Monday, August 29, 2011

Natural Disaster #2: Goodnight, Irene.

What a week it has been here in the DC/Baltimore area, folks.  And damn, I should really be careful about wishing for experiences.

Just as we were all coming off of the collective "phew" from the earthquake that caused very little damage and even fewer casualties, the weatherpersons started to project a path of doom for the Hurricane Irene creeping up the east coast to finally hit North Carolina on Saturday, pounding the crap out of most of the eastern sea board up into Canada.

We don't often get hurricanes in this area--they usually fizzle out to minorly annoying tropical storms before they even cause us any rain--so we aren't particularly equipped to handle them well.  The last serious hurricane here was when Hurricane Isabel found her way up the Chesapeake Bay eight years ago.  I was in college down in St. Mary's, which is a low-lying area surrounded by water.  I hunkered down for the storm a bit more inland (with my friend Amy, who is--interestingly enough--expecting her first child about a week after mine) and remember that the main effects were a loss of power lasting an average of 8-72 hours for most people, major flooding (I know some people who lost homes in Georgetown from that), and downed trees becoming projectile missiles that destroyed parts of homes, cars, and anything else they fancied smashing into.

The nice thing about a hurricane (and just about the ONLY "nice" thing about a hurricane) is that you usually have plenty of time to prepare for the doom. Which is great (because you can prevent a lot of casualties and some more severe property loss), but also sucks because you feel obligated to do a whole lot of things to prepare that may prove unnecessary because the path of the storm alters.

With the memory of Isabel in mind, after working my 8 hour shift at the crisis hotline on Friday (with lots of people calling to ask for info about the storm), I slept only a few hours and spent all morning Saturday prepping my folks' house for the storm and making some foods that wouldn't require the use of electricity to eat (pasta salad, anyone?).  Since my parents are doing a lot of home repairs at the moment, by the time I finished, I was dripping with sweat and the garage was bursting with renovation supplies, trash cans, plastic bins, and assorted lawn things.   Then it was time to shower and head back in to work.

The worst bit of the storm was predicted for this area between 10pm Saturday and 3am Sunday.  Well... I work 4pm-12am on Saturday, so I just packed up the blow up camping bed, an overnight bag, plenty of food, and headed in figuring that I would wait to leave until after things had calmed down.  I crashed in a co-worker's office after my shift ended and woke up around 7:30 am.  We only lost power twice during the storm, and it came back quickly (within 5 minutes) both times.

As my drive home (and Sunday evening shift at work with many, many calls from people in crisis because of the storm) proved, we were very lucky.  Every other neighborhood I drove through seemed to have some major property damage/power loss.  The ones between were completely untouched.  I'm grateful that my family's house was spared, but I know others, like Amanda, dealt with some major damage and long-term outages.  School openings were delayed in Southern Maryland.  People in Baltimore are still without power.  The news is saying the property damage is reaching record highs and at least 31 deaths have been attributed to the storm.

My husband found the whole thing exhilarating, but he was definitely anxious.  Korea is not a country that gets much in the way of earthquakes, thunderstorms (which DC has had plenty of in late summer), or hurricanes, so it was all new for him.  He worried himself sick about me, even though he knew exactly where I was and that I wasn't doing stupid things like driving home in the middle of the storm.

Generally, the people who analyze this sort of thing (like my friend Sam who works on NOAA's latest hurricane weather computer modeling) say that the DC metro area got off pretty light, and I tend to agree.  Although that doesn't really help the people who did lose a lot.  (Side note--I'm really going to have to have a rant one of these days about how not opening storm shelters until after the storm is well under way in a county that has a significant homeless population living out of cars and under bridges and bleachers is unacceptable.  Telling them to "stay in the basement" doesn't help, morons.)

Let's hope that was the last bit of "excitement" on the mother nature front for at least... say... the next three months.  At which point I'm sure that the labor and delivery of my feisty child will be about all the "natural" and "disaster" I can tolerate.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


As most of you know by now, yesterday just before 2 p.m., DC (and much of the east coast) was rocked by a freak, nearly 6.0 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia.  The good news is that there has been very little damage reported.  Everyone's been sharing their stories of doom and gloom from their buildings shaking and fears of an apocalypse and all that.  So what's mine?

I'll tell you.


That's right.  N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

I didn't feel a damn thing when the big disaster quake of '11 went down because I had chosen that moment to hop in my car and drive to the gym for my daily laps in the pool.  I guess when you're driving 40-50 mph, some mild ground rumbling just doesn't even register in your frame of reference.  When I got to the gym, everyone was freaking out and watching CNN where the story had just begun unfolding.  I asked what happened and a girl in the locker room who had been lifting weights said that a few minutes earlier, the whole building and all the gym equipment was shaking and felt like it went on for a full minute.

I was concerned initially that bad things had happened (after all, that's a pretty significant natural disaster), but as the reports that no casualties had occurred and few buildings had reported any damage, my disappointment at having missed the whole shebang set in.

I swam a half-mile (which did not feel nearly as satisfying as usual) and returned to my car to 13 (yes, 13) missed calls from my husband who had been pretty freaked out that I'd been unavailable in the hour following the event.  My sister had also sent a panicked text message.

But, of course, everything was fine.  Life resumed normalcy.  It was like the whole thing never happened.

Except for me, I don't even get the memory of the thing.

Is this what they mean when they say that sometimes history just passes us right on by?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Exciting News!

My husband got a job today!
I have more to say, but I'm just very happy for him right now and wanted to share.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's been a rough week.

I had a really great day on Monday, and then I got sick--feverish, headachey, generally blah.  I've been dragging since then, taking Tylenol as needed to ward off the fever and the headache.  Meanwhile, Min Gi's got his follow-up procedure scheduled for Monday (finally), but that means I've had to be more supportive and whatnot with the doctors' appointments and procedure prep.  On top of that, I've been in paperwork filing mode with all the insurance and address changes that come with the move, anticipation of family change, and the new job.  Stress is no fun.
Relief is in sight for next week, though, so I remain hopeful that I can get back into my healthy routine.  I've also discovered Amy's Kitchen organic frozen meals.  They are pricier than regular frozen meals (still less than eating out), but they taste so much better and are all vegetarian (many are even vegan), so I don't have to read ingredient lists if I don't want to (but the organic focus means that I actually understand all of the ingredients on the lists--surprise, surprise...).  All the ones I've tried so far have been really, really good.  For weeks like this where it's all I can do to get out of bed, I think this may be a reasonable compromise.

I'm hoping all goes well tomorrow and that next week is a better week where I get to sleep for at least 12 hours straight--you only think I'm kidding.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Project 30, Derailed. Health Goals.

Well, naturally, the day after I turned 30, I found out I was pregnant.  Which is great.  But losing 30lbs and dropping $30,000 debt?  Not going to happen this year.  Try gaining 30lbs and adding debt from a recent, significant purchase (to-be-blogged-next, along with a re-assessment of my financial goals).

My health goals have changed temporarily to focus on improving health for optimal health of the child and in preparation of delivery.  I tried to do this before I went on vacation last month, but I should have known that was a doomed-to-fail endeavor since I was in transitional mode.  However, I moved last week to a new place and am pretty settled into a routine with my new job/location.  Sure, that will all be uprooted in four months when I have an infant, but for now I'm in a good place to work on some goal-setting.

So, then, health goals for August:

1.  Exercise:  4-5 days/week, building up to about 60 minutes per session by the end of the month.

Last week, I joined a local gym with a pool and set a goal of swimming 4 times/week.  I met that goal and am continuing it, while building up the number of laps I swim each session.  I started out swimming 20 laps in 20 minutes (do NOT mock the slowness... I am coming back from months and months of lack of regular exercise).  I'm up to about 40 minutes and 40ish laps each time.  I would like to achieve swimming 50ish laps in 45 minutes each session by the end of the month and add in 2-3 days/week of also using the elliptical (either before the pool or on another day) for about 15 minutes at a time.  I am working up to this slowly and building my strength/endurance right now.

The results?  It's amazing!  I'm having almost no pregnancy-related pains now (some aches from muscle building, but nothing like the back/leg cramping I was having the last couple weeks before the move that kind of killed the walking routine I was trying to turn into a habit).  It's also helped the heartburn that was beginning (there is less of it) and has kept my weight gain a bit more reasonable.  I really like this pool and my hours make it easy to go at a time when there are very few people there who don't work there (between 10am and noon).  I have a ways to go as I build my time up this month, but I'm definitely on my way!

Also, I am tracking my daily exercise in a spreadsheet so can see the progress.  It's nice.

2.  Nutrition:  Stop eating out and cook at home, already!

Now that I've moved in, I need to get back into meal planning and bringing dinner with me to work instead of relying on fast food.  It's hard to do this because I'm adjusting to a whole new rhythm of life at home that contends with a lot more than just my and my husband's needs.  I've decided as a baby step, I'm going to allow myself to rely on frozen meals for work dinners.  I'll even let myself splurge on Amy's brand (the all-organic, unfortunately expensive one) because it's still better than stopping for Burger King or McDs on the way home or ordering pizza/Chinese at the hotline because I get a sudden craving.

The second part of my plan to cut back on fast food and dining out is to bring fruit with me every day to work.  Sometimes I don't want a whole meal, but I do need to bring healthy snacks.  Maybe yogurt, too.  That's probably a good idea.

So... the goal for this month then?  No more food from outside the home for just me.  Dates with the husband or pizza with my dad after sailing or lunch/coffee with a friend are ok, but those are not frequent events, really.  The daily drive thru habit I developed in conjunction with working?  That needs to go.  Like yesterday.

I did better with this today (since I decided on it today), but I need to make it a top health priority now, and I can only do this through good planning to break a bad habit.

I was going to put a third goal in there, but realized that two is probably good for a focused start.  I'll post more about how they are coming along during the month and review at the end of August as well as setting two new goals for myself.  Yay goals!


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