Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Picker-Upper

I just got the link to this YouTube video from a Duke classmate on Twitter. (Sounds very Web 2.0, doesn't it?!) I expecially enjoyed it because "The Sound of Music"has been one of my favorite movies for ages! Enjoy!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bucket List: The Grand Canyon

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk about my pipe dream for retirement, which included trips to at least four international locations I haven't been to yet (Machu Picchu, the Pyramids in Egypt, the Great Wall of China, the Eiffle Tower).

After a recent trip by George's first cousin to the Grand Canyon, I decided I want to add some "local" destinations to my bucket list as well. I'm sure there's little surprise that the Grand Canyon is high on my list.

Yesterday, I started a savings account for this trip. (ING Direct, an online bank, allows for any number of accounts, which you can name. Transferring money from my main brick-and-mortar account will be easy, technically speaking, anyway! One dollar at a time, right?

I don't have a timeframe yet; it'll depend on when the money is saved, and when both George and I can go. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy researching the activities, lodging, and other possibilities. I'd love suggestions!

Meanwhile, these are free images of Grand Canyon from the National Park Service website! Inspiration!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Main Street

A couple of Saturdays ago, when a group of us volunteered at Urban Ministries for supper, we noticed that nearby Dillard St. was blocked off, and there were lots of bright lights. Turns out they're filming the movie,"Main Street" in Durham. Pretty cool! It includes several actors I've actually heard of (don't laugh!), including Colin Firth, Orlando Bloom, Ellen Burstyn, and Andrew McCarthy. Now I wish George and I had hung out for a bit!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thinking Ahead

A couple of weeks ago, my Covenant Group (small "spiritual discussion" group from church) met, and the discussion topic revolved around our "pipe dreams" for retirement. It was interesting to hear the group members' thoughts on this, as I formulated my own. Retirement is a moving target right now, in terms of when I'll be able to retire, as well as my interests. Part of what I want to do in retirement will depend on what I accomplish between now and then. It's been fun to continue to think about this topic, to mull ver my "bucket list."

In the mean time, I've increased my 403b contribution at work, hoping that the economy is pretty much done tanking, and will start to rebound in the months ahead. I also dumped some spare change into my IRA. Money will play a part in what I can or can't do in retirement, and I want to have options. Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy choices!

My family tree work has also been getting more attention lately, as a result of the last Covenant Group meeting. I'd like to be able to do a number of things with my genealogy interest, not just in retirement, but in the months and years ahead!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Losing Interest

Last night, I watched "The Biggest Loser" for the first time in several weeks, and it reminded me of my own TV-watching transformation, something that's happened almost without my noticing.

It used to be that, when "The Biggest Loser" first started, I watched the show by myself, then George started watching it with me. We watched the past couple of seasons together pretty religiously, though we both got pretty irritated by one of last season's contestants, Vicky. We started watching again this season, but then realized that spending two hours watching TV on a "school night" felt like a big chunk of time, when we both had other things we'd rather be doing. So, we started taping the show and watching it on the weekend. THEN, our weekends started getting busier, so we recently missed watching about a month's worth of episodes! Well, last night I happened to have the TV on, listening to more than watching the local news, which has a 7 PM edition, and "The Biggest Loser" started right after the news. I'd forgotten it was coming on, so it took me by surprise! (I used to put it on my calendar!) George didn't even have any interest in watching it with me, and didn't ask me about it as we got ready for bed.

Watching the episode last night wasn't as satisfying as it used to be. I didn't feel really motivated or inspired afterward, like I used to, and I've been trying to figure out why. It was kinda nice to see the progress the remaining contestants have made, but it didn't leave me looking forward to next week's episode at all.

I think part of it is that I've realized (again!) how unrealistic the show is. Few people have the time to take off several weeks to months from their lives to exercise, work with trainers, and eat healthy meals in a constrolled environment. Then, there was last season's player of players, Vicky, who so blatently "played the game" that it was a distraction from some of the good things happening on the show. Of course, there was this season's flub with contestant Dane, who was taped at home (once he got eliminated) finishing a local marathon, when in reality, he was picked up several miles from the finish line and driven to the end of the course, where he was taped crossing the finish line. Only when viewers balked did the show and Dane come clean about really happened with the race. (Apparently, Dane wasn't going to finish before the race officials closed the course, and the segment producer wanted to have him crossing the finish line with the finishing clock running for the benefit of showing at the end of the episode. When that episode aired, no one in front of the camera mentioned the pickup, and we were left with the impression that Dane had finished his first marathon in a great time! The story now goes that he returned to the course later in the day to run the miles he'd missed for the taping of the episode. ) Being a slow runner myself, that whole thing was a turn-off.

So, I think I'll probably just catch the recaps online for the rest of the season, but maybe I'll watch the season finale. I'll find other things to do with that two-hour chunk of time!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New (to me) Products

I recently read the book, Purple Cow, by Seth Godin. It was an interesting book about what makes companies and products remarkable. One of the products mentioned was Dr. Bonner's Soap. Part of what's supposed to be remarkable about this product is that it's organic. I've never shopped for organic soap...I buy organic vegetables and fruits once in a while, but that's about it. I was intrigued, though, so I bought some of the peppermint liquid soap at the Vitamin Shoppe last night. I tried it this morning, and it smells yummy! Otherwise, it seems a little bit on the liquidy side. I'm going to keep trying it, though. It's supposed to be okay as a shampoo as well.

In addition to the soap, I recently bought a 12-can box of Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry, and I like it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

I've had an unusual Easter weekend, but a good one!

Friday night, George and I joined our Covenant Group at Nancy's house to bake some 400 cookies my scratch! That was a new experience, for sure. The cookies were for the local homeless shelter, and we were scheduled to serve last night. So, we spent about three hours baking cookies on Friday night, then about three hours cooking and serving dinner (and our cookies) at the homeless shelter last night! It was a very worthwhile thing to do, but George and I were pretty bushed this morning! So, we both slept in, and then had Easter lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Stonewood Grill in Cary. Afterward, we went to nearby Henry's Gelato for dessert. We split a small cup of half mint and half biscutto (I think that's what that half was called, close to biscotti, but not quite). That was a yummy treat!

This afternoon, I decided to bump my fundraising goal for the Ronald McDonald House from $500 to $1000! I'm so excited about this, and my marathon race plans, that I decided to take it up a notch! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Um, Congratulations?

Folks who know me well, know I'm a big fan of the Duke University Blue Devils! This goes wayyyyy back, as my parents both graduated from Duke, where my dad attended on a football scholarship. Yes, I was a Duke football fan long before I saw a Duke basketball game. What makes this a little more unusual is that I grew up in SEC territory, where most of my friends pulled for Auburn or Alabama!

My sister followed the family tradition by attending Duke, and lo and behold, I did as well! Then, some 15 years after graduating, I returned to Duke to work. So, my Duke blue blood runs thick!

So, you can understand if I have trouble sometimes pulling for the "other team," the UNC Tarheels, the newly crowned 2009 NCAA besketball champions! UNC is Duke's biggest rival, and sometimes it can be a bitter one. But, I do have fond memories of spending time in Chapel Hill my senior year. I even got to attend the first basketball game in the Dean Dome (which happened to be against Duke)!

Truth be told, though, I think that having another great basketball team in UNC down the road helps make Duke a better team. If the rivalry shut down, I think Duke would be hard pressed to find another consistently good conference team to replace UNC in the schedule. It's like being part of a class, group, or work department where everyone is busting their butts, so you're motivated to do the same.

There's something to be said for the company you keep (or want to keep). That's why we join clubs, churches, interest groups. Joining the Galloway training group in Raleigh last year has opened up my running world, and I get a kick out of seeing the people I met there out and about in the area. They're an active bunch by the nature of it being a running group, and most of them are faster than me. Probably without knowing it, many of them inspire me to want to be a better running.

Although I didn't watch the game last night (it was halftime when I clicked on the TV, but it was bedtime for me), and in fact I haven't watched any basketball games since Duke bowed out of the tournament, I am glad that a North Carolina and ACC team won the national title--eventhough it wasn't Duke! UNC makes for good company. (Shhhh, don't tell anyone I said so!We're rivals, you know!) ;-)

Monday, April 06, 2009


Every so often, the whole patience lesson comes up to show me a thing or two! For instance, the week after I signed up for the Outer Banks Marathon, I got overexcited about training, and got injured. It's taken patience to take it a little easier, and to be creative about working out. As a result, I'm doing more strength training and stretching.

Over the weekend, George and I went to a couple of meetings at church, in addition to the regular service, in an effort to learn more about recent events going on at our church. I was hoping to learn all the facts over the course of the weekend, but that wasn't in the cards. I learned more, but not everything! I discovered that no one has all the answers, and it will take patience (among other things!) to sort through everything and figure out the way. Our covenant group had our regular meeting tonight, and while we talked about "the issues" briefly, most of the meeting was our normal topical discussion. I must admit, it was nice to take a mental break from the challenging issues of the weekend and funnel my brain power in a different direction. The people in our covenant group make for good company and stimulating conversation!