Archive for January, 2009

“But doesn’t that hurt?” “Of course. The trick is not to mind that it hurts”

I am Jack’s severely bruised everything… As I type this I can still feel the aching uselessness in my right arm even days after what I hereby refer to as The Amazing Snow Adventure. That’s right kids, I made my first tentative foray into winter sports. Actually that’s a lie, firstly because I once went ice-skating, and secondly because the word “tentative” should never be applied to any activity that intrinsically involves hurling oneself repeatedly down a hill.

An important point to note before I continue is as follows: Snowboarding is awesome. I feel I should establish this in advance in the hope that the following litany of drawbacks will be viewed in the correct manner, ie. as gratuitous whining. That being said, here follows my account of TASA…

As someone who enjoys going very fast and has pretty much no sense of self-preservation if there is a chance of doing something interesting involved, I was naturally delighted when L and her german proposed a day of snowboarding last weekend. Not only would I have transportation to the mountain and the loan of a jacket and gloves, I was also offered the benefit of the german’s experienced tutelage (which turned out to be most excellent). I also have to admit that I was certain I must have previous relevant experience. I had some kind of vague idea that the combined years of martial arts and longboarding would somehow merge to form automatic snowboarding skills. Hah! I’d fall off my chair in manic laughter at this point but it would hurt too much to get back up again.

The really funny part is that I was actually right. Skateboarding and martial arts _do_ give you wonderful experience that is of great use while snowboarding. But mainly because the most significant aspect of one’s first snowboarding experience by about a factor of 10 is falling over, and if nothing else, martial arts and longboarding prepare one marvellously for repeatedly falling on one’s ass, face, and pretty much everything else. So it was due to this that at the end of the day instead of being a bitter, grouchy, mean, sore, bruised, exhausted, freezing cold and sporadically damp individual, I was a relatively upbeat, sore, bruised, exhausted, freezing cold and sporadically damp individual

As stated previously, I had an excellent teacher, who spent the first hour or so being a crutch as well as an instructor while I got the feel of the board. Boy is it a weird sensation. The last refuge of the skater is the time-honoured tradition of jumping off the damn thing, which as long as you haven’t gotten beyond a fast running pace is rarely all that painful. So the complete lack of options inherent in having both feet strapped to something the size of a fucking ironing board can be somewhat disconcerting. Options for not dying consist of a list of two. Option 1 – fall over backward, and option 2 – fall over forward. Which I guess explains the current state of every bruise-able part of my body. You might believe that there is a third option called “stopping in an orderly and controlled fashion”, I assure you it is a mythical stage of enlightenment only available to people who have spent, well, more than a day at this.

I cannot count the times I fell on my ass. What I _can_ do is count the times it really fucking hurt in a “shite, maybe I’ve broken my coccyx” sort of way, which was about 3. By the time we finished up I was edging toward the graceful end of complete incompetence, and was able to accomplish a turn in each direction before unceremoniously falling on my butt. I even managed to slide to a gradual stop once, though this may have been aided by a conveniently located skier. I am immensely proud of these achievements, as would you be if you knew how goddamn fucking difficult it is. Truth be told I felt I could have done slightly better had I persevered, but after about 3 hours I was feeling sufficiently battered to call it a day.

Rule for Happiness (first-time snowboarding section):

  1. Acknowledge that it will hurt. A lot. Live with it.
  2. Get a helmet, skull fractures detract from the enjoyment
  3. Be aware that if you are several inches taller than the friend who has loaned you their not-all-that-long-to-begin-with snowboarding jacket, it is quite likely that when falling over your bare back may in fact hit snow. This is an interestingly horrible realisation.
  4. Do NOT take your gloves off, and then touch snow. This is a terrible terrible idea.
  5. Do not imagine for a moment that you will do anything but lurch off the ski-lift like a drunk hippo
  6. By all means however spend some time watching other snow boarders exit the ski-lift, in order to feel better about yourself and life in general
  7. Bring spare clothing with you. This is vital for not freezing to death on your way home, particularly if you’ve experienced 3.
  8. Do not plan to do anything or go anywhere after arriving home. You will be utterly exhausted, and will want to do nothing but jack up the heating to ludicrous settings and sleep.
  9. Resist the urge to develop an instant contempt for skiers, with their detachable implements. It’s probably even harder to ski.
  10. Invite me to come with you, so that I can show off my amazing 10-seconds-before-falling-over trick.

Just so you all know, Ada Lovelace nicked my fucking birthday…

Yeah yeah, women in technology, its all great. I was going to have a little rant about this, but then I realised that I would only be doing it because I am grouchy and bitter about the above-mentioned birthday theft. The truth is though I dont give a damn about what other women have done in technology (as opposed to what _people_ have done, gender irrelevent, which I do give a damn about), it is in fact useful to have well-known examples of women who have achieved excellence in a technical field.

Less for role models and more as a proof of concept, for while men dominate the fields of science and engineering, it’s nice to be able to point to exceptions to this generality and say that yes, fair enough, statistically there are far fewer women who are suited to this type of work than men, but look, it is eminently possible for women to be great at this.

Having said all this however, screw Ada Lovelace day, the 24th of March is my fucking birthday. It’s all about me people.

I think I’ll start by learning hog butchery…

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Robert A Heinlein

Inspiring tales of epic plane fail, installment 754

(This is actually something I wrote months ago and completely forgot to publish. In the interest of documenting more of my intrepid airport adventures, I figured I’d not waste it)

I fly a lot. Really, a lot. The logical result of this, is that I fucking hate airports. As may have been evidenced by previous posts, I go to quite spectacular lengths to avoid spending undue amounts of time in airports. I, quite frankly, scoff at airports. I laugh in the face of impossible plane-getting odds, I time my journey down to an error margin of minutes. In short, I fuck with airports. And as is let’s face it, statistically likely, airports fuck with me right back.

Today has been a cunning and deviously structured attempt to prevent me getting back to New York. Harken to my tale of basic irritation… My company have some sort of contract deal with Air Canada of a satanically binding nature, so we always use them to fly any route they cover. Having brought only carry-on luggage with me outbound to Canada I decided to check in on-line for my return journey. This took me ten fucking minutes, 8 of which were finding the button that would allow me to print a boarding pass. So either this website is deeply unintuitive, or my brain has dissolved and is oozing slowly out my ears as I type. *wipes up excess goo*

On my journey to the departures lounge, I managed to leave my glasses in a taxi, leave my passport on top of a trash can, and incorrectly fill in part of a customs form I have already filled in at least 7 times before. Ok, so that stuff was all me, perhaps the melting brain theory has more credence than I expected. But there was airport stuff too, I swear. Like the fact that I walked all the way to my gate, having looked up the map and seen there was a restaurant right beside it, only to discover there was a massive undocumented security door preventing the 5 metre walk from one to the other. So I walked all the way back to the restaurant beside security, wolfed down a sandwich, and abandoned half my beer to walk briskly all the way back down, only to hear an announcement as I arrived that my flight was suddenly at final call, and my gate had changed to one beside the restaurant I had fucking well eaten in 10 minutes before, necessitating a brisk dash all the way back, filled with cheeseburger sloshing around in Heineken.

I walked onto the plane, and realised it was one of those little planes that you better not be carrying more than a notebook onto, because they have the overhead storage space of a small child’s lunchbox. Naturally my attempt to bring only hand luggage for a weeks stay had resulted in the largest allowable luggage, which then had to be checked in anyway, and so I resigned myself to not having a speedy departure from LaGuardia. And a good fucking thing too.

As I write this, I sit in a pokey airport strewn with the occasional clearly non-functioning plane, and surrounded by fields. What happened? Well, LaGuardia was busy when we arrived, and because this plane is only slightly bigger than one I got in trouble for firing at someone’s head when I was 7, we could only circle for 20 minutes before running out of fucking fuel. Apparently the solution to this is not to actually land us, but to send us to Stuart International Airport, Newberg, New York state. Where we have been for two and a half fucking hours, re-fueling, marvelling that a runway can have so much grass on it, and generally pissing about.

I am also sitting beside a small phillippina lady, who is quite possibly the most dreadful person I have ever met and believe me, this is a competitive title. She laughs like Fran Drescher and endlessly moans about every step of our ludicrously arduous journey. If there were anything that would make me sympathise with the pilot and crew, it is this woman. Her sole redeeming quality has been the inspired decision to ask for free booze, which has worked admirably. But if I do not get off this plane soon, I may end up strangling her with her own large intestine.

I think this is what they mean by “karmic realignment”. Bastards.

Beware of the troll. No, I don’t mean I might pedantically harass you on a web forum, I mean I might club you and eat your bones.

I hate being ill. Of course I do, everyone hates being ill. I have yet to meet a single individual who when faced with a bout of the common cold grins with anticipation and remarks that they love a good snivel. However it has been pointed out to me that I tend to not only dislike being ill, but to take it as a personal affront.

Currently, I am sick. No longer in a not-being-able-to-stand-up sort of way, but definitely in a rather annoying way. This, as you can imagine, has done very little for the sweetness of my disposition. I try not to bitch about specific personal issues here, ie. exactly what is currently wrong with my job, why a particular friend or situation is pissing me off, or what the hell that green stuff is on the sink. In lieu of suddenly starting now, here is a short list of things that irritate me.

  • Other people
  • Unnecessary precipitation
  • Coughs that stop me from sleeping
  • Fast food delivery personnel
  • Psychotic stalker ex-boyfriends
  • Chewing gum
  • Television

That will be all.