Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for September, 2012

C25K: Week Two Day Two

Week Two, Day Two

A five minute warm-up walk, followed by the following intervals: 6 jogging for 90 seconds, 5 intervals of brisk walking for 2 minutes each. The program that I use gives me a five minute cool down as well.

After the run on the treadmill, I was pretty eager to see how I’d do outside. So on Monday (yikes- I didn’t mean to fall behind on these recaps!) I put on my gear, told my mother-in-law to watch my kids and went out the door.

It was a warm day, but not as hot as it has been. By that, I mean it was 88. That should tell you a little about the kind of summer and fall we’re having if I’m only describing it as warm.

My first interval of running was a little slower than I usually start. So I made up my mind to make sure that my walking pace would be pretty quick- and I stuck with that for the walking. Then I found a nice running pace where I could hum along to my music and I just kept going.

Before I even knew it, I crossed over the bridge.

The running trail I go on used to be a railway track. It crosses over one of the major streets near us, and that’s about the halfway point of my run. I used to run right up to the bridge and be informed I was halfway. One day I ran over the bridge. That day I actually made it over the bridge and all the way down to where the dirt trail they put in for walking/running started again.

And I plowed through the rest of the run. The fact that it was hot didn’t matter. I’d gotten so far that I was determined to demolish the rest of the run- and I did. The running interval right after I hit halfway was my fastest yet.

I know I whined in the beginning of C5K about hearing the statistics at the end of each interval- but now that I’ve gotten a feel for the intervals and now that I better understand how my body tells me I’m pushing myself too hard, I’ve been using them to help me feel out comfortable paces.

The stats:
Distance: 1.47 miles in 19 minutes
Average Pace: 12:54

Thanks For Not Being Rachel McAdams

I’d been so good about posting daily, and then this week I dropped the ball. Only, it wasn’t quite my fault. Well, it sort of was. My body hates me.

For those new here: In January I was diagnosed with either Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis – it was too early to tell which one. So every so often I have flare-ups that send me to bed with ridiculously bad cramps. This was one of those days.

Wednesday started off well. I went for a run (more on that another time), go the kids to school and then in the afternoon- BAM! Enough pain that I was crying. Granted, I cry at a lot of things, but it takes some serious pain to produce tears.

On the plus side, I finally had the time to watch Midnight in Paris- the Woody Allen movie. It was a solid movie, and one that hit home a little- especially with my being someone who felt she was born too late. My family joked that had I been of age in the 30s, I would have had quite the singing career.

The movie itself has Owen Wilson as a writer who is trying to finish his first novel, already having a successful career in screenwriting. He’s in Paris with his fiancee and her family, who all look down on the notion of him being a novelist- since he’s already successful. His fiancee is played by Rachel McAdams, who isn’t so much the villainess. She simply doesn’t understand him, and wants a secure life with nice things. She just doesn’t want to support anything that weakens that.

But to me, it’s the most unlikeable character she’s played- because she’s the sort of person I’d hate to be in a relationship with. In fact, when the movie was finished I called TheBoy at work to thank him for not being Rachel McAdams.

Because he isn’t Inez at all. We’d been dating for years before we were married, and at the time I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. In college, I’d tried out majors in theater, anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology and computer science. None fit. While I was working full time, I started writing in my spare time (which at the time, I did have). And that felt right. When I finally told TheBoy that’s what I wanted to do, we were married with one child and another on the way. And he supported me fully. He’s always supported me in it, even when I feel like I’m going nowhere.

So thanks, TheBoy. Thanks for not being Rachel McAdams. (And for those who read this blog- thank YOU for not being Inez either. Your support means so much!)

The Last Flight of The Endeavour

As many know, last Friday was the final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Well, sort of. It was flown around the US on the back of a 747 to California where it’s going to be part of the California Science Center.

It was a big deal. They announced the locations that the shuttle would fly over- ranging from Disneyland to JPL, before it would land at LAX. But because of security concerns, they couldn’t actually say when exactly it would fly over. You just had to wait and see.

It was originally set to enter the Southland around 10:30 am, but that time was pushed back until 11:30 because of less than desirable conditions in the Bay Area- and they wanted to fly over the Golden Gate Bridge and other locations up there.

I’ve written about my love of the space program before. I share my birthday with the Challenger incident (I was a child at the time) and wanted nothing more than to go into a space. But I am only 5’2″ and at best a 98 lb weakling- so space just wasn’t where I was meant to go.

I’ve always cleared my day for launches and landings. And had Friday not been the Oldest Kidlet’s picture day (and let’s face it, nobody wants to deal with make-up picture day), I would have taken the kids down to Disneyland to watch the flyover.

Instead, I pulled the Little Kidlet out of preschool a little early, realizing that we should be able to see it from where we lived. We came home, and I realized that I’d missed a close flyover.

But I went upstairs, where I found TheBoy awake (he works nights and should have been asleep). And I began to cry. Sobbed ridiculous tears because I’d missed this once in a lifetime moment. The shuttle was at LAX.

Then I realized it was flying over LAX, not landing and would be circling around again.

So I went back to one of the windows, and in the fog/smog mixture, I saw a dark shape low on the horizon and called for TheBoy (since the airspace around LAX was cleared for the shuttle). He teased me, since it sounded like a line from Master & Commander. “It was only for a moment. I thought I saw a shape.” (That’s the quote from the movie. I said something about a shape in the fog that I only saw for a moment)

We ran into his brother’s room, which is a little further south. I saw the shape again and waited, but nothing. As we walked away, my brother-in-law spotted it, and we went back to the first window… where we could see it off in the distance, flying north, then making the turn back towards LAX.

And I cried again. Happy tears this time.

Then I realized that for all my efforts, the Little Kidlet didn’t get to see it- not in person at least, he was happily watching it on TV.

I look forward to taking my boys to see her when she’s on display. But mostly, I look forward to seeing what our next step in manned space flight will be.

Couch to 5k: Week Two Day One

If you’re following along, the disastrous run was last Tuesday. I gave myself a few days to avoid running with cramps again, and this run happened on Friday. As it was still 100 degrees out (Fall can arrive any time now), I decided to take advantage of the in-laws being out of the house to use their treadmill.

It was only my second time on the treadmill, and this was going to be the first time I would be doing intervals.

On my program, I turned off the GPS tracking, since it wouldn’t work on the treadmill. Then I got my water, my phone (so that I could listen to the intervals) and got going!

Since it starts with a 5 minute warmup, I had some time to figure out speed setting was a good slow walk, and what would make a quick walk. From there, I played with the setting as soon as it asked me to run- moving up the speed in increments of .1 (since that’s how ours handles it. There are several buttons that are shortcuts to speed settings, but you can adjust between them in increments). On the NordicTrack, it turned out that a brisk walk was setting 3 (a 20 min mile pace) and a good run was 4 (a 15 min mile pace).

While those are slower paces than I usually run at, Week Two changes up the program. Plus, I’m used to running on a fairly flat trail- the treadmill is at a slight incline even at its lowest setting.

Week Two, Day One

A five minute warm-up walk, followed by the following intervals: 6 jogging for 90 seconds, 5 intervals of brisk walking for 2 minutes each. The program that I use gives me a five minute cool down as well.

Since I didn’t have GPS to tell me how far I ran (they tell you to turn it off in Run Double’s settings), I had to keep track of the treadmill’s settings. I ran about 1.22 miles, which is a little less than I run outside- but considering it was all uphill, I’ll take it.

So what did I think of running on the treadmill?

It wasn’t 100 degrees where I was running, which was a bonus. Of course, running the entire thing on an incline threw off my groove. Running on a treadmill also meant that my kids have the chance to barge in- which I didn’t like. I managed to kick them out of the room and quickly hop off to lock the door.

Also frustratingly, I had nothing to focus on besides the numbers and no vague idea where I was in the course of my run to help me pace myself. Even with the TV on, it was impossible not to stare at the readouts of how far I ran, how long I ran and how many calories I would have burned if I were my mother-in-law (I didn’t change that).

The more I run on the treadmill, the more I realize that I really don’t like running on treadmills. I guess I like being able to see my progress based on where I am, not on a screen.

Your thoughts? Am I crazy? Do you love the treadmill? I’d love to hear from you!

Couch to 5k: Week One Day Three

If you’ve noticed, there was quite a gap between days two and three. I went to Comikaze over the weekend, and something about walking for hours and carrying the hammer and a bag filled with snacks & my electronic stuff made me not want to go for a run.

The next day I walked around Disneyland for a few hours, too. Monday- by the time I remembered running, it was already dark outside.

So on Tuesday, I was pretty committed to doing this, despite having some fairly bad cramps. We’re all adults right? I had two kids, you know I’m a woman, so the fact that I have a period shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. For the record when I say fairly bad cramps, I mean aches and intermittent stabbing pains.

I suited up anyways and started going. I did the first half of my run without a problem, and shortly after the halfway point, the stabbing pain (which had vanished while I exercised) came back with a vengeance and felt like there was a symphony of knives stabbing me (yes, it was that bad). So I walked the rest of the way.

Average pace: 16:32 min/mile. I made it a little over a mile, distance-wise.

The “cool down” walk was done extremely slowly, and I swear, never before had the street seemed so far. I thought about calling for a pick up a few times, and when I was walking up to the house- my husband was coming out with his keys, off to make sure I was okay. He had been extremely worried about me.

I drank my gatorade, had a little bit to eat- and was sent off to my bed with a heating pad.

Thankfully, that was the worst of my cramps and everything felt better later on. So there you have it- if you were waiting for some misery, there it is. I still haven’t started week two, but I plan on doing that this weekend, and getting back into a regular schedule.

Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Good day lassies and laddies – today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Now those new to these waters may doubt that I truly be a pirate, but a pirate I be (the name of this blog not be a random assortment o’ titles. Each be truer than true). The sea runs through me veins, same as blood. (Though perhaps that be why they say I got anemia. Aye, I be here all week. Give a coin to yer barmaid.)

In honor of this fine day, I thought I’d offer you lot a brief lesson in speaking like a pirate (and a couple ideas if you have little ones).

Lesson the first, be descriptive. If you run into an ignorant fool, you could call him a daft sprog who couldn’t find the sharp end of a sword. If you wish to insult someone, ten words are better than two. I could tell a blackguard to bugger off, but it be far more threatening to tell them that unless they leave me be I’ll strip ‘em, bind ‘em and keelhaul ‘em. (If you’ve no idea what keelhauling be, you can turn to Google, or accept that it be far worse a punishment than walking a plank. Which by the by, only brethren of the fictional kind dole out)

Lesson the second, it’s arrr. Argh be what the round boy with the beagle say. Yarr be an acceptable alternative.

Lesson the third, if you can’t find words, a threatening scowl will do.

Lesson the fourth… where be the rum?

Now, if you be a pirate parent looking for some fun with the littler members of your crew, don’t be afeard that it be too scary for the likes of them. Pirates need to learn about navigating- so it’s a fine time to teach your sprogs about the stars and the points of a compass. You can always bury treasure in yer yard and leave them a treasure map. (Or you can hide the treasure in the house if you worry about what they might do with shovels!)

If yer crew be older, it’s a fine time to teach them about the rules that pirates lived by. You only became a Captain of a ship if you proved yerself to the crew- it came by a vote. An’ pirates even had an insurance plan o’ sort- you were compensated if you lost a limb in battle. Pirate crews were one of the few places that had no borders. Didn’t matter where ye hailed from, so long as ye did the work. (An’ despite what they say, it weren’t too unusual for women to take to the seas. Though usually it were as merchant sailors)

And just because, here be a picture o’ me dressed like Jack Sparrow. Years ago, TheBoy made plans to be Sparrow for All Hallow’s Eve. As fate would have it, he were unable to attend the party, so instead, I drank some rum and wore the wig.

Whitney, TheBoy & Comikaze Expo

This weekend was the second Comikaze Expo (a pop culture convention saluting comics, movies, games of all sorts, and horror). Located at the LA Convention Center, I was eager to attend because they were really promoting it as an affordable convention with something to offer for everyone. And I had friends that would be there.

I didn’t get to go to the first year of Comikaze, but I heard that there was promise- the people behind it were really enthusiastic and wanted to make sure that a lot of groups were represented.

Then, Comikaze Expo partnered with Stan Lee (and then was bought by Advanstar), who partnered with Elvira – there’s been a full on blitz in marketing to give this convention a lot of awareness. So I was hopeful that it would live up to the bigger cons. I wasn’t expecting the spectacle of SDCC, but having been to Wondercon (which was much smaller than San Diego) – I hoped for something like that, but with a bit more personality (I was told that it’s normally pretty quirky, but that one in Anaheim this year was Wondercon Lite).

The convention opened at 10 am, and after traffic and parking, we got there a little after 11am. I was a little worried, there was a panel I really wanted to go to that was at noon, and as soon as I saw the line, I knew there was no way I would make it inside in time.

At the front of the convention center, the line went out the doors and didn’t seem to move. But that wasn’t the line to enter, the staff told us. They had restarted the line along the side of the convention center, wrapping around the building. (Later on we realized they were trying to get those two lines in the doors and have one organized line feeding in, but that wasn’t how they explained it. Instead we were told to either get in line or go home and try to get a refund- the exact words of one staffer.)

We showed up right at the same time as D-Piddy, better known as Deadpool from the Deadpool vs series. He was sent into line, and we followed. (Follow the bouncing merc!) We walked. And walked. And walked. Until we had wrapped around the building to the parking structure. And waited. And waited.

It was well over 100 degrees, and the men who walk the streets with ice cream carts were taking full advantage of the line. And honestly, I probably would have gone insane if Deadpool hadn’t been ahead of us. Rushing up to cars to dance for women, humping traffic signs, and high fiving every kid out there. (If you see his video, when he walks up to the staffer in the red shirt, I was just on the other side of the angry lady in blue. And we were right by him for most of his shenanigans outside)

Amusingly, just a few people ahead of me was…. Scott Pilgrim. Armed with the Power of Love, we awkwardly waved to each other, and I got to listen as the people in the the other line wondered if Scott knew Ramona was so close. (Why I didn’t get a picture of the two of us together is beyond me)

In the end, even once the line started to move- it was still an hour and fifteen minute wait until we made it inside the convention center (and there was a good 10 or so minute wait after that to get our wristbands- no badges here).

So what was the hold up? In an attempt to get a lot of people in, Comikaze offered tickets through TicketLeap, through local TV stations and through Groupon. Because of that, they needed stations for each of those options, and there were only about 10 people total (not 10 per ticket vendor) handing out the wristbands. (And if you were buying it on site, you were sent to a separate area where you got your wristband right away- while everyone had to wait in the long line, once you were in the doors, you were essentially penalized for buying your ticket early.)

We missed all the panels I’d wanted to attend. I don’t completely blame them for that. I could have made more of an effort to get there earlier. (See further down for the rest of my thoughts about the line)

The floor itself was broken up into a few areas- the exhibit floor, the Zombie obstacle course (which was $30 extra for admission), a gaming section, a Quidditch Pitch (that alternated between a Quidditch tournament and Nerf warfare). The floor was fairly well laid out- there weren’t a lot of areas that bottlenecked with people, even though I knew there were a lot of people there. And there were a lot of clean bathrooms and food options.

TheBoy found some fun t-shirts, and he surprised me by buying me an entire Slytherin outfit. I now own my robes, a skirt, sweater vest and tie. I just need to get a wand (which he told me I should have just bought while we were there) and a dress shirt. I’ve been wanting one for awhile and the deals from Whimsic Alley were really great (I got my robes for $89!).

I also ran into Alan Kistler (@SizzlerKistler) out on the floor, though I missed his panel. When TheBoy saw who I ran off to hug, he pointed out that we’d actually passed him a few times on the floor! So it wasn’t personal Alan, if you saw us before that. I just was busy looking at booths!

The Good

More than most convention centers, LA Convention Center had some really great air conditioning. It was so good that I started cursing a blue streak when I went outside and realized it was still over 100. Which is unusual- it’s been awhile since I’ve gone to SDCC, partly because I couldn’t deal with how warm and stuffy the exhibit floor would get.

The food venues- not only were there couple of food locations on the exhibit floor, there was a food court. I didn’t get to check out all their prices (we brought our own snacks), but there were a lot of options. We did buy a fountain soda, and it wasn’t as expensive as some other cons I’ve been too.

Space. There was a lot of it, and there weren’t a lot of areas where you could get stuck in a mass of people (compared to SDCC where it’s impossible to walk across the floor). In their autograph sections, they seemed to have considered where the lines would be, and so you could actually walk through there without getting stuck. (On that note, we saw Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus – didn’t get in line for autographs, but it made TheBoy’s day)

And it was easy enough to find an outlet to recharge my phone.

The Bad

For all the things that they considered (like the autograph lines), Comikaze didn’t seem to consider the basics. When you are selling Groupons and blasting across social media that you have an affordable convention with big names- people are going to buy tickets. And unlike most Groupon deals- people are going to show up. But because Comikaze sold tickets through so many channels, it seemed as though they had separate scanning necessities- and they just didn’t anticipate having people show up early.

I was frustrated too- I’ve never been to a convention where they didn’t have an army of people handing out badges, because the faster you get people their badges/bands, the happier they are. It sends the message that you’re organized and know what you’re doing.

Combined with that, there weren’t many people on the staff that were sympathetic about the line. I heard several staff members flat out telling ticket holders that if they weren’t happy they could go home and try to get a refund, but it probably wouldn’t happen. (With attitude) And I heard plenty of stories of people who were treated the same way, and suddenly didn’t think the convention was going to be any good.

The line itself wrapped around the building, over curbs and through grassy areas. We were behind Batwoman and the Question (aka Renee Montoya) – and the cosplayer dressed as Ms. Montoya was in a wheelchair. Batwoman actually went back to the car to get her wheelchair because neither of them were expecting that long of a wait. Though the woman was able to get in and out of the chair, once the line started moving- we held their place so that they make their way around the sea of curbs.

The line also went through the entrance and exits for the VIP parking. When cars were leaving, we were yelled at by Comikaze staff for blocking the lanes- when there weren’t any volunteers to at least make sure that people weren’t going to cut in line if that happened. People moved out of the way when cars showed up- which is more than anyone should have expected.

Not to mention- it was over 100 degrees out. I’m amazed more people didn’t pass out.

The last sore point was that they over used the Convention wide PA. They weren’t just making occasional announcements, but using the PA regularly instead of something that was just up at the main stage. Every time the woman started to scream, TheBoy stared to whine “shutupshutupshutup” until she did.

The Weird

They had a DJ playing before you entered Comikaze. It was interesting to have something other than silence… but it was still weird. It also made it hard to catch cosplayers attentions if you wanted pictures. I can’t imagine that it made it easy for anyone conducting interviews to cut together anything that seemed seamless either.

The Ugly

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that I was less than impressed by the people handling the social media (as well as the program). On their Facebook page, when people were inevitably asking when the panels would be released (I think this was the Tuesday prior), their account posted mid comment stream in all caps telling people that it would be announced when it was announced, otherwise they could just hold off until the last minute like with Comic Con. When questioned about it, they said that they have “attitude” and aren’t boring like the other conventions.

Of course, when they did release the panel information online, it was inaccurate. There were names listed on panels of people that weren’t appearing, and when they asked the Twitter account about it- received flippant @replies saying that it was a particular person’s mistake and they should email her (seriously- the response was “That looks like a [PERSON] mistake. Email her.”). And when the person who got the reply suggested that it was unprofessional that they throw anyone under the bus, they got attitude back.

While I applaud them for attempting to have a distinctive personality type- asshole is not exactly what gets people to come back year after year. You can be fun without being unprofessional- which unfortunately is something they haven’t learned.

In both situations, they could have been handled easily. For the Facebook one- all they had to do was make a separate post saying that the panels were being finalized and that they would announce it there as soon as it was up. (I’ll ignore posting erroneous panel information) For the Twitter issue, I don’t care who’s mistake it was, it’s unprofessional to name someone and throw them under the bus. All they had to do was admit that obviously some wires were crossed and say they’ll fix it ASAP.

It doesn’t matter how great your convention is, exhibitors remember which ones are professional and which ones aren’t. Fans, too.

I’ve heard other stories about how the entries for the Masquerade were handled- that people were left waiting to see if they made it in, and that during the whole line debacle on Saturday that Comikaze’s social media team was absent until reports started to flood the local news stations about how poorly it was handled.

The Bottom Line

Do I know if I’d go back to Comikaze? I really don’t. Sure, it was inexpensive (and living in LA, all I had to worry about was parking and the ticket)- and it did seem like there was some promise… but it felt as though they were too quick to try to add on bells and whistles without making sure they had the basics down.

I do think it has promise. They did seem to really try to build a balanced convention that embraced everyone- but I think that they need to put their enthusiasm into being a little more professional (and certainly by making sure that anyone using their PAs understands that you can be enthusiastic without screaming), and by not trying to claim the title of LA’s big convention without actually earning it. (This was a good write-up from a vendor about Comikaze)

I did have a blast. But that had more to do with getting to spend time geeking out with my husband. It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to go to a con together, and he’s great company. We got to be snarky together, guess who people were dressed as (some costumes weren’t very obvious- there was a blonde Dorothy that confused us for a bit), and scour the booths that sold t-shirts for something appropriately geeky.

So I don’t know, Comikaze. I’m not immediately sold on buying a ticket for next year. The ball’s in your court.

[Review] The Colibri

This review is for a product that I was given in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts included are all mine!

I don’t do many reviews (certainly not sponsored ones), and when this one came into my inbox, I thought for awhile about whether or not I should say yes. How often does a girl get the chance to review a toy of, ahem, an adult nature? (It’s at this point I should probably suggest that my family just skip this post, though really, I’m not going to be graphic.) Obviously, my curiosity got the better of me…

I was given a Ladygasm Colibri to evaluate. As you can see, it comes in this lovely box, complete with its charging cord (which is just below the top layer in the box). That’s right- it has a rechargeable battery, which charges in an hour. It’s completely waterproof and like all their toys, uses medical grade silicone so it’s easy to clean (and latex-free for anyone with latex allergies).

The one thing I meant to do was include a coin for size reference. It’s not a very big toy- I have pretty small hands, and this fit perfectly (and comfortably in my hand).

There are four controls built in. The up and down arrows cycle through the modes (you also hold the up arrow on to turn it on, and hold the down button to turn it off). The left and right arrows adjust the intensity, and there are several cycles so that you can find just the right setting for you.

I will admit, because this particular toy is geared toward clitoral stimulation, it took me a couple tries to figure out how to best use it (since that isn’t usually what you find out on the market). But the Ladygasm Colibri was definitely worth the effort- it’s a stylish toy that certainly has enough options to suit anyone looking for an external toy! And if it isn’t, Ladygasm has a full line of toys designed for women, which based on the Colibri are extremely well made!

How quickly they grow up!

Last year, we had to pick up the Oldest Kidlet at his classroom. Now that he’s a first grader, his class walks out to the front of the school where we meet him.

On the way back to the car, I ask him about his day. I’ve realized that if I don’t get it out of him before we’re home, I won’t learn anything about his day.

“I had the best day ever.” This is how nearly everyone of these conversations begins. He really likes school. “I have the greatest friends. A friend of mine helped me put my school folder in my backpack and I carried another friend’s lunch for them! That’s what best friends do- help each other!”

“Who helped with your folder?”

He shrugged. “I dunno.” Some best friend, right?

“Whose lunch did you carry?”

“Oh- [LittleGeekGirl].” Now LGG was in his kindergarten class, and they were good friends. She also seemed to have a crush on him. They’re in the same class this year. “She said her lunch was too heavy.”

Is it possible for him to have a girlfriend without realizing it?

Doctor Who: Steven Moffat & Female Characters

Recently I mentioned that some people were upset with how the women of Doctor Who were being written, and placing the blame on Steven Moffat. Some went so far as to compare them against Sherlock’s Irene Adler.

I don’t agree with them, and for very specific reasons. I apologize for anyone who isn’t up to date on either Sherlock or Doctor Who- but in order to make my point, I’m going to reference it all.

Read More…

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