Friday, October 27, 2006

Lounging at Home

My cold peaked yesterday, which left me pretty tired overall. I decided to take a sick day and sleep in. When I was younger ;) I'd just show up to work anyway and tough it out. But now I'd just rather get more rest and help beat the cold faster. While at home I caught up on some TV, mostly the new shows I am watching this season.

First up was Friday Night Lights, a TV-series version of the movie and book which in turn was based on a year of the real-life Odessa Permian Panthers, a West Texas high school football team around which the city revolves. High school football is huge in Texas, especially in the middle of nowhere! Anyway, in the series the main QB is injured, his backup isn't quite getting the job done, and the town's mood is turning ugly. The coach is forced into trying to recruit a displaced New Orleans high school quarterback (working in last year's hurricane Katrina disaster) to get the team back on track for the state championship. So far I am really enjoying this one.

I wonder how popular this show is in Odessa, TX. ;)

Next up was The Nine, the bank robbery show. I am losing a bit of interest in this one because the current timeline, unresolved questions, and ongoing plot isn't interesting enough for me to want to know what happened during the hours the group was held hostage. So far we have some muddled handling of the hostage situation by the FBI, a woman with political ambitions, a pregnant woman who broke up with her boyfriend, the murder of one of the hostages under unexplained circumstances... there is stuff there but it isn't grabbing me. And, I'm more or less uninterested in the motives of the robbers, one of whom is in critical condition. I may wind up dropping this after a few more episodes.

After that I watched Heroes, a show I avoided because the trailers looked stupid ("save the cheerleader, save the world"). But a coworker recommended it and I recorded some shows from a weekend marathon, and it is pretty good. The story sounds cheesy - ordinary people discover they have special powers, and are drawn to a common location - but it is well written and each person is developed well.

With such a busy day I managed to work in some computer game playing as well. :) I mean hey, I might as well milk a sick day for all it is worth! I played a bit of Zuma (I have the PC version), a game that I had set aside a while ago but picked up again visiting Seattle over the weekend. Then, I started up Nightfall, the third chapter in the Guild Wars series. Once again I am off to save the world from certain doom... what can I say I really like these kinds of games, and Guild Wars overall is just excellent.

I did wander outside, to pick up food. And I did a little bit of housework so I wasn't a complete slug all day long.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Dawg Dash and Waffle Fest

An fall event I like to attend is Waffle Fest, a food bonanza put on by my friend Francesca, who prepares a large brunch for us to consume after running in the Dawg Dash. This event has grown over the years - I'm positive the first time I ran it the field was maybe 50% or smaller than it is now. These days it is part of Homecoming Week at UW, and is a kid friendly (strollers) and animal friendly (lots of dogs!) fun event.

Last year I set my 10K PR at this event, which was a bit surprising because the course is tricky, with stairs, hills, and lots of turns to negotiate. This year I wasn't up for running it that fast, and instead cruised in for a 49 minute finish - my watch had 48:59 as I crossed the finish line so I'll check the results to see if I did indeed slip in under 49 minutes by 1 second.

The course winds through the UW campus and features several hills, including a steady climb easily visible in the elevation profile of my run data. The weather was fantastic - cool, sunny, clear... I was almost too warm in running pants and a long sleeved shirts, but hey I live in Florida now and am used to 85 degree days. :)

Afterwards I had some purple Belgian waffles (food coloring in the mix for UW colors) and later some Winnie the Pooh waffles, all covered with strawberries, blueberries, peanut butter (try it sometime, it was pretty good despite sounding nasty) and maple syrup.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Corn Maze

We found something fun to do in the afternoon - drive up to Everett to a corn maze. Also at the site was a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, animal show (loosely based on the Three Little Pigs), a bakery, cider, and wagon rides.

The maze itself is shaped like the state of Washington, and has paths cut through it where the real life highways are. So I wouldn't really call it a maze, since it wasn't very hard to find our way through. It was pretty fun, because the maze included replicas of major sites (a rope bridge at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a mini Space Needle, models of the major mountains, etc.) even if it didn't have many dead ends.

The Space Needle looms over the corn

We're lost!

We lined up for the short wagon ride to the maze start - along the Idaho border - and entered near Pullman, where Washington State is located. The maze marked the roads and had small info signs where cities were. On the back of the map they supplied us was a scavenger hunt for facts from cities spread through Washington. So this was really quite educational. Except, we didn't do the scavenger hunt part and just wandered around to the Grand Coulee Dam, Canada, over to Mt. Baker, south to Seattle, Tacoma, and Mt. Rainier, and then around the peninsula before exiting in Gray's Harbor. That's a huge amount of travel for one day. ;)

Following the Leader...

Francesca has a snack attack

Mercer Island

Francesca, Sandy, Robin, and I took advantage of beautiful weather to ride from Ravenna to Mercer Island (data here), a very popular ride among Seattle cyclists. Despite living in flatland, I felt like I held my own and kept up with them... but perhaps they were being nice to me and slacking.

On the way back we stopped at the Leschi Starbucks and I warmed up with a Chai and a Top Pot Donut... very tasty indeed.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Seattle Weekend

I flew out to Seattle this morning, sleeping most of the way. Francesca picked me up at the airport and then we went to have Thai food at Tup Tim with Alexandra and Sandy. I can eat Thai food very frequently and look forward to taking future visitors to Thai Delight in Longwood!

It seems I brought the weather with me. The weekend forecast for Seattle is sunny, clear, and a bone-chilling high in the 50's (hey I live in Florida now). Autumn has also arrived in the Orlando area, because the daily temperature range has slid all the way to lows in the 50's to high in the mid 80's. Brrrr!

One thing I miss about a more noticeable fall are changing leaf colors. Even though Washington is the Evergreen State, there are plenty of non-fir trees that change colors.

Fall Colors

In the evening I borrowed Francesca's car to visit my friends out in Bellevue: Kandi, Mark, and their kids Sam, Jacob, and Ellie. They are growing pretty fast, especially since I see them about once every 6 months now. After dinner we played Uno but with some house rules that added an edge to the game:

1) Draw cards can be stacked - if somebody plays a Draw card on you, you can play another and forward the total along to the next player. It doesn't take many for a simple Draw Two to turn into 6 or 8 cards for somebody down the line. And of course a few stacked Draw Fours are brutal.

2) Out of turn play - if you have the identical card to the one just played (same color same rank) you can play it, if you are fast enough. This steals the current turn away from whoever was too slow to you and play proceeds.

It was fun!

Saturday, October 07, 2006


A friend Ken in the running club sent out mail about the German-American Society in Casselberry's Oktoberfest celebration. I can't really say I imagined Casselberry (an Orlando suburb) or Florida having a German-American population or that ethnic group, but apparently 14% of Casselberry's residents claim German ancestry. I figured it would be fun to show up.. I lived in Germany for 3 years in the early 80's, and was even in Munich for Oktoberfest in 1997!

Also, a good number of fellow running club members would attend since the little secret about them is quite a few really love to drink beer. I'm not sure what it is - after biking everybody wants to sit around and have coffee or healthy smoothies, while the running group likes to eat barbecue and have a beer. ;)

I got there and found a packed venue of at least 500 or more people crammed into the German-American society's clubhouse and picnic grounds. As expected there was beer on sale, plus various German dishes: goulash, wurst, red cabbage, sauerkraut, potato salad, desserts (apfel strudel, but unfortunately that was all gone), and some almond snacks. I had trouble finding the group and decided the best bet was to position myself near the food ticket area and search there. This was also near the restrooms and the beer line - and behold, who did I find at the very closest table? Yes, my friends in the running club had staked out that prime location already!

In the middle of the picnic area was a covered dance floor where where society members wore traditional costumes and did dance demonstrations. I forgot to bring my camera but found a website with pictures of what those looked like: check the "Halb Tracht" section of this page.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Nine

I watched this premiere tonight after reading a great review in the paper. I had recently seen Inside Man, a movie about a bank robbery, and this show reminded me of it.

The summary is 9 people are taken hostage in a bank robbery, and they are released 52 hours later. The show will fill in the details of what happened during that time through flashbacks, and of course continue various threads in the aftermath. For example, one woman is pregnant but her boyfriend doesn't know it, and they are in the process of breaking up.

Several actors are familiar: Kim Raver, who was Audrey Raines on a previous season of 24, plays an attorney with some political ambitions. John Billinglsey, who was Dr. Phlox on Enterprise, is a mild mannered insurance salesman who went to the bank to commit suicide, until the bank robbery intervened. Timothy Daly's character Nick Cavanaugh seems to be the focus - he is an ex-cop dismissed under unexplained circumstances, with a history of feuding with his chain of command. Something happened during the hostage negotiations that makes him furious (he punches out an FBI negotiator when they are released)... something that the FBI would like to cover up, since they offer him reinstatement, a promotion, medals and commendations, if he just says everybody did a great job and the death of another hostage was the fault of the bank robbers.

The bank branch manager (Malcolm Jones played by Chi McBride) is taken hostage along with his daughter Felicia (Dana Davis). The cliffhanger in this episode is while the ex-hostages get together for dinner to celebrate, she goes to visit on of the bank robbers in prison... and they clearly know each other. The implication is she may have been the source of inside information for planning the robbery...

I'll see how well this show does revealing the backstory, and continuing plotlines related to info we haven't had fully explained. So far it was pretty good.