Thursday, June 30, 2005

Dear Diary, Wednesday June 15
©Today it rained a lot and we explored Old Montreal and the Underground. We visited Notre Dame de Bonsecours, where the lights hanging from the ceiling are little wooden ships. We had lunch at a restaurant called Forget (they pronounce it For-jhay so silly the french) and it was kind of hot & muggy, but they made up for it by bringing out 2 small sugar pies. Sugar pie is a local specialty made from maple sugar that’s a lot like chess pie. But with maple instead of brown sugar. Yum. After lunch we split up boys & girls, and the fun group went shopping (strictly catch & release) while the manly men found an internet cafĂ© in a bookstore and read emails.

(J) Something cool happened to Cat today. At the grocery store, Cat was chatting with the checker (in French), when her mom walked up and asked her something (in English) and she responded (in English). He was surprised, and after checking her (North Carolina) ID, he told the bagger (with surprise), “She’s not French, she’s American!” He asked Cat where she learned French and didn’t believe she learned it in the US. Cat says….of course I’ll never trick a French person, but the Quebecoises are fooled! Heehee! Way to go Cat!! Also, thank you goddess of Magnesia!

© We found dinner goodies at the grocery store. Not haute cuisine, but good enough, and the cheese & sweets were top-notch. This hotel is a terrific place for a group to stay. The breakfast area in the basement has dishes, tables, and a microwave. We just brought out dinner down and sat around eating and telling jokes & stories all evening. Way fun. Then we picked Tony up from the airport.

(T)When we got back to the room, Eric handed me a yeasty dark Canadian beer. Yum. Vacation.

Notre Dame de Bonsecours is a sailor's church in Montreal right on the old port. Everything is nautical-themed.

This is one of the wooden ships that hangs from the ceiling at ND de B. If you're into boats and ships, you'd love this church.

And we were sure not to have any fun at a ll before Tony got to town. That just wouldn't be fair. So everyone was on their best grown-up behavior.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Dear Diary, Tuesday June 14
*Note: I switched the thumbnail images to small for faster loading. Click on them to get the bigger image.

© Today it rained and we explored Montreal on bikes a little. We visited the Lachine canal bike path, made a few laps around the big outdoor farmer’s market although it was already closed. I forgot that up in Canadia, in late June, the sun is out almost all night. Sunset around 9:30 and sunrise around 4.

(J) Nothin’ like a little rain to make you appreciate the sun. We still had a blast, rain and all. We rode on the trails down by the canals. Also, goddess of Magnesia, pray for us!

(T) I was back in RDU at work with senioritis.

(E) It was raining this morning. A lot. We walked to the nearest subway station, Prefontaine, in the rain. I
wish my raincoat went to the bottom of my kilt. The front of each leg gets soaked. We rode the subway over to Place D’Armes and walked into Vieux Montreal. Past Eggspectations, to the Notre Dame Cathederal. It was closed for another 40 minutes. Cat translated the Plaque in the square while we all
backseat translated and tried to avoid reading the english version right below the french one. We went
to the Archealogy museum but decided $11 was too much, I guess we were not that interested. We went to
Forget for lunch. I forget the full name. Great maple sugar pie. We headed back after that.

We then did an easy 2 hour ride through old Montreal and up Lachine Canal. We did a couple of side tours. One of a goofy circle and another of Atwater market. We also threw in a few U turns. Accidental
and otherwise. It was a good inaugural ride to get everyone acclimated to the paths, and the city. We had take out Chinese for dinner because the grocery store was closed. Did I mention that the sun stays up late here?

Trying to read the plaque in Place D'Armes. THere was an English version of it just beneath the French...

This is the hotel we stayed at in Montreal, with the Vanarchy out front.

The Lachine Canal

Eric earned his pocket money by truing everyone's wheels in the basement of the hotel.

OK, so these are out of order. Back at the Lachine canal.

There were dragon boats practicing in the canal. Coooooool.

This is the weird circle E referred to. Right there on the bike path. We had a little trouble getting all of us through it without wrecking...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Dear Diary, (Monday June 13)
© Today we watched 2 events at the senior Olympics. Our hotel was a hoot—at breakfast, there were all these old people (these folks were easily in their 70s) sitting around drinking coffee and eating the danishes, talking about their triathlon split times, how high they could vault, racing tactics, etc.

©We headed off to watch mom in her racewalking event first. D, J and I were late in arriving because of some highway antics and a 2-mile-walk from the parking area to the starting line of the race. It was just as well because the race got off to a false start because someone forgot to tell the walkers to turn at the 1km mark. So they just kept going. Uphill. In the summer heat. Finally someone chased down the old folks racewalking into the wild blue yonder, and rallied them back to the start to try it again.

©After the race, mom & dad drove on to Montreal. The rest of us wandered around Pittsburgh for the afternoon until time for the volleyball game. The event was in an un-air-conditioned gym with no working fans. So it was 10 games running at a time, the youngest player was 55, and the oldest was Who Knows how old—easily in their 80s—in a 100+ degree gymacafetorium. The youngster spectators (aka us) whined about the heat. The old folks laughed at the heat and played on. Jess’s mom and grandmother played hard. It was fun, in spite of the heat.
©BTW- Spiderstan’s bike race was 2 days before we arrived. He took 3rd place- go Dad!!!

©Then we drove to Montreal. We got in at almost 3:30 am. At the border crossing, the customs agent asked Dan where we were from. Response: “uuuuuuuuuh…..” (and from the back seats: “NORTH CAROLINA!!”) then he asked how long we’d be in Canada. Response: “Uuuuuuuuuh…… two…..uhhhhhh…..weeks”

(J) We had a ton of fun watching Susie and my mom and Nana show their stuff! We’re sorry we missed Stanton’s awesome performance, but we know he rocked! Also, goddess of Magnesia, pray for us!

(T) I was back in RDU at work with senioritis.

(E) I tried to sleep a bit but failed. I did have the best coffee of the trip that morning. Who’da thought.
I did get to watch Jess’ mom and Nana play volleyball in a gymnasium that had a serious need for air flow.
Making seniors play volleyball with artificially induced heart attack weather doesn’t seem right. It must have been 100 degrees in there. It was so hot it was hard to breath, and I was wearing a kilt. The kilt got lots of smiles. I even got a lecture, a lady asked what I had on under my kilt. I told her ‘Sandals’. She
then proceeded to tell me that I shouldn’t wear anything because it defeats the purpose.

(E)We left the games at 4:30.
The Drive to Montreal was long, although we shortened the AAA trip by turning right at Syracuse.
One highlight was the exit sign for Mexico. Apparently it’s quite close to Canada. We managed to get through customs despite Dan’s apparent amnesia about where we lived. We ran into some torrential
Downpours as we drove, little did we know that they would follow us and stay at the same hotel.
As we approached Montreal Dan and I talked while Jess and Cat slept. We arrived at 3:15 am. With a mileage of 1234. By now my sleep deprivation was turning into an ugly experiment. I fell asleep immediately but woke early. Oh well.

(SRT) My lack of training really paid off. I didn’t come in exactly last in my age group. Ah well, that leaves LOTS of room for improvement in 2007! What I lacked in talent was more than made up for by the enthusiastic cheering of my support team! NO one had the cheerleaders that I had! After the race, SGT & I headed off to Canada while the rest stayed to watch the volleyball.

Here's the start of the 5km racewalk. Actually, this might be the false start. I'm not sure. Look how earnest they all look -- it had to have been the false start.

There goes Texas!!!
This was the only picture we got of Fish, his S.O., and my dad on the day of dad's race. I promise all three of them are more attractive in real life ;-)

This was snapped sometime around midnight. Still over 3 hours to go till Montreal.

Dear Diary, (Sunday June 12)
© We drove to Pittsburgh today. We tricked Dan (aka GIGANTOR, aaka Fuzzy) into driving all the way there by telling him that if the driver’s seat had less than 200 pounds on it that the van would blow up. Just kidding. But not really. Because it’s a very dangerous thing to put a small person on a weight sensor bomb.

(J)The drive to Pittsburg and Montreal included many funny little jokes…put ‘em on the glass, Elvis was put on the building – make that the BFV, I don’t know what I’m forgetting, but what ever it is isn’t in the van. Actually, what we forgot was the “David”, so technically, what we forgot wasn’t “on” the van.

(E)The first thing I said to Dan we loaded my stuff on the van, “I don’t know what I forgot, But whatever it is, it’s not on the van.” It turns out I forgot a few things. The ever elusive comb. chain lube, the handlebar mount for my GPS. I haven’t noticed anything else yet, or if I did I already forgot what is was.
I did remember my pillow but failed to sleep much anyway. The trip did get off to a good start in spite of
my lack of sleep.

(GIG) I like to drive. Raleigh to Pittsburgh through NC, WV, and VA is pretty country, even in a rental.

Say bye-bye, Goofch!! Elvis in his underpants, copilot on the BFV.
We saw some interesting slices of Americana on the road...

Monday, June 27, 2005

Boy, HOWDY we had fun. Quebec is a great vacation destination and the people are super-cool and friendly, no matter what you might have heard otherwise. Perhaps it helps to speak French, but heck, the kind of French I speak is so different than Quebecois that half the time we were hand-gesturing anyway. Nice people, beautiful countryside, tasty food, good company.

We did blog for most of the trip, and I'll post the whole thing here later, with some pictures, for you to waste an afternoon on. Be forewarned-- we used real names and half the jokes are inside-jokes. Watch for such crazy antics as:
* putting various body parts "on the glass"!
* car-bicyle collisions!
* 5 1/2 flat tires!
* geezer-jocks!
* moving cars around "Mentos-style"!
* death threats on 70-year-old ladies!
* being mistaken for international terrorists at border crossings!
* kite-eating trees!
* staying in a hobbit house!
* a reunion with a 40+ year-old cruiseship!
* pulling down sections of an actively working Canadian military base!
* over 4 pounds of maple products per person!
* and a pound of butter in 3 days!
We're back from Quebec!! Sorry for not posting while there-- my VPN thingy doesn't work. Blogs to follow once I trudge through 2 weeks of emails...

We have about a thousand pictures. I'll post a few nice ones.

Friday, June 10, 2005

I LEAVE FOR VACATION ON SUNDAY! SNG is coming up on Wednesday. I wish SNG was leaving on Sunday too. He is so much fun.

In the meantime, it's MAD DASH to get everything done. Fuzzy has to get a draft of his new Design of Experiments course out the door by close of business today. I am trying to get as much as possible done on my Multiple Imputation course (that's Imputation, folks) because if I go 2 weeks without looking at it I'll forget everything I know about MI. My parents' birthdays are both in June (Mom on the 8th and Dad on the 23rd- wish them happy birthdays!!) so I need to go pick up their present tonight. I know what I want to get them, but I haven't bought it yet. As usual, it's something that they don't know that they want, but they do.

And oh, there's the little issue of packing. I don't mind packing so much. I do a lot of it. I've become pretty efficient. But SNG absolutely hates packing. He's generally such a mild-mannered, sweet guy. But if you're smart, you'll find yourself otherwise engaged while he's packing.

A blog may not be the best place for this, but here's my to-do list for the next 2 days:
*work until about 5
*bring home computer, all my Canada hotel info, and my books & notes on MI (optimistic about working in the car)
*feed the dog
(load some more CDs onto MiPOD, throughout the evening)
*go to Best Buy and Quail Ridge for gifts, books, and a pair of 2-way radios
*grab a quick dinner at the Whole Wallet salad bar- pick up some big ziplok bags
*track down our wheelie cooler (and those Passports!!!)
*wash a load of white laundry

(load more CDs on MiPOD throughout the day)
* 50-mile bike ride 9:30am with SNG & kiltman
* lunch at Panera 1:00
* around 2:00 meet Peace and Fuzzy at the rentacar place to pick up the 15-PASSENGER VAN (wooo!)
* go home and shower
* PAAAACK! (make sure that Passport is packed!!!)
* 7:00 everyone comes over to load up the 15-PASSENGER VAN (wooo!) with luggage, bikes, and coolers
* dinner somehow, somewhere, don't know. Not at my house.

But finally, after months of planning and what will surely feel like months of packing, we'll wake up way-too-early Sunday and head off into the wilderness! (make sure that Passport is packed) In a 15-PASSENGER VAN (wooo!).

On the way to Canadia... Fish (who is one of my favorite friends in the world) and his s.o. (who I've only met once but I like her a lot too) recently moved to Pittsburgh, which is the first stop on our northward tour. We'll be seeing them Sunday evening. Yay! It's been WAY too long. My mom, Peace's mom and her grandmother will all be competing on Monday in the Senior Games, so we'll watch them KICK some SRIOUS OLD-LADY BUTT and then jump in the 15-PASSENGER VAN (wooo!) and make a run for the border. Um, the... other... border.

And then on to Montreal. etc.

I'm bringing the computer, so I might be able to give some tour-guide-styley updates from Canadia. I will tempt you with the possibility of guest bloggers! But be warned, we might used (gasp!) real names.

You know, I still don't know why I used aliases. I guess it's just fun to give people names that are descriptive but if I make them mad I can say "Oh, no, that wasn't about you!"

It's not like there are STALKERS out there waiting to pounce on my friends. Are there?

Oh, by the way, the link for the June 8 post was not a Haiku site, just a link to some super-funny line art I found from following a post on The Manolo. I just wanted to write some Haiku to tell you about it. So if you hate Haiku, do not fear the clicky.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005


GO HERE and clicky
on all the wonderful tiles:
that way lies some fun.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

SNG and I used to have a miniature lop rabbit named Elvis. He was deaf, blind in one eye, and had maloccluded jaw which means his teeth did not line up properly so they couldn't grind down as they grew the way normal rabbits' teeth do. This meant we had to cut his teeth off every few weeks when they'd get long enough to reach to his little pink nose. Talk about tough love. He was pretty crazy looking. He really liked to be scratched on his rump just above his tail. I've since discovered that nearly all animals like to be scratched on the rump.

Elvis also liked splaying himself out on top of towels that had ice blocks wrapped inside. That was because he lived outside in Texas, but wore a Wisconson-grade fur coat.

He was really funny when he'd eat lettuce. He'd basically start at one end and -chomp-chomp-chomp- until he had a long lettuce-cigar sticking out and then he'd bite that in half, and -chomp-chomp-chomp- from another angle, and on until it was gone. One time Elvis repeated this process on a 2'x2' vegetable garden that my father-in-law made for him, which was intended to provide a full summer of tasty treats. He annihilated it in one night, and had a serious case of the bunny-runs over the next week.

I had to get a filling at the dentist this morning. For lunch got a big salad, which I had to eat with one side of my mouth because the numbness hadn't worn off. I thought of Elvis and how he looked better with greens hanging out of his mouth than I do.

Monday, June 6, 2005

Here are some flowers for you to look at. Pretty, no? Posted by Hello

Things I have learned after competing in two triathlons (if you can call what I do “competing”):

  • People who do sprint distance triathlons are not the same as people who do international distance tris.
  • People who can swim freestyle in open water have noses on the backs of their heads.
  • In a 1500m swim, if you swim backstroke you will go at least 2000 meters tacking back-and-forth because you can’t see where you’re headed.
  • But it’s still faster than dogpaddle, so you may as well do it if you don’t have a nose on the back of your head.
  • It feels good to pass someone on the bike, even if that person is on a mountain bike.
  • Race volunteers are surprisingly cheerful, even after spending all day out in the heat & humidity handing water bottles and cups to haggard athletes.
  • Gatorade vs. Water: it all feels the same poured over your head and trickling down your back into your shoes.
  • Frequency of hearing the words “Looking good! You’re doing great!” is inversely proportional to how good you look and how fast you’re going.

So, as you may have guessed, I did end up going to the race on Sunday. It was in Henderson, NC near the VA border. Goofch got to come along, which was cool because no matter how crappy I felt, seeing SNG and “Tons of Fun” cheered me right up. SNG is the best Groupie/Team Mechanic/Driver/Photographer/Cheering Squad EVER! I've posted pictures below. And, be proud of me, I've set it up so you can read from top to bottom! Woohoo!

The people in this race were serious competitors. I guess when there’s $5000 in prize money up for grabs, people come from far and wide to take a shot at it. 1500M swim, 40K bike, 10K run. Alone, any of those would have made for a nice little Sunday morning workout. Put them together, and try to do them really fast, and it’s something else.

Goals for this race:

  1. to finish within the 4 hour time limit [check]
  2. to finish the swim in under 56 minutes (yes, it’s pathetic, but that’s 2X how long it took me to do the 750m swim in the White Lake tri, dogpaddling in COLD water) [check]
  3. to do the bike in under 1hr20min (the course was a little hilly, so I didn’t expect to have the 22mph average I had last time) [check- although the splits say otherwise because 7 minutes of transition are included in the bike time]
  4. to do the 10K in an hour or less [I didn’t quite make this goal, but 3 out of 4 ain’t bad]

There was some very tragic news- someone died during the swim. SNG saw them taking him from the lake and doing CPR, but apparently it was too late. I don’t know much more than that, but it was a disturbing turn of events. I do know that he was 44 and had 2 kids. Send some warm thoughts to his family today.

Here the women corral in the lake just before the start. I won't tell you which Q-Tip-topped innertube is me.  Posted by Hello

The horn sounds, and they're off!  Posted by Hello

Tons of Fun, a.k.a. Lunchbox, a.k.a. Mr Smelly-pants. Triathlon's most supportive spectator. Posted by Hello

Bathing Beauty Innertube #255? Posted by Hello
Or the creature from the black lagoon?
You decide...

"Get these papprazzi away from me. " Posted by Hello

I didn't realize that they'd be adding my transition time to the bike time, so I obliviously took my time here drying off my feet, eating a snack, putting on sunscreen... for over 7 minutes! Posted by Hello

The start of the bike- ZOOM! The course was hilly, which I like. Posted by Hello

Passing the Red Baron Posted by Hello

The Finish Line. Please don't look at the clock.  Posted by Hello

Approaching the finish line. That finger makes it look like I was doing some kind of disco-move. I was actually pointing at the finish-line announcer for pronouncing my last name correctly.  Posted by Hello

Careful not to confuse delerium with joy.  Posted by Hello

This is the first place I went after crossing the finish. Did I mention it was 90-something degrees and humid? Posted by Hello

Friday, June 3, 2005

It's SO nice to be in the office for more than a week at a time. I feel like I'm just settling into some normalcy. By this time next week I'll be antsy and ready to hit the road again.

And, conveniently enough, that's when I'm going to pile into a 15-passenger-van with 3 friends, 5 bicycles and 2 weeks' worth of luggage and head to Canada! On the way we're going to stop in Pittsburgh to watch the Senior Olympics (Go Dad!! Go Mom!! Go Nana!!) and add 2 more people and 2 more bikes to the gypsy train. My rents will drive their car as far as Montreal and from there we'll just use the Big Van. "But poor SNG! Where is he in all this?" you ask. He is going to fly out and meet us in Montreal on the 15th. He's still pumped about having a 1-way ticket to Canada and keeps threatening not to return until the current government regime has been overthrown.

I'll give you the whole play-by-play of the trip, complete with pictures, after we get back.

After the Canada trip I've got another 2 weeks in the office before my next trip... to... De....troit. Gah.

There is a triathlon on Sunday that I'd really like to participate in, but I don't know whether I've got the nerve. It's Olympic distance, which is twice as long as the one I did a few weeks ago. I don't know whether I can actually swim for 1.5 Km in open water without a wetsuit, and the thought of putting that wetsuit/deathtrap/torture device back on makes me anxious. The bike and the run I can handle. It's in Henderson, which is an hour's drive from here, so I'd rather go stay the night there instead of getting up at 5am to drive there on raceday.

I'll let you know next week whether I chickened out or not. I chickened out of one last weekend already-- even paid for the registration, which is non-refundable.

Now back to work.