Sunday, June 21, 2009

Make Running Easy and Fun!

I know, I know. Impossible, right?
Well this is something I began looking up on a few weeks ago as my sister convinced me to move my exercise routine from the gym on the elliptical to the outdoors on a trail.
Now I know running can be daunting, and it can continue to be so long as you live whether you are a couch potato, a moderately active person, or even a marathon runner... but guess what?

You don't know how to run.

No, really. You don't know how to run, and this is why: no one has ever told you how!

We learn how to ride a bike, we learn how to kick a ball correctly, or the best way to coordinate breathing and stroking in the water, but we don't ever really learn how to run- we just do it. And that is most people's problem. I mean, why wouldn't we want to know the best way to hold ourselves and how specifically to move just like in any other activity?

Thankfully we don't have to figure out how to do all of that ourselves. Some crazy old man did it already! Russian scientist Nicholas Romanov invented the Pose Method of running to improve performance of the Olympic athletes he coached. People claim that running is infinitely easier when adopting this technique which allows them to not only experience less pain but to also run faster and for longer periods. Most people use a heel-to-toe method and they are working themselves too hard!

The pose is pretty simple- but a bit difficult to articulately explain.
To assume the position:
1. stand straight up (just to begin :))
2. slightly bend your knees
3. stand on the balls of your feet (contact of heels to the ground slows you down and causes too much pressure) DO NOT shift weight onto the toes.
4. lean forward at the waist until almost falling over (to provide forward motion)
5. Flick one foot up at a time toward the buttocks using your hamstrings.
DO NOT kick your feet up hard, as they should naturally raise with little effort
DO NOT ever let your feet cross the imaginary line from your head to the ground

Think of this as almost like how a fish would swim (okay that is totally awful example) You are not using the motion of your legs to cause you to move forward, but rather the angle of your body. The more you lean, the faster you will travel, employing gravity to do some of the work for you. The legs merely serve as a sort of automatic propeller. This form is seen all throughout nature, including in the cheetah and I mean hey, they are pretty fast.
For more info google it, lazy.

Okay so that was the more scientific portion of the post, now for the ridiculous aspect. Fun running tips (some of which are weird and debatably boring)
1. Run with music.. duh
2. Count all of your steps: for the math obsessed
3. Try to run without touching shadows
4. Try to make your whole trip without letting anyone see you: for the spy movie enthusiast
5. Run with a friend or a dog
6. Run to a destination like a pool
7. Try not to run in the same place twice
8. If you live somewhere awesome take a run by the landmarks (I live in DC during the school year and am looking forward to running around the reflection pool at the Washington monument and to running through the National Zoo!)
9. Run to somewhere where there is a reward and then WALK back home, releasing lovely endorphins
10. Sing! It is great for your lungs and is a fun distraction. Also it is great training to prepare for a vocal show
11. Hop, then skip, then run backwards, run sideways, do walking lunges, and repeat.
12. Try to beat your personal best
13. Run with someone attractive, it can be quite the motivator.
14. Run for a cause!
Yay, that is my list.
Have fun!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Downloading: A Biased Opinion

So Thursday a Minnesota woman was given the ruling on a court case in which she was accused of violation of copyright. The woman, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, is a 32 year old single mother of four. She is being charged a total of $1.92 million. And how many songs did she download? Twenty-four. 24. four and twenty. That is about $80,000 per song.

Just a bit harsh I think.

So what lesson does this teach us? Don't download illegally? Not likely. Lets have some honesty here. Most people don't download music, this is true. But when narrowing down to our demographic of computer users to those who have the knowledge of even how to do such a thing, we get into an age range of 15-30 (with obvious outliers). Then we take into account who has the money to buy music and can narrow a bit more to 15-22 (especially since past that age most people pretty much have their music collection set). The lower portion of this group of people more often than not is listening to crappy music which I would NEVER spend a dollar on, let alone 80,000 of them. Not of course that that is really an argument, but still.
So here IS an actual argument: Free advertisement.
Guess what? Music is for free everywhere. Youtube is a prime example of this. If one wanted to they could just download a video off youtube and move it to their ipod. Its not hard. For a while there youtube was muting videos with copyrighted music. Stupid. Then youtubers complained, and now we see little popup ads at the bottom of videos, providing links to the itunes store for the song playing. Smart.

The same sort of rule should be applied, but modified.
This holds very true for movies and tv shows. People will download them to watch them, but usually you can't get great quality, or a version which can play in a dvd player. This automatically pushes people to buy the real deal. Companies also have learned to reel people in by putting some great extras on the dvd.
The same has held true for music. Something as simple as great artwork can draw someone in to buying a CD. Offering deals online for whole albums at cheap prices in addition to giving the customer a discount at the band's store or entering them in a contest for tickets to their show. Something. Be inventive. I mean yes, people should support artists and buy their music, and they shouldn't be involved in illegal activities, BUT today is a new age. We are used to getting things fast and free. (I'm honestly more interested in how they are going to deal with newspapers going out of business!)
But even then there is something to be said for the actual act of purchasing art. Many many many times a person will still go buy the CD or DVD even if they first downloaded it and even if there are no *extras* because ultimately our subconscious works us into it. The real product plays into our brains just as having a brand name item of clothing does. It feels official, we have bragging rights, we are supporting who we like, not to mention it is transient and we are a nation of materialists!
You can continue to charge and incriminate people, but the internet and the people who use them are just far too innovative to prevent the transfer of information. So there it is. People are going to do it. You just make yourselves look like douchebags when you freak out about it. Quit complaining about "theoretical dollars", move on.


I would like to share something with you.

I found this a few years back, and I still find myself strangely hypnotized.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Movie Review: The Brothers Bloom

Dear reader, go see The Brothers Bloom (Rian Johnson, 2009)
I went and saw this last week with my sister at her request, and didn't have time to go look up IMDB and check out the specs, and was pleasantly surprised.

I wouldn't call myself a movie snob by any means, I don't wrinkle my nose at going to a movie like Twilight for the pure mindless entertainment, and I am an avid lover of Cane Toads (best documentary ever made). But I will have my degree in film in a few years, and that gives me at least an ounce of credibility, right? I have seen hundreds of films, but I still get all worked up about going to the cinema or renting a movie (or *other* methods) and I think loving it is what really gives me any right to judge them.

I promise not to say too much; I tent to get over excited about things like this. I'm not going to give you a plot synopsis per se, but here is the general idea: Two orphaned brothers Bloom (Adrien Brody) and Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) discover at an early age they have a knack for conning their way to whatever goal they desire. The older designs the elaborate plots whereas the younger (Bloom) seems to do more of the legwork. We see early on that living their life creating relationships is both very isolating and seems to weigh heavily on Bloom. Cut to them grown and experienced with Bloom wanting to get out of his lifestyle. Along with their acquired sidekick Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi), a silent Japanese explosives expert, the brothers embark on their last con of an eccentric lonely young millionairess (Rachel Weisz). Enter the love story. I will say no more.

What is great about this movie is it is entirely unpredictable, as you are constantly trying to decide what is a con and what is real, and asking the question "Does it really matter?" We see some great devices throughout, some slapstick comedy, Brechtian distancing paired with ironic results, and the use of symbolism is present but not overwhelming.

Now this might sound pretentious: I absolutely adore the integration of some classic Russian cinematic moments, and they were nicely paired with the whole idea of the Russian novel being similar to the cons, the references to the Russian mobsters for the big finish, and the crazy cameo by Maximilian Schel (who I swore was Sean Connery the whole time!).
The characters are the real beauty here though. They pull you in and you actually like them, as unbelievable as they would seem in the real world. Bang Bang was superb despite only saying three words the whole film, notably: "Campari".

I hate to say "I laughed, I cried", but yes I certainly laughed and had to fight back tears at one point, shh don't tell. Go see it. You will enjoy it immensely even if you know jack squat about film, and will love it even more if you do. I expect good things from Rian Johnson who has only directed one other film (Brick in 2005) and has had pretty solid positive critiques, and he's only 35 so I imagine there will be a lot more coming from him.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Awkward Families Part I

My first installment of awkwardness. More to come.

I hope this picture was taken by accident. First off, why is Julie Andrews in this photo? Is this the Von Trapp family in the Sound of Music Sequel: Liesl's revenge? You are 50, going on DEAD. This of course poses the question at to why Liesl here is so angry, and how she is performing the fabled mind control on her brother. And Mr. Man on the left is just screaming wtfery. He is possibly a priest... but I suppose this is his secret family. Perhaps he has gotten away with this by masquerading as a gym teacher.

Simply put: This is why I love gingers (and simultaneously proof they are evil).

And lastly:

This is just sex. All family members are wearing matching Sears shirts. All family members are wearing pink bunny ears- except that is, for Mom. Mom is wearing BLACK bunny ears. Was she a bad bunny? Is that why she is wearing her come-hither face? Well regardless, the one thing which holds firm in logic is the stuffed moose (or perhaps reindeer) she is holding. With that our trust can be reestablished in the normalcy here.

I hope everyone revelled in that.

Check out more photos at

This is Life Changing

Recently a friend of mine directed me to this website:

And my life changed forever.

Basically this product is hilarious (albeit useful). It is called the P-Mate, and simply put it lets girls pee standing up! So guys, you may not quite realize the epic win this really is, because let's face it you have the P-Mate v. 1.0, and have never had to deal with pulling off your entire wardrobe when in a tight spot.

The P-Mate is like a cardboard funnel, which is easily placed under your hooha (why I am resorting to strange euphemisms, I don't know) if you just move your panties, and stick the other end out of your shorts/jeans/skirt, pointing where ever you want.

Amazing, huh? No more wet shoes or clothes, awkward squatting, or finding the most remote place possible to pee! I mean it is great for camping, for people like me who go running outdoors, and best of all for drunk girls leaving clubs!

The product is based in Canada, but I am sure it will make it's way down south, or at least will be ripped off by another manufacturer! The P-Mate is biodegradable, made of recycled material, can be folded up, and doesn't get soggy. Basically it is perfect.

Hey! Maybe now we can experience the joy of writing our names in the snow!!!


So this is pretty old, but I am always surprised by the number of people who have never seen it. I love this story, basically it's ridiculously adorable.

The first time I saw this I could have sworn that the lion was trying to bite the guys head off at first. Unfortunately I fear this will raise false hopes of a pet lion/wolf/ tiger in many 12 year kids... considering it gave me that dream.

Add-Art Love

So being a lover of most things technological and geeky, as well as being a student in the modern world, I spend a lot of time online. Now there are certainly drawbacks to the internet, some which are obvious and direct and some subtle and indirect like let's say, having no social life in the real world (or the rw as they say). Since internet has existed the need to make money off of it has also existed. Today as the idea of free information takes over, the use of advertisements has become a primary method of sites with heavy traffic to create profit. Ads on the internet have honestly become less invasive over the years, with sites using subtler integration (such as inlaid background images) and less annoying popup windows with seisure inducing graphics and peircing noises.
However this doesn't mean everyone is still all hunkydory with seeing ugly blocky graphics and text- we want something aesthetically pleasing! Well now thanks to American artist Steve Lambert, us Firefox users can experience less ads and more art with a free ad-on called Add-Art ( This thing is neat-o. You just install it, and it will automatically replace ads with artwork, AND I think about every two weeks new art is cycled in. Some of the art is cute animation, some is warped still life, odd photography, classic images... I really haven't had it longer than two months, so that is the extent of how many genres I can honestly claim it has.

Here is my Yahoo home before with a big Progressive ad, staring at me.

And here is a screenshot of my Yahoo home after addart, with some crazy Ganesha in neon.

Right now they have been using modified religious imagery and old timey looking book drawings. It always changes.
BUT some people mights find the app alightly annoying if only because it doesn't automatically block everything. Here is the demo from the website:
Some items it will replace, no problem, but sometimes the ads are still there and you have to click a little button on it's corner that saus block. Although that might just be me not bothering to mess around with the settings! But it doesn't bother me to have to do that.
The app also doesn't block pop-ups, but most people have something which already does that.
Lambert also makes another clever addon called Self-Control ( which can bar you from checking your e-mail or other addictive techno innovation for a set time. This is of course something I could never have enough self-control to do, but I think many probably need :)

So anyway props to Steve, he has cauhgt my attention by playing in to my obsessive techno-joy. Maybe I'll spend an unhealthy amount of time browsing his site!

Three Star Tattoo?

Here we see what can only be described as moronic... or entirely hardcore (it is a very thin line to walk).
Kimberley Vlaminck, 18, hails from Belgium, the land of three languages... which is perhaps what led to the 56 trampstamps displayed on her face. This loverly art (?) cost Kimberly € 50, but the possibly drunken desiscion might cost the artist, Rouslan Toumaniantz, about €10,650.
Kimberley here says she fell asleep after requesting 3 (three... TROIS) stars near her eye, and awoke to... well, this. Now this accusation begs a few questions immediately, as in: How do you fall asleep when your FACE is being jabbed with a needle repeatedly??? Obviously if in fact the teen was unconscious as she claims, she was likely either drunk or high on some sort of substance.
Meanwhile Toumaniantz is not having any of this! He maintains that the girl REQUESTED this. He claims Kimberley was very pleased with his work until after encountering her father and boyfriend, who were just not too pleased with the addition of a constellation to the face of their pride n joy. Diego Vlaminck even went so far as to say that Toumaniantz hypnotized his poor daughter, who only wanted a tattoo so as to continue on the tradition of tattoos in her family, which is of course why Diego was paying for the ink.
Toumaniantz assures he did not hypnotize the girl, and certainly could never have tattooed so many stars in such a sensative area without the girl's compliance. The only other possible probem which could have led to the law suit is simple misscomunication. While Kim speaks both Dutch and French, she says the tattoo artsis only spoke fractured English and French... no word yet on what his native tongue is, but his cadance in his intervies seems perfect!
He says Kim "was awake and looked into the mirror several times as the proceedure was taking place." But the girl says her life has been ruined, and she feels like a circus freak. boo hoo. The laser removal she is suing for certainly won't remove everything. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but concidering I am more prone to belive the artist in this one, I think the chick needs to learn to own it. In more conservative situations she can always just cover it up with an opaque base makeup. Although if her story is true and I was her, the claimed damages would be a little higher.

Well either way I suppose Kimberley got exactly what she wanted... if you look at the shape, the tattoo is technically a 3 Star Tattoo...

Sunday, June 14, 2009


This is new, and I'm slightly excited, all giddy. What will I write about? Will people read this who know me? Who don't know me? Joy.
Well let's get started! It seems a bit douchelike to actually outline what I am going to be writing about on a blog, but I might as well go ahead. I'm going to do some nice Joycian free flow word vomit, talk about scientific discoveries and questions I find interesting, chronicle my life in a limited manner dependent on my paranoia of vulnerability, become over excited about course work, unabashedly display poetry, discuss philosophy, post current events with commentary, and be generally self involved.
Right now is a great time for me to start this as I am taking no summer courses and have no job, so we'll see what happens :)