July 4th, 2011

wirrn, FTW

Big Finish does Blake's 7!

I was thrilled to see the announcement today that Big Finish now has the license from B7 Enterprises to produce Blake's 7 audios and books. Looks like there will be "Companion Chronicle" style audios featuring the original cast. Nice!

I'm not at all clear on where this leaves the relaunched audio Blake's 7 series that B7 media launched a few years back and left on a giant cliffhanger. While I suppose the terms of the license could allow Big Finish to produce "classic" Blake's 7 adventures with the original cast while B7media continues with the relaunched series and new cast, I'm not sure that there's enough of a market for two ongoing Blake's 7 audio series. So, this is probably yet another sign that we're never going to get a resolution to that cliffhanger. Pity.
running, shoes

How to be your own personal trainer, part 1

It is a truth universally acknowledged that no one works out as hard by themselves as they do with a personal trainer.*

Alex Hutchinson, in Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? describes research that showed that people who were given the exact same exercise program to follow made greater strength gains when they worked out under the supervision of a trainer. You just work harder when someone's watching you. This kinda sucks, because very few people can do every workout under the supervision of a personal trainer. Even if I felt like spending the money, scheduling all those workouts would be a nightmare.

However, I have picked up a few tricks that have improved the quality of my trainerless strength training workouts:

  1. Music. According to Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? studies have shown that listening to music while working out improves performance. Interestingly, different kinds of music appear to be optimal for different kinds of exercise. For running, cycling, or other cardio exercise, fast paced music seems to have the best effect, whereas for weight training, "motivational lyrics" appear to be more important. I'm slowly refinish a weight lifting playlist. It does seem to help a bit.

  2. Accountability. A couple of workouts ago, I got down on the floor to do some knee pushups, and lay there thinking, "Crap, I can't do this." After lying there with my nose pressed to the carpet for a bit, I thought, "Okay, you can give up, but when you go to the gym on Wednesday, you have to tell your trainer that you wimped out and didn't do any pushups in your last workout." I promptly busted out 3 sets of 12. There's probably someone in your life - your spouse, a friend, your healthmonth team, your LJ friendslist - to whom you'd rather not admit failure. Or to whom you'd love to brag about a success. Use that.

  3. Lie to yourself. I hate planks. I hate ab work in general, but there's something particularly evil about the plank. Maybe it's because you expend an unholy amount of effort just to hold your body still. So, today, my workout plan was: squats, lunges, knee pushups, overhead press, and planks. And by the time I got to the overhead press, I was starting to feel tired. So, I said to myself, "Look, just give it everything you got on the overhead press, and we'll skip the plank." A deal I was more than happy to take. I did my 4 sets of overhead presses and I made them the best overhead presses I've ever done. And then had the following dialogue with myself:

    "Okay, now plank."

    "But you said..."

    "I lied. Plank."


    "Look, what's going to do you more good in the gym on Wednesday? Unbroken promises or strong abs?"


    Eventually, I will figure out that I am a lying liar who lies, and this trick will no longer work on me. I'm kind of hoping that by then I'll have learned to love the plank.

*Surely it's only a matter of time before someone capitalizes on the craze for all things Austen and releases Squats and Sensibility: The Thinking Girl's Guide to Looking Fabulous in a Ballgown and Being Able to Deadlift Mr. Darcy. I'd buy it.

Buried Treasures

I decided that a holiday Monday was a good day to tackle unpacking some of the old boxes in the garage. Every time Daniel and I move, we pack up n boxes of stuff. And then we unpack n-k boxes, where k is generally a small single-digit number. So, we've ended up with this small cache of boxes, some of which appear to date back as far as when I started grad school.

When we moved into this house, I decided that as a homeowner, I was going to be a responsible adult and Unpack All the Things. Since we've been in this house for a year, and the task is not yet complete, you may deduce that I have approached this with the same dispatch, alacrity, and ruthless efficiency with which I approach many of the tasks of responsible adulthood. However, I have made progress.

Today I hit a particularly venerable set of boxes and unearthed a number of treasures, including:

A stash of much-loved paperbacks, including Roger Zelazny's Nine Princes in Amber (which I think I own in at least 2 other editions now), the well-worn copy of Pat Cadigan's Mindplayers that my sister and I must have read ten times over between us the year it came out, the Radical Utopias omnibus containing Joanna Russ's The Female Man that I've been hunting for since discussing it at WisCon this year, and a number of much-loved Doctor Who novels that I thought I'd long since lost or given away. (Andy Lane's All-Consuming Fire and Kate Orman's The Left-Handed Hummingbird were both in that box.)

The second-best scarf in the world: A Dutch postal-worker's scarf (blue with shocking green and red stripes) that saw me through 4 New Haven winters. It's appallingly warm, and I missed it terribly when I was stuck in New York in a blizzard this past December. (The best scarf in the world doesn't exist yet. It's the 4th Doctor scarf I'm going to knit myself someday when I get my butt in gear and learn how to knit.)

A curious squarish bag, with a belt allowing it to be worn around the waist. I stared at this for quite some time before realizing that it was a bag for carrying a portable CD player. Ah, yes, those things that I listened to music and audiobooks on in the brief stretch of technological time between the Walkman and the iPod. The bag has two zippered compartments: one which is for the player itself, and has a little port for the headphone cord to go through, and the other of which has a dozen plastic sleeves for holding CDs. On inspection, these proved to hold the four discs of Cleopatra Records's Goth Box compilation, which I'm now ripping to iTunes.

I wonder what I'll uncover next?