Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Three left feet

True confession: I was a clumsy, clumsy kid.

Once upon a time, when I was about three years old, I waddled up to a coffee-table and yanked on the tablecloth. Unfortunately, sitting on top of that tablecloth was a full pot of hot tea. I still have the burn scar...

When I was 15 we went on a school trip to East Malaysia. It was a geography trip, so there was plenty of hiking through tropical rainforests chock-full of lethal things like rattan:

Yes, those are spines. No, you don't want to walk into them face-first. Image courtesy of

...and speedboat rides across lakes, et.c. And my one injury from that trip? We were sitting down in a nice, air-conditioned, carpeted theatre for a cultural performance. At the end I stood up, tripped over my own shoelaces, and scraped my knee raw on the carpet.

And I bet I'm the only person to have sprained my ankle on a backyard trampoline by landing wrong...that one did my prima donna ballet career in. (Joke.)

Every now and then you think you've managed to outgrow the clumsiness, but life smacks you right in the face.

Yesterday afternoon, after running some errands (the only thing I've run since Sunday, sigh), I slid down some steps, landed wrong, twisted my ankle spectacularly, and fell flat on my face. (Go big or go home.) Luckily or unluckily I was outside a restaurant, and the manager saw this, came out and gave me some water and a bag of ice.

So now my ankle is still massively sore and feels awfully weak. I have a feeling I'll be doing rehab instead of the aquathlon. The one that's 1.5 weeks from now and requires a 1.5km swim followed by a 10K. Under normal circumstances neither of these would be a problem, but I haven't run anything longer than 10K since the triathlon and am feeling exhausted and sluggish.

Fortunately, as SF Road Warrior puts it, a little break from running is survivable with books and wine. I don't drink for medical reasons (that liver disorder I was born with) but you bet I can read, and I can eat all the things.

Reading the first of my library books kind of put me off eating all the things, though.
- Salt Sugar Fat - Michael Moss: The American processed-food industry deliberately adds - and has added more and more - salt, sugar, and fat to processed food over the years. You could condemn them for knowingly using addictive, dependency-promoting substances. But the industry itself has been so precisely engineered to rely on these ingredients to provide the shelf life, stability, texture and taste customers want. So who's manipulating whom? Either way, this book will make you aware of what goes into processed food.  

- Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson: I'm cheating; this is a reread of a childhood favourite. I can't believe it's 22 years old. One of the first cyberpunk novels, about a new plague that's linguistic - or is it biological? Or is it binary code? The ideas in it are better than William Gibson's.

- Dead To Me - Anton Strout: Simon Canderous is psychometric, which doesn't mean that he's really good at psychological measurements, but that he can 'read' an object's history by handling it. Oh, and he's trying to figure out why this cute ghost he met doesn't seem to realise she's dead. This one is a fast, fluffy, forgettable read (this is how I've finished three of my library books since Saturday).

- This slightly wacky but backed-by-science post by the author of The Talent Code, on becoming an adult prodigy: the trick is to learn like a kid, conscious, daily, high-quality, intensive practice.

I finally finished 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, just in time for his next book to come out. Part of the reason I took so long is the pace of the darn thing just got slower and slower until by the end it was like reading through molasses.

Other things that are on my burgeoning list - if I can't find them I shall have to resort to actually buying the e-books, it's not like my shelves have that much more available space:

- The Magician's Land - Lev Grossman: This is the third book in the oddly compelling Magicians trilogy, which tracks Quentin Coldwater and his friends through their exercise of magic, their stint at Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, and down some much darker roads, in a series about coming of age, quarter-life crises and facing life head-on.

- How We Learn - Benedict Carey: New York Times science writer Carey explores the how (and when and where and why) we learn.


  1. Nooo! How frustrating and painful for you. Look after that ankle and do all the rehab that's needed so it doesn't come back to bite you on the bum in ten years. One of my sisters rolled hers at 17 and still has issues with it today because she didn't look after it.

    1. It's probably too late for me. My first really bad sprain was when I was 11, in primary school when I fell *up* some steps (my final year of primary school was an interesting one - my little sister brought chickenpox home from kindergarten for the whole family that year, too). Since then I've twisted and strained and sprained my ankles countless times. That's despite doing strengthening exercises like writing the alphabet with your toes, picking up a towel with your toes, standing on one leg, standing on one leg on a Bosu ball, calf raises, ad infinitum ad nauseam... oh well!

  2. Yikes! Sorry to hear about your ankle. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

    1Q84 was a serious let-down. I kept expecting things to get suddenly weirder or more dramatic, in typical Murakami-fashion, so I kept reading and reading... when I got to the end, I was like, "What? Really? That's it?"

  3. Gah.....stupid injuries. I also highly recommend chocolate. :)

    I enjoyed 1Q84 on an artistic level, but it certainly was not what you'd call a beach read. Still looking forward to his next one though!

    Also looking forward to The Magician's Land. Those mopey, entitled kids annoy me to no end, but I still have to know how it ends.

    Hope you're feeling better soon!

    1. Haha, I couldn't forget about chocolate :)

      Magician's Land - ohmigahd EXACTLY.