Yes! I finally dropped another pound... despite a seeming lack of workout effort... what I don't show in that sidebar is that I also put in brief bits of workout with a pair of ten pound weights (bicep curls, etc.) and maybe some ab crunches, etc. once or twice a day... so "no workout" usually means no run or bike ride or long walk, not a total lack of working out.
And yet you will notice that there was no long run posted for today -- a Saturday -- and yes, it was a lovely warm day, a mix of sun and cloud until rain began a little before four o'clock. Blame it on a tiny little blood-sucking insect... the mosquito.
A couple weeks ago I mentioned the concern along the New England coast every year about EEE (Easter Equine Encephalitis), a mosquito-carried viral infection. This was a major concern in this area four years ago -- which I discussed in one of my first journal entries: Mosquito Coast -- and this concern has not gone away (with good reason; although it is rare and no human has died from EEE in Rhode Island in seven or eight years, the quoted odds of surviving EEE are fifty-fifty.)
This year, however, the big concern is West Nile Virus -- not nearly as fatal as EEE, but nevertheless, a number of people died from it last year in the New York City area. It is also a mosquito-spread illness. As with EEE, dead birds are a warning sign and dead birds with West Nile Virus have been found in Connecticut and Rhode Island and Massachusetts this summer. Some species of mosquito only bite birds while others attack mammals.
A few days ago a horse died of West Nile Virus -- in Rhode Island -- in this very town -- only a couple of miles from my house. The bike path I like to run on runs even closer to that spot.
I was not worried about running on that path even during the time of approaching twilight when mosquitoes are very active. I figured that I was too much of a moving target compared to someone strolling along. That was my theory anyway, but the dead horse has given me pause. You will note that I skipped Tuesday and Wednesday. (Hmmm, maybe I should also point out that the bike path runs past some ponds and marshes, prime mosquito territory.) The odds that anyone selected at random will actually die this year from West Nile Virus is probably less than the chance that person will die frum being struck by lightning... but on the other hand, who chooses to stroll across an open field in the middle of a thunderstorm?
The state had planned to spray insecticide on Wednesday... but decided it was too cool and windy. (Too cool means the mosquitoes will not be out and about; too windy means the spray drifts away from where you want it to go.) They rescheduled for Thursday, but it was also judged to be too cool and too windy. I ran on the bike path, but not a long run. I do not know if they sprayed last night (it was warmer and not very windy) but I skipped the bike path and ran around a hilly recreation area behind the junior high school. I had planned on getting in a long run today, maybe seven or eight miles.
I was busy this morning -- had to give Sean a ride to work at 7:30 a.m., his last day at his dishwashing job -- and then I was busy with stuff around the house. I have wanted to get a new cell phone and also wanted to get one for Jennifer since she is commuting up to Providence for college. She wanted to get one like one of her friends had from CellOne. I had surfed to point.com where you can find a list of all the cell phone providers and their plans for your zip code area and can compare features and prices, etc.
After lunch Jennifer and I went down to the a local CellularOne dealer (not the actual company itself, but a reseller) because we had both decided they had the best deal for us. She wanted a $34.99 plan with 300 peak minutes and unlimited off-peak time. I was considering a plan that for around thirty bucks gave you 90 minutes but almost the whole East coast was the local area with no roaming or long distance charges. The trouble is, most of my domestic business travel over the next year or so would probably take me to Pittsburg, which was outside of this area. Threre was also a thirty-five dollar plan that gave the entire United States as your local area, no roaming, no long distance... but it only had 150 minutes with no option for purchasing additional minutes, anything over the 150 was 35 cents a minute. 150 minutes sounds like a lot of time, two and a half hours, but that's actually only an average of five minutes a day. I would have gone for that plan if I could have bought a package of extra minutes but there were no add-ons possible. (Do these phone companies delight in thinking up dozens of different plans. I would have bought a new cell phone a year ago if it hadn't been too damned much trouble to decipher their weird pricing schemes.) The plan Jennifer wanted had a special promotional offer: donate twenty dollars to the Special Olympics and get a free Nokia phone. That offer wasn't good on the nation-wide digital plan; if I took that plan I'd have to spend sixty or seventy bucks on a phone. Hmmmm, twice as many local minutes and I'd get a free phone.... hell, the fifty bucks I'd save on a phone would probably pay for the roaming charges I'd ring up in a year. So Jennifer and I went for the same plans.
Of course it wasn't as easy as all that. First we had to stand in line for at least half an hour just to get waited on. I had envisioned walking into the store, saying I'd like this plan, here's my credit card, give me a phone please, maybe five minutes of paperwork or whatever and then walk out with a phone. No. That's far too simple. It is a long and slow and complicated process. When it was finally our turn to be waited on we told the clerk what we wanted, the CellOne Digital Gold 300 plan and we are AAA members so we want the two dollar discount. Out comes the paperwork.
Name, address, etc... okay... social security number... Uh, sorry, I don't supply my social security number except where required by law (for tax purposes, etc.). They need it as a key to the credit reporting companies. She promises to cross out my number on the form as soon as the computer approves credit. Okay. Long data entry process over a slow network. Finally approval comes. Okay. Now for Jennifer. She has just finished high school. She has had a credit card for a few weeks now and has only used it once or twice. She has a hyphenated last name (Nancy's last name plus my last name) but their computer system does not allow hyphens in the last name. Apparently the system cannot match her social security number and her name in the credit reporting database. Credit approval requires an override. The clerk has to fax a copy of Jennifer's drivers license to the credit approval office. Problem: Rhode Island driver's licenses are sealed in clear plastic and are too thick to fit in their fax machine. CellOne has no photocopier. The clerk is used to this, it happens often, all she needs to do is run to another store around the corner. She comes back; the store with the copier is closed. Hey, there's her credit card, just secure the whole thing on that. No, they can't do that, they need credit approval.
At this point I'm ready to say keep both damned phones, I'll go to one of the other phone companies, but Jennifer really wants this phone and this plan and we have by now (including waiting in line) invested almost an hour and a half in this process. Look, just put both phones in my name, okay.
Now she has to input my information into the computer again. [I'm sorry, gentle readers, but I cannot really do this scene justice here... this tale would be much more amusing coming from Nance's acid-dripping keyboard. Yes, I know, a lot of people can put some good rants in their online journals -- like Emily or Eleanor or Dana or Molly or Sasha or... well, I could go on... and I enjoy their rants -- but Nance is outstanding.] The computer won't approve my credit, she has to phone for authorization because it had just approved a phone for me and the software is trained to reject two phones for the same purchaser. Yes, yes, I know it is an anti-fraud measure. Nevertheless, these people are idiots.
Then comes programming the phones with our new phone numbers, etc. Oh yes, another small glitch. This plan includes free caller-ID service.... the only problem is, the clerk claims, that "The Phone Company" (i.e., Bell-Atlantic or Verison or whatever the hell they're calling themselves this week) did not supply them with enough local phone numbers that are enabled to handle caller-ID (huh?) so if we want to be able to use our free caller-ID feature we have to select from a list of Providence area phone numbers -- but that would mean that our phones would be a toll call from this area... that is, anyone living in this town would have to pay long distance charges to call us. Or, we could take local numbers but then our free included-in-the-price caller-ID will not work. Maybe if we wait a few months they will have new numbers in and we can change phone numbers.
Yeah, yeah, okay, we'll take local numbers. (I don't especially care one way or the other, but it's important to Jennifer that her friends can call her without getting hit with long distance charges.) Personally, I think this phone number scam was done by Bell so they could collect more long distance charges and also because they don't like anyone supplying free what they charge six bucks a month for.
Now we walked in the door around two hours ago, let us just pay for the damned things and we'll go... Jennifer has to be to work at 3:30 and it is already 3:10 and I'm expecting Sean to call for a ride home from work between three and four. The actual service charges will be billed by mail, all we have to pay is sales tax based on something (the total came to fourteen something... at Rhode Island's seven percent sales tax that would be for a purchase of a little over two hundred dollars) but now that I think about it I don't know what that sales tax was on... the retail price of the "free" phones? But I thought they were seventy dollar phones. Ah, their webpage says 69.95 but the sales invoice has the manufacturer's suggested price as being over one hundred dollars each. So that must be what those thieves in Providence who set the state tax code set the tax based on a false inflated price. That makes sense. A couple years ago I bought a used car for three thousand dollars but when I went to register it the motor vehicle people said their chart said it was worth $4750 and that's what I had to pay the sales tax on... it didn't matter how much I actually paid. (However, I was welcome to get a licensed dealer to evaluate the car and complete a sworn appraisal of estimated retail worth and file an appeal of the tax... what a bunch of sleasebag crooks!) But one last glitch at CellOne... the twenty dollar donations to Special Olympics had to be by check or money order, not cash, not credit card... who the hell carries a checkbook around these days? So I had to go back home and get a check and then come back.
If it had not been for Jennifer really wanting this phone and the amount of time already invested I would have walked out at any number of points. In fact, I still toy with the thought of returning mine within the seven day trial period... but I probably won't because that would be too damned much trouble and I expect that the other dealers would be equally as incompetant as CellOne. Damn, this was as bad as dealing with an airline.
So... what does this have to do with running... or, rather, with not running?
Well, it started raining just before four o'clock, as I was picking Sean up from work. We had to stop by the supermarket so I could do some banking at an ATM machine and pick up milk and soda, then go and pick up a friend of his who was going to spend the night at our house. A helicopter flew over his house while I waited for the boys to come out. By the time we got home the rain had ended. I plugged in the phones so their batteries could charge up and spent a few minutes checking out the instruction book. A helicopter flew over the neighborhood.
I went upstairs to change into running shorts. Another helicopter (or the same one?) flew over. Helicopters? Spraying? Were these helicopters spraying insecticide? Or observing trucks spraying?
Hmmmm, think maybe I'll skip my run tonight. Get in a long one tomorrow.
I removed the Sydney weather gizmo when Sean returned from his trip to Australia last Saturday... but I added a weather gizmo for Oslo, Norway. That trip to Norway that I mentioned as a possibility has been confirmed and I've booked my plane tickets, etc.