Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Coming to a close

Hidey ho, neighbors.

Another week has gone by. I have less than two weeks left in the states which includes my first ever trip to Texas. My to-do list is a mile long and good intentions are plentiful but sloth continues to be the reigning theme of my US holiday. I should berate myself for being so unproductive and inactive but I don’t have the energy for that. It’s tiring enough just walking to the kitchen to stuff my face with holiday treats.

The only exercise I’ve gotten in the past week was an hour’s worth of shovelling after we were hit with a nor’easter a few days ago. The winds were pretty strong that day and I was stupid enough not to take breaks indoors so I ended up with some pretty blotchy skin—so much so that it looked like I had broken out in hives. Hot, I know. Thankfully my skin seems to be rebounding and is almost back to its normal state. I am a leper no more.

Year in Review
When I look back on 2010, it's tempting to label it a complete and utter failure in almost every respect. For example:
  • pathetic yearly mileage
  • ran fewer races
  • no PRs
  • got demonstrably slower
  • gained weight
  • did not complete my dissertation
I know I’m not the cheeriest person in the world, but I don’t want to label 2010 as a failure. Instead, I choose to look on the bright side. (Cue Monty Python...)
  • completed my second marathon in unexpectedly hot temperatures and unrelenting sunshine
  • got lost in Somerset and had a fabulous time in the process
  • ran in costume not once but twice
  • explored a little more of England (most of which I actually didn’t post about)
  • visited Santorini for the first time
  • made significant progress on my dissertation
  • received official confirmation that my dissertation is interesting to people other than myself
  • offered a job for next year pending funding approval (fingers crossed!)
2010 was not a rousing success but neither was it a failure. I count it as a learning experience which indeed it was. Now I’m planning on an eventful and super fun 2011. There’s plenty to look forward to—finishing my degree, employment, more travel and lots more running. 2011 will also include a blog name change and a second major cull of the archives. Specific mentions of my profession will be removed and the focus will be on running, cross training and (while it lasts) living abroad. If you have any name suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

Specific running goals for 2011 are currently percolating in my pea brain but I’ll discuss that more next month.

On that note, I’d like to wish you all a safe and happy new year. See you again in January.

Later gators.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

There were moose tracks in the driveway last week. Still haven’t seen one of the track-makers though.

It’s been a week already. How does the time go by so quickly?

It’s snowing outside.
Yes, that is a real outhouse in the backyard.

The furball is snoozing.
Or he would be if I wasn’t disturbing him.

And I’ve been letting my long dormant crafty side out to play.
Starting small.

I’ve earned one HBBC point since I’ve been back. Impressive, no? I’ve kind of lost the will to do much of anything that’s not family or holiday related. I’m not going to berate myself for it though. I think I’m just burnt out from everything. Some downtime (i.e. sloth and indulgence) is needed right now. I’ll worry about my 99 problems after Christmas.

Show and tell
Some peeps in the blogosphere have been posting photos of some of their Christmas tree ornaments. Since I have nothing better to write, I thought I’d join in too.
This one was a gift from one of Momma X’s work colleagues many years ago. It never fails to make me laugh. Santa is either taking an icy shit or Mrs Clause must have a very sore vajayjay.

I purchased these two ornaments. I found the pickle at a Michael’s a long time ago and was struck by the absurdity of a Christmas pickle so I had to buy it. The other was a gift to Momma X about four years ago. She’s a big mystery fan so a Sherlock Holmes ornament seemed appropriate for her tree.

Another of my purchases—say hello to Sniper Santa.

The last of the packages arrived in the post today so I guess it’s finally time for me to wrap presents. Sounds like a good time for some Christmas music and tree light ambiance.

This is my last post for the week so I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and (just in case I don’t post for a while) a safe and happy new year.

Later gators.

Friday, 17 December 2010

A day in pictures

This was my Wednesday.

Foggy commute into town.

Crossing the bridge.

The High street.

Cheerful greeting from the Vodaphone shop.

The gates to hell. Doors to the library. Needed to get some quality nerd time in before departing.

My ride to Heathrow.

Making my way to the terminal.

Waiting area until gate is announced.

Thought someone might like to see this. £300 (roughly US $450) for one bottle. Is that stuff made out of gold or something?

Harrods at Heathrow.

Fellow traveler.

Lunch at Yo Sushi.

Please hurry up and call my gate already.

Complimentary reading material at the gate.

My chariot awaits.


Worst seat assignment ever. I was on the poop deck. It was pretty shitty. Richard Branson, why do you torment me so?


At least there was entertainment of my choosing. By the way, Clash of the Titans sucked big hairy monkey balls. Way to destroy a classic, dipshits.

Are we there yet?

Getting closer…

My ride home. Boston airport doesn’t allow photographs to be taken inside and I had to haul ass to catch my courtesy bus to the rental car place, hence the gap in photos here.

Remember, X, stay on the right side of the road.

Quick stop at the Christmas Tree Shop for stocking essentials and a potty break. Also I was feeling a bit nauseous so walking around for a bit helped with that.

Running to the border for dinner.

Greeted at home by my furball and…

a year’s worth of mail to go through.

Joy.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Race report and some winners

A frosty morning

Sunday morning was my second running of the Santa run. I cycled into town, left my stuff at the department and walked to the race start. The race was supposed to set off at 9:30. At 9:25 I was a block away from the start line when I heard the countdown and then all of a sudden the race began. WTF!

I wasn’t the only one caught off guard. There were at least thirty other Santas around me still making their way to the start line. The kicker was the race volunteers wouldn’t allow us to walk straight over to the start line—they made us go all the way around the block. I jogged around and then had to wade through spectactors to get over the start line. The radio dj emceeing the event saw us coming and said ‘You’re late!’ I nearly flipped him the bird whilst bellowing ‘WANKER!’ but reminded myself this was a family event and it wouldn’t do the kids good to see a raging Santa. Fortunately one of the Santas behind me didn’t have this problem and angrily yelled at the dj for starting the race early. Sweet.

I caught up to the back of the pack quickly—mostly because there were a lot of walkers. I weaved around them as much as I could and finally caught up to the slow runners. The race is only two miles long so it went by quickly.
Bottleneck at the park gates.

Most of the runners and spectators were having a good time. However there were a number of parents berating their kids to run instead of walk. I’m not a parent (though I play one on tv....ok, not really), but this seems to be a horrible way to (a) get your kid active and (b) to enjoy this as a fun family event. There were plenty of Santas just walking the event so there was no need to force the kids to run. Also, just like adults, kids need to be prepared to run two miles together. If you don’t bother to help your kid train for this event then you can’t expect them to run the entire distance...especially without complaining and a great deal of pouting.

There endeth my soapbox sermon.

Post-race, I walked back to the department to pick up my stuff and cycle home. I really made some people’s day, especially the Asian tourists who tried to sneakily take my photo and the old ladies on the bus who got a good giggle out of my get-up.

Despite the dj being a premature ejaculator tosser, I really enjoyed the Santa run. The majority of people have a great attitude and contribute to the fun atmosphere of the event. And the funds raised went to support the local children’s hospice. A couple of the hospice kids were even there to hand out the race medals to us. It was pretty moving. I encourage all of you to run a Santa or other costumed run in future—if only for the interesting additions it makes to your closets.
I will never be without a Halloween costume now.

And the wieners winners are...
I counted out all the change and checked it twice—as a good little former bank teller does.

Organized coin chaos. And yes, that's the tennis ball under my desk that I roll my foot on.

Admittedly the process did kinda make me feel like Scrooge McDuck in Mickey’s A Christmas Carol.

Anyhoo, the grand total was......*drumroll*.......

£27.85

That makes Turi the winner with his almost spot on guess of £28. Way to go Turi!

I typed the names of the remaining commenters into Excel...
...and had Random.org spit out the numbers for the other four winners.
Congrats Jamoosh, Glaven, Tyger Lily and GeorgiaSnail! You’ve each won a piece of certifiable European trash. You’re proud, I can tell.

Each of you need to email me (at ukxenia at gmail dot com) with your mailing address and choice of bottle opener. Turi gets first dibs, followed by Jamoosh, etc. which means you’re getting the leftovers, GeorgiaSnail. Sorry, dude.

Well that’s it for me. I need to finish some work, pack and then get the hell out of here on Wednesday. YIPPEE!!!!!!!! I’ll post again at the end of the week when I’m stateside and safely ensconced in the middle of nowhere.

Have a great week, everyone!

Later gators.

Friday, 10 December 2010

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

We’re having a HEAT WAVE! Today’s high was 43 F (6 C) with a feels like of 39 F (4 C)—that’s about 15 degrees (Fahrenheit wise) higher than the average temperature for the last couple of weeks. Me likey.

On Wednesday I purchased gel-cushioned heel inserts. I wore them yesterday and had no heel pain. Today I ran 3 miles with my regular Superfeet inserts and no pain. I’m also incorporating daily arch strengthening exercises. Things seem to be looking up finally.

Don’t forget about the bizarre bottle opener giveaway. One of those would make an awesome awful interesting stocking stuffer. You have until Sunday to enter by leaving a guess on that post. Get a move on, people.

Speaking of Sunday, I’ll be running a race that day.

Look familiar? Yes, folks, for the second year in a row I’ll be ho-ing myself all over town. You’re jealous. I can tell.

Five days until I fly home!!! I don’t think I’ve ever been this desperate to get the hell out of Nerdtown before. It’s lovely here, but I need a break. Badly.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Later gators.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Not well-heeled

Way back in October I mentioned that my right foot had been hurting. Turns out it was plantar fasciitis. What I’ve neglected to mention is that I’m still dealing with it.

The pain is always there but has recently flared up again. Big time. Walking is a total trial now. I’ve tried different shoes, with the inserts, without the inserts. It doesn’t seem to matter—my foot still hurts. Yesterday I wore my running shoes for the walk into town. I still had pain in my foot but thanks to the extra heel cushioning I didn’t limp as badly.

I’m rolling my foot on a tennis ball daily and am now incorporating achilles tendon stretches into my morning routine. I’ll look for a heel cushion at Boots today. Other than that, I have absolutely no idea what to do.

Cycling is out because of the weather and Aeolus desperately needs new brakes. I need to be able to walk, people. It’s been almost two months already. Something needs to happen soon or I’m going to completely lose it.

Since I’m hurting, I need others to hurt too. So here’s your dose of pain. And yes, it involves math.

I’ve been using a tennis ball canister to collect my loose change. After about a year and a half, it’s finally full.

I want you to guess how much money is in it.

As I hope to one day walk again without pain, I will add some pleasure to your pain.

I have more bottle openers to give away.
The foot with the now slightly rusty metal bit is from my trip to Santorini and the other is a horrific ripoff of Braveheart which Theresa kindly sent to me from Edinburgh.

As usual, there are Popeners. Two are of John Paul with a bird’s eye view of St Peters on the reverse. The other is of Benedict and it has a magnet on the back.

The person whose guess is closest to the correct amount will win their choice from this fine pile of kitschy crap. I will then have random.org pick four people onto whom I can foist the rest of these atrocities.

I’ll give you some useful info to help with your guesses.

-The canister originally contained three tennis balls. It is c. 8.25 inches (21 cm) tall and has a diameter of c. 2.75 inches (7 cm).
Next to my little Christmas tree. Cheap, yes, but festive all the same.

-The canister has a footed bottom so it’s not a perfect cylinder.

-The canister only contains 1p, 2p, 5p and 10p coins. The 20p, 50p and pound coins are too valuable so they stay in my wallet. Here’s a scaled photo of the coins with the US coins I had on hand for comparison.
In order from left to right: (top row) 1p coin, 2p coin, 5p coin and a 10p coin.
For the Kanadian readers: (bottom row): penny, dime and quarter.

Post your guesses for how much British money the tennis ball canister contains in the comments section of this post by 5 pm EST on Sunday, December 12. I’ll even allow each of you to make up to three guesses cuz I’m generous like that. I’ll announce the winners on Monday. And to save you the wait of international post (and me the expense) I’ll send the prizes once I’m back in the states later next week.

All right, folks, get to guessing...and to commiserating with me about my f*cked up foot.

I crave your pity.

Later gators.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Lazy day

Pre-holiday to-do list:
-funding application = submitted
-conference paper = written
-birthday = celebrated
-important meeting = went very well (much to my surprise)

Now all I have to do is complete those two chapters before I leave for the states (12 days to go!). Not bad.

I stayed up late on Wednesday night to finish the conference paper whilst riding the high from my kick ass meeting which meant I woke up late on Thursday. When I finally did wake up (hello, afternoon) I decided to take the rest of the day off from work. I did simple things like cleaning the flat, correspondence, etc. I also said to hell with worrying about earning HBBC points. Basically I just needed to rest.

Then it came time to make something for dinner. After cooking Thanksgiving dinner last week and living off the leftovers that I couldn’t pawn off on others since then, my kitchen supplies were pretty minimal. I could have very easily walked to the store and picked up a ready meal or frozen pizza, but that didn’t sound appetizing. Instead I decided to cobble together whatever I had into some semblance of a meal.

A carrot, celery stalks, half a zucchini, boullion cubes and some water became recession soup with a side of my childhood favorite of celery stalks with peanut butter. I added in a couple of crispbreads too.

Oh, and then there was dessert.
A little on the brown side, but still tasty.

Yes, the tea is essential.

I had just enough brown sugar to pull off fruit bars. Sweet!

So now my kitchen cupboard looks like this:
Contents: alumin(i)um foil, sandwich & storage bags, crispbread, regular bread, can of tuna, two cans of corn, can of chopped tomatoes, porridge oats, couscous, polenta, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, popcorn, microwave popcorn, miso soup packet, sunflower seeds.

I have one other food cupboard which stores my baking goods and spices which don’t fit on my spice rack.

And my standard-issue midget European fridge looks like this:
Contents: block of parmesan, leftover soup (which I had for lunch today), olive oil spread, tomato paste, cold-hot gel pack (notice my lack of a freezer), spaghetti sauce, skim milk, jar of jalapenos, raspberry jam, lime juice. In the crisper there's half a lemon, brussel sprouts, celery and a carrot. There's a butternut squash on the counter too.

I’m tempted to see how bare I can make the shelves before I start dancing with the devil that is scurvy. I doubt my willpower will last long though since I’m (a) craving a steak and (b) PMSing. But it’d be nice to try.

Okay, folks, that’s it for me. Have a happy weekend!

Later gators.