liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
I'm in a kind of weird emotional place when it comes to thinking about 2015. mostly navel-gazing )

I want to talk about religious stuff too but I have run out of time because I have in fact a Hebrew lesson to go to now. So that can be for another post. Thanks for listening, DW, I feel better for writing that out.
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
I've just completed season 1 of the Zombies, run! mobile game. On the whole, I'm pretty impressed.

detailed review )
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
[personal profile] mathcathy asked for an update on all things exercise, which is very appropriate since it was Cathy who managed to get me into a gym three years ago. Without her I'd probably still be dithering about it. Thanks to her helping me establish a habit, I've kept up with regular exercise at least twice a week since then, except for a couple of months this summer / autumn when I was held back by travel and illness.

exercise thoughts )

In any case, heartfelt thanks again to [personal profile] mathcathy for getting me started, and for inspiring me with how thoroughly you're surpassing me these days with your really intense exercise regime!

[January Journal masterlist; there's still quite a few spaces so do feel free to add some more prompts even if you didn't get to it in December! Or indeed to make a second request if you're already in the list.]
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
I was going to post this when I had three milestones clustered together: a year of running, a hundred runs, and 200 miles total. But I was going through a really bad patch and I just felt too discouraged. Now things are going a bit better, but I'm still finding it hard going and feel I've lost ground.

exercise and body image stuff, including numbers )

Posting about exercise milestones is probably even more bad form than posting my sermons, isn't it? I like to post an update a couple of times a year so that I can get a long-term picture of how I'm doing; the day-to-day stuff I put in dedicated places like Fitocracy and [community profile] c25k. (Thanks again to [personal profile] rmc28 for creating that community, it's been a huge help with motivation.) Hopefully people who find this stuff annoying can skip over posts like this, and I will try to get back to posting something more interesting next.


May. 21st, 2013 12:28 pm
liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (sheeeep)
Some time last week, I was in a bad mood such that what I felt like doing was spending hours playing simple, repetitive computer games. But honestly doing that does not really make me feel better, except very very short term, it just makes me annoyed at myself for wasting a lot of time on pointless things. So I had the brain-wave of deciding to sit down and work out what it is exactly that I crave from computer games when I'm in that kind of jangly bad mood. I concluded that I wanted to be doing something sufficiently difficult to give me a sense of accomplishment, but easy enough that if I concentrated I'd have a pretty good chance of succeeding. And I wanted lots and lots of immediate feedback. I figured out that a more productive activity that meets that need is programming.

So I took the plunge and asked to get my Dreamhack (DW development environment) reactivated after a three-year hiatus, and started working on a really small styles bug. volunteering for DW )

The other reason this is important to me is to keep me empathizing with learners. [ profile] mixosaurus made a really powerful blog post about respectful and compassionate teaching. Kat is right on the money that the sort of people who become academics may never have been crushingly bad at any academic subject, whereas by definition we're going to be teaching people with a range of abilities and levels of motivation, not just those who excel and love the subject and go on to become experts in our fields. It's really, really good for me to remember what it feels like to be a beginner, to be too scared of making mistakes to actually make progress. I know I have students who find, say, immunology as arcane and jargon-filled and arbitrary as I'm finding Git right now (like I said, the programming is going fine so far, it's the version control I'm struggling with). And they're not "stupid" and they're not deliberately refusing to try just to be awkward, they're beginners, or they're people who have succeeded at somewhat related skills (such as A-Level biology) but find that this particular intellectual field doesn't quite fit with the way their brain works.

So learning new skills is good for me as a teacher, as well as being satisfying. I've revived my dev journal at [community profile] livredor to document some of my learning process, and since I have it I'll probably throw the baking in there as well, and maybe some of my very beginner-ish Arabic, though I generally know how to learn languages so I have less need to work on the meta-cognition stuff there. I strongly expect that 99% of people will find this detailed documentation totally boring, which is why I'm hiving it off into a separate journal. But I'm also mentioning it just in case you have the exact mindset where you find watching people learning new things interesting, and if you do you're welcome to watch the dev journal.

And if you have wishes for DW, well. I am not quite at the level where I can scratch my own, or my friends', itches yet, but I'm hoping to get there, at least if we're talking small itches. I mean, ideally what I would like to do is write a couple of smartphone clients and a decent front-end for the image hosting and a tool for exporting journals properly with comments and maybe something to import from Tumblr before Yahoo screw the site up beyond repair. But those are way beyond my capability and likely to remain so, because this is always going to be a hobby for me, I don't have a thousand hours to actually become an expert.

However, what I can do is a whole bunch of things related to the back-end that generates journal appearances. The most complicated things I've done so far are writing the Page Summary module, and writing code that mainly affects designers rather than end users to do with the option to colour-code entries on your reading page depending who posted them. Certainly, if there's a colour combination or a display option that you wish existed, there's a good chance I can make it happen. Note that I am not a web-designer by any stretch of the imagination, but what I can do is implement someone else's aesthetic concept in a format that can be made into an official style on Dreamwidth.

In order to be able to do that it has to be something with a licence that DW can use; if you designed something yourself you need to submit a CLA before it can be incorporated, if it's someone else's design then it needs to be public domain or under an appropriate licence. This means that I can't make official DW layouts with, you know, Game of Thrones wallpaper, and it also means that I can't make a Dreamwidth version of LJ Flexible Squares, which is a very common request. What I can do is take CSS-based layouts that modify Flexible Squares, and apply them to Dreamwidth's Tabula Rasa, because actually DW has more flexibility for styling with CSS than LJ ever did, it's just not very well publicized.

So tell me, next time I am in a bad mood and want to spend an evening programming, what can I do for you?
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
So a few months ago I made a post asking for easy baking recipes. And in spite of making a public commitment that I was going to start baking before Passover, life and procrastination got in the way. Then when I was asking for topics for Three Weeks for Dreamwidth, an anony person asked if there have been any results from the baking experiments you mentioned a while back... I was embarrassed to have to say I hadn't got started, and that motivated me to pick up the project again.

making a start )

That was encouraging enough to make me fairly ready to try again! Many thanks to [personal profile] forestofglory for the recipe and to [personal profile] hadassah for bequeathing me her cake tins when she left Sweden. And to all of you for encouraging me to believe that I might be able to learn baking if I put my mind to it. And of course to [personal profile] jack for helping me taste the finished product. I think I will probably make a separate journal for documenting future baking attempts, I'm going to need this level of detail for a while until I build up enough experience to feel confident experimenting and troubleshooting. Equipment I could have done with: sieve, proper cake tin for storing the finished product.


Feb. 20th, 2013 10:48 am
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
I've decided that the new skill I most want to build up this year is baking. I can cook savoury things reasonably well, but I really can't bake at all. I've spent a lot of time being too intimidated to start, and this is a bit ridiculous, it surely can't be that hard compared to some of the molecular biology things I do without even thinking about it.

[personal profile] hatam_soferet has been encouraging me, and I think the next step is to make a public commitment that I'm going to make this change in my habits. So, here's the plan: I'm appealing for your favourite easy recipes for things like cookies, brownies, cup-cakes, American muffins, anything you think a beginner could do. If you provide a recipe that I can understand and follow, and if you don't mind PMing me with a postal address, I will send you half a dozen of the first batch. Yes, anywhere in the world; if you live outside Europe maybe suggesting things that you know travel well would be most helpful.

This way you get literal cookies for helping me learn a new skill. And I get an incentive to actually get on with it and learn to bake, as opposed to holding on to this intention for years and never actually doing it. And hey, if you feel like evaluating the results of my baking to see whether they came out like they're supposed to, that's even more useful.

For reference, being European I prefer to measure ingredients by weight rather than volume, but I'm sure the internet will help me convert if your favourite recipe is in cups. My oven is gas; again, I can convert temperatures to Gas Marks, but I am not sure if it will have exactly the same characteristics as an electric oven. Assume I seriously don't know any standard baking techniques; if you use a technical term please point me to a link that explains what's involved?

And yes, it is a month before Passover. This is partly to give me an additional incentive to get on with this plan rather than procrastinating, and partly because it would actually be a good idea to use up my flour etc rather than throw it out. If your recipe requires specialist flours I might wait until after the festival to acquire them, though.

Any takers? Alternatively, if anyone wants to come and visit and show me techniques in person, that would be excellent too, we could have a baking day :-)
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
So two years ago, I started going to the gym; I was stressed that I couldn't do intense exercise even for one minute without being defeated by the combination of asthma and unfitness. Today I ran for 30 minutes continuously. Slowly, about 4½ mph, but I kept going, and that's still 30 minutes of moving faster than I've ever been able to purely under my own power.

how I got here, briefly mentions weight )

So where now? I find myself a really, really slow runner, but you know what? I wasn't at all sure I would ever be any kind of runner! I am going to try to build up until I can actually run 5 km in 30 minutes (as opposed to my current pathetic 3.5 km). My plan is to alternate running as fast as I can for 30 minutes, with running for as long as I can slowly until the two converge. Once I can run 5 km continuously, I will sign myself up for a Parkrun.

I'm also thinking about getting some equipment, now I've proved to myself that I'm actually a runner and not just a dilettante. The first priority has got to be decent running shoes; my cheapo trainers pinch and give me blisters, and that's proving quite a significant obstacle apart from anything else. It's hard to make myself continue running when my feet are hurting, and it's hard to make myself do any exercise outside my running sessions for the same reason. Also now that I'm running for a sustained amount of time, I know that cheap, ill-fitting shoes are an injury risk. A few people have suggested getting a gait analysis done; I've asked this before I think but I would appreciate any pointers for how to get running shoes that are actually helpful and well-made, rather than expensive because they're fashionable.

Other clothes: I'm basically ok running in just a short-ish skirt, with a t-shirt if indoors and a long-sleeved shirt butch enough to have a pocket for my smartphone when I run outdoors. But this does often involve my thighs chafing, and again, even the mild pain is an obstacle against running as much as I would like to. I have tried running in tights and generally found that too hot, and anyway tights never really fit me well over the groin and thighs and quite often increase chafing rather than preventing it. I've heard of a thing called "running tights", but it sounds like their job is to insulate people who run in cold weather, and my asthma means I can't really do that. I think what I really want is simply a pair of loose-fitting shorts; do those even exist for women? Men's running shorts would do if I can find any to fit me. How good are modern, breathable insulating fabrics? Enough better than brushed cotton to be worth investing in?

Everybody told me I need a "proper" sports bra. Honestly I've found a normal, but well-fitting bra to be perfectly adequate. When I tried wearing a support top I found it constricted my ribs enough that I couldn't take deep breaths, and that was more of an impediment to running than boobs bouncing about. As far as I can see sports bras are like a mild form of chest-binding, which is all very well but I'm not sure how feasible it is for E-cups.

I think maybe a head torch would be a good idea, because it would be nice to run outside after dark so I'm not restricted to the boring, sweaty treadmill as often. But since asthma means I can't really run when the air temperature is less than about 10 °C (that limit used to be more like 20 °C, by the way, another sign that I'm getting fitter!), I suspect that by the time it's warm enough to run at night, it will also be staying light enough later that I will have time to run after work anyway. In any case, I would definitely like a bumbag so that I can carry at least a wallet as well as my phone and keys; I think it's got to be a bumbag because a rucksack, even a small or light one, restricts my breathing enough to make running hard. I haven't yet succeeded in finding such a thing that isn't sold as being totally awesome cool for runners, and priced accordingly; I kind of resent spending over £10 on a pouch on a strap, and it's hard to see how a specialist one would improve my running!

I also want to get back into weight-training, because putting so much effort into running has led to my weights routine getting neglected. But that's probably for another post; I think my most likely plan is to find another incremental programme I can follow, so that I get a tangible sense of progress.


Aug. 3rd, 2012 01:03 pm
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
At the beginning of 2012 I set myself three goals for the year:
  • Secure funding for research
  • Get married
  • Travel from Hobbiton to Rivendell, 458 miles on foot or nominally travelled on cardio machines.

    I got funding in spring [locked entry]. Getting married was in some ways fairly low hanging fruit, since I'd already been engaged for a year by New Year. But it did require me to organize a fairly sizeable and complicated event, and it wasn't absolutely a given that I'd succeed.

    And yesterday I completed my 458 miles, five months ahead of schedule. This is partly because I've been doing a lot of my cardio on exercise bikes recently, which easily lets me do 5 miles twice a week. But I've also been doing more walking than I would without the challenge, including quite often walking the whole 3½ miles from uni to home (downhill, admittedly, but that's still an hour or so of moderately brisk walking).

    So now I need some new goals / challenges. Workwise I pretty much know what I have to achieve; we have a performance review / appraisal system which is actually useful and not full of managerial bullshit. In my general life I'm not sure. Probably getting some work done on the house before the end of the year would be a meaningful and productive goal.

    exercise stuff )
  • Gymiversary

    Dec. 5th, 2011 02:24 pm
    liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
    I made it, people. I went to the gym twice a week for a whole year. I'm a little discouraged by the thought that I have to keep doing this for the rest of my life, but on the whole I'm quite proud of myself. I've only missed weeks when I've been on holiday, that is away from home for a week or more, not because I didn't feel like going to the gym. And I can do things that I couldn't even have thought about doing a year ago, which is also really pleasing.

    various noodling about this (includes mention of weight and body stuff) )

    Of course, the main huge advantage I had was a truly excellent gym buddy, [personal profile] mathcathy. Since she never once called me to say she was too busy or too tired or just couldn't be bothered to exercise, I never dared call her to cancel (other than a couple of occasions where I had a genuine good reason.) Having an awesome partner isn't particularly dependent on having plenty of money, time or confidence, but it is a huge piece of good fortune and means I really can't take much of the credit for successfully keeping up with my routine for a year. Thank you ever so much, Cathy!

    Anyway, I've been offered some exercise equipment for Jesus' my birthday. I think I probably want a set of weights rather than a machine, because I'm realistically a lot more likely to use them (and they'll take up less space if I don't!) My plan is to try to do the weights at home, if not every day then at least three or four times a week, meaning that when I'm in the gym I can use the whole 45 minutes for cardio and thus get fitter more quickly. I assume I can't go very far wrong with just buying a bunch of heavy things of different sizes, but is there anything I should know about acquiring a set of weights? Or do you have any better ideas for what I should ask for for a present?

    To don't

    Aug. 24th, 2011 08:38 pm
    liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
    • Spend all day playing Yucata. Occasionally making a move to break up intense concentration is fine, but playing instead of concentrating is a bad plan.
    • Forget to drink anything at all if you happen not to feel like, or more likely don't have access to making, tea.
    • Live like a student on pasta, beans on toast and porridge because you can't be bothered to wash up.
    • Neglect emails for so long that they become a festering source of guilt and you're afraid to answer them at all.
    • Lose touch with your friends who are not on DW / LJ. More and more people are dropping away from journalling anyway, and it's worth making the extra effort to keep them in your life.
    • Care about pedants if they claim that a to-don't list is grammatically impossible.
    liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
    Well, thanks to everyone who was so encouraging when I was trying to dip my toes into exercise, and especially thanks to [ profile] mathcathy, I've actually managed to keep up a programme of regular exercise for 6 months.

    includes some body discussion )

    I do feel fitter; I've been to ceilidhs and found them more enjoyable than I did in the past because I didn't get so exhausted so easily. I'm generally less inclined to avoid physical things, whether it's running for a bus or weeding the garden. So I think the next stage of the plan should be to see if I can use this fitness to do exercise I'll actually enjoy for its own sake, hillwalking and dancing and stuff.
    liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
    So, day 16 of my newfound gym habit, and I haven't missed a session yet, in spite of the worst weather and the busiest week this year. In fact, I've even added in some extra sessions, including letting [ profile] mathcathy talk me into getting out of bed for a swim on Saturday morning. (She came over for lunch and political debate and boardgames afterwards, making for a highly enjoyable day.) I'm generally feeling better for it, while only a little resentful of the time taken from sleep and fun.

    body image and exercise stuff )

    Anyway, I think what would improve my gym experience is something to take up my spare attention which I'll enjoy more than watching MTV, or mainstream TV with subtitles. (I suppose I could regard my gym subscription as partly a subscription to TV channels I wouldn't bother with at home, but honestly I don't much see the appeal of most of what's been on, especially with no soundtrack.) Does anyone have any recs of working out music? Or even audiobooks (I'm not sure if I could concentrate on an audiobook while treadmilling, but I want to give it a try.)

    While I'm filling up my media players, what are you digging in terms of general music at the moment? And can you recommend me any novel-length (or at least >10k word) fanfic? I know about Harry Potter and the methods of rationality, but what else good is out there? The sort of thing I'm after is:
    - Firefly, though not spoilers for Serenity as I haven't seen that. I ship Inara / Kaylee, but really whatever.
    - Harry Potter; I don't really care about spoilers, though I haven't actually read past about a quarter of the way through book 4. I've picked up enough from general culture that I can follow fanfic, and I don't particularly need to be shocked by the twists in the later books.
    - Classic children's books, though preferably gen or stuff set after the characters grow up, cos I don't really want to read about kids having sex.
    - Sandman
    - Inception
    - The matrix, especially Neo / Morpheus (does that ship even exist?) I haven't seen the sequels, but don't particularly mind spoilers.
    - Star Trek, mainly TNG, but I'm not averse to TOS or the reboot film. Haven't seen DS9 or Voyager

    I'm interested in any pairing, OT3 or more, any combination of genders. I'm happy with kinky stuff but I'm not into dubcon and I'm not sure how to describe the line in my head between playing with consent and pain, and the sort of thing that would read as rape to me. (I hope that's not too unhelpful or kink-shaming, I'm trying to talk about what I like to read rather than making moral judgements about what anyone else should read.) As I said, I'm not interested in any kind of underage sex; can cope with 16-year-olds if it's fairly non-explicit, but generally I find adults much much more hot. Again, no offence to Harry Potter fans or anyone else! Also, I'm definitely interested in gen stuff that explores relationships or characters or aspects of the story which aren't sexual.

    Also any good podfics or non-fictional podcasts? I want to get into those genres but have no idea at all where to start!
    liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (sheeeep)
    It's almost a truism that people don't want to move to DW, no matter how many technical and usability innovations it makes, because all the people and all the interesting discussions are on LJ. These last few weeks I've been realizing that that isn't true any more, at least for me. social network babbling )

    The other thing is, I got the most amazing selection of responses to my post about wanting to do more exercise. Seriously, 50+ helpful comments, both supportive and providing practical advice and expressing opinions in a constructive, not combative way. Other than at [ profile] atreic's place (I still don't know how she does it!) I haven't seen an in-depth, productive discussion like that in places I frequent on LJ in months. I love the discoverability here: I love that, thanks to DW's fantastic Latest Things page, 5 minutes after I post a bunch of interesting people I might otherwise never meet show up and have interesting conversations. (Even if I post at a time when most of my friends are asleep or at work!) Plus, many friends who have chosen to stay on LJ were willing to make a few additional clicks to comment over here; this makes me particularly glad I was bull-headed about keeping my content DW-exclusive from day one. And grateful to you all for making that bit of extra effort.

    And having access to that really valuable support has made a real practical difference. This morning [ profile] mathcathy picked me up at 6:15 am, and we ventured out into the dark, in a snowstorm no less, and took advantage of a one-day free trial at the local branch of Fitness First. As it was I could hardly sleep for nervousness about my first ever visit to the gym; I would never have done it at all without you guys.

    An hour at the gym first thing in the morning turned out to be surprisingly positive, too. I discovered that, in warm air and with a machine to keep me at a steady pace, yes, I can move fast enough to raise my heartrate for 30 minutes. (The machine said that a 30-year-old needs to aim for 160 bpm, and, well, even though some of you expressed a helpful degree of skepticism about the necessity for that, I managed it.) I discovered what it feels like to be breathing hard without having an asthma attack; just knowing that I can is the most amazingly liberating thing. OK, I still think treadmills are the most literally pointless thing ever, but it was worth it for me as something that I could do straight away without any specialist training, and 30 minutes wasn't as boring as I thought it might be. [ profile] mathcathy also showed me her free weights routine. I took the smallest dumbbell (2kg) available, and I learned that doing lifts and stretches with that is actually energetic (as well as being good for my muscles).

    So apart from getting over my anxiety, I achieved that pleasant glowing tired feeling, and I had a shower and was ready for work by quarter to nine. (Also, nobody gave me grief about my weight in any way, which is a great relief.) I was a bit resistant to the idea of paying to do things like walk or cycle on the spot, or do stretches, but having tried it I think it's probably worth it. It isn't weather dependent, and being able to shower and change straight afterwards is a big benefit. Plus, being in a place where there's nothing to do except exercise, so that I have no temptation to just play on the internet instead, especially if you make arrangements with a friend to attend such a place regularly. So, [ profile] mathcathy and I have plans to join a gym properly tomorrow, and make a regular habit of an early morning session and a class every week. (In fact, we're going to join a different gym, not Fitness First, because they annoyed us with their pushy sales tactics; in particular, not providing water so that people have to spend money on overpriced "energy" drinks is pretty close to downright evil.) I have all kinds of grand plans, too, I want to try out some machines that use my arms as well as my legs, and build up to faster paces or longer sessions, and get fit enough to do all the other cool things I want to do, particularly hillwalking when the weather improves again.

    So, squee exercise! Yay internet making me less of a couch potato. And all the gratitude in the world to [ profile] mathcathy for holding my hand when I was scared today, and for agreeing to buddy me so that I can make a regular habit of this.
    liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
    I've been meaning to post some noodling on the topic of exercise for while; the post is expanded from a comment I made to a friends locked post chez [ profile] syllopsium. I decided earlier in the year that I really ought to start doing some formal exercise, both for my long-term health and also for my immediate mental balance.

    I set foot in a gym! )
    liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
    I'm coming to the conclusion that I need a change of style. Various things have triggered this: a friend commenting that I dress "conservatively", and another pointing out a really horrendous dress, a shapeless monstrosity covered in busy floral patterns in green, brown and yellow, the sort of thing a 50-year-old who thought she could get away with looking "cute" would wear if stuck in a 70s timewarp, as being similar to my sort of style. I should emphasize that neither of these people was being anything other than friendly, but it made me think.

    The truth is that last time I thought seriously about my style of dress was as a young teenager, when I first started choosing my own clothes and wanted to look like a young adult rather than a child. So my basic mode of dress since then has been long, full skirts, usually patterned, and long, loose tops, usually in plain colours. Lots and lots of layers. I've branched out a little bit since then; I own a few smart suits and a few party dresses that I didn't have when I was 14, but basically, I haven't really moved on sartorially.

    babble about clothes and style )

    Anyway, I made a start on inventing the new Liv today, by going shopping with [ profile] ploni_bat_ploni and letting her divert me to racks that I would never normally look at. It's the very tail end of the sales, which meant not a lot of choice, but what is still hanging around is absolutely dirt cheap, (and often mislabelled wrt size). I ended up with a really cool jacket, and I'm already imagining building a whole new style around it. It's black velour, short, very tailored, with two rows of (fake) silver buttons. It's alluding to old-fashioned military dress uniform, but in that decidedly feminine way of "I'm dressing up like a boy because I'm ever so very cute in drag". Reduced to 200 Kr (slightly under £15), woot!

    Despite what I said above about hating shopping, it's a lot less hateful with good company. I haven't had a girlie best friend like [ profile] ploni_bat_ploni since [ profile] pseudomonas in 1998, and even that doesn't properly count because Pseudomonas is not actually a girl (besides the fact that we ended up dating, which rather spoils it!) It's an expensive hobby, certainly, but I think having a more varied and more stylish wardrobe will pay off in the end (as long as I don't go overboard with it!)

    So, any advice or suggestions? Even if you've never met me, general advice is still appreciated.


    Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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