# One Month!

Do y’all know what happens one month from now?

I hit my 15 year blogging anniversary.

That’s…that’s a freaking long time to be blogging. Hopefully I’ll get these blogs updated by then, haha.

K THAT’S ALL BYE

# Running Review

‘Sup?

So as you may know from reading these blog posts, I’ve really gotten into running over the past year. Blame the pandemic, I guess.

Anyway, counting today, I’ve done a total of 110 runs since the beginning of 2020, so let’s see some stats, shall we?

Note: I am counting a “run” as an activity where all I did was run (no walking) and the distance is at least six miles. Just to give “run” a specific definition.

GO!

Here are some summary stats for distance (in miles), average heart rate (in bpm), and time/duration (in minutes):

Here is average heart rate plotted against distance:

Note: a lot of those sub-12-mile distances were early on in 2020, which may explain some of the higher heart rates. I wasn’t used to running yet. However, I’ve noticed that it takes me a good three miles to really get into a run – that is, to get to a point where my breathing calms down and my heart rate seems to slow down a bit. That is, I hit a “groove” that I seem to stay in for the rest of the run. So maybe on those shorter runs I spend more time getting into the groove than in the groove itself?

Here is distance plotted against “run,” which is just the nth run I’ve done since January 2020. For example, “1” represents the first run I did, while “50” represents the 50th run I did. Easy!

Observe the “screw it, let’s go from a 10k to a half marathon” jump around runs 20-23. I’m actually pretty consistent with doing 14 miles. The 18 the other day was an aberration; I don’t think I could consistently do 18 like I can do 14, but who knows. Maybe I could build up to it.

Here’s average heart rate plotted against “run”:

The slope coefficient is significantly less than zero, by the way (α = 0.05), so I guess there’s been a significant decrease in my heart rate as I’ve gone for more runs. Though distance is likely a confounding variable.

ANYWAY. Cool, huh? I’ll probably do more posts like this as I keep running. Lucky you.

# Ha, this is fun

Steer through the Suez Canal like a boss!

Can my elite simulated trucker skillz apply to ships?

Edit: if you panic and overcorrect enough times, it all balances out!

# Book Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Adams)

Have I read this before: Nope.

Review: What a delightfully absurd book. This is another book like Dracula where all I knew about it was just from random references, parodies, and general pop culture. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t what the book actually was. It probably goes without saying that the humor and style of this book is vastly different from pretty much everything else on my book list. I was wary of it at first because I thought it might be one of those things where everyone says “this is something you’ll definitely love!” but I end up not really liking it (like Dr. Who), but I dug it.

Favorite part: There were a few lines that legit made me laugh out loud just because of the absurdity.

Zaphod Beeblebrox was on his way from the tiny spaceport on Easter Island (the name was entirely meaningless coincidence—in Galacticspeke, easter means small, flat and light-brown) to the Heart of Gold island, which by another meaningless coincidence was called France.

[Deep Thought talking/thinking]
“You ask this of me who have contemplated the very vectors of the atoms in the Big Bang itself? Molest me not with this pocket calculator stuff.” (“Molest me not with this pocket calculator stuff” is a fantastic line)

[In Slartibartfast’s study]
He gestured Arthur toward a chair which looked as if it had been made out of the rib cage of a stegosaurus.
“It was make out of the rib cage of a stegosaurus,” explained the old man.

Rating: 7/10

# USAY2K

Not being able to go back to the US for more than a year has made me realize just how much stuff I still get from there. Mostly it’s stuff that I can’t find up here (like my particular brand of deodorant or the ONLY lip balm that seems to work for me), but a good amount of it is stuff that is WAY cheaper in the States. Examples:

• Sunscreen
• Vitamins
• Razors
• Shampoo
• The pens I use when I lecture (though I guess I haven’t been using these since we’ve been online anway)
• Clothes (like even the basic stuff like socks and bras)
• Earrings

That’s just the stuff I can think of off the top of my head.

And it’s too terrifying to go into a Walmart or a Superstore right now, so everything has to be bought at Safeway, which is SUPER expensive.

Yay. I hate this freaking pandemic.

# 18

I ran 18 miles today!

That’s the furthest I’ve ever run by about three miles.

I normally don’t run on the weekends because there are way more people out on the path, but my usual running day (this upcoming Monday) is supposed to be cold as hell, so I figured I’d try to run today instead.

It turns out that the weather was just right for running and there actually weren’t that many people out. I felt like I could easily keep going after I hit my usual 14 miles, so I just continued until I did an additional four.

Supa cool. Here’s the map!

Now I just have not do 18 every single time I run, haha.

That is all.

# Book Review: Gone with the Wind (Mitchell)

Have I read this before: Yes. I think this was the very first (or very second) book I read off my list way back in 7th grade. I remember it was 7th grade because I had to take one of those stupid electronic STAR reading tests or whatever they were called for it to “count” as a book I’ve read for English.

Review: Okay, so obviously: racism. So much racism. And it’s not just racism exhibited by every single white character in the book, but the omniscient narrator exhibits it as well, which makes it all even worse. Everything else about the book is enjoyable – the writing style is very engaging, the pacing is good, Scarlet is a very fleshed-out, complex character who is way more complex than she initially appears (mainly because she has to adapt after going through a lot of shit), and there is a realism to how the South is depicted both before and after the Civil War that I haven’t seen duplicated anywhere else.

But you can’t get past the racism. And I don’t think you should be able to get past the racism. I think that if you’re at all a decent human being, you should come away from this book feeling uncomfortable. I think that should be this book’s place in the world of literature right now.

Favorite part: I appreciated the fact that Scarlett did not like babies/kids and never wavered on this point. You don’t see a lot of portrayals of women who just outright don’t like kids without eventually changing their minds, so that was refreshing at least.

Why had God invented children, she thought savagely as she turned her angle cruelly on the dark road—useless, crying nuisances they were, always demanding care, always in the way.

Babies, babies, babies. Why did God make so many babies? But no, God didn’t make them. Stupid people made them.

Rating: 6/10

# A Recipe for Disaster (or tasty noms, at least)

It’s the semi-monthly recipe list, ‘cause I like sharing tasty-looking things with people who may actually cook them (as opposed to just gawk at them and then make the same broccoli and penne or spaghetti that they make every night).

GO!

Creamy mushroom pasta

Gouda mashed potatoes

Potato gnocchi with mushroom sauce (this one’s for you, mom!)

A clone of those phenomenal Gardetto’s rye chips

ZOOM!

# A Year

So it’s been a year now since U of C said “don’t come to campus!” and I’ve been working from home.

I freaking hate it.

I’m so sick of always being in the same place. Of course I get to go out and walk the river path and run the river path and all that stuff. But I always come back to the same place. There is no variety and it’s really getting to me.

I miss my office. I miss having my own space. I don’t have my own space at home. My computer is set up on the dining room table. I miss having that physical separation between “this is where I work” and “this is where I live.” And I really miss teaching in person.

What’s worse is that I still don’t know when we’ll be able to go back. The university is supposed to announce the plans for fall semester sometime in April. I can’t imagine us going all the way back to “live” classes, especially for the larger classes with 200+ students, but who knows.

The thing is, though, that as much as I hate working from home, I’d rather be stuck with that in the fall than return before we can be sure that most people (profs, staff, students) are fully vaccinated. I remember those Science Theater hallways – SO MANY PEOPLE crowded in there while classes change. I would not want to be in a classroom of 200 students, let alone in a crowded hallway with hundreds more.

But Canada’s going with the stupid (in my opinion) vaccine plan of getting everyone vaccinated with their first shot by June and then waiting FOUR FREAKING MONTHS until the lowest risk group (which I’m sure I’m in) is supposed to get their second shot. They’re banking on it being okay to wait that long between doses which (again in my opinion) is super risky.

It also means that the lowest risk group won’t be fully vaccinated before the fall semester starts. And maybe I’m being overly worried, but I really don’t want to be around that many people before I get my second shot (and before most of those people get their second shot as well).

It’s just…ugh. So frustrating.

# Irrational Pasta Nonsense

So I’ve gotten into this habit that before make spaghetti, I have to dump the whole container of it out on the counter and then measure each and every strand against the others to pick the straightest and most uniformly long noodles to use as my portion. This process takes about 30 minutes.

Yes, I am aware that the pasta all gets turned into the same mushy wiggles in the end.

The rational part of my brain knows this.

But the pasta-sorting part of my brain is much more persuasive and jumps at the chance to spend half an hour sorting through the entire bag of spaghetti.

Who knows. It’s probably some sort of “control” thing. I can’t control anything else in my life, so let’s CONTROL ALL THE PASTA LENGTHS.

I hate myself.

# MATHS MATHS MATHS

This is hysterical. Also very accurate based on my experiences taking upper level math courses. Though the only class I ever had that announced the grade breakdown of exams was my computer science class.

“This is Calculus 7. Today we’re going to be doing some mathematics.”

“It’s a conceptual move, not an algebraic one.”

# Good lord, people, can’t you just WAIT?

Yes, there are COVD vaccines out now. Yes, people are getting vaccinated (at least in the US).

But there are a lot of people who aren’t vaccinated just yet and there are a lot of variant cases as well.

Keep waiting to get back to “normal.” I know we all want “normal,” especially now that it’s somewhat in reach, but now is not the time to jump the gun and pretend everything is fine just yet.

‘Cause it’s not.

You may be one of the people who has gotten your first vaccine. Hell, you might be one of the people that’s fully vaccinated.

But again, most people aren’t in either of those groups yet. And again, there are a lot of variant cases as well.

If you’re vaccinated, you can still catch COVID. And what’s possibly worse is that YOU CAN STILL SPREAD IT TO OTHERS. The chances are a lot lower, but it’s still possible.

You know those people who aren’t vaccinated yet? You could infect them. You could maybe kill them.

So chill the fuck out.

You do not need to get that pedicure right now. You do not need to hang out at the mall right now. You do not need to throw that party right now. You do not need to travel right now.

Your selfishness is going to make this last even longer than it already has. You’re going to hurt people just because you think you’re protected. You’re going to make people wait even longer than they already have to be able to safely see their families.

Just wait. Be patient.

It sucks, but it’ll suck a lot more for a lot more people if you don’t just wait.

So
Just
Wait.

# Sigh…

CNN.

Like, I get it. Some people need that “bare minimum” number to strive for due to whatever circumstances they’re dealing with. But should we really be lowering the bar from the “standard” 10,000 daily steps? People are way too inactive as is. I think anything we can do to encourage more activity is great, even if it means sticking with a somewhat arbitrary value that’s a bit higher than what some research is showing as the bare minimum to get health benefits.

Sorry, I just saw this article today and my mind immediately contrasted it with the “vigorous exercise” article a while back, even though walking and vigorous exercise are different things.

# A Year Online

We’ve now been teaching online for a year at U of C.

And I miss teaching in person so much. I miss being able to gauge how my students are feeling about the material. I miss seeing them be actually engaged in the material (to varying degrees) rather than just hoping they’re paying attention while their webcams are off. I miss getting that feedback, because that feedback really helps me adjust how I’m teaching to best suit the students. Am I going too fast? Too slow? Am I not explaining something enough? Am I explaining something too much?

I HAVE NO IDEA AND I HATE IT LSJFLASFJLASFEWLAFHASLDFHF

I just want to do my job the way it’s intended to be done.

# Do you like Montana? GOOD, ‘CAUSE YOU’RE GONNA LIVE THERE

Are you ready for another “what the fuck” dream?

Last night’s dream featured Elizabeth Taylor (who I’m pretty sure is dead?) who had decided to purchase the earth for TWO HUNDRED TRILLION DOLLARS.

In a big press conference that was broadcast worldwide, Taylor said that she wanted to convert the whole world to the same climate and geography as Montana because, as she said in the press conference, “I was born in Montana and I’d really like the whole world to know how wonderful Montana is” (I’m pretty sure she was English?).

Anyway, as I’m watching this press conference in the dream, I remember thinking, “hey, Idaho is basically the same as Montana already, so maybe she’ll just leave it alone,” which was an oddly specific thought about the protection of my home state when places like THE HIMALAYAS and ANTARCTICA were going to get converted to freaking Billings.

There’s a panel of scientists also at this press conference who are all most likely being paid tons of \$\$\$\$ because they’re all basically kissing her ass and telling her that it’s “completely feasible” to convert everything on earth – including the oceans, by the way – to Montana’s climate and geography. They keep saying it will make the whole planet better. One scientist mentions very briefly that making the whole earth into Montana may have some negative consequences, but only at first. After the planet acclimates in about 500 years, everything will be fine. We just have to get through what he calls the “Montana droughts” first. But yeah. After that? Smooth sailin’.

It was just a…weird dream. I’m usually able to figure out what thoughts from the previous day prompt certain aspects of my dreams, but I have no idea why Elizabeth Taylor of all people was in there and I have no idea why EVERYTHING HAD TO BE MONTANA.

Odd news.

# Vinnie

So last night’s weird dream: I wrote a book about Winnie the Pooh’s brother, Vinnie the Pooh. He’s a mobster who’s always doing shady stuff on the “wrong side of the tracks” in the Hundred Acre Wood.

The author of the Winnie the Pooh books came back to life and tried to sue me over the defamation of the “Winnie the Pooh” name, but since he never mentioned Vinnie in any of his works, the courts dismissed his claim (???).

Brain, you’re strange.

# WandaVision (some spoilers?)

So has anyone else watched WandaVision? Did anyone else absolutely love the premise? I did, holy crap. I thought it was such a unique, unusual plot and so very different from everything else Marvel has done.

Well, except for the end. I think I would have preferred it if it didn’t go back to “oh yeah, there’s the Marvel fight scenes” in the last episode and would have stayed “different” instead, but I guess they had to tie Wanda back into the rest of the MCU somehow, and that was probably the best way to do it.

Anyway, if you have Disney+ and you haven’t watched WandaVision yet, I highly recommend it. Super cool and weird and the homages to the sitcoms of different decades was really well done. Don’t forget to watch the “making of” episode, either. There are so many cool little details that the implemented to make each episode feel authentic to the sitcom/era they were trying to replicate.

# GEEEEEENES

Hey so my 23andMe ancestry composition has updated a bit with their new algorithms. Check it:

• The “French & German” went waaay up from 28.7% to 43.9%
• The “British & Irish” went down from 4.2% to 0.1%
• The “Native American” went up from 8.8% to 9.1%
• The miniscule bit of “Japanese & Korean” is new
• The “Sub-Saharan African” category went down from 2.2% to 1.8%, but the individual regions got a bit more specific I think.

I am very German, haha.

Coolio!

# Music and Cartoons

Holy crap, so this Twitter thread brought back so many childhood memories. Some of my favorite WB cartoons were the ones that involved musical sequences like this. I remember “What’s Opera, Doc?” was one of the best.

(That fat horse, oh my god)

I also loved “The Rabbit of Seville.”

“Carnival of the Animals” was good, too!

And I have some vague memory of some VHS tape we had where there was some concert thing and Claudio Abbado was a puppet…Peter and the Wolf, maybe? I can’t remember.

Edit: YES, THIS THING:

I think these really helped instill my love of music. I remember enjoying how the action paired with the changes in the tempo/mood/volume of the music and thinking how it was SO FREAKING COOL.

# Today I performed an exorcism of the demons living in my toenail

And by “exorcism” I mean “I cut my toenail.” But the level of effort was comparable to an exorcism.

So for quite some time now, my toenail has looked like this demon-possessed thing:

Basically, it turned black and the toenail started to kind of slide off, but another toenail grew beneath it at the same time. This made my toenail about a half a centimeter thick and made it pretty much impossible to clip.

But slowly, very slowly, the old toenail has ground down to the point where the whole thing is actually starting to look and feel normal.

And today was the first day in a long time that I was actually able to legitimately cut that toenail. Now it looks like this!

I call it a victory. It’s a gross victory, but a victory nonetheless.

(The fact that this is like my tenth post about my toenails speaks volumes about the quality about my blog, don’t you think?)

# Ugggggggggggggh

I am so freaking homesick.

That is all.

# HEY LOOK MORE NOSTALGIA

I’ve been on Goodreads a lot lately because I like to look up what other people think about the books on my list (after I’ve already finished them, of course). Today I found someone who had a list of books that kids in the 90s probably read. There were a few on there that triggered some memories for me.

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
I can’t remember if we had to read this in elementary school or if it was just one of those books we had on our shelves and I just decided to read it.

Bunnicula by Deborah Howe and James Howe
I had this when I was pretty young, I think. Maybe my mom read it to me?

Banner in the Sky by James Ramsey Ullman
I want to say I read this in 6th grade as part of a group book report thingy. We decided to make a little movie reenactment of part of it, ‘cause I had a camcorder and I LOVED doing that kind of thing. I remember liking the book quite a bit.

Holes by Louis Sachar
I think Mrs. Lohrmann (our 6th grade teacher) read this aloud to us.