my skating quite a bit – I get as far as managing some cross-overs at either end of the oval, and, at one point, actually feel myself leaning down into my skates, which is what I really should have been doing all along. (Body remembers, even though the brain doesn’t.)

I return to the condo – eventually discovering the Blunt has signed up to do a “mini-concert” from 4:00 to 4:30. Which is actually pretty funny, as the sound check prior to concert ran longer than the concert itself.

We gather for dinner back in the condo – it’s nice to have a kitchen in here, so we don’t have to eat out for every meal. Of course, I convince everyone to go to “The Chocolate Bar” for dessert, where various lava cakes are consumed (with strawberry ice cream – an interesting variation of which I completely approve).

Friday, February 4, 2011

Greetings from Tahoe

Well, the official decision was "not to ski," although there's a bit of an asterisk on it which has to do with if I can unload the pre-purchased lift tickets.  We bought some at a discount at REI, and will happily sell them for what we paid for them -- but I don't know if the Northstar people frown upon this sort of thing, so we might have to stand off to the side and do that "psst, lift tickets for sale" thing.  (I remember selling extra theatre tickets in London -- the accepted practice is apparently to stand a respectful distance away from the box office, with your arms crossed and the tickets peeking out in one hand -- until an equally respectful ticket-buyer asks if they're for sale, at which time you walk a bit further away and politely carry out your transaction.)  I assume extra lift tickets have to get unloaded all the time, what with people falling down and giving up, but we'll see.

In the meantime, I am safely ensconced in our lovely condo -- a fairly massive unit with lovely views right in the center of the resort.  Flight was uneventful; dinner was uneventful; getting here was uneventful.  Probably the most difficult thing about this part of the journey was finding the password for the Wi-Fi -- it is on a really big piece of paper taped to the side of the wireless router, but it took us a bit before we looked there.  In the meantime, we tried various obvious passwords -- as the password is, in fact, obvious, we might have tripped on it soon enough, but noticing the big piece of paper on the side of the router was even better.

Everyone else is asleep -- that probably happens a lot when you've got a 3-year old with you.  I'll probably take advantage of this trip to get my sleep schedule a little closer to normal, but I can't do it all in one day.  Putting it another way, it's 10:41 right now, and I have been awake for just over 12 hours, so it's pretty difficult to get myself in the mood to pack it in for the night.

(On the other hand, after having had a big dinner, I'm pretty much out of calories for the night, so I'm not going to sit in front of the TV eating pretzels for the next 3 hours, either.)

Tomorrow:  skating and ... dunno. 

To Ski or Not to Ski, That is the Question

Whether tis nobler overall to suffer 
the bumps and bruises of sliding down a hill
Or to leave the skiing to those who know how
And say "fuck it," and skate instead.

Having now completed Angry Birds (well, not completed -- I can always go back and get 3 stars on every level, but I started on that and decided it doesn't have the same grip on me), and also finished transferring selections from my journal into Blurb for a book (will report back on how that went) ... I now have time to journal again, and I'm off on vacation.  Yay!  Going to Tahoe for a nice long weekend.

(With this guy:

Yeah, just realized I never posted the Paris pictures.)  I'll be going to Tahoe with the same friends I met up with in Paris a couple months ago.  I've travelled quite a bit with them -- they're responsible for every other "ski trip" I've been on, even when it hasn't included actual skiing.

This time, we're staying at the Northstar resort.  We went to Northstar last time, although we didn't actually stay there.  That's what really made me sign on to this trip -- I have a tendency to want to go back to a destination and "fix" everything that wasn't quite right about the last visit.  Last time, I realized that staying in Northstar would've been so much better than where we had stayed before -- so when Peggy said they'd be staying at Northstar this year, I was totally in.

Northstar is also the one place I skied successfully (as opposed to Park City, where I skied unsuccessfully), so it naturally raises the possibility of whether I want to ski again.  Am not sure.  Haven't been sure for months.  On the one hand, it was kinda fun, once I actually got down to it.  On the other, I know it's "not the sport for me," as I can only go for a limited time before my knees give out, and seeing as I accomplished all I ever really wanted to accomplish (skiing down one run) last time, I'm not entirely sure whether there's anything to be gained by going again.  (Especially since it's been about a year, so I'd probably end up taking the "first time beginner" course again -- now for the third time.)  

ANYWAY, they have an ice rink, and I've packed my skates.  If the surface of the ice is good, I can skate all weekend instead.  (I think the rink is actually free -- they only charge for skate rental.)  I haven't skated in years, but skating is something I am actually good at.  Not in a competitive sense, but compared to my skiing ability, my skating competence is pretty much off the charts.  I've gone years without skating before, and every time I go back, I generally have to start at the beginning again, but can get it all back in a few hours.  I'm sort of planning on that happening again, but I guess that depends on the weather, how crowded the rink is, and whether that muscle memory thing still works into my forties.

So, that's the plan, such as it is.  There will be Northstar.  There will be skating.  There may be tubing or geocaching or bungy trampolining.  I'm laying good odds on there being substantial consumption of chocolate.  But whether there will be actual skiing ... dunno.