Category Archives: Activity

So, I was really excited when I saw this tutorial, to create realistic rocky aquarium background using styrofoam insulation and concrete mix. I totally want to try this. Check it out, the example is really good. Coupled with lots of lush real plants, I think this would take it all to the very edge. Here is a similar one.6703f285451873c2b342a472fc1ae7d4-300x160

(Photo Courtesy of DIY Aquarist)

I showed this video to my husband, who… is a painting/hobbyist. And he says, “THIS IS JUST LIKE MAKING TERRAIN! I wanted to get insulation styrofoam for my figures, but the sheet was too damn big. But if you want to do this, we could get it and use it for both our projects!” This is where figure painting hobbyists and aquarium building come together. This is probably why we work, as well.


So around 3 times a year, I am “on-call” for my company. I work around client services in a technology/marketing services company. (I don’t do anything top secret or controversial, or anything, but I don’t post about work.) This means, that I need to stay local and near a computer in my off hours time for an entire week, including the weekend. So, I couldn’t go out this weekend. Instead, I had my old friend Daniel come to me.

We had another pretty epic board gaming session yesterday. Over all, we’ve been pretty spoiled with gaming, since my H.S. friend Jay came over for another epic board game session last weekend. (Last weekend we played some “Betrayal at House on the Hill,” “Love Letter,” “Masquerade,” and “Eminent Domain.” It was kind of Halloween themed.)

This is what we played yesterday:

This is a new game my husband bought. He thought it would be more my style and it’s growing on me. I realized that I like a certain type of strategy games. This is a card/deck building RPG co-operative game. I picked a human sorcerer character. My husband, of course, picked the dwarf fighter character. Danny was the human wizard character. You basically go through missions and build up your character stats and items. Similar to “Legend of Andor” and “Descent: Journey in the Dark” you keep the final stat and keep building your character on an on-going basis. Come to think of it, we have a pretty good collection of co-operative RPGs, if people want to start campaigning with us. Kind of like D&D on a smaller scale… probably without B.S. drama.

City of Thieves
So… husband gives me a hard time about these guys. They have beautiful gorgeous gothic figures and artwork. It’s actually pretty fun, but I have a mental block about these types of board games. I don’t think I am as much of a fan. I like deck building games with a Eurogame twist, like Eminent Domain. I get super bitter and competitive in games where you can actually screw with your opponents. I think this session made me a convert.

This is always fun, because it’s so zany. Did you know this game is pretty old (although we have the new edition) and is a precursor to “Magic the Gathering?” You are a bunch of wizards trying to steal each other’s treasures and/or kill each other. You get to zap one another. I think I had a “Ka-Bonk” card where I produced a giant mallet to attack Danny, at one point. You run around a small map creating walls, eating walls, throwing fireballs, etc. Overall, it’s a game where if you lose, you can’t really take it too personally, so it’s good. It’s a good laugh.

Overall a pretty active late late night.


You do know what that means, right? It’s NANOWRIMO time! Where everyone with a computer and (maybe) internet fancies themselves a writer. I think there was one year, back when this was new, around 12-14 years ago that I attempted this. I got pretty far into this Fantasy Novel I was writing at the time.

This year, I’m still not that ambitious. I’m actually going to try to update this location every day, or at least 30 times this month. I am trying to not miss more than 1 day in consecutive order. Let’s see how this goes!

In other news, this year for Halloween, I was on call at work. This means I headed home and was passed out on my couch by 11pm. It was nice, if not a little anticlimactic. I should have planned something the previous weekend, but I’ve been pretty stressed out. I saw a costume an old coworker did this year on FB, and it was something I always wanted to try. :P Maybe another year. I’ll leave it a secret.

Are you guys challenging yourselves at Nanowrimo?

On Wednesday, I finished the Chase Corporate Challenge race. (For a moment, I actually thought it was last week. This week has gone by so SLOWLY.) For the first time, I got out there with my Vibram Five Fingers: Bikila. I have to say, my left foot’s arch was aching afterwards. That was a bit annoying and discouraging, except it was fine the next day. My calves aching is usually a given. I’m slowly trying to transition into them and have been running on the treadmill for 3-5 miles on them. Now, running on the treadmill is pretty different than running on terrain, and I’ve been meaning to go for a smaller jog. I expected to hurt more, given the pounding my arches, ankles and calves are going to get. And really, I thought this 3.5 mile race was pretty perfect. For the last couple of months, since my terrain runs were longer, I just didn’t want to break out the five fingers.

The Chase Race was in Central Park and started past west 72nd st., looped around 110 st. and ended on the 72nd st. traverse. It wasn’t a bad course, especially since you are going down on Cat Hill to the finish. The only annoying thing was that it was from 7pm and I’m never a really strong runner at the end of the day. I usually feel the best in the mornings running, and the heat was getting me down.

I am so used to NYRR races running like clock-work that this race was SO disorganized to me. The volunteers were few and the ones that were there were clearly not used to running races. 1) This race was over crowded and a cluster fuck. 2) It wasn’t spectator friendly towards the start line (There wasn’t even a clear way for people in faster corrals to get through all the slower ones). 3) They ran out of water in the first 2 water stations and the attendants were quickly trying to keep up, instead of waving people towards the later tables. That was ridiculous. 4) Once you passed the finish line, they herd you for another half mile away from the race site to return to get your baggage, meet up with your party, etc… Uhg. Ridiculous. I lost my mother in the shuffle, my party missed me crossing the finish line, and I had to just meet everyone away from the action at Columbus Circle. Race wise, it wasn’t my strongest race and i definitely didn’t PR. I got pushed 3 times, and elbowed once. Race/common sense etiquette was clearly lacking. Overall, was it worth my $40? No. It would have been more fun had more people in my department signed up.

Ryan was initially super excited about them. Now, after he’s heard my complaints, he’s trying to get me off of them. Haha. I’m really still reserving my final judgment, since I haven’t had time to fully integrate them. And I am sort of convinced that my stride is lighter and lower with these shoes. And I can certainly feel the shoes giving my feet and calves a work out. And I’m ok with that.

Tangent: When I first got the Bikila’s, the store attendant was SUPER enthusiastic about them. He said he wore them EVERY SINGLE DAY and the only reason he didn’t wear them that day was because it was raining (I believe him and it was raining). I was sold on the Bikila’s, although I tried on the KSOs as well. The Bikila was comfier and I didn’t expect to do any heavy extreme sports type running in them. Then, he showed me these other Vibrams Five Finger shoes, meant for yoga and just lounging. It was kind of like these Classic, but everything was soft faux leather, and kind of like a slip on ballet flat version of these shoes. And he was like, “these are on sale now, and you are NOT GOING TO WANT TO TAKE THESE OFF EVER.” Obviously the attendant didn’t know the extent of my vanity. I was just like, “No.” (Kind of “Hell, to the NO.”) Seriously. I am willing to run in these shoes for the benefits they are suppose to offer (less strain on your joints, lighter stride, etc…), but I am not going to start to wear these things all the time. No. They are not a fashion statement. Sorry! And I’m probably not going to stop wearing my boots or heels.

The one thing is, running in them feels great, because they encourage you to be a forefoot striker. However, walking in them is another thing. Not really comfortable for someone who is used to walking in heels, since the soles conform to your feet, you feel like you’re walking on an incline.

So anyway, I’ve been giving these baby a shot and haven’t been able to completely transition into them, since I’ve been running mostly 10K races.

Find out more about Barefoot Running.

I’m very happy to announce that I’ve finished my 9 races to get guaranteed entry into the 2012 NYC ING Marathon! I’m volunteering on the 25th for the Front Runner’s Gay and Lesbian Pride Race for my “+1.” I’m pretty excited. After the really hot months, I’ll start training exclusively for long distances. I’m considering running the Bronx Half Marathon in the end of August.

The Races I’ve Done:
NYRR New York Mini 10K (June 11)
Brooklyn Half-Marathon (May 21)
UAE Healthy Kidney 10K (May 14)
Japan Day Run For Hope 4M (May 8)
Japan Day Virtual Run 5.18M
NYRR 4 Mile (April 23)
Run for the Parks 4M (April 17)
Scotland Run 10K (April 10)
NYRR Gridiron 4M (Feb 6)
NYRR Fred Lebow Classic 5M (Jan 8)

The Chase Corporate Challenge (3.5Miles – June 15-16) isn’t included, because it’s not a Marathon qualifying race. I’m also considering running the Warrior Dash in August (if my coworker is still interested in doing that with me), which is also a non-qualifying race. (Only issue is that it’s 3 hours outside of NYC, so either my coworker is driving, or we need to make a weekend of it.) It’s also an obstacle course race, so it’s not a traditional straight run. On the upside, YOU GET A VIKING HAT if you participate! And that’s probably my motivation. (I’ve become a race swag addict, and I admit, I’ve been a little obnoxious about it. “Why is this a regular cotton T-Shirt?! I should get a Tech-Shirt for the $40 I put in!!!”)

I wasn’t originally going to write at length about my races here, but I decided to at least post about my first Half Marathon experience. When I first signed up for the Half Marathon, I scheduled a couple of 10k races and one 15k to get me into the groove. However, the series of plagues that I caught in March (immediately following my 10 mile practice run) put a damper on my 15k race. The 10k races went fine, but being half the length of a Half Marathon, by the time this race came up, I barely trained for long distances. Yikes.

I was nervous about traveling there. I was also annoyed and nervous about getting up early enough to travel. The Race was 7am, so I had to be up by 5:30am. I decided to get a car service, since otherwise, I would have to travel to Manhattan to get to that part of Brooklyn. My morning breakfast was a Naked shake (so I didn’t get too full) and I ran with 2 espresso gel packs that I was planning on take after the 6/7 mile marker.

It ended up being a really great race. It wasn’t too hot in Prospect Park and I finished the 2 laps (TRYING TO PACE MYSELF) with relative ease. It was interesting leaving the park and running on Ocean Parkway. I wasn’t baking the way I expected to be and it was mostly flat (maybe a slight incline?). Around the 10 mile marker, I started to fatigue, and I pushed myself to maintain a slow jog. I’m not going to lie. I’ve forgotten my fatigue and the aches that I felt during the race. I can only remember the pride of finishing and the exhilaration afterward. You know, kind of like childbirth, right? I’ve forgotten the visceral feeling, but I remember my legs aching right around 10 miles. On the other hand, psychologically speaking, I was doubtful before the race that I had the psychological endurance of just running for 2-3 hours straight. That proved to not be a problem, going through Ocean Parkway was just such a new experience, that I wasn’t bored at all. And running with anticipation of each mile marker wasn’t excruciating, but rather hypnotic. I was rather surprised at that. The cheering and the water stations were wonderful, offering water and Gatorade at each station… everything was very plentiful.

So what was the challenge? You ask? There were enough bathrooms by the start of the race, and I waited until after running to go to the bathroom… twice… And the second time the bathroom was out of toilet paper… and I waited on line for around 5 minutes. :T That was kind of disgusting. I haven’t really managed the whole planning the bathroom around the race.

It seemed more of trouble for Ryan to get to Coney Island from Prospect Park, as he got there the same time I did (and I was freaking running – Thanks Q Train). He was a trooper and saw me off at the start of the race, waited for me by the 3 mile marker twice (the second loop that was between mile 5 and 6), and then traveled to see me cross the finish line in Coney Island. I was lucky to have him. And this time, since he was coming, I didn’t need to carry my keys, etc… around.

In the end, turning into the boardwalk was super exciting… except the boards were uneven. As we were running down, one man fell. We all stopped for a moment and he got right back up and moving. I think after seeing that I ran with my knees pretty high. Darned if I was going to face plant right there. In the end, my finishing time was what I expected. I was just happy to finish before the 3 hours (I suspected that if something happened and I had to walk the final miles, I could finish in around the 3 hour timing limit) and I ran it.

After a tip from my friend Sam (who’s a freaking triathelete & marathon runner), I made sure to wear bikini bottoms underneath. You can bet that after I finished running I took off my pants and jumped into Coney Island. The WATER WAS ICE COLD, so it was a great way to ice my legs after all that. I stayed in there for around 10 minutes, until I saw Ryan growing a bit restless. I brought a change of underwear, but I decided to just brave it… which needless to say was a STUPID idea. The train ride wasn’t fun with wet pants. With the rest of the runners, the Q train definitely smelled also like a locker room. :P Oh well.

Coney Island food post soon at feeding umi, so watch out for that!

I’ve been trying to be active. I’ve been running races, but I’m definitely not as active as I was, say… around 4 years ago? It’s sort of a sore point, getting older and just being aware of how hard it is to maintain your body. I’ve over-indulged COMPLETELY. I don’t know where my iron-clad discipline went.

I’m taking this whole year to gear up to thinking of myself as 30/30-something. I’ve had 10 years to get used to my 20s. I know that’s quite dramatic, but it’s true. And let me clarify to say that I don’t feel sad or anxious about it. It’s the problem I always have. When I turned 17 over 10 years ago, for half of that, I still thought of myself as 16. I forget. I also forget to write “2011” sometimes. Ridiculous, right? Most days I don’t even know what date it is.

This is all coming out because I just celebrated a birthday. A really nice birthday, I would have to say. I usually never celebrate it. The prior year was very lame and kind of annoying (because I was being a brat and the boy just hung out with me at home – he wanted to go out, but I was insistant on sulking at home). But this year, I had everyone come out to a local bar with TONS of craft beer, ate some great friend oyster po boys and fried pickles, and got high by the end of the night. Glorious. And this is really all I need. That and an icecream maker, which I received. So my birthday was quite perfect… well almost. I went to a DISAPPOINTING restaurant on the actual date of my birthday. And my mother missed out on that. What’s up with that? But, I think I’m still winning (via Charlie Sheen, of course), so it’s all good.

So… can’t complain?

Anyway, back to the running… Race-wise, I’m down 5, 6 if you count this weekend. I just have until the 3rd 10k in June until I’m qualified for the Marathon if I stay on schedule.

Oh yeah, and I finally got the funny 5 fingered barefoot running shoes. I’ve ran a few times/miles with them and it’s very different.

Brooklyn is a very distinct place. I remember the fragmented image I had of the place right before I moved in. In High School, it was either residential, scary, or bare. I ventured into the borough only 3 or so times. By the time I went to Graduate school, it was a hip hip place that all the people in my program moved into (that and it’s low rents). I think that was the time that I really explored Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Prospect Park, and not yet gentrified Flatbush area…

I remember bringing my mother over to see my apartment, walking from the train station through warehouse neighborhoods. She called it a “Slum,” and I just said that she didn’t understand. I live in a residential street with tons of local families and new transplants living together. For the most part, for the three years I’ve been here, there have been couple of incidents that made me feel shitty (like local kids throwing things), but for the most part the good out-weigh the bad.

Although I have been told that Bushwick has immense hipster clout, for the most part, I think the outside media imagines most of it. Most people here are down to earth, living here because the rent is right. We’re just riding the coat tails of some of the transplants from Williamsburg, who are probably just too cool for words, but spends most their time hiking it up to Bedford. In fact, East Williamsburg feels more like a young artist’s commune than party central. For example, there is this article I read a few weeks back in the Style section of the NY Times about Bushwick Collectives that is really great. It dissects the food, art, and living communities that exist in this hub between Montrose and Dekalb.

I personally really connected with this neighborhood after discovering and patron-ing a lot of the great watering holes that exist now. Before that, I felt a little like I was stuck.

There has been several articles in the New York Times romanticizing or condemning Bushwick. There was an article a few months ago about commune living here, where poor artists live in bed bug ridden warehouses with no doors or no privacy for super cheap rent. I think it fascinates a larger part of the Times audience that lives in Manhattan. Yes, I know of many occurrences where this happens. However, a lot of people in Bushwick are 30s-near 30s, living social responsible, non-communal lives.

Of course, for responsible family living, Prospect Park area/Park Slope is known for the mommy carriage invasion. Bushwick, seems to attract, perhaps because of the living spaces, singles and youths. Park Slope, on the other hand, seems to have sprawling beautiful brownstones and new complexes being built (which is also happening in Bushwick, though) that seems more condusive to family life.

Bushwick/East Williamsburg really grew on me. The kicker are the great bars and restaurants (because that’s really where my priorities are at) that are popping up all over the place. Bodega Bar, the Narrows Bar, and Momo Sushi Shack just to name a few recent notables. I mean, it’s to the point that we are scheduling bar crawls in my neighborhood, starting with Wreck Room, Narrows, and then Tandem, eventually ending up at Bodega Bar. Seriously.

Anyway, the article does a good job of summarizing the collective mindset that exists in a lot of the businesses in the area, which I think is amazing.

Roberta’s, for example, the locavore pizzeria near the Morgan Avenue L stop, acts as a kind of community headquarters for area residents and local business owners. In a backyard tent, the managers of the Wreck Room bar and the Deth Killers of Bushwick, a fashion company, can be found doing inventory on their laptops…

In addition to food advocates, Bushwick is loaded with artists. Many have formed collectives to combat the isolation of the studio, the disappearance of state arts funding and what they see as the commercialism of the art world. Rather than petition fruitlessly for Chelsea gallery representation, these groups exhibit their work wherever they can — bedrooms, stairwells, street corners.

Although the article features the Times darling, Roberta’s, I think they should have done some more research in the new places opening up and creating communities. There is the Loom Space, which I first discovered during Bushwick Open Studios. It is a large beautiful space filled with odd stores (Better Than Jam – great dress shop, Knitting Stores, Hair Salons, Bike Shops, Furniture Stores, and a Shabbat) and a HUGE rent-able bar with a sprawling beautiful back door space. It’s like a re-conceived notion of a mini-mall. Really, like a Brooklyn interpretation of a small business owned mini-mall, within a beautiful art gallery. You shouldn’t let the stark outside fool you. Come in doors and prepare to be a little impressed. When there is a party going on inside, definitely peek in. It’s pretty happening.

Another group that I feel should have been mentioned is Laundromat Gallery. I’ve spoken about The Laundromat before, which is a community apartment loft converted as a gallery, run by Kevin and Amy. It features local artists and as well as visiting artists, such as their many featured international artists. They have a lot of ties to the artist community in Bushwick and got a lot of press for their Burger show.

Finally, another group the Times should have included is the burgeoning theater group, Hybrid Theater Works, which did a huge collaboration with Brooklyn performance artist at the end of August. Although I think their headquarters is downtown Manhattan, Tracy who runs it is a recent Brooklyn-ite that runs these great shows on Bushwick rooftops.

A real community is continuing to develop here that’s pretty exciting and I hope to be celebrating it here, on this blog.


So, the last time I went hasn’t exactly been a year, which is quite frustrating. I started Bikram yoga again, since it’s what I am comfortable with and i felt a little stir crazy this long weekend.

I should preface this by saying that I AM COMPLETELY out of shape. I don’t want to get too deep into it here, but in terms of stamina, size, and general fitness… all FAIL. When I started bikram in Fall of ’08, I was in much better shape. I still got sore, but it was nothing like yesterday.

I went in to a hot yoga session for the first time in around … 8 months? What a difference it makes! And it isn’t completely the hot yoga. I haven’t been moving or jogging and I’ve been eating whatever the beau eats. Yeah. This consists of me riding the subway to work 40 minutes, sitting in front of a computer for 9am-7pm, and finding the energy to cook/look/buy food. Then I would vegetate. Bad! Or sometimes I would go to a concert and that would get me out at 9-10pm.

Either way, I am terribly out of shape. Yesterday, after class, I felt like DEATH. Last time I started it up, it was tough, but I loved it. I really did leave it feeling exhilarated and stretched. I completely admit that this time… I FELT ILL. I went to their noon class and came out at 2 feeling dizzy, blurry visioned, and headache-y. I thought it would go away if I drank gallons of water… but it didn’t. I ended up just needing to lay down in the dark at 4pm, when it didn’t go away.

I feel like some loon might tell me that it’s the toxins leaving my body (not necessarily the instructors – I have met pretty practical instructors that I really like). I think I just pulled something or a muscle tense in my neck. I think it was during all those “thyroid” poses that ask you to tuck in your chin and put your forehead to your legs.

I was told that this is probably because I was trying to do what I used to do… whereas when I started for the very first time, I wasn’t straining myself in that fashion. That probably might be true. I work hard at these classes, but yesterday was definitely a disappointment. For example, I used to be able to do a great bow pose by the end of my bikram run. Awesome bow pose, and now, I can hardly stay in it for the first set. That was a little ego crushing.

I can’t go like I used to. (I can neither afford it or have the time…) I used to go 5 times a week, seriously. I don’t think i would make progress in leaps and bounds. I don’t know if I can get all those “holistic” benefits they talk about in class. I don’t really even think it’s a good source of cardio.

I think I might stick with it for a while, once to twice a week, and see if it might be worth it.

When I first started, I felt sore in the back of my thighs and the front of my stomach all the way down. This time, though, I feel sore on my upper back (probably from the locust post), front of my thighs, and MY CHIN. How does the underside of my chin hurt? What is wrong with me that my chin is out of shape? (haha, i don’t think I want to know the answer to that) Seriously, I didn’t even know that was possible.