Friday, July 29, 2005

Wednesday it was only 100 degrees, but the heat index was 115. That little bit of humidity makes a big difference! Last night the "cold front" moved through and, in addition to a lots of thunder and rain, it brought some cooler weather. I think it's funny to talk about a cold front in the summertime. There's no cold air to speak of, just less-hot air. But then, meteorologists have never understood warm weather places. In Texas, weathercasts never predicted 105 degrees. It would hit 103, 105, 106, always unforeseen. Forecasts were always biased-low. "Tomorrow's high near 98." Well, if by "near" you mean "within a range of temperatures at which water remains in the same state of matter," then I guess yes, the high is near 98. And a forecast never exceeded 99 unless it was going to be really, really hot. The only time I saw a forecast of 101 degrees was when it actually ended up 110 for the high. 110, 101, what's the difference, really? Two 1's and a 0, same thing.

It was just as silly in winter. They'd predict these low temperatures that Texans didn't know could even happen on Earth, and our actual low would still be "near" 98 (see above, def. near).

It's so nice and dark and drizzly outside, and I'm here at work under artificial lights that are a little too bright, wishing I was still in bed asleep.

We have lots going on this weekend. A friend of mine is leaving the company to go be a grad student again (I'm going to miss her a bunch) and she's throwing a party Saturday where we'll grill and eat and hear some funny stories, I hope. I also hope that she doesn't become a stranger when she isn't just downstairs from me anymore! Before that, we're going on a 58 mile group ride called the Cup & Cone tour. They're providing free ice cream for all riders. SNG kept wondering why I wasn't as jazzed about it as he is... Hmmm... Let's see. Get up way earlier than usual, go on a HUGE group ride with a bunch of people who don't know how to ride in a group, watch everyone else eat ice cream that I can't have, either swelter in July heat or plough through a thunderstorm, and come home, grimy, hungry, tired and not a little bit envious of all that free ice cream. And you KNOW there won't be a non-dairy alternative.

Oh, I can't wait! Yay! But I'll do it. I keep telling myself I need the miles to be ready for the double century ride in September.

I tell myself that, but myself says "yeah, that's bullshit" and prays for rain. I'm not usually this pessimistic, but I have a thing about ice cream. Damn ice cream. So creamy, so sweet, so deadly.

Bright side! We got our old navy 20% off bag in the mail this week, so I could go drown my sorrows in cheap t-shirts!

(edited to add: there are actually 3 rest stops on the ride, and only one (plus the finish line) has ice cream. So I might feel a little better about that. If I can't have ice cream. then darn it, there can't be ice cream at every rest stop.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

(Edited to add: I forgot to mention, I got free Tori Amos tickets from work! Yay!)

Hey hey hey, I just realized I'm in town for THREE more weeks, not TWO. That's cool.

My next trip is to Clarksburg, West Virginia, about an hour and a half south of Pittsburgh where a lot of electronic information about you, me and criminals is kept in a big government agency. I'd say more but then I'd have to shoot you. :-D

Anyway, the trip will be 5 days of teaching, so 6 days total. There's not much in the way of fine restaurants in this town, so I have a hotel suite with a kitchenette. All of that is A-OK with me, though, because it's right in the mountains and according to the map, there are state parks all around. Should be easy to find places to go hiking after class each day. Even better, they want to run class early, which means I should have time in the afternoons to go and do stuff. Fun! About the only thing that would make it better would be if I had students in the class who wanted to go hiking with me and show me around.

But that's not for another 2 1/2 weeks. In the meantime, we've been grinding through some seriously hot weather. TOday the car thermometer says 105 degrees, which isn't quite accurate, but I guess it's about 101 for real.

I jogged this morning early because it's just too darn hot in the afternoon. It was a perfect plan, too: get up early, drink a glass of water, drive the car out to the trailhead (1 mile from the house). Jog on the rock-and-root trails for a 4-mile loop, come home, shower, dress, eat, go to work.

Best laid plans of mice and cats...

Not wanting to lug a big keyring, I tied the little remote control clicker for the car to the drawstring in my shorts, thinking that was the safest place for it (OK, bra would be good, but I didn't want it getting all sweaty). Attach iPod to my head and go. 3 miles into the run-- clicker is gone. Where? I have no idea. Since when? I don't know. Nearest phone-- about 1/2 mile upthe trail at the parking area. No, the OTHER parking area. So I head back to where there's a pay phone and call SNG, using my corporate calling card (only hope of communication). No answer. Call Again. No Answer. Call Cell phone- no answer. Again- no answer. Leave a message.

I decided it'd be best to find the darn thing, and if I couldn't, getting home would mean: running all the way home (1 extra mile), getting a key, running back to the car (another extra mile) and driving home. So I was looking at being pretty late for work regardless. So I backtracked. 3 miles back to the car. At the trailhead about 100 yds from the car is a gaggle of teenagers who run in the park every summer morning (part of a summer running camp) who had found it on the trail. PHEW! If only I'd seen them at mile #3... So, 6 miles and an hour 15 minutes later, I headed home to shower, make breakfast, throw b'fast into a tupperware and cruise up to work.

So why didn't I just jog to work again???

After work today I'm going up to the pool to swim. Beats the heck out of running in 101 degrees.

UNLIKE Texas... tomorrow a cool front moves in and we'll get a week of highs in the 80s. Let's see THAT happen in Dallas or Austin in late July!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Well, if you're wondering what happened to all the rest of the Dear Diary guest blog entries from Quebec (and I just know you were on the edge of your seat wondering), there are 2 explanations. First, I've been out of town a lot and haven't had time to do much blogging. Second, blogger's picture-adding-widget seems to be broken. So I can't get the pictures uploaded easily.

Perhaps I should just make a picture album and link to it here, and let the reader sort through them and try to figure out which pics go with which blog entries. But that's just lazy.

I will get them posted eventually...

In the meantime, the latest news. I was in San Francisco last week teaching, which was great, but the REAL fun started Friday when I flew down to San Diego to visit my BFF Lizard Breath. Since my wedding in 1995 (where she was my maid of honor), I've seen her a grand total of... one time. That was 5 years ago. She's been out-of-pocket doing exotic and brave Navy-things for most of the last 12 years, and sometime in there she got married to a guy who I had only met once. So I was really looking forward to the trip.

Whenever you see an old friend that you haven't kept up very well with, there's always that nervous anticipation of whether they'll still be the same friend you knew before or whether they've changed a lot. Lizard is still the same awesome, fun, energetic, slightly obsessive, super-smart girl I knew, only she seems to have a lot more confidence now. I blame that on 2 things-- the great guy she's married to (he's a real gem. They're perfect for each other and he worships her) and the fact that she has cut off all contact with a very toxic person in her life (who, for a few years, seemed to be draining away her confidence and energy). She's so successful, and she knows that she can do whatever she wants to do (at least, she should know!).

We didn't do a lot of San Diego stuff, mostly sat around and talked. It was perfect. And we went to the best bookstore EVAH. It was a 3-story used bookstore! It wasn't as cheap as used bookstores usually are, but it also had so many nice books and there were very few romance novels. I'd tell you the name of it to go visit, but I can't remember. Drat.

I flew home all day Sunday and didn't get to watch the end of the Tour (de France, of course!) until last night. Kiltman came over and we all sat around eating big salads and watching the individual time trial. What a perfect way to retire!

On another note, Spain is my latest obsession. Mom and I are planning the 2nd Annual Mother-Daughter Europe trip for next February, and we've got 10 days to backpack around Spain with our Eurail passes. We can't decide exactly where to go, but we've narrowed down to a few places: Sevilla, Valencia, Maillorca (Balearic Islands), and Barcelona. Only Barcelona is definite. I think we should pick 3 places, no more, and spend 2-3 days in each. Considering it will be winter, some places may be less pretty than others, and it might be cold.

If you've visited Spain in the winter, perhaps you can drop a comment on where we should go?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Hi from San Francisco!

I just learned that the name of one of the procedures I teach in this class is also a curse word in Quebecois french. Heehee!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

THis is the view from the top of Mt Royal

 Posted by Picasa

The top of Mt Royal Posted by Picasa

The bottom of Mt Royal Posted by Picasa

More Fun with Flats! Wheeee! Posted by Picasa

This guy tried to abduct us but we said Non, merci! Posted by Picasa

Actually, he may have gotten away with one of the riders after all. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Here's Pirate Tony outside the Geodome:

Maison des Cyclists:

Blogger is giving me trouble with postings, so I'll put the pictures for this Dear Diary entry in a couple of different posts.

Dear Diary, Thursday June 16
©Today we got to ride our bikes. We rode around Ile Notre Dame and saw the biosphere, and then we rode over to my company's local office to have lunch with a fellow employee. Now we can expense the meals for the day. International Per Diems, baby, oh yeah!

©When we arrived at the office we were allowed to sneak our bikes up the freight elevator and hide them in the coat closet while we went to eat. The security guard told us he would be stabbed if his manager caught us with bikes in the bldg…

©I won’t mention that we had 4 flat tires among 6 bikes. Did I say anything about flat tires? No, of course not.

(GIG) we really had 3.1415926 flats today. T made a pre-emptive strike against a bubble on his tire before we started.

©After lunch we rode up Mt Royal. It’s not a mountain but it is the cone of a long-extinct volcano. I won’t mention another flat tire at the bottom. Nope, you didn’t hear about that!

©We wrapped up the afternoon with a short bike ride accompanied by another fellow employee. And for dinner we had Montreal style smoked meat in the basement of the hotel. This was also our first Poutine. It would not be the last…

(E) Today it didn’t rain, wow. We started riding around 10. We would have made lunch on time, but we had two flats in the park across the river. Right in front of the geo dome. Once we got back to downtown we rode through gridlocked traffic to the southern side of Mont Royal, on Rue Sherbrook. The building guard was real nice, he bent some rules and allowed us to bring our bikes in. He even gave us the express elevator. I think he wanted us out of view as quickly as possible. After lunch we went down Sherbrook to Fontaine something or other park. Past Maison du cyclists, cycle pop, and Ty Brieze (creperie) and onward to Mont Royal. Stanton and I cruised to the top at 14 mph. On the way up I missed a bunny hop, popped a spoke out, and received an unrealized pinch flat. I reattached my spoke at the top. Somehow we missed everyone when the got to the top. So we headed back down. No one was at the bottom, well, no one we knew. I called Cat on my soon to be dead cell phone. It’s continually almost dead. They were still at the top. So we headed back up and met them on the way. At the bottom, after a crazy descent (Cat’s a crazy for fast descents) I realized my tire was soon to be flat. That’s too many flats in one day. And Tony only got half a flat. That must have made the gods mad, hence all the other flats to make up for it. His would’ve been a spectacular explosion if he hadn’t caught it.

(E)I headed for cycle pop while everyone else went to Maison des Cyclists for Coffee and to meet our friend. Cycle Pop said I needed to go to ABC on Parc avenue for the spoke wrench, Darn Mavic spoke wrenches. I sprinted over there but no shop. I asked directions, No one was sure, one even sent me back to Cycle Pop. I stopped at another shop on Rue Rachel: No wrench, same suggestion and directions. I told him I had been there, no shop. He said “I’ve never been there or seen it, But I’ve heard about it.” I headed back to meet everyone. All I can figure with ABC on Parc avenue is that I failed to see the grail over the shop, I guess they forgot to turn the grail light on.

(E) As we headed through town I spotted another shop. A really nice shop. No only did Bruno fix my spoke, he trued my wheel, and tensioned and stressed the wheel as best he could for a quick job. No charge. What a nice guy. I headed back to the hotel through traffic since I was alone again. It feels safer in traffic than it does on those ‘Piste cyclable’ Street lanes. It felt good to sprint with the traffic.

(J) Nothin’ like being taken by the scenery, so much so that you drive directly into a grate and pop a tire (not to mention popping my left breast and my pride). Also, goddess of Magnesia, pray for us!

(T) The deli where we bought the famous Montreal smoked meat was a landmark.
Stainless steel everywhere and a long lunch counter. The famous smoked meat is just like pastrami without the pepper. It’s good, but nothing to write home about, even though I just did. There’s another local delicacy that was pretty special- it’s called poutine. Think loaded fries, Quebec style… fries with cheese and gravy and debris from slicing the smoked meat. Très magnifique! From the grocery, we added wine and more yeasty dark Canadian beer.


(GIG) the smoked meat place is soo famous that the 2 CDN coin was launched there in the mid-90s. What’s not to love about fun currency facts? It’s affectionately called the two-nie by the folks we affectionately call the locals. Parking the van is fun, even for a rental.

© explanation—Canadians call their $1 piece a Loonie because there’s a picture of a Loon on one side of it (Is that the head or the tail? I’m not sure) so the $2 piece is a Two-nie. Isn’t that just cute? As a bug? So cute.

(SRT) It was cold and raining and MY Momma didn’t raise no fools, so I armed myself with metro tickets and a poncho and headed to town. I toured the Anglican Cathedral, aptly situated in the heart of the sex shop district. An endless supply of souls to save. The cathedral is very old and ornate and right across the back courtyard was a many storied, ultra modern, glass-fronted skyscraper that housed the Diocese’s administrative offices. Everywhere you go, you see this juxtaposition of ancient and modern.

(SRT)After a quick lunch in the underground, I walked around McGill U. and toured the McCord Museum. The McCord is a museum of the history of Montreal. Very interesting.