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Friday, April 29, 2011

Catching up....

Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers for us as we grieve for Alfred. We drove to Atlanta for his memorial last weekend and, although that was such a sad time, it was also good to see friends and remember so many happy times. We are helping Alfred's widow in any way we can, which right now mostly means paperwork. Having something to do is, I think, important in the healing process.
My store opened Wednesday. It was a soft-opening to work out all the kinks, but we actually broke even yesterday (day two)! Our goal is to hit break-even point in a year.*
David brought me flowers on his lunch break on opening  day, which was sweet. We'll be meeting with hospital officials, doctors, and clinics soon to determine how best we can serve them - and get that in place before our "grand opening" in four weeks.
The store is a new, hospital-specific design. I have etched glass signage and I realized yesterday that my name is on the door.That's job security, eh?
It has been SO SWEET how many medical students, residents, doctors, and pharmacists I know have stopped by to say hi at my new store! Those who couldn't visit called to congratulate.
That's my waiting room!

 Last night after work I met David at City Park for the Louisiana Philharmonic's free outdoor concert. Sorry I failed you - in the rush of the funeral last week I forgot to post a "Cheap Date" post about that.  The weather was amazing last night and we listened the orchestra while eating a dinner of french bread, cheese, wine, and cantaloupe. It was just the relaxing night I needed. 
Today I'm off to try a new route to work. There is construction on the most direct route, so I've been experimenting with alternate ways to get there.
Do you always go to work the same way? Or do you change it up? Some doctors think that's a good way to keep the brain fresh!
* Break even point is when you fill enough scripts in a day to cover your rent, salary, dispensed drug cost, and expenses. However, obviously we didn't truly break even because I have a couple million dollars in inventory sitting on my shelves. And my third party payers - your insurance - probably won't reimburse me for three months. I won't really break even for a while!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Karhu Fluid Fulcrum Ride

Last year I bought my first pair of Karhu's because they were on clearance at Sierra Trading Post. This year, as all my shoes uselessly wear out at the same time, I bought another pair. On clearance. From Sierra Trading Post. With this kind of creativity I should write for SNL.
More linoleum for your viewing pleasure
This time I got the Fluid Fulcrum Ride, a cushioned trainer. It's not my first choice  - I'd prefer to wear a racing shoe for every run. But since Karhu's are so light to begin with, their heaviest neutral shoe is just 8.9 ounces! (the men's is 10.7 ounces). I still have a pair of racing flats (which I decided I don't like because of their stiff arch area), barefoot shoes, and my Karhu Fast Fulcrum's, so I needed a more general purpose shoe. This fits the bill, and using the coupon code ALAPRIL1 from Sierra I got them for $42, including shipping. Can't beat that!
So why did I buy another pair of Karhu's, you ask? Is it because it's fun to say their name? Or because they're Finish, which vaguely reminds me that I shouldn't quit mid-marathon and go back to bed? Or maybe because they keep redesigning them and I keep scoring clearance pairs?*
None of the above! I really like the squishy soft ride, the light weight, the flexible sole, and the whole fulcrum thing. Remember I don't like things that mess with your stride - this doesn't; it just reduces unnecessary (non-stride) movements that waste energy and slow you down. By the way the website doesn't explain it that's an updated site; the old one was better.
Not very many places carry Karhu's (the link to the nearest dealer in my area directed me to Boulder, Colorado), so they can be difficult to buy since you can't try them on. You can refer to my first post for fit details, but I will mention that the more current styles have a shorter toe box. The early styles had a longer toe box, which wearers complained about.
Sizing is basically identical to other running shoes - I went up a size from regular shoes, and got the same size as all my other running shoes. If you haven't tried Karhu's, I would suggest first trying to find your size on sale just to see if they fit you well - then if you love them, you can buy a pair at full price.

Does anyone else out there wear Karhu's? If not, what shoe brand are you loyal to?

* This may be the real reason.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rock 'n Roll Mardi Gras/New Orleans coupon code

Hey, they renamed my favorite marathon. Poo. Oh well, at least it's cheap.
At the 2011 RnR Mardi Gras marathon, now "New Orleans". Best race pic ever.

Through April 27th  you can register for just $60 for the half or $65 for the full if you use the coupon code ALUMNI.
Cool. See you there next year  ;-)

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Somnio Nada: a "barefoot" shoe review

Somnio sent me a pair of the new Nadas, free-for-nothin' (as my father in law says), and here, my friends, is my review.
First of all, about the Nadas: I thought the name was cleverly Spanish. You know, nada = nothing. But actually it's a pun on "not a shoe". Ah! I like puns! These are very, very, light shoes with very, very little stability or padding. They are a minimalist, "barefoot" type shoe. They only weight 3.5 ounces, which I love!
So, the looks: Pretty cute. But they're meant to be unisex and I daresay guys would be offended by the glitter laces.

The fit: The nada runs large as running shoes go, which means you should order the size you actually wear in a regular shoe. My pair are size 8.5-9 womens/7-7.5 men's. In regular shoes, I wear a women's 8.5-9; in running shoes I wear a women's 9.5 or a men's 8.5. The Nada's toe box is wide (which you will need as you will be spreading your toes as you land) and the shoe features diagonal stitching and a seamless upper for an easily adjustable fit. 
Compared to Saucony Triumph (men's)

The function: You will definitely run like you're barefoot in this shoe because there is minimal sole and a "zero drop" (ie, the heel isn't elevated). However, the sole is actually very durable and protects the foot well.  I consider it a good thing that I had to keep reminding myself to think about the shoe when I was running: I kept forgetting about them, and isn't that what you want in a minimalist shoe?
After about 30 miles
There are two things I like about this particular barefoot-type shoe:
1. Because it actually has a normal sole, it is possible to spread your landing across the midfoot. Since I have a high arch, my plain old bare foot couldn't land in the middle, so more stress was concentrated on the forefoot.
2. The fit is much easier, simpler, and more comfortable than other barefoot shoes. By this I mean Vibrams. The Vibram toe-shoe fit is complicated (sizing varies based on style and is unrelated to any other sizing pattern) and if you're feet aren't actually shaped like pizza slices with perfectly spaced toes, you won't get a good fit. My feet are weird.
Please don't laugh at my feet. I am illustrating that with my deformed pinky toe Vibrams do not fit.
It's quite easy to adjust the laces on the Nadas to get a pretty snug fit no matter the width of your foot...or the weirdness of your toes.
The Nadas come with a kind of funny dvd of foot and leg exercises meant to prepare one for barefoot running, but I'll just tell you that you should start slow and be prepared for sore calves.
The value: Price is comparable to other minimalist shoes ($80). The shoe may appear flimsy because there is NO stitching on the upper at all, just bonding, but they're tough. I attempted to beat them up and failed.Well-constructed.
The bad: The bright red insole of the Nadas bleeds. I've worn them about ten times and all my socks turned pink. Just FYI.
The summary: I'd buy them over other minimalist shoes. They're a shoe you don't have to think about - they protect your sole and that's about all. When you're trying to run more naturally, you don't want your shoes to be a distraction (weird stitching, funny fit, shoes is falling off, toes feel like they're in a torture device...etc). The Nada's won't be. You'll think you're barefoot.
***Editor's note: I drafted this post several weeks ago but I've gotten more use out of the shoes since then. I found that if I simply ignored my gait and ran like I always do I felt the best. The furthest I've worn these shoes for is 8 miles, and I promise I actually felt great afterward. Definitely work up to that distance, though. Bottom line is, the more I wear the Nadas the more I love them, and I will definitely be buying another pair when these die. ***

Friday, April 22, 2011

Free Starbucks Coffee

Starbucks is offering free coffee or tea today to celebrate earth day! Just bring in your reusable mug or cup.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Out of the office

I took a vacation day tomorrow so we can travel to Alfred's memorial. The memorial services are Saturday, but he is being cremated and his ashes interred later when his mother can be present. Since she recently had double bypass surgery and is elderly and rather frail, she will not be able to attend the services (she is not expected to be discharged for several more days and she lives a 13 hour drive away from Alfred ).
David will be speaking at the services, as Al's closest friend, and this will be a difficult task for him. He is still very emotional (as expected) and feels the loss keenly.
It's hard for me to comfort him when there is nothing I can do to lessen the pain.
I would appreciate prayers for safe travels and peace for the family.
Happy Easter!

Best ab workout with no equipment required

Read: No exercise ball required. My tiny apartment does NOT have room for a bright purple bouncy toy. Besides, it might damage some of my priceless antiques, like my stove.
I like ab workouts that don't require anything but your six pack and maybe a yoga mat or a rug. And here's a great one I found in out local paper.

After just five repeats of the continuous crunch, I was feeling it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In memory

Last night we received a heart breaking phone call. David's best friend since pre-school, Alfred, was in the ICU with septic shock. We are very, very close to this family and they suffered much loss in Katrina; currently his mom is recovering from double bypass and his sisters are overwhelmed with grief.
The prognosis was very poor last night and we were on the phone all night with his family, but sadly he passed away this morning.
Alfred after our wedding ceremony
This unexpected crisis took his life in less than 12 hours.
Please be in prayer for his mother and father, his two sisters, and most of all his wife and two-year-old daughter.
We already miss you, Alfred.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pharmacy Glamour Shots

For my new job I have to submit a head shot for a marketing brochure. The hubby took three pictures. All of them are crap because I threw wet hair in a bun earlier so when I took it down I had hair going every which way. Oh well.
Which one should I pick?
1. Chipper smile

2. Ann Hathaway double

3. Jungle pharmacist

Monday, April 18, 2011

Marathon Envy

Good luck, Boston runners. You rock. I am insanely jealous that you're running a race on a Monday. Just thought I'd share that with ya.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Summer Race Schedule and GOALS

To snap out of my running funk, I took (some of) your advice and decided to check out some upcoming races. I planned to jump-start everything with a 5k this very morning, held literally outside the door of my in-law's home in Bay St. Louis. WE could combine a race with a beach vacation! We drove an hour and a half through traffic to get there last night, and my hubby realized he forgot my travel bag. I had no clothes, no bathing suit, no running shoes, nothing. So we turned around and drove all the way home, and I yelled at the hubby for most of the ride.* So that was our Friday night.
 This morning I looked over upcoming races, and I pretty much have to settle for 5ks or 1 miles. So here's what's coming up:
Bubba Gump Shrimp 5k, May 1st.
Greek Fest 5k, May 27. A Friday night race that includes entry to the Greek Fest. Last year I had a stomach bug and threw up during the race. Then I ate Greek food all night and threw up again the next day. Ah, memories.
Free for all!!!! The New Orleans Track Club has a series of free 2-mile races throughout the summer. They're at 7 pm on week nights: perfect for my work schedule.
The next "long" race is an as-yet-unscheduled 10 miler in September. It should ease the way into a season of half-marathons and marathons.
My goals for this year (!!! If I put it on the interweb it must come true !!!)...
1. Run a 5k under 21 minutes. This is actually kind of conservative but I am so bad at 5k's I want to give myself a chance; plus the summer heat and humidity really kills my speed. So for me, this will be very difficult.
2. Run one of the free 2 milers in 13:15. Same reasoning as above.
3. Get huge muscles. The gym is air conditioned at least, and my gym is really close to my new job.
4. Lose extra fat. I'm not overweight, but if I want to stack up PR's I need to be really lean. This will be a challenge for me since I'm already very close to goal weight and I have a sluggish metabolism (I only have a tiny part of my thyroid). I haven't formulated a plan for this yet but I think it might involve making David eat the huge bag of chocolates stashed under my desk.
I don't have a race schedule yet, but here are a few loose goals:
1. Run a half-marathon in 1: 36 or under. Now this is getting brave. The handy-dandy Mcmillan calculator tells me I'm out of my mind.
2. Qualify for the NYC marathon at either a marathon or half marathon. This is getting REALLY lofty. My marathon PR is 3:27  under ideal conditions (flat course, great weather, normal stomach). I'd have to run a 3:23. But I think I have a 3:23 in me. I could also qualify with a 1:37 half, so I could combine this goal with the first goal. I actually think the marathon would be easier for me - the longer the race, the better I tend to do.
So there you have it. Big goals that need big plans. When I get my plans together, I'll share those, too.
Have an awesome weekend!
*Everything is ok now. I apologized for yelling and David bought almond croissants from the patisserie down the street so we're even.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What just happened here?!

I went out for a run. Then I didn't feel like it and turned around and came home. Uh, what?! I've never done that! I LIKE to run!
That's actually why I came home instead of sticking it out. I don't want running to just be a routine or something I do so I don't get as big as a house (I'm about at "condo" right now).I want to keep it enjoyable. So I came home.
I don't know why I felt like this today. Maybe I'm just tired - I have been opening the store AND closing it during training (going home for the middle of the day) so I get the hang of procedures, and it's cutting into my sleep. I'm also stressed about my new store opening. We don't have a mailbox yet so our permits are floating off in space apparently; the supply order arrived without any of the items I really needed; the DEA is dragging their feet on our 222 forms so I can't order any narcotics.
Plus honestly running has been weird. I don't have a goal or any upcoming races and the humidity is slowing me down, and my shoes are all wearing out at once. I dabbled in barefoot running and I liked it, but I'm slower. So I'm conflicted. I guess I just need to pick some kind of plan and stick with it.
Ideas? Do you ever get, well, sick of running? How did you pull out of the slump?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A library across the street and a coffee shop next door!

Next to my new pharmacy is a coffee shop. I will perpetually be hyperactive. Right across the street is the main branch library.
Ok, so not the best lighting. I wasn't going to read in here or anything.

This is a small section of the downstairs. DOWNSTAIRS?! There are floors?!
This beats my current one-room library down the street all to pieces. I went there today after orientation and nearly swooned at the number of Wilkie Collins books they had.
I love libraries. You?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thank you!

You know what? You guys are awesome. Thanks for the congratulations on my new job. I definitely don't deserve them since this promotion basically fell into my lap, but they're absolutely appreciated all the same. SO SWEET.
And while I'm gushing, hello new readers, nice to see you. I will attempt to curb the incredibly boring posts and put up something amusing at some point so you won't all un-follow. For now I have nothing useful or interesting to say, since my brain is currently completely occupied with decreasing HIV transmission amongst rural minorities with strong religious ties (also I am trying to remember how to do a total void at the register. I'm kind of training for a diverse array of activities). So instead I will leave you with a link to some of Active's useful logs, including a route planner and a shoe tracker. Make sure you un-check the "daily emails" box!
Oh yeah, and tomorrow is free cone day at Ben and Jerry's.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I love this - Cloisonné bracelet

My Aunt, who is an all-things-Asian buff (she worked in China, Japan, and Indonesia and has followed the Silk Road) found this unmarked cloisonné bracelet in a bulk jewelry lot. It is old, and probably not meant for export.
I am basing this assumption on the limited range of colors; plus this bracelet is not stamped with country of origin, which was required in 1890 but was not enforced until recently. Bangles produced in China in the 1950's were rarely stamped, and that date range fits the bill for this item (my aunt thinks it is early 1900's based on the color palette, color mixing, and pitting, but bangles were much more common in the '50's!). The small size of the bangle opening yet fairly wide width indicates that the bracelet was meant for an adult, but a small adult - hence probably not intended for export. Most Chinese
cloisonné was gilded to cover copper wires used in the process, but all the gild except small bits on leaf details has rubbed off. This is typical, and other than that the bangle is in good condition; pitting is present in the enamel and it has lost its luster but it has worn well. 
Why do I love this bracelet so much? I love the look of bangles but I have pathetically skinny wrists. I rarely find a bracelet that doesn't look like a necklace draped over my small wrists, but this one fits perfectly without looking childish. As a bonus, the black enamel goes well with most outfits!
Do you have a favorite accessory or piece of jewelry that you wear over and over?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Foody Friday: easy artichokes

Last night I stayed up late waiting for the hubby to come home from a Hornets game (his friend took him) and decided to make a little midnight snack for when he returned. I steamed some artichokes and had artichokes with dipping sauce ready for him when he got home, paired with a Grenache (perhaps a sweeter wine would have been a better choice, to balance the lemon in the sauce).
Steaming artichokes:
Wash the artichokes and cut the stems off (leave about an inch). You can snip off the tips of each leaf but it's not required. Put in pot of cold water with several cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed (to smash, put un-peeled garlic on cutting board and lay the flat of a wide knife blade over it. Slam your fist onto it. The peel will easily fall away and the garlic will be sufficiently smashed), a large slice of lemon, a teaspoon of salt, and two bay leaves. Bring to a boil, covered; let cook until outer leaves begin to separate and fall of the chokes (anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes). Drain. Serve warm or cold.
Cooked artichoke: the outer leaves are starting to fall off.

Sauce options are myriad, but an easy one consists of equal parts lemon juice and water with a bit of melted butter or olive oil plus salt, pepper, and garlic. I like to pick out the boiled garlic and mash it in a bowl, then add lemon, water, and butter before heating in the microwave.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

When God closes a silver door, He opens a gold one.

This is the Armenian version of the saying, "When God closes a door, he opens a window". Let me take you back in time a little:
When I was in pharmacy school, every teacher I had told me to do a residency and pursue clinical pharmacy. So, despite my ten years of retail pharmacy background, I applied for a residency (there was only one accredited pharmacy residency in the area, and since I'm married I didn't want to uproot us). I was surprised and disappointed when I didn't match with that program. I tried to understand how the program selected a student with no involvement, bad grades (she had actually failed a class), and a history of departmental discipline, but rejected me...the model student, hyper-involved, killer interview skills, and valedictorian. And not arrogant at all, LOL. Seriously, though, I'm just trying to explain how baffled I was. I simply could not understand. Worst of all, I was left without a job. All the retail pharmacy offers were already sent out for that graduating class, and my back-up plan - a local hospital - went on a hiring freeze the day I took my final licensing exam ( I could not receive an offer until I had results back from that exam, which I received just 4 days later). I was frantic with worry and I found it very difficult to trust that God had a plan. My darling husband was very supportive through this, and he kept telling me, "I think God has something bigger for you." But it was so hard for me to believe - what's bigger than a residency, after all? In pharmacy, they're rare and special, and although it means 1 or 2 years of very low pay and a salary after completion of below-average for pharmacists, it also means a lower stress environment and a great 9-5 schedule. I was doubting I'd get any job, let alone a nice one!
Well, after a few weeks, I was lucky enough to get a call from the district manager of a chain pharmacy. He'd received my resume from a pharmacist I had worked for in the past and wanted to meet me. We interviewed, he thought he saw talent, and he hired me. I was incredibly thankful just to have a job, any job, and I poured myself into it. The results have been amazing. I've been blessed to be selected to head up a new regional HIV initiative, which brought me special training and leadership opportunities. But best of all my management team selected me to interview for an on-site clinic, a specialized pharmacy inside a hospital. The job is amazing: clinical plus retail, so I get to use my whole skill-set; interesting disease states; brand new pharmacy; incredible hours - 9-5, no weekends! - and you know what? I was supposed to take over as the pharmacy manager, but I would actually be in charge of the store manager position, too. There is a job that encompasses both positions, but I wasn't eligible for that job title: you have to be a manager for two years to be considered for this "combination" position. However, today I interviewed with corporate and at the conclusion of the interview the director of the project offered me the combination position, and I accepted. This means I get my super sweet job plus ... well, a super sweet raise. Let's just say it's actually double the starting salary at the hospital that I had planned to work for.
This is a lesson to me. Who am I to think I know God's plan? There is so much more to the big picture. It may not be apparent for years later, but there's always, always a plan. The residency might have been the silver door, but this job is a gold door for sure.
You know what, darling hubby? You were right.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Boston to do list...

So, if you're headed to Boston for the marathon soon, I recommend you stay and eat a few lobster rolls. Here's my list of things you should do (please add to this if you live in/have been to/ran Boston before since, you know, I've only been once or twice!).

1. Do the Freedom Trail a day or two post-marathon. It's pretty much a day of walking and it will knock the sore right out of you. You can buy a little guidebook and take a self-guided walking tour. You can do the whole thing in a day. The history is amazing.
2. Wander around the North End on a weekday (WAY too commercialized on the weekend) and buy bread and cheese from an Italian grocery to eat by the river. I ate a pound of cheese. While you're at it get a canoli, too. Everyone recommends Mike's - and it's good - but there are also a few less-touristy places.
3. If you eat Italian, we went to Panzo and it was amazingly good and inexpensive (rigatoni with goat cheese was awesome).
4. Have dinner or drinks at the Parker house, even if you don't stay there. It's the restaurant we stayed at and it's right by Boston Commons. It's worth it for the history (we didn't have any, but they invented Boston cream pie so I suppose it's good!).
5. Run a loop around the Charles River via both bridges - there are running paths on both sides.
6. Buy a Charlie pass - so much easier than NYC's subways.
7. Plan a day trip to a nearby New England town.We went to Salem so I could gaze upon the House of Seven Gables and drool, and the train cost $10.50 a person round trip. Not bad.
8. Eat the seafood. I missed New England seafood so much! I had Atlantic oysters, which were a fresh change from local oysters, and TWO lobster rolls.
9. If you're renting a car, consider a trip to Lexington. There is even more history there and the area is beautiful.
10. Do your research and plan one fancy night out at a nice restaurant. There are many and nothing says vacation like a pretty dress and a martini. Oops, it's Boston, it's a mahtini.

Please share your Boston do's and don't's too for those who are running!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Back from Boston!

Pretty sure I was the only marathoner visiting Boston THIS week in April!
We squeezed in a last minute trip to Boston before my new position starts (training begins tomorrow at 7:00 am) and we really had a wonderful time.
- We stayed at the historic Parker House hotel, where JFK proposed to Jackie and the great literati toasted.
Small rooms but great location.

- We walked the Freedom trail, reveling in our history and quaint old churches and graves.

- We discovered that if it was metal and it was made before 1820, Paul Revere made it (seriously, this man had a monopoly going on).
- We visited Salem, Havard, MIT, Lexington, and Concorde - mostly thanks to our friends with a car!
It was a gray day in Salem. Perfect for drowning witches.

- We threw snowballs - for the first time ever (I mean, at each other. I've thrown them at other people of course).
- We stood on the Old North Bridge.
I fired the snowball shot heard 'round the world a few minutes after this picture was taken.

- We ate our weight in Canolis and fresh breads and cheeses from the North End.
- We ran across the Charles River and around the Boston Commons.
We certainly had a range of weather, didn't we?

- We decided to come back next year so I can run this little marathon because I was getting serious running envy seeing all the preparations and excitement.

Are you running Boston? Tomorrow I will post my Boston favorites for you!