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saoili

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Not actually leaving LJ, and things I love now. [Nov. 29th, 2011|11:04 pm]
saoili
I have been planning recently on leaving LJ. Most of the reasons I was originally here have gone. And most of what I get out of LJ these days is Russian spam. I have started up what I hope will be a reasonably serious blog here: http://saoili.blogspot.com/ . And most of the small, random musings that I used to put on here go on Google Plus now.

Except that I've just spent a very enjoyable couple of hours reading through my old LJ posts. And I don't think Google Plus is a record in the same way. So I think I might keep the LJ for when I want to say little things, but keep them said.

On that note, as a follow up to this: http://saoili.livejournal.com/37066.html

I still love the feeling of loving things. That warmth, that excitment, that fuzzy glow. I love being someone that has so many things that can bring out that feeling.

Here's some of them, new ones in bold: John, Simon, friendship, family, love, dancing, good hugs, coding, doing anything well, getting better at things and seeing it happen, playing music, playing certain games, meeting new people and clicking with them, getting to know people, deep conversations, the right kind of sleep dep, being giddy, learning, that 'aha' moment of realisation, teaching, explaining, being proved right, being proved wrong and taking it well and accepting and growing from it (this is hard, but great), being praised, giving genuine compliments and seeing the reaction, Faith, maths, logic problems, sharing nerdy tendencies, writing, reading things I've written before and like, great books, great movies, great poetry, the smell of soft summer rain, getting soaked in the right kind of rain (through to the bone in seconds, somewhere near home, by choice :) ), strong wind, getting someplace dirty really clean, good music, a good romance story, being creative, giving 'the right gift', training, breathtaking scenery, flying, acting, singing, making people laugh, running, having finally passed my driving test (I still grin when I think about it), spending time online, getting time to myself, driving really fast, wedding planning (when it's going well), organising things, knitting, getting flowers and sometimes, just the realisation that life is wonderful.
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Stranger than a Strange Land [Nov. 14th, 2011|02:45 pm]
saoili
I'm currently listening to the audiobook of Stranger in a Strange Land (published in 1961)*. Listening to old sci-fi set in the future I am generally amused by how slow they expected the development of information and communication technology to be in comparison to other forms of technology. The book is set in a future where
- the Moon is colonised
- Mars has just been colonised (well, colonists were sent, anyway)
- taxis are some kind of flying vehicle, often automated
- real meat is a rare luxury, most is synthetic
- space travel that can get a ship from Earth to Mars in 19 days is possible.
One of the characters has a bugging device. It's new and considered 'micro'. It's about the size of a cigarette lighter. It needs to have its 'spool' replaced every 24 hours. And it seems to have no transmission abilities whatsoever.

I've come across things like this in other older sci-fi. People in the past trying to envision complex, suspension-of-disbelief information and communication technology just got nowhere close to the reality we live in already. The idea doesn't seem to have occurred to any of them that the lower limit of size and weight of devices that could store libraries worth of information could be based on the usefulness of the device for its purpose, rather than the limits of the hardware.** Nor has the extent to which humanity could become interconnected by technology. Despite our lack of space colonies and flying cars.



*P.S. I'm still in the process of reading it. So, if I might be so bold as to request this about a book published fifty years ago, no spoilers please.
**If you doubt me on this currently being the case, just look at the current generation of iPod Nanos. They have clearly been engineered to be as small as they possibly can while still being usable for their function. Because, ya know, getting 16 Gigs of data storage into something that size just isn't actually challenging any more.
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I am the 99% [Nov. 9th, 2011|11:26 am]
saoili


I am fortunate enough to have a job. After paying crèche fees and other regular expenses, I had maybe €300 ($415) a month for luxuries and irregular necessities. I got by, reasonably comfortably, because I live rent free with family.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, some people with monthly incomes higher than my yearly salary, made some bad business decisions. They made investments that promised returns so high that they had to be risky. And when those investments failed, because there were banks involved, my government stepped in and stopped those people from losing their invested money. They bailed out the banks and I am paying for it and my son will pay for it when he grows up. The odds are high that his children will too.

Because of the debt my government have gotten us into, I now pay the 'Universal Social Charge'. This is a tax which is calculated on gross income and paid along with all kinds of other taxes and often by people who are exempt from those taxes. I pay close to €150 ($200) a month and I can barely get by on what I have left. There is a budget coming and I expect to be expected to pay more.

I AM THE 99%. WHY AM I PAYING THE GAMBLING DEBTS OF THE 1%?

Occupy everywhere.
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30th birthday [Oct. 23rd, 2011|10:01 am]
saoili
In case anyone's missed it, my 30th birthday is on this Friday in the 51 bar on Haddington road in Ballsbridge from 7ish.
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I accidentally ran one of the hardest and hilliest marathons in the country [Sep. 26th, 2011|08:38 pm]
saoili
Short version: I missed my pessimistic goal time by almost twenty minutes, did a lot of walking and failed to get a negative split. But I not only completed a marathon, but one of the (if not the) hardest and hilliest on "these Islands", with no hill training. Ow.

I set myself two different goal times for the marathon; 1) the somewhat arbitrarilly chosen, should be doable, time of 5 hours (11 minute 27 second miles) and 2) my BHAA Standard, probably unrealistic, time of 4 hours 39 minutes and 13 seconds. My pace on my 20 mile training run was 11 minutes 45 second miles and I had read that you should do your long training runs a minute or a minute and a half per mile slower than your marathon pace, so I thought it shouldn't be a problem to knock 16 seconds a mile off. I was thinking that I'd do the first half as though I was going for the slower goal and speed up in the second half if I felt up to it. But when I set my goal (and did my training), I did not know about the hills.

The first I learned about the hills was when I went to pick up my chip and bib and saw TShirts for sale advertising the half marathon with the slogan 'are you tough enough?' and a graph of the 750 foot climb and drop. I hoped that the marathon route didn't follow the half marathon route. Or failing that, at least that the second half of the full was flat. I was wrong on both counts. I also should have seen the problem coming by the number of people who told me I'd picked a hard one for my first. The second half is flatter, but we're still talking a climb of over 100 meters. And not in the reasonable 'we're still going up' kind of way that the first half is. But rather in that 'really, that's not the top either', up a lot, down a little, up a lot, way than any hiker or hill walker will be familiar with. Over the course of the whole thing I went up over half a kilometer.

elevation profile picture
elevation gain 512m, elevation loss 541m

The first two miles flew by in a brief blur of pleasant conversations with mostly foreign strangers (who were mostly doing the half marathon) and thoughts of 'I'm running a freaken marathon!'. I managed to stop myself going much faster than the 11 minute 27 second miles. Mile three was where the first hill kicked in. One American I talked to later said that she figured the cow theme was because that first hill you come to makes you say 'holy cow'. I was quite proud of managing not to drop to a walk on that first hill, which was most of miles three and four and the start of mile five. I passed a lot of people who had done so. Just after the four mile marker there was a water and aid station and a fantastic drop with a beautiful lake view. I released my inner five year old, shouted 'whee' and ran down the mountain, passing a bunch more people. I say ran, it was more like controlled falling. A couple of times I had to slow myself down because I actually felt in danger of falling over. After that I ran for a bit with a guy called Fergus and a girl called Eithne who told me they were very amused by my going 'whee' by them. After a while I glanced at my watch and realised that I had now more than made up for the time the hill had cost me and needed to slow down, so I said goodbye.

I'm not sure when the first time I got chatting to Eimhear was. She reminded me a lot of another Eimhear I know in that 'bubbling with enthusiasm and confidence, crazy in a good way' kind of way. She was running the full with her friend Colette. Most of our conversations ended with her dropping back to let Colette catch up with her. She sang a lot. She was the one who christened my fiance and son my 'support car'.

My support car drove by me just before the first water station. I saw them and wasn't sure if they'd seen me. My fiance later told me that he had but was too busy trying to get the car up the hill and not hit any runners to wave. Shortly after the water station my car was there in a lay-by with an adorable little hand stuck out the window looking for a high five. Which, of course, it got.

Another person I talked to a lot was an American woman that I kept catching up with when she stopped to take photos. She had brought along the camera mostly to make sure she took breaks. She was rewarded with some of the most scenic views I've ever seen and has promised to email me the photos. I've run a few races that have claimed to be picturesque. But I've never felt any of them really pulled it off before. The views on this one were stunning.

sea between mountains

My legs and hips started making themselves known to me at about mile eight. Not that they were really complaining much, they just thought it was important that I was aware of them.

My support car turned up another once or twice in the first half. Always a delightfully welcome sight. The stuff that motivation is made of.

At the halfway mark I passed the finish line and lost most of my company as the half marathon finished. After that point pretty much the only person I saw was a woman who was alternating between running and walking, when her preset watch told her to. At first she would catch up to me when she was running, then fall behind me when she was walking. Then she would pass me when she was running and I'd pass her when she was walking. Then I'd catch up with her only when she was walking. Then she was a spec on the top of a hill when I reached the bottom. I guess that strategy was working for her :).

The route was very well marked. As promised, whenever you had to turn the ground had a little white 'moo' and an arrow. Everywhere else you just followed the road. That said, after a long few minutes of not seeing any other runners, I started worrying that I had interpreted where the road went differently to them at some point. This happened repeatedly, but every time I eventually came across another mile marker to tell me I was still on track.

Once it became clear that I wasn't going to have any more company I started playing my audio book, as I usually do when training.

Mile seventeen and eighteen brought the first serious hill in the second half of the marathon. And it was a serious hill. This time I conceded and walked for most of it. I just didn't have the juice left to run it.

Speaking of juice, I brought along five energy gel packs, planning to have one every fifty minutes. I'd used them once in training, on my 20 mile run, and had found them very useful. I didn't feel the need for the first until well after the first hour. The second and third were similarly over an hour apart. So, when I wanted another about a half a hour later I figured I could take it and still be behind schedule for taking them all. And so I learned why you don't take them so close together. Lemon bile, delightful. Thankfully I managed not to actually get sick, but it was a close call once or twice. I never got around to the fifth gel, funnily enough.

Mile eighteen was also where I finally gave in to my bladder and asked some nice strangers if I could use their toilet. They let me, saying that I surely deserved it, given how far I'd come. I noticed at some point later that I was reaching all the mile markers about 0.08 miles after my watch said I was. I was confused by this but just tried to recalculate based on it and carry on. It was only after I finished the race that I realised those guy's toilet must be 0.04 miles away from the road. I was very amused.

In mile twenty I was close to tears in a good way, knowing I was going to finish and thinking that I could catch back up with my goal time if the rest was mostly downhill, which it surely had to be.

And I actually managed something resembling running in miles twenty, twenty one and twenty two. Though progressively less so.

I think mile twenty three was possibly where I started running into to wind for the first time. Before that I had noticed it at my back once or twice and been grateful for it, particularly going up the hills, but I hadn't really been aware of how strong or cold it was. Mile twenty three was certainly where I hit the wall, realised I wasn't going to make my goal time and lost most of my will to go on and some of my will to live. I was so sore, so tired, so cold and so beaten that I was close to tears. When I saw a water station coming up with my support car at it, well, it helped a lot :).

From that water station I had to run down a road, turn around, run back up that road (into the wind), run down another road, loop around a church with another water station at it and back to that first one again before heading for the finish. My support car managed to be at that point each time and also at the church, where they gave me a jumper that may have been the difference between me finishing and not finishing.

One of the times I approached the car I heard my son say 'run Mammy, run!'. Which I dutifully did, for a few yards :). I later learned that he had said, disgustedly 'I see Mammy, and she's not running!' just before that.

The last few miles I was really upset at missing my goal time. I kept telling myself that it was an arbitrarilly set limit, chosen without all the information. But I wasn't listening, and I was distraught.

I managed a little bit of running in mile twenty four, but mostly walked it. Walked twenty five pretty much entirely. At that point I was just determined to finish, even if I had to walk the whole way.

When I reached the twenty five mile marker I thought 'just 1.28 miles and I get to see my fiance and son again'. Then I thought about how long it would take to walk that and decided I couldn't wait that long and ran the last stretch.

Just before the finish line my finance saw me taking off the jumper, which didn't fit the black and white theme, and ran over to grab it from me. I really didn't want to be wearing it in the photo at the finish and it was great to not have to carry it either.

I crossed the finish line and sat down, with a view to lying down, but my son ran over and gave me the world's biggest hug, holding me in a sitting position.

I recieved my ridiculous but precious full mooathon finisher's medal. It's a cow with flashing eyes.

it's a cow with flashing eyes, and a sweatband

We went back to our hotel, with me munching on the peanut butter and mashed banana baguette that had been prepared for me. I had a cold bath that was not as useful as the last one I had (I suspect this one was not cold enough). Then we walked to the main race hotel. It was further than we thought and the walk was torture. I know it's a good idea to keep moving afterwards. But ow.

We sat around chatting to other people who'd done the race. They were mostly people who had done the half marathon, were jealous of my medal and thought I was crazy.

Myself and my son went in to the prize giving. I got called up for a photo for being the fastest woman in my age category. With an over all time of almost five hours and twenty minutes, I can only assume I was the only woman in my age category. Or that all the others had been disqualified from that prize by winning overall prizes. It was still nice though :). My son was delighted.

Over all, I'm very glad I did it. I'm sorry I had a goal time, because of how bad missing it made me feel. In fact, I think I'd have run more at the end if I hadn't been so upset by that. So I'd have actually finished faster. And I wish I'd known about and trained for the hills. Or maybe started on an easier marathon. All the same, I did this:

very impressive map of where I ran



Edited to change 'British Isles' to '"these Islands"'. Apparently a lot of people do not see the term as the geographical, politically neutral one I do. "These Islands" is what the British and Irish Governments call them in common policy documents.
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Cold bath win. [Sep. 3rd, 2011|10:44 pm]
saoili
I'd read a bunch of things about taking ice baths after long runs. I read one thing that said from-the-cold-tap cold was just as good. I figured I could manage that.

After a long run I generally creak and groan my way around for a few days. After my 20 mile run today, I was, as usual, sitting and asking people to get things for me because I didn't want to move; moving hurt.

After a few hours of not doing much except eating, getting Simon ready for bed and talking on the phone, I eventually got around to the cold bath.

I filled the bath deep enough to cover my calves and not quite cover my thighs while I was sitting down. I got in gradually, getting little bits of me used to it at a time. I had a jumper on to keep my core warm. Much to my surprise, it wasn't that unpleasant, provided I didn't move (moving sent little cold waves, which were very uncomfortable). In fact, at times it was actually kinda nice. I think I may have been there more than fifteen minutes. Then I had a hilarious shower that was hot on my legs and cold on my body. And then I walked downstairs and around the kitchen as though it was three or four days after the run, rather than three or four hours. I am curious how it will feel in the morning.
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(no subject) [Jul. 17th, 2011|10:05 pm]
saoili
This Is a good post on privilege, including a great metaphor. But it includes this:

A man has the privilege of walking past a group of strange women without worrying about being catcalled, or leered at, or having sexual suggestions tossed at him.

A pretty common male response to this point is “that’s a privilege? I would love if a group of women did that to me.”



I have to say, as a woman, I do like when a group of men catcall at me, I'm amused by leering (I actually had to stop myself laughing at a guy who checked me out really obviously while I was running recently) and I'm not bothered by having sexual suggestions tossed at me.

I'm guessing that I have some privilege here that I'm not seeing. Can you help me to see it?


I don't see how taking a catcall or a leer as a sign that a man is a potential danger to you is anything other than prejudice against men.
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Flora Women's Mini Marathon report [Jun. 10th, 2011|03:46 pm]
saoili
Last Monday I ran in the Flora Women's Mini Marathon.

I don't think a 10k race really has any business using that word. But that is beside the point. This is a fantastic race.

I entered as a runner (having proved I could do 10k in under an hour) and arrived early, so I was right up the front. There were only the elite runners ahead of us, and there being fewer than two hundred of them, they weren't bothering to wait around beforehand to hold their places. So for most of the two hours I was waiting for the race I was actually at the barrier at the front.

Two hours is a long time to wait around, in the cold, with no space to warm up, very little to do and no access to toilets. The space allocated to runners is small enough that I think next year I'll go into the pen just before it closes, rather than as soon as it opens. I think a good warm up would have served me better than the difference between the front and the back of that area. That said, even starting right at the front I had to skip to avoid a few people and I certainly would arrive early if I was jogging or walking.

There were a few great moments during the build up to the race where the whole crowd (as far as I could see at least) was dancing to some good song or other. And then there was the mexican wave. Shortly before the start of the race the announcer got a mexican wave, with a shout, started at the back of the crowd. There were so many people that at first I could neither see nor hear it. Then I heard it coming towards me, getting louder. As it approached I could see it as well and when it reached me I really did feel swept up. Wow.

The announcer still had the crowd singing along to Molly Malone when the race started. The moment of the start of the race was kinda sudden and unexpected. The announcer said something along the lines of 'and the Flora Women's Mini Marathon 2011 had officially started' and I realised that, to most participants, it wouldn't actually start for another few minutes while all the people ahead of them set off.

I ran much faster than my usual speed for the first two kilometers, pulled along by those around me and spurred on by the fantastic atmosphere. I got a real kick out of shouting 'I'm addicted!' at the Nova street team as I ran by them.

After about two kilometers my body worked out what my brain was doing and objected and so I slowed back down to my normal pace.

There were live bands every couple of kilometers, most of which were really good. Several of them were playing music I liked well enough that I gained several seconds on my virtual partner (in my running watch) at each.

About six and a half kilometers into the race I saw a crowd running the opposite direction. I thought at first that they were ahead of me, having already rounded some corner. Then I realised that they were behind me. THat was where I had been approximately three kilometers ago. And the were running! I was exhilarated.

About eight kilometers out I heard two women talking. One of them was claiming that she wasn't fit because she was aching. I said 'whoever just said they're not fit, if you're up here, you are. Now carry on'. People around me were amused, which pleased me, because I like amusing people.

Just past the nine k marker I saw a girl walking. She wasn't limping and didn't look injured at all. So I said 'come on, a kilometer to go, you can do this'. She started running and disappeared off ahead. I was initially disappointed that she was faster than me. Then I realised that since she had been walking when I caught up with her, she must have been running substantially faster before she slowed to a walk and felt a bit better.

One of the spectators I passed along the was Ann Woodlock. She is an inspirational seventy two year old runner who recently won bronze in the 10km at European Veterans Athletics Championships in France. I know her from the BHAA races. We greeted each other as I passed. She was looking a bit bored and seemed to be cheered by seeing someone she know.

Approaching the finish line was interesting. I've only been in one really large race before this, the 'Run Kildare' 10K. In that the finish line was quite narrow and the field was fairly spread out by the time I go there. In this the finish line was quite wide and there were still lots and lots of people near me at the end. I sprint at the end of races. It was very interesting to see some people sprinting like me, some people sprinting much faster than me and some people carrying on at the same speed.

No goodie bag at the end, but a very nice medal.

According to my watch my time was 55:03. The results online afterwards said 54:59. Thus beating my personal best by 55 seconds.

All in all, a great day, will do again.
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Anti-choice feminist [May. 14th, 2011|09:20 am]
saoili
Without exactly planning to go that way, I've been pulling more feminist stuff into my reader lately.  In general I find I agree with most of what is said and I think I learn quite a lot.  But there seems to be this sticking point.  Every time abortion is mentioned, my back goes up.  There is this idea that you can't be feminist and anti-choice.  You can, I know because I am.

I was, for example, reading this: http://www.lawsonry.com/642-the-mean-girl-myth-why-we-cant-all-just-get-along and I was pretty much with her until she said "The abortion issue is, the way I see it, the most fundamental feminist issue when it comes to politics".  I had to do a double take.  Even aside from the fact that I disagree with her stance on this issue, there are so many other issues more deserving of that title.  But anyway, on to the disagreeing!

The 'right' to an abortion is referred to as a 'reproductive right'.  I really dislike this term, because, as far as I am concerned, once you are pregnant, you have already reproduced.  As soon as the sperm and the egg have combined and created a brand new set of human DNA, that entity is, in my eyes, a brand new person, equipped with their very own set of human rights.  As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins."  There is a hierarchy of human rights.  And the right to life is right at the top of it.  Whatever right you want this 'reproductive right' to fall under, be it the right to freedom, bodily integrity or something else, that right is trumped by the unborn's right to life.

I am fully aware 'the unborn child is a person from the point where it has its own DNA' is not a provable fact, but an opinion.  I am fully aware that the debate on abortion is a very complicated issue and I don't think anyone has ever had their mind changed on it based on a discussion on the internet.  It is an emotional discussion, based on opinion and even more liable to confirmation bias than most.  All I'm saying is that which side of that line I fall on makes no difference to whether or not I believe that men and women should be treated equally.  None at all. 

No one gets to tell me I'm not a feminist because I disagree with them on something.

It is possible to be anti-choice because you are sexist against women.  But it is also possible to be anti-choice and a feminist.  I know, because I am.
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Throw me out of a plane! [Apr. 21st, 2011|10:10 am]
saoili
Link for people who can't make it to the games day, poker night or someplace I'll be with my sponsorship card in the meantime and want to donate:

http://www.mycharity.ie/event/throwsorchaoutofaplane/
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