Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cycling is addictive.

Week 3: Between the terrible humidity (hovering around 90% for most of the week) and two types of unwell, I only cycled 3km this week. I figure that being sick is good enough reason to not do my cycling 3 days/week thing.

Week 4: Back on the cycling bandwagon. I rode 107km in total and I'm feeling pretty good about it! I managed to cycle most of the way to work one day and all the way to work on another, which is awesome. Thanks to my housemate's advice on which streets are the least steep and my incredible ability to go the wrong way and discover new and wonderful things, I have a route home which might not kill me.

I also managed to have my first injury-causing crash. I wasn't going particularly fast at the time though, so I only had some light scratches on my leg. Bad enough to still be there for a few days, not bad enough to get blood all over my socks or for me to get my first aid kit out :-p

Have a picture:

Showing off my ankles, like the hussy I am.

Week 5: Total of 80km this week. Nothing nearly as eventful to report as the photo above :-p

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Another short break

Term 1 is starting next week (well, staff professional development for the year is next week), so I'm going to take that week off to focus on getting ready for the new year and the new students (whom I'll be meeting on Friday).

I will have a cycling update or two in there somewhere, for those (all two of you hehehe) who are interested in my progress.

Wish me luck, and I should be back on February 7th! =D

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bike "culture"

I've been reading BikeSnobNYC's blog, and came across the concept of the fixed-gear bike. I wasn't sure what one was, so I looked it up. I then started noticing them more and more:

  • In the display windows of shops
  • Roger David teaming up with some company which charges you an arm and a leg to send you a bunch of coloured parts that you pick online and then put together yourself
  • Online, peopel going on about somethign called the "Fixed-gear revolution" (is that meant to be a pun?)
  • Merchandise with this slogan:

All this has me asking myself one very crucial question: WHO THE HELL GIVES A DAMN??

I mean, seriously. The kind of bike you ride should depend on three things and three things alone:

  1. What kind of cycling you do
  2. What kind of terrain you're on
  3. How much you can afford to spend

Beyond that, I fail to see the point of taking pride in how many gears your bike has, unless you're 10 years old and you have a mountain bike with, like, 18 speeds because the really cool grown-ups are 18 years old and you feel so grown up riding a bike that has that number somewhere on it.

I'm not saying there's no place for fixed-gear bikes; If you live somewhere to the West of Melbourne I'm sure they'd be fine. The place is as flat as a tack and you just have to hop on and start pedalling. It'd actually be kind of hilarious if you were on a flat plane and insisting on using every single one of your 58 gears to get the maximum use out of your bike.

On that same note, if you live anywhere East of the CBD (or even in the CBD, for that matter), you'd be mad to insist on riding a fixie, especially for ideological purposes, and even more so given that you can get a decent bike WITH gears for less money.

Seriously, Melbourne is made up of some whopping great hills (my own suburb has a high point of close to 170m above sea level) and while you may be able to custom-design your rainbow of a bike, it'll mostly end up sitting there and gathering dust once you realise that you can't go anywhere on it because the 10min cycle to the local shops has more humps that Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas, and you'd be just as crazy to attempt surmounting one set as you would the other.

So I ask again: WHO CARES what kind of bike it is? It's a bike. It either serves its purpose or it doesn't. If it doesn't, sell it to someone who can use it and get a better one. But don't get a specific kind just because it's the in thing - that's just dumb.

Like this bike.

Friday, January 21, 2011

When inanimate objects talk to you

I have bought a fan for my room, because it's been too humid and gross to sleep without one moving the air around.

I've discovered that if I'm positioned in particular ways, the hum of the blades gets broken up and sounds like radio commentary. If I raise my arm, it sounds like radio commentary of a sporting event.

The end result is something like this:

Yes, I have feet. they're just very small and thin.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quincy's Cooking Adventures: Pasta Sauce Recipe

This is seriously the best pasta sauce EVER. In my humble opinion ;-) Once you've done all the chopping, the rest of it takes about as long as cooking up the spirali does, so it's convenient in that respect :-)


Oil or butter
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
200g champignon mushrooms, sliced
1 can of diced tomatoes
2tsp crushed garlic
500g minced beef
2tsp paprika
Tasty cheese


1. Heat up the oil (or butter) in a saucepan and add the onion and capsicum. Start boiling water for the pasta itself at the same time as you put the oil into the saucepan, and add the pasta as soon as the water starts to boil.

I decided to use butter this time. This was a day before I discovered that I couldn't have dairy any more.

The onion is sitting in my Kambrook thingy that came with a hand blender. Oolon's mum was wonderful and gave it to me for Christmas! :-) That thing makes chopping onions an absolute breeze.

2. Once onion is brown and capsicum is softer, add the mushrooms and brown them. You can add the mushrooms and capsicum at the same time; it won't make much difference.

3. Add the garlic (though this can also be added after the beef, if you want to avoid burning it to the bottom of the pot)

4. Add the minced beef and add salt to taste. Stir until beef is brown.

I bought too much meat.

5. Add the diced tomatoes and allow to simmer until the pasta is done.

6. Once the pasta is strained, add paprika* and a dash of wine. Stir well.

It should be a nice earthy red colour. The wine darkens it, the paprika reddens it.

7. Simmer until the sauce is thick, particularly if you're planning to freeze any of it.

8. Serve with tasty cheese and a glass of that same wine.

So, there it is! My favourite pasta sauce recipe! :-) Enjoy!

*If you are making a tomato-baseed sauce and the recipe says to use any kind of sugar at all: DON'T. If you wish to sweeten a tomato-based sauce, use red paprika. That's what it is for.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Film media and the moving image. Or something.

Having known a few “film buffs” in my time, I’ve been thinking lately about my attitude toward cinema and what I look for when I go there.

Quite simply, I go there to be entertained.

I don’t like films that I feel are trying too hard to be anything in particular. I don’t like films that try too hard to be thought-provoking or deep, and I don’t like films that try to hard to be amazing action flicks that BLOW YOU AWAY! It usually means that there is something important missing.

For me, a movie needs to have the right balance of three main things, plus an optional fourth:
  1. Character development
  2. Plot
  3. Decent effects/costumes/cinematography (depending on the type of film)
  4. Enough good moments to make it fun

The fourth is optional thanks to films such as Pan's Labyrinth, which isn't "fun" per se, but is AWESOME none the less. The characters rock, the effects are well done, the story is coherent. It meets the three most important points.

There are a lot of films which either excel in one or two of these while completely failing in the others, or fail at all of them either by trying too hard or not trying hard enough.

For example, the recent James Bond film, Casino Royal. It was mostly enjoyable - the plot wasn’t too bad, the characters seemed to flow well through out. But the action scenes left me confused. I wasn’t able to keep up with what was going on and actually had to have them explained to me because I was so lost.

It was similar with Transformers. Plot was thin, but some of the fun moments made up for it. The characters weren’t all that fascinating but, again, fun moments helped make up for it. Couldn’t keep up with the blurry action scenes.

Fight club was one which left me disappointed: Fight scenes were well-choreographed, characters developed well throughout the film. But I had no sense of plot. The person I was watching it with told me that the character development and the relationships between characters was the plot... For some reason that didn’t work for me (kind of like the Kushiel series of books by Jacqueline Carey; the politics is the plot and just had me bored; but this works really well for some people). Twice I paused the DVD and asked “Is this going anywhere?” because I was bored by the constant, repetitive fight scenes. I also couldn't keep track of the narration - the deadpan voice meant that I tuned out very quickly and didn't process most of what he was saying.

I’ve had a lot of criticism for expressing views like this - I’ve been called a “smart-arse” by someone who assumed I just took Fight Club at face value and was just objecting to the violence, rather than paying attention to the commentary on modern masculinity, or something like that. That really wasn't the case. I just thought it was over-done in a lot of ways, and under-done in too many others. It could have been better executed.

I watch films to be entertained. I do like them to have subtleties which can be analysed and poked at, but they need to be subtle or you lose entertainment value and you get something pretentious and annoying. In film, stuff like that should be explored later by the viewer, not in-film by the director and producer.

But that's just my take on it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I'd like a muffy and a coffin, please.

I do a lot of spoonerising. I'm pretty damned good at it, in fact. I just can't do it on cue. I have actually, in all seriousness, ordered a muffy and a coffin. I only realised when I noticed the weird look that the barista was giving me.

I also mix up my letters a lot. I spent an entire day substituting 2 and x, which was hilarious for my yr 7 students. I also tend to substitute the letter d for the letter g.

I never actually figured out the license plate of my old car. It was either 022 or 220. Unless it was 002, or 020. Or even 200. I could never be quite sure.

I once went to number 24, when I was actually supposed to go to number 4. And no, that was not the first time I'd been to that house. I got very confused when I didn't recognise the scenery...

I genuinely don't know my left from my right. I have to do the L thing with the thumb and forefinger and check every time I'm told to make a turn.

I think I might be dyslexic.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Just quickly:

1) I now have a Twitter feed in my side bar! =D Might encourage me to tweet more often.
2) I hate endometriosis. It hurts. I couldn't walk yesterday from the pain.
3) I love my housemate for letting me use her computer, because mine's in the Apple hospital. She rocks!
4) I'm very glad I have a backlog of entries, so lack of computer is no problem.
5) My parents are totally weird.

Don't ever take me to the cinema

I've already written on what makes me like a movie, but now I'm going to tell you why you should never take me to the pictures.

1) I find it really hard to not comment on everything I see. 

I'm very impulsive, which means that if a comment comes into my head it will usually make it out of my mouth. It can get me in a lot of trouble, and the cinema is one of those places because I like to analyse as I go and rant or squee over what I'm seeing on the Big Screen.

2) I can't stand loud noise.

My first instinct in the cinema is usually to grab the remote and turn down the volume. I have to take ear plugs or keep my fingers in my ears because I can't handle how loud it is. I'll have a dreadful ringing in my ears afterward which you'll have to hear about as well, not to mention that I'll be shouting because I can't hear myself over the din in my own head.

3) I fidget. 

I can't sit still. I find it very difficult to get comfortable in my own chair and this will not get better throughout the film. The best solution to this is to take me to Gold Class, because the nibbles the bring in throughout the movie will give my something to do with my fingers and something to plug my mouth with.

Basically, if you want to see a film with me, either rent a DVD so that we can pause and go back over bits I've missed or gag me and give me a koosh ball.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me!

I am now officially 26 years old. I'm still in my mid-20s, so it's not too bad! I celebrated this weekend with a barbecue which was much fun. It was supposed to be held in a park, but we only found out about 2hrs earlier that the park was closed. So, Oolon's family were kind enough to let us have the use of their house and barbecue for the day.

I had a lovely time :-) 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shameless and gratuitious self-congratulation!

I think I'll do this once or twice/month, just to gloat about how awesome I am. Just wait until I finally make it up the hill to my house - there will be a WHOLE INTERNET PARTY with balloons and streamers and hats and CAKE. DAIRY-FREE CHOCOLATE CAKE YOU MARK MY WORDS.

It will be GLORIOUS!!!

Aherm. Anyway. Been cycling consistently for a fortnight. Here's the run-down:

Week 1: Cycled a total of 100km. Discovered that the reason I was struggling so badly was all the excess weight I was carrying in my basket and panniers. Oops.

Week 2: Went easier this week and travelled 28 km all up. I did manage to travel 20km in one hit, which I'm proud of :-)

The key thing is that I've cycled at least 3 times each week. It's about having something that I can achieve easily when I don't feel like really doing it, because that way I won't beat myself up for not doing what I feel is enough. If I do that, then I'll get discouraged and possibly stop, which would be bad.

So, hooray!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dairy-free. Ergh.

As well as a stupid reproductive system, I also happen to have a really stupid gut. It hates me. A lot. This is a relatively common exchange:

Tummy: I need to do something.
Me: Ok, lets go over here and get on with it.
Tummy: Uuuum, no.
Me: You don't want to any more?
Tummy: No, I still want to. I just won't.
Me: Well, we'll just stay here until you do.
Tummy: *is defiant*

Eventually, it does what it needs to do and I go back to my normal life. Occasionally, it decides to be too enthusiastic, causing all sorts of other trouble. Some times it's one, followed directly by the other. I could not pick up any sort of pattern.

The doctor diagnosed it as IBS, as far as any "syndrome" can be "diagnosed". Which, of course, told me nothing. I was told to avoid stress and to take fibre supplements and drink lots of water.

I was also lactose intolerant, or so I thought.  I switched to lactose-free milk, but I still got sick. I'm also anaemic, so it was suggested that I might have coeliac disease, which I was tested for and it came up negative. Recently, friends of mine suggested I try going completley dairy-free. I looked up milk stuff and came across the possibility of caseine intolerance or allergy, and I figured that it couldn't do me any harm to try going dairy-free for a few weeks, particularly when I remembered that protein shakes always made me feel sick and that protein bars also made me unwell, but after a couple of hours.

This doesn't just include milk and cheese and ice cream. Nothing cooked in butter, nothing processed with any milk protein in it at all whih also includes flavoured chips and certain kinds of bread. So, lots and lots of paranoia whenever I eat anything that I didn't prepare myself until I figure out whether this is actually what's causing the problem.

So here I am, dairy-free for a few days. No idea how long it'll be before I can tell whether I'm feeling better, which is when I will also reintroduce a small amount of (lactose-free) milk into my diet to see what happens.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stress and its effects on the mind and body

Stress affects people in different ways. There are some standard symptoms, but there are a few things which are a bit more specific to certain people. For instance, stress can affect sleep. It can result in insomnia and general tiredness. For me, it affects my dreams.

I first noticed a link between the two when I repeated first year engineering. I was very stressed about the situation and started having nightmares a few times per week. This stopped almost miraculously when I received my offer for the teaching degree that I had applied for transfer to.

But it's not just nightmares which happen when I'm under stress: I also act out dreams. To date, I have:

  • Texted in my sleep
  • Used tissues when dreaming about crying
  • Performed martial arts moves on my furniture
  • Jumped out of bed
  • Removed my clothes 

The most interesting one was the last on that list, but specifically an incident where I went to bed wearing two layers and woke up wearing only the outer layer.

My brain is a strange and fascinating thing.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Smart little body

My body has a knack for knowing what it needs, at least as far as ingestion goes. See, a few years ago, I developed rheumatoid arthritis. Fortunately, it never got anywhere near as bad as what you see in the pictures but it was always a possibility.

Before I got diagnosed (it took four months to go from my noticing a swollen and sore joint in my hand to being told "this is what you've got"), I started having some other odd symptoms. I got really, really dizzy sometimes. I also started craving rare steak (I'd never had it rare before). I also randomly craved orange juice. I craved orange juice to the point that I had about a dozen mandarines and two big glasses of OJ, all in one sitting, before I felt sated.

I only found out a few months after my diagnosis that rheumatoid arthritis can cause iron deficiency, and that vitamin C helps you absorb iron. My body very clearly knew exactly what it needed!

Then there was starting to take Ritalin. Suddenly, I was no longer craving chocolate. I later learned ADHD is partly due to a lack of dopamine in the brain, and that chocolate increases dopamine, as do CNS stimulants... Again, my body had found something which gave it what it needed and craved it on a regular basis. In fact, one of the ways I can tell my medication is wearing off is that I start to crave chocolate :-p go figure.

I do sometimes like the way my body works.