Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Facts - Christmas Edition

1.) Christmas is my favorite holiday.

2.) I LOVE finding the perfect gift for someone. It gets me into trouble because even if something costs too much, I'll probably buy it anyhow.

3.) When I find a good gift, I get really excited to give it to that person. I love watching them open in.

4.) I decorate my entire apartment on/right after Thanksgiving. This was a rule enacted by my previous roommate to contain my christmas crazy.

5.) I try to see A Christmas Carol every year. Last year I missed it, but this year I went to my favorite production of it: at Ford's Theater.

6.) I look forward to the Christmas Eve Party at the McClure's all year long.

7.) I'm a huge nerd: On Christmas Eve, I love to set out the "good" plates for Christmas breakfast.

8.) I like buying matching wrapping paper and I liked when all the gifts are under the tree, but I hate the act of actually wrapping everything.

9.) This year I went a little overboard.

10.) We eat the same thing for breakfast every year. We make mom eat trans fats against her will.

11.) We open our gifts one by one and Al and Dad take lots of pictures. I'm pretty sure I was impatient (who me??) and hated this as a kid, but now I love it.

12.) Every year I buy a new pair of christmas jammies. I brought three pairs home this year. I don't find this excessive.

13.) I've only seen Its a Wonderful Life once.

14.) I used to wake my parents up, now my parents have to shake Al and I out of bed.

15.) It doesn't bother me when stores break out christmas decorations in October (they don't have to follow Lauren's rules)

16.) We used to buy a live tree from the Alloway's and then drag it across the yard. Then Dad would wrap colored twinkle lights up along the stem, with big red bulb lights strung along the outside. I never realized how crazy time intensive that must have been. Now we have a pre-lit fake tree, which suits us just find (but could use some red bulbs!)

17.) Every year, my grandmom (Tutu) would get Allison and I matching christmas ornaments. I love them and am secretly plotting to find mine and take them back with me.

18.) I'm ready to just be home already!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Great White North

Greetings from Alaska. I'm pretty stoked and the sun hasn't even come out yet. I hear Fairbanks is pretty industrial, but today for lunch we're going to the cute, albeit small, downtown area.

This morning while watching the today show, there was a sudden reminder how remote of an area Fairbanks really is. As the Today show switched to its local broadcast, the local news station touted itself as the "Interior Alaska's News Leader." Wait, what other cities ARE there in interior Alaska? Fairbanks is the largest in interior alaska, and second in the whole state behind Anchorage. The population? 31,000 in 32 sq miles. For comparison, the sleepy hamlet of Worcester is home to 10,000 in 16 sq miles. But I digress..

The winner of interior Alaskan broadcasting had a striking similarity to the Methacton High School morning news program. It was terrible. They didn't even have different newscasters for the different topics, news, sports, was just the same girl, who looked slightly terrified.

People here also plug in their cars. Its pretty crazy and I wonder how many people have backed out and accidentally ripped the plug out of their car. The plug keeps the oil in the car warm so it doesn't freeze. During dinner last night, my coworker and I realized that some people just left their trucks running in the parking lot during their meal (or football game, as we were watching Giants/Dallas at a sports bar). I haven't noticed what the gas prices are here, but I'm assuming its cheaper to leave a truck idling, if not worse on the environment.

But overall I'm very excited to be in Alaska. I'm hoping to be able to come back in nicer weather; Denali National Park is only 90 miles away! The Arctic Circle a mere 80 miles! For dinner, we may go to North Pole, a town 15 miles away. And it's really not all that cold! Hopefully once I see daylight I'll take a picture to post!

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm a lucky girl.

My coworkers are soon going to hate me. I have really good luck at our company Christmas parties. It all started back in DC, during my second year at Berger; my first as a big girl employee (not an intern). Our DC office has a pretty lavish party with a lot of great door prizes. That year, I won the grand prize: two tickets to anywhere in the world, compliments of all the AMEX air miles our company accumulates. I picked Australia, brought my sister, and my parents paid to come along.

The next year, at a casino themed holiday party, the first prize up for grabs was two tickets to anywhere in the country. My boss picked the name, said "This is rigged" and my second year of winnings was complete. Thankfully, that year another girl won the tickets to Europe AND the tickets to anywhere in the world (all of the names go back into the pot), so I was off the hook.

The next two years were quiet, although in 2009 everyone at my table won something, including the girl next to me winning the grand prize. I like to think I was spreading my good fortune to those around me.

Now in the Denver office, the holiday party is a simpler affair, but with an increased odds of winning because of the smaller office size. 2010 was quiet; I didn't win anything. This year was a little different. This year I was in charge of planning the party, including picking out all of the door prizes. I'd been interested in the Kindle Fire, and figured for the cost the bosses would be ok with it as the prize. An additional $200 in door prizes were also accumulated.

My officemates and I had done the math - there were 11 names in the pot, and 10 door prizes. Since all names go into the hat for the last prize, there was a chance that one person would get two things and two people would get nothing.

I was the person that got two things. I felt bad, but I hadn't picked a single name out of the hat so no one could say it was rigged! I won a $15 Chipotle gift card and the Kindle Fire, which I was pretty stoked about. The two people I sit with at work, Dave and Megan, were the two that hadn't won anything. I gave Dave my gift card, because he loves Chipotle (who doesnt?) and had been a huge help in planning the party.

I'm still fussing around learning how to use the Kindle. I was able to download a few free books and movies for my flight. This new bit of technology in my life may force me to jump into the 20th century and....gasp...actually pay for the internet in my apartment!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1.) I'm having a morning. I woke up to some panic emails (why hello! Good morning to you too!) and then the weird guy on the bus decided I looked friendly enough to talk to. He started waxing poetic about whether or not I thought hate was just disliking someone or if it went deeper than that or if you could get something for it (wait, huh?). Once he paused to wait for my response, I told him I hadn't had coffee yet and this was above my comprehension level. I quickly recognized him as the crazy religious guy who preaches down by Champa Square. Thankfully my stop was the next one.

Last night I was super excited to have gotten my new winter running tights in the mail only to discover North Face had sent me a ugly yellow hoodie, in XL to boot. Since I won't be home from now until 2012, they are shipping my tights to my hotel in Fairbanks.

2.) Last night I also went to go see The Descendents, the new indie film with George Clooney (which sounds like a contradiction in terms). It was very good and I highly recommend it. I was supposed to go see it with my friend Amanda but she was sick and turns out I was thankful to have gone alone; the movie definitely wins for making me cry the most times in one film. Now, i recognize that movies easily make me turn on the water works, but this one had me blubbering throughout the whole thing. But don't be disheartened, it was very funny as well. I left with my emotions thoroughly confused.

3.) I'm making a poor life decision this weekend and heading up to Keystone for some skiing on Saturday. Why is this a PLD? Because I leave at 6am Sunday morning, haven't packed, and will have less than 24 hours to pack for DC/Philly when I get back the following week. But I'm excited. Third weekend in a row on the slopes and I can't wait to get back to work on fixing my form. Who needs sleep anyhow?

4.) Super Bonus! Tonight is the night of my holiday party, which my coworker and I planned. To get in a workout beforehand though, I'm going running at lunch and thus will need to shower after. Since you all know my love of showering (love, disdain, whats the difference?), I refused to shower this am knowing I'd take another one later. To hide my hair at work until I can hit the gym, I've discovered in the winter I can wear a cute beanie and pretend I'm just cold in the office - WIN! I'm so pretty.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Skis, Steamboat, and Hammer Schlagen

A big theme of this blog has been "I love Denver" and while that is true, sometimes it gets a bit frustrating to always be the new kid.

This weekend I went to Steamboat with one of my closest friends here, Morgan. We threw all of our skis and boots and snowshoes into the back of her truck and got the heck out of town Friday night. Currently, I still rent skis for the season and came to fully comprehend this weekend how little I know about skis. And skiing, for that matter.

Now I'm not new to skiing. I've skied since I was five, minus that decade-long break during high school and college. The conversations people were having about snow conditions, equipment, and the myriad of ski pass choices were mostly beyond what I could understand, but slowly I'm picking up the language and then quietly asking Morgan what the heck people are talking about.

For instance "flat light" is the formal term for what I called "holy crap, I can't see the topography of the snow and I might die." What they call powder skiing (for which there is a different set of skis), is skiing in usually about 1 -2 feet of fresh snow, but sometimes up to 4 feet. Unheard of on the east coast, I thought powder skiing was great at 4 inches.

One of the guys we stayed with took a look at my skis and said they had "a sick cut." I have no idea what this means and have a sneaking suspicion he may have been making fun of me. When people say things like that, I pretty much just nod and don't really respond and hope they don't think I'm being rude.

But although on any given day I have no idea what I'm doing, I've gotten pretty good at accepting that I'm new and asking for tips, pointers, or explanations whenever I can. One of the guys we skied with used to race in college, so I gladly asked him for help on ski form. I quickly realized that the last time I had a ski lesson was to learn how to go from "pie" to parallel and I had no idea what my form should be. You may shocked, but turns out I was skiing all wrong. A few tweaks later (actually use your poles. Keep your shoulders facing downhill) and it was amazing how much more in control I felt. My friends ski pretty fast and up until that point, I had felt like I was on the verge of a wipeout at any given moment.

The conditions on the mountain were actually pretty poor. Its still early in the season and there were rocks and ice all over the place. After a few runs, we decided to head down to T Bar, the local hangout at the bottom of the mountain. It was here I learned the best drinking game ever. Hammer Schlagen. Those crazy Germans decided that beer, hammers, and nails all belonged together really well and invented a game of skill/dumb luck.

I recognize this picture is blurry, but the objective is to hit the nail with the back of the hammer. You go around in a circle and the last one to get theirs in has to buy the next pitcher. It provides hours of endless entertainment and was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon, until we ran out of nails.

Weekends like this always leave me wondering "how can I convince Berger to let me move to a mountain town and work from home" but I'm also happy to be back in Denver (more importantly, sleeping in my own bed) where the temperature will be topping out at balmy 10 degrees today. How kind of Denver to prep me for my week in Alaska!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1.) The Byrons had a killer time in Breck for Thanksgiving. The condo was big enough to give us all our own space, and allow the chef enough cooking space (although he often kicked me out of the kitchen). We skied, shopped, and saw the Muppets (so good!).

2.) Its snowing in Denver today. My bus never showed, so I walked in the breezy storm to work. Not a bad way to start the day! Thankfully I recently procured new snowboots that kept my tootsies warm and wore a new smartwool sweater that I got at the REI sale for my meetings up in Alaska. I heart snow.

3.) This weekend I'm off to Steamboat for some more skiing. My ski pants are a bit snug (ok, really snug) so I'm happy to be active all weekend long. I am still trying to get exercise back into my routine, a constant work in progress. Today I'll run two miles at lunch and spinning is on the agenda for tomorrow. I'm actually looking forward to when my next half marathon training plan begins (Dec 26) - at least it sets a schedule for me to follow!