Monday, November 22, 2010

Getting Old

I'm not one to spaz about getting old. I turned 30 this year. I have generally felt exactly the same as I have for the past several years. Everyone around me was asking me if I was sad and/or spazzing and/or other morose adjectives I can't think of at the moment (Alzheimer's? Not so much). Uh no. 30 isn't old. My grandma B is 83 and my grandma G is 79. I have more than double my life left to go until I get that old. Calm down people--you are way more concerned about this than I am. I had a blast on my birthday weekend and then I promptly forgot all about turning 30. Until recently.

I lost 15 pounds while I was in Nigeria (go me!) and I have managed to keep it off since I've been home. I've been trying to continue my health kick by joining the gym, going back to healthier eating and trying to stay in a healthy frame of mind. My sister and I have been going to the gym about 3-4 times a week (at 5:45 am!) and then I've been supplementing that by walking the dogs with Ange when we can. My goal is to do a minimum 30 minutes a day and more if I can. When Leslie and I hit the gym we usually do 35 minutes on the treadmill. I started out with just walking but have added in some short jogs (1-2 minutes at a time). Ange and I have been walking the dogs in two local parks, one is mostly flat ashpalt paths and the other is wooded trail walking. We much prefer the trails not only for the nature aspect but also because the unevenness of trails and the many up and down hills throughout the park help to give us a better workout. We've even done some light jogging on the trails though I have to be careful with that due to my spazzy falling down and tripping over air condition. 

This past week I've started to feel a weird feeling in my right knee. Not pain, but weirdness. Like maybe I could blow out some very important part of my knee. I'm trying to decide if it's just me being more than paranoid (very likely) or if I should do something pro-active to prevent any blowing out of important body parts. Like I said, it's not painful so I don't feel like I'm in any grave danger (and trust me, if it hurt I'd stop), but I just get worried that I'll be running and my leg will give out and I'll fall off the treadmill or tumble to my death in the park. I just feel like I need a little suit of armor to help my knee feel like it's got some back-up. 

So I thought maybe I need a knee brace. Then I did feel old. Only fat old ladies wear knee braces. Or super athletes who had a devasting injury. I am not the latter so I must be the former. Crap. 

Then I pull up and look for knee braces. God, I just aged some more. I did NOT need a bionic brace like this:

Like I said, I'm not injured! Just feeling a little paranoid about the ability of my knees to haul my big butt around for a few miles at a fast pace.

And then I stumbled on this:

Oh GOD. It's an Ace Brand knee brace. As in Ace Bandages. As in my mother is always wearing random ace bandages for her old lady pains. And I'm always making fun of her because A. seriously? Ace bandages? B. Like they really do anything. Some flimsy piece of cloth that you wrap a million times around something just to give it a little pressure? C. Only old people find Ace bandages to be of any use. And this is how I've determined that I am totally old now and apparently going down hill fast. I don't think my mom even started wearing Ace bandages until she was like 40-something. At this rate I'll be using a walker by 40. I'm doomed!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Super Duper

To answer my mother's question on my last post: yes I did get a new computer. 

Before I left Nigeria I gifted my old laptop to one of the girls that worked on the compound. It was an older Dell that had run its life course with me and I had been wanting to get a new computer anyway and I knew that my laptop would mean much more to A than it would ever mean to me again and she would likely make it last far longer than I would dare. I had already told Ange that I would be leaving my computer behind in Nigeria before I even left the US, I would just need to find the right recipient. It turned out to be a much harder choice than I thought it would, but in the end I felt good about the decisions I made. 

I had planned to order my new laptop about 2 weeks before I returned to the US, but with my premature departure that was not possible. So I returned home with no computer. That was kind of weird. While I was in Nigeria I had done some research on computers so I knew what I wanted, but I needed it to materialize. 

The people on the compound where I lived were all Mac people. After living with them for 4 months I started to develop a little Mac-envy. A little. Mostly I was jealous of the battery life they enjoyed..something like 10 hours on a single charge. My dying POS Dell lasted about 35 minutes on battery at that point. Their Macs were also light as a feather, unlike my clunker that weighed 50 skamillion pounds. I was also envious of how dang fast their computers ran. My Dell hobbled along at a turtle speed at this point. My Dell also had major issues with overheating. If it didn't have a laptop cooler under it then it would overheat and auto shutdown after 45 minutes. (Now you can see why I was ready to ditch it)

However, even after battery life, speed and nice cool cases I still loathed the Mac platform. I've used it sparsely over the years at IU (sometimes that's the only thing that's available) and I used it more frequently while in Nigeria helping my Mac-loving friends with various things. I know everyone says "You'll get used to it quickly and when you do you'll LOVE it so much more than a PC" but I actually really doubt that. I don't just prefer a PC I actually LOVE the PC layout. People also always say Macs are "so much more intuitive" and I have found that to be absolutely false. PCs are made for dumbies. It is infinitely more easy to use. I have little patience and am not tech savvy so I know that a PC is going to be the easiest thing for me to use. My Nigeria brother Matthew and I liked to debate about Macs vs. PCs (as well as a million other topics) and we finally arrived at the conclusion that Macs are easier for spatial thinkers to use and PCs are easier for linear thinkers to use. I am a total linear thinker. I need to see things in nice neat rows and columns. I can't stand things flying around in space. 

My other big hesitation was price. Macs are freaking expensive. Way expensive. Bottom of the line model with no customization was gonna run me $999 + tax. Yikes. If I built it the way I wanted it was gonna run about $1350 + tax. Now my POS Dell cost me around $300 when I bought it. Yes I realize I got what I paid for, but it actually worked well the first year and went downhill after that. In my experience, a computer has a shelf life of about 3 years before a new and fancy model is needed. Whether it be wear and tear or technological advances after 3 years I need a new computer. For the price of a Mac I could buy a brand new Dell every year. 

After doing some more research I also found out that the main data analysis packages I use for my research are a little more difficult to run on Macs. They WILL run, but you have to do modifications, etc. because they are not made for Macs. As I mentioned previously, I am not patient or tech savy so doing special tricks to get things to work is never going to work for me. That pretty much sealed the deal for me. I decided to look at other options. 

Ange is a huge fan of HPs. I don't really have much partialism to any brand so I was willing to be influenced by others. I checked out the Dell site and decided if I was willing to consider buying a $1000 laptop then I should not limit myself on looking at PCs. So when I got to the HP page I wanted to look for a laptop that was fast, light, and had a long battery life. I chose their "Ultra Portable" tab and started to look. I realized that I could chose the laptop with the longest battery life (up to 7.5 hours--not too shabby) and customize it the way I wanted (mostly 8 GB of memory for super fast processing) for around $1000. Pair that with some sales and an online coupon I ended up buying my fancy HP Pavilion dm3t for $930.

It took about 2 weeks for it to get built & shipped but it was worth the wait. It is LIGHTENING fast, super light and barely even gets warm even after hours of it sitting directly on my lap for hours. It's also pretty slick looking. It's not perfect...the keyboard took some time to get used to (it's kind of squeaky) and the touch-pad is still way annoying but I can get over those things way faster than I can get over learning how to use the Mac platform. Other than those two things, I love it. I've only had it about 2 and a half weeks, but I highly recommend it so far. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hello? (Echo, echo, echo...)

Oh hai. 

I know I have been totally MIA for almost a month. Some chaos and craziness has ensued and my life kind of went topsy turvy and it's taken a few weeks for me to settle down and adjust. I'm home in the USA. I left Nigeria a little earlier than planned but I'm not going to go into all the crazy details because it's a long story. Just know that I'm fine, my peeps in Nigeria are fine, my relationships that I built while I was there continue and my research continues as well. I am continuing to make adjustments as needed so that I will still graduate by May and other than that I am happy, healthy and whole!

I've spent the last few weeks finding my new "normal" back home. I struggled the first few weeks with figuring out a schedule for myself since I have little to no responsibilities in my life until January. But my boss re-hired me so that has given me some stuff to do. I have been attending my weekly PhD cohort meetings which gives me one day back in B-ton and intellectual stimulation that I've been longing for and that makes me happy. I'm still working on the self-discipline thing to continue my academic work (which is all personal and therefore has no actual deadlines) and I think I'm getting back into the saddle. I've been working out and continuing to eat healthy so I can continue the weight loss/get healthy thing I started in Nigeria. I have not gained a single pound back from the 15 I lost while I was there so that is a major victory! Ange has been joining me in this mission so hopefully we'll both continue to do well. 

I hope to be back to regular postings soon, so stay tuned!