Saturday, October 31, 2009

02009 New Year's Resolution #34: Feed the Vampires

I used to donate blood very frequently. I went in for apheresis donations (platelets) quite regularly. I have lost count of how many pints of blood product I have donated over the course of my lifetime, but I know that it's somewhere well north of ten gallons. The skin in the crooks of my elbows is a mess of scar tissue from all of those Red Cross needles.

I view blood donation as my civic duty. I have all of this extra blood that I'm not using and I know that there are people who can benefit from it. I have never done anything to put my blood at risk for causing anyone harm. And I am somehow a member of the minority of people who are not infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV), which makes my blood products particularly valuable for certain types of recipients.

Sadly, I have not been quite as diligent in my donation schedule in recent days as I used to be. I donated whole blood last week and 9 weeks before that and I think about 8 or 9 weeks before that. But I have not been in for a platelet donation since December of 02007.

In January of 02008, I started a job that made it impossible to spend very many waking hours with my darling wife. I was working evenings while she was working days. So basically, we saw each other on weekends and during her 1/2 hour lunch breaks during the work week. I missed her desperately. Because her lunch breaks were about the only time we got to spend together (awake) during the week, that was my priority rather than devoting 4-5 hours to making the trip to Manchester and getting hooked up to the apheresis machine.

In July, I was laid off from that job. My work schedule is now much kinder, as Beth and I now get to spend every evening together. Plus, my current schedule has me off from work on Tuesdays and Fridays. Which means that I can now make my thirty-fourth New Year's Resolution of 02009:

I resolve to fit regular visits to the American Red Cross into my schedule. I will not merely wait for a blood drive to come conveniently close to home on a day when I don't have to work. Instead, I will make a point of scheduling appointments and making the trip to Manchester to give away my platelets.

This may end up meaning that I will essentially give up on whole blood donations in favor of the apheresis appointments. That may not be quite so good for the whole blood supply. But because I won't have to wait 8 weeks between donations, I will be able to greatly increase the total amount of blood product that I put into the system. I may not make the maximum of 24 platelet donations per year, but I'm certainly aiming to donate a whole lot more often than I have done in the last year (which I think probably amounts to a pitiful 5 or 6 donations).

If I can help save more lives, that's generally good, right?

Friday, October 30, 2009

02009 New Year's Resolution #33: Join the Coupon Moms of the World

Money is scarce. There, I said it.

I have always looked at myself (at least from a frugality standpoint) as a millionaire who doesn't have his millions. That is, I have never been particularly thrifty.

These two things are at odds, and something must change.

Hence, New Year's Resolution #33:

I resolve to become a coupon clipper, a comparison shopper, an anti-spendthrift (at least as far as grocery shopping is concerned).

I have recently discovered the Coupon Mom web site. If you join the site (which is free), you get access to an 8-page PDF that contains useful advice for how to get the most out of your grocery store dollar. I am going to follow the advice given (at least a good amount of it, if not all of it). I have confidence that this will result in me spending less money than I otherwise would if left to my own tendencies. If nothing else, it will teach me which stores offer better deals on which of the products I regularly buy and will improve my dollars per goods ratio based solely on that. I have never been a comparison shopper and have instead shopped either wherever is most convenient or wherever I like the atmosphere rather than based on where I can get the best bargain. This is stupid, and should end. Likewise, the "buy it when you run out" approach that I have always used is wasteful, compared to the "buy it when it's on sale" approach. The latter takes some planning, but is definitely worth the little bit of effort it requires.

So there.

02009 New Year's Resolution #32: Failure Is Not An Option

Here we are in the 44th week of the year and I'm just now typing up my 32nd New Year's Resolution. At this point, there is no longer anything optional about failing to live up to my goal for New Year's Resolution #5. ["I resolve to try to make at least one New Year's Resolution for every week this year."] I have made an effort, so in that sense I have succeeded in satisfying the "try" aspect of the resolution. But it is now clear that failure to get to 52 is an inevitability.

There are other resolutions that I will also surely not succeed at. However, there are also those that I have succeeded at or that I am sure to succeed at.

For example, I am making steady progress in my attempt to learn to touch type (resolution #30), and I don't intend to give up until I have done it. Likewise, I have dropped more than 20 lbs. so far this year, putting me squarely into the "healthy" range on the BMI chart. In fact, as of this morning, I was 10 lbs. lighter than the target weight I set for myself in resolution #6. As far as I'm concerned, the weight loss is going to continue for the foreseeable future, as I'm still not quite as slender as I would like to be. I'm flossing daily (with only very rare exceptions) for the first time in my life. I've succeeded in training myself to clean the litter box every day (or very nearly so). I hardly ever drink soda any more.

All in all, I've been surprisingly successful in setting achievable goals that are (to varying degrees) meaningful to me. Likewise, I have been surprisingly successful in achieving those goals.

Have any of these things made me a better person? I doubt it. Even all added together, I don't really think that they make me a better person. However, they have made me more the person I would like to be, and that's what counts. There's still lots of room for improvement, but that's part of the opportunity afforded by the experience of living. Which brings me to New Year's Resolution #32:

I resolve to not wallow in my failures, but instead to take pride in my successes.

This applies specifically to my Year of Many Resolutions project. But it also applies more generally to life. I'm tired of being down on myself for not accomplishing anything noteworthy in this life. I'd rather just accept that while I may be an overall failure, at least I am one who has enough positive attributes to have not driven my darling wife away. That's success enough, right?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

02009 New Year's Resolution #31: Grow My Own (Or Try, Anyway)

I carved a jack-o'-lantern last week to bring to the Keene Pumpkin Festival. I did my carving about three days earlier than I should have done. As a result, my pumpkin was starting to look a bit pathetic by the time it made its way to Keene.

Nonetheless, it got some compliments. Plus, it earned me a little certificate saying that I had contributed to this year's effort. The initial count said that we beat the city's previous record, with over 29,000 lit jack-o'-lanterns, but that we missed out on regaining the world record from Boston. However, it seems that there were some log sheets that had been skipped and were discovered after the initial count was done. So a recount is in the works, apparently scheduled for today. I tend to doubt that the world record will return to Keene. But I'll be sure to pay attention to the news, just to satisfy my curiosity.

Anyway, it occurred to me as I was about to buy my pumpkin that I could throw my seeds away, eat my seeds, or use my seeds. This year, I have decided to use them. More specifically, I have decided to save them for next year and try to use them next year to grow my own pumpkins. Which brings me to my thirty-first new year's resolution of 02009:

I resolve to try to grow my own pumpkin(s) in the following year so that I can carve a jack-o'-lantern in 02010 without having to pay for it.

If successful, I may try to do the same year after year. If unsuccessful, I think I will likely take this as evidence that cultivating plants simply is not my bag.

As of now, I have extracted something like 300 seeds. I have washed them. And I currently have them drying on a screen. In a few weeks (when I'm fairly confident that they have dried thoroughly), I will stash them away in a secure location to wait until next spring or summer, when it'll be time to try to get [at least some of] them to become fruiting plants.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

02009 New Year's Resolution #30: Be More Like Everyone Else

So far, every one of the tens of thousands of words that I've typed in this blog has been typed using the old tried and true method of hunting and pecking. That's right, folks: I am likely the last of the non-touch typists. This means that I have reason to feel inferior to everyone else in the world. (You are all touch typists, right?) Well, with my thirtieth new year's resolution of 02009, I aim to finally play catch up!

I resolve to make a serious effort to become a fairly proficient touch typist within a year.

That ought to level the playing field a bit.