Friday, October 29, 2004

Last week I was in Jacksonville, Crazyland. I actually had a good time- I was teaching a 2-day class to a group of statisticians and business analysts for a large bank. They had lots of questions, they were really interested in the course material, and they ate lunch and dinner with me while I was there. Which is always nice. But I still say that Florida should be renamed Crazyland. Those people drive on the shoulder, cross the grassy medians to make U-turns, and pass in the turn lanes. F'ing crazies.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm in Denver this week and will stay the weekend and fly to Dallas on Sunday, and stay there until Tue night. I was planning to go hike a 14'er this weekend while I'm here, but the locals have talked me out of it- they said there'd be too much snow and I shouldn't do it alone this time of year. So instead I'll go check out the hiking trails in some of the lower-altitude state parks instead.

In Dallas, I'm booked to stay at the Hilton Dallas North, which some of you may recall (haha, like you'd really recall this) was the hotel where Tony and I had our wedding reception. It's only a mile or so from our Dallas regional office so it was a convenient place to stay, and I'm looking forward to seeing the ballroom again and reminiscing a little bit.

And I'll be flying home on election day. HEY-- have you voted yet? We early voted last Saturday-- stood in line for 2 hours, but we got it done. Like it matters, since we're in a "red" state. But really, it does matter. If every single Kerry/Edwards supporter in NC actually voted, we'd take the state in a landslide. And then we'd beat up all the W supporters. And finally we'd smear ourselves in the W ketchup in representation of the blood of the enemy. I swear, the next time I see one of those idiotic black "W. The President" stickers on a car I will seriously consider putting a brick through the window. On the side with the driver. Getting a little rowled up. Must re-center and find inner peace (oooohhhhmmmmm ooohhhhmmmm ppppht).

I've been trying to keep my workouts going while I've been on the road, but for some reason I am completely unmotivated. I get dressed, go out, but on my headphones, start jogging, and then.... hmmm... nope, this sucks. Then I go back to the hotel and watch some TV. Wierd. I'm so good at keeping my workouts going when I'm home.

After the Denver/Dallas twin trip, I'll have a trip to Indianapolis, Ugh. But I've been informed that it might be cancelled. Fingers crossed. Oh, I hope. Because if it cancels, then I won't have to go anywhere until after Thanksgiving. And in December, I have 2 great trips-- one to Austin and another to Toronto. Now, maybe Toronto in December sounds pretty bad to some people, but I can't wait. You see, we close on selling the old house next Tuesday (!) and so I will be able to once again go SHOPPING! And Toronto has terrific shopping. Most of downtown can be accessed from underground (where it's warm) and the exchange rate, while not as good as it once was, is still pretty good. And they have different stores than we have here, so I can get nifty things that I wouldn't be able to find at home. Ha. Ha! Shopping! whEEEE!!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Short update-

When I bought my new hiking boots yesterday, I also bought a pair of Vasque trail-running shoes, and today I took them on their maiden voyage on the rock-and-root-roll-your-ankle trail in the state park, 4 miles. It was GREAT! I luvluvluv my new shoes. They turn rocky-bumpy terrain into smooooth pavement. nice.

Happy Days Are Here Again

Well, OK, I didn't get out and vote on Friday. It was the 2nd day of absentee voting, and I figured the lines would be pretty long. So I'll either go today or Friday. I leave tomorrow morning for Jacksonville, FL. Florida, a.k.a. Crazyland, is one of my least favorite states to go to. I don't mind Orlando too much- it's the least pretty of the Crazyland cities, but there seem to be fewer Crazies there, so it's OK. Yes, yes, I was born in Crazyland (Tampa) and lived there until I was 7, but I like to think that most of the maniacal serial-killer tendencies were washed away by living in New Orleans during the formative years (7-16) and Texas during early adulthood (16-26). It's amazing how one's environment shapes their outcomes: instead of a maniacal serial killer who drives badly, I'm a woman of relaxed moral standards with tendencies toward vigilante justice.

Anyway, if I don't vote by the 25th, I'm screwed because I'll be out of town from the 26th-Nov 2.

That'll be a FUN trip. I'm teaching in Denver the 27-29 (W-F), and then in Dallas the 1-2 (M-T), so I'll stay in Colorado for the weekend and just fly straight to Dallas Sunday night. That means I can drive out to somewhere near Georgetown, CO and hike a 14'er on Saturday morning. :-))) I hope the snow isn't too high at 14K feet! Last night I bought a new pair of gore-tex hiking boots which I'll break in next weekend. I've got waterproof ski pants. Is that enough for hiking at 14K feet in the snow in late October?

On Friday our house went under contract- Yay! -so we spent the weekend doing more work on the decks. The realtor insisted that we have both decks inspected by the city (which is wierd- nobody does this, but she was all insistent about it) and so, of course, the city inspector had a long list of things to be done to bring it up to the Residential code. Well, thing is, it was designed and built by a structural engineer, and it is more than strong enough for all the load bearing requirements, but because the inspector has a list ("building code for dummies") of specifications, he doesn't like the shape of the footings, the type of beams, color of the wood stain, whatever, and it has to be changed. The biggest project was pouring new footings for the front deck. Totally unnecessary, since what we had already far exceeded the load requirements for NC building code (according to the Structural Engineer), but it will make the inspector happy, so we did it. There was one thing we had to do that we always suspected we'd have to do-- add pickets to the handrails on the back stairs, so we did that too (and added some unnecessary X-bracing, some unnecessary anchor bolts, and unnecessary screws). But hey, it's done! :-) :-) And the house is selling. I'm glad, because it is a nice house- and SO MUCH NICER than it was when we bought it.

I probably won't blog much this week, so look for more around Friday or so!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Did You Watch Any Of The Debates?

I think for most of us decided voters, the debates were just a good excuse to go do some yardwork, take a nighttime bike ride, catch up on all the overdue loofah-ing that was ignored in the last 2 months, or go to bed early.

I mean honestly? Anyone who is not a decided voter by now has either been under a rock for 4 years or is late for a date with a straightjacket. Oh, that also goes for anyone deciding to vote Bush in '04.

Which reminds me. File under "gee, we've come a long way, and no, political correctness is NOT a bad idea," Tony is currently working on a project that was built in the 50s, and at the time was officially known as an "Idiot Colony." Idiot, for those not quite up to speed on their psychological lingo, was one of the (now antiquated) terms used to refer to the mentally handicapped. Makes it sound like "idiocy" is a communicable disease, like leprosy. And speaking of leprosy, we got to see lots of dead armadillos while we were back in TX last week. Ahhh, home sweet home.

Back on topic. We did accidentally watch about 5 minutes of the first debate. All we caught was a lot of Bush smirking, then lying, then smirking some more. We turned it off once we realized that our ears were ringing from yelling at the TV so loudly. Here's a snippet of the transcript:

J Lehrer: Mr president, question

Bush: lie, lie, lie

(JL: Mr Senator, question)


B:(smirksmirksmirk snarf!!)

JL:So, Mr President, question

B:lie,lie,lie misunderestimate nookyooler lie

JL:mr senator...


(catandtony): did you ever hear Kerry say ANYTHING? No, I didn't. Did you?

Ah, I've got to go vote tomorrow. Then perahps I'll find some kind of inner peace. Hey, this is the first time I've ever lived in a battleground state! Who'da thunk NC would be a battleground state!

Don't forget: vote early and often.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

True Tales of a South Texas Bridesmaid

No blog for a long time because I was away from a computer all last week, and have spent this week catching up at work from being gone last week.

My cousin Twinkie #2 got married last weekend in Uvalde, TX. I was one of eleven bridedmaids (4 junior, 7 senior), arranged at the altar by height. The only reason I wasn't in the VERY back of the line was that I was a senior bridesmaid, and the junior bridesmaids had to line up behind the senior bridesmaids. But they were all (ages 12,13,14) taller than me. grr. grr. I was, thanksfully, taller than the flower girl.

I flew into Austin Tuesday. Mom picked me up at the airport and we drove straight to Uvalde (about 3 hours). We had a nice time chatting in the car. I managed to get my workout in Tue, Wed, and Thursday. After that, all bets were off.

In spite of the title of this blog, it was a really pretty, tasteful wedding. But boy, was it a lot of work. There was quite enough to do with wedding preparations anyway (flowers, dresses, various tuille-wrapped thingies, glue-guns and ribbon) but on top of it all, we spent several days just cleaning my cousin's house and yard. I was not expecting this kind of wedding preparation, and with 3 dogs and somewhere around 20 cats in the house, it was no easy job. But she wanted the wedding reception at her house... (next time I will offer to pay for a reception hall)

Around 150 guests came to the wedding, most of them from our family. Tony flew in Thursday night (we picked him up in San Antonio) and was put to work first thing Friday morning, and had work to do up until the end. Various wedding praparation things, mostly. He was also Mr Catering, being responsible for picking up and setting up the food at the rehersal dinner Friday as well as the appetizer table at the reception. We cut up several coolers-full of cheese, fruit, and veggies. After the ceremony, he rushed back to the house, loaded up all the food onto a 3-tiered platter, set out dip, toothpicks, napkins, plates, etc. and then kept the platter replinished throughout the evening. Too bad nobody tipped. :D

In side news, dad raced in the Texas state road race championships Saturday and took 2nd place-- not bad for a guy who had prostate surgery just last June! The only guy who could beat him was a fellow who got 2nd place in the nationals last year.

Sunday, our flight home was out of San Antonio at around 7pm, so we had all day to play around. We helped a little with the cleanup, but I wanted to have some fun time as well, so dad, Tony and I drove in to SA and spent the day at the Riverwalk. We had a terrific time and just chatted over coffee for several hours.

We had some delays on our flight home, but nothing too bad, got home around 2am, slept late Monday, and I've been trying to catch up at work since.

In more news-- Someone Might Be Interested In The House......shhhhhhh.....can't count my chickens before they hatch.......

I'll keep you posted. Light a candle and say an Ave for the house to sell!

Friday, October 1, 2004

A Long, Boring Blog About Exercise: You've Been Warned! (but I had fun writing it)

OK, I've now jogged to or from work the short way (2.3 miles) 4 times, and I've gone the long way (4.25 miles) 3 times. I'm still biking too, because that's the only way I can carry stuff to/from work.

As a reminder to you who are on the edge of your seats about my work commute, the short way is all on roads-- 1/2 mile in the woods leaving my neighborhood, 1/2 mile in the woods on the road that goes alongside the state park, and then 1.3 miles on campus which is a blend of woods and farmland, so it's pretty well shaded. There is a sidewalk on campus. Not too many cars, but there are some.

The long way is 1 mile on roads (same thing- 1/2 mile out of the neighborhood, 1/2 mile to the State Park entrance) and then 2.25 miles on trails, and another mile on a busy street that crosses the interstate, but with a sidewalk the whole way.

I like to go the long way better than the short way, but I get so sweaty that I can't do it in the mornings on the way to work, only in the evenings going home. On the long route I see more wildlife. Yesterday heading home I saw 6 or 7 deer. Lots of teeny baby deer that look just like Bambi- all speckly. And dogs. People with dogs all over the park. I like the dogs. :-) Except yesterday I was chased by a hound dog whose owner was nowhere in sight and he was BIG and it scared me a little.

I've been biking to work for almost 3 years, on roads, on mtn bike trails, on routes as short as 2 miles and as long as 12 miles each way. I loooooove biking to work. Maybe I'll feel that warmly about jogging someday. Maybe. It is a completely different workout to jog than it is to bike. You can't coast when you're jogging, so there's no rest time. On the other hand, hills are way easier on foot than on a bike, so it's also less high-intensity to jog. If you see a big speed hump, you can WHOOSH rush up to it on the bike and go FWOOP!! FWOOP!! and get a thrill. On foot, it's more like --fwap--fwap--fwap--fwap--fwap--fwap--fwap--fwap. Overall, I'd say the jog is harder than the same time on a bike mostly because you can't use wind to cool you off and you can't coast downhill. I'm getting blisters on my toes. That can slow me down. I usually get a stitch in my side when I jog. I don't get that doing anything else, and I don't know how to prevent it. :-(

It doesn't help that I am 1) the most high-maintenance jogger in the world and 2) the slowest jogger in the world. Oh, you don't believe me?? If I have to pee, I hate jogging. I won't jog with a backpack. If iPod bounces *at all* on my arm on in my waistpack, I get aggravated. If my bangs bounce and touch my forehead, I get aggravated. Same with my sunglasses on the bridge of my nose. If I can hear sweat beading up on my headphones (yes you CAN hear it!!), I will stop and wipe them off. If my shorts ride up a little and my thighs rub together, I get aggravated and start running all chicken-legged to shake them loose. I've turned my ankle doing this. more than once. I don't like to run if I just ate, or if I'm hungry. Shoes too tight, shoes too loose, shoestrings too long so that they bounce and touch my legs? Grrrrr. AND- that 4.25 mile jog on the trails takes me *1 hour.* So, how many mph is that?

On the other hand, *nothing* bothers me on the bike. I can wear pretty much anything, I don't care if I'm sweating, or if my eyes are watering from the cold, or if it's a million degrees out, if I'm thirsty, hungry, just ate, have digentional distress, none of it matters. It's all tuned out by the joy and rush of wind, speed, scenery, flipping the proverbial bird at auto-commuters everywhere.

So why am I jogging? Well, like I said, I want to feel that way about jogging, too. I didn't always love biking so much. I can remember once, when I was a teenager, telling my dad (who has been a bike racer for over 30 years and is now a cycling coach) "Dad, biking is *your* sport. I just don't like it as much as you. I'll stick to aerobics. I'll never like biking all that much so just stop bugging me about it, OK?" Some of my fondest memories of age 12-15 were riding the tandem with my dad on the weekly Monday-Wednesday Lakefront training rides in New Orleans. This was a 6-mile loop that passed along Lake Ponchartrain and looped back on Robt E Lee Blvd. To get hills in there, we'd cross an overpass that took you over a canal into New Orleans East. Then, I tried racing. At the time there were no girls racing, which I now see as the major problem, but didn't realize it at the time. Anyway, I was competing in races with the 15-17 year old boys. And compared to them, I STUNK. How fun is it to always come in LAST place in EVERY race? It didn't matter that I was first in my "class" (junior women) ...biking just wasn't so much fun anymore.

OK enough regression therapy. Back to jogging. Eventually (especially if I can beat the Stitch In The Side) I'm hoping that jogging be fun, too. If not, well at least it's good cross-training. For a few years I was swimming a lot (now you want to see slow-- WHOO! 1 mile per hour, oh yeah!) and I think there's a triathlon in me somewhere. And I can ride fast enough now that maybe I won't come in LAST place...

If anyone knows what the heck that stick in the side thing is, or how to get rid of it, please tell me!