Once more, breach, etc.

25 June, 2013

I’m going to indulge myself and go off on a feminist rant. Feel free not to read on.

Quite often in partner dance classes, at beginner level, in a drop-in class where anyone could be an absolute beginner, I choose to lead rather than follow, despite being a lady-person. It’s usually not a problem – it’s quite common that there are more women than men so leaders are in demand. But two things make me sad:

1) If there are more men, some people think it’s somehow…impolite? that I still want to lead, meaning that leaders don’t get to dance all the time – something that followers experience regularly. As if I weren’t allowed to come to a class I’ve paid for to study the thing I want to learn.

2) Many of the women I lead comment on how brave I am to be leading or that they could never do it. Why. On. Earth? It’s a beginners’ class. The guys who lead start from scratch as well and I dare say dancing – leading or following – isn’t a gender-specific skill. I can’t think of any skills that are, actually, at the heart of things.

Leaders are taught to be decisive and clear and think ahead. Followers are told to switch off their brain and not think. Is it so wrong to be a woman who wants to make decisions? Every once in a while? It’s not like you need (to be) a dick to think.



My inner toddler is having a tantrum

4 June, 2013

So I have a deadline and Work To Do and Things To Sort Out and what do you know, I’m having the worst case of I-don’t-wanna I can remember in years. And it wouldn’t be so bad – I’ve always managed before, somehow, to pull myself together at the last minute – if it weren’t for the realisation that it’s a lot more difficult to fake your way through grown-up stuff than it is to survive, say, exams and such. That if this shit hits the fan, there’ll be Consequences.

Still. I don’t wanna. And the builders across the road making an awful racket aren’t exactly increasing my motivation.

I think I’m going to go for a run. And possibly pull an all-nighter in the quiet darkness, knowing full well that I’m too old to get away with it…

Notetaking, don’t mind me

27 May, 2013

Inspiration, blogged for safekeeping. Also, who needs work when you’ve got dance videos?

All roads…don’t lead where you think they do

25 May, 2013

I had decided to run this morning and I’m nothing if not stubborn so run I did. The case against was strong: I woke up too early. (Priority number one when I next move house: I refuse to sleep next to the kitchen. Or to live with other people. Either would do.) My throat was and is sore and red. I should be working. There are laundry issues (I’m kind of ready to move house, actually, except contractually and financially). The morning was cold… I promised myself half an hour. No more, no less.

Here’s what I discovered: if you run according to a programme that has you training shorter distances with breaks in between, even half an hour of uninterrupted* running can be hard. Unexpectedly hard. I didn’t expect to get all out of shape this quickly. Could it be this darned cold that I seem to be hosting? (And could I please, please, please not be ill again?) Should I go back to shorter spurts, or keep doing the same, or even increase my distances? Should I just accept that running is a problem with my current state of health and stick to other things?

Idk. I got a right to sing the blues. What’s more, I got a right to dance the blues, which is exactly what I’m going to do.

*I say uninterrupted; I was quite close to home when I was stopped by a man who wondered why I was running up and down the streets when there’s a park nearby. At that point I’d already been to the park and had simply taken a wrong turn on my way home, but it’s an otherwise good question, and the answer is simple: I’m easily bored, the park doesn’t have many options for suitably short runs, and it was full of parkrunners doing their 5K. I managed to run upstream twice.

All we have to do

22 May, 2013

I ran obediently according to a programme for eight weeks and then stopped running altogether. I’ve been dancing loads (as in three hours per day) and suffering from injuries old and new, and stressing about deadlines. Running just wasn’t in the cards – until today. I wanted to get out there, to see what it would feel like to run wherever I wanted to, for as long as I wanted to, in the little bit of sunshine that the forecast predicted for late afternoon. Insert George Michael belting out “Freedom”  here.

(Got the tune in your head? Good. If not, you’re obviously too young and should stop reading and go do whatever it is that you young people do. You know, young things.)

I set out for a nice, ease-myself-back-into-it kind of run. Instead, I ended up trying out new paths, getting not lost but further than I thought I would, and ran for 48+ minutes non-stop. After not running at all for a couple of weeks and a two-hour social dance class last night (calves = pain), it was…a bit much. Not impossible, but it wished I’d worn better socks and had better-fitting shoes. And more capable lungs. And muscles. Okay so it wasn’t brilliant. But the park was a lot greener that a few weeks ago. There was sun. And nature.

Flora: plentiful.

Fauna: a rabbit, a herd of red deer with antlers (gods they’re big close up), a herd of red and fallow deer without antlers, a swan couple with three chicks, a great crested grebe, a coot, crows, a pair of tourists on the wrong side of the park asking for directions to the cafe.

At least running was good for the brain. There’s nothing like a social dance class with constant rotating of partners to make you realise that you do not, in fact, come from a culture of small talk. I keep interpreting the non-questions as real questions and then trying to actually answer them and realise I shouldn’t and blurt out something nonsensical, repeat ad nauseam. It’s a right old brainfuck.



More of the same

11 May, 2013

To continue on yesterday’s themes:

  1. If you want to mull over your internet habits and real life existence, you could do worse than read Oliver Burkeman’s Guardian article on conscious computing. I certainly recognise the pigeon behaviour in myself, even though I don’t have a smart phone or use Facebook or Twitter. It only takes a couple of email addresses, too many blogs to read and an online forum or two. Plus the whole of the internet.
  2. How to use stevia, part one: Take a bunch of rhubarb, peel and chop. Put in a pan with a little bit of water (very little will do) and a little bit of vanilla stevia liquid (very, very little will do). Bring to the boil, cook to mush. I knew stevia is sweet but I didn’t realise quite how far less than 1 tbsp will go, even with the tart rhubarb. So be careful. Other than that, I think we can call this a success.

Friday, Sweet Friday

10 May, 2013

Tonight’s offerings owe a huge debt to the lovely Katie. She makes things and bird-watches and is an all-round good egg and you should probably read her blog rather than mine (not that I’m assuming to have an audience but, you know, if I did).

First of all, she linked to this nice little article on life with(out) internet, which is well worth a read if you’ve ever pondered the intricacies of real and virtual life. (As it happens, I’ve been doing a lot of that recently. Work and leisure and friendships and culture and procrastination – they all come into it. Quite enlightening, really.)


The Big Box. Packaged much?

Also, Katie hosted a giveaway and, miracle of miracles, I became the lucky recipient of a Big Box all the way from America. It arrived yesterday and let me tell you, what with the week I’ve been having (and oh how I wish this was a real Friday rather than Get Ready to Work Your Arse Off for Two Days Until Next Week Hits You With More Work Day (snappy, eh?)), the joy of Christmas in May was much appreciated.


The Small Box

Inside the boxes? More sweetness than I know what to do with. Also a wad of paper suggesting what I might do with it; I haven’t looked at it yet because I’m man enough not to read the manual. (Not really. I’m a religious manual-reader. (Not manly, either.) I’ve just been preoccupied with Work, and Not Getting Enough Work Done, and celebrating my own personal OVERUSE OF CAPITAL LETTERS DAY.)

My First Chemistry Set?

My First Chemistry Set?

That’s NuNaturals stevia in all flavours and consistencies. I’ve never used it before but I’m keen to finally try some of the hundreds of recipes I’ve seen over the last few years that rely on stevia drops or powder for sweetening. Surely Katie the Cookie Master has something for me to try tomorrow in between working and working…

Nothing to do with cookies, have a song. Fits my Friday mood:

I’m still running after all this time

5 May, 2013

I’ve been Up & Running, which led me to revisit parkrunning, which in turn brings me here today to encourage, urge and beg you to clap or, if you’re brave, even give a little shout-out to strangers you might run into while hanging out near race finish lines, as I’m sure you do. It makes all the difference. Nothing dampens the mood quite like indifference. You don’t have to be genuinely enthusiastic. Lazy clapping will do.

In other news, I just took a look at this wee blog here, and boy, does it look outdated. So narrow! So…grim. At nearly five years old, it’s starting to look positively ancient. I’ll do something about that, eventually. Maybe just a facelift, perhaps move it elsewhere, possibly make a fresh start with a new blog. Recommendations gratefully received. WordPress has become a little clunky, Blogger offers very limited functionality. Where to go, what to do?

Times, they are a-waaa-sting

29 April, 2013

I feel a duty to share this information, to spread the news, to bring you light.

No, I don’t know what it means either, but it looks impressive, no?

Accounts are what counts

17 April, 2013

When I moved to a new country I adopted a new policy: no more new loyalty cards. This means that in every single shop, every time, I have to first explain that no, I do not have your card and then confirm that no, I most definitely do not want one. It’s a never-changing choreography that we perform, the sales person and I, without fail or variation, at every transaction.

Online, things aren’t so simple. To get to the transaction, you have to log in to your account, or create one if you don’t have one already. I buy all my tickets online. I sometimes buy clothes and household items online. Books, films, allergy pills, memory cards…it’s a long list. And I use different suppliers. Different theatres, different bookstores. So far only one of them has let me complete my purchase without creating an account. (I lie: some airlines allow this as well.) And then there are the social media hang outs, the little services that help you procrastinate. Do you tweet? Pin your interests? Subscribe to blogs? Accounts at video services, on demand TV, various forums for discussion?

All this amounts to dozens of accounts, if not hundreds. Some used only once. Some of them I can’t remember having used before so I create duplicate accounts. Password after password, username after username, I keep forgetting, I request that passwords be reset and come up with new ones. I scribble them down on post-it notes but can’t find the post-it note. I toy with the idea of master password services but my paranoia is too strong. And so I let the browser remember, to leave me logged in, to some services, meaning that I use the password more rarely and am more likely to forget it and have to reset it the next time a cookie expires and the active login is lost.

Some might say that once google owns everything, things will get easier. You use the same account for everything, no worries. To which I say: a) anonymity is a precious treasure not to be surrendered lightly and b) see above: paranoia. I do not want a multinational company to be in charge of my increasingly virtual existence. It’s not that I do anything illegal with my accounts – I don’t. I just don’t want to share everything with everyone all the time. I like my privacy.

And so it goes. Bits of me scattered around the internet. Some I’ll never access again – but someone else might. Who’s going to hold them accountable for what they do with that access?

Oh, in case you’re interested, here’s the comic that instigated this brainvomit: