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I finally have some time to procrastinate. So, first and foremost, photographs of the most recent bike-touring expedition, plus Bike to Work and School Day behind the cut... )
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All right, here they are, photographs from our crawdadding expedition behind the cut. Warning: there are a lot of them! Hooray for a successful Scrabble Society expedition!

Read more... )
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Well, it was an awesome weekend, just as I'd hoped. Hopefully I'll get everything down. Pictures to follow.

Friday night, we hosted [livejournal.com profile] trifold_flame's birthday party at our house, and it was one of those parties that had just the right number of people, an abundance of awesome food (ps - I just ate four pieces of the vegan lasagna, [livejournal.com profile] scrottie, and it's AWESOME. Also, can I have your grandma's sour cream cookie recipe? I think those kept me alive yesterday and today). A good time was had by all, and one of my favorite parts was that the whole thing started out with a gathering of the Scrabble Society. I feel so lucky to have formed such good friendships here.

Anyway. I woke up quite early on Saturday morning, packed up a few things, and hit the road. R, A, [livejournal.com profile] scrottie and I all made plans to ride our bikes out to cheer on a group of riders completing the MS-150 ride around Florence, AZ. I had failed to convince anyone else to go along with my plan to ride all the way out to Florence, but R, A, and S thought it sounded nice to ride out 50 miles, cheer on the official riders, and then turn around and go home.

The only hitch in this whole plan, as far as I could see, was that I was riding fully loaded for bike touring, and everybody else was carrying minimal supplies. That meant that my top speed was 18 mph drafting, and 16 mph by myself, not nearly as fast as everyone else was wont to go. So eventually R and A went on ahead, while S hung out to keep me company.

We met up with the MS-150 riders at a rest stop at the top of a big hill, and then I followed the pack on to the next stop, which was both stop 5 and stop 7 for the riders. I hung out there, and over the course of a few hours, I got to see almost all of the gang (members of azfixed.com).

While I sat around, a dust devil came along and attacked my bike, ripping free my copy of Friday's New York Times and the motivational poster I had made, and carrying them skyward across a field. I decided it wasn't worth it to chase everything across the field.

Subsequently, I went and checked out the Casa Grande National Monument, which was a nice opportunity to think about ancient life in the desert (the ruins date from the 1300s), and then met up with everyone in Florence.

Florence was fun: a small, forgotten Western town featuring an abundance of interesting historic buildings and an abandoned Main Street. I would never have gone to Florence to visit it if it weren't for this ride, so I'm glad I had the excuse. The evening was mellow--we mostly hung out in the beer garden and rode around in a four-seater Surrey that somebody happened to bring.

Sunday got more interesting. I got up early, packed up my things, and ate breakfast quickly so I could set out ahead of the actual riders and meet up with them at the first rest stop. The roads were absolutely empty in advance of the "real" riders, and with a few clouds in the sky, the conditions couldn't have been more pleasant.

When I pulled in to the first stop, however, to my dismay, I discovered the source of an odd "whumphing" sensation I had started to experience Saturday evening. My rear tire, which was badly balding, was beginning to suffer from some severe side-wall damage. I had plenty of time to strategize as I waited for the riders to arrive, so I decided to swap my front and rear tires and put a "boot" over the section that was breaking. The "boot" is basically some form of internal reinforcement for the tire, in this case, a dollar bill.

Swap completed, I arranged for vehicular back-up and made plans to stop at a Wal-Mart in Coolidge, 10 miles down the road, to look for a replacement tire.

The tire swap resulted in an immediate improvement in my bike's feel, but I decided it was foolish to get over-confident, so I stuck with my plan to stop. Unfortunately, I discovered that the Wal-Mart of choice carried every single other tire size and shape, but had no 26-inch mountain bike tires in stock. The good news is, the lack of replacements meant I didn't have to patronize Wal-Mart and thus compromise my stance against big-box stores.

So I cautiously traversed onward.

About 15 miles further down the road, in the middle of the Gila River Indian Reservation, I heard the dramatic and unmistakable popping noise of a flat tire. Surprisingly, it was my REAR tube, not the front one. It looked like the tube had suffered mightily at the hands of the failing tire (I had swapped tires but not tubes, for a complex reason*) and had finally given up the ghost.

Fortunately, I have learned to be prepared for such incidents. I pulled out my spare tube, popped it in, and carried on my way. At this point, though, I'd used up any and all options for the event of further catastrophes, so I decided to travel at a slightly easier pace until I got to a bike shop at the edge of town.

But I made it, bought a nice replacement tire at the shop, popped it on, and made it the rest of the way home.

Altogether, I went 75 miles on Saturday, and 60 miles today, making this the longest touring trip I've done so far. I also learned that I'm pretty capable in the event of the unexpected, and that if I go on any longer trips, I'd best either carry more spare stuff, or keep my bike in better overall shape.



*Short explanation: My front wheel has a Schrader valve, my rear wheel has a Presta valve, and that makes their tubes semi-incompatible because Prestas fit in Schrader holes (sort of), but Schraders don't fit in Presta holes.
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Well, Ms [livejournal.com profile] annikusrex is off to the airport this morning and on her way to Austin for week 2 of her spring break adventures, and I'm sad to see her go because it has been a fun (if busy) week. [aside to AKW: after what I said about my desire to have a substantive blog, I'm going to immediately violate that by writing all about the adventuresome week]

Before I forget, you can view photographs of her adventures here. I gave her my camera and instructions to take pictures, and it worked!

On Monday, she toured around the campus and had a grand time holding our lab's pet tarantula, Murphy, and watching me poke the hissing cockroaches that belong to a neighboring lab. I'd like to think that she admired the cuteness of my ants, too, but I'll let her speak for herself on that matter.

On Tuesday, I had to teach alllllll day, so I sent her off to downtown Phoenix on the light rail, and she visited the Burton Barr Public Library and Phoenix Art Museum, and noted the strange emptiness of downtown Phoenix, where vacant lots neighbor skyscrapers. I have a feeling things will stay that way for some time to come. Tuesday night, we CRAPped and had a grand old time at the Orange Table. It's always fun when I get to hang out, and so hard to choose between staying to hang out and going home so I can go rowing the next morning.

On Wednesday, we rode bikes over to the Desert Botanical Gardens to check out the blooming wildflowers and cacti, which were spectacular. Oh, and there was still that Chihuly stuff up. It was a trifle bit warm, but AKW held up admirably well, and the flowers were great. I think one of my new favorite things is the fact that there are other cacti growing inside of a couple of the huge saguaro cacti.

Wednesday evening, the Scrabble Society came over for dinner (delicious homemade red lentil curry soup and buttermilk rolls) and a travel slideshow of [livejournal.com profile] trifold_flame's trip to Amsterdam, accompanied by hilarious narration and scrumptious desserts. We then played Scrabble in teams of 2, and AKW and I (but mostly AKW) slaughtered the competition, thanks to a lucky first play (DUSTILY) and subsequent good tiles. Everyone else blamed the soup for their inability to keep up. Heh heh heh.

On Thursday, I had more morning commitments, so AKW went back to downtown Phoenix to check out the Heard Museum, and we eventually met up at Lux to hang out and chat for a while. In the evening, we picked up CSA veggies and some groceries, and made pad thai and went to bed early. After my usual rowing practice with K, AKW met up with us on the beach and we went out for a brief spin. Then it was home for some mesquite pancakes, and then time for AKW to head out.

Right after she left, I went outside to water the plants and discovered that Zeke the Zucchini Plant is already putting out blossoms! Man that thing is enthusiastic. So we might have zucchini sooner rather than later. The kale plants are also almost to an edible size, but meanwhile the birds keep on digging in the lettuce. Jerks.


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And now I bring you various photographs from the Scrabble Society and from pizza-making with K. All of the pictures of food are making me hungry! Last night, we got to try out some miracle fruits, courtesy of D. Those are fruits that make sour foods no longer taste sour. The most remarkable flavor changes for me included white wine and tomatoes. Suddenly, perfectly decent tomatoes tasted..strange...

After the miracle fruit-fest, we finished decorating some Lemon Poppyseed Butterfly Cupcakes, and ate those as well. The lemon curd whipped cream filling was excellent, though the entire process might have been slightly more of a pain in the ass than it was worth.

delicious foods and friends )
rebeccmeister: (Acromyrmex)
The conclusion of our behavioral observations and a weekend cooking bender have more or less restored my humours to their usual levels, which is quite fortunate. I haven't yet returned to my usual level of athletic activity, but I'm hoping to be able to channel my energy back into proposal-writing this week. We shall see. There are only two more weeks before the fall semester descends, and I'm already giving up on any illusions about getting substantive things done during the fall.

Anyway, all of that is fairly dry and boring, so here's a recounting of things I did over the weekend instead:

Saturday: Rode to the Farmer's Market in the morning. It seemed quieter, but that's most likely because the Iron Chef celebrity tour bus wasn't there. Actually, some of the usual market vendors weren't there, either. I don't know if it was the crazy week, dehydration, or both, but I felt fairly miserable when I arrived, so I hung out for a bit and then took it easy on the ride home. After I got home, I sat around for a brief while and then set out again for a second round of errand-running and grocery-shopping.

Ever since Gentle Strength closed (it was the longstanding new-age co-op), I've been doing most of my grocery shopping at Whole Foods, but aspects of the shopping experience leave a lot to be desired, so I've started going to Sunflower Market instead. A convenient feature of shopping at Sunflower is that it's located close to a more conventional grocery store (Bashas'), which made it pretty easy to pick up a few items that aren't usually found in natural-esque grocers, like cake flour. The second convenient feature of shopping at Sunflower is that there's a Goodwill right around the corner, which means that I can bargain-hunt right before I get groceries. On Saturdays, housewares are half-off, so I was able to pick up two quart-size canning jars for 98 cents. They are going to make nice sprouting jars, thus completing my life as a hippie.

The biggest downside of shopping at Sunflower is their cheese selection (or, rather, lack thereof and expensive prices on what they do carry). So upon my return from the second leg of my adventure, I set out yet again to pick up these few crucial items from Whole Paycheck, er, Whole Foods.

When I returned home, we acquired a Wee Beastie who will be in our care for a week while [livejournal.com profile] trifold_flame is off Slackpacking in southern California. Wee Beastie is a Scottish Terrier puppy who goes by the name of Tootsie, and you must agree that it will be cute when she learns to roll over simply for the sake of the pun. In the meantime, she has provided an excellent excuse for us to behave like young children frolicking about and she has been entertaining the cat considerably. By entertaining the cat, I mean that they have been enjoying lots of stare-downs and growling and barking bouts. It's fun to have such a cuddly little animal around, but I must admit that puppy-care is a daunting undertaking for yours truly.

Subsequently, I cook'd up some beans and then engaged in a wee bit of home-canning. In researching my Refreshing Beverages options, I came across a recipe for a lime syrup that can be diluted out into drinks, and so I made up a big batch of that (with some added prickly pear juice just because it was there). I also rummaged through the freezer and converted some tired old containers of strawberries and raspberries into jam. After that, I came down with a ferocious headache and thus I slept.

On Sunday morning, the cooking bender continued with a batch of homemade pancakes, a chocolate-raspberry torte, roasted chiles and pinto bean puree, and a spot of pesto (the basil looked as though it could use some herbivory). Then in the afternoon I did some housekeepery and went over to the bike co-op with L to do a minor fix-up for the Jolly Roger and to work on a bike overhaul for a spare bike for L and A. It was a good chance to find out how much I've learned so far and will be a great opportunity to learn more in the upcoming weeks. My plan is to overhaul that bike plus one more and then I think I'll know enough to help out at the co-op periodically.

And now, to work. But before I forget, a very happy belated birthday to my dear little sister [livejournal.com profile] sytharin, who is all growed up now at 23.
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At last, some photographs from Sunday's expedition. One of my friends who really wanted to go with us was in Europe, so in her place I brought along the Jolly Gnome Ornament, turned into an effigy of her.
cut for your bandwidth's pleasure... )

The Bees

Mar. 9th, 2008 04:58 pm
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I think that during the ride I managed to get out most of my need to be self-congratulatory about organizing today's Bike&Hike event, so I'll keep that to a minimum now and just tell you about the craziest part. If I get my act together, I might have a few pictures from the expedition.

Instead, here's the gist of things: we rode our bicycles from downtown Tempe to the trailhead of Cholla Trail (there were even bike racks available, despite the absence of parking!), and then hiked/clambered about 1.5 miles up to the top of Camelback Mountain, where we were treated to a panoramic view of PHX, Scottsdale, and surroundings (suburbia almost as far as the eye could see! Glittering automobiles and swimming pools everywhere!). I think my dad would have enjoyed this urban style of hiking, even though the sound of cars traveling around below didn't diminish as we reached the summit.

At the top, we luncheoned on an incredibly delicious picnic: hummus and carrots, ants on a log, empanadas, beets, tortilla chips, oranges, strawberries, two kinds of cookies, and two kinds of cake. We eat well. There were no other picnickers among our fellow hikers, but we had no shortage of company at the summit--lots of over-fit young adults and a couple of families with kids. D brought along her insect net to try and catch Dipterans (flies) for her entomology class, which inspired remarks that at the summit we should be able to find a lot of hilltopping insects, as well as hilltopping humans (hilltopping is a behavior whereby animals gather at high points to meet up and mate).

Just as we were finishing up our lunch, a large cloud of insects suddenly started to grow on one side of the hill, and someone screamed, "BEES!" It took a moment for us to even realize what was happening: a swarm of Africanized honey bees had appeared on one side of the mountain, then sped up and across the top of the hill, on their way to somewhere. Our gang, nestled underneath a small tree with stuff strewn everywhere slightly off to one side, wasn't quite sure how to react as our fellow hikers all scrambled away from the top of the hill in a state of panic.

Since the bees looked like a swarm, I figured they were probably not as harmful as our fellow hikers imagined, and shouted at people to stay calm as they tried to get out of the way (admittedly, they were still quite terrifying). Then, as quickly as it had appeared, the swarm crested over the top of the hill and was gone, racing onward to some unknown destination. We were left still sitting there, somewhat dumbfounded by the whole event, but managed to recover our appetites, finished our lunch, hiked back down, and rode our bicycles home again.

We are most definitely going to go on more Bike&Hike expeditions in the future, though I hope to never have the same sort of encounter with bees ever again.
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There are pictures at the bottom for those who would rather look than read; you can click on them to see larger versions.

At last I have a brief moment of quiet when I should be working on a presentation for an upcoming conference, so it's time to write about my recent adventures. I don't have a whole lot to add to my descriptions of the drive up, except to say that it was much more eventful than anticipated. The rain and tall trees and green things are a welcome relief after the blast furnace of Arizona (although I'm hearing monsoon rumors, which suggests that the Arizona weather is getting more exciting).

When we arrived at my parents' house, M, K, and I all marveled at their bountiful garden: grapes, kiwis, multiple zucchini varieties, patty-pan squashes, kale, peas, beans, blueberries, garlic, onions... I really miss being able to run outside and pick fresh raspberries off of the bushes, so I'm making up for lost time these days.

On Friday, we went on several important expeditions: first to REI to pick up our riding packets for the Seattle to Portland, then out to Ballard for some crucial Seattle cultural experiences (K and her mom have never been to Seattle before). I was hoping to drive out to Ballard along Westlake, but my knowledge of Seattle geography has grown fuzzy [my street navigation was never good because it didn't need to be], so we ended up going along Eastlake instead. Thus I mentioned that we would be passing by Le Fournil, and everyone insisted that we stop (I was helpless, I tell you), so we had some delicious French pastries. Yum.

In Ballard, we went to Archie McPhee, so the usual hilarity ensued. They actually have some neato plastic ant models these days, so I picked one of those up, as well as a small Jolly Roger to fly from my bike. Then we went to Great Harvest Bread for some lunch, followed by a stroll along the Ballard Locks. I haven't been to the Locks since I was a very young child--I have vague memories of that event. This visit has convinced me that I'll have to incorporate pilgrimages to the Locks in all of my future Seattle visits. We watched one of my arch-nemeses, an Argosy cruise boat, float up to the level of the lake, and then went over to watch salmon jump up the fish ladder. I could have watched the salmon for hours--what amazing animals.

If you thought the adventures ended there, well, you're almost right. By then we had digested sufficiently to merit a trip over to Cupcake Royale, where we enjoyed the requisite cupcakes (K was insistent that we go, and she was duly impressed). And then we came home and enjoyed a delicious dinner with [livejournal.com profile] annikusrex and her parents. Altogether a splendid day in Seattle.

photos below... )
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I'm on a computer at school, so this is going to be quick. I can hardly wait to get Sylvester back. I feel like a big chunk of my brain is missing.

Highlights of the weekend:
Saturday:
-Tempe Town Lake cleanup Saturday morning--litter patrol. It feels nice to volunteer, and the weather couldn't have been more perfect.
-Downtown Phoenix Public Market: nice for what was there, but altogether depressingly small (2 stands total with produce!).
-Bought and installed an odometer on my bike: Why didn't get one sooner? I love playing with numbers!
-Biked up to Inza Coffee in Scottsdale: a 30-mile round trip on a relatively nice route. They had latte art AND Central American snacks: empanadas and arepas. I was in heaven, except I was in a strip mall and the place was a bit too quiet.
-Baked cupcakes and crumpets until 11:30 in the pm. I made a lot of crumpets.

Sunday:
-Biked to South Mountain, then up the mountain to the TV Towers, then zoomed back down and out along the San Juan road, which is closed to cars. Then breakfast at Spokes, where I ate way too much, then home again: 47 miles total (assuming my odometer is calibrated properly; I suspect it's about 4% too high).
-Tea party! Oh, it was a girly event. [livejournal.com profile] figment80 made some spectacular popovers (after a minor food processor incident), A made some scrumptious shortbread, E made delicious banana bread and tea sandwiches, and we all drank a lot of excellent tea. It was a perfect day to sit outside and relax for a few hours, and it was a nice opportunity to enjoy the yard before the weather gets too hot.

And now it's the end of the weekend and my stack of work hasn't diminished one bit. So, time to get back to it. On the other hand, there's some nice overlap between the reading I need to do for class and the reading I need to do for the Manuscript of Doom: The Sequel. I just need to do more writing, that's all. And it's hard with half of my brain missing...
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Well, I'm happy to report that, now that I live by myself, I am getting more sleep and am finding fewer excuses to skip morning rowing practices. This has been a big frustration of mine for the past couple of years, as evidenced by the occasional post about lack of sleep, etc. It also helps that I have some big goals coming up. First is an Erg Marathon on September 23. Next on the agenda is an on-the-water marathon in Louisiana in November. I'm bummed that I won't be able to make it to Boston this year, but with moving and traveling this summer, I just can't afford the plane ticket. I also don't have the resources to put together a competitive boat for the race. Oh well. Then, the week after the Louisiana marathon is the Tour de Tucson, a 108-mile bike ride in (you guessed it) Tucson. I think I've managed to talk a couple of other bikers into training for it, which is quite exciting. Now I just have to figure out how to prepare for it...

And then, of course, I need to start figuring out what I'm going to do in the spring, after I return from Australia...
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Highlights of yesterday and today:

-Feelings of stability and constancy, and fun visiting with family and old friends. My best friend's mother mentioned that she has known my father for close to 40 years by now--she and my father attended Gonzaga U together. My parents and [livejournal.com profile] annikusrex's parents have been like family for each other. As time goes on, I'm ever more aware of how unique my life is in terms of the glue of family and friends that holds it together. This is why, no matter how far away I move or how long I am gone, I always feel like my life goes on pause the moment I am away from Seattle. I'd like to believe I can find the same sort of consistency and stability somewhere else, but it's taking a lot of looking and I haven't come close to finding it yet.

-Rowing on Lake Union/Portage Bay this morning. It has been YEARS. Ahh, I missed it so much. This is a huge part of why I'm drawn to return. Rowing on Seattle waterways is so different--the air is softer and easier to breathe, the scenery is so varied and interesting (houseboats, oh my!), and it's both familiar and different. One of my fellow Arizona Outlaws said that coming to Seattle felt like putting on an old, favorite pair of pants (he's from San Francisco, but the feel of the two cities is similar). The water, the air, the trees, they are in my blood. One of the poems that used to be on the Metro Buses had a line about Northwesterners that I have never forgotten--moss grows on the north side of our bones. My friends from elsewhere get tired of hearing me talk about Seattle, but I cannot stop. I can't expect them to really understand. I only hope that rowing this morning and again on Tuesday will be restorative enough to continue to inspire me in the months to come.

And I actually got some coaching! A whole five minutes of it. I think the coach was surprised by how rapidly my rowing stroke changed. But it was one of those moments where I knew I wasn't rowing as well as I could and only needed a few small remarks to adjust and expand my technique. It seems like coaches are often surprised by how adaptable my stroke can be--I think years of playing the piano taught me to be flexible where many rowers end up stuck with their bad habits. It also helped me when I realized, some years ago, that coaches are trying to help me row more comfortably and efficiently, so even if something feels awkward at first, it will feel so much better in the long run.

-Good times with [livejournal.com profile] gfrancie and the gang. People are so interesting and fun. It's neat to get to drop in and see in person some of the people whose thoughts and ideas I read so regularly.

And on a random note:
In the past two months, I think I've encountered more opportunities to ponder the phrase "sowing wild oats" than ever before in my life. (most of these opportunities stem from hanging out with the boyz too much) Seeing as I have only limited patience for getting involved in all of this oats-sowing business, I'm finding it quite amusing.

Hokay.

Aug. 11th, 2006 03:51 pm
rebeccmeister: (1x)
I should prolly update with happenings before I forget all of them.

travels and such )
rebeccmeister: (1x)
On Friday afternoon, C and I drove up to a place called Chevelon Crossing to do some camping and backpacking. 'twas great fun. We discovered the meaning of "informal trail," saw lots and lots of cairns that were, at best, moderately useful, did some bushwhacking and backtracking, and saw elk and sheep and lizards and birds and such. I will never tire of the sound of the wind in the trees. The place was extremely peaceful, and we didn't see any other people. It was hard to come back.

On the way back, we drove by a forest fire. It's so dry this year.

I still think of Zack every time I'm in a wild, beautiful place.
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This is some of the stuff that keeps on getting a bit lost in my life. It's always nice to have reminders. I just have to keep on trying. The other day I *did* realize that I stopped gossiping about people around me about 3 months ago, and that felt like a really positive change. After all, how can I work on the stuff in my own head if I'm that focused on other people?

Maslow's characteristics of self-actualized people )
rebeccmeister: (Wha?)
Yesterday morning, M, T, C, and I went on a splendid 27-mile bike ride tour of the wealthy neighborhoods in Scottsdale. After I got home, I sat around for a bit and then went to Flugtag, which was held down at Tempe Town Lake. I was going to update on these adventures yesterday, but after spending most of the day in the sun, it was all I could do to crawl in bed for a while. I tried to stay hydrated early on, but the folks organizing Flugtag wouldn't allow us to bring in our own water (the usual concert rules being in effect), and there was absolutely no shade.

For a while, I also wasn't sure if it was just a headache or if I was coming down with the flu that my advisor has. I called and canceled my plans for the evening, but after a nice 4-hour nap, I started feeling a bit more normal.

Anyway, M said he was very proud of me for going on a bike ride with no particular destination in mind. He's an avid biker, although he says he avoids bike clubs and such because, according to him, those people are a bit too preoccupied with their gear. Of course, I was the least prepared of the four of us, on my sweet, sweet mountain bike with its one big fat tire and one semi-skinny tire (I'm transitioning to more road-friendly tires, seeing as I basically never take it off-road, except when on long, 25-mile bike rides to coffeeshops in downtown Phoenix). Everybody else had on their biker kit and they were all on road bikes. But oh well. I am planning on saving up for a road bike, but it's going to be a while before I get one because I'm currently saving up for other things. Or I might just see if I can have one of the bikes that belongs to my mother that is languishing in the bike shed in Seattle to tune up and all that jazz. We shall see...

As we biked home, I realized that I haven't done my homework on all of the coffeeshop bike rides I want to go on, so I just spent about an hour figuring out where a whole bunch of coffeeshops are located in the Greater Phoenix MetroSuburban Area. In a moment of genius, it occurred to me to draw them in on my Phoenix Area Bike Map! The tragic part is that the vast majority of the places I found were either chains or about 20 miles away. However, there were a couple of places that were a bit closer than I'd thought, so I should have some fun destinations for at least the next little while (yay!). It's starting to actually get hot, though, which also limits my mobility. BUT the semester's basically over for me, so I have more free time. So many trade-offs...

Now it's time for me to look into a couple of Arizona bike club websites; many of them post rides that have bakeries or other such places along the ride. Of course, they might not be quite up to my standards (i.e. non-chain stores), but they're a starting point at least.
rebeccmeister: (latte)
Last Tuesday night, I tried to go to the ASU Art Museum's Annual Short Film Festival. The only problem was that the festival wasn't on Tuesday; an e-mail that I had received made me confuse the film fest with a modern dance performance in one of the museum's galleries. However, the dance performance was fantastic, and the film fest wasn't until yesterday, so it turned out to be a win-win situation. Modern dance can really be hit-or-miss, but this group appeared to be well-run; the choreography was great, and the moves were fantastic. I also hadn't realized that the art museum *had* upper galleries, so that was a nice discovery as well. Seeing the dancers' grace and beauty, and the grace and beauty of the art they danced around, was inspiring. It's no wonder Degas was fascinated by ballet. Dance always makes me wish I had my own developed repertoire of graceful moves. I know I have moments, such as when rowing well or playing the piano, but I suppose the artist in me always wants just a little bit more. But it's good to have goals.

On Friday night, I met up with the rowing girls. Our meeting was good, but sad. It was good because it was my rowing friends--the people I have spent so many countless hours with and who give me so much perspective on my life (every once and a while, I need them to remind me that it's weird to study ants, that not everybody is fascinated by biological minutae). But it was sad because it was a meeting about the state of rowing on Tempe Town Lake.

We collectively learned a lot from our experience with getting a boat together to go to the San Diego Crew Classic. First, we learned that we were all determined to make it happen. We learned that we could access some of the available resources on the lake. But we also learned that individual personalities (i.e. mostly coaches) and histories have thrown tremendous obstacles in the way of any group of rowers on Town Lake that tries to put together a REAL competitive rowing program. Of course, I knew these things individually, which is why I switched to rowing in the single with a small group of people. But pretty much all of the other women who row and want to be competitive learned to row on Town Lake. Town Lake rowing is severely inbred--there's a tiny pool of coaches and very little organization. Personally, the only individual that I would trust as a coach is in a leadership position that won't permit him to coach. And I'm not all that convinced that he really wants to coach.

Since I have an outside perspective, I was able to say some things to hopefully get the group thinking a bit more about their expectations for rowing. But it's really going to take a long time for Town Lake to get over its initial hurdles. It's hard to be patient through all of the growing pains, and it's hard to see all of these dedicated people struggle against unnecessary obstacles.

So that was Friday night.

Saturday night was the actual date of the Short Film Festival. Last year, a pretty big group got together to see it, but I didn't really feel like trying to get a group together, so it turned out to be just B and me (and the hordes of other people that went). There were no films about cats and pants this year, but the assortment was pretty much just as eclectic. There was also thankfully no rainstorm in the middle this year--last year, it forced us to leave early.

As the final adventure worth recounting, today I have ventured forth to downtown Phoenix, to The Willow House (their website is under construction and will be up in a little while). If it weren't for two things, I think I would live here.

Thing 1: They're located in downtown Phoenix. It took me an hour to bike here, and it wasn't a very pleasant bike ride (why is it that when roads are under construction around here, they don't retain bike lanes? Oh yeah--this is the Greater Phoenix Suburbopolitan Area).

Thing 2: They have a smoking section. I'm sitting in the non-smoking section, which is completely empty. As usual, there's plenty of secondhand smoke to go around. I am discovering that I am pretty damn sensitive to it.

Other than that, the atmosphere is awesome (it's definitely a HOUSE, so it has that fun, house-like character), the espresso is decent, the artwork is good, and they have plenty of kitsch to go around.

And that is all for now.
rebeccmeister: (latte)
It was a busy weekend. Saturday morning, the City of Tempe held the annual Town Lake clean-up. There are only four full-time maintenance staff to take care of the entire lake, so some things end up getting a bit out of hand without the help of volunteers. Since I use the lake almost every day, I felt some responsibility for helping to improve it, so I headed down to the lake to volunteer for a while. I ended up on a crew that was removing desert broom from along one of the paths that runs along the lake. It was a nostalgic reminder of the summer I spent landscaping.

After that, I headed to the Town Lake Marina to help out with the first annual Rowing Expo, a learn-to-row event designed to introduce people to the sport of rowing. My housemates and [livejournal.com profile] kihle all showed up, which was pretty fun. I love watching people learn to row. They say the darndest things.

Saturday was a beautiful day, so even after spending the entire morning outside I still wanted more fresh air, so I hopped back on my bike to bike down to the Extreme Bean (coffeeshop). My rear tire was a little low on air, so I stopped by the corner bike shop to fill it up because they have a handy air pump outside. The pump has no pressure gauge, so the inevitable happened--I popped the tube. Fortunately, the service window was right there and the mechanics had a spare moment, so they changed the tube (and the tire itself, which was also looking a bit worn). And because I was there and waiting, I finally replaced my uncomfortable bike seat as well. With the new back tire and seat, my bike's feeling pretty nice now.

After biking and coffee, A, E, T, and I headed over to a nearby park for a rousing kickball game. I finally made it on base this game, which meant a bit more sprinting than the last game and I'm actually sore from it all. Hipster sports are quite amusing. These kickball players usually take a break between innings to socialize and drink and smoke and heckle. E and I tried to figure out what would become the next popular hipster game. I said dodgeball (there's a dodgeball flyer up at the AII, where I tutor); she thought broomball. Who knows.

On Sunday, I pottered around the house for a bit and then headed to the lab for a packing party. Our lab moves on Wednesday. We spent five hours packing and threw a bunch of stuff away. I'm sure we'll throw even more stuff away once we get to the new building. It was pretty exhausting, but I'm really grateful to everyone who showed up to help out. The lab looks kind of sad now in its mostly-packed state. I won't miss the roaches, but I think I'll miss the comfortable feeling of the room where I've spent the past 2 1/2 years doing research, socializing, drinking espresso, reading, and writing. Oh, and sleeping. I must not forget the sleeping. Most of the other labs that are making the transition with us to the new building are relatively new additions to ASU, but our lab has been accumulating stuff for a good 15-20 years. That makes packing quite a process.
rebeccmeister: (Default)
Well, this nasty head cold has me up and at 'em bright and early, so I suppose it's time to recount [livejournal.com profile] kihle and my Sedona adventures in more detail. [aside: stupid head cold. It's the snotty variety. So disgusting and reminiscent of The Spitting Disease]

details and pictures under the cut )

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Jan. 4th, 2006 11:30 am
rebeccmeister: (Default)
That's a lot of Smoots.

This morning, my father and I biked up to Glo's Coffeeshop on Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, they did not serve espresso, so we went to B&O Espresso instead. B&O was a bit on the fancy side, with sit-down service. I had a delicious, warm, apricot scone and a latte. Then I biked over to the U District and bought a year's supply of my favorite kind of pen (I haven't been able to find it in Arizona). When I'm in Seattle, I borrow my mother's bike. It's one of those touring-style bicycles, and makes me feel like I'm a real biker instead of just a pedestrian who occasionally rides a bike here or there.

But now to backtrack to yesterday, which is perhaps more interesting to describe. Yesterday was an adventure in traveling around Seattle. First I had to run an errand on Capitol Hill. Then I traversed over to the U District to return something to The Weaving Works and pick up something else. Oh, from the sounds of it, I could go into business making leg-warmers--my friends all keep expressing interest. Anyhoo. I subsequently went to Wallingford and caught the #16 bus up to Zoka for some espresso and delicious lasagna. I was impressed by how large and bustling it was, and on a Tuesday during the middle of the day, no less. Either a lot of people telecommute from there or else they must work strange hours or perhaps they are all retired (though many of the patrons looked a bit young for that). At that point, I was feeling rather sorely the lack of a good book to read, so I decided to go in search of one. Just as I was about to leave, I saw the #16 bus pull up and I dashed out of the store to catch it just in time. I see a lot of people dashing about, just barely making it to the bus here in this city.

Oh, the other thing I've noticed is that cell phone etiquitte is tricky in this town. Usually, I have no problem if I want to call somebody or chat on the phone while waiting for the bus in Arizona. Perhaps this is because I never wait for buses and don't get too many phone calls. But in Seattle, if I chat on my phone at the bus, I get strange looks from the other people who are also waiting for the bus. I don't dare talk on the phone ON the bus, either, for I don't see other people holding extended conversations about their personal lives while riding about on Metro--the most I've heard are brief, whispered conversations.

Anyhow, the #16 bus took me all the way to downtown Seattle and let me off at the abomination known as the Central Seattle Public Library. Don't get me wrong--I love libraries. I just happen to think this particular one is hideous and irritatingly organized. But that's where the books are, so that's where I went. I picked up three books off of my reading list, which I cannot possibly read before I leave, but I couldn't help myself. And then I finally went home.

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