Archive | February, 2014

Trend-setter. That’s one word for me.

17 Feb

What’s the word for athletic pants where there’s essentially a pantyliner sewn into the crotch so you can wear them without underwear? You know what I’m talking about, right?

Well, whoever invented those should be shot.

I was half-way through yoga yesterday, doubled-over in a forward fold, when I noticed that the seams on my pants looked odd. “Hmmm…” I wondered, “Did I put my pants on inside-out?”

Normally that’s not cause for alarm because I have three pairs of reversible yoga pants. Unfortunately, it turns out this was a different pair, which I confirmed with a quick reach to feel for a tag. I had not only one but two large tags flapping on my butt, announcing “M” for anyone who wanted to check my size.

I sighed and continued my vinyasa, thinking, “Meh – not a big deal.”

It was about ten minutes later, when our instructor told us to put our feet on the outer edge of the mat, then slowly lower into a yogic squat, that I saw the problem. I was in the front row, facing a mirror, and there – winking back at me – was a bright white triangle of cloth between my legs. I quickly lowered my hands from prayer position so I looked more like a catcher to block the cotton blaze from view.

Of course, I also started quietly snickering, finding the situation awkward but also hilarious. It only got worse when the instructor asked us to sit on our mats, extend our feet in the air in front of us, grab the bottom of each foot and open into a seated “V.”

This is what we were supposed to look like:

Image Source: http://www.betterhealthliving.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/boat-pose-yoga.jpg

Which Alan says is comical regardless of your pants.

At this point, I just muttered a, “Oh hell no…” and flopped back on my mat, silently laughing as I watched everyone else go spread-eagle.

While convulsing, I decided that before I wear those pants again, I am going to take a Sharpie and either draw a big smiley face or write “Namaste” in the center of that real estate. That way, I figure at least it would look like I’d deliberately worn them reversed if it happens again – right?

Actually, I think that’s such a great idea that I’m encouraging everyone to go to their drawers and search out any pants with a while cotton liner, and draw a smiley face on them. Because you never know. And trust me – there will be a day when you thank me. Even if it’s just when you crack yourself up every time you tug your pants down to go to the bathroom.

Image Source: http://jezebel.com/5799608/are-you-wearing-pants-this-chart-will-help-you-answer-that-question

The walking part is actually somewhat important.

15 Feb

Lincoln - pundit.com

I enjoyed my first DC walking tour so much that when we woke up last Saturday, I asked Alan, “Want to do the Lincoln Assassination Tour with me this afternoon?”

Alan, being both indulgent of me and a history lover, promptly pulled out his  phone and reserved two slots on the 4:30pm tour for us. It seemed like a clever plan at the time, but as the day wore on, it dulled a bit.

Alan needed to work for part of the day, so we decided to meet back up at 4pm and walk down to the White House together. As we shoved off from my place, Alan noticed me taking the stairs gingerly, almost sideways, at half my normal speed. “What’s going on?” he asked.

I’d done BodyPump – the intensive full-body lifting workout – at my gym the day before, the first time since Christmas. I felt a bit sore when I woke that morning, but nothing monumental. With each passing hour, however, my muscles contracted. By the time Alan returned in the afternoon, I was a bit crippled.

“Do you think a walking tour is a good idea?” he asked as we set out. I couldn’t even answer. It had seemed like a good idea, but now that I was actually trying to get somewhere on foot – not so much. But we’d RSVP’d, so there was no backing out.

As we walked down 16th Street, Alan kept checking his watch. That’s usually my job, because I’m preoccupied with punctuality. “Are we going to make it on time?” I asked, lumbering along like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man.

Alan looked at me for a moment. “Not if we continue at this pace. Can’t you walk any faster?”

I already thought I was in overdrive, but apparently not. This was a role reversal if ever there’d been one. Usually Alan is nudging me, asking if we can PLEASE slow down so he won’t over-heat.

We eventually arrived at Lafayette Park, where a group of a dozen tourists were gathered around the guide, who was patiently waiting for the late-comers to trickle in. Rather than blend with the back of the group – as I would’ve done – Alan walked directly up to the guide (same guy as last weekend) and announced to the group, “Sorry we’re late.” Then, gesturing to me, he continued, “She did a new workout routine and can’t really walk.”

Awesome. Let’s just put it out there. I gave a feeble wave to everyone as if I were a minor celebrity and loped off to lean against a post. Alan found me and sheepishly said, “Sorry about that. I guess I didn’t need to explain that to everyone.” Um, yeah.

So the tour started – and we stood in one place. As we stared at the White house, the guide set the stage.  And we kept standing – in the same place. The guide told us about the entire cast of characters, the Civil War, the grand assassination plot – and we kept standing right there. At some point, Alan leaned over and whispered, “I thought this was going to be a walking tour?”

It’s a lot to give people a two-hour lecture while standing in only six different spots. The information was great, but the tour needed to MOVE more. Especially because it was approximately 20 degrees and windy out. Everyone was rubbing their hands together, snuggling their mates, and generally trying to create a bit of body heat while basically standing still.

And that’s when I realized: I love walking tours, but weather is kind of an important factor for enjoyment. As the sun set and the temperature continued to drop, I started to become mentally surly. Although the guide was sharing good information, I would’ve tipped double if he’d scrapped his script and bottom-lined it so we could get out of there.

Lesson learned: I like walking tours – but only under the right conditions. Like when I can actually walk.

MEOW.

MEOW.

Why I feel sorry for Sochi.

7 Feb

Image Source: http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/19ennvwskeytrjpg/ku-xlarge.jpg

I’ll admit to laughing at some of the photos in this Buzzfeed collection of journalists’ tweets from Sochi. Mainly because I enjoy bathroom humor and – let’s be honest – who WON’T laugh when viewing “buddy toilets” side by side?

But after laughing, I felt guilty. Because at my core, I feel bad for Sochi. The Olympics have come to represent a moment of national pride for the hosting country, a chance to showcase all that’s great about their land on an international stage. And Sochi’s just plagued with challenges.

According to the coverage, hotels aren’t completed, bricks are still being hastily laid as guests arrive, the snow quality is a icier than desirable, the grass is being spray-painted green, the toilets aren’t installed properly… I mean, I know we’re all angry about the gay rights issue and Putin is a tool, but at some point this seems like a we’re just ganging up on the place.

It makes me think of birthday parties. (Stay with me.)

When I was a kid, a birthday party involved a few of my friends and a cake – maybe a slumber party. These days, birthday parties involve inviting an entire class and doing some expensive group activity – like rock climbing, an arcade outing, etc. And parents seem to struggle to one-up the last party so their kid isn’t teased for being a lame host.

It feels like that’s how the Olympics have become. Maybe I’m romanticizing it, but it seems like back in the day, it was a platform for the best athletes to represent their countries, uniting a world of viewers in the awe that comes from witnessing that kind of talent. And now, the focus has shifted and it’s on the host country to put on a party that tops the previous host. It’s about spending money and opulence and proving a nation’s wealth.

Except in my analogy, Russia is like poor kid in your class, who is being mocked for attempting to compete in a contest that’s a bit out of his depth. When I read things like the #sochiproblems tweets, it feels like a bunch of rich kids are picking on Sochi. And it makes me wonder if – like a kid bullied to the point of dawning a black trench coat – Russia is going to come out of this experience with an axe to grind.

People wonder why Americans get a bad rap internationally. Seems to me that gloating over another country’s failure doesn’t help the cause. Russia may seem backwards by our standards. It may have human rights issues that need to be addressed. But shaming a nation – and the people who were born there – isn’t likely to help those matters.

Instead of rejoicing in Sochi’s failures, why don’t we lead by example and show a little class? After all, the Olympics should provide a lesson in good sportsmanship, if nothing else.

If a tree falls and no one posts about it on Facebook, does it mean it really fell?

4 Feb

Image Source: http://media1.annabrixthomsen.com/2012/07/If_a_tree_falls_in_the_woods377Detail.png

Two weeks ago, I entered Facebook Silence. Or at least, that’s what I called it when I decided there was no time like the present to tackle the “Two weeks without Facebook” challenge from my 40×40 list.

For people who don’t have Facebook, that entry probably earned an eyeroll. But for those of us who check Facebook multiple times daily and feel like it’s our connection to people outside our immediate sightline? It seemed daunting.

I’ll admit, if I hadn’t deleted the Facebook app off my iPhone, I would’ve blown my resolution the day I started. I posted my intention to go dormant on a Sunday night, then – when I woke on Monday – I started my lazy wake-up routine. I don’t run my furnace at night, so I wake to chilly air and usually spend a bit of time lounging in my bed, reviewing emails on my phone before I can muster the courage to run to the shower. If it’s really cold, I’ll buy more time by flipping over to Facebook to see what people posted while I was sleeping.

That Monday, it was exceptionally cold, so when I finished the emails, I instinctively went to check Facebook. But my smart self had remove the app from my phone before I went to bed. Instead of a blue square icon, my phone simply had a blank space glaring at me. I briefly wondered what I’d committed to. Then I wondered if my Facebook usage bordered on an addiction. Then I showered. Image Source: http://media02.hongkiat.com/facebook-addiction-signs/facebook-addict.jpg

That first day was a series of realizations… not only that I used Facebook as a crutch on cold mornings, but also that I’ve become accustomed to checking it quickly as a way of mentally shifting gears between projects at work. More than once, I found myself landing on the login page, catching myself before I entered my credentials.

I hadn’t declared an outright ban on all social media, however, so I’d dip into Twitter daily and post something. I’ve never been much of a tweeter, and this two week period helped me figure out why: Facebook feels like more of a conversation. Twitter seems like a bunch of people just blurting things and occasionally responding to each other. Perhaps a bit like a Tourrettes conference. Also? It turns out I enjoy the photos people post on Facebook – even if they’re usually of children.

So while I bounced over to Twitter periodically, I’d wager that it held my attention for no more than five minutes a day. It kind of makes me wonder why I have four Twitter accounts. (I guess I did a land-grab early on? Beats me.)

I will say that this experiment DID help me reclaim a staggering amount of free time, so I definitely plan to restrict my Facebook usage moving forward. But I also found that I missed out on key events and had to learn about them second-hand, which I didn’t like.

Thankfully, Alan texted me when my friend announced the birth of her baby via Facebook. And it was from overhearing people in my office talking that I realized one of my work friends was stuck on a bus in Atlanta for 24 hours because of the snow storm. Trade-offs, I guess.

In any case, it was liberating to unshackle myself from Mark Zuckerberg’s three-legged race for a week. And it was a stroke of genius that my dormant period coincided with the Super Bowl. Because who has time for that?

Have I mentioned? I happen to like walking tours.

2 Feb

Image Source: http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/washington-dc-tours

While you were at the gym, honoring your New Year’s Resolution, I was quietly tackling a couple more items on my 40×40 list. In this week’s update:

#7 – Take an official walking tour of DC. 

This weekend I took my first ever guided walking tour of DC. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I love DC and I love walking tours. I’ve just never made time to play tourist in my own city. Coming out of two weeks of near-zero temperatures, today’s balmy 52˚ forecast made me think the timing was right for a walking tour. And it was.

I joined DC by Foot for a “pay what you want” walking tour of the National Mall. I was hoping for a neighborhood tour, but they run a limited schedule during the winter, so the Mall was the only real option that worked with my schedule.

I’ve logged many hours on the Mall doing things that most tourists would find pretty cool – attending the Library of Congress’s Book Festival, playing kickball, watching a kite festival, enjoying Screen on the Green movies, witnessing presidential inaugurations, rallying against the Keystone XL pipeline – so I was worried I’d find the tour a bit disappointing.

Fortunately, I was wrong.

Image Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/fb/Jefferson_Pier_and_Washington_Monument.jpgThere were two things I saw on this tour that I had never noticed before: One was was the Jefferson Pier. It’s a small marker just west of the Washington Monument, indicating the original intended location of the Washington Monument – AND the prime meridian that L’Enfant proposed. Interestingly, while the meridian idea never took off, apparently whenever NASA measures distance in the universe, they use the Jefferson Pier marker as the starting place. Pretty cool.

The other thing I’d not noticed: The “graffiti” on the back of the WWII Memorial: Kilroy was here. Although I was familiar with the expression, I hadn’t heard the story of its suspected origin before.

Legend has it, prior to WWII James Kilroy was a rivet inspector in a shipyard in Massachusetts. At the end of each shift, he scribbled “Kilroy was here” to indicate where he’d left off. During the war, sailors started finding this phrase all over their ships – and when they compared notes with other sailors, they found that Kilroy had been there, too. Since it seemed Kilroy was inexplicably omnipresent, people took up scrawling the phrase wherever they went, helping Kilroy cover the globe – and bathroom stalls.

In any case, pretty cool that it became so linked with WWII, that it’s there, etched on the back of this memorial.

Pretty much.

Pretty much.

In addition to the knowledge I picked up along the way, I enjoyed a few of the unscripted aspects of the tour. For example, when we kicked off, at the highly trafficked corner of 15th and Constitution, our guide made a point of saying that was usually the noisiest place on the tour. His words must have jinxed us – because for the rest of the tour, we had hundreds of Canadian Canada Geese pass over us, honking more fervently than the DC drivers.

[Note: My original post called them Canadian Geese, but my dad, the ornithologist, told me I’d made one of the most common mistakes in birding. Apparently they’re Canada Geese. I don’t even want to figure out the mechanics of this grammatically.]

And when we were standing by the Washington Monument, a young guy walking by interrupted our tour to ask , “Do you know how many flags there are circling the monument?”

“Fifty,” our guide answered confidently.

“Really?” the guy asked, “Because I heard it was like 54 or something – the states and the territories?”

“Nope,” our guide said. “I’ve counted them.” The guy thanked him and started to walk away. Our guide continued, “Do you know what the other question I get here a lot is?” The guy shook his head. “How do they get them to all fly in the same direction?” our guide offered.

The guy stopped and stared and shook his head. “Whoa – you’re right. Now that I look at them, they ARE all going in the same direction… why is that?”

“The wind,” our guide said. The guy smacked his head. “You got me! Man!”

And that’s why you should always join the tour and pay what you can. Otherwise, you’ll be shamed.