Monthly Archives: February 2012

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Monthly Goals Check-in: Appuary Edition

As February draws to a close, it’s become that time again… Without further ado, here’s my monthly progress report!

Feats of Strength (66% done)

I’ve been diligently working towards my pull-up, and I’ll continue chugging along in that vein.  At the rate things are going, victory is not assured during the next month, but I can promise to focus on the things I can control 1) working out every other day, 2) “bringing it” during every workout.  If it takes a few extra weeks or months, so be it.  2012 will be the year of the pull-up!

Get Inspired (33% done)

This month, I went to the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco which had an exhibit about Jewish history in California, gold rush to present.  I was disappointed to find that the Houdini exhibit I was expecting wasn’t there, but did you know that Levi Strauss lived in SF during the gold rush when he patented the first riveted denim work pants?  And so the blue jean was born.

The next day, I went to the huge and crazy Alameda flea market, which was almost a museum experience in itself…

Win Friends and Influence People (100% done)

That’s right, I’m winning friends and influencing people all over the place.  It’s like I’m prom queen, Rachel Maddow, and Oprah all in one!  I had a Super Bowl party, during which I served oreos to a total of 4 people (myself included).  Watch out, Martha Stewart!

Tech Ninja Level-Up (70% done)

I’ve gotten my v1 app fully prototyped, and am moving on to the re-write, test, polish phase.  Now that all most of the unknowns are known, I’m fairly confident that with a reckless fury of typing, I can get something submitted to the app store by the end of next week.

Pull up all the hacker nerd mental images you can right now to picture this – it’s gonna be lots of sleeping under my desk and eating take-out until it’s done (when I’m not doing pullups of course).

Musical Arsenal (20% done)

I found a music studio near my house and signed up with them yesterday for guitar lessons.  Technically, I take my first lesson on Monday, but they already have my money so I think it’s fair to say that the guitar lessons are taken care of.  January was blogging month and February was coding month - March is going to be music month.  Looking forward to dusting off my keyboard and finally unpacking the guitars!

Feats of fun (60% done)

I present, burgerius vegtacularus:

Appetizing, pre-burger state

 Less appetizing, but more tasty, post-burger state.
Atkins style, because it didn’t already look enough like horse food.

They needed more seasoning, but actually these burgers weren’t half bad!  Will be tweaking recipe and making again.


There’s a lot left to do this quarter, but it’s a just barely manageable amount.  These next 31 days are going to require a steady, vigilant march towards these goals, and they will also be heavily music focused.  In light of these facts, I dub this upcoming month: March.

Happy Leap Day!  In honor of this being the day that shouldn’t be, I’ll be dedicating some time to things I would do if I had more time.  Maybe spending a couple hours this evening learning how to draw or take pictures (nice ones).  If it’s your birthday, Happy happy happy happy birthday!  Please eat a huge amount of cake!

Up-hill battle: Pull-up progress

As you may have heard, I am working on doing ONE pull-up.

I created my training regimen the same way I create my food.  Go online, read 4 or 5 recipes, mash them up with a pinch of best judgement, and dive-in.  Adjust franken-recipe as necessary when things starts to smell funny.

Likewise, when I started pullup training back in January, I decided on a 4 phase program, inspired largely by this mind-boggling video.  Judge me how you will, but something about Scooby’s goofy hat and youtube-worthy-production value makes me think he knows what he’s talking about.

Since I’m only trying to do one measly pull-up (not crazy eights), I settled on a tweaked four phase program.

Phase 1: Negative Chin-ups
Chin-ups are when you hold the bar with your palms facing you.  This gives you better leverage than pull-ups (read: chin-ups are easier).

Negatives – Use a chair or a bench and start from over the bar and lower yourself slowly.

Do 5 sets of 4, with a 1 minute break between sets.  Repeat every other day.  With palms facing you, lower yourself from above the bar to full arm extension.  Tense up all your muscles when you step off of your bench.

When you can do 4 controlled negative chin-ups slowly (about 2 seconds lowering yourself down), move on to…

Phase 2: Negative Pull-ups
Same as phase 1, except now your palms are facing away from you.

Do 5 sets of 4, 1 minute break between sets.  Repeat every other day.

When you can do 4 controlled, slow, negative pullups (2 seconds lowering), move on to…

Phase 3: First Real Chin-up
This is where it gets a little complicated and artsy-fartsy.  First, attach a resistance band to your bar to assist you.  Step into the loop, and adjust it such that you can barely do 2 chin-ups at that resistance level.

5 sets of 4, 2 minute break between sets: Do as many assisted chin-ups as you can, and then complete your set of 4 with negative chin-ups.  e.g. If you complete 1 assisted chin-up, then finish the set with 3 negatives.

When you can do 2 assisted chin-ups at a certain level, loosen the resistance so it will be harder next time.

Repeat every other day.

When you can do 1 real chin-up, move on to…

Phase 4: REAL PULL-UP!!
Same exact process as phase 3.  Use the resistance band to assist you, making it looser and looser until eventually you don’t need any help at all.

5 sets of 4, 2 minute break between sets: Do as many assisted pull-ups as you can, then complete the set with negatives.  Loosen resistance when you can do 2 at your current level.

Repeat every other day until you do your first pull-up!

My Progress
So I have been chugging away at this program since I started this quest in January.  Where am I now?

I’m in Phase 3.

This is the resistance band I got.  Toe shoes, eek!

The real live apparatus.  It currently hangs 18.5 inches off the ground.

Adjustable length.  The longer the band, the less the assistance.

Slots for 3 resistance bands.  I’ve already graduated from 3 bands to 2, and I’m making the switch down to 1 today.

I’ve got 33 days and 18 workouts before the end of March.  I’d need to improve 1 inch with each workout to achieve my first chin-up in time for my original goal.  Piece of cake?

I’ve made a lot of progress – I can see it and I can feel it.  My resistance bands inch surely towards the ground.  My shoulders have valiantly stormed the keep, and the battle with pain has moved on to my upper arms.  But a true pull-up or even chin-up still feels infinitely far away.

On the one hand, you’d think I could adjust the resistance band just 1 millimeter a week, and in a mere 470 weeks I would have my victory.  But on the other hand, a friend of mine once told me that a friend of his friend thought that by walking up gradually increasing slopes every day, he’d eventually be able to walk up a wall.  An inspirational idea about persistance and practice to be sure, but ultimately doomed to fail (thank you physics).

Here’s hoping my own up-hill battle (literal) is not the same such folly!

Some things never change…

These old journals of mine are a goldmine.  I’m gonna have to dole them out slowly so your brain doesn’t explode like mine just did.  Literally.  Yes I mean literally, but humorously.

Having now reviewed most of the annals, I can reveal the basic gist, which is this… almost nothing has changed.  Vocabulary or wisdom-wise.  I’m not quite sure whether to be impressed with Maryann-of-old or disappointed in Maryann-old (that would be me).

But maybe some things do change…

Good thing she didn’t know about blogs and how un-sacredly Maryann-of-the-future (that would be me) would hold her confidences.

Progress after all!

Why YOU should blog more often

Last time, I made fun of Veruca Salt and her hustle for more blog posts (I want it now!), but the truth is…

I kind of miss bloguary too.

A quick recap:

January: 15 posts, 27 comments, 1 giveaway (semi-failure), 56 unique visitors

I also got comfortable in my blogging voice, and felt good about the little community we have over here.  I planted my flag and declared it a success – Onwards towards bigger and better things!

So why am I missing bloguary already?  How has this brief respite gotten me deciding that you should blog more often?

1. Safety in numbers.  When I was writing a lot, I felt less anxious about any particular post.  Even if today’s wasn’t good, yesterday’s or tomorrow’s probably might be and then people will forgive me.  Some songs have to be filler, after all.  (Note to readers-of-the-far-future: at this point in time albums still exist in cloud-land, but CDs are pretty much dead).

It’s weird, but it’s almost harder to write less often.  The butterflies procreate wildly during the gaps, and after a little break picking a topic starts to feel like an important decision (stressville).  Bringing us to…

2. There are infinite blog posts waiting to be written.  Just today I was debating between writing this lovely post, wowing you with pictures of my super-transforming coffee/dining table, letting you know what song to sing for karaoke, or informing you that you can use Roth IRA contributions to pay for college (exciting I know!).

Blog posts are so short (ideally) that you can only do one topic at a time, and since this isn’t the Truman show there’s more life going on than you can cover.  Even when you skip over the less colorful stuff like toothbrushing and sleeping.

I wish I had this much fun brushing my teeth.

ASIDE: If I did nothing but blog from now on, could I actually cover everything eventually?  I’m blogging about blogging right now, so I’m thinking no.

3. Blogging makes you bolder.  And Bolder is Better.  To make your posts unique and worth reading, you have to embrace your personality, quirks and all, and run with it loudly.  No fear, No apologies.  Smonsequences.

My natural inclination is to make my writing precise and scientific – cover all the bases, analyze every angle, defend the arguments, five-paragraph essay.

But in the interest of NOT inducing comas, I’m learning to exchange pure fact for emphasis and vivid imagery.

Here’s an example from a past post:

Netflix adds new content all the time, and instead of mindlessly flipping through TV trash, I can mindlessly watch back to back episodes of carefully hand-selected trash.

I still remember having to force myself not to go on some boring tangent explaining that of course not all TV is trash, blah, blah, which would have interrupted the flow of the sentence and robbed it of its intentional lighthearted humor.

Also see above: “There are infinite blog posts waiting to be written.”  Well… technically, there are only so many combinations of words, not to mention that blog posts have no consciousness so they can’t really “wait” for anything.  Yeah, yeah, shut up already!

Remember: Bolder is Better.  You heard it here first.  (See what I did there?)

4. Frequent blogging makes for frequent visitors.  Your readers will love you more than twice as well as you deserve because you never get out of their heads.  Be like Rihanna (release 6 albums and 36 singles in 6 years) and top the charts forever!

I know I follow a few blogs that wouldn’t necessarily stand out otherwise, just because they get updated every day.  I actually start caring about what happened to the author last weekend and wanting to see pictures of their crock-pot dinner mush!

…Awkward transition…

Despite the numerous benefits of perpetu-blogging, I am still deep in the mire of appuary so blogging will continue suffer a bit for now.  Sadface.

What do you want to hear about next?*

Coffeemus Prime: The Incredible Transforming Table
How Samoas are like Hobbits
Ways to pay for college
If I had a billion dollars
Ghosts of Maryanns Past: The Journals

(*Disclaimer: I’m likely to ignore your votes entirely.  Democracy is an illusion.**)

(** I don’t relieve believe democracy is an illusion.  blah, blah, blah.)


Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee doo
I’ve got another puzzle for you
Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee dee
If you are wise, you’ll listen to me

What do you get, when you write many times?

 Answer: Heckled

It’s really hard, to come up with good rhymes


And then you try, to keep up with yourself?


It’s not en-OUGH

I’VE CREATED A MONSTER. (doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo)

Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee dore
If you don’t mind, then I can write more
But all my stuff, might be short and crazy
Like the oompa loompa doom-pa-dee dee!


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Being the Valentine’s cynic that I am, this has never come close to being my favorite holiday.  But at least it’s a great excuse to look at pictures of desserts!

 These are no longer.  Savagely chomped within hours of entering my kitchen.


Cake on a stick!


Dear Anyone-sitting-there-thinking-I-have-no-authority-vis-a-vis-love-stinkery: Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got.  No matter where I go I know where I came from!

Matt and I are off to meet up with friends and watch a documentary about women who brew beer in the Pacific Northwest. Really! Beer and chocolate included (not that I like either of these).

Milk and Cookies

In this last of a seemingly neverending series of Super Bowl related posts, witness the birth of a tradition:

Our Super Bowl spread (and feet)

For some deep-seated Freudian reason, Oreos epitomize the ultimate guilty junk food for me.  I remember eating them a lot when I was a kid.  Even back then I realized it was out of hand, and I would try to moderate my servings by having just 1 or 2.


There are no helpful barriers since Oreos are packaged in huge quantities, meanwhile the milk is already poured and just sitting there pleading for its favorite cookie…

Lesson learned.  To have mercy on my willpower, I altogether banned these devil cookies and they hadn’t crossed my threshold in over a decade.  These days, I get my Oreo fix from the occasional scoop of cookies and cream here and there, out and about.

But this past week as people started talking about their impending Super Bowl feasts, a wonderful epiphany clicked with pin-drop clarity and heavenly chiming.

Super Bowl Sunday is the ultimate cheat day.  One day a year designed for unapologetic cookie sandwich gluttony.  And with Oreos being so portable and widely available, this is something I can make happen no matter where I happen to be watching the game!

How perfect would this have been?

I prepared all Sunday for my feast by having a very light breakfast and lunch.  I was hungry at kick-off!  Oddly enough, I even passed these up…

At a flea market food stand earlier in the day

Can we discuss for a moment the radical advances in OREO technology since I last shopped for them?  In addition to the peanut butter flavor featured above, we have:

Colorful and crafty



And we all know about double stuf, but did you know about this?

Why does this exist?  How much more can we take?




Other Mad-Eye Maryann ulta-cheat foods: Thin Mints, Mozzarella Sticks, Nachos.  Look out for these at a Super Bowl near you.

Annual Event + Do something easy + Immortalize on blog = Insta-tradition!

No Cable, No Super Bowl? Problem Solved!

No Cable! No Super Bowl?

We will be watching the Super Bowl after all!  Plugged the TV cable directly into the wall, and we got the first 12 channels.  In HD!

<imagine joyous singing> N. B. C. </imagine joyous singing>

Madonna, yes!  VW “Dog Strikes Back” commercial, yes!  A great excuse to purchase and eat oreos for once, yes!

We even had a cable splitter handy.  Internet, forever!

Does this constitute digital larceny?  I don’t know.  Am I baiting the wrath of the cable gods and asking for my just desserts by wondering about this out loud online?  Don’t know that either.

Will any of that stop me from posting this? . . .

No Cable! No Super Bowl?

Now that I’m a rabid football fan, I realized that I need a way to watch the Super Bowl this Sunday.

Here’s the dilemma:

Even though everyone hates it now (is this still true?), I absolutely love Netflix.  A little bit more each day.  Which means that every day you see me, that is the most in love with Netflix that I have ever been.  I even cancelled my cable because I decided that Netflix streaming was all I ever needed, TV-showing-me-things-wise.

Ordinarily this is awesome.  Netflix adds new content all the time, and instead of mindlessly flipping through TV trash, I can mindlessly watch back to back episodes of carefully hand-selected trash.  Which in my case this means How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock, Cheers, and Bones.

But what happens when you want to watch a live sporting event?  Like, oh maybe, the Super Bowl?

Here are some options I’m considering:

1) Plug the TV right into the wall and hope for the best.  Via the cable cable, of course.  After all, the Super Bowl will be broadcast (in HD even) through the single-digit free channels, right?  But will I need a cable box to make this work?

Maybe in the future I will test things out and THEN blog about them so I can foster knowledge, not confusion.

2) Watch it streaming or  Apparently this is the first time ever that the game will be streaming, which begs the question – why is this just now happening?  Have we finally hit the Netflix-replacing-cable breaking point of society?  Is the NFL an old boy institution that has finally had its ivory tower breached by this newfangled streaming technology after years of espionage and covert ops?

At least one football fan over at BleacherReport believes that this will forever change the Super Bowl, and in a good way.  Apparently “fairweather football fans” have been ruining the Super Bowl Sunday experience for decades by turning it into a casual social event.  Now our obnoxious gossip and general hijinks will be handily tuned out with a phone stream and some headphones.

But I ask you, BleacherReport, isn’t it a travesty to watch the game on your phone instead of in full 46-inch high-definition beads-of-sweat, muscle-rippling, teeth-flying-out glory?  I vote Yea, which is why I’m hoping NOT to have to resort to this option.

3) Watch it in a sports bar or coffee shop or other public place.

Pros: Watching for free with tons of excited people without even having to make friends!

Cons: 1- establishments such as these were filled to the max just for the playoff games, so there’s a low likelihood of favorable capacity (though the local team isn’t playing this time, so maybe people will stay home).  2- I won’t have to make any friends (see also: the “Pros” list).

4) Invite myself over to a Super Bowl party.

Pros: Make Friends! Party! TV with Super Bowl!

Cons: Make Friends?  By Sunday?  All of a sudden I’m flashing back to the tenth grade homecoming dance.

5) Don’t watch the Super Bowl at all.  The chance of this is well above zero.

Best. Commercial. Ever.
I almost want to have a kid and a VW just for the purposes of reenactment (child participation mandatory).

Are you watching the game?  Where will you be?

Update: No Cable, No Super Bowl? Problem Solved!