life

Running a half marathon

I recently ran my first half marathon.

Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

I have never thought of myself as an athletic person. The combined horrors of puberty and middle school gym teachers gave me a longstanding opinion that exercise was something other people did.

I first dipped my toe into running about 8 years ago, when I followed the Couch to 5K programme and shocked myself by managing to run for a solid half hour. But since then, my running had been pretty inconsistent. Occasionally I would keep it up for a few weeks at a time, but I had no goals and didn’t make much of an effort to fit it into my schedule. I’d do 2 miles here and there when I felt like it, and that was it.

One day last September, I was sitting on the bus during a particularly tedious commute, and saw that my friend had signed up for a local half marathon. “Maybe I could do that!” I thought. The intense boredom of the bus was so great that I signed up on the spot.

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life

Life after cheese, 6 months in

I’ve been a vegan for more than half a year now. It’s going great. At first I was hesitant to talk about it, because everyone hates smug vegans. But I’ve gotten a lot of questions about it recently, and it’s actually something I feel very strongly about. So screw it – let’s talk about why and how I became a herbivore.

For years, going vegan was something that I had a vague sense I should be doing, but could not be bothered to do. I’d been vegetarian since I was an animal-loving kid, but couldn’t bring myself to take the next step. “I love cheese,” I said. “If I don’t eat cheese, my life will be barren and I will literally die.”

Then I read this article:

Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth

Biggest analysis to date reveals huge footprint of livestock – it provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of farmland

The study in the article was enormous, covering 40,000 farms in 119 countries. And it showed that animal agriculture’s impact on the environment was massive. My love of cheese was contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation of the Amazon, and water and air pollution.

Climate change regularly keeps me up at night. I stare at my bedroom ceiling, thinking about famines, rising sea levels, mass extinctions. The fact that we humans are not doing enough to stop this future from happening fills me with deep fear and frustration. I see my friends having kids and worry about the state of the planet we’re leaving them. Suddenly the cheese did not seem worth it.

“Well, shit,” I thought. “I’d better get on with it.”

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video games

I am still playing The Sims 2

Last night, the tiny island of Prospero suffered a great tragedy – everyone under the age of 33 mysteriously vanished, not only from the town, but from the memories of their friends and family. It was as if they had never existed.

Cassie Cardelli, the town’s oldest resident and owner of the local supermarket, was left alone in the world without her beloved daughter Jordan, an aspiring professional party guest. Country musician April Larrea was the youngest survivor, but her parents (both retired superheroes) had no memory of their other 3 children, or of her father’s secret other child (the daughter of April’s boyfriend’s sister). April’s brother August and his girlfriend Luna had been expecting their first child in day’s time – now the young family was wiped from existence, never to be seen again.

All in all, 17 souls were lost. They live on only in my memories, and also in the overly complicated spreadsheet I used to keep track of them.

I speak, of course, of the tragic corruption of my neighbourhood in The Sims 2. Because I am still playing The Sims 2.

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Screengrab of Sex House title credits
television

The Onion’s Sex House is now our reality

Here’s a pitch for a reality show: move a group of young, attractive, single people into luxury accommodation. Cut them off from the outside world and deprive them of any entertainment beyond social interaction. Use overtly sexual challenges and nudges from the producers to encourage them to act on their attraction to each other. Other reality shows may pretend to be a social experiment, but this one has no illusions about why the audience is really there: we want to see people hook up on television.

Today, this show is ITV2’s monster hit Love Island. But back in 2012, this was The Onion’s Sex House.

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A giant gorilla and The Rock
film

Some thoughts on Rampage

Tonight I watched Rampage, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I watched it because I will watch literally anything with The Rock in it. I have even seen Pain and Gain, a film which made me want to remove my brain from my skull and just slosh some bleach around in there for a bit to try to remove the deep sense of shame.

Here are some facts about Rampage I learned from briefly looking at its Wikipedia page:

  • To get inspiration for how to animate the many, many destroyed buildings in this movie, the special effects team watched footage from 9/11, which… yeesh.
  • Rampage is the best-reviewed video game movie on Rotten Tomatoes. 52%, baby!
  • Uwe Boll, king of crappy video game movies, threatened to sue Warner Bros and accused the film of “brainwashing America”.

Now that the tone is set, let’s get into the plot. Spoilers, I guess.

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Photo of the TV screen showing Kassandra atop a unicorn
video games

Playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

Last autumn, I started playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey on the PS4. I’d had a mixed experience with other games in the series: I played a fair bit of Black Flag; watched a fair bit of Assassin’s Creed III; and played 15 minutes of Assassin’s Creed II before I ran down a street I wasn’t meant to go down yet, failed the mission with a “you can’t go that way” message, and immediately ragequit. Since that experience, Ubisoft and I had been on an extended break.

But I am a sucker for the classical world, the reviews were good, and the option to play as a female protagonist was a big draw (turns out they’re not that hard to animate after all). So I fired up the console, cocooned myself on the sofa, spent ages downloading updates, and then settled into the game.

Several months and 110+ hours later, I’ve completed the main quest, collected most of the achievements, and visited most of the expansive map. My time with the game definitely isn’t over yet – there are islands I haven’t even seen yet, major secondary quests that need completing, and I haven’t touched the DLC – but at this point, I think it’s safe to say that I really, really like this game. So here’s why.

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