Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Reviews.

A few of the books I've read recently:

Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.

This book reminded me out Outliers, although I didn't love it quite as much. Lots of interesting stats and stuff, with an econ twist. Why do real estate agents sell their own homes for significantly more than their clients' homes? How corrupt is the professional sumo wrestling industry in Japan (because it is, you know)? Does the negligible number of lives saved by car seats each year warrant the millions of dollars pumped into the baby car seat industry? What's in a name--how do parents in different socio-economic groups differ in their baby naming tendencies? Hmmmm?

Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self, by Lori Gottlieb.

I really enjoyed this book. The author found her actual diary documenting her anorexic, eleven-year-old self, and published it. I loved the voice--it was authentically pre-teen, yet astonishingly observant and intelligent. The story, from the girl's vantage point, wasn't a battle with anorexia--it was a battle with her family for her freedom to control her own weight through dieting. Kinda scary. But the tone is light and humorous, sort of like a real-life Ramona the Pest.

Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell.

Another great one by Malcolm G. The book is about the human mind's ability to "thin-slice" situations--take in various bits of information about a situation in just a few seconds, much of it sub-consciously, and make a decision. Lots of people have mastered the art of this practice: for example, Vic Braden is a pro tennis coach who can predict with stunning accuracy when a player is going to double fault. Something about the way the serve is executed tips him off--but the crazy thing is, he can't identify precisely what about the serve tells him it will be a fault. John Gottman, a marriage researcher (who I actually heard speak at the AAMFT Conference last September!!) can predict with like, 95% accuracy whether a couple is going to divorce, just by listening to them interact for a few minutes. There are also examples of times when people jumped to very wrong conclusions in split-second decisions, either by over-analyzing and sort of dismissing misgivings they had, or by losing the ability to reason well in a high-adrenaline situations. I really liked this one.

I started reading Eat, Pray, Love yesterday but I don't know if I can stand it. I might give it another chance, though. Any other suggestions?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Surprise

I had quite a lovely surprise yesterday for Easter, while taking a nice walk through town to wind down from the huge Easter feast my roommates and I hosted for several friends. I was just a little homesick/lonely, when one of my best friends from high school texted me and asked if I lived in Auburn. Apparently, she and her family were in the middle of moving from Houston to Virginia, and they were stopping here for the night! I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. I got to meet her husband and their adorable little boy, and it was so great to catch up with her after about 5 years!

Some people will just always be friends, no matter how long I go without seeing them. Of course, Heidi and I were attached at the hip for several years. We did EVERYTHING together. Some of my favorite memories include leaving notes in a secret mailbox by the church (we were in different wards), stealing cake from the teacher's lounge when we were at school for marching band practice (we were so bad!), and trying to connive our parents into taking us to the mall every Saturday. Good times.

Also, my roommate and I prepared an Easter feast--we made ham, and homemade rolls, and steamed green beans, and cheesy potatoes. We were very proud of the meal. It was so fun having some of our friends from the branch over, too.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Here's a nice, soothing, melancholy song.

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Here's the link, if you're a non Google Chrome user.

Monday, April 11, 2011

2011 Triathlon Goals

I came across my time from last year's triathlon. I came in at 3 hours, 55 minutes, and 49 seconds. I was actually pretty slow--the average female time was around 3:15, and I only beat a handful of people. In my sprint triathlon the year before, I came in at 2:02.

An olympic triathlon is twice the length of a sprint triathlon, so comparing my swim/bike/run times from the last two years is actually pretty helpful in identifying trends (year 1 was a sprint, year 2 was an olympic).

Year 1 Swim: 26:39
Year 2 Swim: 44:25

Year 1 Bike: 1:00:43
Year 2 Bike: 1:43:20

Year 1 Run: 29:37 (that's a 9:33 mile)
Year 2 Run: 1:16:41 (12:22 mile)

So clearly, I improved in swimming and biking from year one to year two. Most of the improvement in my bike time is probably due to the fact that I raced on a road bike the second year instead of my mountain bike. Evidently, I got a little better at swimming, too. The run, though--awful. I still remember what an awful run that was. I didn't adequately train last year, so once I finished swimming and biking, I was dead.

This year, I should be able to shave a good bit of time off. I would really love to come in under 3 hours. I know it's kind of crazy--who takes 55 minutes off their time? But I've definitely completed a 10k in around 50 minutes before, so there's 25 minutes. If I can manage to take 20 minutes off my bike and 10 minutes off my swim, I'm there. I need to train a lot crazier than I did last year, though.

Here is how I plan to reach my goals:
-I'm probably gonna have to bite the bullet and do a lot more front stroke than I do now (I've gotten by with a lot of breaststroke and only a little front stroke, but I know I'll go way faster if I can just build up the strength and endurance to front stroke). If I could freestyle the whole mile, I'm pretty sure I could take off those 10 minutes.
-I need to bike at least a couple times a week, and put in some loooong rides. Last year I neglected this aspect a little.
-I need to run more. I guess I neglected that aspect a little, too.
-I'm planning on doing a mini-tri every single week as part of my training. I did my first one on Friday. (12k bike, 1 mile run, 600 m swim)

Oh, and check out the AWESOME triathlon I get to participate in this year! July 23, 2011. I can't wait!! My roommates are both planning on doing the sprint tri and I'm so excited for them to experience their first tri. I'm so excited to swim in the ocean and bike/run on the beach. :)

Friday, April 1, 2011


I wasn't really eavesdropping, because the guy was yelling pretty loud. I was sitting and watching the Auburn baseball team get slaughtered by Vanderbilt's team. A guy a few rows down was yelling some pretty piercing insults to players from the other team, in a desperate attempt to console himself over our team's hopeless condition (example: "20 hits, and you couldn't even get one!!" He screamed that to one of Vandy's players after he struck out, citing Vandy's 20 hits up to that point. The irony is that Auburn had only gotten 2 hits at that point).

But my favorite insult was this one, which seemed to come right before our team hit rock bottom, and after a string of other nasty cuts from this heckler guy. Either he was really scraping the bottom of the barrel, or he was saving his best ammunition for last: "Your football team is so bad, y'all haven't been to a bowl game in 30 years!!!"

Wow. That's how I knew I was in the South. (Well, and also because I just remembered I was.)


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