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state parks: first visit

state parks: first visit

i wanted to get my state park passport before heading down to rochester on friday, so i headed down to lake maria state park today after my half marathon. it also helped stretching out the legs after the run.

i picked up the passport then wanted to go to the lake, but the road was gated due to weather. so i parked and walked a little bit. as long as i set foot in a park (no staying in the car), i’m counting it as a visit.

i grabbed my camera and headed out. it was muddy and snowy on the gravel road, but i went maybe a quarter mile then turned around.

side note: i may drive down there at some point to see if i can do a trail run. it might be frowned upon, but i should at least try it.

photos aren’t great. it was mid-day, which is awful for good looking photos, and it was pretty monotonous.

this was the only green i encountered. it occurred to me that these visits will also be a nice study in seasonal change in the state.

re-install!

re-install!

so the bot got in. i got a text this afternoon from liz telling me my site is hacked and redirected to an 18+ NSFW site.

huzzah!

so i downloaded my files and did a clean reinstall of wordpress. and here we are! nothing lost.

i’m not sure how i feel about this theme. let me know what you think!

still botting

still botting

bots are still botting on my blog. i changed my username and PW in hopes that will solve the problem. if not, it’s time for a clean reinstall this weekend, which scares the bejesus outta me.
(we all remember the great blog migration of 2012 when i lost a YEAR’S worth of blog posts D:)
i’ll be monitoring my posts to see what happens. stay tuned.

on finding a sports bra and a negative review of amazon wardrobe

on finding a sports bra and a negative review of amazon wardrobe

i’m going to talk about lady underwear in this post. if you don’t want to read about it, or about my trials and tribulations finding well-fitting ones, then i suggest you leave.
go on. i’ll give you some time.
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.
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i hope who’s left is ready to read about sports bras, because that’s what this post is about (and what goes in them. i’m sorry if you don’t want to know about that. you gotta leave if you don’t!) (LEAVE!)
ready?
ok.
the day i got properly fitted was miraculous! finally i was wearing bras that fit around and in. i’ve suggested to so many ladies to get a fitting since then, since if i was wearing the wrong bra, i’d bet they were too.
but, the sizes of an everyday bra that fits well does not mean you can translate that to a sports bra that fits well. as a more well-endowed person on top, it’s not as easy as going to target and pulling a champion racerback off the rack in large and calling it a day. that’s possibly the worst thing you can do.
first, let’s talk about the uniboob. the uniboob is what comes from those $15 racerbacks you can buy at target. for those of us with a cup size larger than B, this means constant uniboob sweat running down between the girls, rivulets of salty water collecting on the band and soaking it through, causing chafing along the underboob. not fun.
so i had to find a sports bra with an underwire, which at least prevents the uniboob and rivers of sweat. but to find a comfortable one? well, there’s the rub.
the first time i started running, i actually wore two bras at once. i know more than one woman who’s done this. to get the support i needed without the commitment of a $60 sports bra (oh yes, they do cost this much), i wore two old regular bras at once that i didn’t wear on a day-to-day basis with the bands hooked far in and straps hitched as much as possible for maximum (but not enough) support. i did this until i decided that yes, i was going to run regularly. thankfully this didn’t last long.
then i plunked down the $60 for a freya sports bra. i wore freya regularly for about 5-6 years of running, putting up with chafing and poking and digging because i thought that’s what ultra-supportive sports bras were supposed to do: make exercising as uncomfortable as possible so you get done sooner. plus that was my go-to day-to-day brand, and i loved those.
but then i tried on a moving comfort maia last year and LOVED it. it was cut nicely along the armpit so it didn’t chafe, the band was soft, the hooks in back didn’t rub. but now it’s ready to be replaced. and they don’t make that brand anymore – it was bought out by brooks.
*****
enter amazon wardrobe
*****
AW sucks. i went on amazon to buy my sports bras because they’re about $20 cheaper each than going to a department store. unfortunately, i wanted to try on brands that no brick and mortar carries and in who knows what sizing? so i had to order 4-5 bras at once to try on, which i’ve done in the past. i just return what i don’t use.
the first one i looked at offered AW. i could order clothes, have them delivered at no charge, then return what i don’t use and only get charged for what i do keep. hallelujah! that was perfect, and my credit card wouldn’t be charged.
i added it to my AW cart then went off to find others to try on.
no other bra was offered in AW. what. amazon, this makes no sense. if you want AW to be a thing, you need to make all your prime eligible clothing available for AW.
so i ended up ordering 5 bras at average $50 a pop to try on. i’ll return what i don’t use and cause amazon some extra work because they can’t figure out how to make AW useful.
*****
back to bras: a short review
panache non-wired: this one promised a molded fit to keep the girls separated, but no such luck. i ordered my regular size, and there was probably more separation than a uniboob bra, but there wasn’t enough. also, it’s been so long that i haven’t worn an underwire, that i don’t feel supported without it. the part running under the armpit seemed a little stiff – like it was digging in a little bit. i liked the colors of it!
glamorize underwire: talk about full coverage, holy cow; this thing went up to my neck. it was an underwire though, and i did feel supported. the band was a little weird in the front – it felt like the wires weren’t padded up enough, and i was worried that i’d start running and i’d get a ton of chafing. i also felt like the construction was not quite there and i would probably end up replacing it after 5 months. i want these sports bras to last at least a year.
brooks maia (replacement for the one i had): this was very similar to my old one despite the buyout, which i was pleasantly surprised by. the thing was that the cup size was not my ideal, so i decided to go with another. it’s a great option for a backup bra if nothing else is out there!
panache wired: this was 2nd place. this was great – it has an option to hook into a racerback, it was supportive, and the thing i liked most was about a half inch extra fabric on the hook side so there was no poking in the back after the hooks started to pull out from use. (i’ve had that happen. scabs on your back along your braline are not good.) the only downside was that the area under the armpit was kind of high, so when i did a forward fold (namaste!), it dug into my arms. and the fabric was a little rough.
syrokan wired: winner winner! i was so skeptical. this is a $27 bra, which was the first red flag. the second was the reviews saying it ran small. so i ordered a bandsize up, and i’m glad i at least decided to try it out. while the panache wired seemed more bulletproof, this one was a little more flexible on the underarm area, and the fabric was light years softer.  and it’s so inexpensive that if it deteriorates after 3 months, i won’t feel bad for having at least tried it, then i’ll order the panache bulletproof one. if it lasts a year, huzzah! in fact, i think i might actually order a second right now just so i can rotate two of them, which will probably help with longevity. a couple downsides to this one:  the cup size only goes up to F – which with the larger bandsize i got works fine. also, the hook end of the back could use a little more fabric leeway on the end of it to prevent poking. since it is a little large on the band, i’m going to wear it on the middle hook and call it good.

winner! i especially like SPORTS on the front. also, this is not me.

it's gettin real

it's gettin real

this afternoon i sat down and scheduled my campsites for my state park visits. i had to pay money, so i guess i’m actually going to do this*!
at the end of the month, i’m heading down to rochester so i’ll pick up a few parks on the way. then i gotta get moving!
june 9 i’ll be camping in split rock creek, which is in the very southwest corner of the state. after the derry reunion, i’ll head north, camping at zippel bay on lake of the woods on july 24, then lake bemidji on july 25. august 11 i’ll be at jay cooke and the 12th up at judge magney.
that last one is the key. after reading “the end of night” i’ve become slightly obsessed with lighting and our night skies. according to a dark site finder, magney is in a dark spot with an expanse of darkness to the south (lake superior). i even checked my weather calendar to make sure the moon phase, moonrise, and moonset were appropriate for a dark sky.
this is PRIMO milky way viewing and photographing. I AM SO EXCITED. i am so obsessed with getting some good shots that i’ve got a weekend in september set aside in the horrible event of cloudy skies. so on top of visiting all the state parks this summer, i guess i’ve tacked on “photograph the milky way”.
i’ll have to do some star shooting beforehand to get back into the groove of that and make sure i remember how to do it. it’s a lot of rigamaroll to get a camera set up for star shooting, but the effort is worth it!
(oh, and i’m looking into upgrading my personal camera to a full frame. we’ll see what happens!)
*i will see SO MUCH of MN this summer. i may even pick up the four counties that i haven’t visited!

hmm, this map needs to be updated. but the MN part of it is still valid.

bot edits

bot edits

some bot has decided to take up residence in my blog. how do i know? because i’ll see edits to my posts.
“we had a great time and it took me a long time to get to sleep because i took a penis enlargement pill that you can get at penisenlargementforyou.com!”
heaviest eyeroll ever in my personal history.
so i was able to find the offending posts and edit them back to the way they were. just the weirdest things were added. in a sentence about a wedding, they were able to insert something on diamond rings and where to buy them. on a post about how i tore out a cabinet and put in a new one, they decided to add in something about pacific coast cabinets (obviously it is not so smart a bot that it could figure out where i lived).
now wordfence is installed and i’ve got this highly rated plugin that hopefully will direct bots into a black hole (not sure how it works, but we’ll go with it).
so if you see an older post that has a very odd out-of-place sentence in it, it was probably the bot.
i’m really hoping the blackhole thing works because i really don’t want to install wordpress. it’s such a pain and i tend to lose a bunch of stuff in the process. *sigh*

hey-o!

hey-o!

so i went to las vegas! it was for work, but it was still spending time in las vegas. really i didn’t do a lot. there was a conference, we walked the strip a bit, i had too many margaritas, and that was it.
here’s my fave pic i took

ambivalent gun control

ambivalent gun control

wow it’s been a while since i blogged! well, no time like the present.
first things first: i signed up for the earth day half marathon. huzzah. i’m still not sure how i feel about that. 
***************
but what i really want to talk about, and i’m kind of afraid to, is gun control/violence. 

first, i want to tell three short stories. 

when i was small, i went with my uncle squire to buy a gun (for him – not me). we went to a house out on a lake, where squire checked out a couple guns the owner was selling. he ended up leaving with one. i do not know if the whole enterprise was legal or not. 
then in my early 20s, i went with a friend to fleet farm, where she placed an order for a gun that would be in her name and under her background check, but was actually a birthday present for her minor brother from her parents. this is a straw purchase and illegal (which i didn’t know at the time). 
and just recently, i heard a story from a friend about how her niece’s first year of hunting was shot down (pun not intended!) after she mishandled her gun. she took the classes and training, but on deer opener a bee (or wasp or some ugly bug) got in her face, and she waved her gun around, pointed it at people. that was it for her. no more hunting.
and second, a disclaimer: i am not going to do [much] research in the post, as it would take hours and hours that i don’t have. but i am going to pose a lot of questions that i may research later. 

the intro

ok, so i don’t deny that the rash of school shootings is a horrible, horrible thing. i don’t deny that we should be doing more thorough background checks and making sure that those whose names the guns are in should be the actual owners.
and if we as a country outlawed guns, then those people who would lash out like this would find another way. but for a moment, think about the st. cloud mall stabbing: no one was killed when that maniac went on his stabbing spree (besides him). can you imagine if he’d had a gun? there would have been so many casualties. so yes, outlawing guns could help curb quite a bit of gun crime. 
but i also see the other side. people choose to pick up that weapon and kill other people. i know many responsible gun owners, whether it’s for hunting or funsies. i’ve shot guns. my sister and dad own guns.
so what is causing those people to bring an arsenal into a school (and other places) and kill people? and how can we help those people while also letting responsible gun owners partake in the 2nd amendment*?
i’ve been seeing a lot of posts on FB about how bullying is a cause of school shootings.  shooters are generally outcasts and not well-liked. to stop school shootings, be nice to your classmates.
welcome to high school. that’s what high school IS. a bunch of cliques of popular people and not so popular people and nerds and the weirdos. 
a while back, my HS classmates (i am a member of the FB group) were trying to brush aside the clique thing, saying we were above that. what on earth! of course it was the popular people who were saying this (read: not me). of course there are cliques. there were cliques in my gradeschool, in a class of 18! 
what pushes the few over the edge? can we agree that it is not violent movies and video games?
is it a combination of being low on the totem pole combined with mental illness/abuse/substance abuse and then access to guns? and why is it mostly boys**? 
and can we blame this entirely on just mental illness and access to guns? i don’t think so.

i think there are two contributing factors. 

first, we live in a country that is inculcated with fear. we are afraid to go out at night. sometimes i’m afraid to go running in the SJU woods (rape). george zimmerman was afraid of a black teenager in a hoodie eating skittles. people in st. cloud are afraid of change. so we arm ourselves against the things we’re supposed to be afraid of***. 
are we really afraid of these things, or are we afraid because we are told we should be afraid? this is a huge cultural problem that is partly due to the media focusing on tragedies and bad news instead of the good things. we are actually safer these days than back in the “old days” when kids would run around all evening without a care in the world. we just hear more about when bad things happen. sometimes those rose-colored glasses were helpful.
second, US citizens need access to helpful, affordable (maybe free!) health care and support systems. instead of spending all our federal dollars on arming ourselves with weapons (again with the fear), perhaps we keep that in-house and spend it on arming ourselves with healthy, fulfilling lives. 
oh, there’s a third i guess. we need to stop the over-masculinization of society. a man’s a man and doesn’t show any vulnerability or sympathy. so what if boys cry? who cares if they want to play with a barbie instead of a tonka truck? does it matter if a girl beats a boy at soccer? “you’re going to let a GIRL beat you?” when some father is screaming this at his son, not only does that shame the boy, but it shames the girl for being better than a boy. and why is shame involved at all? if we can’t prepare ourselves to lose to other, whether woman or man, life is going to be pretty miserable.

call for a ban?

let’s talk about banning certain guns and accessories. i’m not convinced it will work. it MIGHT reduce casualties. i briefly tried to find out if the columbine shooters used bumpstocks and couldn’t find anything. they used a pump-action shotgun. 
In the 49 shootings from columbine to 2013 (https://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/rpt/2013-R-0057.htm), the AR-15 was used in two. (a few were unidentifed, so we can’t rule those out, but i’m focusing on what we know.) a majority of the guns are semi-automatic, but they also include revolvers, handguns, and shotguns. 
shootings will still happen if we ban certain items. the only way to completely eliminate this is by eliminating guns altogether (which at this point i may have convinced myself of, but i go back and forth on this issue all the time).

where we’re at

but here’s what to remember: when your rights start to infringe on others’ rights, that’s when we have a problem. and i understand that responsible gun owners’ rights are to be taken into account. but it’s a tool – a very violent, deadly tool.  but i have a right to live. and someone who is mentally unstable with a gun cannot infringe on those rights, and i can’t infringe on the rights of gun owners.
see the circle? what i think we need to focus on is making sure our populace is healthy and those who aren’t are noticed and treated well, and we need to work on erasing this overwhelming feeling of fear that we in the US are so hardwired to exalt.
but that may take a while, and in the spirit of being a fence-sitter on this issue, a ban might not be a bad idea.

appendix

*people forget about the first half of the second amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
**the first “modern-day” school shooter was actually a girl. “Brenda Ann Spencer, a chronically abused and molested mentally unstable 16y/o girl on a cocktail of intoxicants, is actually considered by many to be the first modern school shooter. On Jan 29, 1979 she took the 22 shot gun her father (the abuser and molester,) had given her a month before for Christmas, (immediately after a school psychiatrist recommended she be institutionalized as a danger to herself and others,) and opened fire on the morning crowds outside the elementary school across the street from her home. ”
***of COURSE there are things that some people should be afraid of. people in violent relationships, in precarious situations, etc. fear shouldn’t be ABSENT but it shouldn’t RULE our lives.
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140728-why-is-all-the-news-bad
https://www.quora.com/Has-there-ever-been-a-school-shooting-carried-out-by-a-girl

state park itineraries

state park itineraries


First state park lists, by way of visiting melissa:
Lake Carlos
Glendalough
Maplewood
Buffalo River
(visit Melissa)
Big Stone Lake
Lac Quii Parle
Glacial Lakes
Monson Lake
Sibley
home
 

second list, on the way to visit liz:
Wild River
Interstate
William OBrien
Afton
Frontenac
John A Latsch
(carley
whitewater) (not in map!)
Great River Bluffs
home from liz:

beaver creek
mystery cave
lake louise
myre-big island
rice lake
skatah lake
nerstrand big woods
fort snelling
 

upper sioux agency
camden
lake shetek
split rock creek
blue mounds
kilen woods
minneaopa
flandrau
forth ridgely
 
up the north shore:
mille lacs kathio
father hennepin
st. croix
banning
moose lake
jay cooke
gooseberry
split rock
tettegouche
 

george crosyb
temperance river
cascade river
judge magney
grand portage
bear head
lake vermilion
mccarthy beach
hill annex mine
 
then to finish up that north shore trip:
hill annex
savanna portage
cuyuna country
crow wing
lindbergh
 
here’s the long haul trip:
schoolcraft
scenic
franz jevne
zippel bay
hayes lake
lake bronson
old mill
lake bemidji
itasca
then on any day whenever, i’ll drive 30 mins south of here to hit up lake maria.
that’s 66 state parks. i didn’t include the state recreation areas, but i have a tweet in to them to see if those need to be included to be a passport completer (i have a feeling you do need to visit them). i did include one recreation area because i want to see if it’s good training ground for ragnar: cayuna country up by brainerd. 
i’ll need to camp during a couple of these! probably all of them except for the ones where i’m visiting people at the same time. depending on the time of year, i might have to plan ahead on some of these. the north shore state parks probably fill up quickly during the summer months. 
but seriously, this is 5 trips, 2 of which revolve around visiting people, so only three trips to hit all the state parks? i can deal with that! and if the first one is too much, then i’ll split them up. but even if i take off a friday or monday and spend two nights camping, that works for me. i think i’ll have to find a less complicated tent to sleep in.
plans for all these? i don’t have to spend a lot of time at them, but i do want to get a photo of the entrance sign and need to get a stamp at the office. i’ll probably spend a little time at some of them and not a ton of time at others. all depends on the park!

take a moment

take a moment

i love going on trips. i love coming home. but i’m always sad about coming home, even if i love it at the same time. it makes me realize that i should go more places and see more things, but i just don’t have the time or money to do so. i know we only have this one life and we should grasp it as much as possible. but what does it say that every time i’m in some place new, a part of me just wants to be in the black hills on vacation instead? and is it that makes me think that i’m more than content just sitting on my patio on a warm june evening, watching the sun set with a fire crackling? 
time moves much more quickly than one thinks, and i think vacations are the real proving point to that. our daily routines are just a way to make us a little more complacent about time and how it moves. if every day is similar and falls into patterns, we aren’t aware of how much time has passed. but seeing how quickly our time away from routine goes, it’s a little terrifying. i’ve been planning my trip for months – almost 9 months in advance. and it crept up quickly and happened so fast. i have my memories and momentos, but the moment’s past. 
and so we keep chugging away at our routines, aware but unaware of how time is chipping away at our lives, one second at a time.