Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Local News


My pirate name is:

Mad Morgan Flint

Every pirate is a little bit crazy. You, though, are more than just a little bit. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from

Power Move

On Monday's The Show, Ze Frank asked for some power moves. Please note: Power moves are not about being cool, they're about being awesome.

Mostly because I could, I recorded my own power move:

P.S. I love my new Mac. <3

More JetBlue Awesomeness

If you can't make it to our Super Bowl party because you have to fly across the country, at least you can get some free beer!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Travel Bliss

On Friday night I flew to Toronto for the weekend. Before that, though, I spent a whopping 7 1/2 hours (no, that isn't a typo) at LaGuardia. Waiting. Sometimes patiently, sometimes, not so much. (Interestingly, both of the Air Canada flights from LGA to YYZ that were scheduled to leave after mine actually left hours before mine did. I chalk this up to something about airlines that I don't understand.)

Fortunately, I love traveling and I even love airports. There's an Ani DiFranco song that sums up my feelings quite nicely.

My recent flight home from California was on the Friday night redeye. I hate to admit this, but the older I get, the more aware I am that, while a good idea in theory, the redeye isn't so hot in practice. I hate the idea of spending a whole day traveling across the country, however, I just end up sleeping the whole day I get home. Anyway. The redeye on JetBlue has its advantages. In addition to the DirecTV and awesome snacks, passengers on these flights receive the Bliss Shut-Eye Kit.

My first experience with Bliss dates back to 2000, the year I first lived in NY. I was working at a company that shared office space with BBC America, and Ian, one of the radio reporters was doing a piece on Bliss. As part of the story, he had to bring someone to have a treatment at the spa. I eagerly volunteered to be his guinea pig, and the service (a Hot Salt Body Rub) was scheduled. (The weekend before the appointment, I fell asleep in Central Park with my t-shirt cleverly pulled up so that I could get some sun on my underexposed belly, which wasn't so smart, but we went ahead anyway.) The treatment was amazing, with the only drawback being that Ian basically saw me naked. It's kind of hard to jam a microphone in someone's face with your eyes closed, and it was a full-body treatment. (Trivia note: Bliss was started by a woman from Saskatchewan. Yay Canada!)

The Shut-Eye Kit is a brilliant cross-promotion between JetBlue and Bliss. It's a little ziplocky bag with an eye shade, earplugs, a teeny tiny sample of Lemon Sage Body Butter, and a one-use amount of minty lip balm. I love the Shut-Eye Kit. For one, it's free. Free stuff! On an airline! A discount airline, no less! Secondly, it contains really practical items. I'm not a huge fan of earplugs (they always fall out, except for those really squishy green ones, which these aren't), but the eye mask rocks, and wearing one really is the only way to sleep on an airplane. And, it's well-designed. Good design makes me happy.

So thanks, JetBlue, for kicking it up! I will admit though that I had absolutely no trouble sleeping, little kit of fun or not, when my flight finally left LGA at 1:30am on Friday. Er, Saturday.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

On The Mat

While recent UFF postings have been sporadic, I'm sure that my faithful readers (both of you) are keeping up using the wonders of modern technology (Praise RSS!) and you'll be happy to know that I have many inspiring entries in store. That pesky day job keeps getting in the way of blogging. Donations are welcome.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

During my recent trip to California, I had the opportunity to attend an introductory Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class at the Ralph Gracie Academy in Mountain View. I'm pretty sure that had such an excursion been suggested to me a few years ago, my response would have been a firm "Thanks but no thanks." However, given my recent forays into athleticism (see: Triathlon, Marathon, and Boxing), and safe in the knowledge that knowing nothing about martial arts AT ALL meant that I'd have nothing to prove, when MFD suggested it to me, and I believe somewhat to his surprise, I enthusiastically agreed to try it out.

The Academy is located in kind of a strip mall on El Camino Real in Mountain View. I borrowed a gi and changed in the bathroom, in which hung the sign: "Please! If you must throw up, do it in the toilet, not the sink. Thank You." Heh. And, ew.

I warmed up a little, and then one of the resident black-belts, Gumby, came over to help with my introductory lesson. He explained the principles of jiu-jitsu, and showed me a number of moves, including the oopa (mount escape), guard pass, and posture in guard. I practiced each one a bunch of times. I was kind of meh at some of them, including the bridge, which is strange because Urdhva Dhanurasana is one of my favourite yoga postures. He also showed me three attacks: the cross choke, the Americana shoulder lock (that's a good instructional video, but remember kids, these are trained professionals. Don't try this at home), and an armbar from mount. Watch out: If you lie still and don't defend yourself at all, I could really annoy you.

Both Gumby and MFD (who goes by Canada in these parts) were incredibly patient and encouraging, and the experience was surprisingly unintimidating. After about half an hour of instruction/practicing, Canada asked Don (whose nickname, if he has one, I didn't catch) to spar with me. Ack! So much for unintimidating. I kind of didn't want to do it, but hey, I was there, so I tried out my new moves.

In sparring that first time I learned something valuable: Jiu-jitsu is *hard*. Don, a brown belt, was very nice to me, and I'm quite aware of the fact that he could have kicked my ass from here to Sunday (read: effortlessly choked me unconscious and/or broken one of my limbs). Don, should you ever read this, thanks for not doing either of those things. I really like having two functioning arms. I tried to apply some of the stuff I'd learned, but in the moment, it was difficult to remember which hand went where and when. The technique seemed logical but complicated, and I really appreciated the amount of work these guys put into training.

To round out the experience, I watched Canada and Don spar for a while. To my untrained eye, these guys looked amazing. I also extra-want to keep both of them on my good side (see: unconsciousness, broken limbs).

Big thanks to everyone at the academy, including Batata (who runs the place), Gumby, Don, and Canada. I felt very welcome and would love to come back next time I'm in the Bay Area. ('Course then I wouldn't have that whole "know nothing" excuse to fall back on.)

Postscript: At lunch afterwards, almost immediately after we sat down, Don asked me how much I weigh. I told him, and he replied, "Yeah, you're pretty robust for a girl." I'm totally taking that as a compliment.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

MAXIMum Embarrassment

Yesterday morning when I arrived at work, there was a magazine (face-down) on my desk. On the magazine was a post-it note which read, "This was delivered to our building by mistake," and signed by one of our developers.

I turned it over, and it was the latest issue of Maxim. (I have no idea if that link is SFW; the cover of the magazine certainly wasn't.) Oh, and my name was on the address label.

Last year I bought something online and got one of those offers for a free (or super cheap) magazine subscription. As a joke, and because I like to keep abreast (literally) of what's in vogue in frat houses, I subscribed to Maxim.

Turns out the guy who brought it in lives a few doors down from me and apparently, of all things, that piece of mail was misdelivered. I love ya, USPS, but, ouch. This one's going to hurt our relationship.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Gillian (Yay it's really snowing!)
Originally uploaded by emptysquare.

First (big awesome) snowfall in NYC this year.
First blog post straight from Flickr.
First blog entry using my new MacBook.

I'm feeling awfully grateful these days.

(Thanks to Jesse for snapping this pic.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Oh my.

I just discovered that my mom's on Facebook.

I'm even too old for Facebook, and I'm only on there because Little Lisa, our Waterloo Co-op student last semester, told me it would make me cool. It didn't work for me, and it definitely isn't going to work for my mom.

In related news, I'm pretty proud of Mom for sending her first Evite last week, for her retirement party. Next thing you know she'll have some kind of retirement blog. I fear the internet is getting too easy to use. Web developers of the world, unite in the name of obfuscation!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

California Dreaming

My high school Geography teacher Mr. McDonald instilled the fear of God in me about the San Andreas Fault and told us all that California is non-ecumene* and that you couldn't pay him enough to live there.

Earthquake-schmearthquake: California kicks ass.

I'm here in the Bay Area this week, working remotely. The weekend included another feeble attempt at surfing (I got a bit further than when I tried last Spring, but still didn't get up on the board) and hanging out with this cool dude:

With 32+ years of experience at being a very enthusiastic person, I'm learning to that liking a lot of stuff is a pretty good problem to have. It's still a problem, though. Imagine, for example, if you went to Small Town, Iowa to visit someone. (Play along with me. Maybe it's your mom's cousin or something.) As you drive by the local diner, you glance in the window and see the locals sitting at the counter, and you immediately wonder what it would be like if that was *your* local diner, and they knew that on Sundays you liked your eggs over-easy and your bacon crisp and your coffee with milk instead of cream, and the waitress called you "Hon" (which, to me, is the sign of an excellent diner waitress). Anyway, that's kind of what happens to me whenever I go somewhere. I have imagined myself living everywhere from Paris, France to Paris, Ontario, usually much to the dismay of anyone to whom I've mentioned these grand fantasies. (On the large majority I don't actually follow through, but there were those 2 little cross-country moves.)

All of my wanderlust is particularly bubbly here in California, for a whole host of reasons, and also because even though I only lived here for 18 months back in 1998-2000, my friends here are like family.

Plus, the weather is really good. In January, 10°C is "cold." Everything is relative.

*Good word, eh? Despite his earthquake-alarmism, Mr. McDonald was a good teacher.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Round 2

This morning I met with John again for Boxing Day: The Sequel. He kicked my ass even harder this time. I shadow boxed! I jabbed! I uppercutted! I hit the speed bag! I did sit-ups and crunches and tricep dips!

Last week I picked up the book The Gleason's Gym Total Body Workout for Women, and learned that I was correct about the 3 minute rounds with the 1 minute rest in between. The point of this is to get your body used to going all-out for 3 minute intervals (the length of an actual round). It's really cool to learn about a whole new sport!

John told me today that his favourite boxing movie is Rocky (which I haven't seen!) and that The Champ made him cry. Another one I'll have to see is Raging Bull, which was filmed at Gleason's.

I'm going back on Friday. I hope I get to jump rope and try the sand bag soon!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

We rang in 2007 with a lot of Guitar Hero and champagne. I can almost guarantee some kind of entry that's actually worth reading tomorrow, after I've fully recovered. In the meantime, go take the Superhero Quiz.

I hope that this year is your best yet!

I am Spider-Man:
Intelligent, witty, a bit geeky and have great power and responsibility.

Wonder Woman
The Flash
Iron Man
Green Lantern

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...