Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday is race day.

What a nice weekend. I am so not ready to go back to work tomorrow. Chris actually has two more days off that his group gave them for shipping. I am totally jealous.

This morning was the Seattle half. According to my watch I finished in 1:54, but I still can't see where I placed in the field because the results site has been down all day. The time is solid (especially for the hilly Seattle course, though more on that below) but I was hoping for closer to 1:50. At least I have a goal for Mercer Island in March.

The half has always been my favorite and my least favorite distance. It holds all kinds of nostalgia: My first race ever was a half-marathon, the Philadelphia Distance Run, and I finished thrilled with my very slow time on a sweltering (95 degrees) early September morning. (Okay, my very slow time.) I've probably run more halfs than races of any other distance. It's long enough to feel like a real workout, but unlike the marathon it's not so long that recovery time is a killer. But despite all the practice, my finishing time in the half as represented relative to the pack is generally worse than I do at longer distances like the marathon and much worse than I do at shorter distances like the 5k. So I feel kind of ambivalent about the distance, drawn to it and yet frequently kind of disappointed with my performance in the end.

We definitely had a beautiful day today. It was pretty chilly this morning, but we had sunshine throughout. It's about as good as you could hope to get on a late November morning in Seattle. For the first time ever, I followed the race dressing strategy of bringing old shleppy clothes to the start line and discarded them as the race was beginning. I'm definitely going to do that in the future -- worked great for staying warm before the start. It's hard to believe that it's taken me hundreds of races to figure this out.

I like this course and also don't like this course. I've run it before and sworn that I'm never running it again because of that annoying stretch through the I-90 tunnels. But the rest of the course is beautiful -- through downtown and along Lake Washington and back up through my old stomping grounds in Capitol Hill. Mile 10-11 of this race is a stretch of road that I have run thousands of times since moving to Seattle. But I haven't run it at all since moving to Phinney Ridge, so that was a little nostalgic and nice -- and helpful to know just how long the hills are. But for as much as people talk about them, I've always thought the hills on this course are a little overrated. There are a couple of tough ones, especially the one coming up Madison. But I've never understood the real concern with the long windnig gradual up through Interlake -- it's really not that steep. It might be rough for people doing the Seattle full with 13 more miles on their legs at that point, but then again by that point in the race it's the downhills that are the enemy.

Anyway, all in all it was a pretty nice day. Chad wins the #1 friend award for staggering out of bed to see us go by as we ran past his house. Good thing Yaniv spotted him because Chad and I never would have seen each other -- I was oblivious and the crowd was totally thick even at that point in the race. They told us this morning that there were 16,000 people registered for the events at the race, which includes half and full, runners and walkers, but that well over 11,000 were half runners. That aspect of things was kind of annoying -- the pack never thinned, and some of that course is pretty narrow. Still, the long straight sections were pretty cool-looking, through they are few and far between on that course. As far as the eye could see in front and behind was this unending line of runners. Pretty amazing for 7:30am the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Books and stuff.

This year's was a solid Thanksgiving. My two new recipes worked out pretty well. I'm almost done reading a fantastic book. I have the Seattle half tomorrow at an ungodly hour. I've had plenty of wine. I have an idea for a new project. I am mostly caught up on sleep. Things could be worse.

I need a new book discussion group. Not to replace my existing one, but to supplement it. I have a bunch of things that I've been reading that I want someone to talk with about, stuff like Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement and Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self Esteem, and the Confidence Gap. I know people who would happily join in, but they all live in Boston or Gettyburg or San Franciso or New York or Denver or Chicago and not so much in Seattle. Which is ridiculous. We toyed before with the idea of having an online book discussion group but it sort of fizzled before we really got it started. Why do my friends have to live all over the freakin world? Who's in Seattle who's going to read this stuff with me? I can find plenty of people who want to talk about software or technology more broadly, but so far very few who want to argue with me about other stuff that I want to argue about. Maybe it's an occupational hazard.

I don't regret studying linguistics at all, and I am pretty happy with my life and professional choices. But occasionally I do wonder whether I would have been more likely to stay in academia if I had studied something else. One weird thing that I'm discovering is that I am naturally much more an engineer than I ever thought I was. One other thing is that I value my autonomy much more than most careers will tolerate (in this sense, I have mostly been lucky). One other thing is that I'm pretty glad I didn't go to law school.

Four more weeks till vacation!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Of music and holidays.

The Stars show was awesome! So was the meal at Campagne beforehand. On the way out of the show we happened to bump into one of the Campagne chefs and were honestly able to tell him that the meal was fantastic. Check another place off the Seattle classics list. I really want to go to Cafe Campagne for brunch sometime, maybe when the weather gets nicer, which is when football season ends, which is when Sunday brunch becomes a good option for me again.

But so the show: I've been meaning to see this band for a long time, but I missed them the last time they rolled through town. It definitely lived up to its billing. The set was definitely sort of recency-focused, but they also played the exact set of older stuff that I'd have asked for if I could have, including their "This Charming Man" cover. Besides the music, the show was noteworthy for two reasons: 1. There was a marriage proposal, and 2. Death Cab was there. I guess they're Stars fans too.

This should be a pretty good week. Most everyone is out of work for the holiday, which means I should be able to get more done in less time. We have people coming for Thanksgiving so we have a ton to do and I have the Seattle half next weekend, so it's gonna be busy. It just hit me that we don't really get Christmas this year. Not sure how I feel about that yet. It's either going to make the winter feel much longer or much shorter. I'm not sure which yet.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

With apologies to Heather.

The new Tullycraft album is a ton of fun. I just know that Heather would love it! Okay, she wouldn't, but I do.

I've also picked up some random stuff from Mosquitos and oh my god yes, the A*Teens. Because I am officially old and pretending not to be. Kind of like everyone that I have regained contact with via Facebook! See, it isn't just me. It's you guys too!

But I bet I won't be the oldest person at the Stars show tomorrow night, because jangly Canadian pop brings out all the aging hipsters. In related news, I am super-excited about this show. I've been waiting for years to see these guys play. Tomorrow at work I will be listening to the new album very loudly all day in order to prepare.

I've decided that the reason I haven't picked up the bass guitar is that I have fundamentally the wrong personality.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Everything you've ever said is brilliant.

So I gave in and joined Facebook. I know, I know. It was cooler to be a holdout than it is to be a lame old person who's missed the boat forever and then rushes in several years too late. Whatever. Your actions are dictated by social imperatives too.

You know that old song "Crush Story" by Too Much Joy? At least one of you does. Pandora suggested it to me the other day and reminded me that I really liked that album, and since then I've had that whole album and that song in particular running through my head on more or less constant repeat. I was hearing it all through dinner with people last night. At least I avoided accidentally humming or something. Of course, that might be due to the persistent and loud live balalaika music that would have drowned me out anyway. Did you know that people in Seattle play the balalaika in 2007? I did not.

We're starting to gear up for Hong Kong and Australia. By which I mainly mean that we're thinking about gearing up. For the first time ever I won't have massive vacation surplus to roll over. It better be worth it. Why is it that I have way more trips that I want to take than vacation time that I have to take them? Why is this blog post so all over the place?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Open letter to 520 commuters.

Dear Friday afternoon commuters on 520 westbound,

I hate you. Yes, you. I want to leave work soon and I looked at the traffic and I am filled with despair. It is not because of the colors on the traffic map. I drive with that color daily. It is because on Friday, all the crazy people come out. The people who prevent me from getting off the highway to take Rich's special ninja route down 24th back to the bridge. And also the people who drive solo in the HOV lane. We are not in New Jersey, people. Don't look at me that way. I can speak derisively about New Jersey because I am from New Jersey.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fall back.

I usually hate turning the clocks back, but this year I'm ready for it. Darker, shorter days satsify my current inclinations pretty well. If that sounds bleak, it's not entirely. I think I'm just ready for a change in season.

And who am I to argue with an extra hour of sleep?

This has been a pretty good weekend. And from here it's more or less a sprint from weekend to weekend until we leave for vacation. Which means we'd better get our acts together to figure out where we're staying, how we're packing, how we're going to handle Christmas gifts since we're not going east this year, and a whole bunch of other stuff. In between now and then a bunch of other things happen, not least of which is Thanksgiving. To say nothing of the ongoing timesuck that is work, although I am starting to anticipate some change on the horizon in that area.

Unrelated aside. Resolved: Whenever anyone says, "People nowadays do X/don't do X anymore/are more X than before/are less X than before," they are pretty much always observing some area in which people nowadays are identical to people always.