I’m Sweaty and I know it

I’m Sweaty and I know it

I exercise a lot. Enough that my room needs an air freshener and my family makes me do all the heavy lifting. They call me their Sherpa. Here are five ways to make sure you get regular exercise.

  • Make it routine. I do mine every morning before work. On the plus side, it gives me energy for the day. On the minus side, I want to stay glued to my bed like a barnacle, not get up and do push-ups.
  • Moderate is okay. It’s better to go for a walk and enjoy it, than to go for a run, have your chest explode, and never do it again.
  • If you can afford it, take an exercise class. Having someone yell at you to pick up your heels is more fun than you’d think.
  • Try a sport. Part of the reason I work out is so I can stay fit for martial arts. If I can’t roundhouse kick your head, then I need to stretch out my hips and do some squats. I knocked someone twice my size down with a roundhouse once. Then I had to kneel down because I really wasn’t supposed to do that.
  • Don’t run on concrete. It hurts your joints. Take it from someone who does it more often than she should.

If you follow these tips, then you too can lug dog food in from the car—Sherpa.

Woman versus Internet

Woman versus Internet

I got a computer virus last Monday, so I switched to another computer. On Tuesday, that computer caught a virus. This year, I have had more than my share of viruses. I flinch every time I go on the internet. Don’t ask me about preventing viruses. You’ll end up with a screen full of porn and a voice telling you that they’ll shut down your computer if you don’t call them immediately. But I have become an unwilling expert in what to do after you have a virus.

  • Don’t call the voice that says it will shut down your computer. Don’t call out at all. You will get the nasty scammers that planted the virus in the first place.
  • Pull out the Ethernet cable. Otherwise the virus spreads to other computers in the network. The Ethernet cable is the one with the clear little plastic thing on the end.
  • You don’t have to unplug everything—only the Ethernet. At first, I’d yank out every cable I could reach. Then the IT guy made fun of me.
  • Try to remember what site you were on. That sight could be a landmine. Or it could be a site you clicked on last week, and the virus lay dormant for a while. [Insert bitter laughter.]
  • If all else fails, hit the computer with a baseball bat like they did in Office Space. It’s what I’m trying next.

And always, always, get the IT people if you have them. Here’s how the last exchange between me and IT went.

IT: “This is going to suck for you.”

Me: “I gathered this was going to suck for me.”

Networking for the Nervous

Networking for the Nervous

The word networking makes me shudder. I think of standing around with a pig in a blanket and a business card with absolutely nothing to say. My stomach flutters, and I  bounce my leg. I recently tried a new (for me) kind of networking, informational interviews. An informational interview is when you sit down with someone who is where you want to be on the career ladder and ask them how they got there.  Here are a few ways I found to make them less scary.

  • Meet someplace informal. It takes the pressure off. Going for coffee is always a winner, plus you get to drink coffee.
  • When you meet with someone, you don’t actually have to memorize their entire resume. I went to a career workshop that made it seem like you had to know their complete life story. This isn’t true. They won’t get mad if you don’t know what summer job they had as a teenager.
  • That said, google them and write down prepared questions. They’ll be impressed that you’re organized.
  • If you don’t know them, find out what they look like. This way you don’t stand around awkwardly peering into people’s faces or (as a last resort) walk up to every professional who comes in alone and ask, “Are you so and so?”
  • Remember, interviewees are people too. One of the women I interviewed showed up in a Star Wars t-shirt (always a good sign). The other woman, like me, still lives with her parents. I didn’t know whether to be relieved or depressed by this.

If you’re still nervous, that’s okay. I am too. I think I’ll grab a pig in a blanket.

Health Care is for Sick People Too

Health Care is for Sick People Too

Health Care is for Sick People Too

The Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act doesn’t protect those with pre-existing conditions. Instead of prohibiting discrimination against them, the alternative will give states only eight billion dollars to cover higher prices. True, insurance companies can’t deny you coverage if you have a pre-existing condition. They can, however, send your premiums through the roof. Americans should have health care that won’t disappear if they get sick. Here’s why protections for people with pre-existing conditions are important for everyone.

  • The Declaration of Independence says that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, are inalienable rights. Guess which is pre-requisite.
  • There are lots of pre-existing conditions. Arthritis, sleep apnea, and pending surgery are all pre-existing conditions. You snore? Let’s raise your premiums to $25,000 a year.
  • Many of these conditions affect women, including pregnancy and post-partum depression. Under the new bill, rape could be a pre-existing condition. Even without the proposed changes, the US’s maternal mortality rate is greater than any other developed nation. A 33 year old mother in New Jersey recently got HELLP Syndrome and died.  She’ll never get to enjoy her child. Not coincidentally, the US is one of few developed nations without universal health care. Now Republicans want to take away the health care we do have.
  • If you have a pre-existing condition, it’s not your fault. People don’t think to themselves, “Hey, I want to get raped. Sense of safety? Who needs that?”
  • Part of civilized society is taking care of vulnerable citizens. We don’t leave them to the wolves. We’re better than that.

Or should be.

The Five Stages of Writing

I hope to become a published author. In the meantime, I write short stories after work. I’ve been working on one story since January and gone through four revisions. My first and second drafts were awful. And, unless you have supernatural powers, yours will be too. But by the time you finish, it will be your precious little baby. Here is how to take a story from awful to precious.

  1. Write anything that can fill the page. It will be so bad you’ll want to burn it and stomp on the ashes. It will take all your willpower not to close the document and start something else. Again.
  2. Cut and trim. Go through and fix what bothered you in your first draft—like a gardener pruning hedges.
  3. Shake it up. Your story’s all dialogue and no action? Yeah, better fix that.
  4. Show it to someone else. Don’t hang over their shoulder while they read. It’s awkward.
  5. Final edits. Whoops, your first paragraph does have a typo.

When you finish, you will want to both hug your computer and never type another word (that story was hard!). But you will. Because that’s what writers do. We sit in front of our computers and jump whenever someone speaks to us.writing revisions

How to Survive a Sci-fi Story

I love sci-fi. I can use a phaser and I know to bring a towel when I hitchhike. These tips should help you survive the most dalek filled of sci-fi stories. Unless you’re in this one movie where they massacred everyone in the last fifteen minutes, then you’re toast. They even killed the funny robot. Who kills the funny robot?

  • Never let the cyborg into your mind (duh). But there’s always one character that looks at the shiny microchip and thinks it’s a good idea.
  • If something goes kaboom, ignore it. You’re explosion proof.
  • If you go back in time, don’t kill yourself, parents, or grandparents. Because of the grandfather paradox, this makes things complicated for the writer and confusing for the reader. Also, you die.
  • Don’t sleep or the pod people will get you.
  • When the villain puts on a gas mask, don’t stare at them. Hold your breath and run.
  • When an alien race comes to earth with a book called “How to Serve Man,” run away. They’re not talking philanthropy, they’re talking well-done or medium rare.

Finally, along with your towel you should bring a pocketknife, plenty of food and water (who knows what aliens eat), and a memento from home. These hitchhiking trips always last longer than you think they will.

Pictured: Me staring at Data’s head at the EMP Museum in Seattle.

data's head

The Engine Light Conundrum

My check engine light came on yesterday.  A big red exclamation point popped up next to it. The car started to chug like a truck instead of a Prius. So I decided it would be okay to drive home.

The only thing I knew about check engine lights came from Big Bang Theory.  Penny drove her car with it on for seven years before anything bad happened. Turns out comedy sitcoms aren’t the best place to get auto advice. What you’re really supposed to do is stop or say goodbye to your car.

I got lucky and made it home okay. When I learned how serious it was, I threw a fit like Basil Fawlty (look it up). At one point, I shook my finger at the car and said, “You’d better keep going for the next five years or I will waste you myself!”

When I called AAA to get it towed, my Mom had to gently remind me that people wouldn’t want to help if I acted like an asshole. Then, after I heard our membership expired, I told her I was going to use my old card as target practice.

Eventually, I managed to grit my teeth and be pleasant. But it was hard. I recommend saying thank you way more than you need to.

To sum up:

  1. When the check engine light appears, pull over and pray.
  2. Don’t panic (do as I say, not as I do).
  3. My battery is broken and it will cost me $2,500 to fix.
  4. Shit.

car pic 2