Month: July 2009

Update on Things

Dilbert _Knowledge_Stress_nov07

It truly is amazing what can happen in a few days.   Let me quickly update all of you.   It is easier to explain things in categories:

Work- the vacation rentals- Things are still a little unsure with the rentals right now.  We are going to present our case before the board of directors at the end of August, and we will see if we can continue.  If not we will rent the homes as long term rentals.   In fact, we have already found a long term renter for our home the Benji (I found a renter in under 3 weeks- not bad hah!).  At the same time we are pleading our case we will show the other two homes to interested parties and if the right offer comes we will take it. Right now we are getting a lot of interest so things are looking good.  In the meantime I still have people coming and going throughout the end of the Summer and must keep the landscaping and other maintenance up to par (my dad and I  want the homes to be the best in the neighborhood both for our guests and to impress the HOA).

Work- other opportunities- so at the same time the vacation rentals is or may be winding down I have several new opportunities.   First of all, I am going to continue to run events for Grabber handwarmers.  This is something I did last year where we set up a booth at local Winter sport venues and festivals to give out free product. It is a lot of fun and a great way to meet new people.  Plus, it is outside and I am all about work that doesn’t keep me at a desk all day (although the cold weather is no fun!).

In addition to the events, I am going to be doing sales tax entries for Grabber.  This should be easy and a nice steady stream of income that I can still do mostly from my home.  It’s not hard- just a bunch of little steps that have to be kept track of.  I will go in and get training soon.

The most exciting new opportunity for me is I have a new client for property management.  It is a long story but there is a company I have been working with for about 2 months with- giving them the vacation rental referrals we could not fill.  I met up with him last month, and he was very impressed with my occupancy rate and what I had done with nothing more than excel and a google calendar (they have a fancy vacation rental software- oh la la!).  Like I said, I have been giving them our referrals and finally yesterday one of them came through and made a reservation, so I sent the president of the company an email that said “Since we have successfully given you a lead I think it is time to talk
about a commission? Rachel.”.

He emailed me back saying “It sounds like its time to pay Rachel.  Congrats……..the way I see it is when we convert a lead from you, rachel gets paid 10 percent.  I’d also  like to talk to you about more than just commissions on leads.  I think u could really help us internally.  Let’s talk tomorrow.”!

Now I not only get 10% ($249 nt for a week=$1743= $174.30 for me!) but I am also going to be able to do regular work for his rentals.  I am convinced I can increase his occupancy rate.  Afterall, I have our homes the Sammy and the Anna full an average of 24 days a month!  Hard to get better than that.

It’s a great opportunity, and I am SO EXCITED!

As you can tell I have a lot going on with work- almost to the point of being a little overwhelming- but mostly exciting.  It’s the next chapter in my life and it will allow me to continue to be self-employed, which is more important than anything else.  I shutter at the thought of returning to a full-time desk job.  It’s not for me.

Moving on to another exciting development:

School-  I have signed up to get my real estate license.  It is through Stringham Real Estate Schools in Murray, Ut.   To get the license you have to take around 50 classess that are kind of like seminars (no home work, just come to class and take a quiz after).  I can do the classes either online or at the ground campus, and I can do up to 4 a day.   Some people finish in as short as 6 weeks, others take a couple of months.  Amazingly enough, the whole course is only $450 with a $14 book fee and later test/license fees).  In the world of education it is a bargain.  Getting this license will make it easier for me to market my property management skills to others.  Legally I should have it for what I am currently doing but since it has been with my dad I haven’t bothered.  Now is the perfect opportunity to get this done.  I know some people hate school, but I actually enjoy it.  I may not like every class, but I like the general process of learning new things.  I was starting to feel the itch to go back to school and this fits perfectly.  I am thrilled.

While I am busy with work and school I am also trying to enjoy my life.  Lately I have had a great time with old and new friends.  Tomorrow is book club, which I am always excited about.  Plus, I have my calling in church, my community service goal and the ongoing fitness challenge I mentioned a few entries ago (lost 9 lbs so far!).   Not to mention I have this blog I want to keep up (nearly 100 posts in just over a year).

For all of you Latter-day Saint women- my friends and I are doing something creative you might find interesting.  For visiting teaching  (a church program where we make calls on each other, to make sure we are doing well in all aspects of our life) this month we are gathering together at my apartment for a big dinner.  I am inviting my girls, they are inviting their girls and so on. As a group we will teach the lesson, socialize and make sure everyone is doing ok.  If this works I intend to do it many if not all months.   Feel free to steal my idea!  The dinner is this Wednesday, so I will let you know how it goes in a later post.

I recognize this was a very random post, but I wanted to let everyone know how things are going.  It has been a wild nearly 2 months since I returned from Hawaii, especially with work.  I was pretty stressed out there for a while; however, t just as many of you reassured me things have turned out for the best, and I am looking forward to the future.  It is going to be busy but productive and exciting!  Thanks for all your support and I will keep the blog posted on all the latest developments.

True to the Faith…Legacy of Pioneers

Today is a holiday in Utah. We celebrate the arrival of the Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.   This first party led by Brigham Young was called to leave their homes for the third or fourth time- most of them in a matter of hours.  Gathering their few meager possessions and loved ones, they willingly left all for a better, more free life.  This exodus on the heels of the murder of the prophet Joseph Smith and the  extermination order by the governor of Missouri Lilburn W. Boggs calling for the “the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State”.  In the country founded by religious pilgrims and Christian ideals they were literally kicked out because of their faith.  Making things harder  is that the initial party only knew they were heading west – no more.  Brigham Young didn’t even have an exact idea of the final destination. While on the way Brigham Young happened upon famed tracker Jim Bridger who discouraged the Great Basin as an eventual landing place for the Saints.  Bridger claimed the soil was too salty for crops and the winter’s too frigid.  He recommend they move on to California’s more furtile lands.  However, Brigham Young knew the Saints needed a place that other’s found undesirable, so the Saints could have the peace and space to prosper.   Eventually arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham and his counselors climbed Emigration canyon and exclaimed by revelation “this is the place”.

The Mormon pioneers continued the exodus until the arrival of the railroad in 1869.  While still difficult, most groups traveled without serious problems.  This all changed in 1856 when two handcart companies, leaving late, found themselves in the middle of a brutal Wyoming winter.  Hundreds died of exposure, fatigue and even despair.  Finally, word came to Brigham Young of the suffering and he sent relief parties out immediately- halting all further addresses at the General Conference, which was occurring when he found out.   To rally the people Brigham Young said:

“The afternoon meeting will be omitted, for I wish the sisters to go home and prepare to give those who have just arrived a mouthful of something to eat, and to wash them and nurse them up. You know that I would give more for a dish of pudding and milk, or a baked potato and salt, were I in the situation of those who have just come in, than I would for your prayers, though you were to stay here all the afternoon and pray. Prayer is good, but when baked potatoes and pudding and milk are needed, prayer will not supply their place on this occasion; give every duty its proper time and place.”

Even with relief, hundreds died in the Martin and Willie handcart companies.  The suffering and sacrifice was great.   Here is an emotional video with President Gordon B. Hinckley describing the price that was paid for religious freedom by the pioneers:

I often think- “Could I have done it?  Could I have been a pioneer?”.  I know that I am a pioneer in some aspects of my life, but I do not physically suffer for my beliefs.  Could I do it?  The simple answer is- “I don’t know”.  I suppose many of the pioneers didn’t know if they could do it before they were forced on the path.

The closest I can come to estimating my physical stamina for my faith is my mission.  Compared to the thousands of miles walked by the pioneers, it is nothing, but to me it was a grueling experience.  With my foot condition I was in serious pain everyday.  Sometimes I handled it well and at other moments I wept in pain.  This was one of the many difficulties of a my mission.  Why did I keep going? The simple answer is I knew it was true.  I wanted to tell the people of Indiana that  God does speak to a prophet today,  He does love us, the Book of Mormon is true, and His gospel has been restored.  This was worth any sacrifice .  The few people I was able to teach made all the achy feet seem like a small price to pay (or at least medium price!).  I am grateful to my companions for walking slow with me and putting up with my bad days! I wonder if the pioneers had bad days where they complained about their aching feet and muscles?  They probably did!

Still, as a group they were amazingly optimistic- even taking time for joyous events while on the trail.  When I think of my mission I had tough days when I wanted to give up, and I was certainly not pushed as hard as the pioneers in any way.  How did they do it?  How did they hold on to their faith so hard that they not only kept walking but danced at night and held concerts to sing the hymns? They even had a band, which preformed along the way.  It’s an inspiration!

I hope  I can face my small challenges with the same courage, happiness and religious devotion as the pioneers.  I challenge all of you to look at their example and with me, try a little harder to serve the Lord each day. This way their legacy will not be wasted or counted for naught.

The pioneer anthem was Come, Come, Ye Saints .  Please listen to it and remember the sacrifices they made on this pioneer day!

I Told You So… The Stimulus Was a Bad Idea

My dear blog readers- let me draw your mind back to an entry of mine entitled “Why I think the stimulus plan is a bad idea.”  It was one of my most popular entries- even getting a space on the blogroll at cnn.com!  Now we have had several months of the plan, and I have been hoping it would prove me wrong with our economy showing signs of growth.  Unfortunately, even the media is beginning to realize the plan isn’t working and economic disaster could be looming.  In recent months we have seen GM declare bankruptcy (which the bailout was supposed to stop!), consumer spending go down, foreclosures increase, and unemployment rise (where are all those jobs the stimulus was supposed to create? There are some states with unemployment as high as 15%!).

I hope the media and the people keep a little bit of fire on their darling President Obama before he goes enacts another stimulus plan, which he is talking about doing!  It is fascinating to me that repeatedly President Obama’s personal approval ratings are always higher than the ratings for his policies.  Shouldn’t a politicians success be based on his policies?  Sometimes I feel like with President Obama we’ve created royalty- everyone loves him for the image but nobody pays that much attention to what he is actually doing.

Judging his policies, it is just common sense to not go into massive amounts of debt when there is no sign of paying other’s back in the near future.  There isn’t even a ghost of a chance we will be able to pay back the astronomical debts President Obama is creating- even he admits that.  What the president is doing is kind of like GM- they took a poorly managed, in debt company, propped it up with money without changing much of anything, and big surprise bankruptcy happened.  The infusion of money does not change ideas or policies- it merel gives bad ideas a longer timetable to waste money. For example, instead of GM declaring bankruptcy last fall like they should have, they did it in May after wasting 80 billion dollars.  This is how President Obama views a productive economy!  It’s nuts!

I encourage all of you to put pressure on the president and your individual representatives.  Let them know we are not in favor of this ridiculous spending and the unnecessary programs that go with it (and the increased taxes, which President Obama promised not to start). Listen, I don’t think President Obama is a bad person.  He just views the world differently than I do.  He feels that spending will catapult the country out of economic disaster.  I feel it is digging us into a deeper hole than ever before.

If you want an easy way to follow what your representatives are doing check out this bipartisan webpage http://www.thepeopledecide.us/home.php.  On this page you can see upcoming and recent votes, learn more about bills and find ways to contact Congressman.

The only hope I have is the few representatives who are standing up against the spending.  Keep going people like Jason Chaffetz!  You are the type of person we all need representing us!   Thanks for fighting against all of this crazy spending. Great job!

Here’s the article that blew me away:

Why Do Home Foreclosures Keep Rising? 6 Things You Need to Know

by Luke Mullins, USNews.com

Jul 20th, 2009

Five months after the Obama administration unveiled a sweeping initiative designed to reach 9 million struggling homeowners, home foreclosures continue to rise at an alarming rate. Foreclosure filings were reported on more than 1.5 million properties in the first six months of the year, a 15 percent increase over the same period of last year, according to RealtyTrac. All told, 1 in 84 American homes–or 1.19 percent–received a foreclosure filing during the period. “We talk about green shoots or about things getting worse at a slower rate, but this is one thing that is getting worse month by month,” says Patrick Newport, an economist for IHS Global Insight.

Here are six things you need to know about the rise in home foreclosures:

1. Unemployment: The erosion of the labor market–the unemployment rate recently hit 9.5 percent–is the key factor in the rise of home foreclosures, says Celia Chen, an economist at Moody’s Economy.com. “Employers continue to shed jobs, and that makes it difficult for even people with good credit who were doing fine to keep up with their mortgage payment,” Chen says. For example, a recent report issued by federal bank regulators found that home loans to borrowers with solid credit histories were going bad at a rapid clip. “Prime loans, which represented two thirds of all mortgages in the portfolio, experienced the highest percentage increase in serious delinquencies, climbing by more than 20 percent from the prior quarter to 2.9 percent of prime mortgages,” the report stated.

2. Plunging home values: Nearly three years after its peak, the painful decline in home prices continues. Although the pace of decline moderated slightly from the previous month, home prices in 20 major metro areas dropped 18.1 percent in April from a year earlier. Falling home values have dragged more than 20 percent of American homeowners “underwater”–meaning they owe more on their mortgages than the property is worth–as of the first quarter. By sucking equity out of homes, the price declines have also evaporated much of a homeowner’s financial incentive for paying their mortgage bill, Chen says. “When somebody doesn’t have equity in their house and they are struggling to pay their mortgage, the likelihood of a foreclosure is much higher,” she says. In addition, home owners with less equity in their homes will have a more difficult time refinancing their mortgage.

3. End of foreclosure moratoriums: The end of certain foreclosure moratoriums-including those of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were lifted in late March-also contributed to the rise in foreclosures during the period, Chen says. As these efforts unwound, lenders and servicers put additional properties into their foreclosure pipelines, she says.

4. Is Obama’s plan working?: A key component of Obama’s housing rescue plan is an effort to restructure–or modify–as many as 4 million troubled loans. So far, about 325,000 modification offers have been made through the program, according to Bloomberg news. Chen says the program is having an impact for certain individual borrowers, but the efforts–at least so far–have not put much of a dent into the national foreclosure epidemic. “The program is making progress. It’s just that there are a large number of distressed borrowers out there,” she says. “It’s so hard to process all of those loans, and then second of all, not all of those borrowers will qualify for the program.” Borrowers have complained of long delays and bureaucratic hurdles in their efforts to modify their mortgages.

Though the administration’s effort includes incentive payments to convince servicers to modify the loans, Newport says some may find it less costly to foreclose on the property. “My understanding is that there is going to be some pressure from the administration to get banks to start renegotiating more loans,” he says. “But if [modification is] not in [the servicer’s] self-interest, I don’t think that they are going to do much.”

5. Mounting political pressure: Mortgage services appear to be facing mounting pressure from Washington to redouble their efforts. “We believe there is a general need for servicers to devote substantially more resources to this program for it to fully succeed and achieve the objectives we all share,” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and HUD chief Shaun Donovan said in a recent letter to 25 mortgage servicing
firms. In a hearing last week, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, expressed his frustration more directly. “Why am I still reading about lost files, understaffed and undertrained servicers, and hours spent on hold on the phone?” Dodd said in a prepared opening statement. “Why are servicers and lenders refusing to accept principal reduction so that homeowners can start building equity and get the housing market moving again?”

6. Foreclosure outlook: Despite this pressure, Newport expects foreclosure rates to creep higher for the next year or so. “It’s going to keep on getting worse until the unemployment rate peaks, which we think will happen in about the middle of next year,” he says. For her part, Chen argues that a successful mortgage rescue program could expedite a housing recovery. “The hope is that we will be able to push through enough mortgage modifications to prevent home prices from falling too much more,” she said.

In God We Trust

About the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin said:

“I must own I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing, and to exist in the posterity of a great nation, should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler.”

How quickly we have moved from this foundation of faith to denying God’s influence in almost everything we do- the exact opposite of what Founder’s like Franklin believed.  In my opinion, the further this nation gets from God the harder it will be to invoke His power and influence as we seek to govern.

The article below makes me sad in so many ways….

Atheists sue to keep ‘In God We Trust’ off Capitol Visitor Center

WASHINGTON — A California Republican congressman wants to do a little writing on the walls of Washington’s newest federal building. If Rep. Dan Lungren gets his way, Congress will spend nearly $100,000 to engrave the words “In God We Trust ” and the Pledge of Allegiance in prominent spots at the Capitol Visitor Center .

Lungren’s proposal drew only a whimper of opposition last week when the House of Representatives voted 410-8 to approve it. Now, however, Lungren finds himself tussling with a national atheists and agnostics group.

The Wisconsin -based Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc. sued this week to stop the engraving, accusing Lungren of trying to force his religious beliefs on as many as 15 percent of all U.S. adults. That comprises “atheists, agnostics, skeptics and freethinkers, none of whom possess a belief in a god,” according to the lawsuit.

“It really is a Judeo-Christian endorsement by our government, and so Lungren is wrong,” said Dan Barker of Madison, Wis. , a co-president of the foundation. “Lungren and others are pro-religious, and they want to actually use the machinery of government to promote their particular private religious views. That is unconstitutional, and that’s what we’re asking the court to decide.”

The Senate has approved a similar plan introduced by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina . The congressional directive orders the Capitol architect to make the changes in the design of the $621 million center, which opened last December.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation , which has 13,500 members, sued in U.S. District Court in Wisconsin . It alleges that Congress is trying to make belief in God synonymous with citizenship and “discouraging nonbelief” among Americans, a contention that Lungren rejects.

Lungren said that the phrase “In God We Trust ” had a long history and was consistent with the beliefs of America’s founding fathers. He also said that the Declaration of Independence referred to rights given by a creator.

Lungren, a former California attorney general, said that while the proposed engravings incorporated religious references, they didn’t violate the Constitution.

“What we’re doing is making a specific historical reference to the beginnings of this republic,” he said. “To ignore this or to forbid this statement or something like it to appear is to distort history. . . . We’re not trying to change history. We’re trying to enshrine history in the Capitol Visitor Center .”

Barker said history was better left to others.

“It’s not the job of our government and our government buildings to do that,” he said. “Historians can point out that many of our founders were indeed religious. But saying ‘In God We Trust’ in the visitors center of the Capitol is not just some historical reference. It’s actually government speaking for all of us Americans.”

Barker said the foundation had been waiting for the right case to challenge “In God We Trust .” He said government actions could be challenged on state-church grounds if they had specific religious agendas. In this case, he said, backers of Lungren’s plan have provided “the smoking guns” by giving specific, overt religious reasons for doing the engraving.

Barker said that atheists regarded the phrase “In God We Trust ” as rude, uncivil and un-American.

“Tens of millions of really good Americans don’t believe in God,” he said. “In fact, there’s many more nonbelievers than there are Jews, and we wouldn’t think of offending Jews on our national monuments. . . . Why is it wrong to offend a Jewish minority but it’s not wrong to offend those of us who serve in the military and sit on juries but we don’t believe in God?”

He said no hearing had been set.

Lungren is confident that a federal judge will allow the engraving to proceed.

“I never thought I’d see the day when someone would sue to stop us putting in the United States Capitol a statement of the national motto and the Pledge of Allegiance,” he said. “Suggesting that the Pledge of Allegiance and the national motto is un-American in some way — talk about turning ideas on their heads.”

Anna’s Present

I know it is not good to brag about oneself, but let me just say I can be a great present giver.  In fact,  a few years ago my brother claimed I was a bad present giver and I made sure to give him the best present ever- nice strategy Ben! Maybe it is because I don’t have that many presents to give, being single, but I treat it as kind of a game to win or lose at.  My dad was always a hard one to buy presents for (and still is) and so I learned to probe deep for ideas and to try to give from the heart. I have a long track record of giving the best bridal and baby shower gifts- including the longest ahhh! at all of the baby showers I attend (trust me, if you are having a baby then you want me at your shower!).

This last month I was faced with a gift giving dilemma.  What to get my about to go to college sister Anna. She and I are very similar, and she is coming out here to BYU (my Alma mater!). Naturally,  a number of possible gifts such as gift certificates to the theater or a cookbook came to mind.  I also thought of things for her apartment, to help study, or a keyboard practice music on.  All of these gifts would have been fine, but I wanted something more personal.  As is natural, she has been somewhat stressed-out about the beginning of college (even though I know she will do amazingly well).  It is a big change, and as I very well know big changes are scary.  It means saying goodbye to some family, her high school friends and California. (although, she pretends like she is dying which is not true either.  What drama!) I began to think- what could I give her that might be comforting and provide real guidance? Then it came to me- a survival book, full of the advice  I would have wanted when I was in college!

I gathered materials and made the book out of 5 by 7 scrapbooking cardstock and then printed out all kinds of quotes, study tips, Provo restaurant recommendations, coupons for meals/rides/clean room, suggestions such as attending BYU athletics and more.  It ended up being 24 laminated pages with a binding and stickers as illustrations.  Of course, I ended the book with a letter of congratulations and encouragement.  She’s such an awesome sister, and I feel privileged to know her.  In many ways she makes me feel complete and understood in my family- something I often didn’t always feel while growing up (does any teenager?).  I love chatting with her, getting excited about David Archuleta, singing our favorite Broadway songs and giggling over the Office, Glee or some other show.  I am so grateful for all she does for me, and I hope my little present actually helps increase her happiness while at school and provide real concrete guidance when she struggles.  It will be like having her big sister in her pocket whenever she need’s it.  (Of course, I will be here in real life as well- just around the corner- despensing hugs, laughs and sister-filled fun). Good luck!

anna'sbook2anna'sbook

An Inspirational Video- America’s Got Talent

I know that shows like America’s Got Talent are built to tug at your heart strings, but in this case it worked.  What a beautiful voice and a hidden talent.  I have been on cruises before and the talent is a joke.  To think they passed up on this star.  It inspires me to keep on singing.  Think how much potential there is in all of us if we would just encourage one another, and believe in ourselves.  Amazing!

So often in life it feels like the good guy’s don’t ever get a fair shake- that only those with enough money or pizazz are able to make a difference.  Here is an example of a quiet, sincere woman who never gave up on herself, who never stopped trying.  In a world that rarely has room for the humble voice, that is inspiring!

Will write more later but I wanted to share this with all of you.  It made me cry!  Life is good for the moment.  I don’t know what exactly changed but I feel at peace with things.  I have done what I can and now I just have to let the situation develop.  That’s all I can do- work hard and pray. Thanks for all of your continuing support!

Fitness Challenge

This week I am starting a new fitness challenge with my friends.  It is sort of like the show Biggest Loser where 10 of us are competing to see who can lose the most weight at the end of 12 weeks.  To make it more motivating most of us are contributing $25 to a pool for the winner.  I don’t know if I will win (some of the girls are exercising hours a day!) but the process will be a win in and of itself.  I feel more motivated than I have in years.  I’ve always hated dieting but this time I feel like I am doing it with friends- because I am!  It is also fun because my sister Anna has joined in.  Since we will be together more starting in September it is nice to know we can support each other. I will keep the blog updated on my progress.  I have definitely lost weight this week and all I have done is lower my calorie intake and exercised on my wii fit.  It’s fun and easy! By the way, it is not too late if you want to join in.  The only rule is it is only for girls and no diet tricks (pills, starving yourself etc).  Just let me know and I will email you a link to the yahoo health group we created.

I am particularly excited about this challenge because I have been going through some stressful stuff lately and the endorphins from exercising and eating right should help me deal better.

With this new fitness challenge I thought I would post a fitness related joke which makes me laugh every time.  Enjoy!

fitness cartoons 00TANYA the TRAINER

 

For my birthday this year my wife purchased me a week of private lessons at the local health club. Though still in great shape from when I was on the varsity chess team in high school, I decided it was a good idea to go ahead and try it. I called and made reservations with someone named Tanya, who said she is a 26-year-old aerobics instructor and athletic clothing model. My wife seemed very pleased with how enthusiastic I was to get started.

They suggested I keep an “exercise diary” to chart my progress.

Day 1. Started the morning at 6:00 AM. Tough to get up, but worth it when I arrived at the health club and Tanya was waiting for me. She’s something of a goddess, with blond hair and a dazzling white smile. She showed me the machines and took my pulse after five minutes on the treadmill. She seemed a little alarmed that it was so high, but I think just standing next to her in that outfit of hers added about ten points. Enjoyed watching the aerobics class. Tanya was very encouraging as I did my sit ups, though my gut was already aching a little from holding it in the whole time I was talking to her. This is going to be GREAT.

Day 2. Took a whole pot of coffee to get me out the door, but I made it. Tanya had me lie on my back and push this heavy iron bar up into the air. Then she put weights on it, for heaven’s sake! Legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made it the full mile. Her smile made it all worth while. Muscles ALL feel GREAT.

Day 3. The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the tooth brush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it. I am certain that I have developed a hernia in both pectorals. Driving was OK as long as I didn’t try to steer. I parked on top of a Volkswagen. Tanya was a little impatient with me and said my screaming was bothering the other club members. The treadmill hurt my chest so I did the stair “monster.” Why would anyone invent a machine to simulate an activity rendered obsolete by the invention of elevators? Tanya told me regular exercise would make me live longer. I can’t imagine anything worse.

Day 4. Tanya was waiting for me with her vampire teeth in a full snarl. I can’t help it if I was half an hourlate, it took me that long just to tie my shoes. She wanted me to lift dumbbells. Not a chance, Tanya. The word “dumb” must be in there for a reason. I hid in the men’s room until she sent Lars looking for me. As punishment she made me try the rowing machine. It sank.

Day 5. I hate Tanya more than any human being has ever hated any other human being in the history of the world. If there was any part of my body not in extreme pain I would hit her with it. She thought it would be a good idea to work on my triceps. Well I have news for you Tanya – I don’t have triceps. And if you don’t want dents in the floor don’t hand me any barbells. I refuse to accept responsibility for the damage, YOU went to sadist school, YOU are to blame. The treadmill flung me back into a science teacher, which hurt like crazy. Why couldn’t it have been someone softer, like a music teacher, or social studies?

Day 6. Got Tanya’s message on my answering machine, wondering where I am. I lacked the strength to use the TV remote so I watched eleven straight hours of the weather channel.

Day 7. Well, that’s the week. Thank goodness that’s over. Maybe next time my wife will give me something a little more fun, like a gift certificate for a root canal.