The Science Nerd

Life in the Lab

My Facebook Fast

April 3, 2014

Last week, I decided to take a break from Facebook. I had Gayle create a new password so I couldn’t even log in if I wanted to. I took the app off my phone and spent an entire week completely unconnected from Facebook. And, after a few uncomfortable moments, I loved it.  I decided to do this because I felt I was spending too much time and too much energy interested in what other people were saying and doing. I rarely posted anything myself, but I was spending an inordinate amount of time scrolling through reading everybody else’s posts; afraid that I might miss something.

After the first 24 hours of my “fast” I stopped worrying about what everyone else was doing. I stopped worrying that I was missing something. I was able to spend that time doing other things. Things that actually meant something.

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I decided last night to return to Facebook, but with a few restrictions. I will not put the Facebook app back on my phone so I can avoid that easy any minute of any day check. And I am only going to check from my desktop once a day. I’m not sure anyone noticed that I was missing for a week and I’m pretty sure they won’t notice that I’m not on all the time. The person it will make a difference for is me.

So what did I learn from this experience? I learned that I don’t need Facebook. In fact I think it detracts from me being more alert as I go through my day. I learned that Facebook didn’t miss me. It’s not necessary for everyone to know everything I’m doing every moment of every day. Nor is it necessary for me to know everything about other people. And lastly I learned that it’s a whole lot better to live for myself than to live vicariously through other people and their Facebook postings.

I survived the Facebook fasting experience, even thrived! And I’m a better person for it.

See you in the real world!

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Review: Rummikub

December 21, 2012

“We can’t do it Wednesday night, that’s game night.  And game night is sacred.”  This sentence is spoken pretty regularly in our world.  About a year ago, we began hosting game night at our house.  It’s a small group of people, usually 4-5 and we start off the evening with dinner, eaten family style at the table.  After we eat, we move to the living room to play a game.  The game varies each week-  we will play card games, board games and sometimes we even pull out the Wii for some video game action.  And no topic of conversation is off limits.  We will discuss religion, politics or just the silly things that happened in the past week.  And even though our views may differ – we can all talk freely without anger or hurt feelings.

One game that we play frequently is Rummikub.  It is kind of like Gin Rummy, but played with colored and numbered tiles instead of cards.

The game is played by laying down tiles in sets of the same number (3-3-3) or runs with the same color (4-5-6).  All sets must a  group of at least three.  It sounds easy, but the best part – which is also the hardest part comes when a lot of tiles have been played.

You see, in Rummikub, you can mix and match tiles in an infinite number of ways as long as you follow the rules which are pretty simple – leave three tiles in each set and a run must be of the same color and stay in numerical order.

So, in order to get rid of one tile in your hand, you might make 5 manipulations of the board.  And one move by the person before you can completely throw off your entire game plan.  There can be a large amount of strategy involved and you definitely must think outside the box in order to win.  The instructions do place a time limit of two minutes on someones turn, so there isn’t that one person that monopolizes the game looking for a move for 10 minutes.

We really enjoy this game because it involves lots of thinking, but isn’t “in the box” thinking like some other games.  There is always more than one answer, and the possibilities are almost limitless.

 

So, if you are a game lover, or you know someone who is – try Rummikub.  It’s a fun game for all ages.

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I want to write.  I want to post on this blog, and also on my other blog, Fat2Triathlete, which details my quest to complete an IronMan triathlon.  I have great intentions….but really poor follow through.

I start on a post, get distracted and then never finish it.  I think about things that would make terrific blog posts, but then never get them typed out.

While meeting with a group of fellow bloggers the other day, we were talking about the difficulty in writing consistently and the conversation turned to keeping an editorial calendar.  I knew that some bloggers kept a schedule of things they wanted to post and when they would post them, but it all seemed to “business like” for my blog.  After all, I’m not writing for Better Homes & Gardens, this is just my blog.

However, the more we talked about it, the more it seemed like a really good idea.  It should help keep me organized, give me a goal and a plan, and eliminate some of the “what do I write about” issues that I seem to have.  I’m also working on organizing other areas of my life.

SIDE NOTE: I own a small business, and there are so many things that need to be accomplished every day, it’s easy to let things fall through the cracks.  I was trying to think of ways to organize myself that made sense to me.  There are tons of things out there about organization, but if it isn’t something I can really grab hold of, it’s hard for me to follow through.   And then it hit me – Lesson Plans!  I was a teacher for 8 years and every Friday I created lesson plans for what was coming the next week.  It was required, but it was also very helpful in scheduling and organizing my days.  And I thought, why wouldn’t that work now?  So, starting last  Sunday I now create a TO DO Lesson plan –  schedule out all the things need to get done.  That way, I don’t feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to begin – I have a plan.  It, so far, has been very freeing – my mind isn’t worried about what has to get done, it’s all written down and waiting for me.  And I have had a very productive week – including getting some little tasks done that before would have been forgotten until it was too late.

Now, back to my blog lesson plan.  The first thing to be done was find an editorial calendar template.  I looked at lots of them and finally settled on a basic monthly calendar.

My next step was to create categories – the areas I’d like to write about.  If you are wondering what I came up with, here they are -

  • Monday – Susie Homemaker – my “mom” posts (I know I’m only mom to two wonderful dalmatians, but I still like to do all those homey things usually associated with moms and why not share them) – recipes, crafts, gardening, etc.
  • Tuesday – Personal Growth – when I started this blog, I wanted a place to record my journey, a journey away from life with my head in the sand and toward a more awakened mentality.  I’ve moved away from writing about my struggles in this area, and am interested in sharing more of this journey.
  • Wednesday – Reviews – this will be the day that I share with my readers my opinions on different things.  I’ll review products, movies, books, any items that I think are worth sharing with you.
  • Thursday – Educational – As I said earlier, I was a teacher for many years and I still do some math and science tutoring because I just love it!  This teaching thing is in my blood and impossible to get away from, so even thought I’m not sure where exactly this one is going, it will most likely be posts about something I’ve learned that I think is valuable.
  • Friday – Spirituality – I grew up in a Baptist ministers home.  There was plenty of religion, but hardly any spirituality.  I grew up believing everything I was taught without questioning or thinking and deciding for myself.  Coming out of that box, finding my own path and discovering what I truly believe is a difficult but important step on my journey and worthy to be discussed here.

I probably won’t write something everyday, heck I’ve had trouble writing something once a month, so don’t expect miracles! I am looking forward to having a plan and a direction.  We shall see where it leads!

As a bonus – I already have three weeks worth of stuff to write about.  See, I knew it was in there…I just needed a good way to get it out.

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Today I am thankful for the ability to cook good meals at home.  I’m not the greatest cook in the world, but I do enjoy finding and trying new recipes.  I also don’t make anything super fancy or complicated.  I try to stick to more basic things that taste good (hopefully)

Steak au Poivre - one of the more popular meals made at home (photo by Gayle Tabor)

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Gayle says that she will try just about anything once, and there have been a few recipes that we have only made once and then they had to be tossed out, never to be made again.  But there have been those recipes that were a home run the first time and get added into the meal rotation.  There have also been those that were ok, but with a little tweak became great.

The Steak au Poivre was one of those that became a hit right away.  Everyone loved it and we have had it a few times since that first occasion.  I try to blog about things I’m cooking on occasion, just to share what has worked or not worked for us.

I sometimes wish I was more creative or inventive, but mostly I am thankful for the ability to put good food on the table.

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As we embark on the month of November, it seems like the perfect time to pause each day and give thanks.  There is so much I have to be thankful for, but sometimes it’s easy to forget and only focus in on the things I don’t have.  This will be a good exercise in remembering to be grateful, and hopefully it will create a habit to carry over to the next month and beyond!

Day 1 is easy – I am thankful for Gayle.  She pushes me to be a better person, giving me a swift kick in the butt when I need it.  She also supports me in whatever I decide to do; whether it’s racing in triathlons or learning how to crochet.   I know that no matter what, she has my back.  It’s a good feeling!

That is not to say that we don’t have disagreements, (just check out the picture….when the Panthers play the Steelers – watch out!) but I’m thankful for those as well because it’s good to know that you can disagree with someone and not have it turn hateful.  I have a difficult time sharing my true feelings and am learning (slowly) that it’s ok to have those feelings, even if they are different from someone else’s.

I want to challenge you to do the same – find something specific to be thankful for each day this month.  It will change your outlook on life.

 

 

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It’s a Trust Thing

October 16, 2012

There are many reasons to celebrate.  And there are as many ways to celebrate as there are reasons.  September 15th of this year was a day worth celebrating.  And celebrate we did. We had to work in the morning, but spent the rest of the day just enjoying life.

We started with lunch, and then made an interesting purchase.  We have been talking for a long time about wanting a tandem bike.  We both love riding our bikes, and thought a tandem sounded like great fun for just cruisin’ around at the beach or downtown or wherever.  A few years ago, Gayle even got the frame to a bike with the idea of fixing it up, but we learned pretty quick that the time and money investments would be large.

A few weeks before, we drove by a tandem bike that was for sale….marinated on it for a while, and then decided that it would make the perfect way to celebrate being together, by being together on a bike.

So we bought it!  

 

Our bicycle built for two

It’s a ’60′s Bicycle Built for Two by Columbia.  After all nothing says I plan on sticking around like a vintage bicycle :)

We went on two short rides that first day, the first just to test drive the bike, and the second when we brought it home.  We had other places to go, but just couldn’t resist a short trip through the neighborhood on our “bicycle built for two”.

Because Gayle is the more confident of the two of us (by far), I almost insisted that she take the front seat.  Riding on the back of a tandem bike is an interesting phenomenon.

There is a lot of trust involved, more than I would have anticipated.  From the back, you can’t see what is directly in front of you.  You have to trust the person in the front seat to avoid obstacles and let you know if bumps are coming.  You also are at the mercy of the driver and how well they communicate turns and other movements.

Both riders need to trust the other, as balance can be a challenge.  Both riders have to work together to balance the bike.  You can’t try to do it all by yourself, because that is the easiest way to tip over – hurting both you and your partner.

Don’t get me wrong – the tandem bike is great fun!  It’s a way for Gayle and I to get outside, get some exercise and enjoy this beautiful area that we live in.  We love it!  It just takes some getting used to.

There are a lot of parallels between riding a tandem bike and life.  When you have a partner, whether it’s a business partner, friend, life partner or other family member, you have to trust that person.    It’s critical to communicate with them so you both are on the same page about where you are going and what is coming up.  And you can’t try to take everything on yourself.  You need to work with the other person to solve problems and deal with things together.  Trying to do it all yourself will cause both of you to crash and burn.

These are issues that I have had problems with in the past.  I am a horrible communicator.  I don’t want to cause waves, so I keep quiet about problems or issues which just makes them worse.  I need to remember that things are better if I communicate early and trust that things will work out.

I’m trying to remind myself of this each time I walk past our tandem bike.  Aside from being great fun and good exercise, I think it’s going to teach me a lot about trust in all areas of life.

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Stepping off the Ledge

April 2, 2012

Gayle, Mary Martha and I getting ready to zip

Yesterday, Gayle and I and a group of friends went to Fayetteville, NC to ZipQuest.  A few months ago, Gayle had major surgery after being sick for at least 2 months.  The road to recovery was long and difficult.  During recovery, the Geico commercial with Maxwell the pig on a zipline aired frequently.  Then we discovered there was a zipline just 2 hours away.  So, this became Gayle’s recovery goal – to ride the zipline.  And once she was cleared by her doctor for ALL activity, we planned our trip.

ZipQuest is a 2.5 hour eco-adventure outside of Fayetteville.  During your time, you travel on 8 ziplines, traverse 3 suspension bridges and climb 4 spiral staircases over trees, rivers, waterfalls – absolutely beautiful terrain.  The highest zip is 90 feet in the air and while zipping you attain speeds of up to 35 mph.

I must admit that while excited, I was incredibly nervous about it.  The staff at ZipQuest does a great job of easing you into your ride.  The first “practice zip is only about 6 feet off the ground.  You get to practice and get comfortable with how the harness feels, how to brake and where to put your hands, etc.  Then you head up two flights of stairs to the first zipline.  Still not too far off the ground, maybe 20 feet.  The lines get progressively higher and longer.  The second to last zip starts you off at 90 feet above the ground.  Along they way there is a beautiful waterfall, rivers and amazing trees.  We also walked across three suspension bridges.  They were not my favorite – mostly because of the swinging motion and the bouncing from others on the bridge.  Even though we were strapped in the entire time, I sometimes had to force myself to keep going.

Our guides, CT and Patrick were great.  They were funny, willinging to chat and joke with us, and very patient.  On the first zip, Gayle went first, then I was up.  Patrick hooked me to the line, and it was time to go.  Stepping off that stump, trusting that the line would hold and letting go were the most difficult things I have ever done.  Once I was going, it was great fun.  The scenery, feeling a part of the forest, it was awesome!  But that first step was incredibly difficult.  Every time.  Even though I knew, without a doubt, that once I got going I would love it.

The first step is a doozie

I want to remember that feeling – the almost paralyzing fear of stepping off the ledge, then doing it anyway and the exilerating feeling of flying above the trees.  And the sense of accomplishment afterwards.  It helped me realize that I could do anything I set my mind to.  I just need to take that first step.

If you ever get the chance to go to ZipQuest, I highly recommend it.  And even if you are nervous, or scared silly – it’s worth it.  You might be surprised at what you can do.

Head over to Gayle’s blog to read her account and see video and more pictures

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Wrigley & Marshall

Recently, our youngest son, Marshall, got sick.  He threw up  and I didn’t think much of it – dogs throw up sometimes.  However, that was not the end of things.  He was sick twice more that day.  And he was sick for most of the weekend. Monday morning, poor Marshall threw up again and we called the doctor.

The first thing we learned at our vet’s office was that Marshall had lost about 8 pounds.  That’s a lot when you only weigh about 45 pounds to begin with.  That would be like me losing 43 pounds.  The next thing we learned was that there was no obvious reason for him to be so sick.  He was given a liter of fluid because he was dehydrated and some other medications to help with the nausea and to soothe his stomach.  The vet gave us a few options – we could go home with medicine to ease his symptoms, they could x-ray his intestines to see if there was a blockage, or he could have blood work done to determine if there was something more serious going on.

We chose to start with the x-ray.  When looking at it, there was a vague shadowy something in his stomach, but nothing conclusive (remember this later).  The doctor recommended that we also do the blood work, since he had lost so much weight, so we did.

We left the doctors office with a lighter wallet and four different medicines.  We quickly learned that Marshall does not like the taste of Pepto-Bismol, although, who does really?

The blood work came back inconclusive, so we were basically where we started.  He was acting some better – eating a bit and not acting as lethargic, but he wasn’t our same crazy puppy.

Until Wednesday night.  We had people over and just before dinner I went outside with Marshall.  And out it came!  Remember that shadowy something?  Well, it was a sock and fortunately it found it’s way out of the tunnel it had found it’s way into.

The change was drastic and immediate!  He was back to his usual self, full of energy and mischievousness.  However, I think that would make me feel better as well!

We are keeping a better eye on him, and so far – no more sock eating.  I’m not sure if there is a moral to this story, I think it might just be that life happens.

 

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It’s a New Look!

February 27, 2012

Gayle and I spent most of the day yesterday giving my blogs a facelift. Both this one and my triathlon blog received much needed updates. I am super thrilled with the new look and think that the new themes make navigation easier, especially between the two blogs.

Gayle really did the bulk of the work, I was just the support staff, adding my opinions and giving suggestions when needed.  She has a talent for designing websites, and it’s something that is truly fun for her.  Now the hard work begins….posting.  Be on the lookout for more posts on a variety of topics.  I’ll keep up with the kitchen experiments, but hope to add some every day life stuff as well as more deals and coupons.  I’ve also added a section on books I’m currently reading.

Take a few minutes, look around, then leave a comment and let me know what you think of the new look.

On another exciting note, I am currently waiting to hear if I’ve been accepted as a member of the Brambleberry Athletic Club.  They were looking for athletes to sponsor this year.  You can read all about it here.

 

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My Latest Hobby

January 22, 2012

cro·chet

[kroh-shey; Brit. kroh-shey, -shee]

1.needlework done with a needle having a small hook at one end for drawing the thread or yarn through intertwined loops.

Around Christmas I saw a blog post with pictures and instructions for crocheting washcloths.  I thought the washcloths were absolutely beautiful, in fact, they fascinated me.  So I decided that I would like to learn to crochet, washcloths especially, since I felt like they would fit in nicely with Glynne’s Soaps and be a great addition to the soap and skin care items we already sell.

I decided to make learning to crochet a goal for the new year, so on New Years Eve I purchased a crochet hook (size J) and two skiens of yarn – one a natural tan color with flecks of rust and green and the other a bright orange, yellow and pink.  They are both 100% cotton, which I had read is best for washcloths.

Because Gayle was still recovering from surgery, we didn’t have big plans for New Years, we had rented some movies, bought some food and I was ready to learn to crochet.  I had watched a few different videos on YouTube , and was eager to get started.  With yarn and hook in hand, I watched the video’s again, pausing every so often so I could follow along.  I think I got the hang of the steps that night, I decided to keep the small square that was my first attempt.

Over the next few weeks I was able to crochet one washcloth that will be for personal use.  (It’s not the greatest thing ever created, but I think it’s a good first step)

I enjoy crocheting, but sometimes get frustrated with having to hold everything and make my fingers move the way I want them too.  I have recently switched up how I hold my yarn, I think it’s working better for me.  I now hold the yarn with my second and third fingers and hold the piece with my first finger and thumb.  I think it gives me more control.

I have definitely not gotten the hang of the tension yet, but everyone keeps telling me that comes with practice, so I’m trying not to be too worried about it.  Part of me just wants it to be perfect right away.  I know that’s impossible, so I will keep at it.  I’ll try to remember to post pictures as I go, but for now here is a picture of my first washcloth attempt.

 

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