Wednesday, May 30, 2012

They're following you, Runner Five! The swarm from the carpark! THEY'RE FOLLOWING YOU. RUN!!!!

Mission control told me that if I didn't stop in the abandoned hospital to pick up some medical supplies, they wouldn't admit me into the township. What choice did I have?

Thus began the MOST exciting treadmill run of my life.

Currently on the iPhone;
coming to Android on June 14th
I've had the "Zombies, Run!" app on my phone for a while, but never got around to trying it out until tonight. Partly because I've been lazy about running, but also because - don't laugh! - I am totally afraid of zombies, for real. I'm not joking. I lie awake at night, heart pounding because I'm absolutely terrified of a real zombie apocalypse.

So while the hype of this app in the running community was huge and while I knew I was badly in need of a way to shake things up and intensify my workouts (and alleviate boredom), I was legitimately worried that the experience would traumatize me and that someone would come find me curled up in fetal position at the bottom of the treadmill, shrieking. (Needless to say, I turned off the "zombie chase" feature. I just. I can't.)

I knew that I definitely wanted to use it for treadmill runs, because I don't like wearing headphones while running outside, around other people - I like to be aware of my surroundings, and I didn't want to have witnesses in case I actually DID start shrieking and curl up in a ball behind a trash bin. And treadmill runs are agonizing and boring - all I can do is just watch the clock tick on, and it's torturous. I know some people are totally zen runners and don't need music - not me. At least, not on a treadmill.

This app? SO not boring. My heart was pounding before I even started running, thanks to my helicopter crashing three miles outside of the township. I am the lone survivor, and all I can do is run. But before they'll let me in, I need to pick up supplies...

The mission control operator is my only connection to civilization as I begin my first mission. He's watching me and tracking my movements as I go, telling me when the "hostiles" are too close and I need to run faster. As I run, a computerized voice tells me the supplies I've picked up along the way - a pack of bandages, a baseball bat, a mysterious file from the CDC that I am to protect at all costs. Just when I think it's safe to take a walk break, he tells me to RUN FAST because a swarm of zombies has started to follow me. "This is where we lost the original Runner Five," he tells me, "right in this hospital where you are now, actually..." And then I hear the breathing in my ear...

I have never pushed myself so hard to run in my life, especially on a treadmill. My own fear for my life was taking over, and while I wasn't about to sprint, I definitely pushed myself to keep going. I took very few walk breaks (pretty much only when my side stitches were getting the better of me). Instead of watching the clock, my ears were straining, waiting, to hear either the computerized voice or mission control. I wanted so desperately to know that I wasn't alone out there.

The only thing that kind of took me out of the experience was my music. The app has the ability to play your music for the running portions, and it is kind of incongruous to be told that I need to run for my life, and then hear Blondie's "Atomic." I need to pick some scary, moody music just for this app. (Maybe some Godspeed You Black Emperor!) Also, the app slowed down the music a little, and that was a little torturous for me personally.

I wanted to keep going (I had set the app for hour-long missions, rather than half-hour), but I ran out of time. (Needed to go run some errands.) When I left off, I was closing in on the township gates with my supplies, just ahead of a zombie closing in on ME...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: Yarn U for the iPhone/iPad

All screenshots provided by Sutro Media

This is my first time reviewing an app, so please bear with me :)

This is a review of Yarn U (Sutro Media), compatible for both the iPhone and iPad. Essentially, Yarn U is an on-the-go database of yarn, complete with photos, weight/gauge information, pros/cons, and links to the manufacturers' websites, social media sites, etc.

Now, I'm not a particularly techy person, so I don't have much to say about the finer details of functionality and programming, but I am a knitter. As far as this review goes, I can address what it does and if it's worth the $2.99 price tag.

When you open Yarn U for the first time, a quick tutorial pops up after the loading screen, and then the app opens to a list of the yarn names, its default home screen. For each yarn, there is a small photo next to the yarn name, a one-line descriptor, and the yarn's manufacturer. In the upper left hand corner is an option to filter out the listing based mainly on yarn weight, but there is also an option for "Favorites" (meaning, you can add various yarns to a "Favorites" list), Newly-Added yarns (so you can see what was included in the last update), and interestingly enough, a "Crochet" category, which suggest yarns that work especially well for crocheting.

Personally, I found it far more useful to browse using the "Manufacturer" view (accessed by clicking the button on the top bar), because for me, it's easier to start with the brand name and then look for the yarn name; plus it gives you less to scroll through. I wish that this had been the default view instead, or that it were more exciting to look at - it's really just a list of all the different brand names, with the number of yarn lines in parentheses after it, and you can click on the brand names to reveal a drop-down list of the yarn names.

The list of brands (and yarn lines) is small but mighty, focusing on high-end and specialty yarns (meaning, if you want to know about Lion Brand Wool-Ease, you'll just have to download Lion Brand's app). Mary Beth (the app's author) is great about taking suggestions for what to add, as evidenced by the dialogue happening on the app's Comments section.

Each yarn's page on the app features a photo of either the yarn itself or of a project using that yarn and a map showing the location of the yarn's origin at the top. There's some short commentary about the yarn, which ranges from suggestions for types of projects, links to free patterns, and anecdotes. There is also information about gauge, yardage, fiber content, and care, as well as a list of pros and cons ("Great for baby projects," or "It sheds"). Users are able to add comments about the yarn (there was a great one for Mirasol Miski about where you could find it at a great discount). Finally, at the bottom of the page is information about the retail price of the yarn and where you can find the manufacturer online.

I have to admit, when I first saw the map, I thought it would show me where I could find the yarn in my area. (I don't know how much work it would be to do something like that, but that would be AWESOME.) I was a little disappointed that it just showed me where the yarn company was located - I really didn't feel like it was necessary to SHOW me. I would've much rather seen another photo. For example, when you click on the photo on the right, it takes you to a gallery/slideshow. Some yarns have only skein/hank photos showing different colorways; others have only project/example photos; some have both. I thought it would've been far more useful for each line to have both, with the actual yarn photos on one side and the example photos on the other. It doesn't help me in the slightest to see a map of New Hampshire, unless you're trying to give me a geography lesson. (I'm not saying I don't need geography lessons, but I don't feel like that's the point of a yarn app.)

Now, all that stuff above is what you get if you're on the default "Browse" view (the button is on the bottom bar of the screen - please see the screenshot of the yarn list just up yonder). If you click on "Photos," you get an awesome view of all the photos featured in the app, which is less useful for looking for specific information, but more fun because it's beautiful! Clicking on "Map" will get you an interactive map with markers showing the locations of all the different yarn brands (again, not so useful for me) - while I didn't bother using this often, I did find that it was sluggish and slow to load. Clicking on "Comments" takes you to a general comment page (meaning, not related to any specific yarns), with some great tips from users about resources, sales, etc, with the most recent comments at the top (feed-style). Again, Mary Beth is really great about responding to questions/suggestions.

Is it worth it? In all honesty, I'm not sure how much I will use this app. My first instinct, of course, is to compare it to (In fact, that's how I heard about this app in the first place.) Ravelry has a much larger database, and provides a lot of information that I find more useful, that Yarn U does not, and having an iPhone or iPad with me means that it's just as easy for me to access a website as it is to open up an app, and though Ravelry doesn't have an app or a mobile version (yet), its functionality isn't much reduced on my iPhone/iPad as other websites'.

But objectively, it's not really fair to compare a full website to an app, is it? So I took a look at the only other yarn app I have, Lion Brand's free app, and poked around in their yarn section. (Although, do bear in mind that this comparison is also a little unfair, because Lion Brand is a huge corporation.) For each of its yarns, Lion Brand offers: short commentary, photos/descriptions of the colorways, information about gauge, care, yardage, fiber content, and links to free patterns/social media sites/etc. Yeah, the visuals are a little cleaner and more professional-looking, but so far they match up. Yarn U tells me what I need to know when I'm looking up information on yarn, and I can't complain about that.

The verdict:

The app isn't a must-have, but it's nice to have. For my hardcore project-planning, I'm probably still going to just pull up Ravelry, but this is good to have handy when Ravelry isn't working on my mobile device or when I want a pleasant experience leisurely browsing through yarns. It's a great personal take on each yarn, when you're looking for a quick and dirty glimpse, without a lot of extra fuss. It's not the most intuitive interface, but it's definitely easy to use. I'm looking forward to seeing this app as it grows to include more brands and yarns.

Yarn U is available for $2.99 through the iTunes App Store.

Product provided for consideration.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

All four colors from the Sugarpill's Heartbreaker palette

Pretty, but not too crazy

- Mochi all over the lid
- Acidberry on the inner corner
- 2am in the crease
- Velocity along the lower lashline
- UD eye pencil in Perversion along the upper lashline
- Tarte Gifted mascara

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sugarpill Heartbreaker round up

Top: Acidberry, Velocity; Bottom: 2am, Mochi

All my posts this week, using all the colors of the Sugarpill Heartbreaker palette. Click the color names to see the actual posts:





Bonus: Velocity as an eyeliner

Sugarpill 2am

Saved the purple for last :) You know how much I love a good purple eye shadow!

- Sugarpill 2am all over the lid
- Sugarpill Poison Plum in the crease and around the outer corner
- Sugarpill Dollipop in the inner corner
- UD eye pencil in Perversion along the upper lash line
- Hourglass Film Noir mascara

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sugarpill Velocity, once more with feeling

Using Velocity as a shadow this time...

- UD shadow in Pistol on the inner half of the lid
- Sugarpill Velocity on the outer half, and wrapped around the outer corner
- UD shadow in Verve above the crease
- UD eye pencil in Perversion, in a thin line
- MUFE Smoky Lash mascara

Yes, there's a bit of a filter over these photos.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sugarpill's Velocity (sort of)

Velocity is an intimidating color for me, as are most BRIGHT BLUES.

So, using two well-known makeup techniques (using eyeshadow as an eyeliner by patting it on top of a line you've already drawn with a pencil, and pairing a bright with a neutral), I made Velocity a wearable eyeliner:

On top of my brown MAC pencil, Velocity becomes a sort of "bright Navy," if  you can imagine such a thing.

Also wearing: Stila Forever Your Curl mascara

Tomorrow I'll attempt to wear Velocity in its true form, but for today, I'm digging this.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sugarpill Acidberry

I'm feeling kind of Tinkerbell today. I think I did a similar look with Absinthe for the Tinkerbell half-marathon, actually. I haven't had a chance to compare the two though.

- Sugarpill Acidberry all over the lid
- Sugarpill Chromalust loose shadow in Goldilux in the crease
- UD eye pencil in Perversion along the upper lash line
- MUFE Smoky Lash mascara

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sugarpill Mochi

The new palette, one color at a time :)

- Sugarpill Mochi all over the lid
- UD Darkhorse lightly on the outer half, and in the crease
- UD eye pencil in Whiskey along the upper lash line
- Benefit Creaseless Cream shadow in Birthday Suit applied along the lower lash line
- Tarte Gifted mascara

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sugarpill's Heartbreaker palette

It's here!!!

I have to tell you, on Thursday night, starting around 11:45, I sat and kept hitting "refresh" on Sugarpill's website until the new Heartbreaker palette finally became available. Two days later, it's mine.

I've been SUPER excited about this ever since Amy announced the new palette. She's been previewing the new shades ever since, and I don't think they will disappoint.

Here are some photos. I'll be doing some test looks in the upcoming days.

All the Sugarpill pressed shadows happily united in my Z-Palette

Sunday, May 13, 2012

This is my mom.

And I am SO thankful for her :)

I am also thankful for my MIL, whom I don't have a picture with, who for years now has loved me as one of her own.

Happy Mother's Day!

And I know this little thing would say it to me if she knew what it meant, so I'll just accept this in the meantime and say that I have been blessed to be her mother:

Friday, May 11, 2012

A tale of four poke holes

I've been home for a few hours now, and I'm feeling okay.

It was pretty nerve-wracking, at the beginning. I came alone to the hospital because I didn't want Jimmy to have to sit around waiting for me, so I was admitted and taken to my hospital bed (it wasn't in a room, but a "station") and given my gown and all that. (Yup, back was open and everything. SEXY. There were a couple nurses trying to read my Radiohead tattoo.)

My pulse was quick, and I was crying a little bit out of anxiety, I suppose. The last time I stayed at the hospital was when Jolie was in the NICU, and THAT was a really emotional time for me, so now, every time I smell Kaiser's hand soap or hand sanitizer, it takes me back to that time full of uncertainty and tears and loneliness - I definitely cried a little bit as I sat there waiting, but what helped a lot was reading the dozens of messages  from my friends (real-life and online) on my Facebook. If you ever catch me whining about feeling unloved, feel free to reach out of the screen and smack me, because today, there were lots of people pulling for me and wishing me well, and that is a wonderful feeling.

After not too long, a bunch of nurses and doctors came in to talk to me and ask me the same questions over and over. I got an IV put in (my very first IV! I had to take a picture), and had a slight ordeal with not being able to remove my nose ring: they ended up taping it with medical tape, and warned me that there was a SLIGHT chance that the metal could heat up and burn... something about cauterizing... youch. But I literally had no idea how to remove my nose ring, because I never have before, in the six years that I've had it! A nurse even tried to help me (she had to stick her finger inside my nose!), but it didn't work out. Everyone was really nice and smiley and comforting. (Well, as comforting as you can be to someone who's about to be put out and cut into like Thanksgiving turkey OH GOD OH GOD.) One of the scrubs told me that he read in my file that I played roller derby (what? they asked me what I do for physical activity), so there was a brief conversation about that with all the other scrubs (sorry, I don't specifically remember whose title was what) - "What's the object of the game? How do you score points? Do people ever get hurt?" And of course, talking about derby always makes me happy. I even showed them my bruise on my knee, and they, a team of surgeons and surgical nurses, grimaced.

And then all of a sudden, they were wheeling me to the OR and sticking electrodes and stuff on me and I had to state my name for the record like a court witness or something. OH GOD HERE WE GO. The anesthesiologist put an oxygen mask on my face. They had told me ahead of time that they would put sleep stuff in my IV, and then when I got the mask, I would be asked to count backwards from ten and then I would be asleep.

To be honest, I didn't even get to the counting part. The mask was kind of large and was in my line of vision, so as the room fuzzed up a little bit from the stuff in my IV, I decided just to close my eyes since I couldn't see anything anyway. And the last thing I remember was hearing the guy telling one of the other scrubs, "Yeah! I asked her about it [derby] and she was telling us how they play..."

And that was it. One minute I was staring up at the various fixtures attached to the ceiling in the OR, and the next minute I was blinking up at a completely different ceiling. My eyes were super heavy, and I could only open them every few breaths - it took me a REALLY long time before I could open them and they could actually stay open longer than a blink. My throat felt scratchy and my abdomen felt like I'd just done a super WOD - all things that I expected. And I was SO woozy.

Jimmy showed up about half an hour later (in my grogginess, I could hear the nurse calling him on the phone), and they moved me into a reclining chair. The nausea was really hitting me, and every motion of my head made me want to puke - seriously, this was even worse than that day I got really sick and threw up and burst a blood vessel in my eye. I managed NOT to puke, but they had to give me a super dose of super nausea medication, and it took another hour or so of sitting there before I could finally lift my head. I dressed very, very slowly and was wheeled very, very slowly to the curb, where Jimmy had pulled up the car. And then we came home and I conked out.

And that was a few hours ago. I'm feeling FAR less nauseous now, and I'm able to get up and walk around the apartment without any trouble. I'm in a little bit of pain (again, sore like I'd done some crazy core exercises), but um, I guess that's why they gave me pain medication. And I should probably go take some. (It's manageable. I'm fine.)

So now I'm gallbladder-less. And I have four short purple scars in various places on my abdomen that are apparently being held together by skin glue. (SKIN GLUE? SERIOUSLY? THAT'S A THING?) Everyone was making it sound like I'd be miserable and bed-ridden for a few days, but seriously, I bet I could go drive myself to get a bowl of pho right now. (I'm not going to. Obviously. But I bet I could.)

I will be puttering around the house for a few days, and then I plan to gradually return to my normal levels of badassery, a little at a time.

This concludes the story of my first surgery ever.

No, they didn't offer to let me keep my gallstones, and I forgot to ask. Dammit.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

So long! Farewell! Auf wieder... nevermind, I can't spell that word.

Dear Gallbladder,

It's been real.

- Me

So, tomorrow, I go in for gallbladder surgery. Remember how I got really sick a couple of weeks ago and threw up and got the scary eye? Yeah, apparently it was caused by gallstones and not a stomach virus. Well, at least I know I don't have the plague.

I'm a little anxious. I know it's a minor surgery, and it's laproscopic (REALLY can't spell today!), and it's apparently as common as getting an appendix out, but I've never had any surgery of any sort. I've never been put under general anesthesia. This is the first body part that I've ever part with (and no, babies and placentas don't count as body parts). I even have all my wisdom teeth.

I'm a little wary of the fact that they'll be cutting me and doing all this weird stuff (inflating my abdomen with gas???) while I'm unconscious and totally helpless to do anything about it. What if the government has commissioned them to put a microchip in me as well to track my whereabouts and to listen in on my conversations? What if they take samples of my DNA to sell to aliens? What if they turn me into a human incubator for smallpox? What if I ask them to do some abdominal liposuction, since they'll be in there anyway?

I'm sure it will be fine, but I can't help but worry.

I think my biggest worry has been not the surgery/recovery itself (because whatever will be, will be, right?), but the fact that I will be out a week from work afterwards. I've been going a little crazy lately trying to find subs and figure out lesson plans that the subs can teach but that also have some educational value, since a week is a long time to have them do seatwork. It's more work to miss work, than to go to work. I mean, seriously, I'm not complaining about getting a week off from work, but it's not like it's a vacation. In fact, I'm going to use this time to catch up on grading :/

And of course, slightly lower on my "worry" list (but not THAT much lower) are running and roller derby. I know, I know - those things sound ridiculous to worry about, but if you know me, you know that they're important to me. I'm about 95% sure that I will not be able to skate in the June 8th bout, and that's REALLY depressing me - I really felt like this last bout was the pinnacle of my derby career so far, in terms of my skills and my strategy and everything just coming together, FINALLY, after two and a half years of work, and I was looking forward to improving on that for the second bout. But instead, I feel like I'm going to actually be backsliding, because I have to spend at least two weeks off-skates, and then at least another two weeks non-contact. I feel like all the progress I've been making will be gone, and it'll be back to square one.

Running is less of a worry - the marathon I was going to train for got cancelled, and I was able to transfer my registration to a later marathon put on by the same company, so I have some extra time. Plus, I can at least walk as soon as one week after my surgery, and start running two weeks after.

Basically, I want this whole period to be over soon so I can get back to my normal ass-kicking and badassery.

That is all.

May the health gods be kind, and send me cute orderlies.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Race Recap: Divas Half Marathon

Credit: Run Like a Diva official FB page
Today almost didn't happen.

At the bout last weekend, I injured my knee - I fell on it really hard, and it immediately swelled up and the parts that did not turn dark purple were numb to the touch.

The x-rays showed that nothing was torn or broken - it was just the tissue just above my knee where my knee pad had dug in that was hurting. That was the good news. The bad news was, I was to stay off skates for a week, and non-contact for another couple of weeks at least. And worst of all, I was told that I should count on skipping the Divas Half Marathon this weekend.

I debated with myself for a while. I emailed the race directors, but they told me I couldn't defer. I really, REALLY wanted that damn medal, and a chance to see how I could do now compared to the Tinkerbell. (And no, I did not do a good job of training for this either. I didn't actually train at all. Story of my life.)

I finally decided that I would go, and however far I could manage it, at whatever pace I could go, that would be it. I went in fully expecting to take a DNF (that's "Did Not Finish," for those of you not in the know), and it would be my first one ever. I've never not finished a race before, if I've decided to show up.

I went with my friends Kymi and Becca, in the spirit of sisterhood and togetherness - we would do this together, and keep each other company. (We did end up splitting up for the second half.) It was a bright, warm day, which is usually great race weather, but there was absolutely no shade almost the entire way.

13.1 miles with the sun beating down on you? It was a different type of difficult from other races. With Tinkerbell, even though we did kinda sorta train, it was still hard because obviously it wasn't enough training, and though I would say that that was my very best performance so far, it definitely wasn't easy.

This race was different - I'm at least 15 pounds lighter than I was for Tinkerbell (I've been off Paleo lately for medical reasons, so I gained back a little bit), and though I haven't been running or going to Crossfit, I have been working pretty hard at derby. (Seriously, the level of tired that I felt during the bout reached new heights.) The running part was easier, possibly because we spent more of the first half walking (trying to stay together). I found that I could run longer and I got less tired (yay, weight loss!) I believe I may have even run more in the second half, which is pretty much unheard of for me. I mean, I was still really tired, but I felt strong, and I was still doing running spurts up to the finish line.

But other things made it hard. My knee made it through fine, but I was very conscious about taking walk breaks when needed. And the sun was just killing me - there was barely a breeze (unusual for the SF Bay) and as I said, there was no shade, so I found myself getting dizzy and lightheaded at times due to the heat. Throughout the second half, I found myself taking a cup of water from the water station just to pour it over my head.

I came in at 3:29:04, which is slower than my Tinkerbell time (we did spend a lot of the first half walking), but I feel like I performed better this time around. And I'm happy about that, because my next big race is a FULL marathon in September, and I really need to be in tip top shape (physically and mentally) for that one.

I signed up for this race because I really wanted the feather boa and tiara and blinged-out spinny medal (given to me by a hot, hot shirtless fireman), and I'm so happy that I decided to go and that I was able to finish (and before 3:30!!). I can't believe I almost stayed home.*

I'm a Diva!
My two medals
*which is not to say that I recommend going against medical advice, but I like to think that in this case, I knew what my body could handle better than he could. I swear, I would've stopped if I needed to, but I never needed to.

Pause and reflect

I haven't written a blog post in almost a year. I've had a lot of stuff happen, some good and some bad, and I could've written a...