Saturday, March 31, 2007

Busy, busy Saturday

Hoooooooly Crap, we've been going today. Go go go go go.

go go go go go.


Well, okay, we were going. Now we're watching basketball, drinking beer, and making dinner. But before 3:30, we didn't sit down for anything more than breakfast. What did we do? What didn't we do, I think you mean.

We set an alarm for 5am to get up and beat the laundry rush over at the wildly popular Village Laundry. Ah, but when is 5am not 5am? When the power goes out and you incorrectly set your alarm by a full 12 hours, that's when. In other words, the alarm didn't really go off at 5am and we didn't get up until 7. No problem, we'll just try out Retro Wash. It's slightly closer anyway nd it's never full. The only downside is the lack of free dryers, but who cares? The stress of the Village Laundry during peak hours is too much to take. So we lug our laundry the three blocks to the laundry place (our car is out at the train station in the suburbs) and...we're the only ones there! Whee!

Of course, what we didn't realize is that Retro Wash is some sort of front for the Ukrainian Mafia1. It has to be. No one is ever in there, no one works there, and none of the machines work. It's highly sketch. What's more, the same guy (wearing a track suit, mind you), walked back and forth outside past the front windows...oh, I don't know, 20 times. He came in, got quarters from the change machine, left, and continued to casually walk past the front windows. It was...weird.

Then, since the dryers didn't work so well, someone had to get more money for more quarters. Since Leah didn't want to be left alone in the highly creepy Retro Wash, she went to the cash machine. Upon leaving, a car apparently started following her and honked at her multiple times, eventually following her into the gas station where the ATM was located. Freaky? Um, yeah. She made it back okay and we finished the laundry, but that's the last time we use that place. I know a friend of ours likes it, but it's not our style. We like our laundry equipment to work.

So, it's 10:00 and we're back home. Breakfast? Pancakes. Hell's yeah. Thank you Mrs. Buttersworth.

And breaktime's over. Having allowed our apartment to turn into a festering swamp upon returning from vacation, we decided to clean it up before it was too late. For the next 2 hours we cleaned and cleaned and the house looks great. Do we rule? In a word, yes.

But wait, there's more. Leah needed cross-stitch materials. It's all she's been talking about since Tuesday (well, that and Sunjaya's hair). We also had to take in the rent, so we decided to hope on our bike and bike across town to the rental agency and then over to Jo-Ann's Fabric. That's right, Jo-Ann Fabrics, mecca of crafty crap. It was about 5 miles or so out to the rental agency and it was a really nice ride. I think my bike has gotten better having sat in the house unused for the last 10 months. I guess it needed the rest. Then it was to Jo-Ann Fabrics for the cross-stitch goodness and...

What the hell?

How can they not have any good cross-stitch stuff? Seriously, they have 10 aisles of yarn and one little, tiny corner of cross-stitching stuff. It seems Leah had arrived at the cross-stitching crazy 25 years too late. Pity.

We were saddened but there was still much to do. We biked back home and threw on our running shoes. We were scheduled for 2 miles so two miles we would do.

side note: did you know every tri-athelete is better than me. My legs felt like leg-Jello after getting off that bike and 2 miles might as well have been 10. How do people do it? And swimming in addition to biking and running? That's just stupid. Tri-people are insane.

So we finished the 2 miles in 17:30, a nice time.

And...scene. The morning/afternoon of constant movement ended at 3:30, just in time for a late lunch and a tiny nap.

So it was a busy day, but it was an awesome day. Tomorrow we've got 6 miles scheduled and that will complete our first week of pre-marathon training.

Oh, and incidentally, two days until opening day for the Cubs. Go Cubs!!!!

1 For all those in the Ukrainian Mafia reading this...I kid, of course. And we love your perogis.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Take My Own Advice

Well well well. I commented on Joe's blog the other day about how good it was for him to take the day off when he wasn't feeling well...blah blah blah...

And what did I do yesterday. After feeling uggy all week, I came home at noon, slept from 2-5 and got up and thought it would be a good idea to go out for a run cause "I didn't feel THAT bad". Yeah. made it about 2 miles out and walked home. After getting home I proceeded to be horizontal on the couch watching reruns of Law & Order Criminal Intent and SVU.

I feel a ton better today though so I think all that sleeping helped for something.

No running today but we are going to walk home from the train station which is about 3 miles. Tomorrow it's some biking and maybe two miles thrown in and then 6 miles on Sunday.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Run Run Run Till Her Footsteps Take Her Miles Away

Hahaha. See what I did there. Oh I am SO clever.

Anyways. Yes.

We've been running.

It's been great getting back into it! I think what happens when we have been on such a hiatus from running is that we lose our rhythm and so when we go ok, let's go three miles easy we, or at least I, forget what an easy pace is. So on Tuesday we went 3 miles and had the last two miles under 8:30. Yesterday we went 5 miles coming in at other words averaging under 9 minute miles. But I was just running I wasn't trying to do anything fancy, I wasn't running with music, I was just going.

Today we have 4 miles on the schedule. Then the plan was 2 miles on Saturday and then 6 miles on Sunday. I might get rid of the 2 miles on Sunday because Jason and I are going to be doing a lot of biking on Saturday. Starting on Monday we will start biking downtown and taking the train to Wheaton where we leave our car and then driving into the lab from there. So Saturday we are going to bike downtown and get monthly passes (cause then we have to take the train) and then we are going to bike all the way up to Linoln and Montrose to drop off our rent check and then back home....this should be about 20 miles or so of biking.

I just realized that leaving the car in Wheaton has some drawbacks.....well only one that I can think of. I was going to be brilliant this year and on Sundays drive downtown and park since the meters are free on Sunday and leave my car there and then we could run on the lakefront path and have post run swims at the beaches and not have to take the bus home......hmm.....well that's just a problem looking for a solution. I'm sure we'll figure something out....or just take the bus home. Hey, if you don't like smelly people don't take public transportation :-)

Alright. It's Thursday people. Woot.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Three Weeks, Three Vacations - (3)

We got back to Chicago around 10pm on Sunday night. I worked for about 14 hours on Monday morning on the materials concerning the Washington D.C. trip that would be happening during the week. We got up around 2:45am on Tuesday morning and it was back on it. We HAD planned on taking the CTA Blue line downtown, transfering to the orange line and getting to Midway.....but then when a Cab went by and honked...well we decided to go that route instead, especially considering that I will be reimbursed for those charges. Jason and I were so tired that we were both asleep on the plane before it took off and woke up when the wheels hit the ground in Washington. I never sleep like that on a plane, and neither does Jason so it just goes to show how exhausted we were.
Washington D.C. 2007

We got into Washington around 9am and took the Metro to our hotel where we were able to check in immediatly. After we checked in, we went for a really long walk, going around the White House and towards the Washington Monument. At this point I realized how nice it was and decided that it would be a good idea to go for a it was back to the hotel, into running clothes and then back out to the Mall. We ran to the Capitol building and then realized that we were a bit tired and so walked/ran back to our hotel.

That night we had a fancy dinner with the rest of the group on trip where I met a girl from SLAC who was awesome. It's very rare to meet cool physics people and even rarer to meet cool physics girls. It's always weird meeting people that are a lot like you and "get" your sense of humor. I am a bit on the weird side, but new SLAC girl seemed cool with that.

The next day it was off to meetings on the Hill. The first day I had 5 meetings all of which I was the primary on. The primary leads the meeting and so on. The first meeting was a little rough as I was really nervous, but my secondary said it added to the charm :-). The rest of the meetings went really well and it was a really fun trip. My last meeting I was with a girl that was a constiuent of the district so after our meeting they wanted to take us to have our picture taken in front of the Capitol and then give us a tour. My secondary had a meeting right away though....BUT Jason happened to meet me outside and so we got our picture taken and we got a tour of the Capitol building including some time watching the floor discuss some issues which was interesting.

The next day was a full day of meetings, but I had a bunch of really really interesting ones. First off I got to meet Danny Davis who is my representative. I went into his office and most of the offices have these maps of their districts. I looked at the map and I was almost 100% sure that I didn't see my neigborhood on there. So my big plan of going, "Hello sir, it's wonderful living in your district" failed as I didn't want him to go...."I don't actually represent that area...." However, he's a great guy and it was really fun to meet him. I then was able to meet a guy that has an American Advancement for the Association of Science (AAAS) fellowship. He was really interesting and super nice. It was nice to have met him as it's a good contact to have if I decide to try and apply for one of those fellowships......which is my current plan.....must. graduate. first. At another meeting we had a really good discussion of education and the problems with the math and science programs and how is all this money going to help that problem.....good discussion there.

On Friday I only had two meetings and a late flight so Jason and I spent the whole day walking around D.C. We went from Capitol Hill to the FDR memorial back through the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial and then back to the hotel for our luggage.....and then to the airport to wait for our flight.

After getting back to Chicago we decided to take a Cab home. I have lived in Chicago for just about 27 years...well ok, like 21 considering I was in Bloomington for 6 of those years...but you get the point. I told the Cab at Midway that I wanted to go to Damen and Iowa and he goes down the Stevenson.....PAST DAMEN....all the way Augusta....back to Damen and then over to Iowa. I always tip cabbies really high as my dad was a Chicago Cab driver many years ago, but I tipped him nothing AND after arguing with him about why he went the wrong way (he kept saying that I didn't know what I was talking about...didn't I know how far south I was when I was at I-55? I told him that it didn't matter how fucking far south I was, there was no need to go any farther EAST...anyways) I called and reported his cab. I don't know if anything will happen with that but...cest la vie. I was pissed. I had been traveling for 3 straight weeks and I did not need a cabbie to go so far out of the way and then tell me I was wrong about directiosn in the city.

Well that concluded our Washington D.C. trip. It was a great time and I am really looking forward to possibly moving into the political sector of science...we'll see.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What's Happening Now?

Well just a quick break from my vacation reports for a quick what's going on now in the Leah Jason world.

After getting back late on Friday we had a wonderful weekend in the City. It was wierd to be out of our apartment for the three straight weeks and so it made being home so much better. On Saturday we went to pick up the Baby Kitty from my friend who was babysitting her. We call her Aunt Becki as she owns the sibling of our little Dagny. Dagny was spoiled at her Aunt's house (no I'm not a crazy cat lady...yet) as she got fat full food and wet food every other day. At home it was back to Iams dry food...YUM! Saturday night Lisa came over and we had dinner and watched some creepy mysteries on TV. After she left we caught part of the Peyton manning SNL and I have to say that the commerical from the beginning was one of the funniest things I have seen on TV in awhile. I thought the rest of the show was ok, but that first skit took the cake.

On Sunday we went down and watched the Shamrock Shuffle. We had a sign that said, "Shuffle Harder" which I think people thought was funny when they saw us at about mile 2 and less funny when we had moved over to mile 4. Being runners we know that it's fun having people scream for you instead of just standing there and clapping and so we yelled our little hearts out. Nice job runners! After the race we hung out with Mike and Barb for a bit and got to play the Wiiiiiiii, which was beyond fun! They can look forward to us being at their apartment often :-)

The rest of Sunday saw me on the couch as I wasn't feeling too good. And then Monday it was back to work. I have been running a bunch of Monte Carlo jobs (well my advisor has while I have been gone) so I am going through all of them and checking them and making sure that all looks ok.

and today....TODAY people.....Jason and i are going running.

I have made a plan to get us back up to 35 miles a week in the next few monts. We are going to take it slow and steady, so that our bodies will be ready to battle with Pfitz come June. So today, just three miles. I'll post my running schedule here in the next few days.....just to keep me honest.

Stay tuned for pictures and stories from Washington D.C.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Three Weeks, Three Vacations - (2)

I took a LOT of pictures in the Bahamas. So to get the most out of them I uploaded them to Picasa. Click on the albums within the posts for a big set of pictures from that particular day of the trip!

On Saturday afternoon we made our way to the Bahamas. We had a flight from Tampa to Miami and then from Miami to Nassau. All was fine on the way to Tampa, but we had a scare in Miami when after everyone was seated on the plane and it looked like we were set to go the captain came on and said, "I'm sorry folks, but one of our baggage handlers noticed a problem with the aircraft. WE are going to check it out and we'll get back to you." He comes back a few minutes later and says something like, "Well we have found that it's a major fuel leak so you all will have to go back to the terminal and wait till it gets fixed OR we find another plane". My question at this point was why was a baggage handler noticing fuel would think that would be part of their pre - flight routine. Anyways, we took off about 2 hours late, but in the end it was a problem. We jumped in a cab to go to the Nassau Yacht Haven where my dad and stepmom were waiting with cold beers and dinner.
Bahamas 2007 : Day 1
The first day we made our way from Nassau to Allen's Cay (Cay in the Bahamas is pronouced Key). This sail would be the longest of the trip at about 30 miles. Jason and I have tended to get sick on the boat in the past and so we took some "not so drowsy" dramamine. We were in fact not so drowsy and not sick at all which was nice. During the sail we even saw some dolphins jumping in front of the boat! They were quick little buggers though and so we didn't get a good look at them or any photos.

Once at Allen's Cay we immediatly headed out for some snorkling which is my favorite thing to do in the islands. Unfortunatly the seas were a mess and we ended up with more water than air down our snorkle tubes so it wasn't all that much fun. Allen's Cay also has a beach there that is loaded with iguanas. Nothing else is there except these big giant lizards that come running AT you when you arrive. I guess they are used to the humans feeding them and so are expecting some kind of grub from all that arrive.

That was just about all that we did that day. After a yummy dinner made with the pressure cooker it was off to bed for the sailing clan.

Bahamas 2007 : Day 2
The next day we headed to Hawksbill Cay which was about 20 miles from where we were. We had another great day sailing. Enee Marie is a great sail boat! She's fat and tubby and not too rocky and rolly. At Hawksbill we had our traditional setting the ancor beer and then headed ashore. Here the beach was truely unbelievable! There was a hill that you could climb on shore which gave great views of the surrounding area. On the walk up there was a mailbox in which you could leave a picture or a story or whatever and the name of your boat. It was crazy interesting to look through the book and see what people had left for you to read. At the top of the hill there is this little stand of stones all piled up nice and neat. I guess when Dad and Sue had been here a couple of weeks earlier there was a big lizard on the top of the pile, but no luck for us.

After our hike we went for a bit of a walk around the island although there wasn't terribly much to see. Then we went for our daily snorkling where although there wasn't much to see, I did see some schools of fish along with a tiny brown sting ray type thing. Back to the boat for snacks dinner and a wonderful sunset closed out the day at this amazing location. Tomorrow it would be off to what ended up being my favorite place that we saw.

Bahamas 2007 : Day 3&4

The next day we left at about 8:30am and headed about 10 -15 miles to Warderick Wells. This island and area of the Bahamas has been a nation park for a long time so there is no fishing and so on when you are in the waters that the park encompasses. As you sailed into the park, you call ahead to get a mooring ball and so we were lucky enough to get what ended up being the best ball in the area. You navigate down this channel type thing where there are shallows all in the middle of a 'C' shape. We happended to be right by the beach and so we had a short dingy ride into shore. On shore you could check your e-mail and there was a little book shop. They also had kyacks your could rent along with this beach bike thing that looked fun.

The first day that we were there, we headed ashore and took one of the trails to check out The Sound or the giant deep part of the Atlantic (all of the Bahamas are super in the 5-10 meter depths). It was a beautiful hike and at the end there is this big pile of wood that has a lot of boat names on there and the date. We didn't drop any piece of wood, but we did use the pile to hold our camera so we could take a picture of the two of us.

After the hike we headed back to the boat and this is where the funniest part of the trip happened. I happened to see some kind of big ass fish in the water, so I grabbed my snorkle gear and jumped in to check out the scene. Hanging out under our boat was a group of fish, I would say maybe about 25 of them. They were BIG fish with yellow tails and I was doing totally fine until they turned and started coming at me. I got my ass out of the water so fast! I told Jason, "get in there and see if they bite!" and he said, "Kay" and he jumped in! He also had the fish turn on him so he jumped out of the water before the big giant fish came at him....of course in the end they ended up just being yellow tailed whatever and weren't dangerous or anything....but damn were they scary looking.
Warderick Wells Hike

On the second day Jason and I took a long hike around the island and met Dad and Sue at one of the Beaches where the trail let out. It was amazing out and the landscapes were so cool. I took a lot of pictures on this trip so that is why there is a separate album here. Along the path of the trail there was a cave type hole in the ground with a ladder heading down into it, so we were able to climb down and check it out. It was called someone's hideaway or something like that. Once we got to the beach we met up with Dad and Sue who had sandwiches and beer to give us. We hung out on the beach and were lazy. While Jason and I were in the water Dad was making friends with some of the local lizards. I came back ashore and was able to get some good pictures of the little guy who ended up eating out of our hands. It was one of these curly-cue tailed guys who's tail had been cut off. Make sure you check out the photo album for pictures of that little guy.
Bahamas 2007 : Day 5

After Warderick Wells we headed to Compass Cay. We had a bit of an issue ancoring that day, but we got it on attempt number 3. After we ancored we were wondering if we should go snorkling. I said, why not even though I was a bit tired. So we got in the digny and headed out. It was a REALLY long dingy ride and I was starting to think that it wasn't going to be worth it once we got there. But boy was I wrong!!! We saw an amazing assortment of fish. I got a bit worried at one point because the current is really strong and I got pulled a bit farther away that I would have liked too. I am a fairly strong swimmer so I made it back without any issue. I went around where Jason was and we just a huge assortment of fish. 50 of this kind and 50 of that kind. It was looking inside an aquarium! All of a sudden Dad goes, Leah Jason there's a sting ray over here. So we headed over to where he was and saw the most amazing thing. A big giant sting ray just flying through the water. They are so graceful when there are swimming. We watched him until he tucked himself away. Really really amazing!
Bahamas 2007 : Day 6&7

From Compass Cay we headed to Staniel Cay which would be the end our journy. We weren't leaving yet for a few days, but we were going to stay at Staniel as we had a flight from here back to Nassau where our flight to Chicago was leaving from. For those of you James Bond fans, this is where the movie Thunderball was filmed.

We had some more problems ancoring on this day.....and maybe just everyone should shut up :-) I kid. The very first thing we did was head to Thunerball Cave to go snorkling. My dad kept telling me how wonderful it was and there are a lot of fish and yadda yadda yadda. You can feed the fish as well and so we brought a little bag of bread to give them. I could not believe how many fish there were! You stick your face in the water and they are all over you like white on rice. It looked like when you were swimming as if you would be pushing them out of your way. You swim into this cave which has sunlight coming in through the top of it and it's absolutly breath taking! The best snork of the trip was saved for last and just as good as when they were trying to describe it to me over the phone.

That night before we went to bed we were noticing some lighting way off in the distance and haha isn't that kinda cool. At about 2am my dad came and told us to close all the hatches as it was starting to pour (I am a VERY hard sleeper!) Everyone gets up to check out the weather and it is BEYOND crazy! It's so so windy and the boat has turned itself around (I don't understand how the ancor didn't pull up since were behind where we put it in the first place....luck I guess). We turned on the radio and listened to people talking about some powerboat that had gone blowing through a field of boats. It is very very rocky and rolly and I head back to bed to lay down. I think I was starting to fall back asleep around 4am at which point there was some big giant loud banging on the hull right in our cabin. That snapped me right back up as I thought...I don't know something had hit it so hard that there was now a hole in it. We figured out the chain to the ancore must have gone under the boat henc causing the loudness in our cabin. I finally fall back asleep a bit later. Needless to say everyone was very tired the next day and naps were taken by all.

The winds were still up the next day and so didn't go snorkling. We did go check on our flight and have a beer and watched some basketball in the bar that was there. That evening we had a nice dinner at the Yacht Club.

And then we departed. We left Staniel Cay on this super tiny airplane. 6 people could fit on it....two of which are the people flying the plane. The flight ended up being early, but no early flight to Chicago so we had about 8 hours in the Nassau airport. We had a cramped flight back to Chicago....but it was so so nice to be home.

I miss my dad. I really do. But man this retirement thing that he chose to do, is really amazing. It's such an amazing place and the freedom to just go and see whatever the hell he wants to is understandably desireable. Plus, this getting to go to the Bahamas and only pay for my pretty nice :-) A big thanks to Dad and Sue for housing us for the week. Can't wait till BVI!

I love you Dad!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Three Weeks, Three Vacations - (1)

Well well well Jason and I are back home again in Chicago and wow is it weird to be away from your home for 3 solid weeks. Packed in those three weeks we had a week at my mom's house, a week in the Bahamas and a week in Washington D.C. which was more of a business trip for me, but as it was so awesome I'll go with vacation.

I have some pictures here within the posts, but will have (hopefully) Picasa Web albums up with more pictures soon. (Picasa = free, iWeb=better...but not free). You can click to enlarge the photos.

To save you from reading a really really really long post, I figured I'd break it up into three just really long posts. So here we go. Enjoy.

The vacation started off for us at about 2:30am on Friday, March 2. I had been reading in the papers for the weeks leading up to the trip that planes had been grounded for 8 hours for de-icing and blah blah blah. Which was great I was thinking as when we left Chicago we were literally walking in a snow globe. We walked to our car which was parked near Lisa and Evin's and on the way to the train to drop off our coats since we wouldn't be needing them in the upcoming weeks. After the car window breaking incident we decided to leave the car by Lisa's so they could keep an eye on it (and move it in case street cleaning occured).

There was no need for me to worry about our flight because even though we did have to go through deicing and it was horrible in Chicago we only took off about 20 minutes late. After arriving in Tampa, we decided to take our rental car to visit my Grandpa who lives nearby in Temple Terrace. My Aunt Donna and Uncle Ken were there for the week helping them clean out their garage. In the upcoming months we are hoping that Grandpa and his wife, Georgia, will move into some kind of assited living facility. Georgia has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and it's getting to a stage where it's probably unsafe for them to be living without help.

After the Boca Del Grandpa visit we headed on down to Sarasota. We met my mom's husband, Ken, at the Sarasota airport and headed down to North Port where she is currently living. It was a GREAT reunion with my mom. I saw her for Christmas in 2005, so it had been a long time since I had seen her. This going from a woman who had big family dinners about every other weekend, so it's been tough going so long without seeing her.

Of course there are consequences for not keeping up in contact. In the past 18 months my grandparent's health has deteriorated to a point of....I don't even know how to describe and utter confusion. My grandmother has Alzheimer's and my grandfather has been diagnosed with mild-moderate dimensia. In the time that I was in Florida we had to put my grandmother in a locked unit nursing home. That actually happened on the Sunday of the Sarasota marathon and half marathon so it ended up being good that I hadn't signed up for it since I was up to bat to help out. I took my mom to the nursing home while my uncle took my grandmother. My mom was really upset, understandably, so I was happy that I could be there to help her out on the day.

Alzheimer's is the absolute cruelest disease that I can imagine. It's horrible for the people going through it (although I guess my stepmom's dad used to say, "You get to make new friends everyday and hide your own Easter eggs."), and it's horrible for the family. Everyone dies, we all know that, but this is different. This is lots of people being in misery for many many years. It was very tough for me to see my grandmother in the state she was in. She was always so beautiful and so neat and put together and so to see her in the opposite state of that was hard. I hope that the facility she is in now will help with the problems.

ANYWAYS.....none of that was fun per se, but again I was thrilled to be able to help out while I was there instead of hiding here while people are going through tough stuff alone.

So onto the vacation part.

On Monday we met up with Lora and Haight for a Reds spring training game. It was a blast to be watching baseball again and I have an even bigger hunger for the Cubbies to be back home in Chicago (Jason is currently watching a Cubs Spring training game on TV and might have peed a drop when he realized they were on TV today). The Reds game was a good game as well with the Reds coming back from 5 down to win 9-8.

While we were in Florida my grandfather was living with my mom. One of the things that he can still remember how to do fairly well is play chess. He used to be a monster at the game and was still able to take Jason for most of the games they played while we were there.

My mom and Ken live about 15 minutes away from a really nice beach and so we spent an afternoon there while people were working. That day it was actually pretty cold out though so we didn't spend much time there and didn't go into the water at all.

The day before we left we went to Siesta Key which is one of, if not the, coolest beaches I have ever been too. The sand is like snow it's so fine and it white white white! We did go swimming here and Floridian's crack me up. A lot of, "Oh my god I can't believe you went it the water! It's so cold out and the water is freezing." The temperature down ther was in the 80's and the water temp was low 70s. I'm used to swimming in Lake Michigan in the summers when the water temp is in the...oh I don't know....50s....60s maybe? The water was amazing and it was a beautiful day at the beach. We had to cut the day short however because I needed to attend a meeting telaphonically and so we headed to the nearest Panera and staked out a corner to hang out for a couple hours. I got a Skype account and it was a really nice way to join the meetings. My mic didn't work, but I didn't have any questions so it wasn't a big deal.

After that we headed to my cousin's school to pick her up from the after school day care program. She is 7 and so incredible cute. I told my Aunt and Uncle that I would take care of the kids that day and so Jason and I took them to the beach. They live right across the street from a beach, which is awesome. Miranda (the youngest) is a really good swimmer and not too scared of anything. I taught her how to do somersaults and handstands in the water. After the swimming Miranda and Micky (the middle child) buried themselves in the sand and went on a beach long game of tag with Jason while I stayed back to chat with my Aunt and Uncle.

After that is was back to my mom's to pack. We had a great time visiting my mom. Of course I miss her so so so much. I am hoping to make these trips to visit her more frequent. A week of relaxing and having mom cook for you...and admitting living in a bit of a lunatic house with my grandfather asking me every day when I was taking him to see his wife and take her home....but cest la vie....We had a great time! Oh yeah...this is a running blog...we ran about three days while we were down there for about a total of 10-12 miles. Didn't feel great, but not horrible either.

I love you mom!

Click here for the full album from this part of the trip :

Florida 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

We're HOME!!!

...but only for today.

Jason and I returned home last night from a 16 day vacation to Florida to visit my mom and then onto the Bahamas to live aboard my dad's 40ft sailboat for a week. It feels great to be home, but it's short lived since we are off to Washington DC tomorrow morning with another early pre-7am flight.

I will have a long (very long) write up of our vacation coming within the next week. Given that I haven't had internet for about 16 days aside from quick e-mail checks I have a ton of work to do for this Washington trip. I also plan on reupping my .mac account so I can show you all the amazing pictures from the Bahamas.

So in short....stay tuned....just a little while longer. I promise amazing pictures and fun stories.

The weather in Washington D.C. this week is going to be un-freakin-real. It's going to be in the 60s and 70s so aside my very businessy suits, I'll have my faithful Brooks and running shorts. This year I'll have Jason with me to keep me company on the runs which will be fun.

With that I'll leave you with this picture, taken from an airplane that we took from a small island in the Exumas back to Nassau where our flight back to Chicago was taking off from.....this plane sat 6 was REALLY small. This is where we spent 8 days...yes the water really is that color...there is NO photoshopping on this.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

We find ourselves in the Bahamas

The land of sun and blue seas in the Bahamas is beyond my greatest expectations. Sure they tell you that the water is really blue, but goddamn....IT REALLY IS!

We had a great time at my mom's house although much of it was sad due to my grandparents state...more on that later. We have been in the Bahamas since Saturday night. We have sailed the last three days and now find ourselves in Warderick Wells (or something like that) it's a natural park, and when I get a chance to post pictures as usual it's not going to do it justice.

I have abandoned running for snorkling and saw some GIANT sized fish today under our boat. Then they saw me in the water and came at me at which point a firecracker found it's way up my ass and I found myself safely aboard the boat.

Stay tuned for pictures from the small latitudes.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Greetings from the Land of Sun

A quick check of

Hey, it's not even that bad in Chicago! Current temp of 23 with a feels like of 11, but a high of 34. In fact, it's going to be in the 40's by the end of the week. That's not bad at all. I think everyone should be pretty happy with that weather, given that it's early in March.

Of course, I suppose it isn't 65 like it is here in Florida. You know, it's funny. It's 65 here and everyone around me here at the Panera is all bundled up in sweaters and sweatshirts. Seriously, the way people talk, I'm half expecting to see someone walk by in a parka. This Florida weather makes you soft, I tell ya. And I've already got a slight sunburn and everyone keeps commenting on how red my forehead is already. Okay, I get it. I'm losing my hair. Everyone look away from the forehead. Nothing more to see here. Yeesh.

This moderately cool weather was great news for Haight who is running the Sarasota 1/2 marathon. We ran yesterday in 80 degree heat with 200% humidity and it was pretty damn tough. Today was much, much easier. Head on over to Haight's Hangout and congratulate him on running the 1/2 marathon we decided to pass on.

Speaking of which, it was a great, great decision on our part to not sign up for the 1/2. Because we are out of shape? Well, we are, but that's not what I'm referring to. No, the problem is that Leah's grandmother is having lots of trouble right now and we need all hands on deck to help take care of both of Leah's grandparents. In fact, I'm the one writing this as Leah is helping admit her grandmother to a new facility as we speak. It's not a good situation for anyone and *nobody* wants to have to worry about a race right now. If we were signed up we'd either a) have wasted a 100 bucks or b) be running a race with no one to watch, all the while feeling guilty that we weren't helping. So, in the end, we were lucky to not sign up early.

We have been running, though. So far we're working ourselves back into it after not running for a couple weeks before vacation by running 40 minutes when we wake up. We're not speedy as we are running just over 4 miles in those 40 minutes, but it's really, really, really nice to be running in shorts and a t-shirt. We plan to run every day and hopefully by the end of the week we'll be feeling sharp again.

Other than that, we're just having a great time visiting with Leah's mom and stepdad and later today we're going to go visit Leah's awesome cousins who (whom?) we haven't seen for 14 months. Think a 7 and 12 year old might have changed a bit in 14 months? I hope we recognize them. Whatever the situation and complications and frustrations, it's always great to see family.

Let's see, what else? I've been getting by ass kicked in chess by Leah's grandfather and stepdad. You know, chess was a lot easier when I played my friends in high school. Ever since I got to college, everyone I've played has known "strategy" and crap like that. It's not enough to just be smart anymore, I need to actually know how to play. Well, that's not going to happen as I only have a passing interest in chess, so I guess I'm going to have to swing by the local elementary school to feel good about my chess skills again.

Oh, and this is cool. Our article in symmetry magazine also made it to the front page of the Fermilab page, That's the very, very main page of the entire lab and our names are in the lead in paragraph for the story. So now every experimental physicist in the world can know that I won over my wife by blowing stuff up. I suppose I won't be asked to work on hardware anytime soon.

And finally, yes, our site was down for awhile. It wasn't just you. Well, it might have been you, I suppose, but it probably wasn't.

Okay, that's all I've got. Time to go back outside into the warmth where I will be wearing sunglasses. Sunglasses!

Oh, and Go Cubs (currently 0-2-1 in ST. yep, these are the Cubs)