Working on Losing 40 Pounds after Cesarean Section

When I became pregnant, I didn’t just gain the healthy 30-35 pounds recommended.  I gained almost 70.  I whined about it in this post a few months ago.

As a result, I developed a racing heart rate and had a pretty hard time with exhaustion toward the end.  I also didn’t have the luxury of bouncing back to my pre-baby weight quickly; I have one friend who lost all of her baby weight within two weeks.

I’ve been trying to eat right and be active for a couple of weeks, but I still don’t like looking in the mirror these days and it’s pretty easy to feel down.  Then I saw this inspirational blog.  I love how upbeat it is and how accepting she is of the challenge ahead.  I want my journey to be positive too!

I have some special considerations; I have to be very careful not to over-diet or I’ll not be able to adequately nurse the baby.  I had a c-section, so I can’t do a lot of exercises just yet or I risk injury.  I’m planning on taking it easy and watching my diet carefully.  I’m buying this book to help with good exercises that won’t be too much.

Speaking of my diet, I’m a flexitarian who is currently also not eating any dairy products.  The no-dairy is somewhat temporary and is because it is the number one allergy issue with nursing infants, so I’m avoiding it just in case.

Does anyone know of any books with good veg/vegan diets?

A Cleaner Home: Cat Genie Litterbox Review

As you may know, I love animals. I was never very fond of cats, though, but not because of their behavior; I cannot stand cat hair nor cat litter. I have a very strong aversion to both.

After marrying a guy with a cat, I had to learn to live with the disgustingness. I’ve changed litter exactly three times in six years. It smells so awful. When I was pregnant, my aversion was even worse. The second cat’s litter box was in our walk-in closet and I was starting to lose my mind. I couldn’t even walk in our closet.

I’ve tried several different automatic litter boxes with mixed success. They delay the cleaning but the smell- though muted- is still there. Basically, there’s a big container of cat waste in the house. Gross.

So, after a month of debate over the cost, I bought a Cat Genie. I installed it in the closet. It requires fresh water hookup and drain to a commode or laundry drain; I drilled a hole in the drywall to the bathroom and inserted the hoses. Installation was really easy. I was eight months pregnant and had no problems. Well, no problems other than figuring out how to haul myself up after lying on the floor to attach the water line!

Once installed, it was fussy. It had a draining issue and a rotation issue within 10 days. Both led to the cat using the floor. I was ready to give up on my investment. However, since that first few days, there have been no problems. It is set to auto-clean daily and the closet smells like clean clothes again. After just a few months of use, we decided that the other cat should have one as well. But where to install it? The cats have to be separated, so it couldn’t be in the same room. All other commodes had no room for the unwieldy thing (21 inch diameter). The laundry room is the size of a postage stamp, so no way.

Carlton solders; I am on fire watch with an extinguisher!But I could not have that disgusting clay litter in the house any more. So we decided to install it in our mechanical room, forgoing the simple setup provided. We cut into an existing cold water line and installed a faucet. The drain line drains to the grinder pump. No more lugging clay litter around, no more smell, and certainly less bacteria on the cat’s toes after each use. I can reorder the stuff I need- with free shipping- in about 2 minutes instead of a trip to the store. Several months’ worth of supplies fit in a small box, not a bunch of big, heavy boxes of clay. Maintenance takes 30 seconds monthly (to snap in a sanitizer cartridge), with one in-depth 30 minute cleaning annually. Compare that to 10-15 gross minutes weekly and in-depth cleanings every month or two.

The only downsides are: the sanitizing solution smells like baby powder and I am allergic to most perfumes. The little washable plastic pellets are so light that the cat tracks them much farther than regular litter. I had to buy some startlingly expensive litter mats so that the litter could be trapped and reused because the litter refills are ridiculously priced at $22. Even so, the operation cost is less than a regular self-cleaning litter box using premium clumping litter.

My last self-cleaning clay litter box was $200. For $64 more, I now have a litter box that helps me keep my sanity.

Plus soldering with a torch is fun 🙂

Wo shi shei (Jackie Chan’s Who Am I) directed by Benny Chan and Jackie Chan

Cover ArtIMDb link

Nobody watches a Jackie Chan movie for highbrow plot and award-winning acting, right?  Right.  So I set myself with the correct frame of reference and settled in to watch some fun martial arts choreography.

Well it’s a good thing that I wasn’t intent on any engaging plot line.  This movie didn’t know where to draw the line.  The plot is based upon Chan’s character suffering from amnesia and eluding the multiple agencies who are chasing him.  He has no idea who he is, leading to others thinking his name is Whoami (ha, ha, get it?).  He moves toward self-discovery as he engages in madcap martial arts scenarios.  Think Bourne Identity but brainless.

OK, I’m not going to spend the entire review lambasting the film.  It earns a little forgiveness for being almost 10 years old (but only a little).  Some of the stunts are simply amazing.  The martial arts fights are inventive- who thought of how to work Dutch wooden shoes into hand-to-hand combat?  It was both entertaining and amusing.  I did laugh out loud at some of the crazily implausible and elaborate stunts.  There were several scenes where Chan seemed to defy gravity and I actually rewound them to watch them again.  However, in the end, I wished that the whole movie had been cut like the credits reel: no dialogue, just action.  The bloopers on the credits reel were the most fun part of the movie.  They also showed how difficult it can be to have the stunt work as planned (how many times did they toss that cement bag??).

I’m all for brainless entertainment and clever martial arts stunts, but this film is like porn: not worth suffering through the lame plot and horrible, awful acting.

Rate [2]

Sin City directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez

Cover ArtIMDb link

After my recent review of 300, I realized that I’d never completed my review of Sin City. This review is based upon two viewings of the film.

I did not read the original Frank Miller comics graphic novels, so I entered into the movie with no expectations. There are overlapping plot lines and fantastic dramatic narration. Many of the characters are wearing makeup and prostheses to simulate their graphic novel appearance, and suspension of disbelief is a requirement for watching this film.

As each storyline evolved (or should I say degrades?), I felt a visceral reaction to many of the onscreen horrors. The movie bears the underbelly of the most disgusting parts of society but manages to do so in the most glamorous, beautiful way possible. Scenes are either completely hideous or fantastically gorgeous.

The amazing thing is that the movie manages to have five subplots but not be too confusing nor too shallow in any one plot. Character development is satisfying and I never felt that the movie went for the quick-wrap: you know, when the director is short on time so they “tell” rather than “show” the plot.

Performances by all actors are nearly flawless (though I would say that Alexis Bledel is not showing as much range as the rest of the cast). This movie is full of suspense and creates a complete world of its own. I’ve seen it twice and would be happy to see it more.

[Rate 4.5]

Who Knew?

Two Days OldIt’s been a loosely guarded secret, but the so-called cat is out of the bag: I had a little girl last week!

As many of my readers know, becoming a parent was not my number one goal in life. But now that I’ve met her…let’s just say everything changes. Five hours of sleep is the new 12 and somehow that’s OK with me. Nursing is difficult- sometimes shockingly painful- but worth every minute. Seeing her look at me is a just reward for every physical or emotional thing I’ve been through this week.

First Day HomeI never thought I’d be this way. Sure, I thought I could do it, but I didn’t think I’d be this…overjoyed. I know that I sound like every other new parent. But it’s true!

Her name is Ainsley Elaine; she weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces and was 19.5 inches long at birth. No, there are no current plans for her to have her own blog (but that might change). The pets are adjusting pretty well; Mr. Kitty is a little afraid of her, Mini is cautiously curious, and Silo is nonplussed. Sunny is still at my parents’ house and I cannot wait to see her reaction to the new kid in town.

In some ways I feel totally different; in others, completely the same. I’m completely in love with someone I only met ten days ago; on the other hand, I’m looking forward to resuming my wine tasting hobby!

Mr. Nostalgia

RockwellianThis picture was taken a couple of months ago at my father’s retirement party. I meant to post it then, but have just been a bit lazy. I love the total Proud Grandpa pose of my dad, wildly flailing his hand to catch the attention of two of his grandkids.  I made the image square and added the black-and-white graininess to add to the nostalgic look.

Gen Con 2007- Another #$@!

In 2005, I had to miss all day Thursday due to work obligations.  I didn’t have a chance to rant on my website because I wasn’t a blogger yet.


As you may recall from last year, I had to miss part of Gen Con due to a scheduling conflict at work.  Now, the training session I had to attend ended in a promotion, so it was all for a good cause…but still sad.  Even with the missed time, last year’s Gen Con was one of my better years- I played more types of games than ever, in every type of media except computer games.  My brother and I even dragged my sister to the huckster hall and she loved it!


This year, I’m missing part of Gen Con.  Again.  For the third year in a row.  And this year, by “part of Gen Con,” I mean all of it.  Oh sure, it is for a very, very good reason (as you’ll see in a few days),  but I am still very sad.  I will miss not only the convention itself, but also the chance to see friends I only see at Gen Con, to spend more time with friends I do see regularly, and to spend time gaming with some friends who don’t make it out and about very often.


So to all my friends who will be there: game extra hard for me!  And WISH ME LUCK!!!!!!



Bottling the Tripel

belgian_tripel.JPGI like quick homebrews, such as 20-minute kits. I like kegging. Within 16-18 days, I have delicious beer with minimal effort.

However, I didn’t start this hobby just as a way to do the laziest possible brewing. As you may recall from my post much earlier this year, I made a Belgian Tripel the right way. OK, I guess it was just partial mash, but I do not have the equipment for full mash. Regardless, it took three hours of initial brewing. I racked the ale to the secondary at the beginning of May. Using this handy calculator like always, plus temperature correction, the alcohol content was already a whopping 7.6 percent!

Another thing about Belgians is that all that sugar needs time. Keg after the standard 14 days, and I’ll lose some of the complex flavors (plus lots of the sugar will be unfermented). So I waited. It’s been almost four full months in the secondary and it’s time to keg.

But…Belgians also bottle well. Their shelf life is very good, and the flavors are purported to be better from a bottle than from a keg. Sure, it will take another two months for carbonation, but the best things in life are worth the wait, right? So I’m bottling the whole batch. As I sanitize bottles, prepare rubber rings for the caps (I’m using swing-top Grolsch-style bottles), and prepare priming sugar, I’m reminded of why I keg. One container to sanitize means much less chance of contamination.

Right before adding the priming sugar, I took the final specific gravity reading and had a quick taste. The alcohol content has crept to 8.15%. The beer itself was superbly clear, as though it had been filtered, thanks to the long secondary time. Unfortunately, in order to ensure that not all of the priming sugar was at the top of the batch, I had to stir it a little. I will give it a couple of hours to resettle. (See my comment below)

The taste confirmed the fear I had when I tasted it upon racking to the secondary: it’s too hoppy. Maybe cooling plus carbonation will help, but I’m stymied by the hoppiness. If anything, I underhop my Belgians, boiling the hops only 30 minutes. Maybe some of the pellets are making it into the primary and having longer contact.

Don’t get me wrong; the beer is delicious. I just wanted it to be a little fuller in maltiness and lower in hops.

300 directed by Zach Snyder

300.JPGIMDb link

Before I begin the review, I must say: First, I am sorry that a self-proclaimed nerd like me took so long to see this movie, especially after how much I liked Sin City. Second, it is truly fun to watch a movie like this with three nerds and a geek. We were all very into the movie, and making cross-nerd references to other movies.

OK. On to the review.

300_image.JPGMuch like drinking wine at a winery, watching a movie among such friends surely enhanced the experience, but this movie plain and simple rocked. It was fun, it was suspenseful, it was dramatic. For a visual artist like me, it was pure pleasure as the images took the form of graphic art, not just a movie.

The fact that it managed to hold suspense is quite a feat: I’ve read Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield, the fantastic historical fiction that recounts the same battle of Thermopylae (see Ken, I was right- it was Thermopylae). The acting was superb. It managed to be soft and real when necessary, but melodramatic when the graphic-novelness was needed. Acting on a set that is almost entirely blue screen must be challenging. Once again, Frank Miller’s gorgeous comics graphic novels come to life.

As my four loyal readers may have noticed by my review of other films, I’m a bit of a sucker for well crafted melodrama. Add the stunning visual images and my interest in Greek history, and I could watch this movie over and over.

[rate 5]