Tweets from China

Surreal moment: Watching “The Countess from Hong Kong” looking out my window at the “Silicon Valley” of Beijing. BTW: awful movie.

The reality that your options for TV include the umpteenth review of the recent plane crash, “Freaky Friday” (the newer version), or soap operas in a language you do not understand (and the subtitles do not help).

There is a horrible, horrible movie out there called “Painkiller Jane”. Do not watch it. Life is precious.

China is a lot like Italy: they want you to eat their wonderful food to excess, they are gracious hosts, there are a million dialects, there is rich and comprehensive history, and five days is not enough.

You do not miss the freedom of your ability to blather inanities into the ethersphere until it is taken away from you. #notweetsfromChina

Graceful moment: walking out of a traditional Chinese restaurant, full of glorious cuisine, in the warm hearty atmosphere of my team, and missing a step and sprawling on the floor. #spriainedankle

MSN has come up with the top 50 countries to grow old in. The top 25 are all countries with socialized medicine and progressive education. #notacoincidence

Insomniacs tell themselves they will catch up on sleep as soon as they get the chance. When a business trip and insomnia collide, you feel like the Powers That Be are fucking with you. I felt like somehow jet lag would work for me this trip. I was wrong.

No one need fear a society in which you can leave your bike unattended, and unlocked, just outside your office building. For nine hours.

When you have to make six plane trips in fourteen days, 24/7 news coverage of a plane crash and a copilot with suicidal tendencies is no comfort.

It’s rare that I ascribe to the wisdom of Angelina Jolie, but she does have a point: we have an excess of news, but a dearth of action based on it.

Pantry Packed

I was at the monthly PTA meeting for the district and someone mentioned the local high school didn’t have a “Pantry Pack” coordinator. I’m pretty big on the idea of food so I figured I’d volunteer. Essentially, “Pantry Packs” are bags of groceries (single bag per student) that is discretely provided to a student on Friday afternoons, to provide them with food to last through the weekend. These are students who are typically on the free breakfast/free lunch program, and even with that struggle to get enough calories. Single parents working 3 jobs, homeless (with or without family), etc.

(Fun fact: Sammamish has its own homeless encampment. And we have kids going hungry in our schools. Trying to juxtapose this with new $850k homes going up down the street with 4″ backyards is making my brain bleed.)

At any rate, I showed up at the HopeLink in Kirkland to help pack the packs. While I cannot divulge the quantities, let’s say my local school was not a big contender when it came to the volume of packs needed. There were schools there that needed upward of 180 packs (packs are done for one month at an assumed 4 weeks per month, so if you are getting 180 packs then you are serving 45 students). Parents and kids volunteered and went down the row of food, grocery bag in hand (also fun fact: disposable grocery bag… what happens when those go away for programs like these?), following the mantra:

1 Chilli, 1 Mac, 2 Soups, 3 granola bars, 1 Saltines Pack, 2 Popcorn, 2 Oatmeal, 1 Cocoa.

Now, whatever your feelings are or aren’t about societal support, charity, food stamps, etc., I invite you to look at that. That is one can of chilli, one (regular box) of macaroni and cheese, 2 ramen noodle soup packs, 3 granola bars (the kind slightly larger than your middle finger), 1 pack of saltines (not one box), 2 microwave popcorn packets, 2 of those single-serve instant oatmeal packets, and 1 packet (as in, makes 1 cup) of cocoa.

I want you to remember, while reading this, that this is for a high school student. And I want you to remember how you ate in high school. Or how hungry you felt. And now I want you to remember that this list is designed to support a person, nutritionally, from about 5pm on a Friday through Sunday night inclusive. So, 3 dinners, 2 lunches, and 2 breakfasts.

Those oatmeal packets are about 120 calories apiece.

When I came home with the packs, the male person and the young man helped me unload the car (Pantry Pack volunteers store the food at their house for the month, and dole it out weekly to the school) and were amazed at how much there was. Then I had them do the math, dividing it by 4 (for weeks) and X (for students). The young man’s jaw dropped –“I’d eat all of that in a day! I’m not even in high school!”. “I know”, I replied. “I’m worried.”

I still haven’t figured out what happens during school breaks. When I sit down to Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or Hanukkah dinner, I don’t know what these kids have — and I don’t know what they do for a two-week break.

I am one of these people who just always assumed there were “services” that “took care of this”. That there are food stamps and churches and charities and pantry packs, and for some reason I thought it was more. But I realized when packing up and working with Jennifer — the coordinator there, who is grateful for help but always worries that there’s not enough food — that it’s often not enough, but it’s “something”.

Again, you can look at it from the framework that the parents ought to do more for their kids, they should go get a job at McDonalds, etc., and work their way up. I am absolutely a proponent of doing your best and especially doing your best for your kids. But I don’t see how, if we are approaching this that the “parents are failing them”, how it benefits to not help the kids. We as a society are paying for their education through high school, and we are throwing our money away if they are so hungry they can’t study. If the benefit of public education is to ensure a well-informed, productive society, we are robbing ourselves and setting ourselves up for failure.

We are entering the season of food drives, and of “adopting a family”; the food will hopefully flow and these kids will hopefully get a decent meal and be able to cram for their Physics final like we all did at one point. I’m just saying that we need to not assume the volume of food or services they *are* getting, and to remember to reach into our pantries, if possible, when Santa’s not looming.

OW, says the Bobbie

I can’t tell if it’s actual full-body disintegration or if it’s old age or if it’s bad karma, but I find myself *back* getting X-rays and *back* on anti-inflammatories. This sucks. I was being so good, and it’s not like I signed up for anything crazy or over-trained. I’ve been lifting weights (lightly, nothing more than about 25/30 pounds) 2-3 times per week, and running 2-3 times per week (nothing more than about 2-3 miles), so I should not be dealing with this.

About a week ago the Male Person and I were commiserating on lower back pain, the kind you get here and there that is annoying and you may put a heating pad (or ice) on it and take an Advil and it goes away. Annoying, but live-able.

As of yesterday I had to use assistance (chairs, tables, handles, etc.) to sit down/get up. I went back to my French Canadian Doctor, because it was time for some punishment anyways. The good news: It’s not sciatic nerve stuff! Bad news: it’s probably more degeneration, but we’ll find out. Eventually.

In the meantime, I have purchased a back brace. There is absolutely nothing at all attractive about a back brace. It’s all white nylon and velcro, and reminds me of oversized superhero belts. Today I could be Monochrome Woman, as my grey tank top and black pants mean the white belt just really makes me look … spiffy (insert eyeroll here). Walking around gingerly means lots of people look at you funny. In this case, my walk is something like that of the cartoonish old man – butt tilted forward, therefore abdomen tilted forward, upper body tilted slightly back to help with balance, and a slow, shuffling gait to get places. Combined with my spiffy back brace, I look a prize idiot.

The fervent hope is that between anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants (night-time only! no wine! um, yay!) things will calm down enough so I can fly out to vacation (yay! Arizona!) and then come back to do my last three days of work for Expedia.

Because I don’t want to make the post about my new job led-in by all of this whining, and because I will have plenty more time to blog on the plane to/from AZ, I won’t get into that here :). You will just have to wait.

(I hate waiting…)

OK, you can have this much: I’m going to work for Sur La Table, in the Applications Dev Team. I’m very excited, and yes I get a discount, and believe it or not no, that wasn’t the biggest selling point.

Forming an Opinion

I have a really hard time with form letters and emails that are poorly written and researched. Normally I just shine it on and ignore them, but today I was in a special mood and so I leave you this (edited) email exchange. The only piece redacted is the company I work for because it’s not really about them. I’ve also put it in chronological order, as best as I can figure this guy is in Texas somewhere. Honestly, it needs to be completely rewritten, but that would be doing his job for him. Oh, wait…

—–

From: Jason Walker [mailto:jason.walker@bizzdatabase.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 14, 2013 2:51 PM
To: Bobbie Conti
Subject: Building a strong Brand

Hi Bobbie,

Hope you are doing well!

You being the Director, Content Management of MYCOMPANY, Inc., it will be my pleasure to introduce our self as innovative marketing management service provider that helped marketing oriented leaders and professionals build strong brands.

We have more than 100 million consumer contacts including email id and phone number and 50 million + B2B contacts worldwide. We could provide you with contacts across any verticals and industry.

  • Custom List: We can provide you the contact list of all your target audience based on target industry, target geography and job titles / age, income, interest and other related parameters.
  • Optimizing digital assets: We can help you in creative design of Photos, Documents and Articles that can be leveraged for Social media marketing.
  • Ranking in local search results: Creating a local presence online is now more important than ever, especially for targeting a local customer base.
  • Online Customer/Client engagement: Marketing is no longer a one-way communication.  Brands and Customers/Clients are engaging in a two-way dialogue with word-of-mouth playing a larger role than ever.
  • Web Banner Ads: We will also help you with Web banner ads in a creative manner.
  • Online campaigns: We can help you in doing PR campaign, worldwide campaign for your new launch and offers etc.
  • We also can help you with the contact database of Distributors, Wholesalers and Retailers etc. within your target industry.

We also have other end to end marketing services. Kindly let us know how we can help you and your company to grow more in terms of revenue.

It will be great if we could have a quick discussion over the phone for creative marketing activities.

Thanks,

Jason Walker

Customer Sourcing Consultant – Marketing

Direct: 713-481-7746 ext: 4315

Locations: USA, UK, EMEA, ANZ, APAC, LATAM and all Countries and Cities.

From: Bobbie Conti
Sent: Thursday, March 14, 2013 4:56 PM
To: Jason Walker
Subject: RE: Building a strong Brand

This has absolutely nothing to do with my job. Thanks.

—-

From: Jason Walker [mailto:jason.walker@bizzdatabase.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 14, 2013 2:59 PM
To: Bobbie Conti
Subject: RE: Building a strong Brand
Importance: High

Hi Bobbie,

Thanks for the response.

I will be more thankful to you if you could refer me to someone who can take initiative on this.

Regards,

Jason.

—-

From: Bobbie Conti
Sent: Thursday, March 14, 2013 3:24 PM
To: Jason Walker
Subject: RE: Building a strong Brand

Well, considering that you’re pinging me about client lists ([MYCOMPANY] has its own client base), optimization for social media (we have our own Social Media team, too),  SEO (ditto), etc., I can’t really in good conscience forward this. It doesn’t look terribly well researched, to be honest.

Also, I’ve taken the trouble to edit your form email below. There are some grammar issues, was this perchance written by someone who is not trained in marketing communications, or someone for whom English is a second language? Note that I didn’t have time to correct everything, but you will want to pay attention to capitalization consistency (e.g., “Custom List” vs. “Optimizing digital assets”), possibly providing some statistics to back your claims (e.g., “Creating a local presence online is now more important than ever”…Why?), and formatting consistency (your last bullet should have a blue header to match the others). I’d also suggest changing the vibe from “we can help/we can also help” to “we do”, as active voice works better in marketing.  Finally, your form email keeps referring to my “target industry” – you should be able to figure that out and pop it in, so rather than consistently referring to my “target industry” you need to put something like “within the Travel and Tourism Industry”.

Thanks,

B

“Hope you are doing well!

You being As you are the Director, Content Management of MYCOMPANY, Inc., it will be  is my pleasure to introduce our self my company as an innovative marketing management service provider that helpsed marketing oriented leaders and professionals build strong brands.

We have more than 100 million consumer contacts including email addresses id and phone numbers, and 50 million + B2B contacts worldwide. We could can provide you with contacts across any verticals and industry.

  • Custom List: We can provide you the contact list of all your target audience based on target industry, target geography, and job titles / age, income, interest and other related parameters.
  • Optimizing digital assets: We can help you in creative design of media, including photos, documents and articles that can be leveraged for Social Media marketing.
  • Ranking in local search results: Creating a local presence online is now more important than ever, especially for targeting a local customer base.
  • Online Customer/Client engagement: Marketing is no longer a one-way communication.  Brands and Customers/Clients are engageing in a two-way dialogue with and word-of-mouth playsing a larger role than ever.
  • Web Banner Ads: We will also help you with creatively design Web banner ads in a creative manner.
  • Online campaigns: We can help you in doing create (or by “in doing” did you mean “execute”) a local or global PR campaign, worldwide campaign for your new launch and offers. etc.
  • We also can help you with the a contact database of Distributors, Wholesalers and Retailers etc. within your target industry.

We also have other end to end marketing services, available here (and link to where they are listed, maybe your website?). Kindly Let us know how we can help you and your company to grow more in terms of revenue.

It will be great if we could I’d love to have a quick discussion over the phone for about creative marketing activities opportunities.”

Silver Linings

The last 24 hours have unquestionably been a series of Silver Linings.  (Note: I’m on a plane – leg 3 of a 3 leg sojourn to Heathrow – so I finally get to blog).

My day started on Monday, March 5th at about 4:30am. That’s when the eyeballs snapped open and steadfastly refused to close. Not being able to sleep is, I think we can all agree, a bad thing; but if it happens on a Monday morning you can at least attend to the deluge of email that Europe’s and Asia’s Monday morning delivered. Silver lining number one, then: clean(ish) email inbox before I hit the office.

I got the boy to school to discover he was the recipient of a C-slip on Friday afternoon but due to the last-minute nature of it the C-slip would not be sent home until Monday (a C-slip is a “Communication slip” – if you have inferred the communication is rarely positive you are correct. Typically C-slips are to indicate behaviors the school would like to stop, now, please. For example: chasing one’s classmate with a pencil). I spent the day agonizing that I had let the boy child have TV on Sunday night because I didn’t know of the infraction, only to discover (when I finally had a chance to talk to him) that he had already ‘fessed up at his father’s house and punishment had been delivered. Silver lining number two: he didn’t attempt to hide it and instead demonstrated true remorse and honesty.

At the point I entered the office I was 3 conference calls in, with no coffee; I stepped into the office of a colleague to discover she was leaving the company (she is a wonderful asset to the company and she’s been around for years and years). She is doing this to spend more time with her family – not because of any real dissatisfaction. Fair enough: silver lining number three – she made the right choice for herself and there is no argument with Family First.

The workday was about on-par for a Monday (which is saying both a lot and very little),  and I went to retrieve the boy child so we could go hang up Science Fair posters at the school. I thought this would take a long time, but it turns out the opportunity to spend time with him NOT doing homework or study or projects was incredibly welcome, and he took great pride in his taping skills. Plus, we finished early (and hello Silver lining number four).

We got to karate where he has steadfastly opined that he dislikes all Sempais and only wishes to train with the Sensei. Sensei is travelling back home so we had a Sempai: Silver lining number five was that my son has now declared that “THAT Sempai is okay. I like him.”

Dinner cooked mercifully in short time, I actually got to spend time with my son before I left (technically after his bed time). I rolled into SeaTac feeling especially reticent to fly and discovered that my flight was delayed 3 hours, meaning I would MISS my connecting flight at Dulles. I was rebooked to a flight that left at the same time for O’Hare, which would then meet up with a second flight for Dulles, to catch my third to Heathrow. At this point, all restaurants (even the Starbucks and the bars) at the airports are closed, and I have just enough time to get through security (where I got the complete feel-up even though I went through the perv machine) and catch my new flight.

I know what you’re thinking…. Where’s the silver lining there?

It’s here: my flight to Chicago was practically empty and I didn’t share a seat with anyone; I could stretch out and sleep.

My flight to Dulles was also practically empty and I could stretch out (across 3 seats!) and sleep.

And I type this now from my flight to Heathrow. Incidentally it’s the same flight the Seattle folks were trying to make and wouldn’t have; as a result I have changed my window seat for a middle/middle… with no one on either side of me. I have three seats to sleep in, work at, eat at, and I can watch 3 different TV programs if I was so inclined (I am not, however).

There are a lot of things of late that have me deliberately looking for silver linings: continued adventures in civil court, an overactive volunteering gland resulting in a very intricate Outlook calendar, the increasing realization that time moves much more quickly than it did when I was younger and there’s a definite crest to this hill.  I am very glad, then, that I can still find them.

Not an It Getter

One of the reasons I’ve been writing so infrequently is that there isn’t much I *can* write right now — some stuff I have to keep silent on for work, other stuff I have to keep silent on for, well, me.

About a year ago I was working on a Big Project for work that I had to keep quiet on for many, many months. Part of working on this project involved working with a person whose reactions and actions made no sense at any time given any of the data we were privy to, or indeed any of the conversations we had with this person. My then-boss and I declared a new term within our working relationship: Not an “It Getter”. As in, this person did Not Get It.

That person is no longer with the company and the project was indeed delivered, so my working theory is, eventually, after a long period of winding pain (perhaps like getting over the flu), Not It Getters go away.

Right now I’m dealing with another sort of Not It Getter (not at work this time). Despite whatever sort of data presented this person does not Get It. The latest demonstration runs roughly thus (nouns and verbs have been changed to protect the dubiously innocent):

Me: You can have your Lemurs on day 3, 5, 7 or 9.
Them: Hm, I think we want to pick up our Lemurs on day 1.
Me: As discussed, your Lemurs are not available on day 1, however you can pick up (or have delivered) your Lemurs on day 3, 5, 7, or 9.
Them: How about day 2? Day 2 is only one day away from 1. That’s good, right?
Me: No, it’s not. Day 2 is day 2, and Day 1 is day 1, so you can pick up your Lemurs on day 3, 5, 7, or 9.
Them: How about this: you give us backrubs each day for two months, and we pick up our Lemurs sometime after Day 3?
Me: Are you for real?

This is naturally all paraphrased and will of course meter out in the end (based on previous data). Some of us are It-Getters.

A Good Dog

My dog died Thursday night. It wasn’t like I expected.

Let me explain:

My second *real* job (after Dairy Queen) was working in a vet clinic. On the first day of work, a man came in with a shiny, happy black lab, who was to be put down. On the last day of work, a little boy came in with a shoebox with his dead pet rabbit.

In my time at that job, I was present at the euthanasia of probably 100 pets. I had to do other horrible things, too (have you ever given a cat an enema? Do you know that their claws can go through leather gloves?). It was the smelliest, messiest, and emotionally hardest job I ever had. Whenever I’m in a job I think is miserable (no, not my current one) I remember that one.

So I know what to expect clinically when it is time. I know, logically, that when an animal refuses food over a period of days it is ready to go. I know that as cancer spreads and ravages the body, that internal bleeding is likely, that organs will shut down. I know this is painful and I know that dogs especially will put a bright face on it for as long as they absolutely can.

I didn’t know it from the dog owner perspective until Thursday. Thursday morning I left for work and she was placidly chewing a new tennis ball (favorite past time) and had eyed her food (she hadn’t eaten for a day but I put bacon in there and she was smelling it). Thursday afternoon I came home and she didn’t get up. She looked at me, but didn’t get up. She didn’t want her ball. She didn’t eat anything. She refused raw steak. And so I called the vet, and they had me check her gums, and I knew it was bad and they confirmed it.

Here is the thing about your dog (or cat, or beloved pet of any kind) dying: you don’t get to choose. No matter how prepared you think you are, no matter how long you have known this day would come (she was diagnosed seven months ago), you are not ready when it does. You always think you have a few more days. After it happens, you feel guilt: you should have taken her to the park more. You should have gone on more walks. You should have played rope more. If only you knew it was going to be *that* day, you would have made everything leading up to it perfect.

Then you start to see them everywhere, and nowhere. You come home and the house is cold and there is no one to greet you. You go to shower and there is no large malamute laying across the bathmat. There is no hopeful person in the kitchen on the offchance you were going to cook bacon and she’d totally pick up anything you “accidentally” dropped. There is no sound of the dog door slapping against its sides as she goes in and out. There’s no pawprints on your floor, there are no dog toys mangled beyond recognition in various corners. You leave the house and there is no one to say goodbye to. You see other dogs and you think, “mine was so much better”. You look up your street and remember that you don’t get to go for walks anymore, you see the stash of “dog bags” for those walks and remind yourself you should donate those.

You avoid certain aisles at Target and Safeway. You can’t avoid them at Trader Joes, because it isn’t a whole aisle, but you do your damnedest not to look.

When you’re away from home for a long stretch, you remind yourself that you don’t have to rush home. Why? There’s no one there anymore. And you feel bad for yourself, and for them.

I don’t know how long this lasts. There’s nothing out there to show or tell you. I do realize death is inevitable and it happens to all of us.

But it’s a bitch.

Hoopty

I feel like every doctor’s appointment comes with additional hoops.

I went to my prescribed bike fitting, to discover that the first hour was just about the seat- it’s height and it’s tilt and it’s forward/backness, and how it will likely need to be replaced. I need to book a 2nd hour for the handlebars, and I likely need a new stem. The first hour also included 1.5 degree inserts for my shoes (I swear, I am not making this up) to help align my knees (dude, she brought out “lasers”). I spent an hour on a bike in a trainer getting on, getting off, having her tweak it, or having her tweak my shoes, and getting back on, repeat…

Also, I am allergic to something that is in the leukotape I use to tape my kneecaps. My left knee in particular is red and swollen, and I need to now douse it with Milk of Magnesia before I tape to avoid this sort of break out. Fun!

The Physical Therapist (aka, Personal Torturer or Pain and Torturer) is a whole ‘nother ball of wax. Let me state  that these folks are preternaturally cheerful, and I was initially handled (no, not physically but more atmospherically) by a Kinesiology student we’ll call Puppy. Puppy had me do all kinds of silly walks with a rubber band — most of which are designed to strengthen your muscles (hellO, weak ass!) — and then I had to spend 2 minutes on each side of my legs “massaging” out my IT band. Lest this sound fun, I want you to imagine this: Take a hard foam roller — I mean, really hard. As in, it does not give. Then put your ample body weight on it, in a painful spot. Then roll it slowly back and forth across the painful spot, until you are absolutely sure that your legs are the blossoming purple that is the University of Washington’s color.

Then have a PT take her elbow, and press, hard, against it, for another minute or two. Have her do this to the extent that you remember your Lamaze breathing, and you are gnashing your teeth and trying NOT to scream. Because, as we all know, this kinda freaks other people out.  Then have her point out you need to do the rolly-thingy at home (please go purchase the $22 roller first) every day. Don’t worry, after 2 weeks the pain goes away.

Then have them hook up your most painful bits (aka, your left knee) to an electrode. Again.

Only to discover that the more stressful parts of work actually MAKE YOU FORGET YOU HAVE ELECTRODES ATTACHED TO YOUR PAINFUL BITS.

Let me further clarify: Reading Work Email Kept My Mind Off Of Therapeutic Electrocution.

This next week is follow-up with the doctor, another bike fitting, two more PT sessions, and a final sojourn to the Foot Zone.  If I can just get through all of these hoops… I can do more next week :p

An Open Letter of Apology to My Spin Class Instructor… the New One

Dear Instructor Deb,

I know I’m not in class right now, and you need to know what happened, because I LOVE your class. I love the music (that remix of Stevie Wonder’s Superstitious? the one with the Indian drums and guitars? Is AWESOME!). I love you (in a totally platonic, non lesbian way). I love the new bikes. I love the old bikes. You have singlehandedly (or double wheeldly) made me love the gym.

And I’m not there today. I won’t be there next week, either.

I went to a Sports Medicine Doctor today. I went there, because last weekend after finishing up an hour on the bike I decided, HEY! I totally signed up for a 5k in May, I should see what I can do on the treadmill. After three steps– at 5mph, we’re not talking fast– it really did feel like someone was stabbing me in the knee. This is not good, you will totally agree, so I decided to see a sport medicine doctor. My Sport Medicine Doctor — Madame le Docteur, actually, as she is Quebeqois — is awesome. I totally stole her from my friend Kevin. At any rate, today was my appointment with Madame le Docteur.

Madame le Docteur first asked me about symptoms, so I told her about the last two half marathons, and the triathlon, and the giving up running in early 2010, and the attempt at running. I told her about pain-free cycling, about painful cycling, and about how much I love my ibuprofen. I told her about the spectacular crunching noises my knee makes going downstairs but not up, about how I feel cold in my knees. She asked me when I started feeling pain and I said about 3-6 months ago, I noticed after a good hard spin class I’d be a bit swollen and it would be a bit tender. She raised a Gallic eyebrow and looked at me: “You mean to say, you knew you had pain in your knees, and you decided then to run?” I totally felt like I was in school.

Madame le Docteur (ok, we’re going to refer to her as MlD, for ergonomic’s sake) next instructed me to put on a pair of shorts. As I didn’t come equipped with any, she handed me a pair of oversized men’s boxers– printed with Spongebob Squarepants. I knew I liked her when I entered her office and saw it very zen, with draperies and cool paint colors and I wasn’t one of fifteen people she was seeing that hour. But when she handed me the Spongebob? I knew I liked her.

She tsk’d tsk’d over my pronation (known to me) and after various assessments (the sounds my left knee make are painful to hear, even for MlD, and she made me stop after 1/2 of one lunge), she declared:

  • It is highly likely my left leg is longer than my right
  • I am highly over pronated
  • The orthodic inserts assigned to me from my former Podiatrist are crap
  • I need six weeks of physical therapy, 2x/week, at minimum
  • That my last round of physical therapy was NOT what you do if you want to keep your knees. Those Bulgarian Split Squats? Yeah, those aren’t cool.
  • I need a bike fitting
  • I need new orthodics (duh)
  • I need Xrays
  • I need to learn how to McConnel tape my kneecap
  • I may not exercise (bike or run) without taping first
  • I have to wear an anti-inflammatory patch on my knee 24×7 for at least a week. This is different from what they’ll put on there in physical therapy.

And now the good news: I will be able to do STP. As long as I do what she says.

“We are going to make you work very hard”, she said in her stern french accent. “If you want it you will need to work for it.” Well.  I certainly will have to.

If only to make all of the @%(^#*$ appointments.  But let the record state: I really love M. le Docteur. Oui.

Tired!

I love my car. LOVE it. It is wonderful, it is simple, it goes vroom-vroom. It has two nails in my passenger side front tire.

I bought the car in May. I had it all of two (2) weeks when an unidentified light lit up on my dashboard, indicating something that looks like this: (!). This is not a very intuitive sign, you see, so I immediately pulled over and looked at my Owner’s Manual, tucked ever so elegantly into its pleather binding that matches the interior of my car just-so.

(!) remained unidentified.

After calling the dealership, whose service department was closed, I then called BMW America, because if my car was going to blow up on me I really thought this was something I should know. They called me back and announced that (!) in fact means that you are losing pressure in a tire (somewhere) and don’t worry! They’re run flat tires! You can totally drive… under 50mph… for like 150 miles when that light goes off.

So merrily I went upon my way, and then merrily paid $258 the next day for a (single, as in uno, ein, un) tire. You can’t patch a run flat, you see.

FINE.

Fast forward four (4) months, and I do not have (!) showing up. I do however have two (2) nails in my passenger front tire. That would be the same passenger front tire that had the one (1) nail in it last May.  So, with a fully pressured tire, I look at my options. I can:

  • Pay $258 for one (1) tire at the BMW dealership
  • Pay $105 plus installation at the Discount Tire company for the same tire
  • Pay $X (TBD) at Costco for two front new tires and get rid of the @)#($%%$^*($# run flats

And I choose Discount Tire. I make an appointment, because that appears to be the most efficient thing to do.

I arrive at said appointment, which was at noon. As I’m checking in, I tell the young man behind the counter that I really need to be out the door by 5 to 1, to which he replies “Oh yeah absolutely!” Comforted by this assurance I sign the little paper, hand him the keys, and go sit down.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

Twenty minutes in, my car has not left the parking lot and made it into the bay. Twenty five minutes in, it still hasn’t.

At thirty minutes in, I ask for my keys, explaining that the car hasn’t been touched, and that I don’t think they can replace a tire in a half hour, and please gimme my friggin keys already. I leave, and on the way to my next appointment call Firestone — trusty Firestone, who does the tires on my old Rav — and tell them my sob story and they promise to fit me in at 2pm.

At 2pm I arrive at Firestone, who, 15 minutes in, announce my tires are RunFlat and they can’t replace them and they can order special tires at $300 a pop if I’m willing to come back tomorrow.

In the meantime I had called the BMW dealership who had said they didn’t put a run flat tire on my car.

So at this point I have Firestone willing to sell me 2 tires (because they don’t have the same brand), Discount Tire unwilling to actually, you know, work, and BMW telling me that my tires aren’t really my tires.

I give up. I go to Costco. If I’m going to buy two new tires, I reckon, I’ll get non-run-flat and I can get out the door for the price of one run-flat. So to Costco I go!

Whereupon I discover that:

  1. Yes, they are run-flats
  2. No, you can’t just replace two. You have to replace all four. You can’t have two run flats and two non-run-flats.

It is important to note that at this point I whipped out the iPhone, copied all of the little markings on the tire, googled it, verified yes indeedy they are run-flats, did some mental arithmetic regarding speed and mileage, had them put the tires back on the car, and went home. Once there I had a very comforting, very large glass of red wine.

I am officially delegating this to the MoH (man of house).