Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Author: Quix Page 1 of 204

EU Vacation – Planes, Trains, and Berlin

24 days in Europe.

I’m not sure I have the words. It’s a good thing I have pictures. This is going to take a few posts, and I’ll sprinkle them into the “returning to real-life” ones this fall. For example, I “race” in a few days. I’m pretty confident I can limp through a sprint triathlon on very little training, but I won’t lie, I’m curious if I can make it through 3 miles of running without walking right now. Walking 10 miles and standing for hours? Sure. Running? Yeah…

Anyhoo, let’s get to the travel part. 🙂

We flew out at 4pm on Monday and using our time travel powers to blast into the future, we landed in Berlin at about 1:30pm Tuesday after a quick change in Frankfurt. I was a little apprehensive about a 10+ hour flight, but the plane was rather comfortable even in the coachiest of coach seats and with a cruising altitude of 40k feet it was smooth as silk. As the sun set, we were served some tortellini and salad for dinner, accompanied by unlimited wine/beer (we had 2 just to relax). I tried to get some sleep, and I might have found 45 mins total here and there, but I really just tucked into my book.

Like 3 hours later – since we had crossed about 5 time zones, the sun came up. It was bizarre. Then, they served us a veggie sandwich and some yogurt for breakfast and it was pretty much time to be awake again!

After deplaning, we waited for all our luggage. And waited… and waited… and finally we gave up on our coworker’s bag and headed to the hotel. The girls’ taxi driver was very calm, and the boys’ was apparently CRAZY and arrived the same time even though they departed 15 mins earlier. We checked in, took a very quick shower, and ambled to work for some meetings.

The Berlin wall was half a block from the hotel and was the backdrop to half of the commute. It was interesting that such a heavy and significant piece of history is now covered in colorful modern art and I didn’t take nearly as many pictures of it as I wanted. We toured the office, made introductions to faces that had previously just been names in emails, and had some in person meetings not possible before this trip, it was super nice to connect!

We ate doners and then our coworkers walked us almost the whole way home, and we paused at an outdoor bar for one beer to watch the sunset on the Spree.

We begged off quickly and slept for 12 hours. It was glorious!

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After a lovely hotel room arm workout and breakfast, we assembled our crew and made the trek again to the office for a full day of work. It was very productive in the quiet hours of the German morning while everyone in the US was asleep and later we gathered for marketing strategy meetings in person in the same time zone (again, so novel). Then, my folks in the US started waking up and I squeezed in as many meetings as possible before they put a beer in front of me and then kicked us out to go have fun.

We took a train to the other side of town and went to a biergarten, where I had my first currywurst (it was… adequate… very much drinking/kids food).

After enough beer, I required somewhere that would serve me something else, so we wandered the streets of Berlin and made our way to a nightclub in an alleyway, which sounds incredibly sketchy but apparently is super normal here.

After a few hours of excellent company and conversation, we were getting sleepy, and retired to the hotel to have one more beverage/water before bed, and all of a sudden, the sun started to threaten the darkness much earlier than expected. The hotel’s breakfast had just opened, so we grabbed a bite to eat and then crashed. Jet lag is rough.

We didn’t sleep long enough but our orders for the day were to NOT work and to go sightsee, so we obeyed. We saw the Brandenburg gate, a beautiful park, the capital building, and then wandered along the Spree for a while before we stopped for some late lunch and listened to some awful tourists complain to the waiter that there was no AC. I get it, but do you see air conditioning around here anywhere? Please read the room city. It’s not like they can magic the mostly outdoor restaurant cold for you. Sigh.

After many kilometers (I’ll try to use the metric system here on out!) on foot for the day, we took the train back to the hotel, intending to perhaps get a little work done. We missed our exit and got off at one a few miles away intending to turn right around and catch the return train 5 minutes later. It didn’t appear, and then everyone was gone. I knew enough German to look at the signs that had schedules now said, “Police warning” and told my people we should probably vacate the premises and find out what’s going on. Officials directed us out of the station and out to the streets, where I overheard “die bombe”, and we confirmed later that they found an old WW2 bomb near that stop.

Apparently, it’s a normal thing in Berlin but was pretty wild for us. It also meant we had a pretty long walk ahead of us (5k+ in over 30C heat) and found ourselves sweaty, exhausted, and enough time just to shower and pack and get ourselves to the train. Luckily, we had some nice seats with a table, so I got some work done anyway, and watched the German countryside go by at hundreds of kilometers per hour.

Without incident, we arrived in Hamburg at around 9pm, checked into our hotel which was 200m away from the train station, and found excellent Turkish food right across the street.

More about Hamburg next time!

What was, what is, what will be…

One of the reasons this blog exists, the main one, actually, is to preserve history.

At this point in history, I was in my second favorite hammock

It’s my own little slice, skewed through my view through my whatever-colored-glasses I’m wearing at the time, full of bias and error, but it’s useful to me. One thing it reminds me of is that in some years, I spent time meticulously crafting my meals for the week, ensuring that I was getting the right kind of carbs, highest diet quality, attending to my macros, etc. Yesterday, I ate a quarter of a leftover sandwich, five taquitos in the air fryer, and chicken tikka folded into a tortilla.

However, another thing I can remember through history is the years I’ve made the most progress, it’s not been about quality, it’s been about quantity, and I’m doing a decent-ish job there the last week.

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Unfortunately, this just gets me BACK to where I was after a sub-par July, but the line is going in the right direction, so I shall call it a win.

It’s rather challenging to build muscle and lose weight at the same time, and I reread some history and found this in 2018 as well. I spent a few months plateaued while I picked up and put down heavy things, and then the weight started to fall off once I went into maintenance mode and prioritized diet and cardio with all the shiny new muscle. I was only about 5 lbs down from where I am right now when I won my age group and qualified for nationals. It feels like such a far stretch right now, but I need to remember to trust the process and sometimes things don’t happen on the timeline I want them to just by willing them into existence (but that doesn’t mean they’re not happening).

And happening with new leggings (I have been on a bit of a CVG kick)

The cardio is going about as well as before:

Starting Tuesday after our last gym session and theater tickets, we are on pre-travel quarantine. We’re only leaving the house when absolutely necessary and masking up when we do. This means we’re saying goodbye to the elliptical for a while and back to running, biking, and swimming for exercise. I had a heck of a week at work and ended up missing a few intended cardio sessions, but I’m pretty okay with a short swim, a short run, an elliptical, and three bikes along with the three weights sessions clocking in at 4 hours total. I have to remember a very stripped-down workout calendar for me is some peoples #gymgoals so right now it can be mine too.

Speaking of the run, I absolutely cannot wait to get a few miles a few times a week in Europe in the beautiful 60-degree mornings. I expect most of my cardio will be walking, and some of my weight training will be 12-ounce (beer, Germany) or 4-ounce (wine, Paris) curls, but I would like to make sure I do some running as well given the beautiful weather.

It won’t be my usual vacay bevvies (and no scuba diving either)

Let’s talk about our imminent travels. I’m getting unreasonably nerv-cited for this upcoming trip. It’s mind boggling how much will occur in the next month before I board a plane home:

  • Meeting colleagues/working in Berlin, seeing as many sights as possible in the short time we’re there
  • Meeting colleagues/working in Hamburg, including the CEOs, and spending the weekend checking out the city, perhaps taking a river cruise and a bike ride.
  • Talking to press and attending Gamescom in Cologne, and also checking out the city once that’s over (I’d love to find a great place to watch sunset overlooking the skyline).
  • Spending a day in Brussels getting a street Belgian waffle and visiting the Grand Place and Mont des Arts
  • Taking over a week in Paris to get hundreds of pictures of the Eiffel tower at different times per day (our hotel is two blocks away), eat amazing food and drink my favorite wine in the world, see a show at the Moulin Rouge, go to Disneyland Paris, and so much more (you might be able to tell where my research time has gone, heh)
Looking forward to my own version of this at sunset, sunrise, daytime, and nighttime.

This is not one of those “sit on the beach and drink pina coladas” type trips, and I am absolutely here for the adventure. I’m also VERY happy I had the foresight to make Kerrville triathlon (just a few weeks after we return) a sprint only, as I’d rather focus on this amazing opportunity and get my cardio tromping all over town than riding my bike for 50 miles @ 150 watts. I mean, I’m totally open to doing a bike ride (and actually planning on it with a colleague one day in Hamburg if all goes as planned), but it should be for funsies.

If I fall off the map for a bit, just know it’s because I’m travelling all around it. 🙂

Ramble on (and on)

It’s one of those weeks where I sit down without much to say but feel like rambling anyway, so here’s 88 lines about 44 things.

Haven’t taken very many selfies lately but editing March photos makes me nostalgic for weather where I can wear this…

My poor, sore muscles:

Remember when I so brazenly said chest and shoulders was my easy day? The Squat Witch gave us a new chest/shoulder workout and two days later typing is hard. We did high set high rep (4×15) on all manner of press machines at different angles, I can’t even name them. We also changed up our back and bicep workout this week, but it wasn’t memorably bad as this one. I’m pretty sure leg day is still #1 for pain and suffering but this is damn close.

After Tuesday, we begin our two-week quarantine before travelling. I do NOT want to get sick and miss this trip, so I figure better safe than sorry. This means only leaving the space station when we absolutely must and donning multiple masks for any spacewalks necessary. This also means we have to stay home from the gym the next two weeks, so we’ll improvise our workouts the best we can from here, though we have plenty of equipment to do so.

Glad to be back to this type of fun this month

However, when we go to Europe, none of the places we’re staying have gyms. So, once we arrive, it’s back to bodyweight exercises. Should be easy enough to cobble together a leg day like:

  • 3×20 squats
  • 3×20 reverse lunges each side
  • 3×15 single leg piston squats
  • 3×20 bridge lifts each side
  • 3×20 calf raises each side

Back and Biceps might be more challenging, but seems like the internet provides:

Chest and shoulders should be decently easy.

I’ll hold off on making full workouts in case the squat witch wants to make them for us, but at least there are options.

As for the cardio, we’ve been averaging about 4x week, which isn’t quite where I’d like to be, but it’s close enough. The majority is on the elliptical machine, but I ran and swam once this week and biked twice, and mostly remembered how to do the sports, so that’s encouraging.

Squeezing in as much of this in the next two weeks as possible

In Europe, even though I’ll completely drop swimming, I will try to squeeze in a few runs and imagine I will be very active walking or city biking everywhere. In an alternate 2022 timeline, I had hoped to be in condition to race Kerrville Sprint at the end of September but spending 3.5 weeks away means that our level of training only really nets “participation” levels again. C’est la vie. I can race triathlons other years; I can’t always spend almost a month abroad.

Things, and cakehole shoving:

I have kept a food log for the last two weeks. Sometimes I’m catching up a few days and tracking after the fact, but I’m making an effort to keep it up. Log says I’m right around 1500 (1516)/day this week, which is decent, but with my level of activity lately (not much), I should be closer to 1300-1400 average. Also, tracking after the fact probably means my accuracy is not 100% there. I’m sure there’s some other bits and bobbles I’m not remembering so perhaps safer to say around 1600-1700.

This is what my weight is doing this month after totally ignoring any weighing/tracking for the first half. It’s not awesome.

Hopefully two weeks of lockdown before vacation can also mean two weeks of good clean eating to make progress in the right direction. I continue to aim to try all the things in Europe but also keep the portions reasonable.

Goals ‘n Stuff

It is beyond crazy to me that 7 months have passed since New Years. While goal #2 is in progress (losing weight) and goal #3 didn’t pan out for the right reasons (become a two-time Ironman finisher), I still had other ambitions for the year.

Goal #1 – Work Life Balance – this is getting much better. In the last month or two, I have been able to hand off many of the extra hats I was wearing, which has really helped my workload. I have done some late night and weekend work, but this has been in place of some normal work hours, not in addition. If I were to meticulously log my time, I’d guess I’m pretty close to 40 hours a week right now. It’s just not a continuous 8 hours daily. I tend to bug out early to do chores, workout, eat dinner, and/or relax in the pool and return later in the evening to get some quiet focused time that’s difficult during business hours. The next step is to be able to work a contiguous 8, and that will take some level of further discipline on my part to confine message correspondence to specific windows throughout the day instead of the moment they come in.

Part of the balance I have been lacking is prioritizing any sort of recovery or injury prevention. I haven’t stretched, used the massage boots, rolled, or anything like that for quite a while. I will pat myself on the back that I have had two massages in the last two months, I need to do more. My back is holding up like a champ, it’s almost not worth discussing anymore, and my heel/calf is reasonably cooperating (but I have given it a nice long break without much running, so we shall see…). So, here we start again. Stretching is absolutely something I can do in Europe, and I shall endeavor to start again today and continue 3x week henceforth.

Some weeks the iguana makes more use of the guitar than I do

Some other notables from the goal bucket:

  • Finding my pavlovian relaxation response: right now, it’s the pool and it’s doing wonders for my stress levels. I’ll have to figure out what happens in late fall/winter but that’s a problem for future me.
  • Three new guitar songs: I’m about 1.75 in (Pearl Jam – Black is in the can, California Dreamin’ is allllmost there). I hadn’t picked up the guitar much in the last few months (race, vacation, covid, spending lots of time in the pool, etc) but I’m back to it a few times a week. It makes me happy.
  • Paintings: ehhhh. I finished two, started two more, and they sit on the craft table. I have been less than motivated here (maybe I will be more motivated when the pool doesn’t call my name daily). Maybe I’ll pick this up in the fall/winter.
  • Writing: I actually opened up my Fork Files, and took a look, and haven’t done anything else with it. It finally dawned on me this morning why I’m not doing this – I’m scratching and clawing for focus time to work, stealing it sometimes in early mornings, late nights, and weekends. I can’t justify adding a hobby that I also have to go in a hole for hours to concentrate on and spend even more time in my office with the door shut. Writing about my silly bard made and still makes me smile, and after two years perspective, I’d love to start taking that and working it into something someone NOT familiar to the campaign might enjoy, but this may not be the year.
  • See the doctor: done! And, I need to go back and have a minor procedure later this year, which is no big deal, but I am not looking forward to because I have gotten away with a checkup and a wave every other year.
  • Investment property: have talked a lot about it but kind of waiting on a few things and also deciding exactly WHERE to do this (is it Austin area or somewhere else?).
  • Get the floor fixed: sighhh. Yeah, haven’t done anything about this. We may prioritize the master bathroom first since the tile is falling away from the wall at some points. Maybe both. Maybe I just continue to keep my head in the sand and do neither. Can someone just come in and fix my house for me without me having to decide things and bear the mental burden of making it happen?
I’ve got nothing relevant here, so have a picture of a peacock

All in all, 2022 is a VAST improvement so far on the two years preceding, and I’m hoping to make some progress on the most important thing (losing weight/getting buff) in the back half of the year and perhaps make some progress on some of the smaller objectives as well.

The whine, the squat witch, and trotting the globe

For all the big words I had here, I’m afraid I had very little action.

Leg day starts with smiles but doesn’t usually end there.

But not none. So, let’s catch up on life, liberty, and the pursuit of de-fluffification, shall we?

The good:

I have now completed week three of strength training with the Squat Witch, otherwise known as Brie, our personal trainer, who earned this nickname on our first leg day together. I can and do keep up with strength on my own, I know what to do, but gosh I get stuck in a rut and will do the things that are a little easier for me when working muscles instead of seeking out true gains. Having someone else tell you what to do takes away any of that temptation.

For posterity, our workouts right now are:

Leg day:

3×20 bosu ball squats, 3×15 stepback lunges to knee raise w/dumbells, 3×15 step ups on the box to knee raise w/dumbells

Back and biceps:

2×30 assisted pullups (10×3 different grips), 3×12 wide pulldowns, 3×12 narrow pulldowns, 3×15 wide rows, 3×15 low rows

Chest and shoulders:

(first four while balancing shoulders only on the ball) 3×12 bench, 3×10 alternating bench, 3×12 champagne lifts (arms together), 3×12 reverse flys

(standing) 3×15 front raises, 3×12 lat raises, 3×15 shoulder presses

I have ranked them in terms of difficulty. Leg day is a killer. It’s only three things but you only need three things. It takes 30 mins to do these three things. I feel like a baby deer after. Back and biceps are challenging but doable. Chest and shoulder day is my happy fun day since these are strengths for me and I probably could handle more weight but we’re working our way there.

The okay:

I have also done a pretty decent job sticking to cardio. Oddly enough, when I’m not faced with the need to do super long and challenging sessions, I seem to be better at fitting them in and not actively avoiding them.

The general “cardio” is ~30 minutes on the elliptical. I’m not trying to push myself to go brave the heat and run or bike outside this summer, and while I’d like to have more swims logged (hello, it’s right outside my door and I can go do it for 5 minutes if I only have that much time), this is good progress to be regularly doing SOMETHING instead of actively avoiding it. I think it may be at least three times per week that I comment to Joel, “I’m SO GLAD we took this summer off long distance triathlons”. It’s just stupid outside, even for Austin, and I’m not here for it this year.

The view from the pool, which is the only place I want to be outside in this 105+ degree weather.

I intend to get back to running on the treadmill a little, maybe splitting my time half and half on the elliptical, but there’s no rush. I just need to remember how to run a 5k off the bike in 2 months.

The bad:

I know how to lose weight. It is no secret to me. It involves tracking all the food that goes in my mouth with consistency and accuracy. It involves 1200-1400 calories most days. It involves sucking it up, buttercup, and I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. I’ve had many fits and starts lately where I’ve begun tracking on Monday and by Wednesday life is busy and the habit goes *poof*. Then, I get grumpy and stop weighing myself and then all of a sudden, it’s 3 months later and I’ve gained weight.

I’m not letting myself get to that point. I got back on the scale this week, even if I haven’t been tracking my food like clockwork, and each day I’ve been either 189 or 190. This means that July has trended about half to one lb up from June. It’s not ideal, and I wanted to LOSE weight, but in hindsight with my intake, it’s what I deserve.

Sometimes leaving the house means you get views like this but it also means a lot of food temptation

So, I leave for a 3.5-week trip to Europe in 3 weeks. I could say eff it and I’ll get back to it when I get home, but I’m not. I’m going to at least try. If somehow, things go amazing, I could be 5 lbs down when I leave and that would make me feel happy and confident. So, starting today, I track all the things and I shall aim to have 100% logged for the next 3 weeks. I refuse to spend my first trip abroad dieting, and look forward to trying all the German, Belgian, and French foods and beverages, but maybe I can be a reasonable human being with the quantities. Also, I imagine that I will spend a lot of time on foot seeing the sights, and I’ll be trying to keep up with strength even if all I can do is bodyweight exercises in the hotel room.

So, for the millionth and first time, I start again. If anyone reads these entries, I’m sure you’re sick of hearing this, and I’m sick of saying this. However, when you get off track, even if it’s often, even if you feel foolish doing so, it’s important to be stubborn AF patient and persistent and get up at least one more time than you fall down.

Krause Springs Camping (hello to my trees)

For some reason, I wasn’t super excited about this trip.

Ladies and gentlepeoples, we’ve found the bard!

Like, at all. I decided not to completely clear my schedule and bring my work laptop with because this felt simply like an obligation to be there a few days and keep our 4th of July camping spot. Also, I feel like I’ve had a LOT of time out of work lately – May’s two week vacation, June’s adventures with Covid, some other appointments and other nonsense on Fridays interrupting my one focused workday per week last month, and now here I am in July taking yet more time? I mean, it’s not like I feel guilty or anything – stuff happens – but I DO feel behind the 8 ball right now even though things are actually reasonable at work right now.

So, I headed to Krause Springs almost reluctantly, not expecting much. Instead, I had a very nice relaxing time and enjoyed myself immensely.

A rare and wondrous sight (no one in the pool!)

We crafted our camping schedule around what other people would NOT want to do. Since the holiday was on Monday, we figured most people would just take a long weekend. So, instead, we came in on Sunday, and planned to leave Thursday, hoping for two nice, relaxing mid-week days with barely anyone there. Though it defied my natural logic to squeeze in every moment of camping possible, I did not have us leave on Friday night or even Saturday, which gave us most of the weekend to get packed. When did we pack? Pretty much Sunday morning. 🙂

When we rolled in around 1pm, it was super crowded as expected. Setup hit a few snags – we left the camper keys on the counter, so we had to get creative about getting into some locked areas (luckily, we are both at least moderately trained rogues), and the pop up didn’t want to pop up correctly – but with some help from our very gregarious neighbor, we worked it out and quickly started our vacation with some hot dogs, pasta salad, and a cold one, appreciating our view.

The next two days were classic Krause Springs camping – a healthy sonic diet of classic rock and ambient electronica filled our space station while we devoured the current trashy LIT RPG series that we’re both reading (Noobtown) and mostly avoided the populace. Every so often, we’d take a walk to the pool, jump in to cool off, and walk back to enjoy our trees – either from under their shade or through the window of our air-conditioned escape.

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We crafted a plethora of delicious cuisine de camp, including fancy steak dinner, greek chicken plates, and a really great BBQ bacon cheeseburger.

The fireworks show was as always, a lovely spectacle, and the reason why we choose to camp at this particular place and time every year.

Not from this year, but the fireworks are always spectacular!

I’m finding that I’m trending toward early to bed and early to rise on vacations lately, which is convenient when you’re camping in temperatures rivalling the center of the sun. I caught two sunrises (!!) which is a first for me here at Krausse (usually here I’m more of a “stay up late, sleep until mid-morning” kind of gal), and we found some more temperate time in the butterfly gardens and to hike the property before it was too hot or crowded.

So, we got these sorts of awesome lens flare angles 🙂

I spent these hot hours on Tuesday working – first taking some meetings in the late morning and then going offline and working on a presentation during the afternoon. This was one of the reasons I felt behind – and while one wouldn’t normally consider work a relaxing vacation activity – digging into this without interruption for half a day was super relaxing to me and made me feel calmer.

Wednesday, I did my best not to work too much, maybe an hour or two of answering emails and chats, but I did spend some time researching how I wanted to level up my D&D character for our work campaign, so that somewhat (not really) counts. We decided it was the day to try the BBQ joint (Opie’s) we drive past every year on the way. The sweet and spicy ribs and the tater tot casserole were both decadent treats, and free butterbeans and bbq beans were a nice surprise, but everything else was just okay. I’d go back again if we didn’t feel like cooking one day, but I wouldn’t go out of the way to plan for it every year.

We spent the afternoon at the falls, relaxing in our tubes watching kids launch themselves off the rope swing. After we returned to the space station, we noticed we had no cell service, which was totally fine though I had need for it the next morning since I had a meeting I couldn’t miss.

We fell asleep rather early and woke for another sunrise, and also noticed the cell service was still not reliable. Instead of going back to sleep, we just packed up the camper and headed out around 9am, so I could take my meeting on the road, and before 11am, we were home, unpacked, and back to work!

It was a short and sweet trip, and while I certainly have enjoyed our longer sojourns here in years past, four nights was enough to defrag our brains a bit and find our quietude.

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