Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Oh sheet

Not long ago I discovered that something I took for a fact is not always true. How do you make a bed?  Fitted sheet on the bottom, then a top sheet, then a comforter/duvet on top, and an extra blanket in between the sheet and the comforter if it's cold.  Right?  This just in:  not everyone makes their bed this way.  Australians typically use the fitted sheet on the bottom and then a duvet on top- that's right! No sheet! They routinely wash the duvet cover, so it's not as gross as I originally thought, but still, how do they regulate temperature when the only choice is duvet or no duvet? The sheet has its place- namely, when it's too hot to sleep with a duvet on top of you but you don't want to be completely uncovered.

I once said to my Irish flatmate something along the lines of "isn't it weird that Australians only put duvets on their beds and not a sheet?"  and she responded that that's how they do it in Ireland, and "sheets are for hotels and Americans."  I still think it's weird. Who sleeps without a sheet?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Anagram Generator

Time for some mindless fun:  I found an Anagram Generator online and the top anagram for my name is Needle Ennui.  Then I tried my sisters' names:  Drunken Rye and Reined Nun.  The anagram generator is now my favorite thing.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hot in Herre

Last Sunday, I decided that I was up for some sort of exercise but didn't feel like going for a run.  I googled nearby gyms and yoga studios to see what places had drop-in classes on Sunday afternoons, and the only one I found was a bikram yoga studio.  As in that hot yoga that's done in rooms typically over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and all classes are 90 minutes.  I've heard of it but never tried it before, mostly because it sounds horrible and disgusting.  Nevertheless, I decided to give it a shot.

The studio was very beginner friendly, which was nice, and since everyone is still on their January exercise kick, I wasn't the only first-timer.  They also didn't mention any bullshit about purifying your body of toxins or anything like that (scientist pet peeve: misuse of the word toxin). When I checked in, they told me to stay towards the back of the room and my goal would be to stay in the room the entire time, and to lie down if I didn't feel well.  I mentally added "don't faint or barf" to the list of goals.

I entered the room, and was a bit surprised to see lots of dudes (about 40% men, whereas every other yoga class I've been to is about 10%), and everyone was half naked.  (me, not so into working out in a sports bra).  So it began, and within the first ten minutes I was absolutely dripping in sweat, to the extent that I had trouble keeping my grip on some of the poses.  I did start to feel lightheaded a couple of times, but a quick glance around the room led me to discover that there were already a handful of people laying down on their towels so I followed suit until I felt better.  The second half of the class was all poses where you were already sitting or lying down, so that was a lot easier.  And it actually went by pretty quickly- before I knew it, we were on the final breathing exercises.  I didn't hate it but I must say I prefer regular yoga.

The studio charges $19 per class, but they run a special for first-timers in which the next nine days after your first class for free.  The cheapskate in me loves a bargain, so I did go back again a couple of days later, with the new goal of actually doing all of the poses and not lying down on my towel.  It was a lot easier the second time, although still as sweaty as ever.   And I just might go again today.

I haven't become a bikram yoga convert or anything, but it does seem like a good way to keep my muscles loose for the upcoming soccer season, so I think I'll try to fit in a class every couple of weeks or so.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Home for the holidays

I'm not a big fan of holiday travel...basically, if you want to fly internationally during late December, it's double the price, and seems to come along with a greater risk of delays due to weather and business (or maybe the risk is the same, but it's way more annoying when your $2900 flight gets cancelled than your $1400 one). And maybe I'm a bit of a Scrooge but I'm just not that into Christmas- Thanksgiving is more my speed in terms of holidays. However, since I was in Australia for the last Christmas I felt a bit bad about missing two in a row so I made the trip back to Massachusetts.
Of course my flight got cancelled, which put in in a pretty sour mood, but at least the one day delay allowed me to attend my institute's Christmas party, where once again, the nutbush happened.
In total, I was home for 7 days and it was pretty jam-packed. I packed a couple of boxes of Christmas crackers in my suitcase (and did start worrying about halfway through the flight that they might be considered an explosive...whoops) and brought them to Christmas dinner- my nieces were not that impressed but the adults really enjoyed the bad jokes and paper crowns. My grandmother kept her crown on for the whole day. The rest of the week was spent hanging out with the family, catching up with friends, and eating at some of my favorite places (Mexican! Sushi! La Cantina! Framingham Bakery Pizza!). Unfortunately, I didn't have time to do a big night out in the city with my Boston friends, nor a lengthy trip to the mall- two of my favorite vacation activities. So although I had a great time, I'm already looking forward to my next trip back.

What I read and watched on the plane:

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin. I picked up this collection of short stories set in Pakistan due to the National Book Award finalist seal on its cover, but it lingered on my bookshelf for ages. The stories feature various characters in modern Pakistan, most of whom are somehow linked to K.K. Harouni, a wealthy landowner whose fortunes and influence are on the decline as the feudal system becomes outdated. Despite its critical acclaim, I didn't like the book- it all felt a bit too cold and distant, and my biggest problem was with the depiction of women, the majority of whom were young peasants who sleep with their employers, with the main exception being a rich socialite who cheats on her new husband. I don't know much about Pakistan, but surely there are Pakinstani women who aren't sex slaves or sexpots.

Nightwoods, by Charles Frazier. This novel, which tells the story of a reclusive young woman who becomes the caretaker of her niece and nephew after her sister's murder, was very different (much shorter and paired down) from the epic Cold Mountain, and I didn't love it, but I did like it.


Our Idiot Brother- Paul Rudd as a stoner who causes upheaval in his sister's personal and professional lives. Pretty good.

The Way- Martin Sheen stars in this Emilio Estevez-directed film as a man who ends up walking El Camino de Santiago, a famous pilgrimage route in Spain. Not surpising that they didn't find a role for Charlie. The kind of movie my parents would love.

A Better Life- A father in struggling to raise his son as an illegal immigrant in L.A. A surpising choice for an airplane movie.

Real Steel- Hugh Jackman, Kate from Lost, a little boy, and fighting robots. Awful but entertaining at the same time.

Crazy, Stupid, Love- Steve Carrell stars as a family man who goes through something akin to a mid-life crisis after his wife cheats on him. I had high expectations and thought it was okay but not as funny or edgy as I would have hoped. The babysitter was my favorite character.
Crazy, Stupid, Love

Monday, January 02, 2012

2011: The Year in Review

So I've been a bit slack with the old blog lately, but I'll stick to my tradition of the year end post. 2011 started of shaky but ended up turning into a banner year- I finally had some scientific success that included two publications, I paid off the credit card debt that had been haunting me since 2003, and I found a great group of friends here in Melbourne, people who make me feel like myself and make this place feel like a home.

I can't really list a song of the year, nor a movie of the year, because, frankly, my finger has slipped off the pulse of pop culture. And a lot of the Oscar buzz movies haven't been released in Australia yet. The Muppet movie opens Jan 12th and I am stoked!

But without further ado:

TV Addictions of the Year:
1. Top Gear (British version)- who would have thought that a show featuring British men and cars would be so damn entertaining? But it's great!

2. The Graham Norton Show- My fellow Americans, we have been deprived of the BEST talk/interview late night show in the world. It's so much better than celebrity appearances on Leno or Letterman- Graham's guests have actual conversations, I mean, you get to hear Rhianna talk about an awkward experience with a bikini waxer rather than 30 seconds of plugging her latest album. The format helps viewers get a sense of what celebrities are actually like, as does the fact that the host is a quick-witted gay Irishman. Bradley Cooper? As charming as you think he is. Rob Lowe? Kind of a stiff. Chris Martin? Way less of a douche than I imagined! Elijah Wood? Not only is he the star of Lord of the Rings, he's also a complete nerdy fanboy.

3. Deadwood. I never caught this HBO Western when it aired a few years ago, so I've been watching it on DVD and love it! The characters and dialogue are fantastic; the writers must have had such a great time working on this show. And if you don't like it, you must be a hooplehead.

Places Visited:
Helsinki, Finland
South Island, New Zealand
Newport, RI
Mt. Hotham, Port Fairy, and Dalyesford, Australia
Framingham, MA

Visitors (new category!):
Ern in March
Yuki and Jonathan in April
Kim in October

Most shocking event of 2011:
I went skiing...and liked it.

Most commented post of 2011:
This somewhat melodramatic (and embarrassing in hindsight) one about my break up. But thanks for the love, people.

Literary Addiction of the Year:
The Hunger Games trilogy.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting, and I will try to post with a little more frequency in the new year. Best wishes to all for a wonderful 2012!