Driving with Scissors

The Altima had to go to the dealer for its periodic oil change this week (what an exciting topic). Sitting in the driveway scrolling through my mp3 player for music to play on the 45-minute drive, I came across one of my favorite albums: Ta-Dah, by the Scissor Sisters. “Ooh, I haven’t listened to this one in ages. Yoink!” In went the stereo jack, up went the volume, and off went the car and I to caterwaul along the highway. And I do mean caterwaul; my singing is atrocious.

One of my favorite songs on this album is “Everybody Wants the Same Thing,” partly because they use the word janky and mostly because the bridge lyrics really resonate with me.

What is it that you want?
What is it that you give?
Where do you plan on finding it?
How do you wanna live?

Hearing this song again made me think about my Big Three goals for the year and how they’ve progressed. Let’s time-machine (yes, I just totally verbed time machine) back to December and see how we’re doing, shall we?

Goal 1—Do Something New
Status: Achieved! This year I wanted to take on a new subject matter or project type, and I have done both. For a few weeks I was so far outside of my comfort zone that I felt like a troglodyte on a runway. Maths were involved! The horror! But it was good for me. My brain space is definitely expanded.

Goal 2—Go Somewhere New
Status: Achieved! I went to two new cities this summer: Tucson and Milwaukee. Both are very different from home and very cool (figuratively in the case of Tucson, because desert). I’d love to go back to both and explore more.

Goal 3—Help Someone New
Status: Achieved! I was able to donate as a business to the local humane society this year, which fills me with yay. My work was still done for long-distance clients, which is simply a function of the market I currently inhabit. If I switch from government contracting back to cementing and frac-packing, things will likely get a lot more local.

That’s pretty good progress on the Big Three (and the ever-present Moar Revenue goal). Kraang is pleased. Now, if you’ve never heard the song above, you might be wondering about the answers to those questions. Here’s what the song says.

Love is what I want!
Love is what I give!
Right here’s where I’m finding it;
That’s how I’m gonna live!

I think those are pretty good answers, which is why I’ll keep driving with Scissors.

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Strrrrrrongerrrr!

So, we’ve added a new component to our workout routine: lifting. Yes, I do mean weights, and they’re bloody heavy. Brian lifted in college, so thanks to his experience I knew what I was getting into when we started this last week, namely pain, fatigue, callouses, and pain (great galloping gonads, the pain). What surprised me was the awesomeness. Picking up those big-ass weights feels GOOD, and every time I move them, I feel stronger. In fact, I feel amazing.

Yeah, it seems silly to feel so much stronger after only a week. I feel like a starter character who just hit Level 2 in an adventure game. Bear with me here, this makes sense in a seriously dorky way. The good games always make you feel powerful when you start out because being powerful is fun, therefore you’ll play longer. Beginning lifting is similar. You start small, but you make such progress from session to session that you feel magnificently heroic.

Since we started this routine, I’m happier because I stopped feeling like the dumpy broad I am and started feeling like a total boss. (Part of that is because dumpy is now temporary and part of it is because weights make you rawr.) Brian is happier because we’re now using the whole gym, rather than just the cardio machines. I suspect part of him disliked that because you can get cardio outside for free, but he knows I like going to the gym for it. The gym is inside, and thus keeps me safe from scary bugs and people who text while driving. Win/win.

That said, you’re probably wondering why I decided to start lifting weights at the ripe old age of 41. There are two reasons: (1) a bunch of sciencey things having to do with fat loss and body composition, and (2) strength. Both reasons are important, but the second is more so. Strength has always been a priority to me, especially mental. My brain has grown stronger every year, and it finally occurred to me that my bod really needs to start keeping up. Last time I checked, they haven’t invented the Head Jars from Futurama yet.

Also, RAWR.

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New Music

I’ve been into the whole Metal Motivation thing for a while now, even when I don’t remember to tweet about it, so this post might surprise a few people. Everyone knows I’ve always been a metal head. Not everyone knows I will also listen to whatever happens to resonate with my cranium, regardless of the genre. I have seen Judas Priest, and I have also seen Yes. Both were religious experiences, and I feel sorry for people who can’t step outside of their One True Music to experience something new. The “something new” is where the magic happens.

For example, Brian introduced the latest magic. A few weeks ago he picked me up at the airport after midnight, and as we were rolling down the highway on the 90-minute slog home, he said he had a new album to play for me. He’s pretty good about knowing what piques my interest, so I was happy to listen. It was Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, and I instantly fell in love with it.


Realize that I know exactly diddly squat about the Electronic genre as a whole, let alone what are undoubtedly complex sub-genres. I had heard of Daft Punk, but had no idea what they made. That this album can speak to me despite my lack of understanding says a lot about the quality of its construction. It resonates with me on a level that few others ever have. After pondering on it a bit during workouts and another highway trip, I think I’ve figured out why. This music makes me think. Each song goes somewhere and takes me with it, somewhere new every time.

Now, if you know me, you’re thinking, “Oh, you just like it because it’s so 70s/80s retro.” Well, yeah, most people do enjoy nostalgia, me included. The first time I listened to this album, I heard my childhood in every note. That is initially why I loved what I was hearing. The second time it took me back through my childhood, through what was happening in my world then, and I had an epiphany.

In my view as a kid, everyone was focused on the future. While we breathlessly watched for NASA updates and shuttle missions, our entertainment was full of it. The music, television, and movies that we consumed were all about space. Think about it: synthesizers and space operas, Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek and Star Wars, TRON… all of it made us look past our own noses and reach for something greater. With these influences, some of us grew up under the conviction that we could improve our own future, and we truly felt the power of imagination.

I think we lost a bit of that in the 90s and have yet to regain it because our outlook has changed – focused more inward, even backward. While listening to Random Access Memories for the second time I remarked to Brian that I fear, as a species, we’re losing our imagination. He thinks we’ll get it back, and I have to say that this album does give me hope. If people are still creating like this, we’re in better shape than I thought, and I’d like to thank Daft Punk for making that magic happen.

Plus, it’s a really great album for shaking your butt.

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Moar Fitness

You might be wondering why I’ve been on the fitness choo-choo lately. Because it’s totally working, that’s why. And it’s an opportunity for me to share a great resource that I found a few weeks ago. Here’s the skinny. (See what I did there? Hurr.)

On our first visit to the gym, I decided to give the elliptical machines a whirl because I’ve heard great things about them: low impact, easy for beginners to use, blah blah blah. 

So sleek! So modern! So non-hurty!


So I hopped onto the one with the swingy handles and went to town. Easy, right? Yeah, no. 

After 15 seconds: “Holy crap, the pain! Whyyyy?!”
After 30 seconds: “Nope.” 

Well. That was discouraging. Clearly I must have been doing it wrong, so research ensued. Google found for me an archived blog post written expressly about how to use elliptical machines correctly (because that’s what I asked it). Yay! After reading this article and snorking a few times due to the humor-infused information within it, I bookmarked that site for future reading. I have not been disappointed.

This awesome blog is Cranky Fitness, run by Crabby McSlacker. If you enjoy humor with your fitness, go here often. She’s a great resource and a cool person.

As for my trouble with the elliptical, it seems the old herniated disc in my back just doesn’t care for that machine. At all. Fortunately for me, I can truck along on the treadmill and stationary bike cross-country settings until my feet fall off, so I’m still getting my hour of cardio. (And we all know how important that is, don’t we, kids?! Doubletap!)

Now go on, ask me if I lift. 

DO IT.

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