Saturday, December 30, 2006

Finally, snow!

A beautiful day to get out and play in it. This morning I went running on the rail trail I frequent. I am learning that as the winter sets in, my normal parking spots shift as well. In the warmer months I park in a lot that is somewhat hidden and generally used as a boat launch. Apparently the launch is shut down come December, as I discovered when I went to turn in and was presented with a bright orange metal rod blocking the way. So I moved into the public parking spot about .5 miles away. My attempt to park there today was thwarted with another orange rod. So, with my seat heat turned to four (out of five), and the snow continuing to fall, I continued on down the road to find a new spot. After traveling down the slippery road for a mile or two and finding nothing, I came back to where I started and noticed a lot across the street... Parked there and prepped for a snowy trail run.

Many think that one of the most attractive aspects of running is the low entry price. All you need is a decent pair of shoes and you are off to the races. While true to a certain extent, this adage only takes you so far when the mercury drops. Cotton becomes the enemy, and the magic of high tech fabrics show they are worth the extra bucks it takes to purchase. Good socks are also a lifesaver, keeping your feet warm even when he snow slips in and turns to water...

That said, I'd like to take a moment to say thank you to my gear. Thank you socks. Thank you pants. Thank you vest (it's inaugural use!). Thank you shirt, which I have worn on basically every outdoor run in the past month. Thank you shoes. Thank you hat. Thank you gloves which, while only worn temporarily, were much appreciated before I was warm enough to stow them away. And, of course, thanks to the Nike+ gadget, which has been my training partner for months.

Does that make me a gear loving geek? Probably, but whatev. I love the stuff, and it kept me not too hot, not too cold. A Goldilocks moment, if you will.

After all that, I posted my best long run to date. Stats as follows:

Distance: 7.03 miles

Time: 1:09:46

Average Pace: 9:55 per mile

For me, that's fast. If I run the upcoming 1/2 marathon at a 10:15 pace I'll be very, very happy. Perhaps it was the colder weather that helped, or the sheer beauty of the surroundings, which held my focus the entire time.

Running any length of time is highly therapeutic for me. It's something I do for myself, and generally alone. The solitary nature of the activity allows me to be totally serious or totally goofy. I can listen to music that I wouldn't readily admit to having on my iPod (Shania Twain comes to mind), think about what is/is not going on in my life, or have a moment where I think the song is actually speaking to me. Yes, speaking to me... Today's lyric that caught my ear was from "Everybody Wants The Same Thing," off of the new Scissor Sisters album:

What is it that you want?
What is it that you give?
Where do you plan on finding it?
How do you want to live?

Love is what I want
Love is what I give
Right here's where I'm finding it
That's how I'm gonna live

This happened to be playing while I was running uphill in the woods, and I applied it at that moment to push me to run harder up the trail. I ignored the love part, and inserted a more general notion of carpe diem. When I got to the top of the hill, I admit I was pretty proud of myself.

Toward the tail end of the run, I saw a pair of mallards sleeping on the newly frozen lake. They didn't even budge when I ran my, perhaps because they couldn't hear my footfalls in the snow. Or maybe they were particularly tired. It was a sweet little moment, and it only underscored my feeling that every excursion has at least one moment that makes it worthwhile. That thought has yet to be disproven.

Once I got home, I showered and changed back into my pajamas. I loved being outside, and I equally love the idea of spending the rest of the day inside with the cats (P is yet again working a 30 hour shift at the hospital), doing nothing in particular. It's lovely.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Interconnected, take 2

The video disappeared for some reason when I went to insert hyperlinks. I'll get better at this!


Somehow, this seemed to fit in with all of the information I've been seeing lately regarding the meat industry and it's impact on the earth.

Every action has a domino effect.

Aside from that, the video is just cool.

Friday morning, 10am

Got into work this morning, and didn't speak with anyone for the first 30 minutes. Just slipped into my cube, got some tea, and opened up my email. Is that normal? I have worked at my current employer for nearly two years, and have yet to become accustomed to the corporate culture here. That culture being quiet, and in love with hierarchy.

This being my first corporate job, it's been a big adjustment. I was a non-profit (or not for profit) kid until taking on this post, and when I did it was for specific reasons: take a risk career-wise, end a long commute into Boston, higher pay to help out while P is in her residency, check out the business arm of a PhD program I had considered attending (still considering it...). I'm not sure if it is this corporate environment, or the corporate world in general, that I find weird and sterile.

Given that I have been here for a while and still wonder when I will start to feel at home, I don't think it will ever happen.

From an anthropological perspective, I have discovered people really do use buzz words in actual conversation. Here are some sentences from the past week:

"I wanted to touch base with you on [insert topic]"
(translation: "Can we have a conversation?")

"What's your bandwidth like these days?"
(translation: "Would you be able to take on more?")

"We need to align priorities to create synergy"
(translation: I have no idea... this just sounds like sound filling space)

Here's one of my favorite examples from a memo I wish I could simply copy and past into this entry. It literally makes you tired trying to sort out all the letters strung together:

What are the complete [client] internal timelines that affect the process of delivering [product] in [initial] release and [subsequent] release and the data issues and answers appurtenant thereto

I bet you had to read it three times at a minimum to see that it was actual words being used, and not just one big vowel movement.

PS - HIllary, my current power song is "Ride" by The Vines. More on that another time...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

"Normal" being a relative term

Went for a five mile run this evening. That's become standard. About three miles into it, I thought, "when did five miles become routine?" I used to hover in the three mile range, and now that is the warmup. At three miles, I am finally loosened up, and feeling less tight than when I started.

I promised myself I'd run 70 miles in 4 weeks. 9 more to go, and four days left! Should hit it no problem. It's counterintuitive, really - the stiffer I get the more I know running will help. Sitting at a desk is no way to limber up, for sure.

In other news, I finally grabbed some of the photos that have been sitting on my camera. Various Christmas shots.

Here is NYC, at Columbus Circle. They changed colors, which was pretty fantastic, and quite mesmerizing...

Below is a house in Manchester with which we are fascinated. Is it tacky, or timeless? We've learned that the woman living here hand makes all of the costumes on these dolls (which move, by the way). We estimated about 100 dolls, spanning across two floors. When you walk by, carols start playing; there must be a sensor somewhere that picks up motion. What you can't really appreciate here is that this is one small section of a house decorated on all four sides. Heartily decorated, I might add.

At first we felt bad about taking pictures, but then we saw others doing the same, and felt less guilty. After all, would you put in all this effort if you didn't want to be seen?

We also saw a few people freely walking into their backyard to get a closer look at the gazebo decorated to look like the North Pole. I thought that might have crossed the line (the tourism; not the gazebo).

Now that we have seen their zeal for decorating, we can't wait to see what they do for other occasions!

Nerd? Geek? Dork?

As I was calling my friend a geek, I was reminded of a quiz you can take to determine whether or not the term applies. I took it a while back, but it's always good to see if you've evolved any.

Me? Still nerd.

Pure Nerd
73 % Nerd, 26% Geek, 17% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.


Music, then and now

My friend Hillary is always up on geeky tech news. Living in San Francisco, working as a web designer, and simply being a lovable geek, she has her finger on the pulse. I should have known that I would hear some highly interesting news about one of my favorite web spots, Pandora, from her. With sparkling commentary to boot.

I used to have a fantasy of working at Pandora, which I interpreted as listening to music all day, and marking down elements that distinguish it from other songs. I can recall bits of music over spans of years, a trivial skill that I thought would come in handy at a place like Pandora. Give me a word, and I'll come up with a lyric. Give me a song, and I'll come up with a few that match.

As a kid I thought I could make a living out of creating mix tapes (yes, cassettes) for people. They would give me a topic (think birthday, or love songs... and remember - I was only 11 or so when this brain child appeared) and I would create a tape that would fit the bill. I'd stand out - well, I told myself I would stand out - not only due to the expanse and diversity of my totally awesome cassette collection, but also because of my ability (and obsessive desire) to keep track of the time left on each side of the tape. On a 90 minute tape, I would know how to fill in 8:38 left with a few songs, leaving the minimal possible blank space at the end. I always had a few aces up my sleeve, such as the 42 second "Bright Side of the Sun" by Men Without Hats. How could I go wrong?

In college I signed on to be a DJ for our local radio station. I got to play all kinds of excellent music for myself and the two or three people that likely tuned in. I have some old tapes of that experiment, which I'd made for my mom and she kept along with everything else she keeps. I have them still, and put them on once in a while. They have songs I can not find anywhere any more, and I sound like a child. Not really a way to impress the girls, but I enjoy them.

How I ended up in healthcare is baffling to me at times.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Here we go!

What does one write on a first blog entry? Is it something deep and meaningful? Something that reveals your personality and the ultimate reason you finally sat down and signed on to join the millions already out there? Or do you keep it simple?

I'm a simple girl, so here's my first entry: I am sitting at my computer at home, listening to a new podcast I'm investigating called Just Good Music. Good wallpaper type of stuff, with a steady beat and shifting playlist. Easily obtainable via iTunes.

Today my wife and I took a mini vacation. Played hooky, essentially. Usually we would be on a family vacation somewhere warm right about now, but she is a medical resident and thus has a sucky schedule. So we took one day, just to play and spend some time in a place more fun than our current home town of Manchester, NH. Not the most terrible place on the planet, but neither of us have ever really felt that we can find our groove here. So we headed over to Portsmouth. The town was hopping - people everywhere (on a Wednesday!).

I went for a 4 mile run earlier today, following parts of an old route I used to take when P (the aforementioned wife) lived in Portsmouth. I would loop over into Maine, and feel all proud of myself that I had completed a two state run. It's where I first started to really take on running as a hobby, and I do miss that route. I didn't run into Maine today, but I still found a great path, including the local cemetery. Do people outside of New England use cemeteries for recreation?

At the moment I am prepping for my first half marathon, which is on Jan 14th in Phoenix. I didn't realize it was such a big event when I signed up for it - I was just taking it on as a winter goal. I think that I am going to be running with about 10,000 of my closest personal friends... It'll be cheesy, but it'll be fun.