Tuesday, August 5, 2014

5K to 10K: Week 1, Day 3

Five minute warm up walk (it's supposed to be a brisk walk), 30 minute steady run, five minute cool down walk. 

Time: 40 min,distance: 2.46 miles, pace: 16:15

Course: Today I chose a course with more elevations variations. When I got back to the house I found out it was 97% humidity on those mini-hills. Okay then.


I'm going to be writing up different health conditions I'm experiencing and logging my breakfast to see what's the best fuel for me. 

Breakfast: two eggs scrambled, with a couple of spoonfuls of homemade spaghetti sauce mixed in (it includes a little sausage and a lot of spinach), in a tortilla. Coffee, 1.5 mugs.

Pictured: Not me
credit: stockfreeimages.com
Health Conditions: I've solved a mysterious mystery!

But first...a disclaimer. I am not a nurse, physical therapist, or doctor. Nor do I play one on television. I am but a simple massage therapist graduate of Cortiva Institute (Home of the Fighting Growlbacks!) with three and a half years of experience in my field, one year of which was in a chiropractors' office. I am familiar with the general nature of the conditions discussed herein, but I make no diagnoses. 

Also not me.
My experience is mine alone. I am too stubborn and cheap to visit the doctor unless I actually can't walk. And I'm just stubborn in general, preferring to tough that shit out like an idiot, because I'm a hard-headed bitch even when I'm not in pain. Don't be a hard-headed bitch. If you are experiencing heel pain and have found this page in a search, get thee to a physician. I swear they don't care if you bother them. Well, not the good ones anyway. It's their job.

Nope. Still not me.
credit: stockfreeimages.com

I had been experiencing heel pain all through the reboot of the Couch to 5K program and it was very disconcerting to me because on my first attempt with the program I had almost no pain anywhere, during or after the runs. There was typical muscle fatigue soreness but nothing extreme. That was disconcerting too, in a different way, so much so that I made a post about it asking if this was normal with this program. When I'd tried running in the past I'd had all kinds of problems: ankle and knees, shin splints, stitches in my side. With the program, none o' dat malarkey.

Not me and WTH?
But this go around, heel pain. No, that doesn't quite make it clear: MUTHER FUQUING HEEL PAIN. Not so much during the run but after. Constantly after. Anytime I was standing, pain. When I was stretching, pain.  It was definitely not plantar fasciitis. I know the specifics of that condition and that was not it. I'm a massage therapist. I know what I'm talking about. Not heel spurs. But this pain wast not stopping ME. I will look pain in the eye and PAIN WILL BLINK, GODDAMNIT! I will get to the bottom of this! And then I will go under the bottom to the sub-sub-sub-basement's root cellar! And steal their potatoes!

Not me x 11.
photo credit: BBC America
I'm the one in front.
photo credit: BBC America

I got MS Paint and I know how to use it.

The pain is all around the edge of my heel and extends to...oh, here. I direct your attention to the super high tech photo on the right.  

The arrows show the generalized area of plantar fasciitis and heel spur. The pain I'm experiencing is the red area. And this shit hurt when I walked. Hurt enough that sometimes I wasn't sure if I could keep from crying. I didn't cry, but it was very nearly out of my control. 

I tried ice. I tried Epsom salt soaks. I tried Biofreeze. I tried ibuprofen. I tried extra stretching. I got new running shoes. I got gel heel cups for my new running shoes. Nothing seemed to be working. I was almost, almost, almost ready to break down and see the doctor.

I had mentioned it in passing to my physical therapist, who I'm seeing for an unrelated injury. He noticed me constantly dorsiflexing my feet because I was thinking I wasn't stretching enough. I told him how I was trying to change my heel strike because it was really hurting my heels and I knew I didn't have plantar fasciitis. He said try to shorten my stride and that I may have bruised the fat pad on my heel.

Fat pad? Gross. I, a massage therapist, did not know there was a fat pad there. I don't know what I thought was down there besides muscle and tendon...really thick skin maybe? I looked it up. Because I have Google and I know how to use it responsibly. It turns out "Fat Pad Syndrome" is a thing and it's happening to me. How do you bruise a fat pad? And why wasn't there surface evidence of the bruise? Whatever.

Why did I experience Fat Pad Syndrome this go round of the program? Perhaps because, "The fat pad can atrophy or waste away with age."

Ew. I refuse to believe that my heel fat pads have wasted away with age. Jeez, couldn't that happen to the fat pad on my thighs instead?

I think it was because, "An acute bruise of the fat pad can occur from a sudden increase in activity on hard surfaces." That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Eureka! The first time I tried the program I was still smoking. I hadn't done much physical exercise just prior to starting. My first runs (okay, all my runs) were done with the sexy zombie shuffle. Also, I was stretching the program out, doing each day's workout twice, one day for time and one day for mileage.

Psyche! THIS is me.
I told you I don't play a doctor on television.
I play a pirate.

Second program go around. I had quit smoking so I could take a mixed martial arts class, something I'd wanted to do for a long time. I'd been walking and biking for a while. I had a new smartphone with the Couch to 5K app to keep tracking of time for me. So when I started this time I was hard outta the gate. Boom, boom, boom, baby! Okay, boom, boom, boom! 

I was working a lot harder is what I'm saying. I was pushing. I doubled down on that bet. Imma get me 21 and beat the house stone cold sober! And my feet were slamming the ground. I was trying to correct my foot strike (midstrike! not heel!) but it's hard to concentrate on that and back straight, head up, stomach in, plus all the mind wandering stuff my brain does.

My feet inside.
I swear they're actually mine.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Christ this is a long story." I'm almost done. The treatment suggested is modifying activity to take the weight off the heel, cushioning the heel as much as possible with running or walking shoes (not kicky canvas sneakers, not sandals) and heel pads...

And no walking barefoot. Damn. Damn, damn. I love walking barefoot. I hate wearing shoes. I hate wearing shoes so much I bought an expensive pair of Vibram Five Fingers (does anyone else find that name kind of kinky?) But I will not stop running. Will not, will not.

Not John Hurt's feet.
My feet outside.
I take my old running shoes. I put heel pads in my old running shoes. I wear them almost every waking moment. This morning at 5:20 am I stood in the kitchen, bleary-eyed, in my "I don't do mornings," shortie nightgown, pouring coffee and wearing coral running shoes with heel pads inside. When I get out of the shower I dry off my feet and put those shoes on before I dry off the rest of my body.

I use the Epsom salt soaks, arnica cream, and I use ice packs after workouts. I wear my new running shoes with heel cups and padded socks. 

I'm not doing extra workouts, my 5K to 10K program ONLY. I might start taping extra padding to my heels. I'm not. Quitting.

Eye of the tiger. Look into my eye. The eyes are the window to the soul.

Yes, that's my eye.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Belated Friday Five - Octopi

I haven't done a Friday Five in a long time. It's an ocean related theme, and my Fanglyfish delights at that, so let's go!

What’s something you own at least eight of?
Hm...I was just thinking that this question seemed a little silly and easy because everyone owns multiples of things. Books, CDs, DVDs, shoes, panties, purses... But then I thought, do I own (at least) eight of anything that are exactly the same? And the answer is still yes. Paperclips, hairpins, rolls of toilet paper... Maybe I don't understand the question correctly. This seems to easy.  

This! Why do I not own eight of THIS!!! In multiple metals and gemstones?

How particular are you about the ink in the pens you write with?
Not much I guess. At work (I'm a massage therapist) we have to do our SOAP notes in black ink so now I when I'm writing with blue ink I notice right away. I don't like using different colored inks as much as I used to, unless I'm doing a specific editing project. But it doesn't bother me so much that if I could only find a purple or green ink pen I'd stop writing. It would bug me...but only enough to look for a different one. If I couldn't find one I'd keep writing anyway.

This guy came up when I Googled "octopus writing" images.
 I think he looks intense, but maybe he's just bored.
The MFA Octopus: Four Questions About Writing by Mark McGurl
Picture credit: Los Angeles Review of Books

What’s something interesting you know about octopi?
Their skin contains chromatophores! And that is just such an awesome word to say. It's how they change color and blend in with their surroundings. If you don't care to click the link here's a quote from the article, "These pigmented cells contain three sacs of color each, and tens of thousands of them cover the octopus's skin. Each chromatophore is surrounded by muscles that change how the pigment is displayed by relaxing or contracting."

Captain Jones doesn't care to employ his chromatophores.
He wants you to know he's coming.
Picture: Walt Disney

What seems to have a suction-cup-like grip on your attention lately?
That sounds kind of kinky. I don’t know if I can answer that in a semi-public forum. Sometimes people I know in real life read this.  I can’t have them thinking I’m some sort of WEIRDO.

I'm suctioned and I know it.
Picture credit: Photoshopdiva.com

These questions were inspired by a song in which one of the repeated lyrics is often playfully mis-sung as “How am I gonna be an octopus about this?” That was going to be my question #5 this week, but then I thought nobody would ever come back after a thing like that.
Hm. You may be right. I may be crazy.

This disturbing looking procedure is called cupping.
Photo: Yue Wu, The Chronicle

 Ye gods, how big was this chicken?
Photo: Dian Thomas
So your real question is: When you travel, whether it’s to a completely different culture or just to a neighboring state, how adventurous is your approach to the cuisine?
Grilled squid? Yes, please.
Photo: Dian Thomas

Not terribly adventurous I guess. I like to try different cuisines but I have my limits. And if you’re asking if I’d eat octopus I’d tell you I already have.  I’d try snake or alligator if it was offered. But I don’t want to eat bugs or brains or large portions of innards or eyeballs. Plus, there’s sanitation to think about. And I have some food sensitivities that like to show up at very inopportune times. If I saved for a long time for a trip (especially to a foreign country) and spent three quarters of my time and lots more money puking into a bucket in a hospital (possibly one wherein no one speaks my language) because some asshole traveling companion ragged me about not being adventurous about food and I gave in? I think I’d be pretty pissed at myself.


  I'm old enough to remember when Wacky Wall Walkers first came out. 
Photo: Drfad.com

Also, I used to watch Iron Chef (the original, thank you) on Food Network and on the episode when the secret ingredient was octopus one of the doomed cephalopods climbed out of the tank and went crawling across the floor as Chairman Kaga was talking. I can't find a picture of that, so here's Chairman Takeshi Kaga biting the magical pepper that makes the sous-chefs appear.

He's a wizard.
I wish sous chefs would appear when I bit into vegetables.
Photo: Fuji Television

Friday, August 1, 2014

Couch to 5K: Week Four Recap

Again with the complexity. I'm sure glad I had my smartphone and could use the app this time around.

June 13, 2014
Day One: Brisk five min warm-up walk. Jog 3 min, walk 1.5 min, jog 5 min, walk 2.5 min, jog 3 min, walk 1.5 min, jog 5 min. Five min cool-down walk.

Stats: 31:30 min, 1.79 mi, 17:40 mpm

June 16, 2014
Day Two: Brisk five min warm-up walk. Jog 3 min, walk 1.5 min, jog 5 min, walk 2.5 min, jog 3 min, walk 1.5 min, jog 5 min. Five min cool-down walk.

Stats: 31:30 min, 1.8 mi, 17:30 mpm

June 18, 2014
Day Three: Brisk five min warm-up walk. Jog 3 min, walk 1.5 min, jog 5 min, walk 2.5 min, jog 3 min, walk 1.5 min, jog 5 min. Five min cool-down walk.

Stats: 31:30 min, 1.78 mi, 17:41 mpm

So apparently no commentary this week either. 

And no really interesting links. So I'll share some of the lolz.

Murder bears. Rawr.

Couch to 5K: Week Three Recap

Gets a little complicated this week. In more ways than one.

June 9, 2014
Day One: Brisk five minute warm-up walk. Two repititions of the following: Jog for 1.5 minutes, walk for 1.5 minutes, jog for 3 minutes, walk for 3 minutes. Five minute cool-down walk.

Stats: 28 min, 1.85 mi, 15:08 mpm

June 11, 2014
Day Two: Brisk five minute warm-up walk. Two repititions of the following: Jog for 1.5 minutes, walk for 1.5 minutes, jog for 3 minutes, walk for 3 minutes. Five minute cool-down walk.

Stats: 28 min, 1.8 mi, 15:33 mpm

July 29, 2014 (yes, that's right)
Day Three: Brisk five minute warm-up walk. Two repetitions of the following: Jog for 1.5 minutes, walk for 1.5 minutes, jog for 3 minutes, walk for 3 minutes. Five minute cool-down walk.

Or that's what it should have been...BUT...Way back in June, when I was doing this week, I accidentally skipped over day three and went right to Week Four, Day One for the next workout. But on the C25K application on my phone the program isn't finished until you have officially logged all the workouts. So I logged the damn workout. I did it after I'd finished the rest of the program so I didn't bother with the walk segments. I just jogged it straight through.

Stats:  28 min, 1.92 mi, 14:35 mpm

Weekly Interesting Links:

Why did humanity invent pants? Because horses. And these pants are stylin'.

Really old pants. No, like...REALLY old pants. Don't put those in the washer.
Yeah, one link. That's it. What a boring week.

Couch to 5K: Week Two Recap

Okay...sort of a boring week I guess.

June 2, 2014
Day one: Five min. warm-up walk. Alternate 1.5 minutes of jogging and 2 minutes of walking for a total of 21 minutes. Five minute cool-down.

Stats: 31 min, 1.84 mi, 16:50 mpm

No comments recorded.

June 5, 2014
Day two: Five min. warm-up walk. Alternate 1.5 minutes of jogging and 2 minutes of walking for a total of 21 minutes. Five minute cool-down.

Stats: 31 min, 1.84 mi, 16:50 mpm

No comments recorded.

June 7, 2014
Day three: Five min. warm-up walk. Alternate 1.5 minutes of jogging and 2 minutes of walking for a total of 21 minutes. Five minute cool-down.

Stats: 31 min, 1.75 mi, 17:42 mpm

No comments recorded.

Weekly interesting links:

Lifespan Fitness Stretching Machine - I want one! I used to use them at the Lifetime Fitness center. I love them.

Image credit: The Oatmeal
Beat the Blerch 10K/Half/Full Marathon -The Oatmeal is...well, he's The Oatmeal. He's wonderful and funny and he runs and he wrote a comic about the terrible and wonderful reasons he runs long distances.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Hunt for Source of All Matter Continues- Neutrinos! Total Annihilation!...Or not.

Couch to 5K: Week One Recap

May 27, 2014
Day One: 5 min warm-up walk. Alternate 1 min jogging and 1.5 minutes walking for a total of 20 minutes. 5 minute cool-down walk.

Stats: 30 min, 1.59 miles, 18:52 mpm

I don't like Constance. Not at all. She's too effing perky. I'm using Sarge on Thursday.

May 29, 2014
Day Two: Five min warmup. Alternate 1 min jogging and 1.5 minutes walking for a total of 20 minutes. Five min cooldown

Stats: 30 min, 1.75 mi, 17:08 mpm

No comments recorded.

May 31, 2014
Day Three:  Five min warmup. Alternate 1 min jogging and 1.5 minutes walking for a total of 20 minutes. Five min cooldown

Stats: 30 min, 1.75 mi, 17:08 mpm
Myself: "I've had it with these motherfucking bugs on this motherfucking run! Dammit, they are all up in my face!"
Self: "There's a solution to that, Dave."
Myself: "My name isn't Dave, it's Jessica. Which you know. And that's the wrong movie. And you can't be Self and Hal at the same time. Stop with the Hal."
Self: "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that. I think you know what the solution is just as well as I do."

Myself: "Yes, yes, yes. Drag my ass out of bed at four a.m. and run before sunup. I hate you!"

Self: "Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to stretch, drink some water, and think things over."

I'll need a reflective vest at the least and maybe a headlamp. And some pepper spray. More worried about wild animals than people though.

Weekly interesting links:

Picture property of Holy Clothing.
Go to www.holyclothing.com to buy this gown
 and lots of other beautiful clothes.

Romeo and Juliet Gown

Interactive Star Chart for Chicago Time Zone
Find out what stars will be above you tonight!

Hello, where the hell have you been?

I've been out. Well...I was here. I just wasn't writing. So...this and that has happened. I've been away from my blog long enough to forget how the everything works.

I restarted and subsequently finished my Couch to 5K plan. Go me! I wasn't blogging during that time, but I did recount some of the journey on Facebook, which I will transcribe to this format.

Let's see...what else has happened?

I quit smoking. I still want a cigarette every single day. But I keep not smoking. I want one right now. I'm not smoking. Smoking is expensive and very, very bad for my lungs and I'll never gain true speed and endurance in my running if I smoke.

I still want a cigarette.

I was able to start taking the martial arts class in June. We got through close quarters combat which consisted of wrist breaks (meaning someone grabs you by the wrist and you break their hold), two leg sweeps, and several submission holds. I passed the cycle check for that.

This is NOT an example of close quarters fighting.
It's just amusing.
The next (and current) cycle is ground fighting. Yes, where you learn how to roll around on the ground and try to get the upper hand. I promptly hurt myself...not rolling around on the ground trying to throw off my opponent, that would feel far too awesomely badass. Nope, I hurt myself trying to practice a shoulder roll. Because I'm apparently just that clumsy. Torn deltoid tendon, crunched ligaments on top of glenohumeral joint, and strained supraspinatus. I was off work for a week, recommended eight weeks of PT (but I'm healing fast and may be done in four) and six weeks no martial arts class. At least not my combatives class. I can still take the Saturday Family Karate class, it's mostly forms which the doctor said was okay to do. I still take my step-daughter in for her class and I watch what her class is learning and take notes. She's in the 10-13 class, they learn almost the same thing the adult class goes over.

I still miss class. Sometimes I don't want to go in and watch my daughter's class, because I know I can't stay for my class and I really want to be out there.

I've been trying to find some pictures of the ground fighting holds they've been learning, the guillotine choke and the kimura. Well, there's plenty of pictures but most of them just look like a tangle of limbs and you can't really tell what's going on. A great many of the pictures fall into two subcategories: horrifyingly painful and/or gory or tediously near-porn.

So instead I will leave you with this.

Credit: Unknown
If this is your picture and you want me to take it down, you have but to ask and it shall be done.

Iranian female ninjitsu trainers. Boom!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The sound of silence

Sometimes I fear the only thing I'm going to be known for is quoting Dorothy Parker. And not even one of her really good quotes, just some little throw away thing.

When certain people search for a certain quote, this page of mine comes up in the results. I edited it to explain the quote and the who the author was. I hope people aren't disappointed.

So I've been quiet for a while, I know. Trouble is...when writing I tend to be an all or nothing person. I find it very difficult to put down anything on the if I can't analyze and edit it to death and it's difficult to do that in the 30-45 minutes I have every morning. So I'm not really accomplishing my goal of making a habit of writing.

I have been doing other stuff though. I found a martial arts studio for my step-daughter and I to take classes. The studio space (I believe it's properly called a dojo) has a good vibe, the instructors are a former police officer and his sons who have all taught at the YMCA for years (so they know how to be patient with amateurs) and they've taught a number of womens' self-defense courses (which means they focus on confidence and self-defense first). Unfortunately her registration was more expensive, she's in a younger class and they need padding equipment. So she gets signed up this month and I get to join next month.

I went to a baseball game a couple of months back. A minor league baseball game. My step-daughter had earned a free ticket to a Kane County Cougars game. It was on a cold, drizzly Thursday night so the stadium was maybe a 1/4 full and it was not a very big stadium. So it went a lot better than I expected. And I enjoyed the game itself more than I thought I would, despite it being very slow at the beginning. Baseball is the only sport I sort of understand. Plus...there's that America's past time thing. I love that historical shit. We had to leave at 8:45 pm because we had an hour drive home and she had school the next day. It looked bleak anyway. The Cougars only had 2 points and the other team was barely ahead of that. So we leave just at the end of the seventh inning and get home to find the Cougars came from behind, scored seven runs in the eighth and won. Dangit. And we missed it.

See, this is what I'm talking about...I have to get ready for work now, I HAVE to...and I'm not even near finished with this.  I had more stuff to tell and I wanted to find a couple of pictures to illustrate stuff. God damnit.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is this like quitting cigarettes? Two weeks to purge the nicotine (facebookotine?) out of your system?

On Saturday, April 5, 2014 I took a sabbatical from social media and temporarily deactivated my Facebook account.

Wow, I am so addicted. Seriously. So very addicted. Today is the eleventh day off Facebook and I still really, really, really want to post things. And have I done the writing I wanted to do, which was the impetus for getting off Facebook? Not yet. I have done ONE exercise from a book titled What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers. I've made two blog posts and this will be the third. I should be doing better than this.

I'm having difficulty figuring out how to block web pages from my browsers. I want to block my other time wasting sites: Slate, Brainbashers Daily Nonogrids, and Goobix Nonograms. I thought I had it figured out but I have still have access to the sites. Must work on that.

Tried to find the science fiction book club at the library...looks like they aren't meeting right now. The last meeting was in January. This winter was bitterly cold so if they suspended the meetings until spring I wouldn't be surprised, but I thought they would've started back up by now. I really need something to get me out of the house.

I'm looking into the SCA group in the next town. I'll be attending an event in Bloomington on the 26th. I'm nervous and scared and excited all at the same time. I think this will be a very good experience for me, the one friend I had in this area has moved to Minnesota, so I'm kind of lonely. I guess I'm just not a small town type of person. I don't know where to go to make friends. Also? I'm not good at making friends, being painfully, horribly, cripplingly shy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day Three - Purging old energies

All times are approximate. I'm calling this entry an exercise in recall and writing. It isn't a pathetic attempt to ease the withdrawl symptoms of not being able to post statuses on Facebook. It's NOT.

7 am: Start looking for TheMan's paper shredder. It's larger than mine, plus I know it's in the office somewhere. I don't know where mine is off hand. I want to make a start at getting rid of old paperwork, old bills and such that have my name on them. Like five year old credit card statements and such.

When I got married in June and moved into my husband's house my office stuff was crammed into his office with his office stuff and neither of us is terribly organized. We're both pile-makers. I want to get rid of old energy and clean some of this stuff up.

7:15 am: Found the paper shredder. It was sitting right beside my desk underneath a couple of books. TheMan and I are also both bibliophiles. (That sounds better than book hoarders.) Start shredding.

7:20 am: Paper shredder jams. Printed on the top of the shredder, "MAXIMUM 6 SHEETS." I only put in four. Turn off, unplug, start pulling out shredded bits. Oh, good. It's a crosscut shredder. I'd forgotten that. Get pliers to pull out the stubborn bits. Reassemble and it works again. Shred the last few things in that pile. Look for more. Sort through piled file folders. Immediately start to confuse my piles of shred, keep, refile, reuse.

7:40 am: Realize I need to go to the bathroom. Realize my four days of spotting is not going away and yes, I actually did start my period on Saturday, eight days early. Feel annoyed, even though my flow is very light and that's unusual and I don't have cramps and I'm hardly cranky at all. WTF? I've been early before, but I don't remember ever being this early. Is my real age finally catching up with me? I'm 42 but I don't look it. Lot's of people have told me so, it's not just vanity, thank you. Many people can't believe I have two sons aged twenty-one and nineteen. So I like to ignore the fact that my body is definitely not 32 years old. But it's always there at the back of my mind, "You're not getting any younger." Menopause maybe? Shudder. Find phone and make a note in my period tracker app.

7:45 am: Realize I haven't eaten breakfast. Get the banana nut muffin out of the microwave that I had warmed up at 6:45 and forgotten about. More coffee. Remind TheDaughter that it's 7:47 am. She slept through her alarm this morning and was playing on her iPad at that moment. I didn't want to have to drive her to school when she usually rides her bike. Sit down at the dining room table to eat my muffin and drink my coffee and read my current book. Every Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison. Rachel Mariana Morgan, witch bounty hunter.Witches, vampires, pixies, werewolves and such in a modern mystery novel setting could easily be trite and ridiculous but Harrison's excellent realistic writing style makes it damn entertaining and fresh. TheDaughter leaves for school.

7:55 am: Sit on the back porch and smoke a cigarette and read some more.

8 am: Back into the office and make this blog entry because damnit I need to write something.

8:30 am: Waste half an hour playing nonograms online. I play Brainbashers Nonogrids and GoobixGoobix Nonograms. These time wasters are self limiting because if I make a hopeless mistake on a grid and I've already spent over five minutes on the puzzle I stop for at least a while to reset my brain. I have no idea what I mean by that, it just came out of my fingers into the keyboard.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Day Two - Purging a Facebook addiction

So. This past Saturday I deactivated my Facebook account. Not deleted, just deactivated. Like...taking a sabbatical. From social media. I don't want to delete my account because my friends and family are spread out all over the United States. Many of them I haven't seen physically in years (and some I haven't met yet!) but Facebook lets me know about their lives. So I'm not giving it up. BUT...

I was spending far more time on Facebook than is healthy. And what was I NOT doing? Writing.

I knew it would be difficult to quit, but I hadn't realized how much time I spend on there until after I made deactivation. Sunday I had to work. I was booked solid so after six and a half hours of massage and an hour drive plus a half hour detour to pick up my step-daughter and stop at the grocery I was exhausted. I didn't even go on the computer.

 But today.... Monday is my rest day. Sundays at worked are always busy so I try to keep Mondays totally free if possible, so I don't have to go anywhere. Do have any idea how many times I wanted to share the inanest of thoughts on Facebook? How much I wanted to run to the status window with every frustration? Jeez. I couldn't sit at the computer long without wanting to log in. Blech.

I blocked Facebook in my browser too, along with Slate, because it was another huge time waster for me. And I uninstalled Lord of the Rings Online from my computer. Because I can play that damn thing for an entire day and not even realize it.

I want to get back to writing and forcing myself away from time wasting. If I can get myself writing on a regular basis maybe in six months or so I can attempt to check in again.

This entry was a lot more boring than I'd hoped. See? I can't even write an interesting blog entry anymore. Well, just keep bashing away, genius will return. Return, damn you!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Learning is FUNdemental...or learning can make you mental, it's basically the same thing with me.

So I have three pages of one of my stories written. Many of the scenes and part of the plot is laid out in my head, I just have to get it written down. It's damn hard. I have so many things to learn.

So many things to learn about writing. And so many things to learn about the things the world my characters will inhabit.

Let's put aside the learning about writing for a minute and list the things I want to learn myself so that when my main character is learning them it can be real. And if it's something my other characters know well, I better have a fair grasp of it too. I can't just make all this shit up, people. Well...I could...but I don't want to.

Some of this can be googled and book learned. But some I will want to do myself.

In no particular order:

Old-school "hiking and camping" - What does it feel like to have to walk twenty miles a day or more for three days (or more) to get to where you need to be? Especially when you're weighed down with all the stuff you need to have to make camp and eat each night. It'll be hard to cut out weight in your pack without access to anything plastic or nylon. How do make a campfire so that you don't burn down the field or woods your sleeping in? How do you start a fire with flint and steel? What foods travel best? Jerky, biscuits, and cheese I'm guessing. How do you stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Layers is probably the answer to that last one. Cooking over a campfire when you only have iron pots...or no pots.
Cooking in general - where do you get yeast to make bread when you can't buy the stuff at the store? how was cheese made? Wine? How were animals slaughtered and preserved? How were sweet things made, pastries and cakes and pies? Where did they get salt? How is it collected?

basic knot tying

Wearing leather and/or chainmail for days or weeks at a time - what does it feel like and also how bad do humans really stink after trail riding and camping for a week or more and only bathing maybe once.

Metalsmithing - This shouldn't be terribly hard to find. There's plenty of renn faire smiths around.

Herb lore - Lots and lots of books on that, workshops too. I need to know how you forage for the plants, how you can test them for properties, how they're stored, how to make tinctures, how do you know how much to give for a dose?

Bow and snare hunting - alone or as a group effort. TheMan is going to help me learn to shoot a bow at a target, but he doesn't hunt. I don't know that I actually want to kill anything either. Maybe interviewing some bow hunters will be enough. We'll see.

Horseback riding and taking care of a horse- Both with a saddle and without. What does it feel like to learn how to work with the horse and learn how to direct it? What does it feel like to ride thirty miles a day when previously you've only ridden a horse a couple of times, on a trail, for no more than half an hour. What does it feel like to ride a horse at full gallop? How is a spirited horse a different ride from a placid one? Do horses really like goats? What's fully entailed in keeping and caring for horses? I have friends who can help me with this, lucky for me.

Running - yes, I'm getting into the most basic beginnings of running...but how does it feel to run fully dressed and weighed down with weapons? When you're running for your life?

Combat - western hand to hand, boxing styles, sword, long knives, daggers, staves. I'm interested in fencing, but that's not what I need to know for this story. I need the real radioactive stuff, the brutal sword combat knowledge. I know where I can learn the boxing, but the sword combat...maybe I can find a contact through the SCA? What does it really feel like to have someone twice your size advancing on you with a broadsword and a nasty grin? What does it feel like to have to learn how to hold a sword when you're a thirty year old woman from a place where people don't, in general, attack you with swords on a daily basis?

Cartography and how land forms in general shape the way a civilization grows (or doesn't grow) - There will be maps and I want a basic knowledge of how they used to be made. Also, how do I lay out my kingdoms? Can you just decide to stick mountains and rivers and forests anywhere? Short answer, no, you can't. Not if you want your lands to be real.

Early scientific research - What did they use?  No doubt some of the same things apothecaries used. Braziers? And...other stuff. Clay pots and vials. How did they get enough light to do experiments? What did they study? How did they record their findings?

Scribe stuff  - paper, vellum, parchment, quills, pencils, charcoal sticks... how was it first made, what substances can be used, what is the most sturdy? How are books made? The actual creation of the book itself, not what's written in it. What was entailed in hand copying books before the printing press?

Early math - let's not even think about it right now. Just put it down there. Math.

Windows - When did true glass windows first come into use and how were they made? Not stained glass, just plain glass windows. How were the panes set into the window frame?

Mirrors - when did people start using glass for mirrors and what did they use to paint the back of them when they were first invented?
Water supplies, waste and sewage handling in towns and cities and buildings. How bad did it really stink? If you did it right, would it be tolerable?

More will probably come to me, but that's it for now.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Movie Friday - Alien (Yeah, I know it's Saturday now...shut up.)

Everybody's dead, Dave. Everybody but Ripley and the cat.


Release Date: May 25, 1979
Studio: Brandywine Productions
Distribution: 20th Century Fox
Director: Ridley Scott
Writers:  Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett, David Giler (uncredited), Walter Hill (uncredited)
Alien Design: H. R. Giger    

Copyright Twentieth Century Fox
Left to Right:
Harry Dean Stanton, Ian Holm, John Hurt, Victoria Lambert,
Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Yaphet Kotto
Alien: Boladji Badejo in his sole film credit. Ah, the days before CGI, when monsters were people in suits or complicated puppets...or sometimes both.

Ash:  Ian Holm
Brett:  Harry Dean Stanton
Dallas: Tom Skerritt
Kane: John Hurt
Parker: Yaphet Kotto
Ripley:  Sigourney Weaver

Mother, voice of the computer: Helen Horton

Jonesy: a ginger tomcat 

I don’t remember when I first saw Alien. It wasn’t in 1979, that’s for sure. I was eight years old. It would’ve been five or six years later at least. I read the novelization of the movie by Alan Dean Foster first and I loved it. I think I was about thirteen when I read it, my step-dad was a member of the science fiction book club and it was in his collection. So I probably saw the movie between thirteen and sixteen years of age. In retrospect? This sort of explains a lot about myself to…myself.

When I saw the movie? Damn. I loved it. It was gory and creepy and science-y (I loved the sci fi movies that seemed more realistic…twenty minutes into the future and all that) and a woman was outsmarting a seriously dangerous alien! And…AND…she saved the cat! Yeah, she didn’t manage to save any of the people but really, they were too stupid to listen to her and be careful and the cat really couldn’t save itself, could it? Ripley used her brains.

Ripley used her brains. That’s sort of what it all comes down to.

Okay, NOW everybody else is dead.
Property Twentieth Century Fox.
Alien is in the top ten of greatest sci-fi movies on most of the lists I looked at...and when it wasn’t in the top ten its sequel, Aliens, was.  Other minds more patient and probing than mine have reviewed and dissected it at length on the internet, explaining precisely how and why it is so amazingly, awesomely, badass on every level. I won’t go into that myself, because I agree with most of their interpretations and explanations. I’ll give you the links so you can explore them yourself. I can still see new things in it today, or notice details that showed up in the later movies as homages. It’s classic. Sci fi...you’re doing it right.

I am an early model Star Wars and Star Trek fangirl but Alien is number one on the list of my favorite science fiction movies, with its sequel Aliens right behind it.  Would I have said that twenty years ago? Probably not. But I say it today, because at forty-two I understand a lot more about a lot more than I did at twenty-two. How do I explain it without going into pages of DEEP THOUGHTS? I can’t.

 The movie passes the Bechdel Test, passed by Bechdel herself, thank you.

It’s in my top five movies favorite movies of all genres.

Because Ripley uses her brains to defeat the monster and survive...and Ripley is a woman.  

General Info:

Alien (film) Wikipedia – I’m trying to limit my reliance on Wikipedia in my research, but damn, this is a pretty exhaustive entry with 119 source notes listed.
Alien (1979)  IMDB – I love IMDBs trivia, goofs, quotes.

Property of H. R. Giger

H. R. Geiger - Ow. Turn your sound down. Giger designed the alien and built the body.
Carlo Rambaldi -  Designed and built the head of the xenomorph. The jaw of the the head is now in the Smithsonian Institute. Or so says the Alien Wikipedia article, I could not find confirmation on the humongous Smithsonian website or anywhere else on the web.

Interesting Alien tidbits- Backstory on the Nostromo Crew:
Strange Shapes - Alien Series Blog: Nostromo Crew Profiles - allegedly from Ridley Scott’s character notes
Shadowlocked - Space Misfits: Nostromo Crew Backstories revealed – The Aliens Anthology blu ray set has some lovely extras it seems.

FeoMante.com - Alien Movie Review - by Kelly Parks
Cult Brittania – Alien: The Technically British Film Series – Hamish Crawford answers the question I never considered asking. “How British Is It?”

SFDebris: Alien - Chuck gets his snark on. My favorite video reviewer.

Top Sci Fi movie lists:
The Guardian: Film Blog
Popular Mechanics: The 100 Best Sci Fi movies of all time – see that link under the video box? It says View Thumbnails? Just do that,  it’s easier. Otherwise you’ll have to click next until you get to number twelve. I tried to link to the thumbnails directly but I couldn’t. Seriously Popular Mechanics, why ya gotta be like that?
IGN.com: Top 25 Sci Fi Movies of All Time – IGN, your website is also extremely annoying. See to that, would you?
American Film Institute: Top Ten Sci Fi – See! See! THIS is how you do a list!
Science Channel Top 10 Sci Fi Movies – Its number three, that Avatar ad throws me off. Ish.
Rotten Tomatoes: Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy movies – Another easily readable list.
Parallel Universe: Fifty Greatest Science Fiction Movies of All Time

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mt. St. Helens - Nature Tuesday

The Eruption of Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens the day before the eruption.
May 17 1980 AP Photo USGS  Harry Glicken

I was eight years old on the day Mt. St. Helens literally blew its top. It happened thirty-four years ago, on May 18th, 1980, at 8:32 am. I sat safe and sound in my house in Southern Indiana, 2, 300 miles away, watching with mingled awe and horror as the news reports rolled. It's the first memory I have of a natural catastrophe of this scale. When the National Geographic issue covering the eruption arrived in the mail I looked at the pictures for hours and even read parts of the articles. The level of destruction was outside the perception of my eight year old mind.

"... the ground shook beneath Mount St. Helens in Washington state as a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck, setting off one of the largest landslides in recorded history - the entire north slope of the volcano slid away. As the land moved, it exposed the superheated core of the volcano setting off gigantic explosions and eruptions of steam, ash and rock debris. The blast was heard hundreds of miles away, the pressure wave flattened entire forests, the heat melted glaciers and set off destructive mudflows, and 57 people lost their lives. The erupting ash column shot up 80,000 feet into the atmosphere for over 10 hours, depositing ash across Eastern Washington and 10 other states." - Boston.Com: The Big Picture

May 23, 1980, five days after the eruption.
AP Photo Gary Stewart

Boston.com: The Big Picture

National Geographic Daily News: Mt. St. Helens pictures: Before and After

Google Search Images

Do you remember the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens? Tell me about it.