Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An After Christmas Jaunt

Getting to the start in darkness didn’t seem right. I chuckled to myself at the thought of what we do to practice our chosen sport – early morning awakenings, severe weather, running through pain and injuries, etc. After giving our bodies a chance to digest Christmas food for a couple of days, Tina, Rosie, Chai, Nick, Michael, and I met at Joe’s Crab Shack at 6:45 A.M. on Sunday for a 10 mile jaunt. I haven’t run with this group before and they have recently started doing the Jeff Galloway run/walk marathon training in preparation for the Los Angeles Marathon. In this case it was a 5 minute run with a 1 minute walk break. We didn’t run the usual route but rather, we went out 5 miles and back 5 miles. Around Toledo to 2nd St., down Ocean Bl., to the corner of Alamitos Av., then turn around at the bike path on the way back to the finish. It felt good running in a pack of 6 people who stayed together for the whole 10.25 miles. That should have taken care of the Christmas calories, don’t you think? The five other people in our group were training for the L.A. Marathon and I’m not, so what business do I have running with them? Just for exercise, the calorie burn, and the pure enjoyment of running with other people. Thank you very much Tina, Rosie, Chai, Nick and Michael, for letting me join you last Sunday. I’ll be back to my extra half hour of sleep this coming Saturday and will be running with the 7:30 group.
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Raiding The Closet After The 10 Mile Run Last Sunday

I went through my closet to sort out things I needed, didn’t need, haven’t used or seen in years, can live without and can dispose of. These are some of the things that I found:
A receipt for my first ever laptop computer – a 1986 vintage Toshiba T1100 with two floppy disk drives. The price: $2200 dollars! By the way, I still have that laptop and can’t bear to throw it away because it could be a museum piece one day if it’s not already. The computer still works if you know MS-DOS.
Check registers all the way from 1983 and savings account passbooks from 1981. Bank of America, I’ve been so loyal to you!
Volleyball kneepads which I haven’t used since the late 80’s when I used to live in Torrance and played in adult volleyball leagues. I’m keeping the Debbie Green-autographed volleyball. She was an Olympian in 1984 and a setter extraordinaire for the U.S. team. I attended one of her workshops after they won the silver medal in the L.A. Olympics, and had her sign my volleyball.
An ex GF’s high school yearbook and some of her pictures. I’m not even sure where she lives anymore.
Two cotton Nike running tanktops and two Brooks technical (at the time) singlets which I haven’t worn since my racing days in the 80’s.
Three old Los Angeles marathon painter’s caps which came with the goodie bags in those days.
A bunch of worn and unworn cotton or polyester gloves for cold weather running.
A box of potpourri from 1989 given to us by the airline on my way back from the Philippines, to commemorate then President Cory Aquino’s trip to Vancouver. She was of course seated in first class on that flight.
A couple of soft sided carry-on luggage. The first, a parachute cloth bag which I used in 1980 when I moved here to the U.S., and the other, something I bought from Woolworth’s and used on my visit to the Philippines in 1989. Gives literal meaning to the term “old bag”.
A gag gift given to me many, many Christmases ago by the aforementioned ex gf and her roommate. It was a small pouch called One Night Stand consisting of a small vibrator, massaging gel, and a couple of condoms.
A Samsung camcorder, rarely used, but now obsolete, and a Ricoh Mirai camera which I used extensively as an amateur photographer in the late 80’s.
I probably forgot some of the other things I found, but under the disposed of list were: the receipt, kneepads, tank tops, painter’s caps, a few gloves, the potpourri, old luggage, gag gift, camcorder, and camera. The check registers and bank passbooks, I shredded. I’m keeping the old laptop computer and mailing the yearbook if ever I find the new address of my long lost friend.
The more I took out of the closet, the more it looked the same. Darn!
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dropping Acid?

Well, no. In this case, it was rising acid which was probably caused by all the greasy food consumed at Christmas. Deep into the night and in the middle of what could have been a dream I can’t remember, I suddenly felt something slowly rising up my throat (cue the “JAWS” music). It was a case of nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux. I immediately propped my head up with another pillow and went right back to sleep, not even knowing what time it was. Luckily, it was not one of those throat-burning sensation situations, otherwise it would have kept me awake the rest of the night. My only thought upon awakening was if I had any more antacid left, which it turns out I’m not going to need because I was already burping a lot on my own. The only reason why I have antacid at home is because I had one worst case of heartburn last year. It’s just something that doesn’t happen to me often. What surprised me about this reflux occurring is that I didn’t go to bed on a full stomach, which is usually one of the reasons why it happens. I’ll take rising acid any time over dropping acid. Besides, I’ve never used LSD before other than the one pertaining to running called Long Slow Distance.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Tangled Mess, etc.



Well I finally did it. I finally replaced the bedroom TV that I referred to in this post: http://noeldlp.blogspot.com/2009/05/shake-rumble-and-jolt.html . I found a refurbished 19 inch TV advertised on Tigerdirect.com which I considered a good deal (no sales tax and free shipping), ordered it, and got it in the mail last week. Then I went to the Salvation Army website to schedule a donation pickup for Monday afternoon. I was given a window of 3:30 to 6:30 P.M. and they showed up at about 4 P.M. They promptly hauled away the 43 inch console TV, a digital tuner, and the manuals for both which I had saved through the years. Thank you so much for offering this service, Salvation Army. I appreciate your pickup more than the tax deduction I might get for donating to charity. I now have a more manageable and appropriate sized TV in the bedroom which is more unlikely to kill me in case of an earthquake.
I removed the rest of the contents of the TV stand, tightened the screws, dusted it (it is surprising to see how much dust collects between nooks and crannies over time), then moved it to the living room with the intention of transferring the TV there sitting on a lower stand to the higher stand. Prior to leaving work earlier the same day, I asked my co-worker if he could help me with that process because I didn’t think I could lift the TV by myself. However with some maneuvering, positioning and finding something to grip on the TV, I managed to lift it by myself from the lower position to the higher one, but with some difficulty because the wires that were connected to the DVD player, stereo amplifier, karaoke machine, Nintendo WII and laptop computer, became taut and needed some tugging before I was able to successfully transfer the TV. Transfer accomplished, but it left me with a tangled mess of wires, some of which got disconnected. I had to figure out which wire went where after moving all of the equipment to the higher TV stand.
While I was emptying the TV stand of DVD’s and CD’s earlier in the bedroom, I found my old music cassette tapes which I purchased in the 80’s. I have maybe less than a hundred, but what was I to do with them? I posted the query on my Facebook wall and some suggestions were: sell it on Ebay or keep them as collector’s items. Of course there’s the option of converting them to digital format (mp3), but that is a laborious process which I don’t have the patience of doing. So as of now, I’m undecided on what to do.
Well, the wires are still a tangled mess but all the connections appear to be in their proper places and everything was working well when I checked them. The next day, I vacuumed whatever dust I scattered all over the place in lieu of lifting weights. I figured dust can’t wait but weight training can be put off for another day.

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Running Naked Against The Elements


I was woken up Tuesday morning by the wind rattling the windows of my bedroom. Running outdoors yesterday was going to pose a challenge. I don’t know why I decided to run outside when I could have done it on the treadmill in the comfort of my living room, but I couldn’t resist answering the challenge. Not only that, I also made up my mind the day before that I was going to run naked. Well, don’t get any ideas, I didn’t really mean unclothed. What I meant was that I was going to try to run without orthotics thus leaving my feet and ankles naked of extra support. I was doing this as an experiment to find out if it would work better for my stride and aching ankles on the premise that maybe I’m getting too much support with the orthotics. Running without orthotics and braving the elements…it was going to be an adventure run.
While taking the trash outside, I could already feel the bone chilling effects of the wind gusts. Starting the run, I was buffeted by flailing winds and even got hit on the face by a tree branch early on. Rather than running like the wind, I ran into the wind instead. It reminded me of the conditions during the 1987 or 1988 Long Beach Marathon when it was windy the whole time and also had spots of rain.
Although I wasn’t wearing orthotics, it felt like my new Brooks Addiction shoes gave enough support so as not to make me overpronate. It was hard to judge the effect objectively though because I was concentrating more on keeping myself upright while the wind was trying to toss me around. Besides, my whole body was too chilled to feel the pain in my ankles too much. I managed to run for 52 minutes even though my target was only 45 minutes. I didn’t want to go too long during my naked trial run without orthotics.
When I got home, I checked the temperature and wind speed and found out that I ran in 55 degree weather with winds blowing 20 to 30 MPH, with gusts up to 45 MPH. At 30 MPH, that would have resulted in a wind chill factor or 40 degrees. Who would have thought of talking about wind chill factor in sunny California?
Challenge accepted, elements braved, adventure accomplished, bare naked orthotics-free feet survived, joy experienced. Thank you.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

From Famine to Feast

From a low of about 20 patients last Tuesday night to a full capacity of 36 patients by Saturday, our mental health unit has experienced another one of those famine to feast situations. The patient count was so low last Tuesday that I was sent to the medical unit again. In contrast to what happened last time I was there, I got lucky because the night was very uneventful. The patient I was watching slept all night. It was so quiet that I was able to whip out my netbook to write a rough draft for a blog entry, then discovered an unsecured router in the neighborhood. Not only was I able to write a final draft, I was also able to upload it that same night.
After having three days off, I was still expecting our patient numbers to be low. To my surprise when I got to work, our unit was full. All the regular nursing staff were able to stay on their home unit. Our patient numbers have been fluctuating so much lately and there seems to be no trend anymore. Maybe it has something to do with the economy, or perhaps governmental budget cuts. I don’t know. As long as I’m working, I can’t complain about inconsistent trends in the number of patients.
I don’t know what it’s going to be like this week with Christmas coming up. I hope the patients who don’t have anywhere else to go for the holidays will decide to stay in the hospital and keep our numbers up.
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Should I Even Have Been Running?

With my new left ankle woes, I had doubts about being able to run on Saturday with the small AREC group. Sure I took five days off and hadn’t run since Monday morning, but the nagging discomfort stayed on the ankle all that time. I even woke up at about 3:50 Saturday morning and couldn’t go back to sleep because of it. Off I go to meet the group anyway to test what the ankles would feel like once we started running. The right ankle problem is a given while the left side is relatively new. Linda and Colleen said they were going to do a slow 4 minute run/1 minute walk interval for 8 to 10 miles. I was just as glad to do it with them so I could give my ankles a break. For sure, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Cyndi because running hard with her the past several weeks is what started the left ankle pain after all. Please excuse me while I try to heal, Cyndi. Hopefully if I do, I can run with you again soon. So Cyndi takes off after about ¾ mile and the three of us tread gingerly on the streets of Long Beach: Linda with the knee problems, Colleen with sore muscles from being new to Pilates, and me of course with my bum ankles. The two girls were yakking while I trailed behind them. I didn’t mind them setting the pace this time. My hearing must be going bad because I could barely make out what they were talking about and I couldn’t even hear my watch beeping to alert me when it’s time to do a walk break. So I just followed their cue.
Along the way, we encountered Kate twice as she was on her way out then back. We also saw Dennis, who just started running again recently after a couple of years of nagging injuries. He was out for a four miler and his stride looked good and strong to me. Nice to see you running again, Dennis. A little bit of AREC history: Dennis was the organizer of the first ever Long Beach Marathon training group five years ago when it was still the official marathon training program. After that, Todd took over AREC training and the Beach Runners group took over the official duties for the Long Beach Marathon Training.
The paths of the 7:30 starters (us) met with the early 7 a.m. starters with two miles to go at the corner of 2nd Street and Bayshore, and we were able to run together until the finish.
Other than some minor discomfort on my ankles, it didn’t seem like I aggravated them. But then, the pain usually comes much later. We’ll just have to wait and see how they feel in the next few days. My current stride isn’t working very well anymore so I’ll have to figure out a way to push off my feet without causing the ankle tendons to overstretch.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

A Mix of Emotions

So I’m feeling pretty emotional today (Friday). First, I was thrilled to see on Facebook how my friend SN is having a wonderful relationship with her bf JB. They seem so sweet and right for each other. That gave me a smile so early in the morning.

Then on my way out to the store at noon time, I saw my neighbor’s brothers changing the locks on his door. My neighbor has been sick for a few months and was in the hospital so I asked about his condition. The brothers said that LM passed away the day after Thanksgiving. That made me sad. LM was the first person who welcomed me in our condo complex the day I moved in and he was a really nice person. I’m going to miss him.

While having lunch, I watched the Michael Jackson documentary “This Is It”. I got very engrossed and mesmerized by the movie. It was a series of videotaped rehearsals that MJ had in preparation of what was supposed to be his upcoming concert, but even with that, he was in very “good voice” and the performances were very entertaining. I was glued to the TV set for more than two hours. After watching it, I turned on the surround sound and played some of the songs again and they sounded even better. We have truly lost a tremendous talent in MJ. He was a good singer and performer, and I’m saddened once again about his loss. Despite that, I felt uplifted after seeing this movie.

Then I read Kristin Armstrong’s (ex of Lance) blog. She is such a good writer and she writes very inspiring pieces. Here is her entry for today: http://milemarkers.runnersworld.com/

Off to odd/strange news I go and I find this one about a man with superhuman effort. This article made me smile too: http://apnews.excite.com/article/20091218/D9CM0KDG0.html

Well, it’s just mid-afternoon and I may still find other inspiring, uplifting, or even sad things that might grip my heart and soul. So far it’s been a good day to experience a broad spectrum of emotions.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Left Ankle Hurts :(

My left inner ankle has been hurting quite a bit lately and has not been recovering well between runs. In fact it hurts more and the pain lasts longer than the one I have on my right ankle. Could this be the start of the deterioration of the posterior tibialis tendon on my left ankle? The symptoms are similar to when I developed the problem on my right ankle more than four years ago and I’m afraid that if this gets worst, I may definitely have to stop running altogether. It would even be difficult to walk with two ankles hurting. Right now my walking gait when in pain looks like a penguin’s waddle. The funny thing is that it doesn’t hurt too much while I’m running but the pain gets sharper several hours later. This comes at a time when I have been able to do pickup intervals again during the shorter runs. It just feels good to be able to put a hard effort in, but the consequence is it makes my ankles hurt. Shall I be satisfied and content just to put in the slow miles which tend to get even slower as time goes on? After last Saturday’s rainy day run and experiencing pain, I decided to take the whole week off and not run again till next Saturday. When Monday came around I was only going to do the stairmaster or stationary bike or a combination of the two, but when I saw how sunny it was outside, I went out for a six mile run anyway. Now I’m suffering the consequences of that decision. I hope I can hold myself back and not run again till Saturday when we are supposed to cover ten miles. For sure, it’s going to be a run/walk situation for me.
It doesn’t help that the cold weather is making me eat more and the excess calories are beginning to gradually show on the weighing scale. All I can do is try to increase the intensity of my other cross training workouts to match the effort I am able to do while running. Trying to stabilize my eating would help a lot too. In the meantime, with the extra days off, I hope my ankles recover.
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Good Day to Waddle

Rain? What rain? Sure, the sky was dark and ominous, but only small droplets were falling as we started our waddle. After running with early starters Rosie, Michael, and Lena for about 3/4 mile, I turned back to look for people who might show up for the 7:30 run. I was already dreading having to run by myself after seeing nobody at the parking lot, but fortunately someone emerged from her car and I finally got to meet Sonja, a new addition to our small group. The clouds continued to hold so it was turning out to be not a bad day for a run after all. As we made our turnaround at Nieto Street, I could almost hear Chicken Little whisper in my ear “The sky is falling”, which got louder as we went along. The heavens opened up ever so slightly so that we were now waddling on the street, at the same time dodging puddles. We didn’t see any other runners out there. Come to think of it, not even ducks were out, which we were doing a fair job impersonating, or induckinating. The rain started to fall more steadily but not quite a downpour. It was just enough to soak us a little bit. We eventually finished the run without slipping on the wet pavement even though our shoes and socks were heavy with moisture. I could only thank Sonja for showing up because it made running in the rain more bearable.

In other rain related news, I had to break out my old, hardly used but ever trusty Goretex suit just for this special rainy day occasion. I’ve had my Goretex suit since December, 1980, which was a Christmas present from my Uncle when I first moved to the U.S., and because of our fair weather here in California, it’s very rare that I get to wear it. It’s so old that it’s older than some of the people I run with and so old that the company – Sub 4, doesn’t even exist anymore. I’m surprised that the suit hasn’t fallen apart yet.

I had to run half blind because I couldn’t wear my eyeglasses which don’t have wipers, and my old contact lenses are too cloudy to wear anymore. I figured it was safer to run without eyeglasses than to drive with cloudy contact lenses in weather like this.

Today, we got to play in the rain and it was quite satisfying to be able to accomplish something you love to do regardless of the inclement conditions. Today, we got to waddle like ducks J.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

At the Mercy of Plumbers

Unfortunately, the plumber didn't look like this:

My next door neighbor has had plumbing problems for at least a couple of months. I know, because they asked me if I had problems with my bathtub drain, which I didn’t. I could also hear their tub faucet leaking. Not just dripping, you can actually hear the water flowing (I hate it when water goes to waste like that). Last Sunday I heard someone trying to unclog their drain which I learned later was the plumber. When I woke up from a short nap and was getting ready to go to work, I noticed that dirty water had seeped into my bathtub which came from next door. I notified my neighbor right away and they in turn made the plumber aware of the problem. Little did I know that it was just the start of my own woes. My next door neighbor’s problem had become mine too because we share a main pipe. Somehow, when the plumber ‘snaked’ their drain, the area that was plugged up moved and clogged my drain as well. That started several days of sponge baths and showering in standing water, which I had to scoop out first so as not to overflow the bathtub.

The plumbers did not address the problem until Thursday and they got here just as I came home from work. So while they were trying to figure it out and fix it, I could not go to sleep. They left for a few hours and didn’t tell the affected residents where they went. When I finally called them, they said that they had to wait for the resident downstairs so they can make a hole in her ceiling so the plumbers can attack the problem from there. When they restarted the job, it was already 4 p.m. and didn’t finish until 9 p.m. All the while I haven’t slept and was up for more than 24 hours already.

When the plumbers were done, I was presented the bill. I was shocked when informed that I had to pay $150. I was anticipating maybe $100 at most. I asked them how the bill was broken down and they said that the homeowners association will be charged about $800, my next door neighbor about $300, and me, $150. Even though I didn’t create the problem, I still had to pay for labor and parts for the area of the drain on my side of the building. This is what pisses me off. I was not at fault but am affected financially nonetheless.

I was doing well with my Christmas budget up to now, then I get hit with one of life’s little emergencies. This just adds to the stress of the holiday season. Even though I know in my mind I didn’t cause the problem, I can’t really confront the neighbors about it or plead my case with the homeowners association, or not pay the plumber, because I’m afraid of the possible repercussions in offending these people. First you have to coexist with your neighbors, second, the homeowners association could assess my condo by putting the blame on me and my neighbor, after all they were billed a major part of the bill, or third, get sued by the plumber. After negotiating, bargaining, and pleading for mercy with the plumber, and even though in principle I’m not at fault, I’m still out $120. I’m eating ramen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next couple of months.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tiger Woods

Tiger On The Prowl In The Woods

This is my take on the recent Tiger Woods saga, not based on facts but just on my own conjectures. How this all started in my opinion, is that after their family Thanksgiving celebration and after Tiger took his Ambien for sleep, Elin looked through his cell phone because she had seen him texting earlier during the party. Upon seeing the suggestive/salacious messages, she got into a rage, woke him up to confront him and during the argument, he got out of the house, got in his car to leave, all the while Elin followed him with a golf club and smashed the windows as he was driving away, thus causing the car to crash. Of course the effects of the Ambien didn’t help, which is probably why witnesses say that Tiger was asleep and snoring on the ground after he was pulled out of the car. Then it was all downhill from there. Privacy was gone, and just like long lost relatives appearing out of the woodwork in the life of a big lottery winner, women of all kinds started to claim having a relationship with Tiger.
After this, I suggested to women at work that if they wanted to become instantly famous, they should claim that they too had an affair with Mr. Woods. Speaking of wood… oh, never mind. Fame, fortune, wealth, and good wood. Looks like Tiger had them all.
What’s your take on the subject?
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Waffling: Out or In?


On the day after a rainstorm, do I venture outdoors in the bitter cold? Or do I stay in the relative warmth of my living room and run like a hamster on the treadmill? Using the treadmill presents some problems because my heavy stride and the sound of the motor create a lot of noise which sometimes bothers the neighbors. If outdoors, do I run non-stop, or do I do the run/walk intervals and for how long? Despite the bright sun, it was still very chilly outside.
Having stepped outside in my running shorts earlier to take out the trash and feeling the chill, I felt I needed more protection. I dug out my very old Sporthill running pants and put them on over my shorts. Still, I could not make up my mind. Run outside or run indoors? I ventured outside once again, this time bent on hitting the road for the day’s run. Alas! Even before I could take a few dozen steps I felt my ankles aching. Back indoors I went, deciding finally to use the treadmill with its more forgiving cushioned deck. Off with the running pants and the jacket, up on the treadmill for 50 minutes in 78 degree temperature instead of the low 50’s outside. Correction: the temperature outside on Tuesday morning was in the 40's at 8 A.M.
For all the waffling I did, I should have had maple syrup to go with it.
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Monday, December 7, 2009

Running Into Cougars, et al.


The temperature dropped last Saturday morning and it was colder than it had been in the past few weeks. As I arrived at Joe’s Crab Shack, the trail running group was leaving the parking lot to head for Carbon Canyon, and all that was left was a pack of cougars mingling around. I started a very slow jog for my warm up and turned around after about a half mile out. On the way back, I encountered the cougar pack of about 10 or so heading towards me. With a smile and a wave, I gave them a wide berth, then noticed that they were a group of women from the AREC running club who usually run together. If they ever read this blog, I wonder if I’ll suffer their ire for referring to them as cougars. They’ll probably have some non-complimentary choice names for me too. However, this was a pack of cougars you would rather run with, than run away from J.
I had a fairly good run on Saturday morning. During my warm up I also saw Jon and a friend hauling butt. I don’t know if they were racing each other or just doing a tempo workout. We saw Kate coming down 6th Street hill on our way up. I found out later through Facebook that she was out for a ten mile run, then did a twenty mile ride on the bike. Amazing! Rich and Colleen joined us on Saturday too but they just did six miles. Colleen, I heard about your mom’s passing and my condolences to you and your family. It was nice to see you and Rich back out on the road.
Well, ok, so I did 1.2 miles on my warm up jog then ran with our small group. As a group, we did a mile warm up, then the pace started picking up to what felt like a tempo pace to me (probably just a jogging pace for the two women I was with). I ran with Cyndi and Patti at that effort for the next three miles and really pushed the pace up 6th Street hill before joining Linda for the last 5 miles doing the four minute run/one minute walk intervals.
To sum up: 1.2 mile jog + 1 mile warm up + 3 miles tempo + 5 miles of 4/1 intervals for a total of 10.5 miles. Nice variety huh? The run/walk intervals probably saved my ankles so I could run another day. This was my longest run since the Long Beach Marathon in October.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

@ My Home Unit

Thank goodness for small favors. With my home unit semi full, I didn’t have to float to another ward or get cancelled today. If we keep the patient count up through Tuesday, I may even get a long five day weekend, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed till then. We currently have thirty two patients out of a possible thirty six and if we keep it at twenty eight and above, then all the regular staff gets to work here. I find myself more productive when I work in my home unit because when I get sent somewhere else, I feel like a bumbling idiot. I can’t seem to find things, the regular workers there might have their own way of doing things, and I don’t want to appear like a hindrance to their work. What I usually do is ask them to tell me what to do and I’ll try do it to the best of my ability. When I work in my home unit, I am able to visualize almost everything that needs to be done and make sure all those tasks are completed. Send me somewhere else, and you’ll have to hold my hand and guide me, which makes me somewhat uncomfortable. Not that I mind too much about working somewhere else. That’s a better option than getting cancelled and not earning anything, and the unease only lasts for 12½ hours. I’m sure other workers who have to float here feel the same way.
Update: unit is almost full with 34 patients. New one admitted as I was finishing this entry. Things are looking up.
Definition of FLOAT – the act of being sent to work on another unit due to overstaffing or low patient count.
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Friday, December 4, 2009

Enduring a Bad Run

Yesterday, I experienced one of the worst runs I’ve had in recent months. I felt flat, heavy, uncoordinated (now, how much coordination do you need to run?). It was one of those struggling efforts from start to finish. The breathing never stabilized, I was huffing and puffing and breathless the whole way. Picking up the pace didn’t help, slowing down didn’t help either. The stride just falls flat and doesn’t feel like you are being propelled forward. Even though the terrain was flat, it felt like running uphill the whole time. Not even tuning out on the MP3 player worked. I was thinking that 40 minutes would be enough, well maybe, 45 minutes, but I went out a little too far so I managed 50 minutes with another half mile to walk back home. Some runs just end up that way regardless of whether you are injured or not and there’s nothing you can do about it except push through the discomfort until you’re done. You just have one of those days when nothing feels good and you just hang in there and finish your time or distance and call it a day. My right ankle was hurting when I stopped and it took a few minutes before I could walk straight again. It was one of those survival runs. I did, done, made it through a bad day, which made me feel much better afterwards. It’s days like this that you can look back to when you have another bad running day, and think that you have made it through a tougher time before and you can make it again. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, or so I’d like to think.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Remiss In Blogging About Running

Darn! I haven’t written about running in more than a week already! Isn’t this supposed to be a running blog? I guess I’ll tell you about last Saturday mornings’ run then. Linda, Cindi, and I started out together. Would we do road intervals, fartlek, or a slow and steady jaunt? Well it turned out, neither of the three. With Linda having some knee problems and Cindi feeling tired from Black Friday, I was content on whatever they decided to do. So we did the four minute run and one minute walk Galloway training method for eight miles. The first mile and a half was pretty brisk, then we backed off because Linda’s knee wasn’t cooperating. We continued the process at a slower pace, or so we thought. I say this because it felt like we were slogging through the workout: my legs felt heavy, Linda’s knee was aching, and Cindi wasn’t feeling too hot either. Upon finishing the run and checking our average pace on the GPS watch, we were surprised to see that we ended up running 10:06 per mile. Believe me, it felt more like 10:30 to 10:40. I must have lost my perception of pace through the years. But then again, with the run/walk method, I find it more difficult to get a feel for my pace based on effort. But, it doesn’t matter, whatever takes us from point A to point B regardless of pace is good enough.
On a solo run/walk workout Monday morning, I managed to get the average pace down to 9:57 minutes per mile over six miles. My ankles protested afterwards and I had to ice them three times in a span of two hours when I got home.
We are expecting someone new to join us next Saturday. She found my blogpost last week on Facebook under the AREC Group and contacted me for info. We shall welcome her with open arms.
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Computer Frustration


Computers are at times so quirky, fickle, and unpredictable. On Saturday my Uncle called me so many times asking questions about his computer that I started answering my phone “tech support, how may I help you?”. He was having problems getting on the internet again because his computer was not connecting with the wireless router even though he moved the router closer. Well it turns out the USB dongle receiver had detached from the computer. Not knowing this, Verizon advised him to just hard wire the DSL modem to the computer’s Ethernet connection. That should have taken care of the problem, but nooooo…He called me again to ask about this and I told him to turn off the modem for about a minute, then turn it back on. Still no luck. I thought maybe there was a brief interruption of service in his area so I advised him to wait about an hour and try again. An hour or so passes by and I get another call saying there was still no internet connection. I was out of ideas so I looked it up on the internet and called my Uncle back to give him step by step directions. Turn off the modem, unplug it from the electric socket, turn off the computer, plug the modem, turn it on, start up the computer, and BAM! The heavens parted and the internet came down and showed itself to my Uncle.
On Sunday I had computer problems of my own. I started up my back up laptop so I can update the antivirus software and Microsoft Windows. However, while the computer would connect to the router, it could not connect to the internet. Despite several Microsoft suggestions in the Help and Support section of Windows Vista on how to fix the problem, still no cigar. So I tried something that Microsoft did not suggest. I turned off the DSL modem, turned off the wireless router, waited a minute, then turned everything back on again. Problem solved.
My co-worker just bought a new computer and will be getting a wireless router soon, and she needs help. Noel’s tech support at your service, ma’am.
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday – Overspend or Not?

Having woken up much earlier than expected on Friday morning, I was tempted to go out and hit a few stores for their Black Friday sale specials. I had a few things in mind after seeing the store circulars the previous day like a possible replacement TV from Walmart for $128, a bubble jacket for $7, and a shredder for $25. But did I want to trade inadvertent elbow jabs with the anticipated crowd that was surely going to be in the store that early? Or take a risk catching a bug or two of whatever other shoppers may be sharing? What I did was double check the sale items on their website for availability. Now why didn’t I think about that the previous day? The TV I had my eye on was previously available to order online with only a 97 cent shipping fee! Too bad they were all already gone L.

A couple of hours later I was out of the house heading for OfficeMax which had a shredder for $30, reduced from the regular price of $89. I was expecting the product to be out of stock too and I wasn’t keeping my hopes up too much. To my surprise, there were two or three left so I got one, joined the short queue and was out of the store in about 15 minutes. Since I was out already, I decided to drop by Walmart to see if the things I wanted were still available. No to the TV, but yes on the jacket. However, as I addressed in a previous blogpost (http://noeldlp.blogspot.com/2009/05/increase-in-waist.html), clothes nowadays have gotten much larger even though the sizes remain the same and the smallest size didn’t fit me. So I didn’t buy the jacket. The crowd at the store wasn’t too bad, but then it was already 8:00 a.m. and the 5 a.m crowd had already dissipated.

Then it was off to the grocery store which had a sale on 2 liter soda for 59 cents and 26 oz. pickled jalapeno peppers for also 59 cents. The store was virtually devoid of shoppers. Nobody was buying food today because everyone was at the mall and shopping centers.

Upon getting back home and checking email, there was a notice from ZBSports.com that they had reduced their prices further plus 10% off. I immediately looked for the price of Brooks Addiction (msrp = $100). With the price reduction and 10% off, it came out to $73.15. Having not rewarded myself for finishing the Long Beach Marathon yet and the soles of my current shoes wearing out, I ordered a new pair. Nothing like delayed gratification!

So that’s my very unexciting Black Friday story. Because the TV was no longer available, I only bought what I needed and not what I wanted. And that’s the way it was.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How Can We Take Care of Our Parents in Their Golden Years?


I’m pondering this after receiving an email from my Mom which said that she was having pain in her lumbar spine and knee and she had trouble walking. After seeing an orthopedic surgeon last month and undergoing X-rays, she learned that she is developing osteoporosis and was prescribed calcium and Fosamax. She had already miraculously survived a bout with colon cancer three years ago and we are eternally grateful for that. How can I and my brother help her when she starts to have problems taking of herself? I live in another country and it’s no longer practical for her to go through the process of moving here. My brother lives in another city with his family, mother in law, and grandmother in law, so my Mom probably won’t have a place there either. I haven’t asked my brother’s opinion yet but it might be time to discuss what options we have in the face of inevitability. My father is deceased so my Mom has been living alone for at least 10 years now. She lives in a small apartment and is pretty independent. There are no assisted living facilities that I’m aware of in the city where she lives, but then again I haven’t been there in a long time so there may be similar facilities that may be able to assist her with her needs when the time comes. If those facilities exist, how much does it cost to live there including nursing and medical care? Will it be more practical to hire a live-in helper if it’s available? With so many things to consider, it may now be time to discuss such possibilities with my Mom and brother. It saddens me.
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Night in the ICU

Patient count was low on the unit I work in and it’s time to float to another unit again. Originally sent to a regular medical floor to watch a quiet man for the night (and I mean quiet – he was basically mute), I was thanking my lucky stars for having an easy night. Half an hour into the shift, I was told to go to the Intensive Care Unit instead. Darn! There goes the easy night. Maybe I would be as lucky at the ICU as well, but it was not to be. I had to keep an eye on a young man who just underwent a rapid detoxification program from opiates (methadone, oxycontin, duragesic) just a few hours before. (See the website here: http://www.opiates.com/ ). Upon seeing him, I realized that my luck for the night had run out. This man wasn’t even supposed to be on 1:1 watch but I can see that the nurses’ hands were full trying to handle him. The man was not reacting too well from the detox and was actively having visual hallucinations and trying to get out of bed even though he didn’t know what he was doing. He was trying to reach out in thin air grabbing things that weren’t there, and was doing this the whole night. The nurse gave him all the medications he could possibly have that was ordered by the doctor but nothing helped except for about half an hour when he went into a stupor around 1 a.m. It was probably one of the longest nights of my life at work because I had to be constantly on top of what this man was doing so he wouldn’t dive out of bed and hurt himself. The only redeeming factor about working in ICU was being fed by the Filipino nurses who were working there. You can always count on the Flips to bring food and share it J. But back to reality after the good meal. Twelve hours of keeping an eagle eye on a very restless and confused man. He tried to jump out of bed, puked, pooped, tried to pull out his oxygen sensor, and kept removing the oxygen tube from his nose. He was so restless and jumpy that the IV machine kept on indicating that the tubing was occluded because his movements kept on kinking the line. You couldn’t possibly have your emotions get the better of you at this guy’s actions because he wasn’t aware of what he was doing, but it was physically and mentally tiring nevertheless. I was so tired when I got home that I slept until my alarm awoke me, when I usually wake up on my own half an hour to an hour before that happens. Maybe I can catch up on my sleep tonight. I just got an unwanted call from the nursing supervisor cancelling my scheduled shift because of the low patient count. Darn! I wanted to go to work because I figured I couldn’t possibly have two bad nights in a row. But who knows? The unexpected always happens.

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The Confusing Bank

Or perhaps it’s the bank itself that’s confused. It seems that Bank of America doesn’t know what the right hand is doing from the left. Ever since they took over Countrywide Home Loans and Countrywide Bank, it has been difficult to log in to check your accounts online. If you go to their website, you may be able to sign in to your usual accounts, but if you try to log in using your username with Countrywide, you will have difficulty doing so if at all, even though Bank of America says you can. To get this corrected and have all my accounts consolidated in one place, I went to one of their brick and mortar branches. First I availed of a new service they had where you can set up an appointment online and show up at the bank at that time. Well the employees of the branch I went to were not even aware of their bank by appointment service. They had to ask me how it worked. To make matters worse, they couldn’t combine all my accounts in one place at the location. They gave me a toll free number to call. A little update for Sunday: I received an email from Bank of America saying how sorry they were that I missed my appointment. That’s what I’m saying – the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

When I got home, I called the toll free number. The first customer service representative I got after going through their elaborate telephone tree, asked the usual questions to verify my identity. Then after a few questions, he asked me to call the toll free number again because he couldn’t fully verify my identity. At least I didn’t get a call center in India. So I go through the same process until the phone was answered by another representative. Same questions verifying my identity were asked and after a few minutes she asked me to log in to my account and voila! All my Bank of America and Countrywide accounts were linked! I can’t understand why the brick and mortar branch and the other representative couldn’t do it and this one woman did it without any problems. God bless her! I complimented her for doing a very good job and told her to ask her boss for a raise. Thanks again Ashley, whoever and wherever you are! I put together my left and my right hand and applaud you for a job well done in helping me.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Running Road Intervals on a Saturday Morning

I don’t know if our already small numbers are dwindling or some have branched off to other distances which are more suited for their racing goals. Since I don’t have any goals anything will do as long as I get to run with somebody. Today, I suggested road intervals starting with 10 minutes of warm up, then 2 minute pickups and 2 minutes recovery jogs until the finish. The leaders would run back to the last runners during the recovery jogs, then start the 2 minute hard intervals over again. That way, everyone can finish at the same time more or less, except the faster ones cover more distance. It didn’t quite work out that way because there were only two people doing the pickups and recoveries.

Considering that this time last year I was not even running due to tearing my right posterior tibialis tendon, being able to run today and even doing intervals is something I can appreciate very much. Interval training is tough but good for improving your aerobic capacity. I hope we were covering at least a quarter mile on the hard part. I’ve never done it before during the AREC summer workouts, so I’m just trying it out with other people who might want to do it. Remember last weekend we did a Fartlek workout the last half of the run. Today we were able to do 16 repeats of 2 minute pickups and 2 minute recovery jogs to finish 7.55 miles in 1 hour and 12 minutes.The total time seems slow but we did the hard part hard and the easy part really easy. If not for the others I would have done maybe 10 repeats by myself and not more than 12. It always helps to have a partner to do it with. Today, that partner was Cindy C. While we were doing the intervals, Linda and Tam were busy running their pace and catching up on the latest AREC happenings. How sweet it was to finish a hard workout without aggravating my ankles. We even almost caught up with a group who started 20 minutes before us. It was a good running day J

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Google Giveth and Google Taketh Away

Well they really haven’t given me anything so they have taken away what they haven’t given me, and that’s just fine. Google suspended (well, disabled is the word they used) the advertising account on my blog due to overclicking! After they notified me a few weeks ago that I’ve earned a few bucks, I began to look at the ads they were putting on my site more closely and I found out that they were things that interested me, so I started clicking away to see what they had to offer. Most were related to health, fitness, and road racing. Things that sometimes come up in what I wrote about. So I didn’t see any harm in my clicking on the ads. Well, Google Adsense begs to disagree and has suspended my account due to violation of their terms of service. Or maybe it was because of what I wrote in that blog a couple of weeks back where I mentioned autoclick programs and jokingly asked my friends to click on the ads too. Perhaps Google’s automatic scanner for key words found those and perceived that they constituted a violation of their TOS. I always knew that my clicks could be traced back to my IP address so there was no hiding that. Oh well, nothing gained and nothing lost on my part. I’ve removed the ads from my blog. Maybe just as well. Less clutter.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Weight - More Than I Want It To Be


Well that did it! After several months of waking up below 120 pounds, Saturday night’s eating at the party finally caught up with me and brought my weight up a smidgen over 120. That’s what happens when you sit in a rocking chair for the better part of three hours watching boxing on TV. What to do about it? My usual calorie burn “equalizer” was not available for me today (Sunday) because I already ran yesterday and as you know, my ankles cannot tolerate running two days in a row anymore. I didn’t want to do the usual stationary bike, stairmaster, or rowing machine workouts because I felt the need for more variety. So what did I do? I combined them all. Four sets of five minutes each on the rowing machine, stairmaster, recumbent bike, and upright bike for a total of one hour and twenty minutes. Was it enough to counteract the overindulgence of last night? Probably not, but it’s good enough for today. Remember, small steps, but do something about it. Hopefully tomorrow I can catch up. It’s an “equalizer” day after all.
Update: I wrote this entry yesterday but I didn’t post it because I thought that three blog posts in a day was a little excessive. Well today is my “equalizer” day, but it seems like I won’t have to do too much of it because my weight has equalized on its own and gone back down to a smidgen under 120. So yesterday’s workout helped, along with more sensible eating. But the holidays await and eating sensibly becomes more of a challenge. Stay tuned…

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Fight That Broke Out At the Birthday Party

I went to a nephew’s 18th birthday party Saturday evening. Eighteen already?! I can still remember when his mom (my first cousin) was a baby in the Philippines and when her parents were at work, my parents used to “kidnap” her from next door so they could babysit her. Not only that, my younger brother and I benefited from it because we went to the beach unplanned to have impromptu picnics, usually in the afternoon when my father was done with work. Nobody went to the beach in the afternoon in those days much less on a weekday. The reason why my parents were so fond of my cousin was because they never had a daughter and just had us two boys. My brother and I didn’t mind of course, we were just as fond of her and the picnics were just a bonus. Too bad this didn’t last too long because soon enough my cousin and her parents moved to the United States. I didn’t see her again until 1980 when I moved here.

And now her oldest offspring just turned 18. Did we time travel, flash forward, breach the space/time continuum? It doesn’t seem that long ago somehow but now we are here.

As I posted on Facebook yesterday, I went to a birthday party and a fight broke out: the Pacquiao/Cotto fight. In a totally unexpected turn of events, the post dinner activity involved waiting for the aforementioned boxing match to start on TV. My cousin ordered the pay per view event from the satellite TV company and we only learned about it when we arrived at the party. So instead of the usual card game, parlor games, or karaokefest, we were entertained with the sweet science of boxing on the tube. After a couple of hours of watching the undercard, the main event started.

I don’t really watch or follow boxing except for what I read in the sports section of the newspaper, but I know about this fighter from the Philippines named Manny Pacquiao who is much revered by his countrymen. He even has at least a couple of movies made about his life already. When Pacquiao fights, something like a Twilight Zone episode happens in the Philippines. The streets become deserted because all the vehicles disappear and the populace are glued to TV sets. I’ve never seen him fight so it was a treat from my cousin to show us this event at her home, even though most of the guests were not of Filipino background. My cousin married a white guy whose last name is the same as the fast food chain with the golden arches. I was surprised to see how fast the fights went. Three minutes each round plus one minute break, and no sexy girls parading around with placards showing what round it was. It was just slam, bam, clinch, punch, counter, then ring the bell and the round is over. No time wasted. So in spite of four undercards, the fights went pretty fast.

Well, we already all know the result of the fight so no use rehashing the whole twelve rounds here. Pacquiao won in a technical knockout 55 seconds into the 12th and last round. Being born Filipino, of course I was rooting for him and was hoping for a knockout and since Cotto was being pummeled so badly, I wished that the fight ended sooner than later.

Well, my dear cousin, thank you so very much for inviting me to your son’s birthday party. It will forever be remembered as the eighteenth birthday party in which a planned fight broke out. Fortunately, it didn’t involve the celebrant. Welcome to adulthood Ryan J.

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What Dessert Used To Be (or the fruits of my childhood)

Remember when after a meal, dessert used to be fruit? Growing up in a place with an abundant variety of fruits, they were readily available to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth. Cookies and candy bars were rare treats. Sodas (we called them soft drinks) were sometimes split between two people. And by the way, the cookies we had were similar to the Nilla wafers nowadays. We had no chocolate chip, peanut butter, sugar, oatmeal raisin cookies then. Doughnuts were homemade and they were just plain which you dipped in sugar.

I don’t know if I can remember all the fruits we had available then, but I’ll try. Most of these are sweet fruits but some of them are sour which you dip in salt, preferably (for me) salt with freshly crushed red peppers. Durian, mangosteen, lanzones or buwahan, langka or nangka, marang, mango, mampalam, star apple, carambola, atis, coconut, banana (smaller yellow ones), papaya, oranges (what were the small oranges called?), tambis, camias, grapefruit, wani, baunu, pineapple, tambis, macopa, santol, and guavas. Grapes, Sunkist oranges, and apples were only available in a grocery store and were expensive because they couldn’t be grown locally. My Tausug friends, if you can add any more fruits from the place where we grew up in, which I forgot about, please do.

Unfortunately nowadays, an after meal sweet would probably be chocolate bars, or cookies, or ice cream, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (I like PB&J). If had pies or cakes here, I would probably have that too, so it’s good that I don’t buy them. Even if the fruits I mentioned above were available here, it would probably be very hard to wean myself away from the refined sugars that I’ve gotten used to, but it could be possible. Make those fruits available to me and I’ll turn a new leaf, or in this case a new but old dessert of childhood.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bipolar Running

For those of you who have been reading this blog, you already know the ups and downs of my recent running life. Thus the title of this entry. One day I’m okay, the next day my ankle is so painful that I don’t know how the next run is going to turn out, some days I can only do the 4:1 run/walk intervals, then there are very rare days like today, when everything: the breathing, the legs, and the ankles felt good, so much so that I was able to take my fellow runners on a different kind of run.

The past few days, I’ve been in a bind intestinally, so to speak (there you go, TMI again). I don’t know if that affected the ammonia levels in my bloodstream, but I felt like my mind wasn’t so clear, somewhat like a semi-stupor when I woke up. I thought it was just sleepiness, but the fogginess remained for much of the morning, even after the run.

So we started the run slowly and hit the first mile at about 10 minutes and 30 seconds. The lungs felt good and so did the ankles, so we upped the pace slightly on the second mile, then over three and four miles Linda and I were joined by two other runners (Cindy and Rene). We threw in a few fartlek pickups in between our base pace and by the time we finished, we had averaged 9:19 over 6.2 miles. Considering that the first mile was 10:30, bringing it down to an average pace of 9:19 over 6.2 miles was a big jump. It was a totally unexpected and unplanned workout and the result was surprisingly good. And everyone liked the change of pace. If my ankles hold up, maybe we can do more of the fartlek type workouts during the shorter runs.

From a depressive run result a few days ago due to ankle pains, to the euphoria of having a good run today, that’s what I consider Bipolar Running.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

What a Frustrating Experience!


After unexpectedly finishing a marathon relatively unscathed and without aggravating the condition of my ankles, it‘s frustrating that they are beginning to hurt again after doing shorter runs. Like for example last Saturday, my right ankle started to hurt towards the end of the run after a misstep. Then on Tuesday, my left ankle began to have some sharp pains after about 1½ miles, then as suddenly as it appeared, it was gone. However while at rest two days later, it’s hurting again. It’s strange how my body is reacting to the short runs. It’s not as if I’m trying to run harder because I’m not really pushing the pace. While my friends from the AREC running club are out racing almost every weekend, I’m out doing my slow runs trying not to hurt any more than I already am. Not that I want to race. I just want to maintain what I gained over the summer. What am I to do? I wish that stationary cycling, or stair climbing, or rowing would give me the same satisfaction and fulfillment as running can, but they don’t. If they did, I probably won’t care about not running anymore. Running on the treadmill satisfies my cravings somewhat, but it feels different from pounding the pavement. I’m already trying to hit the ground as lightly as I can. What else can I do? Have I suddenly become a wimp so that every pain which I used to ignore in the past, is now something potentially devastating in my mind? Or am I just being more mindful of it so I don’t injure myself further? Which way do I go?
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday’s Test Run

I wasn’t sure if I could run today because my right ankle was still hurting from last Saturday’s run. It was either walk, or attempt to run and see how the ankle felt. I wore the Asics Gel Evolution which I’ve had for months and even though it’s a motion control shoe, I haven’t used it much except for walking, because the sole is thinner than the Brooks Addiction that I currently wear to run. I didn’t have anything to lose after all. If I got hurt more, it didn’t matter what shoes I was wearing. Since the Asics had thinner soles maybe I would make more of a conscious effort to land my stride lighter. And that’s how I started the run – with a low shuffling gait that was practically scraping the ground. With that gait, the ankle didn’t feel wobbly, plus the 4:1 run/walk intervals helped. So my ankles survived a six mile run without further aggravation, which I’m thankful for. I probably did slightly more than six miles because I couldn’t get the GPS watch to connect to the satellites at the start, so I just started running before it connected. I’ve been eating too much salt lately so I wasn’t surprised that my perspiration was stinging my eyes just fifteen minutes into the run. I had to keep taking off my eyeglasses so I could wipe the sweat off my brow. It’s so hard to run without using your natural stride, but necessary for me to do so to lessen my impact against the ground. Sometimes when I lose my concentration, I still land hard, and that’s probably what happened last Saturday. But for today, the ankles passed the test.

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The Lost Movie

There is a new movie opening this weekend that’s well reviewed by the critics, but which I cannot mention here. The only reason why I’m writing about it is because I thought I had seen that movie before and I thought I archived it. Despite attempts to look for it in my one terabyte external hard drive and about a hundred DVD discs of backup files, I couldn’t find it. It was getting frustrating because I know I enjoyed watching that movie and I could not have deleted the file. When I first found that movie, I had never heard about it before so I thought it was something that was released abroad but not in the U.S., and is probably being released straight to DVD here. Then I started seeing the promotions and reviews last week which led me to my current search for it from my archives. After wracking my brain and doing repeated searches, I finally checked IMDB to find out if the movie came with an alternative title. Eureka! It did! When I searched my archives again, I found the movie. It was in the one terabyte hard drive after all. Now I’m satisfied. I can go out for a run now.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

A New Training Group

How do I describe Saturday’s run? Since the running club’s marathon training is over for the year, Saturdays seemed empty and aimless until Linda told me that there was a small group training for the Surf City Half Marathon at the same site we did during the summer. This was just a loose bunch of AREC members who decided to meet together, organized by Tam, but not an official club training group. It started pretty much by word of mouth or word of email and I learned about it a couple of weeks ago, but was unable to attend last week due to CPR recertification class for work. Saturday was their second or third meeting.
Upon arriving at the parking area, I was surprised to see a lot of cars there, then saw a group of AREC members gathered. It was then that I remembered that the trail run training also started on Saturday. They met at the same spot then carpooled to the trail site where they did their running.
Linda and I arrived early and while she went to find the lavatory, I went for a warm-up jog. When I got back to the start area, a small group had already gathered and were ready to go, so off we went. Today’s distance was eight miles. We started slowly, there was no pushing the pace or doing pickups, and finished slowly, which was how we planned it. A misstep about 100 yards from the finish tweaked my right ankle slightly bit but since we were about done, I hope I didn’t worsen it. We shall have to see in the next few days.
There were some people in the group whom I already knew, some I’ve seen in the past, and a couple of new ones. I’m not very good at remembering names but I hope that by next week, if someone refreshes my memory, I will remember them by then.
I would like to thank Tam wholeheartedly for organizing this group. Even though I’m not training for the half marathon, at least my Saturdays will no longer be aimless and I have something to look forward to. If not for this group, I don’t think I would have run eight miles by myself. Running with others always helps. If my ankle holds up, I hope I can help Linda train for and achieve her goal of a sub 2:10 half marathon.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

My So Called Non-racing Life

I’m not much for participating in races anymore. I just run for exercise. First, there is always a tendency to push harder during a race and my joints just can’t tolerate that. Second, it’s a matter of economics. Paying for race fees is what I consider living beyond my means. I would rather use the money to buy food than for racing. I don’t have ‘mad money’ to spend like I used to and I don’t want to work overtime to earn it like I did a few years ago. I stopped working extra days because I ended up paying more taxes for the extra income. There was one time in my life that I worked one full time and two part time jobs, holding three titles which all meant the same: behavior specialist, mental health worker, and substance abuse technician.

I used to drive all over Southern California to race almost every weekend and sometimes on both Saturday and Sunday. But then, I was younger, faster, uninjured, and had expendable cash to pay for the reasonable fees they had then, when they cost anywhere from $8.00 to $18.00 for the 5K or 10K on the day of the race (late entry). Nowadays it would be rare to find a race for less than $25.00, and that would be for early registration.

Regarding marathons and half marathons, I don’t like the idea of being required to go to the expo to pick up your race packet. I realize it’s a business strategy for the event since they can earn money renting space to vendors and they probably get a cut from the parking fees too. Besides, going to the expo is a waste of gasoline because you have to drive to the event on race day again. In the past, you can have your race packets mailed to you.

I wish some things are back to the way they used to be. I would probably participate in races more, now that I’ve been able to run longer using the run/walk technique. But I know it’s not going to happen.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Miracle at the Hospital


Do miracles happen? The last few days at work, that seems to be the case. Last week the psychiatric units (our hospital has three), was bursting at the seams with patients, then all of a sudden this week, we lost more than half of them. No, they didn’t die, they just got discharged. Did we finally find a cure for psychiatric problems, or are we witnessing a miracle at the hospital? At the rate that we have been discharging patients this week we would be empty by next week and all the mental health staff would be joining the unemployment line. But wait! I just realized that it’s the beginning of the month and the patients just got their disability checks from the government. Those checks can make them well more quickly than a miracle. That is until the money runs out and they get sick again. A quick recovery followed by a quick relapse. It happens every month. Such is the business of mental health care in California and perhaps America.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Night On The Medical Floor

Most of the psych patients got their government checks on Monday so there was an exodus of them leaving the hospital. That left the psych units with low patient numbers and it was my turn to be sent to another unit again. This time it was to the medical floor to watch a patient one on one. The patient’s chart was not available to me but the nurse gave me a brief report about him. He had a history of medical problems like atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure and diabetes. He also had right side weakness, so I suspect that he was a stroke victim as well. To add to those problems, this patient was refusing to take his medications and would not allow the nurses to check his blood pressure and blood sugar. He was on IV antibiotics also and I was surprised that with all his refusals, he hadn’t pulled off the IV line yet. It’s a patient’s right to refuse treatment so we couldn’t really force him to do anything. He was otherwise a quiet person although he seemed very depressed about his condition. With a little prodding, he told me that he has been in the hospital too long, that his wife visits him about once a week, and that they have three children, 1 boy and 2 girls. He spoke mostly Spanish so we couldn’t exchange too much information. He got mad at me later for trying to convince him not to call his wife on the phone at 12:15 in the morning. Since he could not dial the phone very well, he asked me to do it. When I hesitated he yelled “F… You!” The nurse intervened and negotiated with him. If we call his wife, he would let us check his blood pressure. I was surprised that the wife answered the phone at such a late hour. He was pretty quiet the rest of the night aside from asking me to take off some of his blankets because it was too warm, scratch his calf a little bit because it was itchy, and bend his knee because it was starting to hurt.
In the meantime I was reading or answering crossword puzzles which I always bring in my backpack for nights like this. There was also a very distracting eye candy of a respiratory therapist who was doing her rounds and kept passing by my patient’s door J.
In the morning before I left, I was given more information about the patient. He had been living in a nursing home but because of his unstable blood pressure and blood sugar, plus his refusal to take his medications, they would not take him back until everything was stabilized. I felt bad for him. I bid him goodbye and thanked him for keeping me company that night. I should have thanked the eye candy too for being around, but she had already left, and that would have been inappropriate.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Google is Giving Me Money!

After picking up the mail on Monday, I noticed a postcard that came from Google. What could it possibly be? I remember “monetizing” my blog a few months ago and by that I mean that I gave Google permission to place advertising on it. When someone clicks on any of the ads, Google keeps track of it and I’m supposed to earn some money that way. I didn’t think very much about it since I don’t get much traffic on my blog site, and it takes a few thousand ad clicks before someone can really make money. After allowing Google to insert ads, I noticed that whatever topic I wrote about, new ads relating to that topic would appear on the page. I think they call this targeted advertising. A few that interested me, I clicked on. However, the Terms of Service discourage the practice of the writer of the blog clicking numerous times on the ads just to potentially earn more money. I don’t have the time or the inclination to click on ads all day just to get some money, so rest assured, Google, I haven’t violated your Terms of Service. Besides, I don’t have the technical knowledge to install an autoclick program.
So anyway, back to the postcard. It contained information on how I can activate the payment process, which included a PIN number. I logged on to the Google Adsense website, filled in some verification information, plus my checking account number where they can send me part of their billions. From the info on the website, I gathered that Google is going to start sending the money as soon as it reaches $100.
Having satisfied all the requirements, I checked to see how much I’ve earned so far, if any. After about six months of targeted advertising on my blog site, I finally hit paydirt! All $8.30 of it! Fist bump, high five, chest bump!!!
Ok folks, help me out here. Whoever visits my site please click on more of the ads so Google can give me more money. At the rate it’s been going the last six months, I’ll finally reach $100 in about six years! Lesser if you help with the clicking.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Three Weeks After the Marathon

No wonder I felt dizzy after about 35 minutes during today’s run. I didn’t feel thirsty but I got dehydrated. My pre-run weight was 119 and when I weighed myself afterwards, it was down to 115. That was roughly the same amount of fluids I lost at the Long Beach Marathon three weeks ago. I thought the dizziness was caused by the swine flu shot I got last Wednesday but now I’m thinking it was due to fluid deficit.

It was tempting to stay indoors and run on the treadmill while watching the New York City Marathon on TV but decided to go outdoors so I can get my dose of vitamin D. Besides, I’ve been doing too many indoor workouts in the last few days. I wore my Long Beach Marathon technical shirt for motivation.

Doing the 4 minute run/one minute walk today, the first two intervals were a slow warm-up, then the pace started picking up until I had to pause several seconds at a stop light and that was when the dizziness started. When I restarted I had to slow down the pace to get my equilibrium back. Well I ended up running from home to Long Beach City College which was 40 minutes out then turned around and ran 40 minutes back home. Other than the dizziness, it was a good run for a distance of 7.76 miles. If I didn’t feel lightheaded, I would have done more. But then again, maybe not, because my ankle tendons are still in the process of recovering. So far, as I write this, I’ve already downed 3 pounds of fluids and will be having soup for lunch while packing my ankles in ice. Somehow despite only being three weeks removed from the marathon, it already seems like a distant memory.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trip to the Bank? Or Trip on the Treadmill?

Yesterday, I was feeling light headed upon waking up due to the swine flu shot which was giving me a side effect that felt like a hangover, and it was spanking me really hard. The plan was to run 15 minutes to the bank, withdraw some money from the ATM machine, run around a little bit more and head back home to finish at least a total of 40 minutes. Instead, I ended up doing a pre-programmed treadmill workout. I hadn’t tried or even looked at the pre-programmed workouts on my treadmill before and while I was exploring it, I stumbled upon and ran a ladder interval. It consisted of a one minute warm up, then for the next three minutes it would speed up ½ MPH each minute, then for another three minutes, slow down ½ MPH each minute. The whole process repeats itself (except for the one minute warm up)until it ended 40 minutes later. It was chilly outside and I had intended to run on the treadmill as a warm up before going outdoors (not the whole 40 minute interval workout), but decided to stay indoors in the warm comfort of my living room and finished the whole workout. Initially, I got off the treadmill after five minutes to get a piece of hard candy and put on my MP3 player, then restarted the 40 minute program, so I finished a total of 45 minutes. I discovered that to make an easy transition from slow to fast I can do a float stride (catch more air) before resuming quicker steps to catch up with the speed of the treadmill.

After having this treadmill for several months I am only now beginning to find out what else it can do. When I received my electric bill this month, it was higher than usual. I scratched my head for awhile until it dawned on me that one of the functions of the treadmill was increasing my electric bill. Oh well, gotta pay to play J. And no, I didn’t trip on the treadmill…yet.

Friday, October 30, 2009

My Sister’s Keeper

No, I don’t have a sister. This is about my reaction to the movie I just finished watching. It’s called “My Sister’s Keeper”(you can read the plot summary here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1078588/ ) , which gave me a very strong emotional response. Essentially, my lacrimal glands got a fairly good workout expelling salted water while watching this movie in the privacy of my living room, which is a good thing. Darn it! I’m a middle aged man and not supposed to be doing that, but please excuse me because emotional movies still make me feel that way. I dare anyone, male or female, young or old, to watch this movie and not have a similar reaction. How’s that about putting it out there for anyone to read in a blog? I was feeling crummy from the side effects of the swine flu shot all morning, but after having lunch and dropping some saline solution from my eyes, I felt better.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An Open Letter to Mental Health Workers

Dear co-workers, here are ideas that may make our jobs a little easier in the long run.
Ø When a patient brings in their own clothes and they are being inventoried during admission, have him or her pick three or four sets to take to their room and not keep all of the clothes in the contraband locker. This is to avoid us from having to go back and forth to get clothes for the patient when he or she needs them. Quite often, staffmembers take all the clothes and keep them in the lockers then days later the patient asks for them.
Ø When a patient brings in a cell phone, give them a chance to retrieve some phone numbers that they may need later from it, instead of locking it in the safe right away. This way we don’t have to keep calling the security guard to open the safe just to retrieve phone numbers from the cell phone. Have you noticed that this happens frequently?
Ø If the patient has some valuables that need to be stored in the safe, it is not necessary for you to list it on the regular property list because the security guard has to make a list of it anyway which is attached to your regular list. So you can eliminate this redundancy and safe yourself time.
ØBefore you take the patient’s picture, please have them sign the consent first. You’ll be surprised how many or our co-workers take the picture before the patient consents to it.
Ø Please don’t leave the paperclip from the admit packet lying around in the admitting area where a patient can pick it up and use it as a tool to hurt themselves, or worse, hurt us. I realize that they can use just about anything to cut themselves with, even their fingernails, but at least let us not give them some obvious tools to do it.
Ø If the addressograph name plate is not immediately available, at least print the patients’ full name on their close observation form so there is little danger of misfiling it in the wrong chart.
Ø Other miscellaneous things: when you return from your break, the first thing you should do is check on your patients and not just rely on the information of the person relieving you, because you are eventually responsible for your own patients. This is especially important on the night shift. Just because the patient hasn’t gotten up, let us not assume that they are asleep in bed. Besides, being in bed doesn’t mean they are alive, so we really have to make sure that they are. Please check them more frequently and make sure they are breathing. If you are one of those workers who do rounds diligently and see that a patient hasn’t moved from one position in a while, that’s the more reason to check for breathing. If a patient has been in the bathroom for awhile when you do your rounds and even if they respond to you from inside, we should not assume that they are safe. They may be attempting to hurt themselves in there. If after several prompts the patient doesn’t come out, you may have to violate their privacy just to make sure they are safe. At least have a co-worker of the same sex as the patient accompany you in opening the bathroom door so if the patient accuses you of doing something illegal, you have a witness. Another additional item: Please expel or squeeze all the air out of the blood pressure cuff before checking a patients' blood pressure. You can't believe how many people do this seemingly simple thing incorrectly!
Anything else anyone wants to add that I missed? Other than the above, we are doing a pretty good job of doing our admission responsibilities. These are just practical suggestions that may save us time and grief later. Thank you for reading and listening.

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