Spin Bike Update

I’ve just been in a funk. Being at home for months and months and coming to the understanding that there are still months to go, plus reading an article that 50% of gyms could go out of business because people have gotten used to working at home and bought all the equipment. While I don’t feel like I’ve gained the COVID 15, I do feel… soft, gross, not in the shape I was in at the gym. So I did hours and hours of research (See my previous post on my spin bikesanity…), made a decision and clicked ‘order’. Ever since I’ve felt like my life will start again once it gets here. How crazy is that? It’s all part of accepting that pandemic life IS my life, as least for now. And I’m done hanging around waiting for things to change. This is one little thing I can control and do to improve my life, both for my health and my sanity. Yes, I know it’s a bit sad to be looking forward to purchase so much, but I really, really am.

I ordered last Monday, 1/25. At the time, the expected shipping time was 1 week. Later that day, the expected shipping time changed to 4 weeks on the site. Somehow my order still said it was expected to ship 2/1. Have I been refreshing my order status multiple times a day since? Yes, I have. Had I decided to give it until tomorrow morning to inquire about a realistic shipping date? Yes, I had. Had I resigned myself to it being 4 weeks? Yes, I did. I’m one an a half weeks in, so that would only be 2 and a half weeks to go. I downloaded the Peloton app and started checking out non-cycling classes. I like them, but I suspect I’m missing out on the real fun. 2.5 more weeks: gah!

And then… when I wasn’t even refreshing my status:

You’re Order Has Shipped

WHAT?!?! SO EXCITED!

Lower in the email is a link to track the package with a message that tracking will be available within 24 to 48 hours of shipment. Not one to follow directions (never did understand coloring inside the lines), I immediately click on the link to see if there is any information, yet. And it is scheduled to be here Friday. As in 2 days from now Friday!

Weeeeee…….

I mean… WEEEEEEEE!

I’m so excited to getting back into the shape I used to have when I went to the gym. I just want to feel good about something. Possibly I’ll feel different after the first ride (ok, definetely I’ll feel different after the first ride), but for now: whoop whoop!

I’ve Become One of Those People…

Yes, I’m buying a spin bike. I’m becoming more a home workout aficionado and the person talking about their workouts all the time. My background is in the before pandemic times I belonged to a gym and I loved it. I loved the classes, the energy from all the other people in the class, competing with that person who is always in the front to show of or the one who you know is in great shape.  I miss the presence of my fellow gym people where our entire relationship involved saying hi and discussing the class or the equipment. I want to go back to the gym. And maybe for those reasons and hope at the pandemic coming to an end at some point, I have held off on a large equipment purchase.  I considered buying a bike in the fall, but the cost combined with an optimism that by spring a return to the gym could be in the cards made me decide against it. Instead, I bought a fairly cheap, small elliptical. I get on it, I’m moving, but I’m not getting the greatest workout. Also it squeaks sometimes. I have no classes, I just watch in front of tv or movies. In the warm weather, I could get outside and hike/bike/walk/run. In the winter, I’m sort of a baby and don’t like exercising outside.  But recent news at the slowness of the vaccine rollout, general world craziness and planning at work where we don’t know if even by fall if things will be completely back to normal put me in a funk. A real funk!  I decided I needed to do something. I needed my workouts that leave me sweaty and breathless back, not only for fitness and weight, but for stress management, so I started researching spin bikes again.

Now, I had taken spin for a few years at the gym, as well as other classes, so I had a good idea of what it was all about and what I wanted.  But I also had almost no idea what was out there and ended up spending days watching videos and reading reviews. I came up with the below information to help me make the decision. Hope it also helps you if you are also considering a spin bike. There are many other bikes out there, but this will help you frame that research. I hope you find it helpful, but my main tip is understand what you want from the bike, how much you have to spend and don’t feel the need to be pulled into big brands if they are more than you need!

The Peloton app has a free 60 day trial, but that offer ends 1/31/21. Not sure what happens after that.

As of 1/29/21. 

ConsiderNotesPelotonBowflex C6/ Schwinn iC4MYX +Sunny SF-B901B
Is resistance level important to you?Make sure the bike has enough resistance for how you want to ride, especially if you are a larger person. If resistance doesn’t go as high as you’d like, you won’t get as good a workout and will end up frustrated.   Higher end bikes tend to allow higher resistance. Some measure resistance as 1 – 100, others through different numbers. It doesn’t mean 100 is more resistance.  Even if two bikes rank in 1 – 100, it doesn’t mean the resistance is the same. Peloton uses 1 – 100 and you can find translations between their ranking and the more popular bikes online. You’ll want this if you take Peloton classes as call out what resistance setting to use during the class.1 – 1001 – 100  
Resistance typeMagnetic or friction?  Magnetic is less noisy and has less maintenance.  The pads used in friction will one day have to be replaced.  MagneticMagneticFrictionFriction (felt pad)
Is the bike the right size for you?Check out the max weight and height range supported, especially if you are on the smaller or larger side.297 lb 4’11” – 6’4″330 lb 4’6″ – 6’6″350 lb 4’11” – 6’8”275lb
How adjustable do you need the bike?Consider your size/shape here. Are handle bars and seat adjustable up and down as well as back and forth (4 way). Are there set adjustments or micro adjustments for more control?  Do you think you’ll need that?Seat: 4 way Handle bars: up and down only.Seat: 4 way Handlebars: 4 waySeat: 4 way Handlebars: 4 waySeat: 4 way Handlebars: up and down only
How do you like your handlebars?Do you like the shape, positions allowed, width and grip?  Do you like the tablet/phone holder if you need one? Mostly personal preference, but something to consider.    
Do you want an integrated screen?Benefit is usually integrated to the bike to watch classes and view statistics, so no need to connect apps or tablet. If ability to swivel the monitor is important to you, check that, as well.   Some are concerned that if integrated electronics are another thing that can break.21.5 in monitor (Bike + can swivel)   Can not be used to view other apps or the internet for Netflix/YouTube, etc. (officially, there are sites that will tell you how to jailbait the device, which is not approved by Peloton)Small LCD for stats. Can’t be used to watch classes.  You will need a table, phone or smart tv to watch classes or other.21.5 in monitor, can swivel   Can’t be used for other apps or internet.  Reviews say it’s not HD.No screen. Bike doesn’t have connection via Bluetooth.  
What ride statistics do you want to see?If you want to track how hard your working and be able to see if your working at the same level as an instructor tells you, you’ll want to see: Cadence (RPM), Resistance level, Time, Distance, Heart rate, Calories, Power (watts) Not all bikes display all of these statistics, so if particular ones matter to you make sure the bike you chose can display them.all via integrated screenall except power via LCD screen   Some stats can be displayed via other apps  Doesn’t display cadence, distance or powe. They seem to focus on heartrate, so assume that is displayed.  None.   You could buy a cadence monitor and attach to bike to synch with some apps. This is a good option if cost is concern.
Bike Price / Value $1895 – Bike $2495 – Bike +  $949 (currently $50 off). Schwinn is $899$1499$389 – Sunny site $329 Amazon
Other costsMonthly membership. Bikes with integrated screens tend to require you to use their app, which has a cost.  If your bike doesn’t come with a mat, you will want to to prevent floor damage and protect from sweat. You can buy one cheaply from sporting goods stores. I got mine at Dicks Sporting Goods.Peloton app: $39/mo with bike   $12.99/month with non-Peloton bike. (note: there is a 60 day free trial, but offer ends 1/31! I assume after that there will still be a trial, but for less time, but who knows)None required, but other apps may have cost.MYX app: $29/moNone, but other apps may have cost.
Do you want to use clip in shoes?If yes, make sure your bike has pedals that allow clip in.  SPD is the most common type of clips. You can buy the shoes at most sporting goods stores. I got mine at REI.  Also consider if others will use the bike who may not have clips. You may want hybrid pedals that can support both clips and regular shoes. Though you can most like change out the pedals that come on any bike to what you need later.only supports clips, and are Delta, not SPD.    hybridhybridClipless only
Do you want access to workout apps and/or ability to track your workouts?There are many workout apps. Determine what you like to do and find the app(s) that work best for you (types of classes offered, live vs on demand, amount of classes available, do you want a leaderboard/shout outs during the class to motivate you, etc.) Consider the cost of the app and if it’s limited to certain bikes, etc.   Other apps with biking/spin workouts: Zwift, Explore the World, Sufferfest, Rouvy, FulGaz and more.  Also consider if you want to synch to a tracking app like MyFitnessPal or Apple Health, also can you synch with an Apple Watch if you use one.   Whatever you want to track, make sure your bike can do it.Peloton: tons of classes, with more added every day. Leaderboard/shout outs available only if using Peloton bike. Not all stats displayed in app if using a non-Peloton bike. $39/mo with Peloton bike, $12.99 without  can synch with Zwift, Explore the World, Sufferfest, Rouvy, FulGaz, MyFitnessPal, Apple Health, and more.  MYX app – newer entrant, so have less classes than Peloton, but say they add more often.  Classes on their YouTube site. I didn’t research much about them.
Do you want to use and/or synch with workout apps? If yes, make sure your bike can connect to those apps. Many people want to use the Peloton app with a less expensive bike. If that is you, make sure it’s possible. Connection ability runs the gambit.Peloton app completely integrated into the bike screen. However, you can only use the Peloton app.  Requires wifi.  Can connect and synch with multiple apps via Bluetooth. MYX: App integrated into bike screen.Couldn’t find any info on ability to use or synch with outside of having MYX bike.No synch capability. Possibility of adding your own cadence monitor and connecting to an app.
Shipping timesMany bikes have shipping delays due to demand. If you want a bike sooner, this could be a factor in deciding. But if there is a bike you love, you may want to wait it out.8 – 10 weeks4 weeks2 – 5 weeks1 – 2 weeks Sunny site.   Less than a week – Amazon
Do you want other accessories?Some may want things like weights, kettlebells, mats…  do you need to buy that with a bike or buy elsewhere?multiple packages that add on weights, shoes, mat, water bottles, heart rate monitor, headphones for additional cost.  heart monitor, 3 lb weightsheart monitor, MYX + package includes weight, mat, etc.  Buy separately
Do you need financing?Some bike manufactures offer financing. Be sure to check out the terms and understand the impact on your credit rating. Payment plan length and rates may vary.0 % for 39 months0% if pay off within 18 months. 29% after that.0 % for 36 monthsCouldn’t find any info on
Do you care about appearance?Maybe this is silly, but if you’re going to look at it every day, you should like the way it looks. Complete personal preference. For me, I don’t like a lot of flashy colors. Black, slickMostly black, slickWhite or black.Grey
Do you need to move the bike in your house? Look out how much the bike weighs, if it has wheels and the quality of the wheels.Bike: 135 lbs Bike +: 140 lbs106 lbs150 lbs101 lb
WarrantyNot the sexy part, but you should be aware12 months parts and labor 5 year bike frame   Extended warranty available for additional cost3 years parts & electronics 10 year frame Labor 1 yr   Extended warranty available for additional cost  1 yr3 year structural frame 180 days other parts and components
Will the bike fit in your space?Check out the measurements as they do vary59″ L x 53″ H x 23″ W  Bike 48.7” L x 51.8” H x 21.2” W   Bike + 59″ L x 59″ H x 22″ W55” L x 47” H x 21” W49.5L  x 49H in x 20W

Summary:

If you are interested in one fully integrated experience and have the money, Peloton is the way to go. If you don’t want to be limited to one app, look for a bike that can connect via Bluetooth or other to apps, if price is your main criteria there are many less expensive bikes with less tracking features that will allow you to get a good workout. At the end of the day, being healthy and feeling good is the goal, right?  There is a lot of information out there to help you find the right bike for you. There are no wrong answers! 

Overall tips:

  • Buy what works for you. If you don’t need a feature or accessory, don’t spend the money. But do know what works for you, don’t blindly go into the purchase. Even if you buy a cheaper bike, you could end up with a brick if it doesn’t work for you.
  • People seem to LOVE the Peloton app. LOVE IT. When you research you will find many videos with titles like: Peloton: Is it worth it?  Over 90% of the time they will be wearing Peloton gear when you watch. I have not come across anywhere near this level of love for any other app. Multiple times I’ve heard the instructor Atunde (spelling?). I haven’t tried the app, yet, but it makes me want to.
  • Understand the total cost of what you’re buying.  Make sure it works for your finances.
    • Example:
      • Peloton bike:  $1895 plus $39/mo.  First year cost: $2363, Annual after: $468.   Plus any of the accessories you chose. Will be different if you finance, based on the terms you chose.
      • Bowflex:  $949 plus $12.99 for Peloton app. First year cost: $1105. Annual after: $156.  Also plus any accessories, including other apps as this one can synch with multiple apps.
    • Google Peloton alternative and you too can spend hours watching people who have set up something similar that works for them, but again, know what works for you.

What did I decide? 

Well, my needs were these:

  • Fit in my space and be movable
  • I currently use another workout app that I really like, so I wanted the ability to use different and possibly multiple apps. If I just want to sit on the bike and watch Netflix, I wanted that option as well. I didn’t want to be locked into one app system. 
  • Related to the above, I didn’t really want a bike with a screen because those tend to be locked into a particular app. I have an iPad which I can use, so I was all set there. I also worried that a screen would make the bike look even more clunky. I am putting this in my guest room which is also a library and now, my office while working from home. I was afraid the room would feel claustrophobic with so many things in it. For this reason I also wanted a bike with a small footprint.
  • Since I have taken spin before and have spin shoes with SPD clips and enjoy using them, I wanted a bike that could support those.
  • Also because I’ve done spin before I find it important to see cadence/RPM, distance, time statistics. I didn’t have access to heart rate at the gym, but I am interested to see it. I could see it being very valuable.  I am used to seeing power/watts and spin teachers tend to emphasize it as a metric, so that was interesting, but not a top priority for me. 
  • I wanted to spend much less than a Peloton cost. I had limited myself to the guestimate of my gym membership savings during the pandemic.
  • I do still have dreams of going back to the gym someday, so didn’t a large app cost in addition to a gym membership. This translates to a concern that a Peloton would just be a giant brick without the $39/month app, on top of already being more expensive for just the bike.
  • Looks. I know some may think I’m crazy, but I wanted something I wouldn’t mind looking at everyday and splashes of bright colors, especially red or yellow would annoy me. To me, the Peloton is the best looking bike, but others look nice, too.
  • I didn’t really care about other accessories. I have weights and others already.  I did separately purchase a mat to put under the bike. It was much cheaper than the bike I could buy from my bike manufacturer, which is (ta dah):
    • Bowflex C6
      • Again this is the same bike as the Schwinn IC4.
      •  I ordered it last Monday, 1/25. At that time it had a 1 week shipping time, while the Schwin was 4 weeks.  Later on same day I ordered it, the estimate changed to 4 weeks. My status continues to say it’s estimated to ship on Mon, 2/1. I really hope so.  I’m so excited to receive it and get going.  Yes, I’ve been refreshing my order status frequently to check.
      • I liked how the Bowflex looked better, mostly black with some pops of orange.
      • I did consider whether I really need the bike to synch with an app at all. I could buy a cheaper bike if I didn’t need that. But I knew I liked seeing the stats in spin class in the past. If I decided I wanted that later would involve buying a whole new bike, so it felt worth a few hundred now, especially if it’s motivating to me to track these stats.  I may be burned a bit because I sort of wish I had ordered this months ago when I ordered the cheaper elliptical. What I learned from that is you get what you pay for.
      • I liked that the warranty was better, but that was more a confirmation that I made the right decision than a deciding factor.
      • Though I have another workout app, I am signing up for the Peloton app with the 60 day trial (again, ends 1/31) even though my bike won’t be here, yet. I’ll try the other types of classes and check out the other features available without a Peloton bike (more to come!)

Below are some of the bazillion videos I watched. Beware, once you search all you ads wherever you go will be about bikes, which will cause you to go down even more rabbit holes. 

Here are some other ideas:

https://www.bestproducts.com/fitness/g35056250/best-peloton-alternatives/

Reviews

I like this site:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1WMf0n-hEyJpg7Gr35jcrA

Other – about using the bike

Enjoy!

2020: Good Riddance

A disjointed, disorganized look through a chaotic year…

What was 2020? 

The year started like any other of adulthood.  Work, work, work..  Impeachment (remember that?) Can we not get this criminal out of our White House? Apparently we can not. Then hearing about a virus in China. I became concerned about it in late January. Because my college roommate works in public health, I was aware of N95 masks. I decided to order a few, just to make myself feel better, we certainly wouldn’t need them. Pre-pandemic they were readily available. Contactors use them, so you can buy them at Home Depot, Lowe’s, any hardware store. But they weren’t available, anywhere. Not in stores, not to order online, not from any stores in my area. One store offered them for a mere $275 delivery fee. Even Amazon didn’t have them, but possibly available in two weeks. Even Amazon! I texted my sister, a nurse, to see what she thought. Someone had to be making massive purchases for the entire commerce system to have no availability. My sister talked me off the ledge, but later told me people stole shipments of masks from her hospitals loading dock. But I knew this would be serious.  Six weeks later when my office closed (the Monday before the big close: the day the NBA cancelled it’s season, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson tested positive, and Trump gave a pathetic, terrifying speech), I wasn’t surprised. I’ve been home since, and lucky to be able to work from home. Very lucky.  The day we were told to take what we needed and go home, I said goodbye to a co-worker with: I don’t know when I’ll see you again. He looked up, surprised. Nearly ten months later, we still haven’t seen each other, except on Zoom with no real timeline until that changes.

New and exciting ways to live:

Curb side delivery.  

A year ago I don’t know what I would have made of that phrase. Now I can provide feedback on the best approach to it:  have designated spaces with numbers, pull in, text the space number to you and someone comes out with the order. Perfection (ahem Best Buy, Total Wine).  I don’t want to download an app that insists on knowing my location, and then once it does tells me I need to be at the store to do curbside (hello! I’m at the store), then errors out and insists I come inside to get the order where I have to wait in a customer service line for longer than I would have spend shopping. Atrocious, BJ’s. It was the same customer service line for everything. I don’t want to spend 5 minutes listening to the attempt to upsell a credit card to the person in front of me who is renewing their membership. That is why I did curbside. Also thumbs down on stores who didn’t even do curbside, instead strictly limit the numbers inside (which is good, but not as good as curbside): Trader Joe’s, or only offer delivery, Roach Brothers. Roach Brothers is about 3 minutes from my house and where I would prefer to shop, despite their poor frozen vegetable selection, but something about asking a store so close to my house to deliver stops me. I ordered from them once, in the spring, but never again. I did shop there in the free for all, low COVID-19 (spell check told me it must be capitalized!) rates, summer, but not since. So sorry… your fresh produce is the best, but do improve the frozen selection.

Hikes and Walks as social life

I’ve always loved being outside, but my social life was dinners, cocktails and shows. This year it was hikes, walks, and even on one occasion, goats. In the spring, during my very first fearful attempt to leave the house, I walked with a friend a golf course, still not open for golf, which kept goats. I have no idea why. Do they help the grass cut? 

I made it a mission to go to parks and other outside areas I hadn’t been prior. I joined the Trustees of the Reservations and started working my way though many of these places that I didn’t know existed before. I went to the Blue Hills, which I have been very aware of and loved, so many more times than any other year. I traveled to beaches I usually didn’t. I saw things I never would have seen. 

Shows

That I would attend one and only one show I this year, is stunning. Even that one, I decided last minute to do.

Online creativity, from Bill Janovitz’s spring happy hour’s (viewable on Buffalo Tom’s facebook) to Josh Kantor (Seventh Inning Stretch), to whole conferences online, book festivals online, political fundraisers with the casts of your favorite shows online,  my whole life online.

On the last day of 2020, my sweetest friend messaged me who now lives halfway around the world that she had been listening to the very same artist that, long loved, that I also happened to pick up listening to again the day before. “Remember when we saw her on Boston Common?”. Kismet. Synchronicity. Must be the moon.  Ok, it’s Stevie Nicks, who has been a presence my whole life. (Sara, you’re the poet in my heart. Never change, don’t you ever stop. It’s never gone. It always matters what for. When you build your house, I will come by).

Sports

They happened, I guess.  No fans, so weird. Mookie and Tom left Boston. Mookie won a World Series, good for you, dude!  This is first year that I can remember that I didn’t go to Fenway and I can’t even talk about that or letting Mookie go.

Reading

My goal was to primarily read books I already owned, but I couldn’t really read this year. Eventually I discovered that I could manage audio books, so I did that though I don’t remember them anywhere near as well. So my reading goal in 2021 will once again be to read books I own.

Orange Cheeto

An orange Cheeto, narcissistic man baby took way too much of my focus this year. Twenty days from now he’ll be ejected from our White House and I hope never to think about him again.

Loss

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, John Lewis,  Eddie Valen, Alex Trebeck, Dawn Wells, Charlie Pride, David Prowse, Sean Connery, Jim Lehrer, Helen Reddy, Olivia De Havilland, Regin Philbin, Peter Green, Charlie Daniels, Carl Reiner, Joe Morgan, John Thompson, Kobe Bryant (yes, that was this year), Fred Willard, Jerry Stiller, Mary Pratt, Bill Withers, Kenny Rogers, James Lipton, Neil Peart all left us, along with 337, 419 (latest CDC number of this writing) in the US of Covid, 1,798,050 worldwide (latest per WHO), most of whom we will never hear of, but who mattered to someone.

In the end this year was exhausting, terrifying, endless, full of poor role models, but nothing devastating happened to me, and that maybe that is all I can ask for, so I express my gratitude.

Quarantine Diaries – Patriot’s Day Edition

It’s Patriot’s Day here in Massachusetts, a holiday which commemorates the first battle of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord. Every year, the battle is reenacted on Lexington Common, but not this year. Patriot’s Day is also the day that the Boston Marathon is run. After months of arduous training, folks run 26.2 miles from the suburbs to the greatest city in the world, but not this year. Marathon Monday will be held in September, the first time the race has been postponed in it’s 123 year history. On Patriot’s Day there is morning baseball; an 11:05 start, the only morning MLB game, but not this year. Fenway park is less than a mile from the finish line. The end of the game usually works out well so the baseball fans can watch the masses as they run by. The day is truly a Boston tradition. Sure, it’s be interrupted before. Seven years ago for the Boston Marathon bombing, two years ago it rained and there was no baseball (sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Well the Red Sox went on to win the win 108 games and the World Series, so..) The weather is not always good, but sometimes it’s stupendous. The true start of spring, but not this year.

We miss the daily rituals, the meeting a friend for coffee or a cocktail, the ability to run to the store for that one ingredient to cook up a masterpiece, leaving the house on a daily basis. I so very much miss fresh produce when I want it rather than making do with what is in the house… so so much. But the big milestone days, the days of rituals past. I miss Patriot’s Day. I do not want to be sitting on my couch writing this, I want to be out in the world doing things, seeing things, seeing people. Today will pass and tomorrow we’ll be back to missing coffee with friends, gossip at the water cooler, going to a movie or a party. I know it won’t be easy. More than a few people have started to hit the wall from being inside, from not knowing when this will end, from job and health insecurity, from lack of the social contacts we are used to having. This really sucks. We’re all grieving for our old lives. And just like in any situation involving grief, everyone handles it in their own way. No matter what your reaction, it’s ok. You don’t have to be productive right now. If you want to take up something new, if that will make you happy, then do it. If you want to watch all of Netflix, do that. If now is the time to track down every dust bunny in your home, go for it. I’m exhausted from feeling sad. I just want to do something positive.. Someday we’ll think back and say: remember that time we all had to wear masks, stand six feet apart, crossed the street to avoid walking by a stranger, only waved to our neighbors and communicated solely on the phone or on ridiculous, insecure Zoom calls? That sure was crazy. But for now, we have to preserver. What other option is there? Stay home if you can, wash your hands. You know the drill. Please think of every trip outside: is this worth risking my life? Is it worth risking the lives of every other person I come in contact with? Is it? Be a a Patriot and do the right thing. Please ask for the help you need, financial or otherwise. People want to help, you would be amazed.

Quarantine Diaries

Cheryl Stayed has a new podcast, Sugar Calling where she interviews writers. Episode One is George Saunders. This is the definition of my wheelhouse, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. In the podcast, George says to notate what life is like right now because maybe in fifty or hundred years no one will believe it, it will all just be the stories we capture.

I’m not George Saunders, so I’ll bullet point out what my weekend was like:

Friday Night

  • Just happy my exhausting work week is over at the job I am grateful to have and glad to be able to work from home. Now for some wine and start re-watching the Sopranos, which is, as you know, so uplifting.

Saturday

  • I went outside, yes outside! I met a friend near a local bakery that we are scared will not make it. They no longer have pick up as the did at the beginning of the quarantine time. Now you can order by Wednesday, and pick up Sat morning. The sign on the door says only one person can enter at a time. A few tables have boxes and bags labeled with names. It’s certainly not enough to keep the store afloat. When I ask the sole person there, who stays well behind the counter away from him if they did well this week, he replies: it helps.
  • After pick up, my friend and I stood six feet apart outside on a sidewalk, both with scarves covering our faces and chatted. Behind us was a line to get into a grocery store which is limited the number of people allowed in at a given time. About half the people in the line had masks, almost no one in the line looked six feet away from the person in front of them. At one point someone walked by with a big package of toilet paper. I said to my friend: look TP!
  • I also gave my friend an unopened box of ten N95 masks that I panic bought in January for her to give to her sister, an ER nurse.
  • Next I went to a drive through pharmacy. The line took forever even though there were only three cars ahead of me. And then I realized: where else do you need to be? It was actually soothing to feel as if I was just running errands like a usual Saturday before. I was happy to see the person staffing the window had both a mask and gloves. I wondered if she’d balk at cash (the prescription is only $4 and I don’t really want to touch a keypad to use a card), but cash didn’t seem concerning to her.
  • I arrived home before noon and got ready for Zumba at home. The Zumba teacher from my gym live streams classes from his home via a private Facebook group which we pay him weekly for. So worth it!
  • I clean a little. Start a stew that will need to simmer for some time.
  • Late in the afternoon the singer from one of favorite bands will play acoustic from his basement. You can tip which he is donating to the people who work in the clubs his band were scheduled to play in.
  • Try not to eat all the baked goods I bought from the bakery after dinner. This is the most normal part of the weekend.
  • Read too much Twitter, watch too much tv. Actually stream too much online content. Decide I should be reading more, but fall asleep instead.

Sunday

  • Watched the Sunday political shows because I’m not afraid enough
  • Laundry
  • Went for a walk on a 60 degree day with a scarf covering my face. The people I came across reacted to my presence like they would to a person they encountered in a dark alley in the middle of the night. I was saddened when people crossed the road not to pass me. I was scared for the people who didn’t, none of whom had masks.
  • Back at home to more twitter. Make it stop.
  • Decide to write this up, but oh! Trump is doing another briefing. I thought I read he was taking the day off from that today, but no. These briefings are such train wrecks that it’s difficult to look away, but I decide not to watch for my sanity.
  • Take a break in the middle of writing this bulleted list to check twitter. It seems the briefing had no news, and was mostly about suggesting there is a drug that may help fight the virus. Dr. Fauci has however said there is only anecdotal information that it will. Who are you going to believe? . Fauci. I start to wonder who has money in the development of this drug because why would anyone sane push a drug that hasn’t been approved for this virus. Why would anyone do that?  Where are those baked goods… and some wine?
  • Time to prep for the upcoming week at work, which consists of Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting.
  • Shit.. need to fold the laundry.

How your quarantine?

Why I’m Doing the #UnreadShelfProject2020

Things people say when they come to my house:

  • You have a lot of books
  • Wow
  • Will I knock this pile over if I’m not careful?

Things people do when they come over:

  • Look at me like this:

shutterstock_751016992 concern

(Yes, I need to have more bookish people in my life, but that is a different post).

(Also, Mike Bloomberg –I am a girl who goes to the library. Look out.)

Once after a contractor looked especially horrified, I stored books under the bed to appear to own an amount of books in the ‘normal’ range. There wasn’t enough space under the bed to actually accomplish this, so I learned to accept that too many books was just my MO.

 

Things people ask me after the see all the books:

  • So have you read all these books?

The answer, sadly, is no. Not even close, bud.

 

Perversely, if I really want to read a book, I buy it. That way I always have it and can read it at my leisure. As opposed to books I take out of the library which have a time limit, therefore I prioritize them. Those are the books that I actually read!  Crazy right? So the books just continue to pile up. Occasionally, I do a cull and donate to the library. Marie Kondo really inspired me to declutter, but probably 95% of the books bring joy! I like having them near me and there is nothing wrong with that!

And then I moved.

The realtor came and said: you must de-clutter to make this place look larger. She had seriously concerned/who has hired me face. The only possible solution was to put some things and many of the books in storage. When you are faced with paying to store your books and hauling them to and from a storage facility, you really start to get real with yourself about whether you actually need ALL of these books. I did a major, major, major cull. I went through all the stages of grief of losing my friends. I talked myself through it. I can always buy them again if I want them. I can always get them from the library if I want to read them. Yes, I can always get them from the library!  I probably won’t even notice they are gone (note: one week after moving, I spent over an hour looking for a book that I really wanted to read, and guess what… I had donated it. But I won’t that stop me).

I still have a sizeable collection (see stats below), but I feel it’s down to the ones that I most want to read, as opposed to the ones that just seemed like a good idea at the time. I decided that I would start a project to read the books I already had (I also decided that last year, but that didn’t work out).

And then by kismet I discovered the #UnreadShelfProject2020   YES!  These are my people! This is what I needed. Some structure, others going through the same issues, other readers. Like any self help program, the first step is admitting the problem. We were asked to add up our owned book totals. This wasn’t difficult for me because I have a crazy huge book spreadsheet. So ta dah, here were my stats when I started in January:

337 Print books

130 ebooks

Keep in mind, this was AFTER my major culls. This means I moved or stored 337 books. Ay yi yi!

But these are the books I really want to read and laid out my hard earned money to buy, so that is why I’m doing to the #UnreadShelfProject2020.  Any questions?

How Bad Is It..

that the book Getting Things Done has been on my To Be Read list for years and I haven’t finished reading it? That a co-worker lent me a copy over a year ago and I still haven’t finished it? I did start it, that is at least something (the very least).  I want to get things done. Getting things down somewhere and out of my head resonates with me. Prioritizing items, giving them due dates if they are important to be done, check and check.

I now have a productivity app. Something that tracks my to do list, organizes it by priority, project. I can tag and label tasks to the point where I start to believe I have OCD. But that doesn’t mean I’m getting these things done. I’m getting organizing things in the app done. I love organizing things in the app! It makes me feel in control. So far I have a list of many, many things that I need to do and want to do someday. I attempt to schedule them out, give myself due dates and accountability. This works to a certain extent. The things that have to get done are getting done, but they were always getting done, as the things that must be done tend to do. Where I struggle is the things I want to do, but don’t have to do. Putting due dates on them has helped only mildly. I must decide to focus on them and not other distractions (Twitter, television, other nonsense). Getting Things Done and my productivity app are just systems to help; they can’t make me focus on the right things (damn it!). I need to change, that is the problem. So why don’t I?

 

 

But I need to focus on getting the important things in the app done. Why is that so hard?

Dear Fire Station 49 in San Francisco

I’m sending this as an email to fireadministration@sfgov.org. You should write, too!

 

In response to the following article, I’m asking Fire Station 49 to reconsider the decision to remove their adorable Firefighter Cat, Edna.

San Francisco firefighters may be forced to surrender beloved station cat after anonymous complaint

IG: @fire_cat_edna

I mean, look at those pictures. How does separating this lovely kitty from the people who love her improve life in this firehouse? Your people have stressful jobs, having a small, non-judgemental, adorable piece of fluff to come back to can only improve their lives. Edna chose them for a reason. Cats know what they are doing.

You don’t have to take it from me. Here are a few reasons to allow Edna to stay:

1. Health benefits of having a cat:

Reduces stress and anxiety

Decreases risk of stroke

Therapeutic benefits

Boosts immunity

Lowers blood pressure

Decreases risk of heart disease and heart attacks

Lowers triglycerides and cholesterol levels

Increase sociability

Provide companionship

Aren’t these things you want for your firefighters?

 

 

2. Cats have a history of being in the workplace:

Whiskers in the Workplace

There is an entire IG account dedicated to Bookstore Cats:  @bookstorecats

Cats have a special history in firehouse and other first responder houses!

From stray to star – Flame, the Greenville firehouse cat, hits the big time

(IG: @flamethearsoncat)  Flame even made it onto My Cat From Hell on Animal Planet!

Stray Cat Wanders Into Fire House and Asks Everyone for “Help”

(IG: @station57cat)

Here is a list of FDNY Cats on Instagram:

FDNY Firehouse Cats Have Their Own Must-See Instagrams

If the FDNY can have cats, you can too!  Do you really want the FDNY to be a step ahead of you?

3. There are even children’s books written about Firehouse Cats!

The Fire Cat

Pete the Cat: Firefighter Pete

4. Perhaps most importantly, pets are family, not something to be gotten rid of due to one anonymous complaint. To separate your folks from their pet will cause them and her pain. They could be distracted, worrying about her. Do you want that.

The benefits far outweigh any downside, so please do the right thing.

 

Gary LaPierre, Maker of Snow Day Dreams

The anticipation would begin the night before. A storm was coming! Maybe there would be no school the next day. Could it really happen? A Snow Day, capital S, capital D. A snow day was a nightmare day for them, but for us they were a day off, an unexpected free day. Growing up in the pre-internet era meant teachers couldn’t reach you. There would be no additional homework, just a free day with all planned activities cancelled. The whole world stopped so you could play. Weee… creative time, snow ball fights, if there is enough snow, a snowman! Sledding! Playing in the snow in the park. Snow angels. When we were exhausted and cold, we’d return hope to warm hot chocolate. Oh please, please, please, please, please let there be a Snow Day!

On any potential Snow Day, the second we got up it was to the radio and crank it up! WBZ Radio 1030, Boston, MA. The WBZ Storm Center and the smooth sounds of Gary LaPierre would tell us our fate. Of course we heard him give the news and Gil Santos the sports every morning, but the potential snow day announcement, that got our full attention. We’d sit with rap attention, whereas other days it was just the background of our morning, something to inform our parents about the world. The school closing list was always alphabetical. Abington, Acton-Boxborough Regional, Andover, Arlington… and so we’d wait for our town. Poor suckers who live in Woburn or Wrentham! Fortunately, our town started with a B so we didn’t have to wait that long, though sometimes we’d tune in halfway through the list and have to listen all the way through, until they started over at A. If our town wasn’t listed the first time, we’d have to wait through the whole list because the list could be updated! The second or third time through, maybe our town would be there. I feel bad for the kids today, who can open a browser and see the list, while their parents receive texts to tell them. Can the joy be as sweet if you don’t experience the anticipation? Sometimes our mother would have to tell us to give it up and start to get ready, but other times: euphoria! Snow Day! Thank you, Gary LaPierre for bringing us the best news!

Gary LaPierre retired around ten years ago, so we’d grown used to the news without him. But that doesn’t mean we don’t pine for the days when his smooth voice brought us all the information we needed. Texting with my sister about his death, she was sad that her daughter, that very day experiencing her first snow day (after a whopping 2 inches of snow in the Seattle area. Amateurs.), wouldn’t have the same experiences we did. He meant something to us and he will be missed.

RIP Gary, legendary news man and of maker of little kids dreams.

 

 

Lectin This

Now that my Three Quarters Thirty month has come to an end, it’s time to party with bread, sugar and wine, right?  I’d come to the conclusion that I should continue this lifestyle the majority of the time, but allow for these things on certain occasions, eating out being the most frequent one. It is so difficult to eat out as a Whole Thirty vegan, let me tell you. Just bring me a plate of lettuce and a sweet potato, please.

Somewhere in my internet travels, I was served up an ad for a Dr. Gundry who claims to have lost 70 pounds by only eating certain foods. Really?  Go on…  A short amount of research gave me the basics of his plans to avoid lectins. Lectins are

carbohydrate-binding proteins, macromolecules that are highly specific for sugar moieties of other molecules. They are also known as phytohemagglutinins. Lectins perform recognition on the cellular and molecular level and play numerous roles in biological recognition phenomena involving cells, carbohydrates, and proteins.[1][2] Lectins also mediate attachment and binding of bacteria and viruses to their intended targets. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lectin).

No, I don’t know what that means, either. But Dr. Gundry’s theory (paraphrased) is plants develop lectins because they want to live. Lectins make them less likely to be eaten by animals while growing. I guess that makes sense on the surface (because evolution is real, people). A little further research and I found Dr. Gundry’s list of Yes and No foods:   Sigh. Almost everything I eat is wrong.  Also, foods like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach are allowed. Don’t they want to live? Do they not have lectins?

What did not escape my notice was the fairly large overlap between allowed and not allowed foods on his plan and the Whole 30. Also obvious to me is the majority of foods that I was allowing my self on my self created Three Quarters 30 (beans, lentils, edamame, tofu and more) are specifically prohibited here. Even tomatoes and cucumbers are banned, unless pealed and de-seeded (as if that is going to happen). Whole 30 is based on reducing foods that cause inflammation, so my bet is lectin causes inflammation. But on Dr. Gundry’s plan you can have a 6 oz. glass of wine and dark chocolate, so perhaps the trade is worth it.

Swinging from one highly restrictive plan to another won’t work. What I need is a plan that I can live with everyday. These diets, plans and cleanses are short term fixes. So my plan is to be as plant based as possible, cut down on these things banned by these plans, especially grains and sugar.  I plan on not having them most of the time, but there are exceptions, else there is the risk of losing it and eating an entire vegan banana bread from Trader Joe’s (which is so amazing, my mouth waters just thinking about it). So back to it… starting tomorrow. Today is the super bowl, the official holiday of carbs, sugar and alcohol.  Go Pats!