Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thoughts from the airport

1. Travelling with one of those belly pouches - you know, the fanny pack for paranoids that you can wear under your clothes - may be safer, but it also makes you look at least 3 months pregnant. The two personas -easy pickpocket target vs pseudo-preggers lady - are in constant battle within me whenever I go travelling. Today pseudo-preggers won. Ah well, maybe at least I will maybe get treated with extra respect because of the "baby"? Also -side note - the fact that I am actually sorta of a pregnancy-appropriate age blows my mind.
2. The awesome fact that British Airways allows 23kg of hand luggage aboard is only slightly diminished by the fact that travelling with 23kg of hand luggage in addition to the 42 I checked is somewhat of a pain. You win some, you lose some.
3. Anybody else feel like travelling is so awesome cuz travel days are " free for all" days? You get to eat two suppers, can watch movies all night and read the remaining 3 hours without an inkling of bad conscience. I love it.
4. Oh how I wish to be one of those "I am traveling only with my purse and a second change of underwear" people. Maybe one day, when flying cross- continental isn't equivalent to several-year-moving business.
5. Daydreaming about getting on another flight than tour own, preferably to an exotic and as of yet undiscovered location, is the best.
6. No, wait - Free airport wifi is the best.

See you on the other side!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Packing Paranoia

Oh travel preparations. I am sitting here at 1:47am, in one of the dresses I bought in a second-hand store to wear at a costume party because it is one of the only items of clothing I own that is not packed away in one of three suitcases, and cannot will my mind to rest because it is racing with all the last-minute to-do list items that I under no circumstances must forget. Call credit card company and tell them I am going abroad. Print out hostel reservations. Buy new set of measuring cups and spoons since those are some of the few life-essential items I cannot get in Europe. And I am sure I am forgetting at least one or two important things that -as mentioned - I should not be forgetting. Oh well. Sometimes I feel like the last couple days of preparation are the worst mentally, especially if you have ample time to do things such as packing. With more than enough time to get everything done, either you procrastinate and end up hurriedly stuffing things into suitcases while trying to remember where you last saw your passport, or - in my case the more likely scenario - you are done packing 3 days in advance, and end up prowling the house with nothing to do AND nothing to wear but a couple of threadbare t-shirts originating from grade 8, an old bikini and a ball gown. Plus by virtue of being paranoid about forgetting things your to-do lists keep passing your mind like a mantra, interrupting your concentration on normal dinner conversations (as in "What would you like for lunch tomorrow, Janina?" "Um... wait did I make sure to check the vegetarian food option on my flight and also when does online check-in open and I still need to download some easy reading material onto my kindle" "Janina?" "What was the question?") In a way, it will be a relief once my plane lifts off. Then everything will be done, and what won't be done can't be done so it will be alright. Until then, I shall 

As well as download all free Kindle books that sound intriguing. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Triathlons are the new Marathon!

Anybody who has met me knows that I am a bit of a endurance sport - fan. Uttering sentences like 'oh, the 30-km practice runs for my marathon training were so much FUN' probably gives that away. Having battled various foot- and knee injuries in the last months, running long distances wasn't really in the books for me this summer, and I desperately cast around to find another way to get my hit of endorphins  - and found it in the great combination of sports that is triathlon - which links swimming, biking and running together. I had already the most amazing role model in front of me - my dad, who was and still is a pretty good swimmer (I hope you catch the sarcasm - he is training to qualify for the Masters World Championships 2014 in Montreal right now) and competed in various triathlons over the past years. The awesome support of my family made it possible that, instead of signing up for a pricey competition and travelling miles around Quebec, Dad and I (with the help of supporter-extraordinaire Mom) held our own sprint triathlon right in the middle of Trois-Rivieres! 

We started out with 750 meters of swimming which I finished in 14:58 min...

then added 20 km of road biking (in 38:27min) ...

and finished it off with 5km of running (in about 21 min)

for a total of 1:20:57 (including changing from one sport to another)! 

Do you see that my legs are just about to give up?

Man, that was tough, but so much fun! This was the first time that I 'raced' when swimming and I did find it challenging, especially keeping my breathing constant when picking up the pace (as the lifeguard apparently noticed since, after I exited the water, he asked my mom whether I was asthmatic since I was breathing so heavily. Well at least I gave it my all =). 

Also, I was glad I had practiced so-called 'brick'-workouts (basically combining two sports such as biking and running in one workout) because, true to name, your legs DO feel like bricks after dismounting from your bike and starting to run and at least I was expecting that feeling. 5 k never felt this long. And the fact that I thought the end was one road bend earlier didn't help - envision me getting up to final-sprint speed, turning the corner and seeing ... more trees. Ugh. Ouch. Haha. 

I may not have gotten a race t-shirt or a medal, but the awesome feeling of achievement (and beaming faces of my family) is just the same. And now I am all the more motivated for the next step - joining a triathlon club in Bonn and training for the Olympic distance (basically double all the distances above) sometimes next summer. I was also intrigued by the Bonn triathlon, though 3.8km swimming, 60km biking and 15km running does sound a little extreme right now (especially the swimming...). We shall see. Anybody wanna be my long distance-training partner? 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Coding Fascination

Computers and the internet have forever been a total black box for me. Other than getting upset about why some programs would run too slow, or trying to figure out how to format the text of my blog posts by clicking repeatedly on the corresponding buttons of the blog-post-writing interface, I never really found it necessary to consider the workings of my everyday laptop activities, and coding - in my mind - was something only super intelligent and super nerdy programming geeks did. How prejudicial of me. Thankfully, Hillary supplied me with inspiration to keep my brain engaged post-graduation, and one point on this awesome list of free classes (gasp!) was a link to Codecademy, specifically their Code Year track.

I have probably been gushing to too many people already about what a revelation this was, but the fact that 4 months later I am still doing my little coding exercises and talking about Java and html is proof enough how fun and motivating, as well as empowering, learning how to code is. The Code Year Track is split up in different sections that will walk you through basic Javascript, HTML, CSS and more - bringing you upto speed on constructing small programs to making your first website all by yourself - and best of all have countless exercises that give you practical experience as well as fun motivation (plus you can compete with your friends for badges and awards! #nerd). All of a sudden, computers and programs have ceased to be the equivalent to sorcery to me and more similar to an advanced math class - I'm not quite there yet to fully comprehend everything, but well on my way.

Looking at the html version of my blog, and actually being able to understand at least half of what it all means, is extremely gratifying (practical example: by going into the html, in this post I finally managed to get my images to the exact size I needed them! and justify the middle paragraph! mini-win times two!), and I would definitely suggest to everybody to dabble at least a bit in coding if only to crack open that black box like I did. And if you are at McGill next semester, make sure to consider AltU which offers student-teaching-students coding classes - I had a fabulous time this summer with our awesome teacher George who will teach another Java class this Fall!