Thursday, July 27, 2006

I walk the line

Let's start with the positive. 207lbs today. 11 pounds down from my starting point and 7 pounds left to lose in just about 5 weeks. The few hiccups I've made along the way hurt my momentum and overall weight loss, and to lose 7 pounds in 5 weeks at the rate I'm going now is going to be a change of pace. Eating at Kincaid's today was probably not the best decision I've made in a while - but I've been doing well for a while now too so I won't beat myself up about it. I'm still determined to meet my goal, but if I don't I need to remember to be pretty stoked to have made progress, and to just set another goal and strive to meet it.

The bad stuff? Selling your house sucks. Having to be prepared at all times to up and leave while making sure the kids don't tear the place up for a prospective buyer sucks. Staying out of the house all weekend to avoid the aforementioned scenario also sucks. Texas is HOT. Especially right now. Houses that are in foreclosure are a good bargain, but they frequently have no electricity thus no A/C. There are probably some houses we've looked at that, if I was comfortable while walking around them, I may well have fallen in love with. But it's hard to feel amorous toward an inanimate object when it's 105 degrees in the shade and you've been out all day with kids running around screaming.

What are we to do if we find a house we love anyway? (We've already been in this situation so it's a rhetorical question) We can't / aren't prepared to make an offer on the place when we don't know when ours will sell. The market our current house is in right now is saturated, and it's driven prices down to rock bottom. We've set our house at a price which is competitive, but when the competition drop their prices even more in response, what are we to do? Start digging into our equity that we earned and invested in? Take a loss? I guess that depends on how badly you want out. The competition who have already had their house on the market for 100 days or more are way more desperate than us, I'd wager... and that has a negative effect on MY bottom line too.

What's crazy is we're moving out of a neighborhood / city which is slanted in favor of the buyer, with prices dropping based on increasing development and availability - and we're wanting to move to an area where homeowners seem pretty free and able to set their own prices. Even when you fall in love with a place, it's hard to walk into something knowing that the person you're buying it from JUST purchased the place 3 months prior, and has done nothing other than shampoo the carpet and jack up the price by $50k just because they can. Ugh.

So, it's stressful. With the house buying / selling, the new job, and two new projects on my lap, as well as 2 or 3 other things I don't care to get into right now, I feel that I'm at a breaking point.

What's my coping mechanism you ask? Shit! I don't know! I don't have time to create mechanisms! Can't someone do that for me?

Right now I'm just concentrating on walking the tightrope... I'm watching the rope in front of me, making very slow advances forward, and keeping balance; For all I know the world around me might be in chaos - I can't take my eyes off the rope just yet so I have no idea. Sometimes voluntary tunnel vision is a good thing. There is no net.

Monday, July 10, 2006

In the style of the 8 year old me

I figured since I don't have a ton of time to write detailed updates, I'd just write one in the style I used in my diaries when I was a nipper:

This weekend we went to the aquarium. It was fun. We ate lots of food afterwards at Ojedas. We're selling our house. People looked at it this weekend. I hope someone buys it soon.


215 lbs, After a HORRENDOUS week of not eating well. Here's hoping it's just water weight :)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I'm no punk

Look, you may as well go ahead and read this now, you won't get the chance when you're being hauled away and it's already too late.

211 lbs. Bad weekend, Holiday... Don't ask.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Poker tomorrow

It was Ed's birthday this week and so since we've all been itching to play again I decided it was time to host another poker game at my place. Lo and Behold! The 1st Annual Ed Mayhall Poker Extravaganza is born! It's going to be incredible. There will be stacks and stacks of cash and prizes to be won, we're having naked dancing ladies, some clowns, midgets, and exploding dogs.

Well, we'll play some poker at any rate.

Look for image posts in my Flickr space; I'll try to take some shots as the evening progresses and post them online realtime (Not that anyone in the ether will see that but it makes me happy)

212 lbs today. Two days ago I was 210 but me eating at the Indian buffet yesterday has shown an immediate impact (when I have bad days for some reason my weight jumps up like 3 pounds then 'recovers' again) - I'm right where I should be to meet my goal of 200 by September 1st. I have to say I'm really glad I'm tracking my progress visually against a goal line because if that weren't the case, I'd have given up already more than a couple times. For instance, you go to a family reunion, you eat poorly, you come back home and weigh yourself and realize you've really damaged the momentum of your weight loss progress. Disappointment, Annoyance, and the desire to pig out. This is the part where I'd normally quit. Slap the numbers on the chart though and all of a sudden it's easy to realize that you're still doing pretty well overall and the trend is still moving in the right direction. There's still a chance to recover. It's a dorky support mechanism but it's working OK.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Blogging on the go...

I'm writing this sitting on a 50 seater plane just landed in Houston for Emily's family reunion. I'll be posting pics to flickr while we're away, so be sure to check them out.
I have to say I've REALLY embraced the whole mobile internet thng. It's FINALLY actually usable and useful. Look at how far we've come ! just yesterday I was SSH'd into from my phone, and tomorrow I'll be checking in for our return flight on my phone/pda. Fun stuff.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Poker Tournament Results

Well... I lasted longer than Bill and Phil but I didn't win :)

Was great fun though. Actually I think Phil Hellmuth was the 2nd to go out - a victim of Songo - in an rather unimpressive sequence of events for him ($200 to him is like, what, less than a penny to me?) and Bill wasn't far behind (another notch for songo) - In fact, Songo pretty much cleaned house until neuboy started cleaning up too late in the game. I managed to hold on until 4th place at which point I went all in after flopping 2 pair - Against neuboy's flopped trips :) The rest is history.

It was a fun event. There was lots of badmouthing and joking around at the beginning and Bill Fillmaff provided plenty of laughs before Phil finally showed up (only a minute late - Not bad for him.)

I guess Ed and I need to start working on the next contest at BillvsPhil. Making a movie. We'll have to see about that one... The trip to vegas to play live with the pros sounds like fun though :)

Times Old Roman?

Thank the heavens. I HATE Times New Roman. Find me a document I've EVER written that used that hideous font and I'll give you a lollipop.

Stuck at 214.5lbs... I'm still tracking below my "goal" line if I'm to reach 200 by September 1st, so I'm doing well (yes, I'm graphing my progress in a spreadsheet, cos I'm such a dork) but the fact that right now my "actual" line is horizontal, and heading right FOR that goal line is worrying. Early days yet though.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Poker tournament with Phil Hellmuth!


Ed entered a pic of us he'd 'crafted' a while back into a competition on the Bill vs Phil website. As a result we both won entry into a private 10-player tournament on Friday night with Phil Hellmuth and Bill Fillmaff! Can't wait! I'm hoping that if I can't win, I can at least bust either Bill or Phil out with a textbook donkey move to get their blood boiling and make them remember my name ;)

down to 214.5lbs already - Kind of a big move today... must be mostly water. (Not that I'm complaining)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Stock Photography Clichés

I just love this:

Top ten stock photography cliches

Weight Loss Time

OK, I'm sick of it. Today it begins. Every time I blog I'll be posting my weight. It keeps creeping up and up on me and it's getting old. So here it ends. Today I'm 218lbs, the heaviest I've been for probably a year or more. Earlier this year I'd worked it down to around 210 but it's crept back up again as it inevitably does.

So, WWCalc is installed on the PDA (again) and it says I'm allowed 24-29 points per day. Having tried this before I know that in real terms it's VERY easy to burn up those points in very short order. (For example, a Chicken Sandwich at Chilis - from the Guiltless Grill section, no less - is 10.5 points, the same as a BMT Classic 6" sandwich from Subway) It's hard work and I'm sure on some days I'll fail. But I'm determined to stay in for the long haul. I've seen friends do extremely well on the WW points system and I've done well on it myself, in the past. I just have to stick with it.

So... My short-term goal - Shit, let's even slap a date on it - 200lbs, by September 1st.

Long term? Let's go for 175. I'll determine a date when I see how well I do on my first goal.

Wish me luck, and don't forget to send me words of encouragement, or tell me off if/when you see those numbers getting back up there.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Flickr Integration

As you can see in the right-hand column, I just added a link to recent flickr uploads for your enjoyment. I figured I'd try using the flickr email upload tool from my phone so I can keep almost a moblog as I snap things I think are interesting or just because I'm bored :)


Friday, May 12, 2006

Across the pond, and back again

The passports found their way to our mailbox at 1:30PM on Wednesday. We checked in at the airport around 3PM :) Talk about cutting it fine!

Everything went without a hitch after that point - they had some trouble finding us 4 adjacent seats on the plane since we were flying standby but they managed to at least get us 2 sets of 2 seats, so Em and I tag-teamed the kids and the 10 hour journey out was pretty uneventful. When we arrived on Thursday we got a cab to the car rental place - Practical Car Hire (highly recommended if you're visiting the UK) to pick up our car. It was a brand new (only 5k miles) Ford Mondeo diesel... A really nice car, I think it ended up costing about £170 per week (which is a great deal) including insurance, tax, and all that stuff that doubles the cost of the car when you rent one in the UK. We did have a bit of a problem getting the car though. See, there are two charges involved in renting the car. A deposit, for £500, and the actual cost of the car. They run them through the credit card machine as two seperate transactions, because at the end of the period, the £500 charge is refunded. Well, it seems Capital One sees large transactions in a foreign country as a fraud red-flag (rightly so) so after the first transaction went through, the card was cut off. Awesome! No problem, we'll use Amex. - NOT. There are actually very few places in the UK that take Amex short of very large retailers. We did get it figured out in the end, even though Capital One's systems were down for updates so they couldn't help us... so much for 24/7 customer service.

The 4 day visit went super fast, we met with our American friend Amy on Friday - she recently moved to the UK - and we spent the day in Stratford-upon-Avon (birthplace of Shakespeare and, well... most of my mother's family), with a trip to the butterfly farm being the highlight of the day for the kids.

Saturday was my sister Sarah's wedding, and it was an all-day affair. We started early and ended late; much food and drink was consumed, the kids managed to fight their way to being awake until well after midnight, and we got to catch up with so many people we haven't seen for a long time. It was an awesome day and my sister looked really beautiful (ok, enough of the mushy stuff now)

Sunday came and went, we got to visit with Dad and Brenda, had a post-wedding lunch buffet which was great, and by Sunday night we were well exhausted, just in time to have to pack for Monday's journey home. On Monday our seats were assigned at check-in (no standby this time) and the journey home (on a bigger plane than the way over there) was mostly quiet and uneventful. It really felt good to get home, even if I did feel sad about once again leaving my UK family behind. - I think it was less sad this time since I knew that going back soon was WELL within reach with my new flight benefits.

Back to work on Tuesday, with a major case of jetlag, and a nasty infection I caught on the plane on the way home :) (happens EVERY time!)

Monday, May 01, 2006


Well, we're scheduled to leave for the UK on Wednesday, and three of us are awaiting our passports in the good ol' US mail!

...Cross your fingers.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Kael'Thas in Stasis

My WarCraft subscription expired last week. I decided I'd take some time between subscriptions to earn reputation with the Wife Faction as opposed to earning reputation for, say, the Timbermaw Hold. So far we've watched a couple of movies, and gone to bed a lot earlier more than a couple of times. Man, I can't tell you how much better I feel in the daytime when I actually get more than 4 hours of sleep. It's incredible. Who'd have thought?

I'm not sure when I'll continue the subscription. I mean, I DO feel it calling me with it's beautiful siren song (what's it been, like 4 days now?) but I'm going to stave it off as long as I can, at least until I'm revered and can buy nicer items from the wife vendor (bad Warcraft joke)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Windy City

So, one of the perks of my new job at AA is... well... I guess I'm not supposed to advertise it... but anyways... Last weekend Emily, Rowan, Camden and I flew to Chicago for the best part of the Easter weekend. We flew out late Thursday night, and came back on Saturday. We got a GREAT deal on a hotel at Hotwire ($80/night for a $150/night room) and we had a lot of fun. We didn't do anything breathtakingly drastic, but we had a great time nonetheless. On Friday we went to Navy Pier and rode the "big feckoff ferris wheel" as it shall now be known, and took a few rides on the carousel.

There was a LOT of walking involved and with a 2 year old in tow that got tough at times. Yeah, we should have lugged along the stroller but we actually got by pretty well with nothing but a pair of daddy's shoulders and some good old fashioned love and logic.

In the evening we decided we couldn't leave the Windy City without trying out some authentic chicago pizza pie, so we headed to Gino's East, a highly rated pizza joint with a lot of character, on Ontario and Wells in downtown Chicago. We ordered a combo platter for an appetizer, a frosty cold one for Daddy, and decided on a medium pepperoni supreme. We were kind of taken aback when the waiter told us it would take 40 minutes to make the pizza but when we saw it (40 minutes later would you believe) we kind of understood why. It was like a friggin' casserole!

We DID manage to put it all away somehow though with a lot of help from Rowan. Man it was good.

On the way back to the hotel we found a really huge, really cool McDonalds with all this memorabilia from various decades, and tons of fancy furniture ranging from fine italian sofas to those weird egg-looking chairs from the 70s. I couldn't help but notice this in the 80's display:

Lazer Tag! Too cool. This is the exact model I had when I was a young'un. Sans the hat of course... (I was never THAT cool)

So anyways... the hotel was great, the weather was real nice, and the kids actually did a great job considering all the walking we put them through :) Overall it was a really good trip.

Now we just have to decide where to go next ;)

New Year, New Job, New Drugs

So yeah... what else has happened... Well, Christmas came and went, and 2006 rolled in. Rowan started on medication for his ADHD and after about 4 different drugs we've just (in the past month) found one that works to help him focus and control himself at school, while at the same time having no side effects (this last part has been the most tricky). I honestly can't stand the fact that my child is taking drugs for ADHD, but at the same time I see him doing so much better, he's able to achieve normal things in school that the other kids have always done, and he comes home happier, prouder, and full of confidence. His "smiley face sheet" (a half-hourly evaluation sheet I created for his teacher to give us feedback on how he's doing throughout the day) is frequently decorated with nothing but smiley faces, as opposed to frowny faces or accompanied with notes from the principal. So, so far, so good. He's doing great.

I left my job at Neiman Marcus on the 31st of March, and started work the next Monday at American Airlines. I'm on my third week there now and so far it's going well. Right now I'm beginning work on their very-near-future ATG to WebSphere migration. It's challenging, and enjoyable, and I'm honestly glad to feel once again like I'm using a much broader range of skills which I've missed using for some time.

I'll probably post more about all this stuff as I get time, but for now... that's all the information you need :)

Losing Granny

Time to fill you in on what's been happening... It's been too long since I updated.

The week before thanksgiving 2005, I left for the UK as Granny had gotten really sick in hospital. The doctors asked that any family be with her as they didn't expect her to last that night. I got on a plane that same day and was at her side the next afternoon. When I walked in to see her she was very lucid (the opposite from the previous day) and immediately recognized me. We joked with each other - "What are you doing here?" we both asked each other (her in the hospital, and me in the UK) and we both got a chuckle out of that. I stuck around for 10 days, and saw her most every day, her condition worsening over that period. I got to hold her hand and just be around her which I'm glad I got to do. The last time I saw her, the day before my flight back, I got to tell her goodnight, and that I'd see her in the morning. Granny died in her sleep with my mother and brother at her side, about two weeks later, on December 8th 2005. I still can't believe she's gone. Living so far away from one's family is so difficult, and I can't begin to tell you how much guilt I have for not seeing her more often, or calling her more, or that she never got to meet my youngest son. I was always very close to both my maternal grandparents, and I'll always miss them tremendously.

Since the initial trip was so costly, I couldn't afford to go back for the funeral. I wrote the following for her funeral, however, and the vicar read it during the service at the church. I wish I could've been there but I'm glad I got to be a part of the service in some way anyway.

As children, we refer to the people around us with ‘cute’ versions of their names, like “Mummy” and “Daddy”. As we grow up we start to use the more ‘mature’ versions of those names, like “Mum”, or “Dad”.

As a teenager I’d hear my friends talk about their grannies as “Grandmother” or “Grandma”, which always seemed like a much more ‘grown up’ way to refer to one’s grandmother, but somehow, I felt, if I were to any other title, I would no longer be referring to Granny. She was Granny! Not Grandma, or Grandmother. Just Granny.

As we grow up, our relationships with siblings and parents changes a lot. We see each other grow and change and become the people we all are today. Annoying brothers and sisters become good friends with common challenges like raising children and making a living. Parents who you once rebelled against become more like peers too, and you begin to notice incredible similarities in them and yourself as you mature.

My relationship with Granny though, at least from my point of view, didn’t really change much over the years. To me, she was an unchanging rock. Always there, always the same, always Granny. As a child I don’t ever remember a time when going to Granny and Grandad’s house wasn’t great. There was always something to do there, whether it was playing in the water tank outside, whacking tennis balls for six over or into the hedge, playing a board game or some cards, doing a jigsaw puzzle, or just sitting and having a cup of tea, or maybe a peanut butter sandwich with some pickled onions. It was always a pleasurable experience. We never had to make an effort to have a good time. We were just happy to be there. It felt good, and safe, and happy.

I always remember when leaving their house as a child, granny would chase the car as we drove away, making us laugh till the last minute. We’d wave out of the back window as Granny and Grandad stood outside the house, waving back. I remember continuing to wave well after we’d disappeared behind the trees on White Horse Hill, thinking that they could somehow still see us and were still standing there, waving. I was sure sometimes they’d wave to us all the way home to Rugby, or at least until until I fell asleep in the car and stopped waving back.

Losing Grandad was devastating to me, although at the time, being the age I was, I found it all very confusing and strange. How hard it must have been for Granny to lose such a great man. I remember her making beds, dusting, and staying busy immediately after he died, pressing on like the trooper that she was. And press on she did, showing us all that life goes on even after a loved one has passed. Somehow, through it all, Granny didn’t weaken, but stayed strong. She also kept his spirit alive, in my eyes. Grandad died when I was 11, yet now, 17 years later, I never stopped thinking about them both as a unit.

As I grew older I did less jigsaw puzzles and stopped playing cricket out front, and my beloved water tank disappeared… but I still loved being at Granny’s house. It always still made me feel happy and safe, and I still didn’t have to make any effort to enjoy myself there.

It’s times like these I regret being so far from the people I love. I’m sorry I’m not there today to say my final farewell to Granny in person. In some ways today would have been my way to say goodbye to both Granny AND Grandad, since I was too young to say goodbye to him when he passed. I regret that my children won’t get to enjoy Great Granny’s company, and that they did not know her better. They will, however, benefit from the legacy she has left behind in me, and that’s character, steadfastness, and love. And, like she did so well for Grandad, I will keep her spirit alive.

I’m so sorry to see Granny go today, but happy that she is being reunited with Grandad. I know they’ll be taking care of each other again, and even though I can no longer see them, I’m still waving out of the back window. I know they’re both waving back.