August 30, 2008

Snort.

Line of the Week: "If McCain wanted a former beauty queen with no experience and a criminal investigation on her record I don’t know why he didn’t just pick his own wife." (Via MeFi.)

More about Billy Mitchell

If you enjoyed The King of Kong (as I did), you should check out this Harper's article (PDF) about Billy Mitchell and his Pac-Man records. The author talks to Billy and Walter Day quite a bit, and follows a Jamaican immigrant named Abdner who tries to break the Ms Pac-Man record. The author was working on the story while King of Kong was filming, and he was even invited to the screening of Billy's infamous Donkey Kong videotape designed to steal Steve Weibe's thunder at Fun Spot. (For the record, the author doesn't think the tape was doctored.) I think it's very interesting to get another view of the guy, especially since it was very easy to write off his villainous portrayal in King of Kong as a consequence of editing. The author of this piece is definitely kinder to Billy, but he still admits that the gigantic ego, defensiveness, and scheming are all true-to-life.

Obama = White Sox Fan

Obama disses Cubs fans (he's a White Sox supporter) and summarily decimates his chances of Kelly McMahon or the Garbericks voting for him. That said, I think it's pretty cool that he did some trash-talking for his team as opposed to giving a safe politician's answer.

Man Drought

Man Drought?
The funning thing is, I think this article about the "man drought" facing single women in Australia's urban areas was supposed to make me feel sorry for the women. But instead the demographer's formulas for determining the pool of eligible bachelors just left me feeling really sorry for the guys. "From a pool of 1.32 million men aged 15 to 24, he took out all men who said they were married, in a de facto relationship, gay, have children from a previous relationship and who earn less than $70,000 a year. It left a pool of only 60,000 men..." So if you have a kid or your make less than $70K a year, you're supposedly unmarryable. That just sucks. I submit to you men that any woman with these criteria isn't someone you wanted to be with anyway.
August 25, 2008

WALL-E

WALL-E
Tonight the Snook and I joined Kunaal and some other folks in Bondi Junction to see the very first Australian screening of WALL-E. Afterwards director Andrew Stanton and sound designer (and voice of WALL-E) Ben Burtt appeared to talk about the film and answer questions from the audience. The movie was... great. I was already primed for it to be great, thanks to this amazing MetaFilter comment. (It's not a spoiler.) But the movie still surpassed my high expectations. I had to have the Snook give me a tissue about halfway through. Yeah, I was tearing up quite a bit. And the ending? When he can't remember? SOB. Oh, and I loved, LOVED the final credits, with the whole history of humanity/art thing. I really recommend the movie. I feel like I need to see it again, just to look for the tiny details I missed because I was so engrossed in the story. (Like afterwards, an audience member asked Andrew Stanton about Sigourney Weaver being in the film, and I was like, "What? Where?" Totally missed that one.) Kudos to PopcornTaxi for throwing yet another great event. Stanton and Burtt was fascinating, and I was too interested in their talk to remember to ask my own question. (It was going to be a snarky one to Burtt about Jar Jar Binks, so probably best that I didn't.) Seriously, you really ought to see this movie. And take somebody you love. And hold their hand.

Energy Gel Reviews

Energy Gel Reviews
When I decided to start experimenting with energy supplements, I asked the Snook to pick me up some at the health shop near his office. I also got some from our local GNC store. I really wasn't sure what to expect. Energy gels and goos are notoriously unpalatable. Here are my quick impressions of the ones I've tried.
  • PowerBar Gel (Chocolate) - Rating: 6/10. I tried this one a few months ago (before the Sydney Half) and described the taste as "medicated chocolate toothpaste". It was very thick, almost like cake frosting that had gone bad. That said, I managed to get it down without gagging, and I definitely noticed a mental boost when I used it.
  • Endura Gel (Vanilla) - Rating: 9/10. I had this gel halfway through the City2Surf two weeks ago. I was prepared for it to be awful, but I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and texture. "Hey, this is good!" I said to the Snook as I happily sucked on the packet. The consistency was thinner than the PowerBar Gel, which made it easier to ingest quickly. I didn't notice any dramatic positive benefits, but it didn't seem to do me any harm either.
  • Endura Gel (Citrus) - Rating: 5/10. I was actually looking forward to sampling this gel on my long run yesterday, based on how much I liked the vanilla flavor. Unfortunately the Citrus is... not as good. The instant I tasted it, I immediately thought of lemon-lime dishwashing liquid. It was exactly that consistency and flavor. (Not that I've tasted dishwashing liquid, but you know what I mean.) And once I had that image in my head, I couldn't get rid of it. Someone without that association may find this gel tasty, but I'll never be able to use it now.
  • Elite Fuel Supply Squeezepacks (Tropical) - Rating: 1/10. Dear god, this is AWFUL. I could tell even before opening it that the consistency of this one - unlike the others - was extremely liquid. It felt like an unfrozen Otter Pop. Unfortunately the pleasant childhood associations ended there. I thought, "Tropical! How bad can that be?" It was like the worst medicine you ever tasted as a kid. I actually shuddered involuntarily after the first swallow, it was that bad. (I was near a water fountain in Centennial Park, and another runner was having a drink at the time. I looked at him and blurted out "THIS IS THE WORST THING EVER!" before I could even stop myself. He just gave me an odd look and ran off.) I couldn't even finish the thing. I choked down about two swallows and then squeezed the rest out into the water fountain. NEVER AGAIN.
Anyone have any energy gel favorites that I haven't tried yet?

RunningBlog

Now we're talkin'! I feel like I've got my running mojo back a little bit. I wanted to add in a fourth day of running per week, but I didn't want to kill myself with the distance. So I cut back the length of my 2nd run and added in a short 3rd run as well. Now I'll be able to slowly increase the length of those two. As for my LSR (Long Slow Run) on the weekend - I was dreading it. The plan called for 12.5 miles, which is 20km. That's fully 50% longer than the City 2 Surf I did two weeks ago. (Of course, for the C2S I also counted the long hike we did from Bondi to Bondi Junction, which made it a fair bit longer.) The distance was surprisingly easy though, and it definitely gave my weekly mileage a nice boost.

Week 7 distance: 17mi (27.2km)
Week 8 distance: 12.25mi (19.6km)
Week 9 distance: 21.65mi (34.7km)

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August 24, 2008

February Lady Sweater

February Lady Sweater - Finished!February Lady Sweater
This sweater took Ravelry by storm a few months ago. There are now more than 1400 finished projects, and another 5000 people still have it queued up. Why did it get so popular? If I had to analyze it, I'd say there were three important factors: it's based on a famous baby sweater by Elizabeth Zimmerman, who most knitters revere; the pattern was released for free; and the author looks SUPER CUTE in the photo. (That shouldn't matter so much, but it really, really does.) Anyway, I somehow caught the bug and started it 'round about WWKIP Day. The pattern calls for a worsted weight yarn, but I decided to use an 8ply instead. I've had two packets of discontinued Cleckheaton Alpaca/Wool in my stash for some time, and it seemed like a perfect match. The knitting went really quickly, even though I was making the biggest size (to compensate for the thinner yarn). The top-down construction means you can try it on as you go, so I did plenty of fittings. Since I'm so tall, I had to do quite a bit of straight garter stitch after the raglan increases finished to get the sleeves to meet under the arms. That’s why I ended up doing a 4th buttonhole. The original plan was to dye it, but I realized today that I'd rather get some wear out of it now, this winter, rather than waiting to mess around with dyes. So I'm calling it finished! I'm loving it. It's lovely and comfy and warm. The buttons came from the Button Shop in Newtown. I may still dye it in the future, but the cream is growing on me... (Ravelry details are here.)

And that photo? Was taken off the deck at Amy and Rob's new house! I knew it was in the bush, but man. Actual trees and nature! Very weird for these city dwellers... :)
August 20, 2008

Weight Watchers as RPG

Weight Watchers = Role Playing Game. It's a pretty fair comparison, actually. I think that's why I was so successful on it. If you're smart, you can work out a winning strategy pretty quickly. The problem, of course, is that by viewing it that way, I wasn't really changing my longterm habits. I was just playing (and winning) a game. When the game's over, you go back to real life... which is the problem. For the last week I've actually been playing around with Calorie King, which is a free nutrition and exercise tracker. It works the same way as WW Online does, and their support for Australian foods is really good. I'm hoping that by avoiding the WW "Points" abstraction, I can concentrate more on getting a healthy and varied diet and less on tricks and hacks to let me win the game.
August 18, 2008

David Sedaris

Just got home from a visit to the Sydney Opera House to hear David Sedaris read from his latest book. I was accompanied by Amy, Miss Fee, and the Sock Victim, and we all had an awesome time. Sedaris was oddly boyish for a 50-year-old, I thought, but his stories had a packed-out concert hall rolling in the aisles. Judith Lucy introduced him and interviewed him after the reading, and you could tell she was a big fan. We thought about hanging around for a signed book, but the queue was going to take hours. Nope, it was off to Lowenbrau for dinner and good cheer...

Marathon Thoughts

Marathon Thoughts
Did anyone else watch the Olympic women's marathon yesterday? It was fantastic. I thought it would be boring to watch people run for 2.5 hours, but I was pretty much mesmerised by the strategy and form of the runners. Some of them ran the way I dream of running: relaxed, springy, with a rock steady upper body and a confident expression. But there were also several who run the way I fear I run: tense, shuffling, with arms, shoulders, and neck heaving all over the place. Like the commentators, I spent the first half of the race focussed on Paula Radcliffe, who was coming back from a recent stress fracture. (I hear her voice on the Nike+ quite a bit, so somehow I felt like I should barrack for her.) It became pretty obvious though that Paula wasn't going to be a medal contender in this one. Then out of nowhere, some random 38-year-old took off from the pack in a sprint. The commentators - and myself - scoffed at her strategy and started predicting how long it would be before they caught her. BUT THEY NEVER DID. It was awesome. I couldn't believe it as Constantina Tomescu extended her lead out to a minute-and-a-half. She ran the entire second half of that race by herself. How did she do it? I find it difficult to push myself on a solo training run; I can't imagine the mental effort in sustaining her speed up there alone. And hello? SHE'S 38. It was inspiring to think that maybe my own best running years are still ahead of me.

RunningBlog

I really like this schedule of having a hard week followed by a recovery week. It was good to back off a bit after pushing through the jet lag and the City 2 Surf. It felt great to get back out on my usual neighborhood routes. I realise now that all the aches and pains and struggles I had in LA were purely due to running on a treadmill. I hate treadmills! Out on the road I can do 45 minutes without feeling bored at all.

Week 6 distance: 11.5mi (18.43km)
Week 7 distance: 17mi (27.2km)
Week 8 distance: 12.25mi (19.6km)

This week was a step-down of nearly 30% from last week, but it was still a slight increase from my last recovery week. Yesterday's workout was meant to be speed-intervals... but man, I suck at them. I just don't think I'm meant to run fast. I was doing laps around Victoria Park with intervals of 90 seconds at my goal pace of 6:00/km. The problem was that I'd take off much faster than that, usually somewhere between 5:00-5:30/km. Then I'd try to slow down a bit only to realise that I still had 45 seconds to go, and I'd struggle just to finish out the interval without stopping. Then I'd walk for a few minutes and berate myself for being a big lumbering slow-poke. Repeat ad infinitum. Also, I have very little willpower and I find it difficult to push myself beyond my comfort zone. Running a bit farther isn't hard, but running faster involves getting into that anaerobic zone where it's hard to breathe. Maybe I need to actually get a coach for these sessions, someone who can motivate me to push a bit harder...
August 17, 2008

Molly Walker??

Dude, is that Molly Walker from Heroes in the new Miley Cyrus video*? She's the first girl they cut to after Miley starts the song (with that weird "Shah!" noise). I can't find any confirmation on the Internets, but that's totally her, right?

* So I watched a Miley Cyrus video. DON'T JUDGE ME.
August 16, 2008

The Nerd Olympics

The Nerd Olympics
Last night we had a special event after work: The Propeller-Head Games! We got divided into six teams and we competed in three rounds of events. In the first, we had like five minutes to fashion an outfit for someone out of two rolls of toilet paper and ten paper clips. My team (mostly Asian engineering guys) and myself quickly set to work festooning Cheney with TP. I contributed two long braided TP pigtails, which he put to good use during the fashion show. In the second round, we had fifteen minutes to build a structure out of popsicle sticks, straws, and sticky tape. Points were awarded based on design and weight-bearing ability. They'd actually sent out the details of this one ten minutes before the games, so I had time to do some quick Googling. (And email the Snook, who responded: "TRUSS! Triangles, in general, equals good.") My team immediately created a blueprint and set to building triangles and joining them together into side truss panels. Our resulting structure actually looked a fair bit like the Iron Cove Bridge. (Two of the other designs were decorative rather than structural, and the others were simply giant wads of tape and sticks.) Our bridge held up 4.5 reams of paper, which was more than anyone else's. The third round involved writing and performing a song about the country. We went patriotic by changing the words to "Waltzing Matilda" and our performance featured the amazing Cheney as the text-messaging Swagman. The results were tallied... and we came in second! The funny thing is, that's actually what we were aiming for! First prize was iTunes gift cards, but second prize was on-site massages next week. That's gonna rock. I also won a $10 iTunes card courtesy of my team, who voted me "Most Enthusiastic." (I think that means: "Biggest Nerd.") A bunch of people took pictures, so I'm really hoping on Monday I can get a good one of our amazing bridge...
August 13, 2008

Race Times and Photos

Gunning itOfficial City2Surf Results and Photos
The official race results and pictures are now up, though the site's been getting hammered all day: me, Rodd. If you watch the videos, we come running up pretty much in the middle. (I'm wearing a navy blue baseball cap, if that helps.) Our time was 105:46, which meant we placed 27,294th out of more than 50,000 finishers. They got LOADS of photos of us this year, and thankfully I don't look too stupid in any of them. I've archived them here if you want to have a look.

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Chippo in the news

Sustainable Chippendale
Chippo was in the news again today, so I posted the story to the Life in Chippendale blog. It's about gardening for food, and how people in the inner city are finding ways to be more self-sufficient. The Snook and I really need to start planning our garden for this year, and you know I'm still all about the chooks. I'm also really interested in this "Food for the Future" thing mentioned in the article. I can see there's going to be a Fair in October, but does anybody know anything about these truck deliveries?

RunningBlog

It was a week of ups and downs. I had a couple horrible runs on the treadmill in LA, but the City2Surf turned out way better than I expected.

Week 5 distance: 16.45mi (26.3km)
Week 6 distance: 11.5mi (18.43km)
Week 7 distance: 17mi (27.2km)

It was only a tiny increase from Week 5 (less than 5%), but least I'm going in the right direction again. I had a GREAT four-miler this morning so I have a feeling I'm going to get back on track quickly. The Snook and I are officially signed up for the 9K Bridge Run next month, which will be our third consecutive year running it. I'm also making my diet and nutrition a focus right now. I'd like to drop some weight before the half-marathon in October, so I'm using Calorie King to keep a food/exercise diary. I'll let you know how I go!

Oh-So-Literal Cakes

Oh-So-Literal Cakes. Those are just shocking. It reminds me of the time we playing trivia at Kelly's Pub in Newtown, and the Snook won a minor prize of a polo shirt. He unfolded it to see "Kelly's on King Crest" meticulously machine-embroidered on the breast. As in, the actual words, not a logo or crest. No wonder they were giving them away. (Link courtesy of John.)
August 12, 2008

Uncle Orson SUCKS

Uncle Orson SUCKS
"I know it's pointless to ask you to change your mind; bigots armed with the intransigence of religion are rarely swayed. But hopefully some of those reading this post will be forewarned that Orson Scott Card has become a poison-spouting lunatic..."
I completely and totally agree. I loved Ender's Game as much as the next person, but I'm finding it really hard to reconcile that with the fact that its author is a bigoted homophobe who thinks I, as a straight married person, should violently overthrow the government to keep consenting adults from setting up house together. What a jerk.
August 11, 2008

1930s Husbands and Wives

1930s Marital Scale. I went through it answering the Wife questions for myself and scored a dismal 24, which means I rate "Very Poor (Failure)" as a 1930s housewife. I got dinged for failure to "sew on buttons or darn socks regularly," not keeping "self dainty, perfumed, and feminine," and putting my "cold feet on husband at night to warm them" (among others).

Me: I scored a 24. As a 1930s wife, I am Very Poor (Failure).
Snook: I rated myself as Average. We need to answer for each other and see how it compares.
Me: I think the responsibilities for men are somewhat less stringent. :)
Snook: There's room for improvement. I need to provide you with more labour-saving devices, and take you out on dates.

City 2 Surf 2008

Before the raceCity2Surf 2008
Well, we made it! I didn't quite meet my goal of 100 minutes - we finished in about 105 - but that's still an improvement of about 15 minutes on last year's time. And what's more, I felt really great during this year's run. As I said to my Mom in an email afterwards: "The legs are sore from the hills, but other than that, I'm all good. I guess that's what my training has gotten me so far. Yes, I'm a little bit faster, but more importantly I didn't hurt myself and I'll be able to run again in a day or two." (That hit home even more this morning when I learned that a 26-year-old guy collapsed at the finish line and died about ten minutes before we came through.)

Anyway, back to the beginning. We got to the city early to meet up with the Snook's co-workers and drop off our stuff. (They were having a BBQ at Bondi afterwards so we were able to send over a change of clothes.) We joined the crowd in the HSBC Start group (blue bibs) and waited for the gun. The weather was PERFECT, cool and slightly overcast with a breeze. I hoped that the sun would stay away for a while longer. The preferred runners took off at 9am, and about ten minutes later our group took off. It took us another ten minutes to make it to the starting line. Fortunately this year we'd all been given timing chips, so you didn't have to worry about losing time by starting in the back. The run down Williams Street was great as usual. It's an amazing feeling to be carried along in a great wave of thousands of runners. Of course, there was also the usual irritation of having to zig-zag around groups of walkers, baby strollers, and idiots in costumes, all of whom should've been in the "Back of the Pack" starting group. In fact, as we passed one guy in a full chicken suit, I growled loudly: "CHICKENS SHOULD BE BACK OF THE PACK." So, yeah, Grumpy Old Lady Kristy was in attendance.

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August 10, 2008

Home again!

I'm home!
Well, actually I got home yesterday, but I was in no fit state to post. The flight from LAX was actually one of the best I've had. We took off at 10:30pm and I was already feeling drowsy. They served dinner not long after take-off, and I popped one of the prescription sleeping pills my doctor had given me. Then I shoved in my ear plugs, pulled down my sleep mask, and I was OUT. I woke up seven hours later feeling about as refreshed as you can when sleeping upright. I finished the flight by watching Iron Man (SO. KICK. ASS.) and Prince Caspian (which was actually way better than I expected*). We landed on time and I sailed through Immigration thanks to my spiffy RFID-enabled Passport. (Yes, I'm sure I should protest that it's some sort of privacy invasion, but it's hard to feel indignant when I'm the one who gets to use the oh-so-tomorrow facial recognition kiosk while everyone else waits in line.) I made a quick detour to the Duty Free shop - cheap booze bonus! - and then met up with Snookums at the Arrivals gate. Needless to say, it was great to see him. At home I unpacked, showered, and napped a bit. At 2pm we headed over to Balmain for the wedding (more in a bit), where I managed to stay awake for a few hours. We ducked out during the reception and headed home. I went to bed around 6pm, and I woke up this morning at 4am. That's pretty good. I'm not trying to force myself to adjust until after the City2Surf this morning.

It feels so good to sleep in your own bed after three weeks away. And I think the cat even missed me! She's been very cuddly. It's nice to be home.
August 7, 2008

RunningBlog

It's been pretty rough lately. I've just felt so sluggish and tired on my runs. Small wonder, given that I've been on eight airplanes in three weeks and I've been eating nothing but takeaways and junk food.

Week 4 distance: 9.7mi (15.6km)
Week 5 distance: 16.45mi (26.3km)
Week 6 distance: 11.5mi (18.43km)

So I dropped off again this week by about 30%. That's okay; I was meant to be having a recovery week. I'm just disappointed that I didn't have the energy to do my speed workout on Sunday when I was at my Mom's. I've also been experiencing some lower leg pain, which may well be shin splints. (My calves have been really tight and crampy lately, which could be related.) So I think these easier days have probably been better for me in the long run.

The big question mark though is the City 2 Surf this Sunday. A month ago I was on track to beat my goal of 100 minutes. Now... I'm not even sure I'll be able to run it. I may have to settle for walking. Even at peak performance it was always going to be a big ask to run 14km the day after flying home. I'm going to try not to feel disappointed if it doesn't work out.

10 Mispronunciations

10 Mispronunciations That Make You Sound Stupid. I'm totally with them on all of those except for the "suppose to" and "use to." If I'm just talking casually to someone, I'm not going to go to the effort of enunciating an extra "D" in there. And #9... I'm totally guilty of that one. I actually just had to look it up to make sure that "reoccuring" wasn't a word, so strong was my conviction that I hadn't been saying it wrong all along. But it looks like I have been.

Also, I have a few of my own that I'd like to add: "exspecially" (NO) and "respite" (it's pronounced as "respit"). Those drive me up the wall.
August 6, 2008

Superbugs

Superbugs. Scary stuff. Which reminds me, there's another hygiene-related oddity I've noticed over here (in addition to the antibacterial wipes at the grocery store). Every time I've been in the ladies' room here at the office and another woman has come in, she's used a toilet seat cover. (I can hear it being pulled out of the box.) Isn't that weird? Is it just me? I can't remember the last time I used one, if in fact I ever have. I probably would if it were some really grotty public toilet, but we're talking about a new, modern restroom in a private office building with maybe 25 businesswomen using it. It gets cleaned every night. What are they protecting themselves from? The occasional drop of wee on the seat? How do these women function when they're forced to use a bathroom without a box of seat covers mounted on the wall??

Obama Town Hall in Elkhart

Obama Town Hall Meeting in Elkhart
Barack Obama held a Town Hall meeting at Concord High School this morning. I heard about it on the news at my Mom's house last weekend. To my surprise, a couple people in my family mentioned their interest in going. (I don't think anybody did though; it sounds like there was a lot of demand for tickets.) Looking at the coverage today, the media seemed to be mostly interested in Evan Bayh's presence and whether a VP decision was imminent. Personally, I want to know more about what Obama said and how the locals reacted to it. Several members of my family work in the RV industry - hell, I myself worked at Coachmen throughout college - and I know that their companies have been hit really hard this year. Gas prices and the economy were a constant subject over the weekend. When I left the US nine years ago, gas in Indiana was well under $2/gallon. Now it's more than twice that. The only way to get around is by car (unless you're Amish). My grandpa went out Saturday morning to get a bag of sweetcorn from one of the local farmers, and he came back indignant at being charged 50c an ear. (I was surprised too, until I remembered that tractors need gas too.) So yeah, this is an area that has really been hurting lately, and I was glad to see that Obama was making a point of stopping there. People think of Indiana as such a Republican stronghold that it would be easy for the Democrats to not bother. Things are changing though, and I think Hoosiers are a lot smarter than the GOP gives them credit for. The fact that Obama wants to understand their problems and listen to their issues... that's gotta count for a lot.

But man, the whole tire gauge thing is really ridiculous. I agree, it's like McCain's supporters really are "proud of being ignorant".
August 5, 2008

Paris Hilton... rocks.

See you at the Debates, bitches! Oh man. For two minutes there, I actually LIKED Paris Hilton. That is too, too funny. For those who don't get it, John McCain released a campaign ad recently which compared Obama to Paris Hilton, trying to show that he's all celebrity with no substance. So she put out her own ad in response, which features her making an honest-to-god policy suggestion. Whichever of her handlers convinced her to do that is a genius. (Link courtesy of Max, which is where I sent you.)

Back Home Again in Indiana

Well, I made it to Indiana. I caught the red-eye from LA to Chicago at 11pm Friday night, and I landed in South Bend six hours later. As expected, I'm pretty wiped out. Today we had a big cookout at my Mom's house and I got to meet my new nephew Isaiah. He's a cutie! I'll have pictures. Tomorrow we're doing the same thing over at my Dad's. I also got to go for a run tonight with my Mom, who was calibrating her new Nike+ system. We've already got a distance challenge set up!