June 2011 Archives

in challenges |


There is only one goal for July: MARATHON TRAINING:

  • 100k total
  • at least 3 runs a week
  • 20k (12miles) long run
  • sub-30min 5k

in arts and media |

youtube link: http://youtu.be/7GTS51GznsE

Samantha Ronson & Jimmy Messer — acoustic cover of Enrique Iglesias’ Tonight, NSFW for language. There are naturally 2 versions of the original:

I’m not 100% convinced that SR is going to be a huge singer, but with her family connections and notoriety you never know. It’s a nice acoustic version, slower and more emotional.

in outside interests |


In this unusually hot weather it was nice to ride on one of those air conditioned Metropolitan line trains. I’d forgotten that the tube, or for that matter almost all the UK, isn’t air-conditioned. It is gratifying to read that by 2016 40% of the tube will use the air-conditioned trains. Can’t come soon enough for me.

I was thinking last night how I can get my fan shipped over. Of course the cost of shipping is greater than buying a new one here. I can’t remember summers being this hot when I was growing up, I’ll wait and see if I can survive this summer without any cooling electrical appliances.

in techtalk |


A software update took me painlessly to firefox 5. Happy with the speed. Very happy with the no tracking option. Now for the wait for searchbar autosizer to be updated. Sheesh, they only recently caught up to firefox 4.

in being healthy |


I couldn’t even run 10k today. It was probably too optimistic given that I’ve been sick and barely able to breathe normally the past 2 weeks. I got as far as 4k, then had to take numerous walk breaks; the last 2k was almost all walking. Now I’m 3 weeks behind training schedule, sigh. So, the plan is:

  • get better
  • short runs
  • try to get back on track

in how the day went |

I woke up at 11am and spent the day reading a book about time travel. That’s all I did.

in arts and media |

video link: http://youtu.be/36LmZb1v6GM

hrc4007kaiser hrc4013killers

I was at hard rock calling tonight. It turns out that it’s the event’s 40th annversary. I got to Hyde Park around 5.30pm, just in time to catch james, followed by kaiser chiefs. The main attraction was the killers, which is now the only band I’d gone to see twice. They hadn’t released anything new (except Brandon Flowers’ solo album) since Lollapalooza 2009, and their set was full of familiar songs. Doesn’t matter, the crowd sang and cheered along with Spaceman, Somebody Told me, Some Like You Mean it and positively roared with Human and Read My Mind and All These Things.

The day started sunny but for most of the five hours I was there it rained non-stop. I was glad I wore my Timberlands and brought my cap. The ground was soaked but thankfully not quite Glastonbury-level of muddiness. I found myself near the front but stuck behind people taller than me. It didn’t matter. There were fireworks, a quiet rendition of Moon River and closed out with Jenny and more fireworks. Here’s the video of Human, although the sound quality isn’t good. There are a few more pics on flickr.

in being healthy |


Had a blood test on Tuesday, and there’s still a residual bruise on my arm. I’m pretty relaxed when I get my blood drawn, although usually there’s not this much bruising. Ah well, it’ll go away eventually, I’m not overly bothered.

in outside interests |


“You’re going to the Olympics!” said the email. I have 8 tickets for diving. All women’s, 3m springboard semi-final and final plus 10m platform final. I didn’t get any other sport, which surprised me. No table tennis, badminton, synchronised swimming or taekwondo. I’m quite happy that we get to go to Olympics Park and I have tickets at all. Still, the process of taking money from people’s account and making them wait 4 weeks before knowing what they’ve bought irks me.

in wheels in motion |


It’s national bike week, with the aim of getting more people cycling. It is a big thing here, much more so than in the US. I had to go to the health centre at Harrow Road and I did take my bike, but I wasn’t happy about it. There is simply too much traffic and blockages even where there is a bus or bike lane. Until there are dedicated lanes and a culture where other road users take care of cyclists, London will never be an Amsterdam or Zurich.

in being healthy |

I guess it’s the drugs, but the pain in the ribs was under control for a bit. I even went running yesterday. Thing is, I must have picked up some germs from the surgery cos now I have bronchitis. My entire breathing system feels like an inferno and when I cough it pulls the rib muscles so they hurt all over again. Argh.

in eating and drinking |


This is a very simple, healthy, no oil recipe from elise. It keeps the juices intact so the meat doesn’t get dry, and even people who don’t like chicken breasts should like it.

Cut the chicken breast in half lengthwise, season with s&p, herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice. Wrap up tightly in cling film (American: plastic wrap), tie the ends in a double knot — using the type that is microwavable. Alternatively, wrap in parchment paper or foil then plastic for people who don’t like plastic touching their food.

Bring a pot of water to boil and turn the heat off. Place the wrapped chicken in the hot water, cover and allow to slowly cook for 20-30mins, depending on the thickness of the chicken. It’s just like sous-vide, only no need for expensive equipment. Remove and serve with a nice salad and sauce. I used an apple & chilli jam although pesto, gravy, even ketchup will be good.

in random words |


I’ve been trying to rewrite LL for a few years. A. Few. Years. It’s pathetic. For Rachel’s June challenge I made myself get up to chapter 12. Today I found some time and inspiration and I’m up to chapter 15. 25k words, which is just under 1/3 done. And our MCs just had their first kiss, awww.

It occurred to me, I’ve mindmapped all recent nanos, I should sit down and mindmap this one too, seeing that it’s probably the most important writing project of my life.

in being healthy |

Remember when I had the altercation with the pedestrian crossing pole almost 2 weeks ago. Well, my chest started hurting last weekend, towards the end of the trip, and has gotten steadily worse the last few days. There’s a sharp pain if I take a deep breath, get up from the chair, or move about too strenously. Oh, and if I run too. So I finally got myself registered with a NHS GP and apparently it’s inflammation of the rib muscles. Nothing to be done, apart from taking painkillers.

And while he was at it, the doc sent me for a health check and made me set up appointments with the nurse. Gonna be going back to the surgery frequently in the next few weeks.

in about me |


I know I’ve gained weight. It’s all the chocolate. I was very good in the US, until I got here and it’s all the old temptations again. Sigh. I haven’t been running since I came home even though there was time yesterday and today. There is a reason, but I don’t have all the information yet.

in being healthy |


For most of the trip my left ear was blocked and I couldn’t hear very well. Sometimes it’d pop for a bit, and then it blocks up again. I didn’t mind. What I needed to hear, I managed. The rest, it’s all noise.

in going places |

Got my luggage quickly, and ran into the tailend of rush hour on the train, which was full. Taxi home, showered and booked a zipcar to go to Tesco. Done in 2 hrs, so my fridge is full. Early night tonight.

in going places |


I had half a day, and was vacillating between Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Finally the lure of the revamped Star Tours ride proved irresistible so DHS it was. We always loved this park, it’s so full of surprises. Got fastpass for the ride, and went to find lunch. Cheeseburger and a beer, to continue the unhealthy non-running diet. The new ride is interesting, gone is the Endor scenes and now it’s a more modern romp through space. The line at Toy Story Mania never got below 60mins, I believe I’m destined to have to wait a long time for it.

Wasn’t able to check-in online so had to go to the airport earlier than expected. Ate more junk food and a soft serve ice cream to boot. The aircraft on the way back was even more elderly than the one coming in, unbelievable. The controls were the ones embedded in the seat-rest, ack I’ve forgotten these existed! The whole upper deck was full. Was the extra money for premium economy worth it? For the comfort and quiet yes, but it’s not value for money considering the condition of the planes. I guess it’s worse in economy class.

in going places |

video link: http://youtu.be/5Yw8HF29e4U

The afternoon after the con finished, a group of us went to islands of adventure. There were 11 of us, and we took 3 cars. I was the only one who had visited before, but that didn’t mean I was less excited. We headed straight to the wizarding world of harry potter and began exploring. I ended up having 2 frozen butterbeers and fish & chips. After we went on the forbidden journey ride. At someone else’s suggestion, we all went on the single rider line, which meant only 5-10min wait. The pods were enclosed anyway, so it didn’t make any difference going as a group or as a single. I remembered how dizzying it was, and I must confess to having my eyes closed for the worst parts. I did take the video of the whole ride though.

Then it was a matter of riding every water ride there was, so we all got soaked. I dragged a few to the Spiderman ride, which I experienced from the first row with a huge grin throughout — this is one ride I love and am not afraid of. It started getting dark and a little bit thundery towards the end. We managed to do the whole park in about 4 hours.

in going places |

The last day of gcls is always sad. Brunch, then good-byes. Almost everyone there I won’t see for another year, and a year is too long. Next year it’ll be at Minneapolis and I have mixed feelings about it. It’s closer to Chicago, so I can fly to Chicago and drive down with Car. But it’s an American city that is not very well known outside of the US, and if it weren’t for the conference, I won’t be interested in visiting. At least at Orlando there are the Disney and Universal attractions. It’ll be a new experience.

I’m a sort-of experienced con attendee now, and I must say that I’ve come a long way from the shy, hesitant first timer who approached KK, KG, Lee etc for the first time. It is to their credit that these incredible authors are so without pretension that they treat everyone as friends. Publishers rub shoulders with each other; writers and readers get drunk together at the bar; almost the entire group turned out for the surprise 50th birthday party of one of the nicest person on earth. This is a rare community, in a world that is dominated by business politics, there was a conspicious lack of arrogance and competition.

In the afternoon a bunch of us went to Islands of Adventure, and that adventure deserves its own post.

in going places |

The morning started with an inspirational speech by KG. During some of the previous sessions, even though they were uplifting and supposed to be encouraging, I actually felt discouraged. What’s the point. I’m not good enough. I don’t think I can take rejection or criticism. Then she talked about the classics and what would be our generation’s classics. From her, I began to feel that it is okay to write about something a little edgy, a little less traditional. She had many people in (good) tears after her speech.

The membership meeting and a couple of sessions and we had a short day. The afternoon was for everyone to get ready for the evening’s award ceremony. I did laundry and 30mins on the hotel treadmill. And then it was time to gather for the awards. It started late, but got quickly into a smooth, almost routine, swing of things. It’s the first time I’ve sat through the awards without having to run around taking pictures. All the awards were well deserved, although I feel disappointed for those who didn’t win this year. I’ll definitely check out some of the winners’ books. The awards was followed by the dance. I left before midnight.

in going places |


I didn’t have to take pictures this year, so this was the only one I took, simply because I was sitting immediately behind them and the moment presented itself. I don’t know how many Goldies and other awards this famous trio have won between them, it’s a lot. And it couldn’t have happened to nicer or more talented people. This was during the first session by Elizabeth Sims, who gave a funny and educational lecture. This was followed by the author auction, which is always fun and raised over $2000. More sessions during the day, readings and discussions. There was a surprise birthday party and a karaoke, it was a fun day.

in going places |

Breakfast was at the buffet at the hotel, I was still a little disoriented from the jetlag, food was welcome. More hugs and meets before the first session, and then the conference began in earnest. Lots of different sessions for all tastes. Our session was just after lunch, and directly conflicted with KK’s session, so we were happy to have a decent turnout. I read first, cos I was nervous at not having done the read-in-public thing before, I think I did okay. I read from Jane Fletcher’s The Exile and the Sorcerer, and the others read from equally prestigious books.

This was the only evening where nothing was planned, so we drove offsite to Walmart and dinner at Lonestar steakhouse. I had a juicy rib-eye and my favourite lettuce wedge. Oh how i’ve missed good steak.

in going places |


It’s been a long time since I flew on Virgin, but they had the only direct flight to Orlando. I did splurge for Premium Economy, not mentally able to deal with the families and children on the crowded plane. It’s also been a long time since I went to Gatwick. The flight was delayed 1 hr because of late incoming aircraft, so I had plenty of time. Had a sausage mcmuffin breakfast, walked around the shops then found a space to read and bbm with mm.

The PE seats are upstairs on the 747. Definitely not business class, the seats are wider and there is more legroom, but the aircraft itself felt old and tired. The movies was the old system where they played at set times, not on demand. Food was okay, passable.

8.5hrs flight. I’d rented a car, and took a little while to get used to driving. Straightforward drive to the hotel, and then I was enveloped in hugs by Car, her mom and Ann. It’s a new hotel for the conference so everyone had to find their way round. The meet and greet was in the vendor’s room with no alcohol. Afterwards some of us went to the bar and had plenty of beer and chat. It was great to say hello to people I hadn’t seen in a year and people I was meeting in person for the first time.

in challenges |

I consider this challenge mostly done. The 2 items I didn’t finish, there are good reasons.

  • run 50km // done 109.56km (68.08miles), that’s pretty decent but why didn’t I run that extra 0.5k today to make it up to 110? grrr
  • sub-30min 5k // done 29:44min
  • keep to maintenance calorie target x20 // done 25 of 20
  • measure bp // done between 128/78 and 134/89, borderline I know

  • food
  • fruit or juice x24 // done 29 of 24, usually I have grapes or strawberries, this month there’s the addition of some fabulous passion fruit and these huge pears
  • vegetarian day x4 // done 4 of 4, one day a week
  • alcohol under 21 units total // done 19 of 21, this was harder than expected especially with the hot weather and having a couple of days out

  • home
  • skype with mum // kinda, did with sis and niece twice, mum was either out on a day trip or at dinner with her sis
  • buy living room furniture // selected but not purchased, I’ll get them when I’m back and can organise delivery
  • LL rewrite up to chapter 10 // done up to chapter 12 actually

in being healthy |


I know now that there’s only 18 weeks till the Chicago marathon, why? Because marathon training starts today!! I’m trying to follow Higdon’s Intermediate I this year, but I suspect I’ll end up somewhere between Intemediate I and Beginner. The beginner program maxes out at 36 miles and Intermediate at 43, the only difference being that there’s an extra weekend run for Intermediate.

The program starts today by cross-training. Um, does 20mins of walking to and from the station count? And I know the next 2 weeks will be difficult cos I’m at GCLS. See, I’m not following already, sigh.

in being healthy |

video link: http://youtu.be/m-hCuYjvw2I

So I was running yesterday and this idiot and his stupid backpack left 2 inches for me to sqeeze past so naturally I clipped against it. Caused me to spin around and I ended up colliding with a pedestrian crossing pole. The button box was just the height of my collarbone and now there’s a nasty scratch there as well as possible brusing. Bloody pedestrians.

Running injuries are par for the course. This is a funny and very realistic video of the day after the London marathon in the days when it was still sponsored by Flora.


in eating and drinking |


I was invited to my friend CC’s friend S’s house for bbq. There was another couple with 2 kids, 4 kids in all. Lots of yummy food — beef, chicken, pork chops, lamb meatballs, mushrooms, potato salad. I brought s’mores wrapped in foil. Didn’t have the traditional graham crackers so I used digestives instead. It was a gloriously sunny day to spend with friends.

in techtalk |


Alright, Windows users, stop with the smugness. Yes, it’s finally happened, a significant breach into OSX, with news of the mac defender malware. A software update fixed it, but the lesson learned is between that and rampant facebook scams everyone has to be vigilant.

Good timing, piriform just released ccleaner for mac beta. It’s one of my all time favourite PC utilities although it’s not really an AV program. It does a great job in cleaning crap (the “c” in ccleaner) off the computer. All mac users go download it now.

in in the news , objects of desire |


We’re definitely going to the Olympics next year. I checked my account yesterday and money has been deducted. Excluding the 4x£995 Opening Ceremony tickets (which were a punt anyway), I got about 25% of what I applied for. I can’t tell exactly which sessions but worst case is we’re going to 3 events; we may have up to 5-6. Fingers crossed we get something good.

Considering that 250,000 people didn’t get a single ticket they applied for, I think I’m pretty lucky. I understand why locog did it this way, but I can’t help the feeling that we the public are being cheated somehow.

  • no indication of how many tickets are really available in each price bracket
  • they take money from me but I have to wait 3 weeks to know which sessions
  • money taken over 1 year in advance, think of the interest earned
  • most people who got tickets are for the less popular events, so who really got tickets to the best events
  • people in Germany or US or other countries didn’t have to go through this painful process

in being healthy |


5.11km 33.29min 6.33min/km

I guess the “national” in national running day means the US, but whatever. I did a second consecutive 5k at the park after work. Run more.


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