Sunday, 31 October 2010

Why you should look after your coach

Let me recall a conversation I had with my coach the other day at weights.

So, to set the scene, I had stopped swearing at the weights for enough time to wonder over to Peter as he sat on his throne (a.k.a. the static pec machine thing that no one uses) from where he distributes his pearls of wisdom. Namely "More weight!" or for me "Less weight!" or "Use your bloody glutes!". He looked a little zoned out, to say the least.
There was some mild scolding for not telling me before so I could've bought him a muller rice or something (how amazing are muller rice???). We then had a nice conversation about how awesome homemade rice pudding was before I drifted off to do more squats.
The sad thing is that Peter's now introduced a swear jar for the gym, so I am going to be either (a) very poor very quickly or (b) will get *really* inventive with the word "badger". It's part of his plan to do the movember thing with the Cambridge WCS group, though it seems a little unfair to me as the guys just have to put in less effort than usual by not shaving while I have to shell out a load of £££ because I like swearing more than everyone else put together.  VERY UNFAIR. It does however promise to be a rather amusing month:
The hulk hogan
The handlebar. He'll have to speak with an accent for this one I think
The grizzily. Probability of getting arrested for something increases exponentially with time.
EDIT I've also just noticed he's now got one arm a lot shorter than the other. This will probably not happen if he grows a beard. Probably. 
 But anyway, the lesson of the day: look after your coaches, people. Unless they demand money out of you for swearing. Rage.


So, I've had a pretty crappy weekend (cue sad violins). Basically I've just started my Part III project (title:Pre-mainsequence stellar evolution in population synthesis and N-body models" Oh yeah.) and desperately want to do a good job of it, so I spent the weekend learning Fortran.  I was initially naively full of enthusiasm and energy (though the energy was provided by coffee) and attacked it with gusto.
I am not a programming genius.
Nothing like grim realisation!
Click for bigger-er. And yes, I have a picture of Kath Grainger as my background. Do you really find that surprising? This photo is a couple of strokes from the end of the 2003 W2- World Champs final (spoiler - they won). It's easily my favourite race ever (you'll have to watch it to see why - watch it here). FUCKING EPIC. Hero worship? YES. I am sooooo looking forward to her 2x in this year's World Champs.

But I should probably stop procrastinating and actually do some work now :-(

Friday, 29 October 2010

Stuff that I'm sure only I do

This post could also be entitled  "How to get funny looks from strangers" or "Reasons why I'm single" :->
Here is an insight into the life of Anna Railton.

Who is completely not crazy.


Watching Masterchef

 OK, so not completely out of the ordinary. However, whenever I do, I always seem to be eating something so incredibly un-gourmet it's ridiculous, e.g. a mug of custard (made from Bird's powder), or tuna from a can or a bowl of plain rice because I'd already eaten what accompanied it by the time the rice had cooked.

I am never going to make pancetta foam. Mainly because

{time to make pancetta foam} << {time for my brain to register the presense of bacon and OM NOM NOM NOM NOM}

Ditto with the elaborate puddings - all their constituent ingredients would have been eaten long before anything resembling the recipe could be constructed.

New maltloaf flavour excitement

OK, this is a little embarrassing. No one should get as excited as I did when I first saw this:
New packaging is crap though. Mainly because it doesn't match my cycling jacket now. Bastards.
They can levitate you know.

Quickly followed by...
Bearing in mind that I was wearing (used) rowing kit at the time, the other customers of the Ely Tesco must have had their fingers poised over the "call" button on their phone with the number to the nearest mental institution pre-dialled as I ran round the store almost crying with joy clasping the said baked product close to me.

Obligatory new maltloaf ranking:

Fruit loaf < Banana loaf < Cinnamon and raisin loaf < Maltloaf < Large maltloaf < 50% extra free large maltloaf*

*Have you seen these? They are huuugggggee.

So it wasn't even that good. Certainly not worth getting arrested for breaching the peace over. UPSETTING. Worth trying though.

Crying over split milk

I do this. I am not ashamed. Milk is the elixir of life. Without it there is no porridge, no coffee, no rice pudding NO ANYTHING GOOD.

Buying stuff in powers of 2

I attribute this to spending too much time in the maths department. Essentially, I only really feel comfortable buying stuff if it is a power of 2, i.e. if I wanted a cucumber or multiple cucumbers, I would buy one cucumber, two cucumbers, four cucumbers, eight cucumbers etc. Probably not 16 cucumbers because that is a lot of cucumbers.

Things get tricky if there are 3 for 2 offers. Three is sort of alright, and nine is fine as it's square. But not six. Six can go an die in a fire. It's a horrible number. A good way round this is if there are different flavours of stuff, I can get two of one kind and one of another.

Fucking hell. I've just read that through and realised how incredibly autistic I sound. But I suppose normal people don't do maths degrees. They certainly don't also walk round a city with tea in a mug with equations on it either because they want to and because they can. Not that I've ever done that. Obviously.

Anyway, this is why I usually end up massively overbuying food and why shopping in Sainsury's is like a weights session with my 8 cans of soup, 8 cans of chopped tomatos and 16 pints of milk.

Talking to the Master

For those who don't know, each college in Cambridge has its own Master who is someone whose had a long and distinguished career in something or other. The Master of Pembroke is a former head of MI6 and happens to quite like rowers. This is how I found myself in this position the other morning:
I like to wear slippers in the library and I was on the way to the library. Hence the slippers.
So that's how I ended up talking about rowing to a former intellegence chief while carrying purple fluffy slippers. I am fairly certain this has never happened to anyone in the history of the world ever.

I am now going to attempt to erase this event from my memory.

~~~~~*****Mind bleach*****~~~~~


Cycling round Ely as dawn breaks listening to Eminem's W.T.P.

Is it bad that I think some of Eminem's stuff is really clever? Probably.
But this is mainly because this is incredibly specific. I bet you've never done October trials wearing BB leggings, your college one piece and this either.
Either that or The Prodigy (They call me Spitfire!!!! Oh yes they do!). Or Tallis. Or Charlie Parker. Or Sinéad O'Connor, who is incidentally the only folk-type singer I can bare to listen to. I went to the Cambridge Folk Festival this summer and it was all fine until they opened their mouths and started singing
I don't really like banjos either.
For some reason as soon as they do this, all enjoyment is completely sucked out of the music like some sort of  harmonic black hole. Once you go over the harmonic black hole event horizon you will form such an incalculably deep loathing of the artist that you will not ever be able to dispell it, even if they stop singing, produce a ukelele and play the Baby Elephant Walk on it while doing a handstand.

As a result of this, for most of the folk festival I could be found in the club tent listening to small timers playing the hurdy gurdy. Now that's an instrument and a half.
But yes, my mp3 player is a little schizophrenic to say the least. I see nothing wrong with listening to Pendulum (Immersion was the official sound track to this year's October trials - which is funny because it was In Silico the year before) then switching to Bach's "The Art of Fugue" without pausing for breath (which is so awesome it cannot be put into words. Contrapunctus 9 pretty much always makes me cry). 

But now you all think I'm some sort of music-y pretentious prat. But whatever.

Bach = max {Human achievement}

Fraid so medical science, NASA space program, Millau viaduct. You just got owned by a guy with a harpsichord from the 18th century.
EDIT: OK, so in reply to this:
Don't get me wrong, I love the bridges. Heck, I'm the daughter of an engineer!
Certainly, the Millau viaduct is nothing short of majestic (and it's a bit mental! Serious kudos to the french for going "Yeahhhh. Fuckit. Let's build a bridge 300m high. Because we are french and we can."). I'll be in so much awe when they manage to span the Bering Strait too. But a "few old tunes"? At the end of the day, a bridge just gets you from one place to another but Bach can repair holes in your soul. IN YOUR SOUL.

And I am very opinionated and am not going to budge on this :-)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Maths fail

The question is, can you spot the moment where I realise (a) just how many pages of summation convention algebra I will have to do and (b) the number of  biros I will wear out to get to the answer?
   And yes, I am aware that "bla bla bla ⇒ result"  does not constitute rigorous mathematical proof. 


EDIT Sorry, I now realise this isn't in the slightest bit funny. Long periods in the library tend to warp what I find amusing.
I love skipping.
I solemnly swear not to write about summation convention ever again. Especially not in the context of trying to be funny.

I am so ashamed.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


So, last weekend was the first set of GB Rowing trials for the 2011 season. This was always going to be a difficult post to write, because there's an imminent danger that I'll just descend into some sort of self-pitying whinging session.
Also, I've certainly got my work cut out trying to make something about Boston funny (so apologies for the lack of funnies - IT WAS HARD).

Anyway, I thought I'd sort of write a survival guide for the first trial. I'm also really sorry, I meant to bring my camera with me to document the weekend, but in packing speedcoach/kit/food/OAKLEYS etc. it got missed out. You'll have to make do with my crappy drawings I'm afraid.

Day 1 - Ergo time

So on Saturday you have to rock up to this sports hall in the middle of nowhere to bash out a 2K. In my opinion, this is basically just several hundred realisations of this fundamental truth:
 No matter how much you want to break that footplate, the ergo is always going to end up in a better state  than you. Not that this should deter you from trying, obviously. KILL IT!!!

Anywaaaaay, this is (roughly) what you're greeted with:
Yes, a camera would have been very useful...
 So the first thing you have to do is fill in this impossible form which asks for all sorts of difficult information like the last time you went to the dentist and the post code of your doctor. It might be worth writing this stuff down somewhere before you go so you don't have an embarrassingly empty form.

Here is what I looked like before my ergo:
I like swearing.
Details of the fucking awesome trainers here.
I'm also a bit lame in that I have a lycra that I've done every single erg test I've ever done in, so I was obviously wearing that too. We've been through a lot together :-)

I'm not too hot at steering.
Now, there'll probably be a bit of a queue for the warming up ergos, so be prepared to be a bit flexible with your warm up. Race times are 15 mins apart, in which you're allocated an  ergo (FUCK YOU ergo #16). I think you can find out your time before you go (a schedule is emailed out or something - I didn't get it, but I knew it would be around 2 so wasn't massively stressed about this).

Now, a few people try to play the system with the erg test, i.e. going soft and just making the cut off time so their legs are a bit fresher for the 5K the next day. Personally, I think this is a bit pathetic. I mean, you're still going to build up an awful lot of lactate anyway going at 90% and are going to have to do the same recovery afterwards. And you look like a tool because it's pretty obvious what you're doing. Hit both performances as hard as possible and be done with it.

VML pulled a 6:38. I was very impressed. (She's a girl). I also won't be drinking chocolate fudge flavored Frijj again for a while... BLURGH.
Pretty standard athlete stuff really, but plan what you're going to eat afterwards and what you're going to do for a warm down (bearing in mind that you probably won't be able to warm down on an ergo). But congratulations, you've done your 2K and are halfway there!

Another bit of advice - book your accommodation early (like September). There's a Premier Inn in Boston which is alright (the year before we didn't book ahead and ended up in Kings Lynn which is flipping miles away. That was NOT FUN). I know some people this year who got some self catering cottages, which is also a pretty good idea. Have a think about where to go for dinner too (we went to Prezzo in town which was fine apart from the world's most useless waiter).
Then sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeppppp.

Day 2 - 5K time trial

This is what I woke up to on Sunday morning:
I can confirm that 24 hour porridge completely SUCKS ASS. Even if it is eaten with a spork. Find something better for breakfast than this.

There'll be time enough in the morning for a prepaddle if you want it before Shep's briefing for the first division (for HW men and women). Now, here is some advice that might save your life.

Girls, you go off after ~100men so are going to be waiting for a very long time at the start. And Boston, like Ely, is one of those fucking cold, miserable places. (It's basically exactly like Ely apart from (a) it smells of cabbages and (b) the locals are more likely to abuse you). Take a lot of kit with you (the small bit of extra weight while racing will be completely worth it if you've avoided frostbite). Buy sealskinz (the waterproof socks) and probably best if you bring some wellies or something with you as the boating area gets really muddy. (My boat bag got really muddy :-( I'm not going to wash it again mind).

Anyway, I decided that I was going to race in the best kit out of everyone, so I took advantage of the fact I don't own any Isle of Ely lycra to wear what clashed the most.
So yes, that's leggings, Oakleys and the hat right there. AND a marmite jersey. All together at last!
 The blood was from a tiny little cut on my right hand which got mashed by my left blade handle every stroke. I looked a state when I landed! Little flakes of it even managed to get on my stern, which I was impressed by.

Oh, and my badgering Oakleys failed me by completely steaming up for the last 1K. This phenomenon is very finely tuned to the wind direction (I think) and is REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING. Rage.

Oh yeah, and there are some sticky out reeds <1K from the finish line. Try not to crash into them on the way to the start like I did (twice) or even worse while racing (which I thankfully didn't).
With thanks to Gemma Akers for warning me of their existence before I got too entangled. I know you were laughing inside at me being a twat :-)
 So yeah, that's what happens at trials. Sorry if that was a little boring.

***Peter Lee Seasonal Barometer update*** (If you've got no idea what I'm talking about, go here first)

Well, there was a little blip and he turned up in not shorts once last week (there was frost on the ground, but it warmed up really quickly). I may have slightly taken the piss at the end of the outing, so he turned up in shorts again the next day. It's fine though, he prefers shorts. I know it.
I should probably mention that he does coach in more than just shorts. There are some things that you just don't want to see at 0730 in the morning and Peter in a launch wearing just shorts is one of them. Sorry Peter.

So, the natural order of things has been restored and it's still officially summer.

Finally, if you think you're having a bad day, at least you're not this fish.
Happy rowing!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Making a bad first impression

I am quite excellent at this (if I may say so myself :-D), so I feel it is only fair that I share with the world how to do this really, really well.

1) Meeting new housemates

When meeting housemates for the first time it is important to be on the way to do your weekly laundry, i.e. be carrying a brimming Ikea bag that smells... well... fresh. Also, as an added bonus, wear sandals with jeans (you know, the hiking-shop type ones) and a minty splashjacket even though you never wear it because you think that people think you're a bit of a tool for wearing one. Oh, and have the general "I've just been dragged through a hedge backwards" look. HAIR EVERYWHERE. (I was just going into college to throw some washing into a machine. I really didn't care....) THEN, when they inevitably ask what subject you do, say Astrophysics.
What my housemate probably wanted to see.
What they got.
Now, I thought saying you did maths was bad enough. People usually give you "The Look", accompanied, presumably by a little mental pop-up in their brains saying "Right. Move away slowly...." However, it's even worse saying you do Astrophysics, I'm afraid to say. They flinch when you say it. They have a little scrolling banner in their heads this time screaming "RUNNNNN. Run for the hills!!!!!!" It's basically the same reaction as when you wear The Leggings in public. Like round Tesco on a Sunday morning. People run from you.

2) Big rowing day

This is more of an apology really. To set the scene, I had just got back from Ely last Satuday (so smelt a bit) , I was wearing the leggings (again - I love cold weather!) and the t-shirt with the :-D face on it (from this post). Oh, and Oakleys. Mmmm. Oakleys.
You have to wear Oakleys to filter out the awesome rays emitted by Oakleys so they are safe to look at.
 Anyway, it was "big rowing day" on the Cam where loads of people who've never rowed before descend on all the college boathouses for tubbing-related japery. It also marks the 3rd anniversary of me rowing! (Wooo! PCBC FTW! :->).  So there I was, wearing some pretty scary kit and some very scary sunglasses on my bike on the hard dodging BBQs and freshers in their bloody "Leavers 10 :-D Look how young we are!!!!111!!!" hoodies and people carrying blades etc.
I was so distracted by (a) not killing anyone and (b) the glare from the mintyness on my legs that I actually cycled over some poor bastard's blade. I'm ashamed to say I was a bit of a twat and just said sorry as I rode off trying not to asphyxiate from laughing so hard. I think it was a St Catz macon. I feel a bit bad about this, so, for the record:

ANYWAY. So, my general advice is for everyone to take Astrophysics courses (I mean, "Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics" does sound awesome, doesn't it?) and wear bad kit while carting round loads of smelly clothes. That's how you get on in life! :-)

I mentioned earlier that I like cold weather, mainly because winter clothes are better. Oh, and for the joys of **TOAST** and soup for warming up with. For example, I drew this on the train this morning. I think it is a fair representation of what me and my friend Sarah looked like at 0620:
I've realised that I've missed off Sarah's iPhone. I apologise profusely for this oversight. And yes, we were that happy. We had HATS!
But yes, winter = great hats! The one shown above was aquired in a rather weird way, in that it orignally belonged to my mother. This happened whenever she wore it and she got pissed off:
So, as a consquence, she did the logical thing and gave it to her fashionable daughter.
+1 Hat! Result!
I have since discovered the true meaning of warmth. Also, if I wear it with my OAKLEYS and a snood (one of those neckwarmer things - my sister swears that this is what they're called...) I look like a Russian hitman! Woo!

There is one smal problem however. It is not offically winter yet, so I feel a little wussy wearing a hat in what is actually still summer. I'll explain: the seasons are judged on what my coach wears in Ely. This system I have called

He has a dog called Elmo YES IT'S A DOG THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
The PLSB is currently in summer mode. I therefore feel like I should only wear a one-piece all the time even though it's 4° and it's a 50mph headwind and it's hailing and your hands have frozen to the blade handles. But Peter's wearing shorts so MTFU and take off that longsleeve. I will update you when the barometer gets set to winter mode so you can wear your leggings again without being judged.

FINALLY, I found this and I challenge you not to smile just a tincy bit when you watch it (not a Rickroll - promise!) When I'm dancing in public, I like to think I look like the woman at the top of the staircase and not like I'm having a seizure. 

(I wish I knew how to embed youtube videos in blogger - if anyone knows can you tell me? They seemed to have disabled the embedding code...) 

On that note, good night!

Oh, and the "updating at 1700" thing? LIES. But I like the picture of the dinosaur so it's staying.