| Saturday, May 31, 2008
Edited to add: And if you haven't seen it already, behold Manbabies.
My sister was way ahead of the curve with all this. I remember the summer she "helped" with the Coachmen website and spent the entire time Photoshopping her head onto Pete Sampras's girlfriend's body (and his Wimbledon trophy as he was kissing it).
Ugh. It was bad enough learning this week that Camden Council had rejected a planned Muslim school in their community and then claimed that it was solely zoning issues - not racism - that motivated the decision. But now to see this idiotic woman parading her ignorance and prejudice in front of the world's media? I hope the council members are rightly embarrassed for themselves and their constituents. I've already run into the stereotype that Australia is somehow more racist than other countries - most notably over on MetaFilter - and people like this aren't doing our image any favours.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Later: Well, she moved it a little bit but not much. I think that mashing her whole paw against the trackpad was just too much surface. I would've tried it with a single digit but the test subject fled the scene. Hm. You'd think that a DOCTOR CAT would be more interested in science.
My hair's getting a bit longer, so this morning I decided to try pulling it up with a barrette. The first thing a co-worker said when he saw me: "What's wrong with your hair?!" Grrr. Thanks. Thanks a lot.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Edited to add: This is an excellent, excellent editorial on the Henson controversy. Elizabeth Farrelly brings up a lot of the points the Snook and I were making when we debated it at home last night. I fail to see much difference in a kid posing for Bill Henson and one competing in one of those "JonBenet" type beauty pageants. If you're against the sexualisation of children, fine, but you're going to be banning a lot more than just an art show.
I've started planning my events for the rest of the year. Here's what I've got:
Also: Congratulations to my stepfather Joe, who ran his first 5K race in a long time this past week! And my mom's going to do a 5K walk with him next week. I'm really glad that I could inspire them to get out there.
Monday, May 26, 2008
I watched a fascinating documentary yesterday afternoon called Derek Tastes of Earwax. It was about people with synesthesia, the condition where your senses get mixed up in interesting ways. Most synesthetes perceive numbers and letters as being colored in some way. The title referred to one gentleman who "tasted" nearly every word that he heard. I was pretty sure throughout the film that I don't have synesthesia, because most of the examples and experiments they showed didn't describe me at all. Then they started talking about number lines, and people who perceive numbers and dates in three-dimensional space... and I realized that I do do that, to an extent. I have a very clear mental calendar that runs from Janary (to my far right) to December (where I'm standing, no matter what month it actually is). Neat.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
I'm just a little bit speechless right now. I've been killing myself this week trying to do all the normal sale website prep stuff on top of my real job - I was up past midnight last night - and this morning I logged in to Ravelry to see somebody complaining about the splash page on the site. They were upset that they couldn't get to the site and order a pair of knitting needles NOW. I'm just flabbergasted. We used to keep the site up and running normally right til the sale began, but inevitably we'd get half a dozen emails the following week from customers who unknowingly bought the day before it started and were bitching that they didn't get the discount. You really just can't win. At least this way we cut down on the complaining, and it gives us a full day to test the site and make sure it's ready. Plus I think it's kinda fun and builds up a sense of anticipation towards the Sale. What do you guys think?
Thanks to the Snook, we recently came into the possession of a 40% off Jeanswest corporate discount coupon. Sweeet. The deadline to use it was last night, so we zipped over to the Broadway for some much needed new clothes. (The man has literally not purchased a stitch of clothing in over a year.) We got two pairs of jeans each, and I also got a denim skirt, a T-shirt, and some awesome thick tights. Snookums got a T-shirt, three dress-shirts, and a pullover. So if you see us anytime soon and we look uncharacteristically not like ragamuffins, that's why.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
This was a special surprise birthday gift for my nephew Kurt, who is a big fan of Tintin. I used the pattern for "Jumper with Raglan Sleeves" from Panda Handknits #204 ("11 Handknits for Kids"). I noticed that in many of the illustrations of Tintin he's wearing a sky blue jumper, so that decided me on the colour. Ma Snook provided me with a picture of Tintin and Snowy, which I transferred to knitter's graph paper in Photoshop. The main areas of colour were knit in intarsia, but the smaller details (Snowy's tongue and nose, and the black outlines on their faces) were embroidered on after the fact. I also decided to put "TINTIN" in block letters down one of the sleeves, just to keep it interesting. It was a fairly quick knit, and the only annoyance was weaving in all the ends and sewing it together. (I normally like to knit in the round, but the intarsia in this case prevented that.) I knitted it out of Filatura di Crosa Zara, and I probably used 9 balls of the blue and 1 of the white. (I used scraps of random 8ply for the other colours.) I used 4mm needles and finished it in just over a month. He and his parents are coming over Friday for dinner... I hope he likes it! (Ravelry details.)
Monday, May 19, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Thank you so much to everybody who wished me well. This was for Snookums, and my sister, and my whole family, and all my friends (especially Miss Fee, Eileen, Emily, Tricia, Max, Emma, Hoey, and Michelle), Coby at Muscle Medicine, Jeff and Allan over at Running with the Pack, Brandon of Brandon's Marathon, everybody who gave me advice at AskMetaFilter, and everyone who cheered me on and sent me messages and said I could do it. You guys all ROCK.
Okay, so you want to hear the nitty-gritty details, right? (Full iPod log here.) I felt pretty good this morning. I got a decent night's sleep (despite a crazy dream that I'd written a Joomla plugin to create a half-marathon object), and I had half a bowl of oatmeal in the morning. I was feeling a bit antsy. When we got to the park, my spirits fell a bit upon seeing all the hard-core runners warming up. It's a sobering thought to look around and realize that EVERYONE ELSE YOU SEE is way fitter than you. (Turns out there were people there less fit than me, but I didn't spot them till later.) I parted ways with the Snook early, wanting a little time to myself getting ready. I made some friends in the line for the Port-a-Potty. I stretched. I checked my supplies: iPod in one pocket, jelly babies and Powerbar Gel in the other. I self-seeded pretty far towards the back. The weather was beautiful. (Suck it, meteorologists!). And we were off!
The first couple kilometers were mostly downhill through the city. I felt much better than I did on my previous couple of runs. I don't know if it was the inhaler I've been using or the enforced rest, but the run felt a lot easier than it did last week. I cruised through the first 4.5km, only walking when I hit the first water station. I was watching my pace on the iPod pretty closely, since I was obsessed with making the 75min cutoff. To my delight, I soon realized that the iPod was under-reporting my distance a little bit! (Like, when I hit the 5km mark, the iPod only thought I'd gone 4.9k.) That meant that my actual speed was better than I thought. Eventually I'd built up enough of a "buffer" that I knew I was going to make it. We doubled-back into the city and I saw Snookums at about the 7km mark. I grinned and waved and stuck my tongue out. "I'm going to make it!" I said. The next 4km were through the Domain, but I'm pretty comfortable running there. I passed Snookums again as I started my second lap. A block later, I passed the all important 11km mark at exactly 75:00. I was in a pack of girls at that point and we all cheered for each other. (I realized later that they were extremely lenient with the cutoff. I know for a fact that there were people who finished more than half an hour behind me.)
Okay, so the second lap? HELL. I was cheered by the fact that I'd met my #1 goal (one that I'd been obsessing about for six months), but the prospect of running for another 80 minutes was just crushing. Still, I knew I could walk now if I needed to. At about the 14km mark... I realized I was starting to "bonk". My legs just felt so dead I could barely lift them. I knew there was a water station coming up, so I went for the Powerbar Gel. It probably took 10 minutes to kick in, during which I shuffled and walked as best I could. "I think I'm hitting the wall," I said to another girl as we neared the Harbour Bridge. "Do you have sugar?" she asked. "I'm good," I said. "Just waiting for it to digest." Eventually I felt like I had a little more gas in the tank, but not much. When I saw Snookums at the 17km mark, I was hurting. "Only 4 more to go..." he told me. I headed into the Domain again. It was killer. The sun was hot. The field was extremely thin at that point (I'd been lapped by the race winners before I was even halfway through) but there were still a number of people that I could see behind me. I know it shouldn't matter, but knowing that I was going to finish and that I wasn't going to be dead last cheered me up. I walked a lot of those last hills. As I came back up near the Art Gallery, I passed a few people who were still pushing onwards in the other direction (meaning they were a good distance behind me). We all clapped and cheered each other on. I could hear the roar of the crowds at the finish line and a man's voice on the loudspeaker. "Are they saying people's names?!" I wondered. I pulled off my headphones as I came around the fountain in Hyde Park, smiling as Snookums took a last photo. "And here comes... Kristine Howard up to the finish line. Any relation to Johnnie?" "NO RELATION!" I yelled as I crossed the line. I did it. I was done. My time was probably around 2:35 or so, which I'm extremely happy with. A nice old guy took my timing chip off my shoe for me, and I collected my medal. Then it was over to Snookums for a much-needed hug and some water. I was surprisingly upbeat, considering how much my legs and back hurt. We made our way home.
Continue on for the photos. [more...]
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
I wore pigtails today. This is apparently quite a novelty for a few of the programmers here.
The official race pictures from last weekend's 8K are now available. Check out that second one! (I snaffled a copy here if you don't like turning your head 90 degrees.) I'm pretty sure that's coming in to the finish line. I look pretty pained, don't I?
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I just finished this fascinating book last night. It makes for an interesting companion-piece to the Antonia Fraser biography I read a few years ago (and that the recent movie was based on). The central thesis is pretty much that Marie Antoinette's obsession with fashion was a calculated political maneuver to gain the power and influence she wasn't able to get through the usual means (i.e. her relationship with the King and the production of royal heirs). There's also quite a lot of discussion about the Queen's more "shocking" costumes, such as her appropriation of mens' riding wear and the loose peasant-style dresses she and her friends wore at the Petit Trianon. (Somehow both of those looks fed into the rumours of lesbian debauchery that continually plagued her.) It's not the usual view of her as a pouf-obsessed idiot. I loved the details about the development of the French fashion industry, and it was fascinating to see how most of the country were falling over themselves to imitate her even as they were calling for her head. And I'd love to read a biography of this Rose Bertin woman! My only complaint about the book is a small one: the glossy colour plates in the middle seem to be misnumbered. Towards the end, a lot of the text references seemed to point to the wrong one. It's a small quibble about an otherwise interesting read.
Monday, May 12, 2008
My phone beeped at 6:30am this morning. It turned out to be my "official" race results from the Mother's Day Classic. According to the SMS, my time was 56:00. WRONG. Check out the iPod data. I started timing it when I actually crossed the start line (and the electronic mats). I actually forgot to hit stop on it til after I'd removed my timing chip, so my actual race time was probably a minute less than that. There's no way my chip time was greater than what the iPod recorded. (Even if its distance was miscalibrated, you can't argue with time.) So I'm a little annoyed with their accuracy. I'm guessing that they SMSed the clock time when I passed the finish line without adjusting for the time it took us to get to the start.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
The Snook and I got up at the butt-crack of dawn this morning to head to the Domain for the 2008 Mother's Day Classic 8K race. (That's five miles for the non-metric.) We ran it together before in 2006, but the Snook wasn't running this year; he was my support staff. We met up with Miss Fee and her running buddy Jan-Maree (and the Sock Victim, who was also there strictly for moral support). The girls strapped on their timing chips and started stretching, while the boys huddled for warmth and talked about computer stuff. I felt cautiously optimistic. My cold is mostly gone from my head, but my lungs are still fighting it off. My goals were to run the whole thing, and to finish at a better than 7:00/km pace (which is what I need for the half-marathon next weekend). The gun fired and we were off. As usual, there was a huge crush at the beginning so I lost the other two girls pretty quickly. (I figure I'm tall, so it's always the other person's responsibility to spot me.) I settled into my pace pretty easily, but I could immediately tell this was going to be a slog. Before I caught the cold last week, my shorter distance runs had been starting to feel really easy and effortless. I'd been hoping to feel like that today, but instead I felt like I was really gasping for oxygen. (I'm guessing that was the effect of the cold on my lungs.) I had a stitch threatening from about the 5K mark. I really, really wanted to take a walk break on the 2nd lap, but I told myself how great it was going to feel to run the whole thing. On the last steep hill, I put my head down and channeled Steve Runner, chanting in my head "I eat hills for breakfast. I EAT HILLS FOR BREAKFAST." It wasn't fast, but I made it up that sucker. Coming down the path towards the finish line, I spotted the Snook and the Sock Victim waiting at the bottom. I managed to croak to the Snook: "Haven't stopped yet!" I was so focused on that thought that I didn't even realize he was filming me. I didn't have much left in the tank, but I managed a tiny sprint towards the finish line. And then I was done! I'd met my two goals: I ran the whole thing (my longest continuous run to date), and according to the iPod I averaged 6:50/km (which is exactly what I need to do for the first 11K next week). The other two girls finished a couple minutes behind, and we all congratulated each other over apples and some much-needed water. Read on for photos and the aforementioned video... [more...]
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
Oh. And my race pack came in the mail last night. I've got my official race number (#508, baby! I must have gotten in early) and my timing chip. Seeing them on the dining room table suddenly made it all seem very real. Nine more days.
1. If one of your parents was a Korean citizen. (Emphasis on “was”. It’s ok if your parent renounced Korean citizenship.)Hey, I think that includes me! My mom was born in Korea to a Korean woman, so she would've been a citizen, right? (She would've renounced it as a child when they moved to America.) That's pretty neat.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I headed to EB Games tonight to pick up my pre-ordered Wii Fit kit, and I was so excited. I tried to get the guy to price match Kmart, but he informed me that Kmart sold out of 'em way earlier today. (They don't match a price if there's no stock.) Oh well. I wanted the thing NOW. So I carried it home and set it up. Snookums walked in while I was doing my first fitness test, so we quickly got his character set up on it too.
Okay, first off, this thing is ADORABLE. I wouldn't have thought it was possible to anthropomorphize a heavy (and it is heavy) plastic platform, but the Japanese are geniuses. It speaks in this fun squeaky voice - "Initializing!" - that kept cracking me up. Of course, I stopped laughing as soon as Mr Balance Board calculated my weight and BMI, and my cute little Mii suddenly grew quite stout around the middle. Bugger. (For the record, Snookums is smack dab in the middle of his ideal weight. Bastard.) It also told us that our "fitness ages" are in the mid-forties, and it somehow correctly predicted that I trip a lot. (I wish I were joking.) We set our fitness goals and then started playing.
There are four types of games (Yoga, Balance, Muscle, and Aerobic), and we started with Balance since we're lazy. Heading the soccer balls was surprisingly difficult... but so fun too. The board is very sensitive. I had to keep reminding myself that moving my actual head didn't do anything; it's all about shifting your weight. Incidentally, I love that Wii games always use the Miis from your machine, which meant that the people firing soccer balls (and shoes, and panda heads) at me included Miss Fee, Steph and Eva, Andrew and Kathleen, and basically anybody who's ever played Wii at our house. I found the slalom skiing pretty hard until I worked out that I needed to bend my knees and shift my weight forward. That helped move me down the mountain faster. I think the funniest moment of the night, though, was when Snookums sped down the ski jump and stood up too late, resulting in his Mii doing a crazy header down the mountain (and turning into a giant snowball).
After Snookums retired to cook dinner, I tried out some of the yoga games. I chose the female trainer (she sounds like a Pom!) and started each exercise with a tutorial. They were surprisingly well done and effective! Even the simplest "game" - deep yoga breathing - takes on a new level of difficulty when you're trying to keep a dot representing your center of gravity in the middle of a circle onscreen. I was actually pretty good at the yoga stuff, and I managed to unlock an extra level already. I can't wait to try it out properly (like, when I'm not just about to each dinner).
So overall, I'm loving this thing. I did a good 20 minutes of varied, fun exercises tonight without even realizing it. While that doesn't sound like a lot, I'm sure that there are millions of people who don't get that much exercise in a day. This thing is gonna be revolutionary. I'm already looking forward to my next workout!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
This past Friday I went to Newtown after work to join Bex and the goth knitters for a stitch and bitch. We were waiting for a journalist from JJJ Magazine to show up to photograph and interview us. He turned up over an hour late, by which time all the real goths had gone home (leaving only me and a couple other not-so-goth Ravelers). He took a ton of photos, so you may see yours truly in the magazine next month wielding a pair of needles menacingly. Anyway, before all the real goths left, Fin took a couple photos of us all. Yes, I realize that the Argyle Kitty Kat Cardigan hardly qualifies as goth...
Remember the Maple-Bacon Lollipops? Thanks to the amazing Mr. Barker, I actually got to try one last night. (I also inflicted it upon my co-workers Kunaal and Tim.) It was... bacon-y. I'm not sure I enjoyed it. I feel like there was some sort of "uncanny bacon valley" happening, where the taste was so similar to eating normal breakfast bacon that my brain got creeped out and refused to accept it.
Monday, May 5, 2008
The good - actually GREAT - news is that I know I can run a half-marathon. I know this because I successfully ran 18.4km yesterday afternoon! (That's nearly 11.5 miles.) And at the end, I honestly felt like I could've easily gone all the way to 21km, were it not for my sore back. I ran the distance pretty slowly (you'll see why in a minute), taking frequent walk breaks and not pushing too hard. Still, I wasn't far off the pace I need to finish in 2:30. I was well-hydrated and carried a water bottle with me, which I sipped on frequently. I also had my first trial of using an energy supplement. At the 6km mark, I had half a chocolate PowerBar gel and then finished it off at the 12km mark. It tasted like medicated chocolate toothpaste. The biggest effect it seemed to have was mental. At the end of the run, I just felt a lot more clear-headed than I had at the same point last week. I never realized how fuzzy and muddled my brain gets after 90 minutes of running. This time I just felt way more energetic and aware. With regards to my body, I didn't notice any immediate jolt or anything, but I definitely had more energy in the tank at the end of this run. Like I said, I was honestly toying with going the whole distance. I was still tired and sore, but I didn't feel like I was falling apart. (I'm also happy to report that the gel didn't give me any stomach problems, as some people seem to have. I did get a bad stitch at the 7km mark, which I attributed to gulping down too much water to help digest the gel.) So all in all, this was a massive confidence boost before the race in two weeks.
And now the bad news. I've caught a cold. I'd been coughing a bit at night last week, but I assumed it was just irritation from the endoscopy. Sunday morning I woke up with the trifecta of headache, sore throat, and stuffy nose. Great. I spent the whole day sucking down water and trying to decide whether I should go for the run or not. I knew that the timing wasn't that bad, because I've got two weeks to shake this thing before the actual race. But this was pretty much my last chance for a really long run, and I felt like I really needed that to mentally prepare. So would running make it worse? Since all my symptoms were "above the neck" (classic runner's justification), I decided to go for it. So I dosed up on paracetamol and headed out. I took it easy on the run but I was happy to find that I still felt pretty good. My stomach got a little acidic but it was manageable. I even braved a few minutes in an ice bath when I got home to help out my legs. I feel pretty awful today, but I'm still glad I did it. Now I just have to concentrate on getting well as soon as possible. Anybody got any good home remedies for a cold?
Sunday, May 4, 2008
These socks nearly killed me. After cruising along all summer averaging better than one pair of socks per month, these suckers took me more than two months to finally finish. The pattern is by Cookie A. (designer of the ubiquitous Monkey Socks and instigator of the hated "socks and high heels" photo fad), and the yarn is the Knittery's Merino Cashmere Sock in the special breast cancer pink colourway. I started off using two 2.75mm circular needles to knit both legs at the same time. I cheerfully dived into the first chart (of three!) and within a fortnight had them up to the heels. Then I switched to chart #2 and polished off the heel flaps. Suddenly... I noticed that they didn't seem very stretchy. I tried them on and the damn things wouldn't fit over my ankles! So I frogged them back completely all the way to the start. Eventually i started over on 3.25mm needles, which seemed to work a lot better. I think a big part of that is just that this lace-and-cable pattern has very little stretch. (I kinda wish I'd put more ribbing at the top, because I fear they may sag a little.) One reason for my slow speed was the intricacy of this pattern, and the fact that every single row was different from the last. I found it impossible to memorize, especially as the patterns and charts shift every so often. Another impediment was the yarn itself. I have to say, I wasn't very impressed. Oh it was definitely soft, but it was also very, very splitty. The spin was such that it actually UNTWISTED as you knitted it (and no, it didn't matter which end of the skein you used). So I'm not sure how robust they're going to be in the long run. I'm also a little annoyed with how the color striped and pooled (considering how pretty it was in the hank). It competes with the pattern a lot, don't you think? They're definitely soft and cozy though, and judging by my own foot, they're going to be a perfect fit. Hopefully Mom won't receive them too long after Mother's Day... (More details on Ravelry.)
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
Anyway, at the end of the podcast Steve mentioned the World Wide Half Marathon. The idea is that people around the world sign up to run a half-marathon (or a 5K) sometime around the weekend of October 11-12. I was checking the Cool Running calendar to see what's on that month... and I discovered that the Melbourne Marathon (and half marathon) is that weekend. Sounds like a plan right? I can't wait to do a lap inside the MCG!
Thursday, May 1, 2008
What IS IT with people cutting in front of me in line lately? I've had women cut in front of me THREE TIMES in the past two days.
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