I did it! (Mostly)

Today is Sunday and you knot what that means…. yet another attempt at the 10k! This time I have better news than I did last week. This week I made it! Well, mostly. I DID go 10k, in 1 hour 9 minutes 44 seconds, but I have to admit that I walked about 1 or 1.2km of it. STILL! I DID IT!

Something I learned today (there’s always something to learn) is that if I go out running, and the sun is shining, and it’s later than 8am and it’s between June and September, go with a full head of WET hair.

This morning I left the house at about 10:15 and headed for Sloterplas. It was sunny. It will probably rain tonight as it’s really muggy, but for now it’s really warm and sunny. The route around Sloterplas is about 80% shaded but for the 20% in the sun it just about stopped me in my tracks. The sun is not my friend. Never has been. Or should I say, HEAT is not my friend. On my 10k run this morning I ended up walking through some of the sunny parts since I just couldn’t take the heat. I felt like an ant under the magnifying glass being sizzled by focused sunlight.

(Did you do that as a kid? I remember playing with my cousins at Grandma and Grandpa G’s house. We would take a big round magnifying glass and hunt down ants in the sunshine, focus the light beam on the ants and watch them sizzle and burn. I felt guilty every time and prayed to God that he would forgive me for being so mean and nasty to these innocent ants, then gleefully go search for more. Such is childhood.)

At the 3km point I opened up my little water bottle that hangs on my belt and drank a little and poured a little more over my head. Ahhh that felt good. Next time, start with a wet head and save your water for drinking.  With the water, and walking part of the sunny spots, I managed to make the 10k without any damage to body or soul. My legs felt great! I guess the last week of no running really did me some good.

The second thing I learned today is that running is as much mental as physical.  I decided on the way to Sloterplas that I would run the marked route to the 5km mark, then turn around and run the opposite direction back to the starting point.  It felt right.  It felt proper.  It felt organized and good to end up at the end/start point right at the distance I was aiming for.  It made me feel like it was really possible.  And THAT my friends is key to being able to do just about anything.

Of course any real athlete knows this already.  But I’m just a beginner, at this middle age, and have to learn everything like a beginner.  I just wonder what the next lesson will be?

WordPress upgrade success (eventually)

This morning I upgraded to WordPress 2.6 which is not as easy as the WordPress.org writers would lead you to believe. They say it’s a 3 step process. Sure. But some of the steps have sub-steps and then it may not be right. I don’t mind doing this, as I like a challenge and I like tech chores, but I can imagine this is pretty intimidating for a lot of people.

After doing the ftp file copy, deleting and carefully keeping my template files, I fired up my blog only to see that all my categories and link categories were GONE! Well, they weren’t exactly GONE but the descriptions were gone and of course it’s the descriptions that are shown on the site.

After searching around a bit I found this page, which explained exactly how to fix it. THANKS DAVID! So I went from THIS (I was in process of fixing it so the last 3 had been fixed already):

Back to the correct THIS:

Ahhh, back to normal. I also had to edit the link categories because the headings to all my blogroll lists were also gone.

The next step is to find a new template. Maybe not today. We’ll see. I’m so afraid that if I change templates I’ll lose all my blogroll stuff altogether which would be a real bummer. I HAVE backed up everything (having learned from lots of previous disasters).

I’ve been blogging with this template for almost a year now so it’s time for a change. You’ll see it first!

Under Construction (again)

It’s a quiet Sunday morning and what does a good girl geek do? Upgrade her blogging software of course! I’ve just finished upgrading WordPress to version 2.6 and now I notice my template is doing funny things. Stay tuned! All should be back to normal shortly.

I am looking for a new template though so the site might look different from what you last saw. Since I’m “underdutchskies” I’d like to use something that looks either more Dutch or more like Dutch skies. We’ll see what I can come up with.

I also have to find some time to attempt that 10km run today. More news on that later! For now, I’m listening to Calexico, which is streaming wirelessly over the G4 Cube music server to the stereo, and I’m enjoying this very geeky morning. 🙂

N is for Needles

I have been collecting tools of the craft for a long time. Here’s what I have at this moment:

You notice I don’t have any long straight needles that most people think of when they think of knitting needles. I quit using that kind of needle years ago and got rid of the ones I had. I much prefer knitting with circular needles. I have some sets of double pointed needles for small round knitting, like socks and sleeves and hats.

In January I ordered my first set of interchangeable tips, from KnitPicks, and I really love love love them. I also have 3 pairs of KnitPicks small circulars for sock knitting. KnitPicks does have issues with quality control (I had 1 bad interchangeable and one of the circulars broke right away) but they replaced these right away without question. Their needles are such a joy to work with that it’s worth any hassles. One of the biggest hassles with KnitPicks is that they don’t ship outside the U.S.!! Why oh why? I can’t think of any reason why a company wouldn’t ship outside the U.S. I have to order things and have them shipped to my mom and she sends them on to me.

I like their needles so much that just last week I ordered their set of double pointed needles, once again in wood. Mom will bring them with her when she comes in September. It’s not only that they feel good in your hands, they are just slippery enough, and the points are really pointy, but they are also really beautiful to look at. See?

OK, that’s enough advertising for KnitPicks!

Other ‘nitting news: I’ve joined the Ravelympics over at Ravelry. You have to be a member of Ravelry to play. The rules are: cast on during the Opening Ceremonies and cast off no later than the Closing Ceremonies, which gives you 17 days to complete a project. The project is yours to choose. There are teams and events you can join. I’ve joined the “Lace Longjump” and I will work on the Travelling Roses Lace Scarf using blue Malabrigo. Here’s the original:

I’m not a fast knitter but I figure since this is a scarf, I can just bind off no matter how far I am during the Closing Ceremonies and call it a finished scarf! That’s not cheating is it! DB said, right away, “You know we’re MOVING during the Olympics.” What he really meant to say is “You know we have to paint our entire house and pack everything and work full time during the Olympics so I have no idea when you’ll have time for yet another project!” He’s right of course. But I still want to try.

Today I will finish the mystery socks that can’t be shown. I plan to write up the pattern tomorrow and hopefully have that finished in the next week. But the hard part is getting good photos for these socks. Knitty only uses really good photos so I’d better think of something clever asap.

Also in project news, I’m nearly finished with the first spiral kitchen rug that I’m crocheting. Unfortunately, it’s not very thick and doesn’t feel very rug-like. I think I will have to make two of them and sew them together back to back. I’ve got plenty of that cotton ribbon to do so. I just hope I’m not totally and completely bored to death with it before I finish it. I don’t want it to become a UFO!

Today’s Lesson

Every time I go out running I learn something.  Every single time.  I start to wonder each time I put on my Adidas “what light bulb will go on this time?”.  Today’s lesson:  Don’t Get Cocky.

Last Sunday I ran 9km and thought I had this running thing all figured out.  I felt great.  I decided to start running 3 days a week, but to keep the week days really minimal.  Wednesday I ran 2.5km.  Friday I ran 2.5km.  I felt fine. No problems at all.  I was really feeling like today’s goal of 10km would also be doable without a problem.

Of course that’s when you get hit from behind by that person who keeps you humble.  As I wrote just a little earlier, it rained most of today so I didn’t put on the running shoes until 3pm.  The rain stopped and I figured it was now or never.

I also thought that I didn’t need to bike over to Sloterplas – I would RUN there instead and run around the park and then run back home.  That should be about 10km.

Immediately I realized that that wouldn’t work.  I had to warm up first.  I did a brisk walk from home to the park for my warm up.  I needed that much time just to feel at all like running.

When I got to the park I started running my usual route.  After only 2km I stopped to walk.  My legs ached.  My hips ached.  I could barely move.  Damn.  This was not the sharp pain of shin splints – I seem to be over that stage at least.  This was just overall aching in my calves and knees and butt and hips.  This was the result of doing too much too soon.

I managed to make it through 7.5 long km’s today, but I walked 1/3 of them.  It was humbling.  It was a setback.  It was certainly a learning experience.  I learned today that I can’t continue to increase my weekend long run AND start running more days per week.  Lesson learned.  Won’t do it again.

On a lighter note:  How do you know when you are a real runner?

When you have already moved your bowels that day but during your run you suddenly, out of the blue, have this huge urge to take a crap.  This has never happened to me before.  I only read about these things happening and you see it on tv when runners suddenly dive into a porta-potty.  Today at 6.5km this hit me.  At 6.75km I decided I’d better stop running and just walk because my sphincter isn’t THAT strong!  I made it home ok and took care of business.  Sheesh.


Today was the kind of Sunday I’ve been longing for for months.  I only did fun things.  I only did things that I really wanted to do.  What a luxury!  What a relief!  And the weather cooperated perfectly by raining nearly all day so it was easy to hang out in your jams and read blogs, and listen to music, watch a little tv, do some knitting and make scrambled eggs.  Ahhhhh.

I was getting just a tiny bit bored with the socks-that-can’t-be-shown-online so I decided to break the day by starting a new project that I really would like to have done before we move to our new house IN ONLY 1 MONTH!!  I seem to always do this to myself – start a project with a deadline.  Don’t I have enough pressure in my life?  Am I a stress junky?

Luckily this new project is dead easy and works up very very fast.  It’s crochet.  GASP!  Yes!  Crochet!  The sad step sister to knitting.  I haven’t crocheted anything in 30 years, but it was the first yarn craft I learned to do and was quite good at it once upon a time.  It’s just like riding a bike.  Your hands never forget.

I know there will be offended crocheters out there, and I’m sorry, but crochet is just not nearly as interesting as knitting.  There’s only so much you can do with a hook.  After knitting that lace shawl, the idea of crocheting lace just seems like child’s play.  But, and here’s the BUT with this project, the designers of this thing are mathematicians.  Everything they design is based on mathematics.  Too cool.

I’m making something very simple, a spiral in two colors, designed by the folks at Woolly Thoughts.  They describe it as: “Mathematically, this is an Archimedean Spiral. That means it moves out from the centre by the same distance on each rotation.”

They designed this to be a chair cushion cover, but I’m making it with heavy cotton ribbon and it will be a kitchen rug for our new kitchen.  I’d like to make 2 of them.  I’ll probably have enough yarn left over to also make dish cloths.  I bought this ribbon stuff on a really big sale so I bought a lot of it and I’ve had absolutely no idea what to do with it until someone on Ravelry suggested I make dishcloths with it.  I then thought of kitchen rugs and then found this pattern.  Cool!  Here’s what I made in about 20 minutes:

You should check out the Woolly Thoughts website.  They do some very interesting things with math and design and knitting.  I especially like “Penrose” and wouldn’t mind making it someday.  Geometry in action!

M is for Muisjes

Muisjes (pronounced “mouse-yuhs”) mean literally “little mouses”.  Ok “little mice” in proper English.  According to Wikipedia,  they got that name because anise seeds look like little mice, and the flavor of these little candy balls is that of anise.  The little balls look more like mouse turds, but that’s just my warped sense of humor.

And why would you be served these little treats?  Again, according to Wikipedia, and those writers know everything, as far back as the 17th century people were served hard dry biscuits, with a spread of butter, and topped with muisjes when a baby is born.  You used to be able to get only white muisjes.  In the 20th century they started making pink and white ones.  Only very recently (in the memory of 30 somethings now having kids) could you also get blue and white ones.  Now, when a baby boy is born, and visitors come to see the new arrival, they are served muisjes, just like you see above.

Our next door neighbors just had a baby boy.  He is absolutely adorable (really), is only just 2 weeks old, and already has a personality different from his 3 year old sister.  As someone who doesn’t have kids, this whole newborn thing is fascinating to me.  We were there yesterday, our second visit to the baby F.  And we were served the above photographed muisjes.

Muisjes are very crunchy, and taste faintly of black licorice, the biscuits underneath are very dry and hard and kind of tasteless.  They aren’t anything you would be tempted to serve at any other time.  No one ever says “Man I wish someone would have a baby so I could get muisjes!”  They are traditional, and sweet and nice, but certainly not special for the food part of it.  It’s just another “only in the Netherlands” kind of thing that I think is really special and sets this place apart from other places.

On Pattern Writing

My body clock is something I can really count on.  Even on the weekends I’m awake between 6 and 6:30 because that’s the time I get up during the week.  Sleeping in is a thing of the past.  This also makes jet lag something very painful for me.  Today is no exception.  It’s 7:45 in the morning and I’ve already had coffee and read a magazine and have written this blog post in my head in bed.

I was laying in bed musing about my latest knitting project.  I can’t show it to you.  I’m designing my own socks and am planning to submit the pattern and photos to knitty.com and hopefully I’ll be published!  The rules are, you can’t have published anything about your project before it is published on knitty, and this includes your own website, which makes sense.  That would spoil the exclusiveness of the first publication.  So you’ll just have to imagine that I’m designing a pair of socks, and while you are imagining this, please imagine that they are fantastic.

Anyway, yesterday while jogging I was listening to the caston podcast and Brenda said that she just isn’t able to design on the needles.  After thinking about this, I realized that I am able to do this.  My iPhone case was designed on the needles.  And my mystery sock project was also designed on the needles.

After doing a couple of swatches to get the gauge and needle size right, I just cast on what I thought would be the right number of stitches and knit the first sock without a plan, and without writing anything down as I went along.  The sock came out perfect and I don’t need to change a thing.  But that not writing anything down as I went along was kind of stupid.  Now that I’m working on the second sock and HAVE to write everything down in order to write up the pattern for submission, I have to look at the first sock and remember what I did and try to deconstruct it in my head.  So far I have been successful in figuring out what I did, but it makes writing the pattern slower than it needs to be.

This is the first pattern submission I’ve ever done.  Writing patterns I’m discovering is rather tedious.  But at the same time, I think I’m good at it.  I’m probably good at it because I like to READ knitting patterns.  Now, in my morning musings, I’m finding that rather curious.  Why would someone like to read knitting patterns just for the sake of reading them?

When I get a new knitting magazine I like to read the patterns, even if I have no intention of knitting the item.  I’ve had to consciously back away from the computer and Ravelry because I started spending too much time reading patterns and not getting any knitting done.  I have a growing library of knitting books that I like to browse and see how the patterns are written and how things are constructed.

I think that this boils down to the fact that I am a technician at heart.  I learned how to sew my own clothes at a young age and have always been interested in how clothing is constructed.  If I had the time and money I’d take apart the front wheel of my bike to see how the dynamo for the light and the breaks are built into the hub of the wheel (ingenious!).  One of my favorite books that Mom had in the house when I was a teenager was something like “How Things Work”.  I want to deconstruct things and see how they work.  Now that I’m writing down this sock pattern I’m constructing instead of deconstructing and I’m finding it an interesting process.

If my pattern is not accepted by knitty.com I’ll post it here and you can tell me if my pattern writing skills are any good or not.  I’m going for the holiday edition (published in December), so it will still be a while until you see it either here or on knitty.  Stay tuned!

9km and Counting

This morning, after checking to see if my new baby (read: iPhone) would fit into the running belt pouch (yes!) I headed off to Sloterplas for my weekend long run. I haven’t run at all the last week (due to working too many hours) so I really didn’t know what to expect. How would I feel after a week off? Better or worse? I guess better is the answer.

My goal was to run 60 minutes since last week was 50 minutes. I decided after running half way that my new goal would be 9km, which turned out to be 61 minutes. I also at first thought that I would run one time around Sloterplas (6km) then run 1.5km around on a second loop and turn around and run 1.5km back so as to end up neatly at the starting point. But I hate doubling back on myself so I just continued on around the lake. 9km is 1.5 times around the lake so I walked the last 3km back to the starting point.

One nice thing about making 2 laps is that I get the chance to take photos from that far side of the lake, which I hadn’t done before. Looking at these photos you’d think we were in the middle of nowhere in New Hampshire. Little do you know that behind me are concrete apartment buildings and just beyond the trees is the A10 motorway.

Yes, these photos were taken with my iPhone, while at the same time I was listening to a podcast. The camera is only 2m pixels, which is quite a disappointment, but as long as the photos look like this, and I only use them for online viewing, it should be fine.

By the way, I jogged this morning listening to the Cast On podcast, which my friend Andy recommended. I had tried listening to the KnitPicks podcast but I honestly couldn’t stand that woman. After 2 tries I just wanted to strangle her. But Brenda Dayne is so enjoyable to listen to. I’ve started at the beginning (October 2006) and am working my way to the present time. You can find her also on iTunes. Andy has a lot of other good podcast suggestions and now that I have phone and ipod in one, it should be even easier to find the time to check them out.

I finished one podcast about 40 minutes into my run and for the next 20 minutes I ran without earbuds and just listened to the birds singing and the small sounds of people in the park on a Sunday morning. It was lovely. I have to do that more often.

iPhone – the first 24 hours

I’ve had my new iPhone 3G just about 24 hours now so I guess it’s time to report in. Shall I start from the beginning?

Yesterday morning at 7:00 I stepped onto my bike and headed over to the Kinkerstraat T-Mobile shop. I had no idea how many people would be there already. Luckily, only 12 other crazy people like me. I was number 13. One very smart guy (who had obviously gone through something like this before) showed up with a heavy black marker and put numbers on people’s hands once they showed up. This turned out later to be a stroke of genius.

The shop didn’t open until 9:30 so we had time to kill. It was gezellig. People joked and chatted. Typically, I was the only female (1) and (2) I was certainly the oldest one there. Ha! I should win a prize. Well, I got an iPhone, one of the only 7,000 in the entire country at this point, so I do feel like I’ve won something. Here’s a photo from early in the morning:

At 9:30 the doors opened and I have to say, the staff at the shop did an excellent job of making sure people were served in the order they showed up. By 9:30 there must have been 35 people standing around. We had been told at 8:30 that they only had 19 phones to sell! By 10:30 only ONE person had walked out with phone in hand. Why? T-Mobile’s registration system totally crashed! We stood around and stood around but it wasn’t getting any better. Finally they came around and photocopied our ID’s, wrote down what we wanted to buy (8GB, 16GB, or white). A few minutes later we were told whether or not we were in luck and would get our first choice product (I did) and that we’d be called later in the day when we could come pick up our phones. This was both exciting and quite a let down. At least I knew that later in the day I’d have my hands on a white 16GB phone, but not quite yet.

I went home for a little while, then hopped back on the bike and headed to work. The T-Mobile shop is on my route to work and as I biked past I saw 3 guys from the morning standing outside. “What! You guys are still here?” They had left, then came back to see if the computer system was working yet. Nope! Still down! I went on to work, and later that afternoon got an sms that my phone and contract were ready to be picked up. I stopped there on my way home from work at 5:30pm and was out again 5 minutes later, new baby in the bag.

To tell you truth, I was so exhausted last night that I played around with my phone in kind of a stupor. You have to first put in your SIM card, then sync your phone with iTunes. Here again, systems were completely overtaxed and it took about 10 tries and over an hour before I could connect and get activated. After that, it’s been fun all the way.

This weekend is just typical of how I feel after having worked just far too many hours and am BEAT. My body just wants to go to sleep. But my head says “Hey! We’re not at work! We can do all those fun things you have been wanting to do, like knitting, and surfing, and now playing with your new phone….”. Head and body have a fight and I just don’t know whether I’m coming or going. I was awake at 5:30 this morning and felt jetlagged. I got up and ate something and then at 8:00 went back to bed for 2 hours. I’m a mess.

But between the sleeping and being spaced out, I managed to first sync my iPhone with Outlook on my work PC and also do a blog post early this morning (during the HUGE thunder and lightening storm). I also went out this afternoon down the block to a fabric store and luckily they had a button I could use on my new iPhone case. It’s a blue apple. How appropriate.

I have to say…. the iPhone case is the PERFECT size. The iPhone fits just perfect in it. I’m incredibly happy with it. Here are some photos:

Here are a couple of shots of the phone itself. The screen is beautiful. This photo is taken in full sun at an angle, so take no notice of the dullness of it. The clarity is amazing. And also here’s a shot of this website, shown landscape. It’s just so cool to see your own website like this. 🙂

Yes, I got a white one. Way cooler than the boring black. 🙂

Now, I need to load up some music, movies, applications…….. oh boy oh boy oh boy!

I also bought a docking station. I opened up the box and found THIS. I couldn’t stop laughing because to me it looked like a display of Barbie bathtubs. (They are really the different sized trays to put in the dock for the different sized iPods and iPhone.)

Just to prove to you that I have not locked myself completely away from the real world while playing with new toys, here’s a photo of Bas this afternoon (which will become my new phone wallpaper) and also a photo of the cherry tomatoes that are getting ripe, even in this cool cloudy weather.