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November 19, 2008

Thrashed by yoga

I'm not exactly what you'd call flexible on my best days. Every so often, in a fit of self-improvement, I start doing  yoga.  I've done it before each time for about 18 months - until I moved, or had so much wrist pain from excessive amounts of downward dogging that I was forced to take a break.

But now I'm feeling stiff and sore, and generally creaky and old, and so I figured why not get back into yoga and improve my flexibility and balance?

I forgot that I suck at yoga.

I found a class at an outpost of a gym I already belong to, one that promised to be the gentle, stretch-oriented Hatha yoga.  What I got was an ass-kicking, yoga style. No Hatha here, instead we got a hearty mix of Ashtanga power yoga and Vinayasa, or which ever style emphasizes a constant flow between poses. We had lots of downward dog (frown) as well as a bunch of other poses that played right into the stereotype of yoga being all about bending yourself into a pretzel and not being able to get out. She tried to get us to do the sideways crow which involves balancing your entire body on your bent arms - are you kidding me? Plus another unnamed pose that appears to be a variant of the warrior/crescent pose but instead has you stuffing your shoulder under your knee/thigh and then lifting that leg off the ground. Of course.

My problems were compounded by the fact that my knee problems make it nearly impossible for me to bend my right knee all the way or do squats, meaning that a bunch of the "rest" poses were out for me, not to mention random problems with my left foot (foot and toe cramps on top of arthritic-like aching from my big toe joint.) Mix this all in with weeks of ignoring my upper body in the strength department and you get the total flogging I received/subjected myself to.

I can only imagine what tomorrow will bring - I'd best have ibuprofen by my bedside...

November 19, 2008 at 10:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 18, 2008

Officially fed up

In the not-to-distant past, I posted about how I needed a new bank. I've been working on solving that problem through some intermittent research, but in the intervening time, a new test of my relationship with my current bank has emerged and they have failed spectacularly.

Sometime in September, my bank allegedly sent me a new check card - my main way of accessing all of my money. I say allegedly, because I never received it. I only noticed that something was wrong when on Nov 2nd, my check card was declined twice, and then again on the 3rd. Only after peering at the tiny, nearly scraped off numbers on the face of the card did I realize that it had expired on the 31st. I marched into my bank on Monday afternoon and asked them first (politely) WTF? and then please (I asked v. nicely) to re-send the card. Apparently the card was sent (from some Midwestern warehouse) on November 5th. It is now the 18th and there is still no card in my mailbox.

I had been dealing with the very pleasant L, but was now handed over to Mr. V, the same gentleman who handled my inquiry as to why I was being charged a random, unexplained fee that turned out to be $6 a month for the privilege of downloading my own financial information. And this time, as last time, V decided to use the opportunity to sell stuff to me that I don't want. Today, he was going to "put me in a credit card" that would suddenly make all the crappy fees they charge me each month go away.

Except then I'd have another credit card I don't want.

He then proceeded to tell me about how I really would want more than three credit cards, so that my revolving debt to credit ratio would be more favorable. Hmmm, yes, but the OTHER WAY to improve that ratio is to SPEND LESS, which also, delightfully, has the added benefit of improving my financial situation. He told me a story about a man worth "millions!" who only had one credit card and just last week they had to turn him down for a loan because he didn't have enough revolving debt. REALLY. Just as an aside, if this guy has millions in documentable, liquid assets or reliable income, why does he need a loan from you? Seems if you thought he had a decent chance of being able to pay back a loan, you'd extend him the credit even if he "just" had one credit card. I'm guessing there are other factors at work here and I resent being treated like I don't know what I'm doing financially just so you can meet your monthly quota. There was even a stack of printouts on the customer side of the desk of an article from bankrate.com about the importance of having multiple credit cards.

Um, hello? We're in a recession (partly) because of the ridiculous, inappropriate extension of credit to the American consumer. We need LESS credit, less debt, not more. Worse, when you do stuff like that, it means I no longer trust you, because I now know that you are looking after your own interests rather than mine. In truth, that's always been the case, but now its just astonishingly more obvious. I no longer trust my bank, and find that I dread going into the branch to deal with these issues because it will just be another opportunity for them to sell and lecture and for me to say no, and no and no again, until it devolves into an uncomfortable silence after I crisply ask if everything is taken care of?

It is clear to me that my bank is a sinking ship (and oh yes, you've seen its name in the news) and that this guy had been instructed to "use every customer contact as a sales moment."

Except that I'm coming to you because I have a problem that I want fixed, not because I want you to sell me something. I'm already disgruntled - that asinine $6 dollar fee is still showing up on my statement even though I haven't downloaded financial information from your bank since August - you can't seem to get a simple ATM card into my hands in 15 days - you've just charged me $8 in fees for visiting the teller when it is the only way I have to access my money.  You're sticking it to me with a score of niggling little fees and you expect me to just open a credit card to I can expand my relationship with you?  Wait, here it is again: NO.

Actually, I'm just going to go somewhere else. My new goal for the week? Open a checking account at another, hopefully more reliable bank, and start the transition process...

November 18, 2008 at 02:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 12, 2008

Hint

It seems pretty clear that perhaps your day isn't going exactly as you might have planned or even expected when you're in the bathroom and you hear the dulcet tones of a cat vomiting.
This is the new normal in your household, though, so you sigh, and turn off the water, dry your hands and walk out into the rest of the apartment ready to confront what Oscar and his touchy gut  have wrought.

But you can't find it. Gingerly mincing around the apartment in an attempt not to step barefooted into now only lukewarm cat puke, you look everywhere, but see no telltale brown puddle. You can even smell it, you know it must be here somewhere, but where? The cat has tried to hide the vomit before so you lift up the rugs, and start peering underneath big pieces of furniture, but nothing.

You've scoured the floor in the whole place, under the drying clothes, in the bedroom, the kitchen, even the cat box. Nothing.

Mystified, you put your hand down on the top of your favorite armchair...and into a puddle of cat puke.

This is the unpleasant moment when you realize that the cat was overcome while perched on top of the wingback chair and managed to puke on top of the chair, and then down, splattering on to the "to be filed" pile of important papers (though the 401K statement that took the brunt of the assault would make most people feel a little queasy). He hit a table leg, a stack of back issues of Real Simples and Saveurs, useful newspaper clippings and assorted other papers.

It's not only pottery that teaches non-attachment to objects. I'd been trying to bring myself to get rid of the clippings and magazines for a while now, but there's nothing like covering them in a thin layer of cat puke to make it very easy to recycle them.

So now, with the floor scrubbed, the washer humming with the slipcovers, and a giant pile of recycling by the front door, I'm ready to resume my morning...

November 12, 2008 at 08:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 04, 2008

I voted

I voted today. I believe in voting - even when I've completely lost faith in the campaign process (believing that we should move to something more European - 3 months of campaigning up until the election - and electioneering and speechifying prior to the kick off day 3 months out would be strictly prohibited.) I love watching the democratic process at work on the micro level.

This is where I vote:


IMG_1264
The line, having already covered a full city block, wrapping into the Rec Center parking lot.

IMG_1265 We stood in line for about 40 minutes all told in this grey but thankfully not too chilly morning. I was dressed for the gym, but layered up, fearful that an hour or more wait out in the November elements might prove uncomfortable. I needn't have worried.

I found the whole process surprisingly moving - that at least here, in this small corner of this city and country, the democratic process works. Democrats, Republicans, Statehood Green Party members and Libertarians all post their signs and hand out their literature. Small time local candidates work the lines of voters waiting to vote, introducing themselves, giving a ten second pitch. But most importantly, people like me and totally different from me get up an hour earlier, make room in their hectic lives to stand in line in the chill of November to fill in a line or pull a lever or punch a hole and make a small difference by adding their voice to the swelling chorus of this process. Nobody hears any of our individual voices, but without them, there would be no song.

For a few hours at least, it makes me proud to be an American. Hopefully, that feeling will remain as the returns roll in.

November 4, 2008 at 12:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack