Friday, March 28, 2008

Two-wheeled Timesaver

I've been riding my hybrid (commuter) bike to and from Trader Joe's for smaller grocery trips for about a year now. The route I take is 2.5 miles, round trip. I have a basket mounted to the front post/handlebars which holds a TJ's shopping bag (reusable) snugly on the the ride home. It takes about 35 mins, including the shopping. When I'm on my road bike, groceries in backpack, about 30 mins.

I didn't think I could make a car trip much faster, so I've been testing. Using the slightly longer route I take in the car, I've been timing the last few trips. I limited myself to the one shopping bag of goods when in the truck, just so I didn't throw the time off by spending more time perusing the aisles of goodies. As of today's trip, I have three to five trips of each transport, so here's the round-up:

3 miles, 1 bag (or backpack) of groceries.
Hybrid: 33-37 mins.*
Road: 30-35 mins.
Truck: 35-42 mins.*
*Longest trip times were Saturdays, when traffic was great, but store/parking lot was packed.

That's right. Taking the truck is slower than bike. It's not the time on the road, since the car is faster than my pedaling. I don't do anything crazy at intersections, either. I wait at the red lights, just like everyone else.

The time saved is the time I do NOT spend engaged in the parking lot shuffle. Trader Joe's and Whole Foods both have the typical congestion you'd find at any strip mall. Especially around lunch. On the bike, straight down the aisle, hop off at the sidewalk, walk the bike over to the cart return and chain. Takes a minute or two.
Same thing when I'm on the way home.

I'm really glad to know this. No more excuses about not having time to exercise.

Wait. I just took away my last excuse.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Running Errands

Just ended a phone call with "I'll get back to you on this site plan later this morning; gotta run to the bank."

Funny thing is, I am running to the bank.

Wow. My life has changed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tax Season Woes

April 15th is less than a month away, and it's time for me to put my life on hold for a week or two. Time to wade through the annual sea of paperwork, just so the IRS can tell me to write them a check. ANOTHER check, really.

Kept all the receipts, everything filed by category. Plugging the information into TurboTax is the easy part. The killer is figuring out exactly which child a particular camp fee was for. If for the eldest, was it before or after his 13th birthday? Wait! What about the actual birthday week? Do I split that in half?

HSA distributions, deposits, insurance premiums... check, check and recheck. Ooh! Go back. Check again. Did the amount spent on dentists, orthodonists, annual checkups and prescriptions total up to 7.5% of AGI? Darn, we're 0.2% shy of the amount needed to deduct medical expenses. Except... where's the Rx receipts for June/July allergy and asthma meds? Who filed these in the Veterinary Bills folder?

This week, I have projects in the works for clients, books to read to 1st & 3rd graders at school, and two or three days with perfect riding weather. All of these things take a back seat to my preparations for that 1040 (and schedules). I know, an accountant could help. Might be worth it. Might not. An accountant would take care of the information which is input to TurboTax. Like I said earlier, that's the easy part. He/she would not be able to take care of the most time consuming, frustrating part of the process. The 12 months of record keeping, the gathering of the stacks of folders, the sorting.

There's too much time spent by too many people on this *$#!%@~! Something about the US tax system has to change. I'm not sure the "Fair Tax" is the answer. A flat tax seems the simpler option.

The president elected in November won't be able to do a thing to change the current mess. He/she may set the tone, but the actual laws are not made by the executive branch. That's the job of the House & Senate. The people we put into those seats make the real differences in our daily lives, and in the plans we make for our future. Question is, will enough people write/call/email their offices, or the campaigns of those running for office, to put real tax reform on the front burner. I plan to, as soon as I find that missing receipt.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Almost ready for my first 5k

The Atlanta Women's 5k is this Saturday, and I think I'm ready. Ran three times this week, 30-40 minutes each time. If I run at all tomorrow (Fri), will be a short run, without the hills. It's supposed to be absolutely gorgeous, so I'd like to get in a 10-15 mile ride, and take a rest from the running.

I'm going to be seriously cranky Saturday morning. I don't like getting up at 6:00 a.m. during the week, but I do it. I prefer sleeping in until 7:00 (or 8:00) weekends. This Saturday, I'll be up and on the road by 5:50. Yuck.

I suppose it's possible I'll run faster than usual, just to get back to my car for coffee... and back home for a nap.

Color Coordination

How silly is this? I am upgrading to an iPod Nano from the behemoth I've carried for four or so years, and my biggest consideration was not price. It was not size. It was color. Very soon, a lovely iPod like the one you see on right will be the finishing touch on my running & cycling gear. (The color in the photo is actually slightly more intense than the real thing.)

Why was the green important? Because it goes beautifully with my road bike. The minty green paint which accents my Bloo, along with the tape & saddle.

I feel like such a dork.

Anyway, the bright display will be delightful; no more squinting with the b/w contrast at full on my 2g. Lightweight, so I won't have to worry about the waistband on my running skirts slipping. Yea!

I did it!

I finally finished replacing the strings on my guitar! I only have about 30 mins to play when I pick up guitar before either being swarmed by little people, or having my 'to do' list chase me back to work. As a result, it has taken me a week's worth of play time to get the strings swapped out. I still have long bits of the strings sticking out from both ends, though it's not easy to see here with the scratches on the bench.*

Last night, I was able to start tuning. I say start tuning, because strings 6-3 were tuned when I put them on last week; they have since dropped in pitch BIG time. E-1 and B-2 are both tuned up - for now. Today, I'll work on the others. From what I've read online, I'll be tuning a lot more than usual for the next couple of weeks. Sometimes it'll even be in the middle of songs.

Once everything settles down with the strings, I can drop E-6 back down to D, and get back on In Sorrow's Wake. (No, I don't play it anything like that... and I probably never will. But I'm having a blast learning about harmonics.)

*Oh dear. I hadn't noticed how scratched up the piano bench is. Not bugged by it, as it's to be expected from 80+ years of rear ends sliding across it. Might be time for me to try out my novice sewing skills to make a cover for this.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Tale of Two Skirts

The sun is shining, the temperature is in the high 60s, and my mind has turned to thoughts of... skirts. I'm shopping for something pretty and practical; but mostly pretty. My personal shop at MyShape (I'm an 'M') has been updated with many new options for spring/summer skirts. I narrowed it down to two, and here's the pros/cons:

Lilly Pulitzer's Private Party Pleated Skirt, in Navy.
Cotton/silk blend, fully lined (no slip needed!),
and a delightful blue/white pattern
Dry clean only (I can live with that), $248

I could do several combos, but I'm not sure I can justify the cost on a price per wear basis.

Charlotte Tarantolas Sloan Print Skirt.
Fully Lined (yea!), slant pockets (double yea!). It's white with faded black, gray, pale yellow and a touch of rose. It's good for casual, paired with tees & tanks I already own; could be dressed up a bit with heels and a camisole/cardigan.
At $72, it's still a bit on the pricier side for me. Will not likely have the staying power past a summer or two that the navy/white skirt would. I'll need to figure out how flexible the color combos will be, in order to figure out the PPW.

On a wardrobe staple note, there's this Tadashi silk chiffon skirt for sale ($99). This is separate from the spring skirts, but it fits in well with this shopping expedition.

I know I said $72 was pricey, but this is the type of skirt which I can wear for decades. My grandmother had a similar one which she was able to wear for 30+ years. It was her ultimate 'go-to' semi-formal base - paired with silk blouses, sleeveless satin or cashmere or angora twin sets, depending on the fashion of the time.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

February Wrap Up

81 miles. Not the 100 hundred I'd hoped for, but better than 50 miles for January. The last week or so has been a bit hectic, both schedule and weather. Big storms and wild temperature swings, combined with finalizing a city map and school projects, meant shorter rides and runs. I still made it out most days. More than one planned 10-12 mile ride was shortened to a 2.5 mile trip to Trader Joes; a couple of five mile runs were cut to 30 minutes, so I'd have time to read to one of the classes, make a dentist appointment, or to pick up supplies at the fabric store.

Fabric store? Yes. One of the many school projects going this week was putting together a roman and/or greek costume for my 8-year-old's class musical "Dig It!". (Archaeology, with a catchy beat, and a bunch of 3rd graders in costume.) NO, I did not use a sheet to make his toga. I know it's the 'normal' way to do it; we're not normal though. So, four yards of 'really red' broadcloth, a few safety pins, and one silver buckle later:

Anyway, also have a history project in the works for one child, and baked goods for two.

I realized while running this morning, if this had not been February, I'd have made my goal. A run today, and a 90 minute ride tomorrow would have put me well over the 100-mile mark. Oh well. The 20-25 miles I rack up this gorgeous weekend will put me well on my way to hitting the mark for March.

Third time's the charm, right?