Showing posts from November, 2010

Found On My Camera: Violence Edition

This concludes the one-month posting every day challenge. Read them all or I'll shoot!

10,000 Jumps

In an attempt to understand success and genius, Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book Outliers on the 10,000-Hour Rule. Based on a study by Anders Ericsson, the 10,000-Hour Rule states that the equivalent of 20 hours a week for ten years must be put into a skill or career before real success arrives (historically speaking: Bill Gates and The Beatles are among the examples). The 10,000-Hour Rule is just one part of Outliers , which also explores why soccer players born in certain months are more successful, why pilots from certain cultures are more prone to crash their planes, and why hard work alone won't get you to the top. Gladwell has said , "I do think that we vastly underestimate the extent to which success happens because of things the individual has nothing to do with." Yet the 10,000 hours--mastering a skill, repeating a task--bears a closer look, especially as I come to the end of a blog-every-day challenge . The other day I was jumping rope in my garage, the bu

The Birds and the Bees, and the Hissing Cockroaches

A continuation of a discovery made a few days ago . SON: What's the white thing in the cockroach cage? ME: It's called an "unfertilized egg case." It's filled with things that look like baby cockroaches but aren't. SON: So they're dead. ME: Well, uh, no. It's like the eggs in the frig, how they're not going to turn into baby chickens, because there were no boy chickens around. SON: And our cockroaches are girls. ME: Yes. One of them had this egg case, and she's hissing a lot to protect it because she thinks she had 30 babies, but she didn't, really, because, uh, they're real but not real. Sort of. SON: I don't get it. ME: Honestly? Neither do I.

Nice weather we're the stadium

I interviewed the meteorologist for the University of Alabama football team, winner of 13 national championships. What's that? You didn't know sports teams hired meteorologists? Neither did I. Click here and scroll down for proof he exists.

What's Right

Thanksgiving day, I'm reading the paper and see someone I know. The Grand Rapids Press does a great job each year of partnering with the United Way, gathering a list of needs from around the city, and publishing it on a holiday when folks practice gratitude. Requests are grouped in categories (home repair, dental) and information is given on how readers can donate. Some are spotlighted with photos; in one, I saw a woman from the homeless shelter where I taught theatre . Shaquita's got her own place now, I read, but no bed. She's thankful for four walls but, with her disability, the lack of furniture is hard on her body. Lots of faces came and went during my time at the shelter, but nobody forgets Shaquita. Shaquita gave me grief on a regular basis. The requirement that she sit through my session was not acceptable in her sight, and she often grumbled curses under her breath and audibly, as well. She'd stir up fights that would call everything to a halt. When I saw her

We Thought They Were Both Girls: Thanksgiving Edition

Something strange appeared in the cage of the giant hissing cockroaches today. Something white, with lots of brown dots. Early internet searches indicate this could be a dead egg case, though we're open to official, scientific opinions. Meanwhile, though we grieve alongside [Chubby][Lipstick], we're thankful that we have 2 and not 42 cockroaches.


When I run sound in church on Sundays, and a woman at the mic appears to be talking in a tunnel, I reach for the sweepable mid. I boost the lower mid range, maybe add a little high end to brighten it up. Stop and listen, let the sound settle in my ears, adjust 'til satisfied. When I prepare an insulin shot for my son, I count the carbs in his meal and divide them by 20. I check his blood sugar, and if it's high, I subtract that number from his target number, which is determined by the numbers of hours it's been since he last ate. I divide the result by 100 and add it to the food dose, dial up the pen, give the shot. You start to want life to be like this, a matter of small adjustments adding up to a desired result. But then the guitarist plays and it's too jingly, Theo's sugar runs high despite your careful counting, and you see that all of it is a cycle of maintenance, of tweaking your way through.

Attention, Those with Deficits

What I don't like about blogging every day is that posts I like quickly get buried. So hear ye, hear ye, a list of posts you might want to view: I like this account of being punched in the head. And this one of being hit in the ribs. I like this video of mom and pup. And these photos by my other pup. I like how big my trophy is . (Check out other competition news here .) This meditation on life and death is good, too. And this one on work.


Insert vegetables in juicer, drink, repeat each morning. Faithfully for the past four months. Shouldn't I have superpowers by now?


In "The Wheel of Life," Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, an early pioneer of studies on death and dying, reports interviewing tens of thousands of people, whose vital signs had stopped but later were revived. Death, says Kubler-Ross, occurs in distinct phases. The accounts given by subjects ages 2-99 and culturally diverse were too similar to discount. The floating out of bodies, the tunnel, the light, meeting with deceased family members--she heard it all over and over again. One woman reported floating out of her body, hearing doctors pronounce her dead, and watching them cover her with a sheet. A young resident, in his nervousness, told a joke; Mrs. Schwartz, on being revived, reported it back to him. Those who entered what she calls Phase Four reported being "in the presence of the Highest Source. Some called it God. Others reported simply knowing they were surrounded by every bit of knowledge there was, past, present and future. It was nonjudgmental and loving." In th

I Think, Therefore I Get Hit

He was only sorting pears. Pitching the rotting ones into a can across the fruit aisle. But when he went to throw, I ducked. Or, rather, bobbed --to use the boxing term, because it's boxing that caused this reaction. Specifically, the punches to the ribcage I had endured the evening before. Trainers train by punching where you're exposed, because you won't leave those elbows up for long. Whether a punch or pear is coming at you, there's no time to think; only the motions practiced thousands of times will save you. Not thinking: not my specialty. A barrage of punches were thrown before I determined that nothing creative was required of me, that I simply needed to freakin' get outta the way. I had been paired with the teacher to shadowbox, to theoretically take turns jabbing or weaving in air, but Emily would have none of that. I'd weave and she'd punch me in the gut. I'd jab and she'd slap my arm. No, I wasn't to move my feet. I was to stay six in

Found on My Camera 3


Thanksgiving's Back Door

Burnside Writers Collective has published another piece of mine: Thanksgiving's Back Door , an essay on last Thanksgiving at the homeless shelter where I taught theatre. While there, check out their other offerings , as well as my two previous writings: Activist: The Origin Story and When Poodles Cry .

Found On My Camera, Day 2


Found On My Camera

An entire blog could be dedicated to this. With two boys, ages 10 and 7, sneaking the camera at their will, we're approaching a record number of pictures, mostly of our bunny. Too, I am now quite familiar with the appearance of my backside as it stands cooking dinner, or walks up stairs. Thus, with this photo, a new series: Found On My Camera. Captions welcome.

And The Winner Is

After the twelve-round Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito fight on Saturday, Pacquiao, the winner and a Filipino congressman, couldn't sign autographs, because he couldn't hold a pen. Margarito, a head taller, was hospitalized with a broken right eye socket. He's having surgery on Tuesday. You could call this a brutal sport, or you could embrace its primal nature and wax philosophical, as boxers like to do. "You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life," said Rocky Balboa . "But it ain't about how hard you can hit; it's about how hard you can get hit and keep movin' forward." Theo watched some of Pacquiao's 2009 fight with the bigger Miguel Cotto, which brought Pacquiao his 7th world title. He asked, "Why do they always keep their hands up?" Because the hits are gonna keep coming, Son. You have to be ready.

The Daily Fs

As you know, I'm trying to blog every day this month, and yes, it's getting to be a bit much. Thanks for sticking with me. There are three other things I'm trying to do daily--this month, and beyond. F is for Flax Oil. Flax oil is good for you. Read the specifics elsewhere; in fact, google the name of anything that ails you, and I guarantee that flax oil will appear as a remedy. It's that good. F is for Flossing. While Greg lies in his hygienist's chair, basking in the glow of the bright light and endless praise for his beautiful teeth, teeth which he steadfastly does not floss, I'm in the next room being berated. Fact is I do floss, thank you, though not often enough for close-set teeth, and not while watching television with a long minty strand adorning my neck, as my hygienist helpfully suggests. So I'm working on it. But not via the necklace method. F is for Functional Mobility. This is a fancy way of saying I'm trying to stretch every day,

Fitness with Her Royal Hissness

Guess The Context Of A Conversation I've Had Twice

ME: Can you show me your insertion site? Or is it in your pants. SOME GUY: It's in my pants.

On Work

When I was a little girl, I didn't want to be a princess. Nothing against tiaras--rather, I lacked a proclivity for planning ahead, and, perhaps, the optimism that lets one dream. When I grow up ... wasn't on my radar. Later I'd say astronaut if asked, or airplane pilot , or The Incredible Hulk . The college years shook up my plans, though one could argue I'm nearing that last goal ( Amy strikes most muscular pose here) . After trying on an urban planning major, I graduated with a BA in theatre and a minor in communications. And although personality tests told me I should be a florist, I've tried most everything else, it seems. As my blog description indicates, I have many interests. I'd argue they're all related on a basic cellular level, though you might question that if you caught me browsing through job ads. I head toward Social Services first, think to myself I can do that , then glance over at Construction. There's something about the phrase &quo

BENGAY, The Sequel

When we first encountered our protagonist--or, rather, antagonist antagonizing--she was disturbed by the smell of BENGAY permeating the competition gym. In part 2, the method of madness is discovered; and though the perpetrator remains at large, a threat of revenge is made (closed caption: "we'll smear it all over his car").

We Now Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Competition Video Fest

Tune in tomorrow for yet another video and yet another NaBloPoMo post; today, though, we'll pause to honor D-Blog Day , started five years ago to promote diabetes awareness. "Six Things You Want People To Know About Diabetes" is the theme. Given that I didn't know much about diabetes on August 1, 2010, but learned a great deal starting the next day , when Theo was diagnosed, I bet I know a little of what you don't know. Type 1 is not Type 2. You hear about type 2 in the news because it's brought on by diet and exercise and can be controlled by same. Type 1 is not brought on by one too many candy bars; instead, it's...well, they don't know exactly, but genetics and possibly viruses play into the causes. It's not contagious. As for control, we can manage the diabetes, but we can't get Theo to a point where he doesn't need insulin, until those smart people come up with a cure. Theo can eat anything. Because type 1 is confused with type 2, p

Amy and Theo on Weightlifting, Arnold, and BENGAY

Amidst praise and adoration from my youngest son, I manage to complain--about the awful smell emanating from a lifter who applied BENGAY before the first flight. In the small gym that hosted the competition, the smell was overwhelming, and I forgot to breathe throughout the entirety of my first lift. Don't forget to also watch the winning lift (during which I remembered to breathe) and the footage of the huge trophy and the other stuff I'll post this week to keep up with NaBloPoMo .

Embracing the Pause

My fellow benchers and I were surprised to learn, upon arriving at the competition, that it was of the pause at the chest variety. Sending the bar skyward after a full stop at the chest is extra difficult, and usually means you lift less than your best. I pause-benched 120 on Saturday, which you'll witness in the video below; but using the traditional ribcage-as-trampoline method, I can bench 130. The good news is that I benched ten pounds more than I did at the last pause at the chest comp .

Not Bad For Someone Who Was Punched In The Head

To help meet the National Blog Posting Month challenge, I'm going to milk the details of my fourth bench press competition for all they're worth. Tune in this upcoming week for stats, photos, and videos. Stats! Photos! Videos! Oh my.

Hurting My Shoulder Was The Least of My Worries, as it turns out

You'd think that someone who signs up for a boxing class would expect to get hit eventually. Maybe at the last class, which is dedicated to sparring and will involve actual sparring equipment, such as headgear and mouthguards and gloves. But not at the first class. By a guy. And his bare fist. Accidentally, and in my forehead. Which hurt for an hour. Oddly enough, I can't wait to go back. And mess him up.

Slowing Down For Salsa

In the kick-off post for the NaBloPoMo daily challenge, I mentioned my initial fear of not having enough to say. Such fear besets the very few. Blogs are so often blah-gs, filled with daily ramblings written in the manner of a Facebook status. Heck, there's a blog called What I Ate For Lunch and Why . It's been running since May of 2008. Surely it's a thrilling read, but you see my point here. My chosen challenge month has many ready-made topics built in: my fourth bench press competition, my fortieth birthday, a foray into boxing. But drama does not always for good reading make. Don't just say something because you have something to say; first, have something to say about what you have to say. You follow? I write long posts. I rarely include pictures. I overheard a twenty-something say she'll bypass a blog if there aren't enough pictures. We live in a visual culture, for sure, but that's no excuse for not slowing down to read. When The New Yorker arrives


When I first read about National Blog Posting Month , a challenge to post every day, and which actually happens every month, not just November, I thought, Nah. Who's got that many ideas? By the time I got out of the shower, I had to scramble, naked, for paper to record the three original, insightful--visionary, even--topics that had come to me. Here we go. You with me?

Watch this video, and a kid in a poor country gets insulin

Three months into Theo's type 1 diagnosis, insulin shots are part of our day, like eating lunch or getting dressed or sleeping. But Theo could sleep in or stay in pajamas all day to no great effect, whereas without insulin, he'd die. There are kids in this world who can't get insulin simply because they're poor. Click HERE before November 14 to watch a video, and a donation will be made in your honor toward this important cause. (I'm having trouble embedding it, unfortunately.) For more info on about The Big Blue Test and World Diabetes Day, see and .

The Moment I've Been Waiting For Has Really Bad Timing

I searched high and low for a local boxing class, and I found one! It starts Thursday. I trained a couple of months for a local bench press competition, and I'm doing well! It's on Saturday. That's a mere 36 hours between. Ever hit a bag full of sand? It wreaks havoc on your arms. I need my arms to bench. The trophies are big, I hear. Maybe I'll take my gloves on Saturday, knock out the rest of my weight class, and meet both goals.