Friday, May 29, 2009

Pick #129

Pink Martini - "Sympathique" (as spun by St├ęphane Pompougnac @ Hotel Costes)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Scratches, and Not the Good Kind Either

I noticed before I left BR that my rear driver door has a sizeable scratch on it. I'm sure it wasn't there before I left Tally. I was not happy when I first observed this blemish on my recent paint job. About 5 minutes later I realized that this is exactly the reason (ok, not the only reason) I don't drive a nice new car. If I have a crappy car and something scratches it, no big deal. Nice car + scratch = flip out. Nobody wants that.

I don't think that the aesthetic of my car is ruined by this scratch. I don't think it's going to open up a rust hole there by the end of the year. I don't think it's a big deal...but I did get a little upset when I first saw it. Why? Because it ruined something that was very nice (i.e. my new paint job). Now I don't think I'll care as much about the next scratch. I know that knicks and bumps are inevitable if you put your car in a parking lot. I'm cool with that.

I think this principle applies to a bunch of other aspects of life, but mostly to other posessions. We get too upset when stuff gets hurt a little. I'm talking non-functional damage. I have reason to be upset if my head gasket blows or if I crack my radiator. Scratches don't affect the driveability, so I'm fine with it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Victim of Profiling, Once Again

On my drive from Baton Rouge back to Tallahassee, I was pulled over on I-10 in Mississippi. I wasn't sure what I'd done that warranted being pulled over. I had my lights on but it wasn't raining, so I didn't think it could be for a light that was out.

The officer came around the passenger side of my car...I guess it's safer with traffic that way. I rolled down the rear passenger window & explained that the front passenger window doesn't work. He asked if the door worked and he opened the shotgun door to talk to me. He didn't come right out and tell me why I was pulled over. He did the license and registration thing first. He asked me if I owned the car, where I was coming from, how long I'd been there, and where I was going. I told him that I was visiting my Aunt in Baton Rouge since last Thursday and he asked what part of the city. I told him not too far from downtown or the school. He replied “so you don't know exactly where you were staying?” Mind you that I'm at least 100 miles from BR at this point, so I didn't think that an intersection would have been useful to him. I gave him a more specific location. He asked if I was from Tallahassee and I told him that I go to FSU. He started asking me all kinds of drug related questions. Do you have “any small amount” of marijuana? I answer in the negative. He counters: “are you sure?” I kind of laughed at him. He said that I seemed kind of nervous. I explained that I've never been pulled over before and didn't really know the drill. He asked if I'd ever been in trouble with the law before. Once again, he couldn't let my denial stand without questioning it again. I think it was at this point that he gave his reason for pulling me over.

He was pulled off to the right side of the road. I was driving in the left lane approaching him. About a half mile back, there was another car off to the side of the road. One blue car in the right lane hugged the left side of the right lane to give more space to that car on the shoulder. That blue car happened to be close to me when I was passing the police officer who was pulled over, so I hugged the left side of my lane in anticipation that the blue car would try to come over. I got pulled over for my tires touching the yellow line. I know that I touched it because in Mississippi, they have “dingers” that vibrate your car when it touches the line (they're farther outside the lane of travel in Florida). I explained why I was on the yellow line but he apparently wasn't satisfied.

He asked if I had any weapons. I told him about my pocket knife. He asked about firearms or EXPLOSIVES! I thought for a minute because I had considered bringing my 9 with me, but left it at home because I didn't check the state laws of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana before leaving. He asked if I was sure again. He said “so if I search this car, I wouldn't find any guns?” HBF. No. He inquired further into drugs. He asked if I had cocaine, meth, heroin, I can't even remember what other drugs he asked about. After each of my responses he asked again if I was sure. He kept pushing the “are you sure you don't have just a small amount of marijuana” line. He asked if I would allow him to search “the interior and exterior” of my car. I don't know the Mississippi law, but in Florida you don't have to let them search. He told me that I didn't have to let him, but I got the feeling that he might pull something if I declined. I asked how long it would take and he inquired if I was in a hurry. I told him that I just wanted to beat the Mobile rush hour traffic. He assured me that I could meet my goal no problem even after a search. I told him that he could for the sake of thoroughness.

He had me pop the trunk then get out of the car while he inspected. The first thing he picked up was a funnel wrapped in plastic bags on top of my spare tire. I explained that it's an older car and sometimes needs fluids. He pilfered through other stuff then set his sights on my backpack. He asked was was in the bag. I told him teaching materials, among other things. He seemed surprised that I teach. I told him I'm teaching second half of summer at FSU. He asked what class. I really don't know why every detail was so important. He looked in a few of the pockets. He saw my bag of dirty laundry. I invited him to search the pockets of my soiled pants. He decided that would be unnecessary. He took my license back to the SUV-cruiser and did who knows what with it. I know he copied my plate. He came back with my license and I asked if I needed to sign something. He said that this was just a warning and to drive safely and have a nice day.

A couple miles down the road, I realized that I might have been pulled over for an entirely different reason. I was wondering why he was pushing the drug thing. Maybe it was because of my car. I drive a not-so-new Grand Marquis with tinted windows and a Florida plate. I know that a lot of drugs run from Florida to the west on I-10. I guess that any excuse to pull over a ghetto-mobile with a high likelihood of carrying drugs could be beneficial. I realize that he didn't pat me down to search for “any small amount” of drugs on my person. I guess he realized halfway through the questioning that I was not in the business of breaking the law but he had to keep up the show.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Internet Dependence

I live in a world where I need the internet. It keeps me connected with people who are not close enough to me to have my phone number. You know, stuff for school's on there. I might not have the recipe for something I want to make for dinner. I have an online to do list. Email is a huge one. Facebook's taken on a more dominant role in my internet activity in the past couple months. Without the internet, how can I keep up on information with minimal effort?

Anyway, all this summer travelling might leave me without access to the internet for days at a time. So, blog posts may be thin until the end of June. Picks of the week should be taken care of.

I think that to fix this issue of needing internet, I am going to make my next phone one of those smart phones that all the cool people have. I'll have access to everything on my phone. Respond to emails even when away from my computer. Watch youtube videos wherever I am. Sweet. It will be a big upgrade from my current phone, but I think I'm ready for that technological leap.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rain Garden

Before Andrew left, he helped me plant a rain garden. Admittedly, it's a work in progress. Since I got my back yard re-graded, a lot more water flows around the south side of my house. I planted a few ferns and lilies on the slope outside my fence. From there, the water flows down to the road. Andrew and I picked a spot that was fairly level and made a roughly 8' x 4' depression in the soil. The rain garden area is about 3" lower than the surrounding ground. It has some irises, lilies, and ferns right now. Andrew had the brilliant idea to put rocks at the front (uphill) part of the garden to slow the flow of water so that it doesn't trample the plants.

I went outside during a storm earlier this week and water had flooded the rain garden and was rushing over the backstop. Turns out that it eroded part of the backstop. I put a couple rocks where the dirt used to be. I guess that the rain garden doesn't get to filter a high percentage of the runoff water during a torrential downpour. However, I think that it might service a very high proportion of the water that falls in a light shower.

One of the irises is already shooting off another set of leaves via underground runners. Hopefully the plants in there will reproduce and fill up the area to make better filtration. I would like to plant more stuff in there some time. Like I said, it's a work in progress. In order to improve it, I might go to Esposito or some other garden store. Apparently Tallahassee has a program where they'll reimburse you up to $150 for materials used to make a rain garden. The city sure does have a community consciousness.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wolfram Alpha

Go to http://www.wolframalpha.com/ and check out the awesome search capabilities. Stephen Wolfram has an awesome introduction to the site. It actually blew my mind.

It's not fully operational yet, but you can see its potential.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Summer Travels

Man, I've got a lot of places to go & things to do this summer. The first week of summer took me to Panama City Beach to do my first half ironman race: Gulf Coast Triathlon. After that, I went to St. George Island for a day to visit Bailey before returning to Tallahassee. Last week was the Snyder wedding in Gainesville. This week I'm going to Baton Rouge to see my aunt & grandmother. We will probably make a side trip to New Orleans. After that, back to Tally for a day to rendezvous with my immediate family to carpool up to Virginia to meet up with extended family. I'm trying to find a plane ticket to Prague for around $600 so I can spend a week there with Carmen. If I can get said ticket, then I'll be spending a day or two before & after at Leah's place in Atlanta. After that, I'm stuck in Tally teaching for summer C session. After teaching ends, I'm going to the Keys with my family to catch lobsters. And it's a possibility that I might go camping in the Keys with some friends after the family vacation is over. Sweet.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Gulf Coast Half Ironman Triathlon

So I got to Panama City Beach on Thursday along with Matt & Long. Mike never showed up. I got my packet and bought a running visor and swim mask from the expo. Bad news: the mask leaks. Good news: the visor was incredible today. Yesterday I bought a pair of FSU Sock Guy socks for $5.45.

Setup:
On the way to rack my bike (had to be last night before 9:30), I noticed that an aerobar was loose. Good thing that got caught. Everything else checked out on my bike. I was able to go to bed very early last night (before 10!). I got up at 4:20, made some breakfast, and got ready. This is the first race for which I've used sunscreen. As I was putting it on, Matt told me that the permanent marker will wash off in the swim if I have sunscreen on. Oops...rookie mistake. The marker did fade a little. I tried to wipe off the sunscreen after I applied, but must not have got it all. You should wait until after body marking to apply sunscreen. I was in the transition area and heard my name. It was Steffanie. I introduced her to Matt & she knows Long. I almost forgot to put on body glide for the wetsuit because the swim almost wasn't wetsuit legal (it was NOT wetsuit legal for the pros).

Race:
I watched the start for the pros and a wave of women, then made a pitstop at the restroom. I put on my wetsuit and waited for my wave. The waves were only 1-2 feet, so not bad getting past the surf. I stayed on course really well in the swim. I passed a bunch of people from the wave ahead of me and some from 2 waves ahead. Waves started 5 minutes apart. At the end of the beach, they had freshwater showerheads to run through and a flooded area to get the sand off your feet! Awesome! I ended up running to the wrong spot in the transition area and took a half second to think about where my bike was and corrected that. Other than that, T1 went smoothly.
I biked pretty well, averaging 21.5mph. No penalties. There was a little rough terrain but my bike handled it pretty well. Only one hill on the course but I passed about 12 people on the up side. Got passed back by about 3 of them after descent. I ate a peanut butter sandwich, and a gel on the bike as well as drinking about 500 calories out of my "feed" bottle containing: FRS, agave nectar, Hammer gel, Hammer HEED (High Energy Electrolyte Drink), and protein. Of course I had to balance all that intake of nutrients with water intake. There were aid stations every 10 miles and they gave you a disposable water bottle, so I picked up one at the first 4 stations. There was a bit of a head wind and a couple times I felt a cross wind, but it was mostly decent on the wind. The dismount line was farther away than I thought it would be after approaching T2. I put on my left sock upside down in T2 and had to fix that. I also grabbed my water bottle filled with power smoothie instead of my race belt and had to fix that.
I wanted to run about 8 minute miles and I averaged 8:05. I stopped to pee around mile 1. I took at least a little bit of water at every aid station and there were around 13 of them. They also had sponges. They were supposed to have gels, but they didn't! Good thing I packed a gel in my top. If I would have known, I would have saved the gel I took on the bike. I ended up having to munch on a granola bar for some calories during the run. At one point, I got passed by a guy hauling ass in a Gulf Winds Track Club top. After the race I asked about his time and he ran 1:21! My fastest half marathon (on fresh legs) is 1:26. I think he might have been part of a relay. I ordered a running visor online about a week ago, but didn't get it in the mail before leaving Tally, so I was wearing the new one. It did its job very well.

Post race:
All the volunteers were really nice & helpful. The race was well organized. After I finished, trasition was still closed to finishers. I got a beer and a cookie. Then I heard about the massages. Got one of those, then had another beer & a slice of pizza. Needed to kill time, so had beer 3 and another slice. I got my bike & stuff out of transition as soon as it opened up. Went back to the hotel room, made some phone calls, went to the ocean to wash out my wetsuit, showered, ate a little, and laid down.

There's a Snoop Dogg concert right next door tonight. I heard he might be performing outside...in which case we can watch from our balcony! Tix are $30 so I'm not willing to spend that on the D-O-double-jizzle...unless I got a butternut reduction with it. Awards dinner at 6pm.

Results are at http://www.championchiptiming.com/Home/tabid/65/Default.aspx?EventID=348 if you want to check yourself.
I placed 6th in my age group and 59/~1600 starters overall
my official splits: overall time: 5:03:21 (my goal was to break 6 hours)
1.2 mile swim: 36:22
T1: 2:52
56 mile bike: 2:36:36 (21.5mph average)
T2: 1:46
13.1 mile run: 1:45:47 (8:05 pace)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pick #126

Matt Nathanson - "Pretty the World" from Beneath These Fireworks

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ditch Run!

I had an idea that when there's a drought this summer, I should run through ditches. They'll be dried up and I'll be down in my own little world. If I can find some good ditches to run through then I'll invite others to come on a fun adventure. The appeal may lie in going somewhere you normally can't.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

Prague

Carmen wants me to visit her in Prague over the summer. At first I wasn't really into it. Then she sent me pictures and I liked them. Next she called and talked about how I need to go. I haven't been legitimately out of the country since Ecuador (the Mexicos don't count).

Pros: Visit new foreign country. Pretty. Hang out with Carmen. New experiences...especially being in a country where I can't communicate (except everyone knows English).

Cons: I don't speak a word of Czech. $$$.

I think that if I can find a plane ticket for under $500, then I might as well make use of my passport. I'm doing a lot of traveling this summer. Hopefully my folks will decide when we're going to Virginia. I was thinking of going to Prague between VA & the beginning of teaching. Here's a list of the other places I'm going:
Panama City - Half Ironman race
Gainesville - wedding
Baton Rouge - Aunt/Grandmother + cultural activities
(Nashville) - was going for Mani's birthday, but he'll be in the Keys
Virginia - see some older family members while we still can
Tampa? or Jacksonville? - heavy metal concert (roommate's friend's band)
Key Largo - lobster diving (after teaching)