Archivi categoria: random

30 seconds

I’ve been in a running rut, though I continue to run regularly during the week (every morning I don’t teach an early class and sometimes on weekends). I would run for the sake of running, thinking I’d had good runs, but the reality was that they weren’t. I run for exercise, but lately I’d plateaued and couldn’t, for the life of me, challenge myself. I actually wasn’t even pushing myself to run harder, longer, better…I would just run.

Then yesterday I read the blog of @girlcanrun, http://www.girlcanrun.com, about how the half MUST go on. She concluded her post with

My body was born to run. Running is 90% mental. My legs will go forever. And I WANT this.
so I asked myself, “When was the last time you felt like this about running, enza?” Not in a long while… for me, the resilience of the body is something I will never deny. I’ve put my body through a lot and ran even with my baker’s cyst and survived (not advisable but it’s who I am). What I have been struggling with, since my first race on the labour day weekend of 2011, is the mental component. I haven’t been able to run effectively because these are the thoughts that go through my mind as I run:
  • I’ve got so much grading to get through; I must get home
  • I’m overworked and my research is suffering. When the f**k will I finish the articles?
  • How can we continue to have the same stupid fight repeatedly
  • People are idiots! Yet they are more successful/happy/rich than I
  • Damn jiggly thighs! My ass still looks so big
  • Doesn’t matter how much I run, the scale isn’t showing it. Time for liposuction, but Dr.D, MD&JD, says I don’t need it. Should i get another opinion?

My demons…pathetic, isn’t it? The rational, logical side of me knows that I need to shut this down. The perfectionist in me reminds me that I’m far from perfect so it isn’t going to happen…

Then I came across a tweet/link (I can’t really remember which) about taking 30 seconds while you run. For 30 seconds ignore everything and look around you. Awaken the visual. The next 30 seconds, listen carefully to what’s around you. Awaken the audio. The next 30 seconds, concentrate on your pace and gait. Focus on feeling the run. Then finally, focus on your breathing (something I’m regularly monitoring). Okay, so 2 minutes of your run NOT thinking about anything BUT the “here and now”.

I did it this morning for the first time and it made a world of difference–my anxieties disappeared after a few repetitions of the 2 minutes. I had a truly therapeutic, rewarding run. Thank you @girlcanrun, the tweet from a few days ago, and someone whose running and triathlon prep has been really remarkable, @twerick http://nadarpedalearycorrer.blogspot.com/2011/11/un-ano-corriendo.html (in Spanish).

My new mantra…take 30 seconds!

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Archiviato in random, running, twitter

Running, Writing and Restlessness

Two weeks ago, after an honest realization that my writing is going nowhere (2 articles in the works, neither of them even close to satisfactory), I decided to invest my time and energy elsewhere: my running. I challenged myself to run 100km (just over 62 miles) in 2 weeks. This morning I met the challenge, completing 103.5km (64.33 miles) in 6 hours, 37 minutes (11 runs in total).

In spite of my inability (read: fear) to run a race, running has given me great satisfaction. This is a goal that I’ve managed to achieve because it is a truly selfish accomplishment…I have nothing to prove to anyone, I set my own pace, I defy myself.

This is so conspicuously different from my writing, which has waned considerably. With each sentence I write, I imagine endless challenges from reviewers and critics–unsupported theses, poor discussions, irrelevant conclusions. After an entire academic year (the one immediately subsequent to tenure) in which I was given endless administrative duties, I find myself unable to write. I need to find a way to write for me first, then for an audience…to make my writing analogous to my running. And then maybe this restlessness will pass, maybe…

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google’s voice in translation

Do you have Google voice? Have you ever seen a transcription of a voicemail left for you in a foreign language? The other day I had the pleasure of receiving this and the linguist in me found this really amusing. The message, left in italian, was transcribed in English.

Google asks you if the transcript was useful. I’d say yes and would love to use it an intro course to Italian phonetics!!

Here is the voicemail in Italian, if you care to play a linguistic game comparing Italian phonemes to English words :)

Buon pomeriggio dottoressa Conforti. Ho ricevuto il suo messaggio ma non ho avuto l’opportunità di risponderle quando ha chiamato. Sì, mercoledì andrebbe bene se avremo la possibilita di incontrarci. Umm, se ha la possibilità di richiamarmi sarebbe fantastico altrimenti mi lasci un messaggio per cortesia almeno per sapere a che ora possiamo incontrarci e parlare, okay? Grazie mille e buona giornata.

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Archiviato in random, Web 2.0

not a twitter post – but Nike+ does update there

In Spring of 2007 I decided to start running…I never ran a day in my life prior to that. I started speed walking (because I love walking), and then realized that I could start intermittently running during my speed walking. Over the summer of 2007, I managed to run 4 miles a day, 6 days a week, and lost approx 30 lbs. It was the most revitalizing experience ever  and 30 months later, I’m still into it (though I must admit, there have been periods of inconsistency) .

This past summer, needing a new pair of running shoes, I went all out and decided to do the Nike+ running thing…sensor and shoes to accommodate sensor. Some really surprising things happened since this purchase, because it became a more tangible means by which to monitor my running.

Before Nike+, I was averaging a running pace of between 9-10 minutes/mile. I would be the one many regular runners would pass repeatedly in the park during their run. My first monitored run of 4.24 miles in July 2009 was 9min 8secs. Unbeknown to me, I discovered I am competitive! The Nike+ was not only what I needed to boost my interest in running, but to become a better runner. I was able to challenge myself in terms of pace, personal bests and distance (the latter I am still working on ;) ). My best 5 km (3.1 miles) is 18 min 9s (by the way, I haven’t been able to run more than 10km).

Currently, I run an average 6 min/mile and discovered I am so very competitive. In October, I decided to join a Nike+ challenge to run 100 miles prior to Jan 16/09. I completed my 100 miles in 25 runs (about 6 weeks), so I’ve decided to keep up the challenge and trying to get another 100 miles in before Christmas.

You can see that I’ve taken this challenge rather seriously, given that the distance I’ve run in November is comparable to the distance I used to run way back in the Spring of 2007 (since I was running a regular 25 miles weekly).

Once I get comfortable (secure) with my endurance, I think I need to challenge myself to running for a cause…

P.S. Oh yeah, the Nike+ website allows my updates to be tweeted, when it works :(

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the birth of a new legacy perhaps?

I remember reading an article in NYTimes on Jan 21/09 covering the “Nation’s Many Faces in Extended First Family.” As an appendix to this article was the great graphic below giving us a glimpse of this First Family, to demonstrate that this family has multicultural roots.

firstfamily

Inherent in a multicultural family arise many issues for a society, which traditionally has been so ingrained in homogeneity, both with respect to visibly noted differenced as well as socially practiced ideals. Issues of tribe, religion, language, to name only a few.

No, I am not a member of a visible minority, that is, I’d like to think being female does not put me in that category. I was raised in Canada and would like to think that multiculturalism is an accepted way of life. However, I still question whether that is possible. As my focus tends to be about language and the inexorable connection between language and culture, let me develop the Canadian problem. French is an official language of Canada, but how many Canadians actually speak French? Let’s just say, in the US where Spanish is not the official language (nor is English for that matter), a larger percentage of English speakers are inclined to learn Spanish than Canadians learn are to learn French (after obligatory school instruction).

Can we really look at ourselves within our milieu and  state that one culture does not predominate? Although we are getting better, I still think we have a long way to go…

I hope this First Family will pave the way for a truly multicultural society, free of race superiority and xenophobia.

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Archiviato in random

word(le) cloud

I finally decided to create my own twitter wordle…words have great significance, even when taken out of context, wouldn’t you agree? Here is what is important to me evidentlywordle1

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Archiviato in random

The inauguration

obama_inauguration_speechtoday’s inauguration left me speechless. So when I saw this graphic faciliation on Twitter I knew I had to share this image with everyone. There are many aspects of his address about which I could go on, but I will just highlight what I found memorable:

We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.


Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.


What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

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7 facts about me

I have been tagged by Seth Dickens for the ‘Seven Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me’ Edubloggers thing. I’ve done a couple of these in the past so forgive any repetitions for those who’ve read my past lists.

The rules say you have to:

  • Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog
  • Share 7 facts about yourself in the post – some random, some weird
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged

Here are my 7 facts:

  1. As a child, I used to sing at weddings, on stage with the live band…my parents would always buy 45s (anyone remember those?) of new Italian songs and play them incessantly. By the time I was 2 or 3, I was singing Il cuore è uno zingaro at weddings (not very appropriate, eh?).
  2. I saved my neighbour years ago (when I was in university and still living with my parents). One hot summer afternoon, my mom sent me to drop something off at her house and when I got there every shade was pulled, every light off and every window closed. I peeked through the sliding door in her kitchen and saw her sprawled on the floor. I managed to open (I don’t know how) her living room window without breaking it, slid inside and called 9-1-1. Not truly heroic but helpful.
  3. As a part-time university gig I worked at CompuCentre (a Canadian chain of computer stores in a mall) for minimum wage & commission. It took me at least 4 months to sell my first computer (actually sold 2 of them that same day). Customers would come in and “talk” to me about computers, but would by them only from the male employees because apparently I wasn’t “geeky” enough.
  4. I’ve don’t like video games…never have. I don’t know if it is a hand-eye coordination thing, or rather I don’t like to play if I can’t win thing…
  5. My first teaching assignment as a graduate student at my alma mater was an introductory Italian course. There was only one professor who was an expert in second language pedagogy but he did not train TAs unless you enrolled his course. The senior lecturers who led the program did not provide any training either and it was baptism by fire. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was not going to teach Italian the way I had been taught it but it took me a quite some time (and some grad courses) to learn strategies and techniques for language teaching.
  6. I enjoy physical labour. This is something I inherited from my father. Although I do enjoy it, I’m not good at it. I walk away with cuts, scars, scrapes, bruises and other injuries that I won’t mention here.
  7. My dad was a white hat (i.e., foreman) of a construction corp. in Toronto pretty much since he immigrated to Canada. He was very much a “hands on” worker and I admire him for being able to, even after he was diagnosed with degenerative disk disease, be productive and accomplish so much. So now every time we are in Toronto and do something that requires us to drive by one of the highrise complexes or skyscrapers that he worked on, he starts his “I was working on this building when…” tour of Toronto. He remember precisely the year, the company with which he worked and the memorable family event that occurred while he was there.

Now I choose my 7 victims:
AJ Kelton
Laura Nicosia
Claire Siskin
Sarah Robbins
Sharon Scinicariello

Gina Miele
Michael Heller

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pausch loses battle to pancreatic cancer

PITTSBURGH — ABC’s “Good Morning America” reported Friday morning that Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, 47, has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

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Archiviato in presentations, random

on being a prof, dying, & more

Updated: july 25

ABC’s “Good Morning America” reported Friday morning that Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, 47, has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

At a social function on Saturday evening, an article from Carnegie Mellon’s alumni magazine was brought to my attention. An alumna talked about a 46 year old professor of computer science, Randy Pausch, who is terminally ill and gave his last lecture in September as part of the university’s Journey series.

As soon as I got in, I watched all 76+ minutes of the lecture, but give you instead this video for a quick overview of the talk. If you want the entire lecture, it is right here.

Why it struck me? The professor in me is very empathetic … someone who has achieved so much in a career that I too chose, well, how can I not want to hear what he has to say. In addition, a recent post on a blog about career choices, well, it makes me ask many (far too many, perhaps) questions. Pausch entitled his talk Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. In my humble opinion, some noteworthy quotes are (from transcript):

One of the things he told me was that wait long enough and people will surprise and impress you. He said, when you’re pissed off at somebody and you’re angry at them, you just haven’t given them enough time. Just give them a little more time and they’ll almost always impress you.

And that’s one of the reasons you should all become professors. Because you can have your cake and eat it too.

Go get a Ph.D. Become a professor.
And I said, why?
And he said, because you are such a good salesman that any company that gets you is going to use you as a salesman. And you might as well be selling something worthwhile like education.

Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.

Where does inspiration come from? Well, I have to say this address gave me some…just enough to overcome some of my own fears and appreciate what I do have. Maybe my career choice and my childhood dreams may actually be one in the same. I can’t wait for the day when I can have my cake though ;)

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Archiviato in random, research, teaching