Long Ride 23 July 2001

I set out this morning (well, actually, around noon) with the goal of finding a safe bike route between Al's house and work. Al & I had looked at the bike map last night, and he thought the Junipero Serra — Alameda de las Pulgas route looked fairly straight, so I gave that a try.

I biked through the tunnel at the San Antonio Caltrain station, then through the midst of the scary little townhouse development adjacent to the station to get to California Avenue. After it crosses San Antonio, California ends in a little suburban neighborhood bearing signs to a bike bridge to Palo Alto. The bridge brought me to Charleston, where I successfully crossed El Camino onto Arastradero. From there I rode to Foothill Expy., took a right, and followed that until it turned into Santa Cruz Avenue and soon after Alameda de las Pulgas. From there it was indeed a straight shot to San Carlos.

It was relatively flat as well, though there were a few short and steep moments on A de las P, and one scary looking hill as I entered San Carlos. I bailed when I saw it, turning right on Howard and riding through the neighborhoods until I got to El Camino again. I crossed it and rode from Brittain to Holly on Old County Rd. In all it was approximately 15 miles and took about an hour and a half.

I decided I didn't want to ride all the way back, but a southbound train was leaving the station just as I arrived, so I went over to Aya Sushi and had a couple salads. I caught the next train, got off at San Antonio, and rode from there to the AAA office to pick up a Florida TourBook. By the time I arrived home, I'd ridden over 20 miles.

I put away my bike and got out the leftover pizza dough from the BBQ, leaving it near the warm oven to rise. Al got home from work about an hour later, and we grilled pizzas and ate salad out on the patio. Yum! I spent some time trying to figure out which hotel we should stay at for the night before and two nights after our Disney World vacation in September, and then we left for the rink to play each other in a 10:20pm hockey game. (Al's team won, 5-0.)

More Biking 24 July 2001

Couldn't seem to wake myself up this morning. Al got up early to go to a dentist appointment, and I stayed in bed dreaming elaborate dreams. Every time I tried to force myself awake, something pushed me back under. I ended up staying in bed until 11:30.

When I finally got up, I decided to run today's errands (get allergy shot, pick up prescription at Safeway) by bike. I figured since the allergist's office is in Atherton (about 80% of the way to San Carlos), I could try a different route than yesterday and compare.

I wound my way through the neighborhood between San Antonio and Alma til I reached Bryant, the Bike Boulevard. I took Bryant all the way to its end and crossed a bike bridge over to Willow Rd. in Menlo Park. From there it was to Alma, then left on Oak Grove, then right on El Camino and a few blocks to Dr. Machtinger's office. On the way back I took Middlefield to Willow and then retraced my steps until E. Meadow; from there I rode out to Middlefield and took a right on Charleston to bike part of yesterday's route backwards so I could stop at the Safeway on California. Today's ride clocked in at 19 miles. I'll probably sleep well tonight!

We cooked on the grill (tofu dogs and veggie burgers, plus leftover fajitas for Al) and ate outside again tonight. Had an awesome tiny tomato and fresh mozzarella salad; the tomatoes were so good that we probably could have lived without the cheese.

Al left a couple hours ago for a conference in San Diego, and I just baked some blueberry muffins for when he returns (I'm really on a use-everything-in-the-fridge kick). I walked down to the Albertson's to buy eggs and use the ATM after he left, so now I'm really tired. I hope I can continue to get this much exercise after I'm back at work... if I can manage to bike to work at least once a week, take the train & walk once more, and play hockey twice, I just might.

Baltimore Bound 25 July 2001

Planned to get up early (7am) this morning, but Elmo had a different definition of early: 4:19am. That's when he started walking around my head and nosing me to wake up and feed him. I mumbled, "not yet, it's TOO EARLY!," but he persisted for a while. When he realized I wasn't getting up, he camped out on Al's pillow and waited for a couple hours.

Meanwhile, Annie was sleeping peacefully at the foot of the bed, on Al's side. When I'd first gone to bed the cats hadn't come in, and it bummed me out; I worried that I wouldn't be able to get to sleep with no person or penguin or SpongeBob to cuddle with, and no cats to keep me company. I guess I did fall asleep OK, though, because I never heard Annie come in. She was just there when I rolled over later.

Elmo started in again a little before 7, and I managed to hold him off until the alarm sounded. Annie had gotten up earlier, and when she heard the alarm she rushed in, too. I got up and fed them, took a shower, gathered my stuff, and left for the airport.

Not much traffic this morning, so I made it with plenty of time to spare. I got a Iced Venti Decaf Soy Mocha at the Starbucks near gate 70, and then headed to gate 90 to camp out and await my flight. The flight itself seemed interminably long, even though I dozed for a little bit and read the rest of The Food Revolution. Scary stuff, to be sure, but worth knowing. I'll never look at a carton of eggs, a shrimp salad, a soybean, or a quart of milk the same way again.

Speaking of healthy food choices, I called my sister from the waiting area around Gate 90 to ask if there was a Fresh Fields or other natural foods store between the airport and her house, and she found one for me off I-83 in Cockeysville. They closed at 8, and my plane landed at 6:45, so I had to exceed the speed limit to get there before they closed. I arrived safely and promptly stocked up on a few foods I knew would get me through a visit with my sister's steak and potatoes family. As I munched a delicious Chocloate Brownie CLIF bar in the truck and noticed the abundance of soy foods in the ingredients list, I was relieved to see Non-GMO Soy in prominent red letters on the label. Phew!

Made it to Lisa's house by 8:30, in time for a twilight game of croquet with JH, Ken, and MG (who offered to play on my team to show me the ropes). Mostly the game consisted of me shooting badly, MG setting me up in front of a wicket, me going through it, repeat. Not surprisingly, we came in third, behind Ken and JH.

Got to spend some time chatting with my sister in the kitchen after the kids went to bed; I showed her my photos from the Vancouver tournament and from the rest of my sabbatical, and then we talked Disney vacations for about two hours. (Al & I are going in September, and Lisa & family are going in October.)

Right now the dogs (Archie, a yellow lab; and Angus, a black lab) are sound asleep by the back door, about two feet away from where I'm sitting at the kitchen table.

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Hair, Hair, Hair! 26 July 2001

[The title of this installment comes from a headline on the cover of this month's Mademoiselle, which I was induced to buy partly by the Sex and the City story, and partly by the prospect of seeing 21 new hairstyles, which might give me inspiration. The article actually showed 7 variations on 3 hairstyles, all spotted on models at the spring fashion shows in Europe. Not only was the number of styles disappointing, but so was the quality. They were all supremely unflattering.]

Couldn't get to sleep until after 3am last night, probably because of the time zone change. Got up at 9, feeling very groggy, to go to a doctor's appointment down in Virginia (I never gave up my doctor when I moved, first to Connecticut and then to California).

Made it with about 25 minutes to spare, filled out my paperwork, and then realized why the woman next to me looked so familiar: she was a good friend of my former roommate. Weirdly enough, she had the appointment right before me. The doctor was running late, so we sat in the waiting room chatting for a while. It was so wild. I said to Melissa (the doctor) what a strange coincidence it was, and she said, "no, it's Pat." Pat died of breast cancer in 1998. Even if you don't believe that Pat was manipulating appointments from the Great Beyond, technically Melissa was right: Pat referred both me and Stephanie when she was alive.

After the doctor's appointment I drove to Bethesda to get my hair cut. I was a couple hours early, so I went to the Hockey Stop in search of a jersey for JH (they didn't have what I wanted) and then went over to White Flint Mall for a very quick lunch at the Cheesecake Factory (I *HIGHLY* recommend the Tuxedo Cake).

I arrived at HUGO Salon a few minutes early, and Toni took me right away. I showed her the photos of the woman from the airport, plus ones of a billboard from the airport in San Jose. "You know these are two totally different haircuts, right?" she asked. I said yes, that they were just two cuts I liked. Toni said we'd do the one from the girl in Albany.

She ended up basically doing that cut, only shorter in the back, like the other one. It was perfect—exactly what I'd wanted. I now have a really fun and flattering cut. Woo hoo!!

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While the drive down to Virginia had only taken 90 minutes, the drive back from Maryland (which should have taken an hour or so) took over 2 hours. Rush hour traffic, combined with stalls and stupidity, made for a long and frustrating journey. I made it to Lisa's around 7:15. We stood around in the kitchen talking while MG played with my hair (she loved the texturizing paste in it, and the way she could make it stick out), and then all 5 of us went out to play the nightly game of croquet.

I came in last again (or I would have, if I'd finished; instead, I picked up my ball). I find it as frustrating as golf, but not as satisfying. When you make a bad shot in golf, you basically get to run to your ball and try again right away. In croquet, you have to wait while everyone else takes a turn, and *then* you get to try again. Maddening. I either need to get better at croquet or quit while I'm ah... er, behind.

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Zoological 27 July 2001

Had another of those mornings where I couldn't seem to pull myself awake. My brain wanted to stay asleep, to keep dreaming. Finally got out of bed sometime after 10am and stumbled upstairs for a breakfast of Cinnamon Life, blueberries, and soy milk. MG poured the cereal for me.

When everyone was dressed and ready, Lisa, MG, JH, and I went off to the Baltimore Zoo. I was still dragging a bit, but I enjoyed looking at the animals. (The snow leopard, tiger, bobcat, and cheetah all reminded me of Elmo and Annie.) I was a bit shocked by the behavior of the other children there—they shrieked and screamed at the animals—and occasionally even by the attitudes of the adults. I overheard one woman say, "that's a huge enclosure for just one cheetah" as she eyed a space that couldn't have been more than a couple hundred feet wide.

I enjoyed the giraffes, who were just my speed—very mellow. I took a bunch of photos of them while we waited for the tram to pick us up and take us back to the parking lot.

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After the zoo we went further south on I-83 and stopped at the Inner Harbour for lunch. After yesterday's amazing Tuxedo Cheesecake, I suggested the Cheesecake Factory. I wanted to try the waiter's other recommendation, the Key Lime. (It, too, was spectacular.) We also bopped into Barnes & Noble for a couple minutes, and then we went home. Ah, chain stores.

I was feeling kind of icky from the lunchtime pasta (I know it was the pasta and not the cheesecake because I just ate some of the leftovers, and now I feel icky again), but I wanted to practice my golf swing, so I drove down the street to Oakmont Green golf course, where we're going to play on Sunday. I brought Ken's extra clubs, bought a glove, and got some range balls. I then worked on my swing.

It was pretty awful. Both mom and Al have noticed that I'm standing too far away from the ball, so I tried to stand closer. It did indeed help me hit better, sometimes, but it was damn uncomfortable. It just can't be right. Plus, once I found the right distance for one particular club, I couldn't use that information to find the distance for another club. Frustrating. The only club that worked well just about every time was my 8 iron, which has always been good to me. <sigh>

Right now Lisa & I are playing Scrabble in the basement while watching Law & Order; she keeps dozing off between turns, so I imagine we'll be going to bed soon. :)

The Horror of Shopping 28 July 2001

When I went to the doctor the other day, she noticed that I'd gained some weight—and she said it looked great on me. I thought so too...until I saw my backside in a dressing room mirror today. I was glad I'd opted to go off on my own instead of having Mom, Lisa, and MG standing around outside the dressing room door going, "let me see!"

I ended up getting a couple pairs of pants at the GAP and one pair of shorts at Nordstrom, but by the end of the second dressing room session, I'd resolved to lose some weight. Now, if I can just transfer that will into willpower... It's a hard thing at my sister's house, where I seem to be surrounded by junk food and (internally) a vacation mentality.

After going to Columbia Mall we stopped off at mom's house to get dad, but discovered he'd already left for Lisa's. We then drove back to Lisa's, cooked salmon on the grill, and played a game of croquet. As soon as dad won, mom declared the game over, and mom and dad went home. Considering where my ball was at the time, I probably would have come in last again anyway.

After dinner I sat in the kitchen and tried to plan Al's & my Disney Vacation; it's tough trying to fit everything in! I think I've got time for the parks, at least one round of golf (and probably two), swimming, spa treatments, lunch & dinner, and possibly a water park in there. Should be fun.

When I was done with that, MG came in and suggested that we take pictures. I got out my digital camera, and we proceeded to goof around with it. Here are the results of the first session:

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While I read e-mail, renewed my domain name, and modified hotel reservations online, MG took the camera and ran around snapping more photos. Some are great; some are just... weird. :)

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Last Day 29 July 2001

I can't believe this is the last day of my sabbatical. Good thing I kept this journal, or I wouldn't be able to remember all the fun stuff I did. Speaking of fun, I tried to pack as much of it as possible into today so I'd end on a high note.

Mom, Dad, Ken & I had an 11:30 tee time this morning, so I got up at 9:15 to get dressed and practice in the yard. It was overcast and quite chilly when I stepped outside, but all I'd packed was a short-sleeved golf shirt. I've never learned to play with long sleeves on anyway. I figured I'd have to endure a few goose bumps.

I was a little nervous to play because I've been having so much trouble with my swing lately, and Friday night's trip to the driving range hadn't improved things. I seemed to do a pretty good job of killing all the dandelions in Lisa's yard, though, so I wasn't despondent when I got to the course.

The starter let us go off early because it wasn't busy (apparently the weather had scared everyone away). By the second hole it started to drip, and it ended up drizzling and showering for the rest of the 18 holes. I actually did pretty well, though my score doesn't sound that impressive (127). Considering that I've been having some disastrous 140s lately, 127 is excellent.

I was fairly conservative with my swing, but what I lacked in power I made up for with straight shots. Mom said that I reminded her of Florida golfers, who are apparently known for hitting 120 yards straight ahead with every stroke, while others hit 200 yards but zig-zag down the fairway. Slow and steady wins the race, I guess. I also putted pretty well once I started using Ken's new putter. (His old set of clubs, which I was using, had a very strange wooden putter that I didn't like at all.)

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After golf I was damp, muddy, and cold, so I took a shower and threw my clothes in the washer. By the time I was done getting dressed, Lisa and the kids had returned home from running errands and seeing a play. We started plotting the evening plans. I really wanted to go out instead of sitting around the house, and so did Lisa, but we both also wanted to do something with the kids. Lisa finally came up with bowling. We ordered in Chinese food, and then the kids, Lisa, and I went to the bowling alley.

The place in Hampstead has both ten pin and duckpin bowling (the latter being a Maryland sport that's apparently starting to die out), so MG and Lisa took a duckpin lane, and JH and I took a ten pin. After one game, MG and Lisa joined us.

MG had a hard time with the larger balls, even with Lisa helping her roll them between her legs. More often than not, the ball would get stuck in the gutter halfway down the lane. JH threw lots of faster gutterballs, however, so he would usually clear MG's stuck balls out. He also managed to knock down quite a few pins, which was impressive considering how heavy the balls were.

I had two spares, I think, and two strikes in a row (which I didn't figure out how to score properly until the game with Lisa and MG), which impressed Lisa quite a bit. I don't think of myself as a particularly talented bowler (I didn't break 100 in either game), but she thought I did pretty well for someone who doesn't even own her own ball. ;)

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We finished our second game at 8:30 sharp, which was when the bowling alley closed. (Good timing!) I thought the evening needed a capper, so I suggested to Lisa that we go for ice cream. I had soft serve in mind, but all we could find was hard pack, so I just bought cones for Lisa and the kids. I was full from the Chinese food anyway; I really just wanted to prolong our outing for a while longer.

We got back a little after nine, and to my shock I was actually quite tired and ready for bed. (I haven't been to bed before 1am since I got here.) It's not even 10pm yet, and my eyes are already starting to close involuntarily. I guess I'll turn out the light on my sabbatical, since I have to get up at 4am to catch a flight back to the real world. Waaaaaaaah!