September 28, 2012

Seven Things: That I could have blogged about in September, but didn’t

Folks, I don’t know why I haven’t written anything here in over a month. I do know that I spend 3 of those weekends traveling to MN, so that may have had something to do with it. But I have Monday’s off, it’s not like I don’t have enough time for this.

Anywho. Since I have yet to write September’s Seven Things post, and it’s nearly time for October’s, I figured I’d just get you all caught up on all the things we’ve been doing but not blogging about. It’s like 7 mini blogs in one!

1. Going back home for my high school reunion. Facebook/social media makes reunions weird. It’s all like, “Hey, I don’t really know you anymore, but I do know what you had for dinner last Thursday.” And what they say is true.  Mostly everyone looks the same (or at least very similar) and we all kind of stayed friends with the same groups of people. A rough guess is that about half were married, although I think only 2 spouses actually came to the reunion. And a handful have babies. Conversation pieces of the night:

  • Who is that guy? Did he really graduate with us? (one guy came to the reunion that many (of my social circle at least) of us didn’t remember from high school.
  • Wait, she’s married to him? Two of my fellow class of ’02ers got married to each other (after meeting again post high school), and none of us would have predicted it.
  • We have our suspicions somebody maybe got some work done.

2. Going back home for a dear old friend’s wedding. It was beautiful. She was beautiful. Husby and I danced a polka. And we got to catch up with some friends.

3. Husby’s first trip to the Minnesota State Fair. We spent pretty much the whole day at the fair, and my mom and youngest little brother joined us in the afternoon. We saw all the baby animals. Laughed at overgrown roosters and admired the plumage on chickens. Marveled at hundred pound pumpkins. And watched some awfully talented kids in the amateur talant contest. And of course we ate! Our foods of choice included

  • fried cheese curds (of course)
  • wild rice cheese burger
  • fresh squeezed lemonade (x3 before the day was done)
  • red velvet funnel cake
  • reuben bites
  • deep fried pickles
  • giant pickle on a stick
  • roasted corn
  • 1919 rootbeer

4. We make yet another trip back to MN for the garlic party. Husby and I made feta and garlic stuffed roasted cherry tomatoes. Oldest little brother made beer (this may have been the deciding factor in me returning to MN for a 3rd time within a month) as well as some pretty tasty general tsao’s chicken. Middle little brother made cheese and bacon filled meat balls. Youngest little brother made deep fried ravioli. Yay garlic!

5. I found out that I qualify as a Michigan resident for my final semester of school! It’s not official yet, but this news is worth $10k.

6. Husby started on his psych rotation this week, so we surprisingly have a social life this month. I know, right? We went to a Tiger’s game on Tuesday, out to dinner with friends Monday and Thursday. And we have all sorts of fun things planned for the remaining 3 weeks of this rotation as well. There will be a corn maze in our future. And hopefully something out doors and haunted. And maybe a weekend get-away to Traverse city to celebrate our anniversary (eep!).

7. This weekend we’re headed to West Virginia to go rafting. Maybe I’ll actually blog about this after it happens. (But don’t hold your breath.)

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August 30, 2012

Island Lake Summer Triathlon

My race report starts the morning of the day before the race.  I woke up Saturday morning with horrible double charlie horses.  After waking husby up with my screaming getting my calves to relax and rolling them out, we hopped in the car and drove out to walk a 5k being put on by a friend of a friend for a good cause. We made the 5k a nice easy stroll while husby filled me in on all the cray cray cases he had seen in his last day of OBGYN rotation.

After the 5k I noticed that my right leg was still feeling a bit tight, and as the day progressed the tightness turned into a knot behind my right knee.  I tried to take it as easy as possible, but by the end of the day my knee was so cranky I didn’t know if I was going to be able to compete the next morning.

Sunday morning we woke up well before the crack of dawn. Packed up the bike, and figured out where I could get a cup of iced coffee and some breakfast, because I never think ahead about these things. Luckily there was a 24 hour Tim Horton’s by the hospital, so armed with coffee, a bagel, and a sour knee, we  headed to the lake.

Once I got some coffee in me and my adrenalin got going as I unpacked my bike, my knee was feeling a bit better, so I tried to keep it going before the race started.

The lake was steamy! Which was nice because the morning was chilly.

I got a good spot near the front for the swim so I didn’t have too many bodies to try to swim through. I found some good pacers and kept with them through pretty much the entire swim, and really tried to press on the gas in the last 100m or so. Coming out of the swim and into T1 I was breathing pretty heavy, but I think it was totally worth it.

Swim: 0.5 mile, 16:56 (PR by almost a minute!)

In transition I kept my focus, got my shoes on and got out. Still on the slow side, but MUCH faster than in May

T1: 2:58

Into the bike I took a minute to see how my knee was feeling, and while it was a little sore on the uphills, it seemed to be pretty ok. The course seemed harder on my bike this time around, and the single speed steel frame love of my life for city commuting has officially retired from racing after this event.  But she made it through, even though on one of those hills I thought I might start rolling backwards.

Bike: 12.5 mile, 53:24

Transition was quick.  I thought I might be forgetting something, but it was all good.

T2: 1:06

The run at Island Lake starts out with this brutal up hill in the grass.  It’s like the course designers were like, “What’s the meanest thing we could make them do after swimming 0.5 miles and biking 12.5 miles? I think this hill should make at least a couple of them cry.”

It’s an out and back run with a little bit of trail on the back part coming into the finish.  On the way back another woman was keeping pace with me, just behind me. About a half mile from the end I heard her slow, and turned and told her “You got this,” and she picked back up and ran it out with me. It was as much for me as it was for her, I needed to hear her chasing me to push me to keep running. My knee was getting cranky, but it wasn’t injury pain, just soreness.

I kicked it up the last few hundred meters, and felt like I was going to puke when I hit the finish line, so I’d say I left it all out there, sore knee and all.

Look, I even still look reasonably happy after all that. And yes, I am still wearing my biking gloves.  I was too tired to try and strip them off in transition, and then they weren’t really bothering me during the run, so I just left them on.

Overall the run was definitely slow, but I expected that with the knee.  Mostly I was just really happy that I was able to finish at all considering how much pain I had been in the night before.

Run: 5k, 36:27

Overall time: 1:50:49, 9 out of 17 in my age group.

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August 11, 2012

Seven Things: to do in the last couple weeks of cherry season

1. eat all the cherries

2. eat all the cherries

3. eat all the cherries

4. eat all the cherries

5. eat all the cherries

6. eat all the cherries

7. eat all the cherries

This is not a joke people.  It will be 10 months before there are cherries again. Get to eating those cherries.

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August 9, 2012

not a seven things post

Dear friends, I know it is past the 7th of the month, and I therefore owe you a seven things post.

This is not it.

But this is important.

If you find yourself with a surplus of cherry/grape/plum/pear tomatoes right now or in the coming weeks.

Make this.

And then, spread it on ALL THE THINGS.

It is, literally, awesomesauce.

It might change your life.

That is all.

Seven things post to come soon, maybe.

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July 30, 2012

My guide to young adult dystopian series

Ok friends, as you may already know, I have a penchant for reading dystopian fiction. I’ve been gobbling them up this summer and thought I’d offer my guide to the hot new series in this genre.

It seems that most of these books, similar to The Hunger Games, tend to bewritten for a young adult audience, which basically means they feature a teenage protagonist. Thus the protagonist is facing both their struggle against the society they are growing up in, and their own rise to adulthood. When well done, this can provide a great backbone fore a story, but as I’ve learned this summer, it’s a challenging genre to get right.

1. The Matched series.

Matched (Matched, #1)

Books in series: Matched, Crossed, and the forth coming Reached

Author: Allie Condie

So far I’ve read: Matched and Crossed

What it’s about: Cassia receives her match, the boy she will one day marry, and it’s her long time best friend Xander. But when she gets home and looks at the microcard with the information about her match, instead of showing Xander, it shows another boy from her neighborhood, Ky.  Cassia then struggles with the decision of who she wants to be matched with, which translates into a struggle for the freedom of personal choice in the Society.  Cassia decides to seek out the Rising, the opposition to the Society.

The nitty gritty: This story line would be good if they cut out the whole love story part. The set up of the dystopian Society is intriguing, and the action is fine, but the relationship between Cassia and Ky is so blah. It’s also a case where an author split one long book into three so she could release it as a trilogy.

Worth reading?: Meh. No.

2. The Delirium Series

Delirium (Delirium, #1)

Books in series: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem + some books from other characters’ points of view

Author: Lauren Oliver

So far I’ve read: Delirium

What it’s about: The dystopian society in this series (I forget if they have a name or not) has developed a cure for love, which they view as a disease and they administer the vaccine when a child turns 18.  Shortly before her 18th birthday, Lena “catches” love, and falls in love with Alex, an outsider who has infiltrated her community.  When it is discovered that she has fallen in love,  she and Alex arrange to escape from the community.

The nitty gritty: Similar concept to Matched, but much better writing.  The actual story line, which does not have so much of a focus on the love story, but more of a focus on Lena’s interactions with the dystopia, has real potential.  I do plan on reading the other two in this series to see where it goes.

Worth reading?: I’d give this one a yes, if you’re into young adult and dystopian fiction. But if this genre doesn’t already pull you in, this book probably won’t change your mind.

3. The Maze Runner Series

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)

Books in series: The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure + apparently a prequel and some other side stories

Author: James Dashner

So far I’ve read: The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure

What it’s about: Thomas finds himself, with no memory of his past, in a group of around 40 other teenage boys in a garden that is surrounded by a giant maze.  Each day a group of boys go out and run through the maze and try to find a way out. In the maze are horrible monsters.  The boys have to figure out how to escape the maze, find who has put them there and why.

The nitty gritty: This series is poorly written.  Big pet peeve: when an author says a character is a certain way, but the character never actually acts that way. This series made me appreciate all those times past English teachers said that you needed to show and not tell. Relationships are not well developed and what seem to be important plot points are not well developed. Also, Thomas has a relationship with a girl, Theresa, and constantly refers to her as a friend, or best friend, although it’s clear she would more properly be referred to as a girlfriend.  A couple times there is kissing in the books, but most of the time Dashner treats the subject as if he’s writing for 5 year olds and sex is not acceptable to write about.  One of the important things about young adult fiction is the delving into more complicated and adult relationships, and Dashner fails mightly at that. One might ask why I read all three.  Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment.  Also, I wanted to see if Dashner ever actually got around to explaining the dystopia he set up.

Worth reading?: No. No. No

4. The Divergent Series

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

Books in the series: Divergent, Insurgent, and the forth coming, yet untitled third book in the trilogy + some side stories (sensing a pattern yet?)

Author: Veronica Roth

So far I’ve read: Divergent, and I just got a copy of Insurgent from the library today

What it’s about: As the coming of age ceremony in this society, 16 year old Beatrice has to choose whether or not to stay in her own faction with her family, or switch to one of the other 4 factions. But the trick is, her test results were inconclusive, she is divergent. She chooses to leave her family and join the Dauntless faction.  She next has to make it through initiation into her new faction, while keeping secret her divergent status. As she goes through the initiation trials she realizes that one of the other 5 factions is using her new faction to go to war against her families’ faction.

The nitty gritty: Strong female lead character? check. Intriguing dystopian society? check. Action packed? check. And reasonably well written to boot. Also, this one actually takes place in Chicago, which is kind of cool that Roth chose an actual city, rather than just some generic city.

Worth reading? This was my favorite first book of any of these series thus far, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the 2nd book brings.  This was also the only series where I was actually interested in reading the side story, so I would go with yes.

Long story short (much too late for that): dystopian fiction is not a recipe for success.  Pick and choose your novels carefully. Or just wait for me to do another set of book reviews, because I’ll probably read them even if they’re bad.

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