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Archive for the ‘Bits & Pieces’ Category

My most favorite writing comes from experiences and my latest experience has been delivered up via an unexpected electronics failure. Several years ago (seems like just one or two but is more like three or four) we bought a nice but small flatscreen TV made by Sharp. The TV we were replacing was hundreds of years old (probably the first one invented) and had survived ownership by a house full of college-age boys, several moves, and a final transport back to our house. This unit traveled well and performed well until the very end. It’s only major issue was an annoying high-pitched squeal that would appear about 15 minutes after start-up. We must have gotten used to the squeal because after a time, our friends would comment on it but we didn’t really notice the sound.

So, to replace the TV with annoying squeal, we bought our Sharp. To be more specific, we bought a Sharp, 32-inch, digital flatscreen device with all the bells and whistles. We thought we got a pretty good deal until 6 months AFTER we bought it (of course) the price dropped about $800. (heavy sigh) That is typical of electronics I suppose.

Enter the Sharp and good times with digital display although I am not sure I really wanted to see the nose hairs of those football players during the Super Bowl. However, we soon found that TV was not enough so we needed a DVR (enter the Tivo unit), movie service (thank you Netlix) AND an increase in cable costs to cover digital signal and yet another box or two under the TV.

Things rolled along quite nicely for several years (or maybe more as I said before…time kinda speeds up when you get older). We got used to seeing nose hairs and pimples and levels of detail we had not been accustomed to. In fact, we soon found it hard to watch signals that weren’t digital (another sigh). Oh, the things we get used to. At any rate, last week, we turned on the Sharp and heard a noise (reminiscent of the old TV) that quickly escalated in pitch and passed beyond the level of human hearing. About twenty minutes later, the sound went off completely. For a few days, this kind of bizarre behavior continued until finally, the sound went out completely. Now, we just have pretty pictures and no noise.

After the second night in a row of watching TV with no sound (and hoping against hope that it would return), I looked at my husband and asked…”Do we really need TV?”. I just did not want to face hauling the set down to the fix-it place and the ensuing charges or worse the “well, your TV is too far gone and you need a new one” expenditure. So my wonderful husband looks at me and says…”I can live without it if you can”. The gauntlet had been thrown down and the challenge accepted…live without TV (at least until the football playoffs next year…hahhaha).

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Over the weekend, my sister-in-law Peggy competed in the Javelina Jundred Ultra Marathon. In this crazy event, participants ran laps around a 15.33 mile course in McDowell Mountain Park near Fountain Hills. To reach 100 miles, they needed 6 full laps and one partial.

Lots of people try and do the event in 24 hours or less, but the cutoff is 30 hours. If you finish in 30 hours, you are an official finisher and get a belt buckle or some other prize.

Well over 150 people registered but by my last count (around 6 am on Sunday) at least 70 had dropped out early. As Peggy ran throughout the morning and afternoon on Saturday, I could monitor her progress via the web. Being scheduled to pace her on the last lap, I wanted to be rested and fresh in order to be of most use to her during the final push.

Her first laps went well and she was in fine form. Lap 4 was her first paced lap and brother-in-law Paul stepped in to assist. Lap 5 seemed to be the most difficult taking her almost 7 hours to complete. Peggy or sister-in-law Jenny will have to provide input on that segment as I only heard about it second hand. The last full lap was paced by Mary.

When I arrived (around 7:00 am), Peggy and Mary were over halfway through the last full lap. Jenny was resting and awoke around 8 to get ready for Peggy’s return. While we were waiting at the main aid station, we readied the supplies requested by Peggy: some chicken broth, a coke, water, protein drink, some chips, oreos, etc…

Around 9:00 we were starting to get worried. Participants who were not headed out on the last lap by 10 am would not be allowed to continue. At about 9:20, we looked up to see Peggy and Mary approaching the timing area. Peggy headed full steam (as much as possible) to the aid station, quickly restocked, and she was on her way. Jenny and Mary decided to go along to pace as well, so the three of us set out.

The desert is beautiful this time of year (November) and today was no exception. As we headed up the only hill on the 8+ mile segment, the surrounding views of the McDowell mountains and 4-peaks provided a source of inspiration (for us pacers, anyway…) Not sure if anything could have inspired Peggy at that point other than a direct transport to the finish line. She was tired and her body was hurting beyond belief. I was amazed to see her still chugging along and putting one foot in front of the other. Time was of the essence as she had only 2 hours and 40 minutes to complete the race. So, we pushed her as much as we could. One of us walked behind her (and pushed when necessary) and the other two walked in front. Her goal was to get to the last aid station as quickly as possible leaving extra time to complete the last segment (about 3 miles).

One step at a time she motored along. By that point in the race she had covered over 90 miles and was feeling every bump and every incline or decline in the trail. It took us about an hour and 50 minutes to get to the aid station (which, we were convinced, had been removed as it never seemed to get any closer). Thinking we were home free and only 3 miles to go, the aid worker reported that we had 53 minutes to cover 3.7 miles. Yowza! Given that it had just taken Peggy almost 2 hours to cover 4+ miles, we were all thinking she wouldn’t make it.

Peggy, however, had other ideas. Before we knew it she had downed a drink and a snack and took off RUNNING down the trail. Mary and I looked at each other and took off after her leaving Jenny to fill water bottles and catch up. We literally had to run Peggy down on the trail and still had a hard time catching her. She seemed to have saved a little cache of energy for the last push and was using it to full advantage. We finally caught her and pushed ahead (seeing as how WE were supposed to be pacing HER. Or, as Mary kept reminding me, it was supposed to be MY pacing shift).

We ran with Peggy for probably 3 miles and headed into the last mile section with about 20 minutes to go. Mary and I pushed out in front to lead the way and Jenny, who had caught up, helped push Peggy from behind. The whole last mile we were yelling and encouraging her and commenting on how close she was. When we saw the road crossing leading into the last segment of trail, I knew we were close. As we rounded the corner into the campground, I could see the time clock with plenty of time. Peggy crossed the line at 29 hours, 53 minutes, and some seconds to the hoots and hollers of the small crowd that was gathered.

WHAT an accomplishment for her. There are many people who do not understand the draw and obsession of competing in an endurance event. I have never done 100 miles, but I have done almost 50 and I can imagine a tiny bit of what she was feeling. I know that I was feeling great joy for her having finished and for the opportunity to help push her along for the last little bit. Getting her through the last 10 miles (well, the last 40, really) was a team effort and the pacing work paid off in spades. She did it! Wow.

Congratulations, Peggy! I will pace you anytime (although she did say to try and discourage her from future long distance events). You can pay me back for Ironman Tempe 2010!

WAY TO GO PEGGY! YOU ARE A JAVELINA JUNDRED 2008 FINISHER!!!! WAHOOO!!!!!!

Photo Credits: Will LaFollette

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We were robbed during the night…well, almost robbed. Some person or persons of nefarious character took it upon themselves to try and steal our truck. After completing a very fast and easy trick which I will NOT reveal here but of which I am now aware, they gained entry into the cab of the vehicle. (Suffice it to say that you should NEVER leave anything inside a truck that you can’t live without. I am sure every criminal knows this trick and can literally gain entry into your truck in less than 15 seconds WITHOUT setting off the alarm).

Once inside, they proceeded to bash in the ignition (after carefully removing the cover) and attempt to start the engine with some foreign object. Now, either they were really BAD thieves or the truck just wouldn’t cooperate, but they did not obtain their objective. They were nice enough to lock the car behind them as they left behind a smashed ignition.

All told the effort probably took them less than 5 minutes. Of course, the dogs in our neighborhood that bark ALL the time at the DROP of a hat did not let out a peep during a real emergency. Little did we know that, as we snuggled cozily in bed, we were a hair’s breadth away from owning a truck (only one payment away) that we no longer possessed.

Given the horror stories I have heard from those whose vehicles have been successfully stolen and driven on rampages through the desert or transported at high speed across the border or used for whatever other illegal purpose, I am extremely thankful that our crooks were thwarted.

However, the event does give one pause to think (as these kinds of things usually do). Being lucky in my life to have only encountered the criminal element of our society a couple of times (all dealing with theft), I have a tendency to live in a mental world in which I believe that such people do not exist. Or, if they do exist, that their world does not intersect with mine. One of my guiding philosophies of life is that people…all people…are basically good and that if they do things that hurt others, the reasons are many and varied but not very often intended to actually hurt the other person. I believe that people do things because of themselves not because of other people. In other words, I try very hard not to take things personally when wronged by someone else because I feel that other person is not out to hurt me but rather to avoid some pain in themselves.

But how does that philosophy transfer to getting robbed? As hubby said this morning, “it happened TO us so hard not to take it personal”. Hard not to agree with that. I mean, we certainly did not do anything to these individuals to prompt such an action as theft (nor do we even know who they are). We just happened to have a vehicle sitting in a convenient location that seemed easy enough to drive away with and use for whatever purpose they intended.

So, while I know they really didn’t do anything to us specifically (they just liked our truck), I am still ticked. I am ticked because a) they damaged our nearly paid off vehicle and caused us to spend $ to get it fixed b) they could have been out there when hubby went out this morning and then what could have happened? c) we have both been inconvenienced by having to wait for the tow truck and pay for the tow truck and wait for our truck and be without the truck for a day or two or three…ARG!!!!!  But, mostly I am ticked because things like this bring fear into our lives. Now I will wonder every time I walk out the door if our vehicles are going to be outside where we left them. I will also think twice about running or biking in the dark not knowing who could be in the area. I will sleep less soundly for many nights wondering who is roaming around our streets looking for their opportunity.

Perhaps I will get to a place of empathy for these folks. Perhaps they are down and out and homeless or broke or needy in some other way that our truck could have helped alleviate. Perhaps they don’t like Ford pickups. Perhaps they just got laid off and needed some money for rent. We will never know.

But for now, we’ll just keep locking our doors (even though it doesn’t help) and maybe invest in a club for the steering wheel. As for not taking it personally, I am going to have to work on that one.

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I can’t take credit for this but thought it was worth sharing…

Charlie Brown Philosophy

Take This Test

This is very thoughtful .

Scroll thru this slowly and read it carefully to receive and enjoy full effect.

See if it is as much “THE TRUTH” for you as it was for Charles Schultz.

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip.

Don’t actually answer the questions.

Just read the e-mail straight through, and you’ll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.

4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.

These are no second-rate achievers.

They are the best in their fields.

But the applause dies..

Awards tarnish.

Achievements are forgotten.

Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special!!

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

Easier?

The lesson:

The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials..the most money…or the most awards.

They simply are the ones who care the most.

Pass this on to those people who have made a difference in your life, like I did.  ‘Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today.  It’s already tomorrow in Australia !’

”Be Yourself. Everyone Else Is Taken!’

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It’s a good news…bad news kinda day…but aren’t they all?

Good news: Ran 4 miles this morning
Bad news: Slowed me way down on the bike commute
Good news: But I made it
Bad news: Forgot my underwear
Good news: Had a pair of tights in my drawer that fit under my jeans
Bad news: Have to ride home
Good news: Colleague offered to drive me
Bad news: Have to leave an hour later than normal
Good news: Don’t have to ride home today

I am sure there will be more….

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I write this evening with a heavy heart and a contemplative mind. News reached me today of the sudden death of a colleague at my former school. My confusion upon reading the news was confounded by my misreading of the Subject Line. What I thought said, “Congratulations” actually said “Condolences”. I had to close the email and read the subject line again to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.

My interactions with Phil were regularly infrequent if that makes sense. Once a week I visited a satellite campus to provide technology assistance to my fellow faculty there. Many of those trips I had lunch with Phil as we ended up in the break room at the same time. I remember that he would pack a sandwich and some chips in a little ice chest. We would eat together quietly and chat about this or that.

During one of our conversations, I learned that Phil had never tasted sushi. In fact, he had not heard good things about the cuisine and was hesitant to try. But, I finally talked him into going with me to a local sushi place that I thought was pretty good. When we got there, I gave him the full introductory tour. He learned to use chopsticks, ate a few pieces of a sushi roll, and even tried some sashimi (ahi tuna, I believe). We begged off the saki as we had to return to work, but I bet he would have tried that, too. The whole time we were there he kept talking about how much he enjoyed the food and how he never thought he would try it.

There is a word in Japanese that is said with great gusto and means, “delicious”. That word is “Oishii”. When I think of Phil and that day at the sushi place, I think of “Oishii” as everything for him that day was truly delicious.

Good night, Phil. Rest well and pass easily on to the next adventure. You have given me a great lesson and that is to taste each minute of each day and exclaim, “OISHII!”.

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A colleague made me aware of the following sites that are set up to provide information about reduced prices and coupon codes and fantastic deals at all kinds of places. Check out:

Click the FORUMS link and look through the Hot Deals or search by keyword for stores you are interested in.

Happy shopping!

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