Thursday, March 29, 2012

Intoxicated on Caffeine (My First Brew)

Last year, I wrote about being wired on Starbucks (, which is still getting a lot of hits on this blog. That is not due to the quality (or lack thereof) of my writing but rather due to the popularity of Starbucks worldwide. This post is about being wired on cheap coffee.
All these years I never felt the need to buy a coffeemaker because I only drank instant coffee at home. A few days ago, the first ever automatic drip coffeemaker – Mr. Coffee, turned  40 years old and that got me interested in finally trying one out. Of course I’ve used those machines before at work but never had one of my own. I was walking around a store and visited the home appliances department and spied some coffeemakers. I checked the prices and they seemed reasonable but I held off for another day due to the want/need debate in my head. I ordered it online at night for pick up the next morning. It was just one of those 5-cup deals. In addition, I also bought a can of coffee called Master Chef which was the cheapest one on the shelves, even cheaper than the store brand. I just wanted to use it as a starting point so I can compare it to the brand names later.
Upon arriving home, I took out and read the instructions, washed the decanter and filter basket and attempted my first home brew. Hmmm, that first cup tasted a little too bitter. I thought I followed the recommended measurements but it turned out too strong due to me not reading the instructions back to back. Instead of measuring the coffee in level tablespoons, I measured them in heaping tablespoons. For one thing, here are some discrepancies: 1 U.S. cup = 8 oz., Master Chef coffee cup measurement = 6 oz., and Mr. Coffee measures it at 5 oz. I could almost feel my hair standing on end just after a few sips. With the heaping tablespoons, I must have taken a hit of at least double the recommended dose. If there is such a thing as caffeine drunk, well, that’s how it felt because I wasn’t only feeling wired, I was also feeling a buzz which lasted for 7 or 8 hours. Much later in the evening, I felt dizzy, nauseated, and lost my appetite. I don’t know if that was related to being overcaffeinated or what, but it felt terrible. I had to force myself to eat some instant noodles late into the night because I hadn’t eaten since noon time. Fortunately I also had some lime soda which helped me burp because I didn’t have any antacids around.
So there you go. That was my body’s reaction to my first home brew of super strength coffee. While the cheap coffee turned out too bitter, I think it would have been okay if my measurements were correct. However since my coffee overdose, I haven't had a cup in two days so I can get decaffeinated and detoxified. 

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Monday, March 26, 2012

The Bedwetter Special

We received a particularly difficult new admission Saturday night around midnight. She wasn’t really new because she was just discharged the previous week, and she was difficult because the scrutinized all the papers she had to sign even though she was already familiar with them from several admissions in the past. When it was time to inspect her suitcase, I opened it and the blast of urine stench escaped and surrounded the immediate area. Apparently she was such in a hurry to leave her board and care home that she dumped her urine soaked clothes in the suitcase. As a courtesy to patients, we wash their clothes for them in the unit’s laundry room. After I put two loads of her wet clothes in the washer, I notified her of what I did. I was taken aback when she asked me “did you sort them?”. Excuse me?! It wasn’t like she had whites and colors because they were all colored. And besides, we don’t run a valet service here so I told her in my most pretentious sarcastic voice, “I’m sorry but your only choices are washed or not washed.” Fortunately she acquiesced. The “did you sort them” question was the running joke for the rest of the night. After I ran the clothes in the dryer, I did sort them out: pants, blouses, and undies. Please forgive me for forgetting the fabric softener Downey or some other dryer sheet. They were not available.
The next night, another bedwetter asked me to wash his clothes at 3:00 a.m. Not a problem. As I turned the corner, my coworker asked me to also wash the previous night’s admissions clothes. Well, whaddya know but they were even wetter and more than the other patient’s clothes. I had to carry three pillowcases full of clothes with my left hand while keeping my right hand “clean” so I can use it to open doors with my keys without contaminating them. After I put the clothes in the washer, I told my coworkers that tonight, I sorted the clothes: wet on top, wetter on the bottom, and to add to the yuck factor, bloody in the middle (yes, to top it off, she had her menses!).
See what we have to deal with sometimes as part of our job? The sad thing is I don't even work in a geriatric unit. These patients ages ranged from 37 to 57. Fortunately we can add some levity by joking about them. But not in front of the patients of course. I shouldn’t be so hard on them because I may become one myself some day, sans the menses.
An update: we had 4 bedwetters during the night - probably a record for our psych unit. The patients must have been pissed!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Boulder, The Thigh Injury, The Oil Change Walk, and the Pregnant Dream

So there was this rock that rolled into town two weeks ago and I was planning on seeing it on my way home from work. I even made a note of it on a post it pad. Well I totally forgot about it until was at a grocery checkstand and I overheard a cashier mention it to a coworker. I drove less than a mile from the store and found the rock where it was supposed to stay all day. They only moved it at nighttime to minimize traffic problems. The rock was parked in the center median and occupied the inner lanes of both sides of the streets leaving the outer lanes for the vehicles to travel through. I took a picture of course but it’s not anything you haven’t already seen in the newspapers or the internet. Truthfully, I was slightly underwhelmed because I thought it would be bigger than the monstrosity that it already was. Maybe because it was shrink-wrapped in white plastic. Nevertheless, it was nice to experience the unusual event so close to home.
You would think that I had enough problems with my ankles when I do one of my infrequent attempts at running. A couple of weeks ago, the plan was to run a little and walk a lot for about an hour just like I’ve been doing in Signal Hill. It went pretty well at the start because I was able to do my full stride on the running portions no matter how short in duration they were. About half an hour into it, my plan was spoiled when I began having some pain in my left thigh. Oh my, another tribulation. It was not a new type of injury though because it was something I’ve had three times before. The last I can remember was about 4 years ago. The difference was that in the past, I would have kept on running regardless of the pain. This time, I stopped and walked the rest of the way and just extended the workout to an hour and a half. I haven’t tried running since.
On a related note, there was finally a Q&A on the Runner’s World website addressing PTTD (my permanent ailment). Here is the link: There might be a slight hope for some relief but first I have to find a talented orthotist as mentioned in the article.
A week after the thigh injury, I had my car serviced (smog check and oil change). While that was being done, I was able to do a walking workout of about 8 miles. Rain was in the forecast for several days and the clouds were already thick that morning but fortunately I was spared from it. The walk lasted two hours and I was actually back at the shop in an hour and a half. When I saw my car was still in the oil change bay, I tacked on another 30 minutes. The only running I did that day was to cross one street. When I had my car serviced in past years, I would either run around the neighborhood or if I took it to the shop on a workday, I would take their courtesy shuttle home, go to sleep, wake up in the afternoon and run to the shop to pick up my car. What a time saver, and oh how I miss those days.
The L.A. Marathon was held last Sunday morning and I watched it on TV while riding my stationary bike. I didn’t realize it was the 27th iteration of the event already. The first time I ran it, it was L.A. Marathon V in 1990 which finished at the L.A. Coliseum. I mentioned the marathon because I had a weird dream Sunday night about a running acquaintance who ran in it. I dreamt that she was pregnant, had a C-section, ran the L.A. Marathon a few days later, then the evening after the race, she was singing and dancing in a Filipino reunion party. I still haven’t told her about that dream. Should I tell her before, or after she runs the Boston Marathon in a few weeks?

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Happenings On An Extended Weekend

Once in a while I get an extra day off therefore extending my weekends to four or five days. Most of the time, I do nothing but relax and watch movies. Here are a few things out of the ordinary that happened last weekend.

There’s An App For That, You Dummy!  I’ve been working out all this time reading the online version of the Press Telegram on the full website only to find that it was oftentimes difficult to scroll and navigate a page because the text would overrun the screen. I knew a while back that there was an app for the newspaper but the reviews weren’t too hot so I never downloaded it until the first of March. I didn’t expect very much out of it, thinking it would be similar to the website. For the most part, it was, but what set it apart was that the text didn’t overrun the page anymore and stopped at its proper boundaries. Finally!
Well it happened again. Free laundry in our condo complex laundry room. Not entirely free mind you, but at least free washes. Somehow, after some maintenance work, the washing machines don’t require coins for one cycle. I took advantage of the situation by doing two loads (I usually just do one). I was able to wash most of my pants in addition to the usual uniforms, undies, socks, and exercise gear. Then the next day, I even did something I haven’t done in years: ironed my pants. Heck, I haven’t ironed anything in a long time! My ironing board and iron is stored away in a hallway closet and haven’t been touched because usually, just by shaking out my clothes after washing and drying, they don’t look too crumpled. However, a few days ago for a brief moment in time, I was an Ironman.
It’s a distinct possibility that the short life of my Olevia TV was due to its close proximity to the furnace, which made the capacitors wear out prematurely.  To prevent this from happening to the new LG TV, I did some minor rearrangements to my living room so as to move the TV stand farther from the furnace. This involved some pushing, pulling, tugging, and lifting. Yipee! Extra workout!

One of my cabinets was starting to burst at its seams with magazines. Specifically, 7 years’ worth of Runner’s World Magazines. I finally stuffed them in a box and moved them to the garage. In the process of emptying the cabinet, I also found books about running from 30 years ago. The usual ones from Jim Fixx and George Sheehan were there but there were a couple of unusual ones which I had forgotten about. Would you believe that Consumer Guide wrote a book about marathon running? What about a one entitled The Non-Runners Book? The second one is a spoof about running addiction. Both were published in the late 1970’s. Well, here are photos of those books.

Vacuuming? What’s that? I haven’t vacuumed very much since I lost my last cat. There is no more kitty litter being tracked around my home. However, dust does come to the surface specially when you are replacing a TV and moving furniture around necessitating the use of the vacuum cleaner (itself gathering dust in the corner of the room). So vacuum I did on one of my days off. Oh, by the way, I also rearranged some exercise equipment in a futile attempt to create more space in my living room. More dust.
So there you go, this is what  made for a productive weekend: ironed, vacuumed, rearranged, moved 7 years worth of Runner’s World magazines to the garage. Not all at once, mind you, but over several days. If there is one thing that running marathons has taught me, it’s pacing.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Unplanned Signal Hill Workout

Last Saturday morning, I hadn’t planned on working out with the Long Beach Area Walking Club. I had set my alarm for 7 a.m. as usual but was already awake at 5:15, so instead of trying to go back to sleep, I thought I might just show up for the Signal Hill 6 mile walk even though I didn’t RSVP for it. The usual company was there: Donna, Michelle, Paul, Tiger (the boxer dog), Jennifer and her Malaysian roommate, Evelyn. Upon approaching the first long hill, I stepped up my pace and Donna cajoled me saying “this is not a running club!”. She had anticipated that I was going to run up the hills again and she was right. Paul yelled “show off”, and I responded that I was cold and needed to get warm. Michelle then said “that’s because you don’t have any body fat”. I could have started laughing then, but I could only hear myself gasping for breath. Believe me, it doesn’t take very much for me to go anaerobic while running nowadays. Of course even when you are running very slowly up hills, you could still easily go anaerobic. About three quarters of the way up that hill, I wanted to walk the rest of the way, but because I didn’t want to shame myself to the rest of the group, I let muscle memory and previously learned tenacity take over and pushed on till I reached the top. That hill felt longer but when I checked my watch, it only lasted about 3 ½ minutes. Well, ok, technically I don’t really run anymore, but short distances like that, I am still able to do even on tough hills. And so it went for the whole 6 mile workout. Run up all the hills and walk the downhills with the rest of the group. By the way, this was a faster group than the one I walked with a few weeks ago because we finished in about 1:45 instead of 2 hours. My goodness, that’s about 2 ½ minutes per mile faster!
Well, 6 miles might have been the official end to the workout (which ended up 6 ½ for me because of the running and going back to the group to walk with them), but not for me. When they turned left to go back to their cars, I turned right and started jogging up the steepest (but fortunately short) incline of Signal Hill and kept my walk/run going for another 2 ½ miles. I certainly didn’t expect to cover 9 miles that day but when it was all said and done, I was happy that I was still able to do it. Heck, I haven’t walked or ran more than 6 miles since last summer.
I want to apologize again to my co-walkers for running a little bit during our workout. I do appreciate your company very much and that’s why I joined your meet up club. I cannot run with a running group because they run continuously for miles and miles which I couldn’t do anymore. Short bursts is all I can now and I needed those short efforts to trigger my endorphins. Besides, I had to burn the calories from the extra meal that I ate the previous night.
Other notes about that walk -There were stairs on some of the trails of Signal Hill but it was difficult running up and down them because they were too long for one stride and too short for two strides.
-I love the feeling of gasping and being out of breath and running up those hills took care of that. God, I miss that feeling which used to sustain me mentally every day for years! With cycling, I have to be content with a lower level of sustenance.
- The aftermath of the infrequent hill running - my back has been hurting from leaning into the hill while climbing.
-2:13:12 for 9 miles of mostly walking interspersed with uphill running. I’ve walked faster than that on flat terrain.

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