Notables from the last week.

I made these homemade Tagalongs for the first time in five years (as a going away gift for someone leaving at work). Man, I hate dipping things in chocolate. It is time-consuming and makes my hands messy. I didn’t actually eat a whole one–just a bite of the Hus-friend’s–but they were devoured at work. So I still can’t say if they are worth the effort.

homemade Tagalongs

 

I ran ten miles for the first time in several months in the company of the SFRRC. Unfortunately, I forgot my Garmin, so it’s like IT DIDN’T EVEN HAPPEN. It felt good to finally get back up to a double-digit run as I’ve been slowly building back up my weekly mileage. I’m enjoying the increased fitness (like, a three-miler not feeling like a slog) that 30 miles/week brings.

The Hus-friend and I went climbing with Jordan, and we finally got up “Tito,” one of the climbs that has been eluding us for weeks (Weeks!). It’s not the most technically difficult one we’ve tried, but for whatever reason, we repeatedly got stuck about 10′ off the ground. I’m not sure what finally changed, but I like to think it’s that my arms got stronger. Hooray!

Tito at Mission Cliffs

 

Also, on several people’s recommendations, we started watching HBO’s The Jinx. It is soooo interesting! (Mom! Are you reading this? You must watch it!)

Goodnight, cellphone.

vapid dullard sign
“I am a vapid dullard.”

I read that spending too much time in front of a screen will disrupt your sleep patterns, so I’ve been making a concerted effort to turn off my computer and phone before I go to sleep.

Part of this effort involves plugging my phone into the outlet on the other side of the room, not right next to my bed. And I will admit that this has cut down significantly on my pre-sleep fling-scrolling through Instagram. Now, I just binge on Young Adult Fiction before I fall asleep. (Supposedly, it’s the blue light from illuminated screens that is problematic, so I’m not sure if reading my Kindle in bed is also bad. Too bad if it is; no one can take my late-night YA from me, NO ONE!)

I had hoped that an added benefit of moving my cellphone would be that I’d get up faster because I’d have to cross the room to turn off snooze. Unfortunately, that hasn’t come to pass. Now, I just get up, hit snooze, and stumble back onto the futon/into dreamless sleep. I even tried setting motivational alarms (“Get up and run!” at 5:15am and “HAVE A GREAT DAY!” at 5:30am), but my bleary eyes can barely focus on the screen in the morning. I still crawl out of bed with the grace and velocity of an elephant seal.

The Hus-friend has not followed my lead on no pre-bed cellphone, but he doesn’t seem to have any problems sleeping (not that I did, either). I get the distinct impression that “unplugging” is super trendy right now, so maybe I feel like I need to have less screen time in my life because I’ve heard and read about it in so many places (that might all be quoting each other, who knows).

Do you check your phone/computer in bed? Have you noticed a disruption in your sleep when you are on the computer late at night? Do you think unplugging is for sheeple?

On that note, I’m going to go upstairs and read from an actual hardbound book. I’m finally getting around to Alex Grecian’s Black Country, which my mom loaned me over the holidays because she and I share an intense love for macabre crime plots. I love how I’m concerned about excessive screen-time before bed but think nothing about reading gruesome murder mysteries before my shut-eye. Whatever, I’m an adult. I do what I want.

Fall Marathon?

marathon conversation

 

I’m on the fence as to whether I should sign up for a fall marathon. Since my last marathon was in 2011 (Cleveland marathon), I think my PR doesn’t really count anymore. Maybe it’s time to set a new one. Maybe.

There are several reasons why I’m in a good place, both literally and metaphorically, to train. I have pretty good daily/weekly routine, and my work schedule is flexible enough to accommodate training. And, of course, the weather here is perfect for training all year round. I really can’t complain. Time and weather are on my side!

This all being said, I can’t decide if I’m ready for marathon training to take over my life (saying this with a grain of salt). I distinctly remember feeling sick of running and burned out on my training program at about the 12-week mark last time. That was the sucks.

However, I miss the feeling of accomplishment I had from doing long runs (and the excuse to eat lots of cake), so maybe it’s time to get back on the metaphorical horse. I have illusions of marathon grandeur, namely, Avenue of the Giants and Big Sur, which definitely won’t happen if I don’t get back into marathon shape, right? A Fall race might be the perfect way to get back into longer-distance running.

Does anyone have a fall marathon on their plates? If so, tell me about it. Inspire me, please!

Women of the Sea: The most badass thing I’ve ever seen

Today, I saw a tweet about haenyeo or “women of the sea” in Korean. These are free divers who live on Jeju Island and make their living fishing in treacherous waters with nothing but a wetsuit and fins. Like, no air tanks.

Image from https://jejutourism.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/jeju_culture-jejus-mothers-the-woman-divers-haenyeo/
Image from https://jejutourism.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/jeju_culture-jejus-mothers-the-woman-divers-haenyeo/

As a software engineer, I participate in a lot of talk about what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated field. When I read about the haenyeo today, I was just floored–talk about doing a traditionally male job: hard-ass physical labor for your whole life! These hearty and brave Korean women have been kicking ass in a matriarchal society for hundreds of years. While the men stayed home and kept house, the haenyeo went diving for shellfish, which allowed them to bring home money that supported their families. They are believed to be better at diving because their higher body fat allows them to stay longer in the cold water.

Here’s an article from the NYT about haenyeo from 2014. Apparently, their numbers have dwindled significantly, and this is thought to be the last generation of them, as most are over 65. They are a candidate for the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and I wholeheartedly hope they receive this distinction.

There is going to be an exhibition of photographs taken of the haenyeo in New York City this month, and I really hope it comes to San Francisco.  Here are some of the photos. They are just truly amazing photographs.

I have a lot of rage towards Korea’s [and, let’s face it, a lot of cultures’]  insistence on an unattainable female standard of beauty, with its rejection of the hereditary muscular calves and sturdy bodies. Reading about and seeing the amazing photos of these wrinkled, wetsuit-clad haenyeo was really a profound experience for me today. They are just so cool. I don’t think I could hack it as a sea granny, but I hope that I can live a life where I prioritize strength and drive over more superficial concerns.

I recently was on a panel where the icebreaker question was Who do you think you were in a past life? I said “Martin Van Buren” because he looks as grumpy as I often feel. Except now, I hope I was a haenyeo in a past life, prying abalone off rocks and not giving a fuck about how I looked doing it.

(Also, maybe this explains why I like the ocean so much. Because, as you know, I am special. I like the beach.)

Jess & Jean visit SF!

To celebrate her mom’s birthday, Jessica organized a mother-daughter trip to San Francisco for last weekend. I don’t know that many of my friends’ parents, other than those of my high school friends, but I almost consider Jean and her husband Chip as my extra set of in-laws. My friend-laws? Ha. (Weirdly, I’ve stayed at Jessica’s childhood home multiple times, but Jessica has never met my parents, any of them! Not sure how that happened!)

Jean’s visit was really something. For one, she and Jess stayed in a hotel in the Tenderloin, so they saw a variety of colorful San Francisco sights. On one hand, there was a man shooting up heroin next to the library in broad daylight. On the other, a group of naked bike riders happily pedaled right by them, much to Jean’s amusement. (That may have been the highlight of the trip.)

Those ladies can WALK. We averaged 40,000 steps for the two days they were here and powered up tons of hills. Seriously, my butt was sore from walking up the big hill near Buena Vista park. Jean was a trooper, up for going anywhere and seeing anything, and she was so delighted by everything (except the drugs and public urination): the architecture! the weather! the delightful San Francisco quirks!

And, of course, to fuel our busy days, we lots of good food, including burritos, Italian, and, of course, cookies from Hot Cookie. I didn’t manage to convince them to buy Chip a pair of firetruck red Hot Cookie underwear though. I guess they’ll have to get that next time they visit.

Jess & Jean, Hot Cookie

Having out-of-town guests can be exhausting, but Jess and Jean were the perfect visitors. They like the see cities the way we do: by foot and by mouth. I hope they come back soon. And I’m due for a visit to Jessica and Matt’s house in Michigan this year; I’m looking forward to picking some blueberries or apples.

Perfectionist Socks

It’s a good thing I don’t actually have to make my own wardrobe because it takes me forever to make anything by hand. So far, this season’s wardrobe would include one pair of socks and an unflattering muslin dress (Eventually, I will post about this, ideally when I finish the for-real dress!).

I started these socks on Boxing Day, and I just finished them last week, so that’s what, two and a half months for one pair? The pattern is pretty easy to memorize, so they knit up relatively quickly, though I did omit a few repeats to make the ankle a bit shorter.

Hermione's Everyday socks

I blazed through the first sock and got pretty far on the second sock. The end was in sight! Unfortunately, right after I finished the heel flap of Sock #2, I realized that I had messed up a few rows of the pattern. That’s what I get for watching The X-Files and trying to knit garments, I guess. The mistake was really minor, and probably no one else would have noticed it. Except I noticed it, and it really bothered me.

IMG_4274
(This picture makes it look less noticeable. It was noticeable.)

 

I tried not to care about this three stitch mistake, telling myself, “That’s the charm of handmade objects.” But every time I looked at it, those stupid three purled (rather than knit) stitches were just staring back at me, a reminder of my failure to make a matching pair of socks. Also, I pointed out the mistake to Siena, and she agreed that it was noticeable. Maybe because I shoved the half-finished sock in her face and wailed, “UGH IT’S HORRIBLE. LOOK AT THIS MISTAKE. I CAN’T BELIEVE I DID THAT!!!!” but whatever, it was noticeable.

Surprise! I eventually decided that I had to go back and fix the mistake because maybe I’m a huge and insane perfectionist. I tried to save my progress, but I’m really bad at catching the stitches when I have to rip out several rows. So yes, I went back to the beginning of Sock #2, casting on the stitches and starting it all over again.

But woohoo, look at that damn-good gusset!

sock gusset

You may be thinking, “Mica, you gave way too many fucks about this little mistake that I can’t even see!” However, I would argue that starting over was actually, in my own way, all about giving zero fucks. I don’t need to knit on a deadline (again, not actually making my own clothes!), so I had all the time in the world to complete this pair of socks. If I had wanted to, I could have put it down for years and not come back to it until the idea of knitting seemed appealing. I knew that if I continued being distressed about my mistake, finishing the sock wouldn’t be enjoyable, so it made more sense to start over and enjoy the process, right?

almost-finished socks
Literally impossible to take a flattering photo of your own feet.

 

It actually didn’t take nearly as long as I thought once I got back in my “This sock does not remind me of my personal failings” groove! And now I have two lovely socks with almost no mistakes (minus a gap in the gusset of the first one, but oh well, what can you do?). See, I’m not a perfectionist ALLLLL the time.

finished socks

 

Hilariously, I spent all this time on my sock, and it is never the right temperature in San Francisco for hand-knit wool socks. Plus I’m not sure these would actually go with anything in my wardrobe, except for my unflattering muslin dress. I suppose these socks will be added to my stash of things to be gifted next Christmas (Handmade Holidays 2015, starting now!). That’s the thing about knitting and crafting — it’s the process that I’m paying to enjoy, not necessarily the finished product!

(And now, I’ve started on an ambitious hand-knit cardigan project. Wish me luck!)

How often to replace a Garmin?

In 2008, I got the Garmin Forerunner 405 as a Christmas gift from my parents. At the time, it was the fanciest Garmin you could buy and, no pun intended, the forerunner in the fitness wearables space — like, before “fitness wearables” was even a term.

Nearly seven years later, my Garmin is still holding strong…sort of. Actually, I had to pay $79 four years ago to replace it with a factory-checked replacement model because it died randomly on a cold long-run but was out of warranty.

And now, when I try to sync after runs, more often than not, I get some kind of weird “Failed to sync” error. I even called Garmin about this, and the very nice representative basically told me that my watch is too old. Like, it’s too old to play nicely with their sync-ing technology, which let me just say, is basically terrible. I wish they could back-factor the Forerunner to upload the data manually. The stupid ANT+ stick causes me nothing but headaches.

So, Garmin, seven years, eh? You’re getting up there. I’d almost certainly trade in my cellphone after two or three, and I’ve heard that after four years, it’s a better deal to buy a new computer than fix an old one. With my Forerunner, however, I’m strangely indignant that I cannot expect more out of this clunky piece of technology with a stinky, sweat-soaked strap.

I mean, it’s working pretty much just fine. Sometimes, it syncs, and the Garmin representative told me to clear data as often as once a week after sync-ing so as to free up as much memory as possible. (Poor Forerunner, your little hardware body just can’t handle the stress of modern data transfer.) It’s basically fine.

And the alternative–spending money on a fancier version with a colored screen (who cares) and probably faster, more reliable data sync, AND a smartphone app: is that worth it to me? I don’t think so. It seems wasteful and consumerist to buy every new product without really asking, “Do I need this?” or, at least, “Why do I want this?” Garmin is a business built upon selling fitness products, so it benefits them to convince us to buy new products at regular intervals, even if they’re not really necessary.

But how much energy went into producing this tiny computer strapped to my wrist, housed in a plastic casing? And if I get rid of it, can I find a “sustainable” way of doing so? Does anyone want my old, clunky Garmin? I don’t want to throw it away, certainly. That’s just a huge waste.

So I think until my Forerunner actually gives up the ghost (or if I accidentally hurl it out the window in a frustrated rage when it won’t sync and loses my long-run data. Yeah, that happened.), I will refrain from buying anything new. It’s good enough for me.

Also obnoxious: Garmin Connect. I really just hate it, and I guess their servers are always overloaded because my data has problems, like, once a week. I’ve switched over to Strava for keeping track of my runs “in the cloud,” but it requires sync-ing first through Garmin Connect before transferring over the data. ANNOYING. GARMIN, GO HOME, YOU’RE DRUNK.

Do you get annoyed by how often our technology becomes obsolete? How often do you replace your phone/computer/Garmin?

Irish Brown Bread

St. Patrick’s day is on March 17th this year. [Oh, derps, Jessica just informed me that it’s always on March 17th. AHAHAHA.] Typically, I’ve viewed this holiday with indifference and, on some occasions, disdain, namely, when I got aggressively pinched for forgetting to wear green in school. And also, all the times that drunken revelers sporting “Kiss me, I’m Irish” shirts would cause me great inconvenience.

Here’s an adoptee digression on Irish heritage:

To be quite honest, I’ve always felt weird about Irish pride in the US since so many people I know claim Irish heritage. I’ve always been a little bit jealous of people with Irish roots because it’s such a romanticized heritage. Like, Oooh, those blue eyes, that’s from her Irish side! Or I grew up always having Guinness at family functions, so it’s the beer I prefer most. And My family came over from Ireland, so I went and backpacked around the area they’re from originally. I really felt so connected to the land and my ancestors.

As an adoptee, I can literally claim no European heritage whatsoever, and “that is the fact.” And when I was younger, I felt left out of the fun trace-your-roots game because I didn’t even know who my biological parents were. It’s not like I wanted to be Irish in particular, but when I heard people romanticizing their connections to long-standing traditions, traced back to their flaming tressed ancestors, it was sad disappointing to realize that I was definitively and in no way part of that club.

But it’s okay now because I’m an adult and I do what I want! I’m over it. Sometimes, I ironically romanticize my Korean roots: my sturdy calves and quick-to-flare temper, but in general, I’m cool with just being a mix, not some reincarnation of my ancestors. If I want to go digging around in my adopted genealogy and find some Irish folk, that’s cool. If I just want to go be into Irish culture for no reason whatsoever, that’s cool, too.

My friend Aileen is basically the most Irish not-actually-living-in-Ireland person I know. In fact, I believe she even has Irish citizenship. She drinks Irish breakfast tea by the gallon, and she was a competitive Irish dancer for many years. Her very first marathon was in Dublin!  Her parents both occasionally lapse into a delightful lilt, and after dinner, they serve brown bread with preserves. They’re the real deal!

img_4634
Post Cleveland Marathon, 2011

So this week, I’ve been on Irish kick, listening to tin whistle jigs while coding at work. For dinner, I made some brown bread using this recipe from King Arthur Flour because I first had it at Aileen’s parents’ house, and it was super delicious. (Maybe also because I was in carb-depletion mode after the marathon.)

Irish brown bread

And for the first time, I bought Irish butter, which is golden and delicious and supposedly made from very happy Irish cows’ milk. Slathered with apricot preserves over a still warm brown bread, it was sa-hooooo good.

Kerrygold Irish butter

 

So for St. Patrick’s Day 2015, I encourage you to make brown bread instead of shitty, artificially green Bailey’s cupcakes. Be classy, don’t make those cupcakes. Brown bread super tasty and whole wheat, so you can say it’s healthy or something. Or just pretend you’re reconnecting with your Irish roots. That’s what I did.

COFFEE WITH ME: Burning with feminist rage

Okay, world, what is going on? Was Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015, designated as a day of gender-based grossness unbeknownst to me? Because that’s how I felt. Here’s how it went down.

First, as I was walking to work, I passed a bearded man wearing a heather gray shirt. His shirt was in my field of vision, so the drawing on it caught my eye as we walked past each other. I tried to figure out why his shirt looked like it had a bunch of hairy boobs on it. I finally realized that the hairy boobs were, in fact, a CACTUS MADE TO LOOK LIKE BOOBS. Underneath the pen-and-ink drawing of these cactus bulbs with nipples was one word: “CAC-TITS.”

I made a face of intense displeasure and kept walking, but the more I walked and thought about it, the more enraged I became. I considered turning around and catching back up with the guy, tapping him on the shoulder, and asking him why he thought his shirt was funny (not necessarily in an aggressive way), and if I could take a picture of it. I mean, I legitimately wanted to know why and how this guy could get up and think, “Aha! Thank goodness for my good, ole’ cac-tits shirt. It’s my lucky shirt! It brings me so much good karma from the universe and is appropriate in basically all occasions.” Does this guy have a partner? A girlfriend who thinks this shirt is hilarious? Did one of his friends buy it for him as a joke, never expecting him to wear it outside? Does he wear it when he goes home to visit his parents?!?

So, yeah, that was the start of the day. Then after lunch, I made a quick run to Target to pick up some ear plugs. The display had three kinds: “regular” ear plugs, ear plugs for kids, and then these:

Mack's Earplugs for Women

 

First of all, why are these ear plugs hot pink? Oh, right, because all woman love anything hot pink, especially vaguely phallic pieces of foam that will stick out of their ears. And the inexplicable floral designs and curlicues? And the word “Dreamgirl” for no apparent reason. Just, what? WHAT?!?

Also, did they recycle the wording from a tampon box? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that these ear plugs are soft, smooth, and contoured because I don’t want to stick abrasive, hard, boxy objects in my ear. That being said, none of these words were on the man’s packaging.

By the way, here’s the back:

Mack's earplugs for women

“Provides ultimate comfort for women with small or sensitive ear canals.”

I ended up buying these stupidly branded earplugs because I do have small ears, but you know who else has small ear canals? MY HUSBAND. AND LOTS OF OTHER MEN. AND PEOPLE WHO MIGHT NOT IDENTIFY AS A SPECIFIC GENDER.

You don’t notice any weird qualifiers on the “regular” (or, presumably, men’s) earplugs. Too bad the other packaging didn’t have a helpful description; I imagine it could sound something like this: “Provides the manliest, most epic sound-blocking experience for men with rough and ready ear canals.”

Why can’t Mack’s just make two sizes of earplugs: Large and small? Or Regular and Large? Leave gender out of it, thanks.

I stewed about the earplugs for awhile, and then when I got home, I was greeted by this unsolicited flyer in my mailbox:

Essie nail polish ad

Okay, cool. Essie is doing some kind of weird bridal collection because their 3498930247320473289 already existing shades of nail polish don’t cut it for weddings. Whatever. And I like nail polish, so I took a look at the shades. Except then I saw this:

Essie nail polish descriptions
“…if she’s happy, everyone’s happy”

And this:

Essie nail polish descriptions

worth the wait: coral-kissed pink

will she? won’t she? this tender, coral-kissed pink keeps him hopefully devoted, until she says yes, at long last

I’m not sure why this description rubbed me the wrong way; I bet a more eloquent person could pinpoint exactly why this is so bothersome. Maybe it’s the blatant, heteronormative assumptions: because two brides or two grooms would never wear nail polish or wait for marriage. Or maybe it’s the thinly veiled references to waiting for marriage matched with a virginal shade of pink. Or maybe it’s just the dumb idea that someone’s outward appearance, rather than personality, intellect, and personal merit, is a more important factor in deciding to enter into a committed (or sexual, I can’t tell) relationship. Ugh, just ugh.

Putt & Pie

Last week, my team and I went on our fun offsite, which is an afternoon of team bonding that doesn’t suck. For our last offsite, we went to lunch, did the Escape from the Room game (We didn’t escape.), and then belted our “Let it Go” at Korean karaoke.

This time, I took charge in planning the offsite, yet it somehow became an afternoon of “Things Mica Hates” (as my manager said). It wasn’t really, but it is funny that all our activities were seemingly not my favorite.

After lunch, we took the Anchor Brewery tour. I’m such a sucker for photo booths.

Anchor Brewery photo

As you may remember, the Hus-friend and I really enjoyed the Budweiser Brewery tour on WVT, so that was the standard to which I held the Anchor tour. Anchor is a smaller brewery, so it was less corporate, and I enjoyed hearing about how the history of the brewery was tied to the history of San Francisco.

I also learned about International Bitterness Units, or “IBUs”:anchor_tweet

The beer itself? Meh, well, you know how I feel about beer. I was least into the new saison and the famous Anchor Steam beer. The tour guide was surprised when I kept coming back for the new pour with my diminutive tasting glass nearly full of beer. “Not for you?” he’d say. And I’d politely ask for half the amount for the tasting, claiming that “it’s more beer than I can handle.” Which is true because all beer is more beer than I can handle.

After the tour, we hopped over to Mission Pie where I expunged the taste of beer with banana cream pie. The three guys on my team prefer pie. Whatever. Still #cake4lyfe!

Mission Pie

 

After pie, it was just a short hop over to Urban Putt, an indoor miniature golf course with Rube Goldberg machines. You know what else Urban Putt has? Apparently, stressed out parents feebly attempting and failing to corral all their children ever. Some of whom were bossy and tried to cut us in line and offered way too many unsolicited and precocious mini-golf tips (which was much to the amusement of my manager Steve).

At one point, he ceded his position to let a toddler hurl her ball unsuccessfully in the general direction of the hole. “Oh, thank you! I love you,” cried her mother, “You can have my fourth born!”

(“Please, no,” said Steve.)

Team at Urban Putt

Guess who was THE BEST at mini-golf? (Best…if the most points wins!)

Urban Putt scores

 

So yeah, beer, pie, and screaming children at an enclosed mini-golf course. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Actually, it was quite an enjoyable fun afternoon. I feel lucky to have ended up at my current job, largely due to how cool my teammates are. They’re not only superb, very smart engineers, but they are great mentors and super-nice, hilarious people. WIN!