Friday, October 24, 2014

Toastmasters: Table Topics - Today In History

One thing that happens during each Toastmasters meeting is "Table Talks". The Topicsmaster facilitates brief (1 - 2 minutes) impromptu talks by a handful of members. They select in advance speaking prompts, usually tying it in to the day's topic chosen by that meeting's Toastmaster. On Wednesday I was the Topicsmaster and the theme was "Today in history" (that day was the 90th anniversary of Toastmasters!). 

Assigning prompts can happen deliberately (for example, if you think someone would have a good answer for it, based on their knowledge or experience), or randomly. I did it by asking them to pick a year in the 1900s, and then gave them the prompt for the year included in my list closest to it.

I didn't have to answer them in the meeting myself, but thought they'd be fun to think about anyway.

On October 22, in:

1938, Chester Carlson demonstrated the first Xerox machine. What do you think is the most useful piece of technology in use today?

I'm actually going to steal the answer of the member who answered this prompt during the meeting: the internet. Pretty much all other technology that makes life convenient today relies on the internet. Even though it wasn't truly ubiquitous in the first several years of my life, I can hardly imagine living without it. 

1939, the first televised pro football game was telecast from New York (Brooklyn defeated Philadelphia 23-14). What sport is your least favorite to watch?

My least favorite sport to watch is football, primarily because it's so stop and go - two minutes left on the clock can take hours!

1949, Emil Zatopek set a then-world record for the 10k race in 29:21.2. If you were forced to race some running distance, what distance would you pick?

Well, let's see, what races do I usually torture myself with? I tend to go back and forth on whether I'd rather focus on speed or distance, but currently I'd lean towards a 5k - painful but fast (obviously that'd be my preference at the moment, since I just registered for a half marathon).

1975, the Cincinnati Reds won the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. Are you rooting for the Giants or Royals in this year's World Series?

I'm rooting for the Royals, because Abe is and I wouldn't otherwise have an opinion (his real team is the Cardinals, but since they didn't make it, the Royals are the next choice). He roots for them because he grew up in Missouri.

1978, Bill Rodgers won the 9th New York City Marathon in 2:12:12. What was the hardest thing you've attempted in your life?

I would the marathon! Even though it took me a smidge more than 2:12. 

1979, Walt Disney World welcomed its 100-millionth guest. What is your "most magical place on earth"? 

Haramara Retreat where I've been twice for vegan yoga retreats. It's an absolutely stunning escape from modern reality. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Three Things Thursday: Currently Making Me Happy

1. This blazer from Target. It's knit, so it basically feels like wearing a sweatshirt and pulling it off as business professional wear. The fit is short (even the sleeves aren't excessively long) so it seems flattering on my shortness, and I love (1) the buttons on the sleeves and (2) that the sleeves can be pushed up (I really don't like sleeves on my forearms). I'm even 98.62% sure that no one can tell just by looking at it in normal usage that it's not actually made out of suiting material.

2. I found my barrette! To keep things easy without being sloppy, I wear my hair half-up pretty much every day for work (with the very occasional deviation when I'm feeling adventurous). But this is the only barrette I've found - and trust me, I've looked for backups - that holds just the right amount of hair and has just the right amount of tension. About a month ago, I couldn't find it. :( I've had to make do with a small hair band to do my hair, and it's just not the same. But yesterday morning I had to dig a bit deeper into my main container of toiletry stuff to find my eyeliner sharper, and I found the barrette (and the pencil sharpener).  

3. The cats are making significant progress in coexisting. Ok, they're not exactly cuddling with each other yet. But this situation is starting to happen on a regular basis, where Imogene is willing to come sit on a lap even when Hera is already somewhere on the couch, and/or stay put even when Hera joins us on the couch. 

There's still some hissing and swiping going on, especially when Hera seems to be getting ready to pounce on Imogene (I think in a playful way, not an aggressive way?) and Imogene is rightfully annoyed, but she's allowing Hera to get pretty close before being too expressive. They just might become friends yet!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Seattle Half Training Week 2



Monday: Swim 1,200 yards + easy run 2.55 miles (14:02 pace)

Tuesday: Easy run 3.1 miles (13:20 pace)

Have you seen articles about how we have a limited amount of willpower, and that's why it's harder to stick to healthy habits when we're using our willpower up for other things? That's why I didn't do a strength workout Tuesday morning - I'd used up my willpower making myself go swimming the night power (though I am totally glad I swam, and enjoyed it, but I didn't want to beforehand). I had to skip ballet that evening due to working late, but at least still squeezed in a run!

Wednesday: Treadmill run 2.0 miles (13:03 pace) 

After meeting a friend for dinner, I got home after dark so I thought I'd go to the rec center and do this week's mile repeats workout on the treadmill. Nope. Didn't even get through the first interval before remembering how boring the treadmill is, especially at a constant pace. Just going to count it as some bonus miles for the week.

Thursday: Interval run 6.0 miles (12:38 pace)

This was also after dark, but otherwise very lovely running conditions, so went ahead and did it outdoors, with a headlamp, on some neighborhood loops I'm very familiar with.

1 mile warm-up - 13:45
3 x 1 mile - 11:08, 11:02, 11:06
2 x 0.5 recovery - 14:36, 14:16
1 mile cool-down - 14:2 

Sunday: "Long" run 6.4 miles (14:07 pace) 

Long run fail. So many reasons - not sure to what extent they're actually reasons versus excuses, though: I started too late in the morning and it was an unusually warm day, not enough recovery time since this week's speed workout, not sleeping well, etc. In any case I was tired and my legs felt heavy. Only kept myself going as long as I did so I would at least meet 20 miles for the week. Oh well, there's always next week, right?

Total swimming: 1,200 yards
Total running: 20.05 miles

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Is Quaker Football an Oxymoron?

My alma mater, George Fox University, made it big in the news recently - it's in Sports Illustrated for its new football program

On the one hand, this is great news because a t-shirt I bought when I was a student is now undoubtedly on its way to becoming a valuable collector's item. On the other hand, I'm not so sure I'm proud of the school for making this move.

Even if you don't really pay attention to the sports world (I certainly don't), you surely know that football doesn't have the best reputation at the moment, due to safety risks, as well as punishments (or lack thereof) of illegal player behavior. (And, though in my very vague understanding the NFL or other organizations haven't done everything they could to protect its players, I just have to say, since I have a platform to say it: What idiots go into a career in football thinking that it's safe?! How is it the NFL's fault if you get hurt playing a game that you willing joined that involves other people tackling you?! I've never played football or looked into what the rules are, but I've always thought of it as an inherently unsafe game, regardless of what equipment you wear or other steps you take to try to mitigate the risk.)

If there's one thing I don't understand, and am glad wasn't present in my college experience, it's a big football culture (ok, two things - football is tied for that honor with fraternities/sororities). I would hate the idea that my tuition went towards funding full ride scholarships for athletes, or that our school was valued for its coaches rather than its professors. I didn't go to college to cheer on the football team, I went there to get a high-quality education. Sure, they aren't inherently mutually exclusive, but it's nonetheless an unnecessary distraction, and glorifying students for anything other than academic achievement or community involvement sends a very wrong message. 

I also don't like the idea of of using a football (or any other sport) program to lure students to the school. As quoted in the above linked OPB article, the football team "bought 130 paying customers to campus who wouldn't otherwise be there". Umm... how is that a positive thing? This isn't a for-profit business; the university's stated vision is to be "known for empowering students to achieve exceptional life outcomes". The school and its administration does a lot to create that supportive atmosphere that accomplishes that, but - especially on such a small campus - it also requires the right kind of students, who also want to achieve that, and who will be supportive for each other. 

If you're saying that these football players are here solely because it's their chance to play college football - then it's highly unlikely they'll be part of that supportive community. When I was a student, overall it did have that atmosphere, but I saw on a smaller scale the effect of students who are just there to play sports - the baseball team was known for having chosen this school solely because it was their chance to play college baseball - and also known for throwing parties and other actions that violated the lifestyle code. Was it the downfall of the entire institution? No, but it certainly didn't add anything to the institution and its community either. 

Robin Baker, if you want to grow a supportive environment to grow exceptional students, then don't take steps to attract athletes, do more to lure those exceptional students.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Alaska Honeymoon: Seward

Earlier in the honeymoon: Washington. Anchorage.

Friday morning we got up super early and took a taxi to the Alaska Railroad train station. 

The train ride was a beautiful scenic route southward from Anchorage to Seward. We saw:



and glaciers.

We arrived just before lunch time, and luckily the train handles your luggage and checks it on to your cruise ship, so we were free to explore the town for the afternoon before needing to board the ship. Seward is a really cute little town; it actually wouldn't be that difficult to walk end to end, but they also have a free public shuttle making a loop around town during tourist season. 

On the left is Mount Marathon, which has an annual 5k race up and back down it.
The record finishing time, for a mere 5k distance - oh, and 3,000 feet up - is 42 minutes.

For lunch we went into the Ranting Raven for quiches and croissants. Then we took the shuttle to the last shuttle stop at the end of town and walked another mile to so to a disc golf course on the grounds of the middle school. I think this might be one of my favorite courses. Partly because it's only 9 holes :) (instead of the usual 18), but also it has good signage to find the next hole, relatively short fairways, and though some brush to keep things interest, it wasn't too dense so even if you landed in it you could still find our disc.

The disc golf course was on the end of town nearer the port, so after playing we just walked to the ship. We got settled in our stateroom for the remainder of the trip, and after dinner the ship started sailing. We spend the evening exploring the ship and getting a taste of all the available activities - mini golf, daily sheets of puzzles in the library, the gym, and karaoke.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Seattle Half Training Week 1



Monday amK-Fit weeks 1/2 workout #3
Monday pm: Aerobic effort 5k trial (13:59 pace)

Over 30 seconds faster per mile than last month! I'm trying to do an aerobic effort 5k test and a 1 mile speed test every month to track my improvement with my current approach of rebuilding (building? not sure I ever truly had one) a strong aerobic base/cardio strength.

Tuesday pm: Ballet class (75 minutes)

Wednesday am: Bike trainer 25 minutes (est 6.25 miles)
Wednesday pm: Run 2 miles, including 1 mile speed test (11:59 pace)

0.5 warm-up - 14:41
1 mile test - 10:02 - 7 seconds off last time!
0.5 cool-down - 13:08

Thursday pm: Tempo run 6.0 miles (12:45 overall pace, 12:06 tempo pace)
1 mile warm-up - 13:10
4 miles tempo - 11:59, 11:56, 12:24, 12:04
1 mile cool-down - 14:57

Put off the scheduled-for-Wednesday tempo run for a day, primarily because I was dreading it. Not only fast compared to my slow aerobic effort paces lately, but actually farther than my "long" runs have been in a while. But, it actually wasn't bad! Challenging, for sure, but still fun.

Friday pm: Easy run 2.0 miles (13:57 pace)

Saturday: Ballet practice (25 minutes)

Sunday: Long run 9.0 miles (13:46 pace)

Total biking: 6.25 miles
Total running: 22.1 miles

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Now that Hera's had about a month to get settled into her new home, it turns out that she's anything but shy! She loves exploring any nook or cranny, and has a tendency to sit in your spot if you get up (after warming it up for her, of course). She's an absolute sweetheart, except for when she's annoyed and swats at you - unlike most cats I've had, who generally bite if you're overpetting them or whatever, Hera does this move that's essentially slapping you in the face.

This past week she's discovered an obsession with my running shoes. Apparently they're good for more than just human exercise.

Imogene still isn't thrilled. Hera, though, keeps trying to make friends with her - or try to pick a fight, we're not sure. In any case, Hera fairly often tries to approach Imogene, and Imogene continues to hiss at her, but is gradually more likely to come into Hera's vicinity of her own volition. Hopefully they eventually will become close feline sisters!