When I switched jobs, one of the new things I had to get used to was the bathroom situation. Although I don't have any particular hangups about using the restroom in general, I've always been a little weird about public restrooms. Over the course of a couple years working at one place, I figured out which bathrooms had the least traffic (almost down to specific time frames when they would be busy). At any rate, I had my favorite bathrooms, where I was least likely to be disturbed, and that was that.
This new job has taken me some time, but I've also finally sort of discovered the trends and cycles of the building that I work in. In addition to that, I've also have noticed two very distinct differences between the newest place of employment and my old job.
First off, the toilet paper at the new job is nowhere near the quality of that at the last place I worked. Despite going through budget crunches and other money problems, my former employer always seemed to have really nice two-ply toilet paper that was actually about the best I've ever seen in a public restroom. In terms of quality, it was close to what I purchase for home use. At the job I work in now (at least in every bathroom I've used in our building) has really thin one-ply paper that requires at least two folds on itself in order to get anything near cushy. I can be a rough and tumble sort of fellow, but I like my toilet paper soft. Hell, who doesn't?
The second main difference is that the toilets in most of the bathrooms at my new place of employment are auto-flush, whereas none of the toilets at my last job had this function. While I'm not what one could call germ-phobic, I am very, very careful about touching things when in public restrooms, so this auto-flush feature was actually quite a blessing for me. This is coming from someone who became quite adept at flushing both urinals and toilets with a tap of my toe. Oh yeah, I also always open the door of the bathroom on the way out with the paper-towel that I've just dried my hands with, so I don't have to touch the handle itself.
The third difference that is notable between the two jobs is that the newest place of employment has soap dispensers with nice liquid soap that actually foams up well and feels like it's cleaning my hands. At my old job, the soap dispenser kicked out greenish-clear liquid (if there was anything in them at all) that not only smelled slightly of dirt, but never really did much in terms of cleansing (and often made your hands smell funny). I actually had some Burts Bee's hand salve (which is good stuff anyway) sitting on my desk to rub onto my hands after I'd washed them, simply to mask the weird smell of the soap.
The final difference of note is that the bathrooms at my new job all have windows in them, whereas the ones at my old job didn't. Despite the obvious reasons of getting more fresh air circulating, a majority of time there's enough sunlight coming in through the windows that the actual light in the bathroom doesn't even need to be turned on. While this isn't a large deal, the bathroom itself takes on a much less harsh feel with only natural light filtering in. There's something about public restrooms that I think is inherently cold, and source and amount of light reflecting on all the tile walls and floor actually ends up making a big difference.
The final consensus is that while the toilet paper at the new job is lacking somewhat (okay, more than somewhat), it makes up for it in several other ways and I actually much prefer the restrooms at my new job over the ones at my old one.
Elsa and Zoey, in full-on BT Crazy mode.
Have you ever watched a television show and/or a movie and then seen someone within the next couple days that closely resembles a villain within said tv show or movie? It happened to me not once, but twice today. The first time was when I got back onto the bus at lunch and saw a passenger sitting ahead of me out of the corner of my eye. When I looked at the person a little closer, I realized that this person didn't look quite like my initial response led me to believe, but it didn't stop me from doing nearly the same thing later in the day when I was standing out by the bus stop waiting to go home. Perhaps the sign of a truly good villain is one that sinks into your subconsciousness and makes you suspicious in everyday life. Neither encounter made me feel particularly paranoid or anything, instead I simply chuckled to myself as I realized I had let entertainment seep past the boundaries of the television and into my everyday life.
Ha. An eight day break is more like the journal page of old. This past week hasn't been particularly more busy than anytime else this year, but the big difference is that my sickness seemed to hold me in its grasp a little longer than I thought it would and instead of sitting at my computer for any longer at night I decided to use that time for sleep. After a week of sore throat and a general crappy feeling and almost two full weeks of coughing, I think I've finally expelled the crud from my system. Like a good husband, I passed along something to TG and she's been struggling with it for nearly the past week. Needless to say, our house has been a den of stuffy heads and phlegm for about two weeks now, but I think that it's finally, finally nearing the end of the cycle (or at least I hope so).
Friday night was spent watching I Heart Huckabees, and I have to say that I think it was one of the more enjoyable films I've seen in awhile. Absolutely hilarious in places, it was one of those flicks that was bizarre without seeming like it was trying too hard and for some reason the humour seemed like it was just about right up my alley. I'm not sure if it was the total intention of the filmmaker, but I also felt that the general message of the film was something I agreed with as well. While most of the funny parts in the film came from the extremes that the characters had, the gist of keeping an even keel is one that I try to abide by. It's good to be educated about the world at large and all the bad things that go on in it, but at the same time if you allow yourself to be too consumed with these things, it can be downright dehabilitating. For all the oddities that the film presented, I viewed the film as a positive voice for moderation.
One huge development on the homefront is that we got a fence installed in our backyard so it's now completely closed-in. What this means for us is that we can not only focus seriously on landscaping and putting together a garden this summer, but also that the dogs can go outside without wearing a leash. The first time that we took them out without their leashes on, they seemed a bit confused for a total of about 1 minute, then they took off with a slightly crazy / very excited look in their eyes and ran around until they were panting. We have a couple little ring frisbees that hold up to tugging abuse quite well, and the dogs have had a lot of fun running rampant. Maybe I'll update with some pictures when landscaping and/or hilarious dog action pictures ensues.
To celebrate feeling better, I got back on the exercise wagon this weekend and rollerbladed 8 miles both yesterday and today. The wind was something of a factor both days, but it only means that one direction is much more difficult than expected while going the other way you're able to really freaking zoom. I'm at 26 miles right now. Is it unreasonable of me to want to rollerblade over 1000 this year?
What I thought was originally just some sort of a minor cold has now turned into something that handed me my ass nearly every day last week. I woke up feeling crappy, then went through the day and slowly seemed to pick up my step during the mid to late afternoon only to find myself crashing really hard at night. I think I may have had some sort of upper respiratory infection, but fortunately I feel like I'm on the tail end of whatever it was with just a residual cough left over.
In the meantime, I finished another book. Although it seems like I read rather quickly, I have to mention that I'm always reading at least two books concurrently (one commuting book, and one at home/in bed book), so sometimes when I happen to finish both at roughly the same time, it makes it seem like I'm a speed demon reader (which I sometimes am, but not right now). At any rate, the book I most recently finished was Oblivion, which is the most recent offering from David Foster Wallace. With this book, I have now read all the short story collections that DFW has written, yet I haven't tackled either of his two bonified novels (The Broom Of The System or Infinite Jest). Even in short doses, I have to say that his writing leaves me feeling somewhat frustrated sometimes (his lack of resolutions and sometimes maddening subordinate-within-subordinate (etc) writing style), yet he really does have a brilliance at times that's nearly unmatched.
Quite possibly more than any other previous work that I've read by DFW, Oblivion is not about tidy resolutions. There are so many loose ends left hanging in the short stories within this book that one could write another entire book resolving everything. As someone with a rather imaginative mind, though, it sort of becomes a game once it goes on (which is perhaps part of his goal anyway). While reading the stories and then discovering these rather unique characters and their situations, I found myself writing in their future if the story didn't provide me with one. In most cases, things ended badly, but it was because the cross section that DFW paints in most of the stories is not exactly one of niceties. A simpler way of saying things is that DFW is really damn good at writing very intricate stories about people who have serious problems, and perhaps like an accident I can't look away from them. I find myself intrigued when I read his work and I would recommend it to those who don't mind reading something that isn't just your usual light skim read.
Lots have been going on the past couple days but I simply haven't sat down at my computer very much because it's been so lovely outside. The weather crept into unseasonable (and almost flat-out weird) temperatures for nearly the last half week and the result is a lot more time spent outside and a lot less here at the computer.
On Friday, I finished another book (brining my total up for 8 for the year) and the reading of the book is kind of a funny story in and of itself. Feeling like I wanted to read something a bit light again after my previous, more serious book (The Culture Of Fear), I again turned to one Nicholson Baker, who had treated me right earlier this year with the excellent The Mezzanine. This time out, I decided on Vox, even though I knew it was going to contain at least a little bit of the 'rot (er, erotica). Although I'm sure that people on the bus could really care less what I was sitting and reading on the way home, I have to admit blushing a little bit when the book would be discussing in rather lurid detail the more involved points of, shall we say, frisking?
At any rate, despite my sometimes uncomfortable reading on the bus in public, I was somewhat disappointed in this book. It was a national best-seller, so I guess there's no accounting for taste, but it simply lacked those little details that made me really enjoy the other work that I'd read from Baker. He's really the master of the minutae, but Vox simply felt like the misguided ramblings (at times) of a college student fumbling about with a creative fiction assignment in which they were supposed to write erotica in a unique way. So yeah, I've now been burnt (slightly) by Baker once, but I'm not giving up on him. As sort of a swing back in the other direction, I've now tackled Working by Studs Terkel, and being that it's quite a long book, I probably won't finish it for some time.
It turns out that we're going to be getting a fence starting this week, so TG and I did some prep work in the backyard in terms of getting things ready for the fence guys to come out and put in the posts and stuff. There was still a big pile of wood chips from having trees removed several weeks ago, so we spread them out and took some of them to the landfill (and scored some awesome paving stones from the construction/demolition area in the process). Unfortunately, there must have been some sort of mold or something in the chips because I woke up the next day with a serious upper-respiratory funk and I'm only just now starting to feel like it's clearing out.
Part of the reason I feel like it's going away is that I went out for a rather vigorous exercise session this evening. After getting into a fairly good habit of running, it was nice enough this weekend to break out the rollerblades, so I purchased a new set of wheels and went out this evening for the first time in a year. It took me a couple blocks to get my motion down, but after that I was zooming along and made killer time despite a rather serious wind that slowed me down going one way and gave me a slight boost coming home. I'll now switch back and forth between jogging and rollerblading, depending on how cold it is outside, but either way I've gotta try to keep up with things.
Lastly, mixing for the new batch of Marianas tracks is coming along nicely. Should be about 4 songs and over 20 minutes worth of stuff once all is said and done. We haven't yet decided how wide of a release we want to make it, but if you're interested in hearing it, I'm sure I'll have information when we're done with it.
I mentioned it before, but I've been trying to get back into a rough sort of exercise regimen this year. Coming out of winter, I felt sluggish a lot of the time and felt like I was getting a bit soft in the middle, so I decided to simply find the time to do some exercise and hopefully slowly work up over time. In the past couple weeks, I've been doing my push-ups and crunches on a regular basis, and I've been doing a bad job at keeping up a regular jogging routine (at least until it gets warmer and I can get out my rollerblades).
Clear back in the summer before I was a senior in college (which would have been 1996), I went through a phase where I was very much hardcore about running. That summer in general became the summer of hardcore, because not only did I work two jobs (averaging between 60-70 hours a week) that had me going to at least one job every day 62 in a row (without a day off), but I would spend what was a good portion of the rest of my time painting my parents house and then running at night. After keeping up a schedule for months, I was doing almost ten miles a night, and over the course of three months ran over 500 miles.
I mention the above because at my peak, I got in a good habit of both pre and post run stretching. It kept muscles from getting sore while running and from cramping afterwards. Since I've started running again this year, that's the one rule that I've consistently (and stupidly) broken, and it has come back to haunt me several times (mostly in the form of a cramping muscle that simply isn't used to longer runs). I spent a really good amount of time stretching this evening before I ran and had absolutely no problems during the run (other than a bloody foot, which I explain below).
Another important thing to do when jogging long distances is to keep your toenails trimmed up short. I learned this the hard way tonight when I set out and was surprised to find myself feeling really good just under halfway into the jog. At about that point, the big toe on my left foot started giving me some pain, but I figured my socks were too tight and scrunched my foot and changed my gait slightly to try to work it out. As I continued, the pain subsided for the most part, but when I got home and stopped jogging, it shot back into my foot again. When I took my shoe off, there was a blood stain much larger than a half dollar on my outer sock and when I took them off I realized that the long nail had cut into my toe and started a nice trickle of blood that must have kept pumping for the remainder of the trip. With minimal pain, I got everything cut down to a more respectable level and now plan on really being ready to run fully free of incident next time I go out.
I'm starting out with very short runs of only four miles, which seems to be about right for me now. There's a trail that runs fairly close to where I live and it's easy to jog over and down the trail and back and home even with the days not being very long. Based on how my joints felt (not so hot) after my summer of running mentioned above, I'll probably shift to rollerblading as soon as it's not quite as cold, but for now I'll plug along and maybe even bump up my trip distance to six miles if I get to feeling a smidgen smoother at four. To reiterate how poorly I've been keeping to a schedule, I've managed just over 30 miles now since I started about 3 weeks ago. Ugh.