I few weeks ago I went back into physical therapy for back pain, and this time hamstring tightness. I changed to a location closer to my house, so I changed therapists, and all my advice changed.

last year's issue: upper back pain when I sit, I told them I'm an office worker. I was told it was related to core strength issues and given a ton of exercises for abs, and some arms. planks, bird dogs, Pilates marching, glute bridges, thread the needle/extension, etc I won't go into it.

this year's issue: tight hamstrings when I run six miles, and a little back pain. I was assigned to a physical therapist who travels across the country finding 30 mile adventure races for funzies and says things like "if people have limits, we should definitely find them". he said he's got patients who can hold a plank for 8 minutes. for the back pain, he focused more on stretching while I sit and gave me some good shoulder/posture ideas to work on. I was actually surprised that my first PT didn't say anything about my posture, it was okay with me because I see myself as someone with good posture, but by putting extra focus on pushing my shoulders back I've been able to relieve some of the upper spine issues I've felt.

one nice thing about a PT is they can confirm or deny any other advice that's come my way through the air. I am so afraid now of doing things wrong and making something worse, so I went in with a lot. I heard that I shouldn't stand and touch my toes, I should only stretch my hamstrings laying on my back with a strap for exactly 30 seconds... he's like that's way to picky. my first km or so of running SUCKS because my hamstrings feel so tight it's like I'm hobbling, he says as long as it's only for the first km and it runs out when you warm up, you're fine.

my endurance is down a little but I'm fine with that. I can still run 5k (3mi) but when I do my hour long weekend runs, it's a relaxed run/walk/allow distractions. lots of breaks. that's okay, I'm not training to be competitive, I'm just trying to stay in shape and be outside.

I am weeks away from covid shot #2 which means I will be able to go back to a gym soon for yoga classes and weigh training! and I can schedule gym workouts if the weather is crappy. that's a whole new world that can open up!

yesterday's workout: moved 3000 lbs of landscaping rocks! with some help from the family. well... marc helped, the kids "helped" by finding cool rocks, and occasionally moving one bucket with one shovelful. we only had to move the rocks about 2-10 feet and spread them out but my shoulders feel like hell today, it'll be an interesting run.

spacefem gets a covid 19 shot

it happened, marc and I each got a vaccine dose this week!

first, marc saw on facebook that native americans and their adult immediate family members could get COVID vaccines at the indian center on saturday the 13th, they'd have 1000 vaccines no signup in advance. that made me nervous for two reasons... no guarantee, and did I really want to take advantage of marrying a native american, shouldn't those vaccines be FOR the native americans? as a white person haven't I take enough? I told marc I'd go with him, but probably wouldn't get a vaccine unless they really had extras.

It ended up not mattering though, because on Tuesday March 9 I got an email that the county had opened up COVID vaccines for aircraft workers. we are an essential industry. The email had a link and it said the website would be updated shortly. The website had buttons to click: one for 65 and older, one for healthcare workers, one for teachers. None for aviation workers. So I checked obsessively all afternoon, reloading and refreshing. at 4:45 sure enough... there was my button!

So I clicked it and was surprised to see appointments open for the following evening. Really? 24 hours? I signed up for Wednesday March 10.

The appointments were at a big building that was our former library downtown. Droves of people! I had to fill out a form, show my work badge, I was there 15 minutes early but it didn't matter because it was such a huge operation everybody just shuffled in. There must have been 30 tables. I was told to see Melissa at Table 8. I answered all my questions correctly... I'm not sick, no other recent vaccines, no allergy history, not pregnant or breastfeeding... and she jabbed me in the arm. I was sent to the other half of the building to sit in the chairs of people waiting out their 15 minutes, they want to make sure we don't have allergic reactions or adverse effects.

The only effect I felt was my mind going every place recalling the last year, the virus, the lockdowns, the fears, the walks by myself, the masks... and then trying to remember what it was like before. house parties, restaurants, festivals, conferences.

I had a book checked out to read on my phone but all I could do was play Pokémon and when my 15 minute timer went off, I left. Took a selfie in the parking lot to send my family, and I was free.

saturday I went with marc to the indian center. we arrived nearly 45 minutes early, and there were already people lined up at the door. by the time they opened at 10 there were over 100 people in line, I was running up a hill to warm up/kill time/workout and counted. But he got in, showed his seneca nation ID and got his vaccine. They later posted that they gave out 900 vaccines, had 100 leftover for anybody who wanted them, so I guess it would have worked out either way.

through sheer luck and no choices of our own, I got the Pfizer vaccine and he got Moderna. hedging our bets!

I am glad production accelerated, and I didn't have to wait YEARS. My dad has had both shots now, mom will get her 2nd soon. my sister got one for being in an education-related field, my brother in law is the only one patiently waiting to find a category. and then of course there's the kids, who are tough and unlikely to get very sick but there's no vaccine approved for kids yet. someday.

driving home from the library after getting my vaccine, I played the world turned upside down from Hamilton. I wanted to hear an anthem... we won we won we won we won


add_me is a pretty cool community for finding friends. I always say if you want livejournal to feel fresh and new and interesting, treat it like any other fresh new network - find friends! sometimes we all need a refresh. Anyway since that community is 19 years old I made it a happy anniversary post, and it's got some replies from people who might like new lj friends. check it:


friday 5: reading list

from thefridayfive...

1) Have you read more books, or fewer books, this past year than usual?
Oh gosh I have no idea. Probably fewer, I've been distracted. But maybe more! I did spend way too much time on all 800 pages of gone with the wind last year.

2) What book are you reading now (or what book did you read most recently)?
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman

3) What is the best book you read in the past few years?
Last year I think my favorite really was How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown. Recently there was a discussion on reddit about war, and someone reminded me of Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. Thanks to Livejournal I know I read it six years ago but it's really stuck with me. I said everyone should read it. There are so many books everyone should read, though. So I've given up on giving anyone a must read list, or a top five list, or a list of books before you die list. I will add a quote at the bottom of this entry for emphasis.

4) Do you read more than one book at a time, or just one?
I read like seven books at a time now I swear. I'm also reading Fly Girls because I started it on Libby but it's so nice just to have around, and I'm still reading the compilation Disability Visibility because compilations are easy to pick up between other books. They're like playlists... some days I feel like historical fiction, modern fiction, non-fiction, biography. Similarly with music I like pop, folk, acoustic, classic rock. It also helps to have a book on my phone, a book on audio, a book upstairs, a book downstairs, and one in my office at work.

5) How big is your to-be-read pile (or list)?
On goodreads it's 99. But I don't really refer to that very often unless I'm really stumped, I just read whatever the world has come up with for me. Depends on what's available.

Anyway, here is a passage I heard on an audiobook once that was so beautiful, I pulled over and re-listened and cried, and then I bought the book. It is by the award-winning David McCullough in a book called "Brave Companions". It's from a graduation speech, and it is the best advice I have ever heard.

Take the novels of Willa Cather when you go to Nebraska. Bring Faulkner when you' re going south. Take Cather, Faulkner, take books wherever you go. Read. Read all you can. Read history, biography. Read Dumas Malone's masterful biography of Jefferson and Paul Horgan's epic history of the Rio Grande, Great River. Road Luigi Barzini's books on Italy and America. Read the published journals of those who traveled the Oregon Trail. Read the novels of Maya Angelou and Robertson Davies, read Wendell Berry, Wallace Stegner, and the poems of Robert Penn Warren. As much as you have read in these four years, it is only the beginning. However little television you watch, watch less. If your experience is anything like mine the books that you read in the next ten years will be the most important books in your lives.

thankful thursday

remember how last week I posted that my refrigerator died and it cost me $2000 to replace it? Well after that, marc's check engine light came on and the car sounded TERRIBLE.

$1400 later, it's got new spark plugs and ignition coils and sounds great. But that's $3400 so far this year in unfortunate not-fun spending that takes away from my savings and investment dreams.

BUT, that same week, the thread that popped up in my social media stream was one of my financial groups declaring it "thankful thursday!" What are you thankful for? What's great?

I realize I was pretty negative about my refrigerator (still am people... it only lasted ten years. I have higher expectations) and to fix the car on top of that made me want to explode in a cloud of self-pity. BUT seeing that thread forced me to consider a different perspective. And I realized, the place I'm in means that we dip into emergency savings for this kind of stuff, and that's it. There are so many people in the world who cannot do that, because they are not as lucky as me. I earn enough to save, and save enough so that these repairs are a bump in the road.

I put it on a credit card. I get the 2% cash back points. I pay off the credit card in full as always. End of story. We still have food, gas, water, electricity and healthcare, we still have two cars and a house and kids and pets.

deep breath, and rebuild the emergency savings. that's all. I am thankful.

All the financial books I've had

I finished "The Simple Path To Wealth" by JL Collins. Gosh dang it... how many financial books have I read now? Too many? All of them? I'm still working, so I guess not enough :)

So here's what went down in my head reading things book.

Dave Ramsey: Americans spend too much! They go to the mall, the pick up hobbies, they shop, they're frivilous, I'm going to spend half my book shaming you for spending too much!

Elizabeth Warren: America is MAKING us spend too much. Healthcare, colleges, loan sharks, scams.

Collins: I'm giving this one chapter. Spending? Don't do that.

Ramsey: What you need is a budget with lots of categories. Categorize everything, put cash in envelopes.

Warren: 50% needs, 30% wants, 20% savings and debt repayment. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Frugalwoods: Zero-base your budget! No buying clothes ever, show your husband a youtube for the haircut you want him to give you! Live on nothing!

Warren: The USDA food prices are a handy reference to set your food budget.

Ramsey, Rich Dad: Invest in real estate.

Suze Orman, JL Collins: Invest in index funds.

Suze Orman: And listen to your financial advisor.

Collins: Financial advisors are a scam.

Orman: And get good insurance.

Collins: Also a scam.

Ramsey: And take my classes!

Everyone else: Definitely a scam!

Frugalwoods: Retire in your 30s!

Orman: Work past 60!

Collins: What year is it? I might feel like working. You? Let's just kind of wander around.

Ramsey: You need a 3-6 month emergency fund.

Orman: 8 month.

Everyone: Whatever, just don't buy a big stupid house you don't need.

Frugalwoods: Unless you made a shit ton of money and that was your end goal. Just make sure it's intentional.

Millionaire Next Door: And don't marry the wrong person.

Ramsey: You're all the wrong person.

Warren: I'm running for office.

Collins: I'm retiring again.

Me: I give up, financial book authors! Thank you for all the advice, some of you might have helped me along the way. Which ones? I'm not even sure at this point! I didn't keep your books, because I don't buy them. I bet you're all cool with that, right?

Everyone: NOOOOOOO!!!

Just Dance + Disability Visibility

Last month I was reading "Disability Visibility", as part of my new years resolution to understand and avoid ableist language. I'll be honest... it was getting unrelatable. I was having a hard time. It was radical. I was looking for stories of people in corporate offices like me trying to fit in, but this book was about ACTIVISM and I was with them in spirit, but from the background. And that's okay, I don't have to be at every protest I read about. Exposure is a step forward.

The chapter I told my friends about that really got me was from the founders of Rebirth Garments... "gender non-conforming wearables and accessories centering Non-binary, Trans, Disabled and Mad Queers of all sizes and ages". That is a LOT of inclusion, I thought. You must get up very early in the morning! Their website is shocking neon patterns to make everyone SEEN. That's awesome.

But again... I am a mainstream majority 40 year old with a spectrum of polo shirts from black to navy. I know this movement isn't about me, but this livejournal is and so is my brain, and my brain put the book down and went for a coffee.

Flash forward to this month. My cute little family has gotten super into the Just Dance 2021 nintento switch game. We love it! 3-4 nights a week, we fire it up for dance offs all over the place. My kids are cute, the songs are tiktok hit catchy, I pretend to have moves like jagger ("pretend" being the word here). It's something active that we do as a family in this closed up, quarantined in, 2021 world.

One of our favorite songs was Blinding Lights. In all the songs, you follow along this animated videogame character and try to match their moves. The one in blinding lights is some kind of space robot with a neon lightup arm. But the characters look so much like people I got to wondering how the game was made. Is it pure animation? Real dancers wearing motion capture suits?

So I looked it up, watched this "how it's made" video and immediately told marc to stop before the next song. THIS IS MORE REAL THAN YOU THINK, I said. We watched the video and practically cried. The animated character is REAL. There are some filters and colors added to the game to make it look animated, but they are people. She is Angelina Bruno, a Belgian hip-hop dancer whose forearm was amputated after a car accident when she was 17. For her dance, she didn't want a hand like everybody else. The artist team designed a 3D printed prosthetic, with complimentary costume elements. It's beautiful. The whole project is beautiful, and suddenly I got to a new place, seeing how this inclusion made our normal lives better.

I'm going to read the rest of the book now, this is what got me there. Baby steps. It just had to be in my head, and then I noticed something I might not have noticed, and I am still a boring non-activist person but I learned something.


friday 5: veggies

I'm glad today's questions are about green things because I was noticing the first signs of tulip bulb shoots in my front yard! What a beautiful reminder that winter is temporary, or that everything is temporary.

These are from

What’s your favorite root vegetable, and what’s your favorite way to eat it?
Carrots. With peanut butter.

What’s your favorite leafy green, and what’s your favorite way to eat it?
Romain lettuce, with Annie Natural's Cowgirl Ranch and a few croutons.

What’s your favorite legume, and what’s your favorite way to eat it?
Black beans, on a fish taco or sweet potato burrito.

What’s your favorite vegetable to put on a pizza?
ALL THE VEGETABLES! Actually Marc got me a weird frozen pizza with beets on it that was awesome. What's a beet? Anyway veggie lovers pizza: mushrooms, green peppers, chunks of tomatoes, black olives, onions. Tomatoes really make it, but those are a fruit. huh. mushrooms are... mushrooms.

What’s your favorite fruit to eat in a green salad?
I do not typically add fruit to green salad. I add fruit to oatmeal or yogurt, that's nice.

new fridge

For new friends of spacefem's lj, previous episodes established:

1) I am cheap as hell and hate losing money
2) I spent $6000 last year on bullshit home/car repair related things, yes I totalled it up at the end of the year just to hate life

January we had a great month for not spending. We tried to not buy ANYTHING except essential food, and had our lowest month since October 2019! yay!

Then in February... I started slowly noticing that everything in our freezer was squishier than it should be. It started with bread. Then it wasn't making ice. Then everything thawed. Mind you this was the week AFTER the great American Arctic crisis, when I could have just put everything outside.

We googled and youtubed. We dusted off the tubes, checked the seals, unplugged it for a short time and plugged it back in again, unplugged it for a LONGER time and plugged it back in again. But this time nothing in the fridge felt cold. I got a thermometer and found we were in the spoilage zone all over the place.

We had a repair guy out. For $100 he told us it was a catastrophic refrigerant leak, and a full round of test/repair/parts for this 10 year old kenmore would be $500-$1000. He said sorry, it should have lasted longer, it did not. I am pretty pissed off about this because my parents bought their fridge in 1992 and it's still fine, but whatever... the $100 was actually okay with me because it eliminated my guilt that we should have DIYed this.

Due to some bizarre covid appliance shortage, the only fridge in town that would fit in my weird old kitchen is a stainless steel, water-in-the-door, and is costing us $2000.

So how's 2021 going, how's my goal of not spending $6000 on bullshit? Well we are 1/6 of the way through the year, and 1/3 of the way into that budget.

I'd drink to cope, but we're living out of a mini-fridge until the new one gets delivered, so there's no place to chill a chardonnay.

That time I tried timing the stock market, and lost

I am reading "The Simple Path to Wealth" by JL Collins, a book heavily recommended (almost required reading) by some finance groups I'm in. I'll write a whole thing about it eventually, but first I thought I'd hit on an idea: timing the stock market.

The book is 35 pretty concise chapters. 4 of the are dedicated to making one point: don't time the market.

do not dance in and out. do not try to buy low and sell high. put your money in one big index fund (he says VTSAX, I'm mostly in FZROX these days, same thing) and stop.

He probably wouldn't like that I have a lot in QQQ... an index of 100 non-financial NASDAQ companies... but it has done VERY well the past few years and it is my personal example of a mistake I made in timing the market so I keep thinking back on it. I read about QQQ when I first read about index funds. Some of you know I had an ameritrade account where I'd tried and failed to pick individual stocks. After that mess, I read about index funds and thought okay, I will try that instead. Here's how it went.

June 5 2019 - I bought $500 worth of QQQ at $173 per share, about 2.9 shares.

Jan 1 2020 - I read about Roth IRAs, a place to invest where I wouldn't have to pay taxes on gains. I thought that's a great idea. I made a new years resolution to move my investments to a Roth IRA. By that time, my QQQ shares were worth $220 each. I'd made all kinds of money! But, you know, no hurry, I'll just move it sometime during the year.

March 2020 - the stock market tanked. My shares were down to $170. I'd LOST money! All I could do was think about those days when they were $220... oh why didn't I sell them then?

April 2020 - Shares climbed to $196. I was making money again. They weren't $220 but I thought you know, that's enough. I want off this crazy ride. I want to take what I can. I sold my shares.

Then I didn't do anything because I figured the market was still going to go up and down... I guess? I don't know what I was thinking. I did not invest that Roth IRA though. I just sat out. I watched the price get back to $220. Shoot.

June 2020 - With shares at $240, I realized I should quit overthinking. Just do this. So I bought back in. But this time, the money I got from selling 2.9 shares could only buy 2.4 shares.

Today, QQQ trades at $314! I am happy to say that my $500 is worth $741. That is what I got from buying at $173, sold at $196, bought again at $240. That's over a time period of 20 months... 48% return on investment, or 28% per year. Go me.

But I only have 2.4 shares. If I'd just stayed in and stayed calm, I'd still have 2.9 shares, worth $908. I could have had 82%, or 47% per year.

Letter to myself, letter to the world I guess. If you invest in the stock market it WILL go up and down. "The Simple Path to Wealth" was published in 2016 and one of the chapters is titled "There's a major market crash coming!!! and even famous economists can't save you" Then he goes on to say that yes, there is a major market crash coming, he knows he's right, he WAS right, and he will always be right because that is what the market does. We have to stomach it and resist all urges to pull out our money.

Luckily, most of my other investments are ones I'd left alone. But this is just one story about one $500 investment where I tried timing things a little, and if I'd read this advice about market crashes, I would be $150 richer.