JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

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Police tickets on sale this morning

February 24th, 2007 · No Comments

Tickets for The Police concert in Seattle on Wednesday June 6 go on sale to the general public this morning at 9 am, according to Ticketmaster. I won’t be going to the concert and I’ve never owned a Police album. Yet I find myself feeling some nostalgia for this band whose music brings me immediately back to middle school, adolescence, my early sexuality and first glimpses of music videos.

Everything comes around again. In particular I remember one of my classmates in eighth grade bringing the liner notes Synchronicity to our class on Homer’s Odyssey, pointing out to the teacher that the lyrics to “Wrapped Around Your Finger” referred to “Scylla and Charybdis“, characters we recognized from Odysseus’ journey. Around the time The Police announced their reunion tour, my daughters and I were finishing a history book, a book that contained the story of Cyclops as an excerpt from Homer’s tale.

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The return of Guinea Pig TV

February 23rd, 2007 · 1 Comment

Thanks to the many fans who have linked (and loved) Guinea Pig TV (some even international!). We have had some technical difficulties but are now back on the air with four new episodes posted so far this week. The girls have continued to learn, writing episodes and beginning to edit them too. Thanks again to Derek Miller for his music.

First, I have not yet linked to March of the Gummy Penguins from this blog, an episode inspired by local stop-action animators (Ed Hager and Sarah Gould respectively – with special thanks to Ed for his advice) and created by the penguin-loving Michaela.

Tea with Piggy Episode #8 was written by Elisabeth, age 4. Blooper included.

When Daddy’s Not Home has a script that was simmering for a while in Abigail’s mind. We finally filmed it when Ted went to San Francisco in January. I had to learn some screencasting (with iShowU) to try to fulfill the plot.

First 4-H Winter Clinic Episode #10: Until this year I was not familiar with 4-H but now I am a big fan, after our first Winter Clinic. Take a peek and see what we learned. Abigail made a cage and Chatterboy got his ear tagged for future shows. Please note that this episode is rated PG: “sexing the cavy” is demonstrated.

As Dave Winer described so well, spring has arrived with some long-awaited sweet sunny days. Watch Chatterboy enjoy the crocus and garden in this Spring! special edition:

We’ve even had a request: someone who would like to appear on GPTV. Here are two ideas: One, create a clip or picture we could post. Or send us a postcard and we’ll send you one too!

Postscript: The girls watched Chris Pirillo’s Help! videos and were inspired. Now Chatterboy is asking Chris to help him with his problem: he eats his bedding. Chatterboy’s video voice (performed by Abigail) sends us all into giggles. But seriously, anyone have a solution? We need help!

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Blogging can be bad…or good…for your health

February 23rd, 2007 · 3 Comments

Blogging can be bad for your health. This revelation came to me a year ago, as I stood in my closet, trying on clothes, searching for something to wear to Northern Voice 2006. The black skirt I bought for Bloggercon II, the first blogging conference I attended in 2004 did not fit, two years and many conferences later, vivid and tangible evidence I could no longer deny as I tried to button the band around my waist. Somehow during the years I had been posting and presenting intensely I had also been gaining weight at steady rate: it wasn’t a coincidence.

My weight gain from 2004 to 2006 can’t be blamed on blogging alone. Certainly typing must burn some calories. And I can’t blame blogging for my own bad choices.

However, the hours I poured into posting converted into pounds on the scale. As I focussed on blogging, I developed a lifestyle and habits that were not healthy. Often I stayed awake long past midnight, reading, writing and linking, sedentary in a chair, rising too late to fit effective exercise into my morning routine. Caffeine disguised as chocolate and delivered in the shape of cookies also contributed, as I snacked on sweets to fuel my fingers.

Blogging can be good for your health

While blogging can be bad for your health, blogging can also be good for it too. Through the past year, many bloggers inspired me as I’ve tried to make better changes and choices in my lifestyle, results reflected in my new wardrobe.

Today, a year after my desperate search for a conference outfit, I can wear my Bloggercon skirt. In contrast, the pants I wore to Northern Voice a year ago are no longer hanging in my closet, too loose to be comfortable. I am at the lowest weight I’ve been in seven or eight years, and certainly in the best shape I’ve been in for a while, perhaps since my days of competitive running in high school.

Running again

Running again has helped me meet my goals, and I am finishing week 3 of an 18 week marathon training plan. Who knows if I’ll actually run the 26 mile race: my previous attempt at training last fall resulted in injury after only 4 miles, accompanied by a detour through the world of physical therapy and podiatry. But so far, complete with new orthotics, I’m up to 7+ miles this time and feeling strong. After taking nearly ten years off from intense running (initially intentionally due to infertility) I’d forgotten how good physical fitness feels.

Thank you!

I want to acknowledge and thank a number of bloggers, in no particular order, who have encouraged me by their examples, lives and posts. Thank you for helping me become healthier. I want to give credit where credit is due (forgive me please if I’ve missed you).

Liz Lawley

Susan Mernit

Jeremy Zawodny

Chris Pirillo and Fatblasters

Jen Zug


Jenny Lauck

Lisa Williams

Beth Grigg

Jenny on the Spot

Back in skinny jeans

songs of experience

(As I’ve been putting this post together I’ve seen a number of links to Jason Calacanis‘s fatblogging…)

Helpful books

Four books in particular have helped me. From Dadtalk – and his example – I found The Okinawa Diet Plan. From mipmup’s post on the Blogher blog I discovered The Great American Detox Diet by Alex Jamieson (fiancee of Super Size Me’s Morgan Spurlock) whose recipes have become part of our family’s diet. Somewhere I also found The China Study, and although I can’t recall the first source (was it here?), I know Joi Ito has been referring to it in his recent changes. Lisa Williams recommended Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Health Eating.

Diet changes

I’ve been interested in going vegan for a while and although I can’t say I am quite there yet, I am enjoying a low-gluten, low sugar, low fat, low sodium, low yeast and low animal-product diet. My exceptions are chocolate chip cookies, salmon, and social situations. For two meals a day I prepare three different options at each meal (one for Ted who likes meat but can’t have dairy, one for our three girls and a vegan one for me) but sometimes at dinner I eat what the rest of the family is having, for simplicity’s sake (and, I confess, I still crave meat or eggs every so often). Fat Free Vegan Kitchen blog has been a wonderful resource, with savory photos and recipes. Brown rice has become one of my favorite foods – breakfast, lunch or dinner – as well as millet, spelt, fruit and beans.

Kathy Sierra continually inspires me, and if she tries something, it’s probably worth trying. However, despite her endorsement of the Shangri-La Diet, I found it didn’t work for me. Shangri-La certainly has its devotees who have discovered how to make it work for their bodies. After a few attempts, I soon realized that I would need to ingest multiple tablespoons of oil a day in order for the benefits to kick in for my body. I also didn’t like watching the clock and adding more things I had to remember to my schedule. At the time I was undergoing some medical care and I couldn’t see myself trying to explain to the doctor why I was swallowing tablespoons of oil a day. Shangri-La also requires its share of discipline and patience, and for those who are willing to go the distance, I imagine it may be worthwhile.

What worked for me

What worked for me, though were the basics. Exercise and diet. I’d also make these recommendations.

1. See a doctor. Medical care played a big part in my return to health.

2. Try fasting occasionally. Do this with #1 above – only fast if it is something you can do medically. Fasting helped me realize that I felt better when I didn’t eat certain foods. I started fasting for spiritual reasons but I believe there are also physical benefits. I like the simplicity and clarity of a short (1 – 3 days) fast. Plus it is a great way to contemplate life, develop discipline and mental strength.

3. Keep at it. Push through the days when the exercise is difficult or when the sweets seem tempting. Set a goal you want to meet.

4. Find some encouragement and support for the journey. That may include finding some blogs to read to put some motivational posts into your RSS feed. Blogging can be good for your health!

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Do you Twitter?

February 21st, 2007 · 2 Comments

Do you Twitter? I do. And so does Chatterboy our guinea pig. Including Ted, we are a three-Twitter-account-family.

Twitter has appeared in numerous blog posts recently. I thought Darren’s reasons for not Twittering intriguing. While I wouldn’t sign up with Plazes either, I don’t see Twittering as disclosing where I am all the time. There can be a definite TMI aspect to it. And yes, who needs another feed to read especially one at a tedious level of detail?

At first Twittering didn’t appeal to me, but after Ted signed up, I decided to try it too. The girls like Twittering on behalf of their pet guinea pig. It’s typing practice combined with pet diary. Good for composition, vocabulary and spelling as well as basic observation skills and lots of giggling. A little break to take in between long division and Julius Caesar.

I find Twitter refreshing: less is required of me. It’s a guilty pleasure, candy or even cheesy. Hey, I can even write about the proverbial cheese sandwich and not worry about boring or offending everyone: it’s an appropriate channel for material that may not be so appropriate for blog posts. I see it as an exercise – and challenge – in concise creativity, entertainment and expression, with the side benefit of some actual conversation, communication and relationship building. It’s fun. And as long as it’s fun, I’ll Twitter.

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Egg Drop Experiment

February 14th, 2007 · 9 Comments

Egg drop experiment: Julie

Inspired by the Ignite Seattle challenge and Bre Pettis’ blog posts, the girls and I decided to try our own egg drop experiment even though we couldn’t make it to the meeting on Tuesday night.

First I got out the shipping box I had received from Apple with my MacBook repairs and I let the two older girls create their own contraptions with those egg crate and blue foam packing materials plus lots of duct tape. I figured anything Apple was using had probably been proven effective in various drop situations.

I also thought it would be fun to use ordinary household objects. So Elisabeth and I stuffed an old baby bath sponge inside a Lego container. She packed the remaining empty space with washcloths. For a fourth experiment, I did a little reading online (while trying to research how to do the actual drop) and decided to try popcorn packed inside an empty (sugar) carton.

We didn’t watch Bre Pettis’ video until after we had dropped our own eggs. As always his creations and ideas are inspiring. He also included a simplified equation that could be used to calculate the speed of the egg. Since our drop was 8 feet, the egg reached a speed of 15 miles per hour on its way from our deck rail to the concrete outside our garage.

The girls made the suggestion so I made fried rice for dinner: we ate the three eggs that survived the drop.

End of the Egg Drop Experiment: Fried Rice

For more details, please watch our video! The girls each describe their creations and then we discovered which ones would survive the fall…

I can’t wait to try this one again. It’s fun and educational. And as Bre suggests, a great thing to do as a group. Thanks to Ignite Seattle for the inspiration!

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