Monthly Archives: April 2011

Grad Students Playing in Sunlight

I did a hulahooping workshop on Monday afternoon in the Library House backyard.  At least, I can phrase it that way.  I totally taught hulahoop tricks!  I am not the most adept hulahooper, but I’m pretty good at a few tricks, and I am happy to teach it to people.  My favourite trick is spinning it above your head, then fwooping it down around your body so you’re suddenly hulahooping, but it takes practice and my apartment is small.  Your can reverse it, too, but that’s harder.  I also like spinning it above my head and switching it from hand to hand.  Then we found a worm digging down into the ground and Deirdre and I yelled at it to hurry up because we were over-excited at this point.  Monica took pictures, and it turns out her camera has some opinions about some things.  It has settings for candlelight dinner, fireworks, and children playing in sunlight.  We went with children playing in sunlight, because it was the closest to our deal.  Clearly the camera is judgmental and has never been unemployed on a sunny afternoon with a grad degree.

Oh man, speaking of which, I came up with a new pithy saying for myself.  “I may be poor, but at least I’m drunk.”  Damn, I’m good at these.  Is there a job where you get paid to come up with a hilarious saying once every four months-ish?  Because I would kill at that.

I redid my blog again!  This time I actually came up with my own picture.  It looks like a picture of a painting, but it’s actually a photo of a table from a tearoom in Bratislava.  All the tables had these beautiful paintings.  I might play around with it some more, so don’t let your entire world lose all meaning if you notice the picture changing slightly.  My only problem with this template is that is doesn’t have anywhere for my awesome subtitle, The best ideas are rarely good.  I put it above the search box, because I am a massive lameass and I love my stupid subtitle.  Would it look completely stupid if I just wrote it directly onto the image?

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A Kick in the Face is Better than None

Aw, this is my last update from this particular reference desk you folks will ever get!  It is completely dead here, because exams are over and it’s the long Easter weekend.  Let us hope I get even one question.  But the memories!  The memories of all my lovely questions!  Oh, such cherishing.

I have had some good times in kickboxing this week, let me tell you.  I got kicked in the face!  It was a complete accident on Rosie’s part, of course, just a matter of missing the pad and hitting my jaw, but it was a hard kick and everything.  It was during drills, not sparring, so it’s not like I messed up by not dodging or blocking.  I was supposed to be in the kick’s way, just a foot and a half lower.  Anyway, I am totally stoked over this.  Kicked in the face = officially hardcore.  Poor Rosie kept apologizing, because what else can you do after you kick someone in the face?  I would feel completely horrible if I did that.  But I got kicked, so I’m just aces.  Anyway, my reaction immediately after the kick was strange.  About five seconds of being completely fine, followed by thirty seconds of freaked-out pain, followed by being completely fine again.  I think in a fight, I’d hit back during those immediate “completely fine” five seconds, and the adrenaline would carry me through the painful part.  I know this is probably common knowledge, but it’s the first time it’s happened to me, so I’m all intrigued.

On Friday, we did a whole bunch of kicking.  I don’t know if you know this about me, but I have a simple dream.  That dream is to one day become Anderson Silva.  (IN CASE IT’S NOT CLEAR, SILVA IS THE ONE WHO WINS THE FIGHT.  THAT’S THE ONE I WANT TO BE.)  As such, face-kicking practice on Friday was a crucial part of that goal.  I mean, getting kicked in the face is badass, sure, but at a certain point I would like to win fights in very cool ways.

Bootcamp on Saturday morning!  We did some insane thing called plyometrics.  Wikipedia with it’s fancified letter-words doesn’t get across what plyometrics is, which is jumping.  Jumping a lot, in strange, inhuman ways, while being assured that anyone can do anything for thirty seconds.  A really hard one, but probably my favourite for the “fun factor”, are called rock stars (found as the first workout of this video).  Seriously, you pretend to be a rock star, jumping as high as you can while whaling on your guitar.  The arm motion is completely superfluous, it’s just good goddamned fun, because if you’re already jumping that high, then you might as well air guitar.

Went home for Easter dinner and had Easter dinner times.  It was also part birthday dinner because my birthday is next week.  Whoo!  I got Easter chocolate and birthday chocolate.  Pretty much the best day ever.  I also got cool new sneakers, because working-out people are supposed to get new sneakers every six months and I’ve had mine for almost a year.  And they were falling apart, too, so I guess it’s true.  Anyway, mine are awesome and black and comfy and you guys, I have a confession, every time I get new shoes I imagine myself fighting crime in them.  Cool black sneakers are sort of ideal, and big boots, but it gets a little ridiculous with, say, sandals or high heels.  I started this habit pre-kickboxing, too, so we can’t even blame that.

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Extending the lesson

So many exciting shenanigans, I can barely keep up.  (Everyone please remember, I have a very loose definition of “exciting”.)  I went for a cottage weekend with various of The Girls last week, to celebrate our freedom from MLIS-dom.  I ate such a ridiculous amount of food, I am not joking.  If I ever want to become truly skinny, I have to stop being friend with people who are such good cooks, I swear to Christ.  But that would entail losing both wonderful friends and fabulous food, and I’m pretty sure I look awesome anyway, so I’ll just keep everything.

The cottage was lovely, even though I had to leave a day early for work, like a big big loser.  But I had some forest shenanigans.  I did nature yoga!  I did my tree pose on a rock by a still lake, then I found a rock in the middle of a running stream, so I did tree again on it!  It was harder in the running stream, because of the movement.  This is science with yoga I am doing, not fucking around in the woods on one leg.

Then I had to part with the most precious thing, my mother’s car.  Yes, strangely, after Mom got back from her Caribbean adventure she seemed to want her car back.  Also, her cat.  Madness.  I tried to make a run for it, me and the cat against the world, but I can only get places via Google Maps, so the cops can find me pretty fast if they just check my search history (“Come, Kitty, to the Amherst liquor store!  Then the New Brunswick border, and freedom!”).  Also, if I got lost (and I would), I would probably call Mom, which makes stealing her car a little unrealistic.

Hanging out in Truro was good times.  I again played board games with six-year-old Tyler, and again lost to him.  This time it was Trouble, so it’s less likely he was cheating, the little sneak.  Next time I go up, he wants to play chess with me.  God, as you may remember from this, I have played chess exactly once and did pretty badly (though eventually won).  And considering how much this kid kicks my ass, he’s probably going to be giving me pity do-overs.  I think I need to start studying my chess moves in time for my Easter chess beat-down from my tiny nephew.  I’ll play against the three-year-old after, to bolster my ego.  (He will eat my king and I will weep.)

Kickboxing on Friday!  We took a trip to Thai-land, as in Muay Thai, which is seriously fun.  The stance is different, with the hands out in front instead of up next to your face.  It feels very natural for punching, but defensively a little exposed, since I’m used to getting smacked for not having my hands next to my face.  Also, we were supposed to have our legs straighter and bouncier, but I’m pretty sure I immediately forgot that, the way I immediately forget my grappling stance in grappling, because apparently my legs only like to do one thing no matter how stupid that is.  So, we were blocking an overhand hook, grabbing the partner in a one-handed side-clinch, then kneeing him in the stomach.  Then, block the punch, push the face, knee the stomach.  Muay Thai apparently involves a lot of kneeing people in the stomach, which is a thing I can get behind.  We ended with a bit of the old spinning back-kick, which is fun to do once but hard to do, like, twelve times in a row.  I think I need to practice spinning without getting dizzy or something, if that’s a thing, Classy Erica probably knows.

Also in kickboxing, we did an exercise where we had five minutes for holding a plank.  You didn’t have to hold it for the whole five minute, but as soon as you dropped out of the plank, you were done.  My plank is so crappy, I usually can’t hold it for more than a minute, but then I go in and out of it.  So for this, I didn’t want to be the first person in the class to drop out, so I just tried and tried, and lost all track of the concept of time and anything else, and when I finally collapsed it was three and a half minutes.  Holy crap!  I thought I had the worst plank in the whole world!  That time isn’t the best by a long shot (a few people kept it for the whole five), but it’s way better than I ever even dreamed I could do, so I was pretty excited.  Apparently, according to the Plank Gods, if you can hold a plank for two minutes you are Officially Fit.  But the Plank Gods are kind of biased.

Saturday three-hour bootcamp!  Whoo!  We couldn’t go to the gym, so we did it at the club.  This just meant a little less weight-lifting, a little more whatever-insanity-Gerald-could-come-up-with.  The best insanity was a balance exercise where you stood on one leg with your other leg extended as high as possible, in front, to the side, to the back, while moving your arms up, to the sides, in front.  For a very long time.  Seriously working those balance muscles that I’m pretty sure just don’t exist on me.  My balance is so bad, I had to stand facing away from everyone else, so everything I was looking at was completely still.  I managed to zebra up my legs because I retarded when it comes to skipping ropes, as it turns out.  We also did piggyback calf-raises, and I actually collapsed when my piggybackee hopped on me the first time.  She was bigger than me, and my piggyback posture is apparently bad.  I’ve always been strong enough to power up from my bent back with partners my own size, but it’s different when they’re heavier than you.  So!  Long-time readers may remember my guide to being a piggybackee.  Now I will impart the lessons on giving a piggyback ride.

  • Keep your back up straight.  You’ll want to lean forward, to equalize the weight.  This will actually throw off your balance!
  • Have your legs bent and shoulder-width apart, with one in front of the other for balance.
  • You are strong enough!  Booyah!

Today I finally got back to grappling.  I missed it for the past few weeks because of crazy homework and the like.  But I’m back!  We learned a really cool take-down called the head-snap.  Basically, you just grab the back of your opponent’s head and shove it down quickly, and then they’re on the ground!  And if they only go halfway down, then you choke them.  If they don’t go down at all, then I don’t know what to tell you, my algorithm has failed.  Then we did the Fireman’s Carry Takedown, which is fun as hell but really not something I plan on busting out until I practice it a little more.  You wind up in a weird position after the person flips.  At the end, rolling!  I used the head-snap, which is so simple and effective, so much love.

Last night I went with various (former) classmates to watch some archival footage from the thirties in a church.  It was strangely engaging.  There were home movies of someone’s honeymoon from 1932, documentaries about porpoise hunters, and also the greatest short, ever.  It was about burglars and mushroom casserole and it seriously needs to be remade by Jerry Bruckheimer as a summer blockbuster stat.  No one else in the church seemed to find it as hilarious as us, though, which is weird, because it had the most bizarre plot, but everything hung together perfectly.  Like a perfect short story, that ends with a pile of burglar corpses strewn merrily across your livingroom while everyone laughs.

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Whatever Links: What I done read

Here’s my latest experiment in things to do.  Linkspam!  This is everything I’ve posted to my Facebook in the past two weeks, and it’s all completely stupid.  I wanted the people not on my Facebook to suffer equally.

Alyson Provax: Read all her “time wasting experiments”.  I felt smug and amused for the first few, then was suddenly punched in the stomach by the terrible feeling that the author knew me.  Uh, good times.

Recycled Island to be Built from Ocean Garbage Patch: Oh my god, so excited, I want to live there and ride a t-rex to work every morning.

Dear Athenian Mercury: Questions and Answers from the First Advice Column in English: I am a complete Dear Abby junkie, so this was a special pleasure to find.  Advice column from 1691.  People ask questions like “Why is horse poop rectangular?” and “Why do sleeping people pee if you put their hand in water?”  Also, a story about a Japanese lady who farted then bit off her own nipple in suicidal shame, and why we shouldn’t be like her.  This demonstrates that the human race was nuts long before Google.

asians in the library of the world: a persona poem in the voice of alexandra wallace: This is probably old news by now, but this is a response to a lady being racist on the internet.  Anyway, I think it’s quite a beautifully done response.

Justice Sometimes Needs a Break: Holy crap, judges are 65% more likely to give a prisoner parole if they’ve just had a snack break.

How do I do a Background Check on my Doctor?: Short answer: in Canada, you can get in touch with the province’s college of physicians and surgeons.

Achieving a Trance State with Madison Smartt Bell: Novelist talks about getting possessed in Haiti, and how that drives his writing.  I’m not saying I believe it, I’m just saying it’s damn cool to read.  Gives recommendations for trance-inducing music, none of which I’ve heard of.

Robots on the Farm: Farming robots!  Seriously, they’re figuring out how to make the robots smart enough to tell an apple’s an apple from any angle, or if it can only see a little bit of it, and getting it to grasp properly.  All very cool.  I’m insisting on robots dressed up like stereotypical farmers, that’s all I care about.

Clinic Touts Smoking as Cancer Cure: I never imagined it would be so easy!

The “Nonplussed” Problem: How Long Should we Cling to a Word’s Original Meaning?: I’m a bit of a descriptivist, yes.  I love me some evolving word meanings.  This articles has an algorithm, so it’s not all about moving only and forever forward.  Yes, a semantics article, with an algorithm.  I’m scintillating.

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Stick a fork in me, I’m done!

Oh man, oh man, the homework is finished, the classes are done, the exams don’t exist, my degree is finished!  All I need is to actually get handed the piece of paper in May, and I’ll be a big-person librarian.  I finished up my work on Wednesday.  Cut to me, on Thursday, completely lost and confused.  Seriously, it’s been so long since I didn’t have anything to do, I’m pretty sure I can’t function like that.  Apparently I need a job and nine million hobbies and parties to go to or I go batty, wandering around downtown, caressing bowls and produce.  Luckily, Friday had plenty of activities lined up!  I think two days of nothing to do would be the end of me.

Friday kickboxing was good times.  We worked on chest and abs, whoo!  I’m looking forward to being in some pain tomorrow.  For one exercise, you laid on your back with your legs straight up above you, and reached up to touch your toes.  Then you did a sit-up.  Then you touched your toes twice, and two sit-ups.  Then three times.  All the way up to fifteen.  I just did the math, and that’s 120 all together.  Urg.  But I did it!  We also did pushups, where your partner does a plank, and you do a pushup on one side of her (facing her), then walk your hands over her shoulders, two pushups on the other side, walk over her shoulders again, three pushups, up to ten.  I remember doing this at the bootcamp last summer and sucking at it so hard, so I was really pleased that I did it, if not elegantly (never elegantly), at least properly and finishing.

Then, kicking things!  We practiced countering a Thai kick with a kick to the inner thigh, which was fun even if I apparently missed that I was supposed to the throwing Thai kicks.  We had to keep our hands down to counter the kicks, which was OK because we were out of range of any punches, but it still felt counter-intuitive to have both hands down.  I now have a pretty nasty bruise inside my knee.  Bruise watch alert!  It’s been so long since I had a really satisfying bruise, I am excited.  I also got punched in the nose because I wasn’t paying attention while I was supposed to be picking jabs to the face.  This happens sometimes, but what was weirdly embarrassing about this time was that my nose started running like crazy!  I was actually worried it might be bleeding or something, even though I knew I hadn’t been hit very hard, it was just so runny!  And gross!  Anyway, that’s my completely necessary story about things that might happen if you get hit in the face.  The more you learn~

I went straight from kickboxing to the MLIS year-end party.  (I’m always entertained by getting dressed up fancy at the club, because usually I dash out in my sweaty clothes without even redoing my ponytail.)  Very nice event, but I would’ve killed for some munchies.  I tried to start a ridiculous dance party with Leah, Naomi and Monica, but by the time the real dance party started I’d apparently lost interest.  I have a very small window of dance-party, it would seem.  Anatoliy gave me very good job search advice, because he is the sweetest.  And generally I caroused and chatted with people.  No drinking, though, because I am poor and sometimes I just don’t feel like drinking.  (Often when I’m poor.)

Having a car is going well.  I am offering rides all over the place, because I feel I have been given a lot of rides and I’ve built up ride-karma or something like that.  And in three days I’ll be back to being carless, so there’s that.  But I’ve come up with a new slogan for myself, based on my driving abilities in a new city, being inexperienced.  You see, I’m not a jerk.  I signal when I switch lanes, I shoulder-check, I don’t tailgate.  My problem, you see, is that I’m profoundly stupid.  I just wind up in the wrong lane sometimes, or I don’t know the rules of turning in this intersection.  So I feel I need a bumper sticker that sums me up: “Rarely an asshole, but often an idiot”  And really, couldn’t this apply to so many of us?  It’s the human condition.  Sometimes, yes, we are assholes, but mostly we’re just rock-stupid.  I am onto something here.

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MOTHER OF CHRIST MY ARMS!!!

I attended one of Gerald’s three-hour bootcamps on Saturday, for the first time in months.  So much fun, but holy mother of crap on a hockey stick my arms hurt.  I really got familiar with weights for the first time, this is the reason for my lovely pain.  We did a lot of weight-lifting “to failure”, which just means you keep lifting the weights until you can’t possibly lift them anymore.  Then other things, like doing sit-ups while holding a 20-lb weight above your head.  Now, I can pound out sit-ups like a champ, but ohmygod they are hard with the weight up there.  Go try it, I’ll wait.  I was tired by 12, and we had to do 50.  I was worried about dropping the weight and breaking my glasses, but then I was kind of, like, oh yeah, my face is right under my glasses.  Don’t smash my face, that’s my money-maker!

We also ran some laps around the Dal track, and I have no idea how far it is but I got almost all the way around four times (with craziness on the steps in between) before I had to switch to walking for a minute.  I figure that’s not too terrible considering I haven’t run since the last bootcamp.

Later that night, went out for drinks with kickboxers/bootcampers/fun people.  It was a Goodbye Maggie thing, as Maggie is leaving and won’t be punching me in the stomach anymore.  I discovered that ginger beer is an awesome mix, because you can’t taste anything over the power of ginger beer.  I also learned that, if you drink with Gerald, there is a good chance he will dare you to do pushups on the dance floor.  And, being as I’m me, there’s also a good chance I’ll do it!  Oh, there are pictures.  Maggie and I did it together, and in our defense, no one was dancing at the time.

Yoga was really interesting this morning.  Apparently, in addition to hips, another place I’m weirdly flexible is shoulders, so that was fun to learn.  Also annoying, because I was trying to stretch my damn shoulders and my stupid face was getting in the way.  My stupid, stupid face.  Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes!  We’re doing a 40-day yoga thingy, now.  We each pick a particular yoga position, preferable something we’re crap at, and do it every day for 40 days.  So, at home, we take out our mats and do the position, throw in a sun salutation, and the idea is that if you already have the mat out you’ll do some more positions because it’s there and yoga goddamned rules is what it does.  I picked tree pose, because it’s a balance pose and it’s become increasingly clear to me that I probably need three legs, my balance is so terrible.

My mother is away to exotic locales, and she’s left her cat and her car with me, which is very exciting.  The cat was pretty displeased with the arrangement yesterday, alternately hiding under my bed or wedged behind my stove somehow.  He’s calmed down now, though!  I swear to God, purring occurred.  Now to get used to have cat hairs wedged into every crevasse, ah, I had forgotten that irritation.  The car is exciting, though I haven’t used it much.  I hate parking!  Parking in Halifax is a pain in so much of my butt, seriously.  So, yeah, I could drive forever, I just never want to stop, is pretty much my problem.

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