Tuesday, January 31, 2012
So that's how I found myself riding to work this morning at 5:50, getting to work in time to settle in for a 6:30 am conference call. For most of last year, I had bi-weekly status calls for a project at C&O Canal that also started at 6:30, so I'm not unfamiliar with this hour of the day. My favorite part of the ride, and why I start it at just about 6 am, is that at 6 am, Logan Street goes from one lane with parking on both sides up to two lanes, removing a row of parking. Every morning an army of tow trucks go up the street, stopping to haul away any poor, unsuspecting vehicles that have overstayed their welcome.
I don't know why, but I thoroughly enjoy watching this. Denver isn't quite as quiet as DC was this early; I really used to enjoy being out and about by myself in the stillness of the city. Since Denverites are active no matter what time of day it is, I have to settle for delighting in the misfortune of others. How very unColorado of me.
I guess I enjoy watching the tow trucks because I'm a rule follower. I don't like breaking them and I get all "that's not fair" when people break rules and get away with it (life? fair? ha!!) while I meticulously read posted signs and the fine print and instructions. That's not to say I won't break rules or ignore signs - like the time Morgan and I played Russian Roulette at a parking meter in LoDo, hoping that since the meter reader had just been by, we wouldn't get a ticket. (We did - a $50 one).
I guess I just feel that following the rules shows a respect for others. And mostly, Coloradans are a state full of super nice rule followers. They are even so nice that they let in the jerk in the expensive car who drives down the shoulder of a backed up highway. But apparently I am the unfeeling East Coaster in their midst, who delights in watching cars get towed and will be all up on the bumper of the car in front just so that no cars can cut back in.
Some East Coast habits are just hard to shake.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
2.) Today would have been a perfect day to ride to work, but I am scared to try clipped in shoes on Colfax, certain I'll tip over into a bus and die. Someday this weekend I am going to just ride around in circles in my back parking lot and practice clipping in and out on a moving bike. It was all well and good while I was on the trainer, but trying it while moving is filling me with dread.
3.) I'm really, really liking not drinking so much that I may carry it through until my half marathon. The no-beer idea goes all the way until then, but really, its just easier to not drink at all. Between not eating out and not drinking, I'm saving a ridiculous amount of money. Which is good, because buying a new bike and new car all within one year is also extremely terrifying to me.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
For one, Tilda Swinton was shut out of the acting categories, as was her movie "We need to talk about Kevin." Also shut out? Ryan Gosling, who had not one by two critically acclaimed performances this year in "Drive" and "Ides of March" and Michaal Fassbender in "Shame." I'm never quite clear what's lead versus supporting, technically speaking, but either one of those could have replaced Brad Pitt's lead actor nom in Moneyball. I watched Moneyball this weekend and while it was good, I wasn't blown away or really drawn into the emotion of the storyline, like I was for The Descendants. I don't think it deserves a best picture nom either, but do agree that Jonah Hill deserves his nod for supporting in the film. Like a lot of other comedians (Will Ferrell/Jim Carrey), I like him much more in calmer roles with a quieter humor.
The ladies of The Help cleaned up with 3 nominations in 2 categories. Although the movie I'm dying to see, Albert Nobbs, scored a nomination for Glenn Close. Her peak acting days were when I was far too young to see her movies (Fatal Attraction came out when I was 3), so I have no basis for previous performances, unlike powerhouse Meryl Streep who is managing to out-do even herself. Rounding out the best actress category are Rooney Mara and Michelle Williams, but I think its clear the race is between Close and Streep.
For best supporting, I think Octavia Spencer is the favorite (however, can't fully judge until I see Albert Nobbs, for which Janet McTeer is nominated), but was very happy to see Melissa McCarthy, cousin to Jenny, get a nomination for Bridesmaids. A raunchy, female-led movie doesn't often get the critical acclaim that Bridesmaids has received and I glad to see the recognition continue.
I was surprised that only 2 songs were nominated for Best Original Song, none of which were nominated in the Golden Globes. There were some big names attached to some of the original songs this year, including Elton John, Madonna, and Mary J. Blige. Even Glenn Close wrote the lyrics for Albert Nobbs' original song. But none of these were nominated, instead the academy stuck to 2 songs from animated features, The Muppets and Rio.
Since such a small range of films got acting nods, leaving off 50/50, We need to talk about Kevin, Drive, Ides of March, Shame, J.Edgar, A Dangerous Method, and Pariah, my to-see list before the Oscars has been trimmed substantially. While I really liked The Descendants, I didn't think it required much stretch of the imagination for George Clooney to play that role. He's a great actor and will make great films. Overall, I don't think the quality of films were included this year, like they were last year. Last year brought us The Fighter, Winter's Bone, Black Swan, and the King's Speech - all just incredibly well made and well acted films. Other than The Artist, I guess I am just left with the feeling that this year's choices just aren't as great.
Either way, I will still plow through the list of movies I want to see. And, hands down, I'm more excited for the Oscars show this year than I am for the dinky Giants/Pats Superbowl, which is ridiculously underwhelming.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Our first run, a black diamond which was a poor choice for a warm up, already had several inches of snow on it, which I found difficult to maneuver in. By the end of the day, I had it down, but moguls on your first go, well, I’ll never do that again. My thighs were burning by the time I got down to the bottom, even at my snail pace. After a few more runs, I was warming up and getting more comfortable. Then we went up the T-bar.
I’ve ridden T-bars before, but not one up the ridge of a blustery mountain (winds were reaching 50-60 mile gusts with whiteout conditions at times). It also didn’t help that the message boards while waiting in line for the lift kept saying “Expert Terrain Only!” with double black diamonds. I thought, uh guys are you sure about this? They are much better than me, of course, but I figured, hey, what’s the worst that can happen? (Broken legs, arms, and necks, in case you were wondering).
The T-bar took some getting used to, but I was finally getting the hang of it. At some points, I was too short and my skis lifted up off the ground, which was a bit disconcerting, but my buddy Josh kept pushing down on my shoulder to try to keep me on the bar. I should also mention that balance isn’t my really a strength of mine. When we could finally see the top of the lift, I promptly got my skis crosses, fell, and took Josh down with me. All I could do was giggle and do my best to roll out of the way of the next rider. Thankfully, 3 people behind us had already fallen off too, so I had plenty of time to shuffle over. As people rode past me (still laying on the ground, giggling), no one laughed at me – they just gave me knowing smiles. Apparently falling off of T-Bar is a right of passage.
But then I actually had to ski down. I’ve heard of snow so deep your skis just disappear in it, but I’ve never seen it. Not only did my skis disappear, but the better part of my legs did as well. It was insane. I got about four feet before promptly face planting again, giggling again (what can I say, the peak of Breck is pretty high up. Perhaps I was delirious!). I slowly got the hang of it and made my way down, but it was definitely a new experience! At least whenever you fall, its pretty much like falling into a pillow!
The rest of the day was spent safely away from double black diamonds. Towards the end of the afternoon, I got split up from my group and actually really enjoyed just skiing blues at my own pace. I’ve been working on my form (the hardest part lately is remembering to actually use my poles!) and I enjoyed not worrying about how fast I was going, just going back and forth on moguls and resting when I wanted to.
So I'm calling the day a success. And I'm eager to head to Vail in two weeks and ski three days in a row! And then schedule a massage for that Monday...
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Last night I went bike shopping. I'd been doing a little bit of research, trying to understand the different components, but was still pretty confused so I was just hoping to get an intro lesson from someone at the bike shop and then text back the info to all my bike-knowing friends.
The first shop was a bit unimpressive. I didn't realize this, of course, until I went to the second shop but that is besides the point. By the end of the night, I had about 4 bikes in my mind, ranging from $1600 - $1850, which was happily in my budget. Soon, I will own a bike that is worth more than my car. And, if you're choking on your coffee reading how expensive these bikes are, just know, these are the CHEAP, 'entry-level' bikes. Ouch.
On Saturday I will go back and test ride them all, figuring out which one suits me best. Its a lot of information to take in all at once, so I'm feeding all the information I'm learning back to the people who know what it means, getting their feedback, then will figure out which fits best!
2.) Since I was already down south on I-25 near one of the Landmark Theaters, I stopped over to a movie once I was done picking the brains of all the bike experts. I went to see Carnage and I loved it! Allison posted a review of it earlier this week that was pretty darn accurate. Overall, I'm glad I went to see it and the actors were all great, but I'm not sure it would nab a best picture nom, even as one of the extra five they've started giving out. Tonight I'm hoping to finally see My Week with Marilyn, followed tomorrow night by Moneyball, which I've gotten in the mail from my newly res-signed Netflix account. Little does Netflix know, I'm planning on ditching them again just as soon as the awards season is over.
3.) The mountains are FINALLY getting snow. Finally. Sunday is looking like a great powder day, with upwards to a foot of snow falling on Saturday into Sunday morning. After a bit of bartering and negotiating, my buddy Kyle and I will be heading up bright and early to get some fresh powder (I have negotiated for a Starbucks stop - for both his safety and mine). It will be one of my first powder days since moving and already my 5th day up on the slopes, already surpassing the number of days I made it up last year. My goal is double digit days.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Then I went to the Pro-Rodeo at the National Western Stock Show. It was something else. And I learned that in order to make the bulls and broncos buck, they tie their balls down. I dare say I'd buck, too.
I went to bed early and was up with the sun (begrudgingly) Saturday morning. I skied at Keystone with a couple of friends and it was a beautiful day on the slopes. We couldn't figure out why it was so crowded, then remembered it was MLK weekend. I've been working on my form a lot this year and felt much more in control at higher speeds. While the snow was much better than in December, I still fell victim to an icy patch and ate it pretty hard on a black diamond. I'm not quite sure how I landed, but I slid about 40 feet, lost a ski, and woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a Mack Truck on Sunday am. But I kept skiing Saturday and felt pretty good.
Courtesy of my wonderful fall, my knee was all sorts of angry with me on Sunday, so I skipped my planned run and took a rest day instead. I iced, ibu'd and watched football and the Golden Globes and it was delightful.
It was a wonderful weekend and, once again, I was sad to have Sunday night sneak up on me so quickly.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Those worries were unfounded. The film made excellent use of emotions, sound, and color to bring the audience into their storyline. There was one part of the movie I really enjoyed, but I won't provide any spoilers here. While I thought it was a French film, I was mistaken; it is Belgian. The movie follows a few years of the life of George Valentin, a wildly popular silent movie star, as movies begin their transition from silent to 'talkies'. The take home message could be applied to anything, especially in our current climate of rapidly changing technology: if you aren't able to adapt, you can quickly become obsolete.
The discussion after the movie was one of my favorite parts, though. One gentleman was a connoisseur of silent films and said the movie took a lot of shots and lines from many famous films of that era, which he enjoyed. The group went out for a longer discussion at a local restaurant, but it was 9:30 and I was tired. The youngest member in the group, I clearly had the earliest bedtime. I was disappointed, though, that no one else in the group has seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy yet.
Yesterday I also got my latest weekly email on the new movies at the local Landmark theaters. I have been checking off the list of movies I want to see, one by one, but now two more have opened nearby: Carnage and The Iron Lady. I have heard that while Meryl Streep does an incredible job (duh) the rest of the movie is somewhat disappointing, so that film may drop to the bottom of my list.
What Oscar-worthy films are on your list?
Thursday, January 12, 2012
2.) The National Western Stock Show is in town and I'm finally going this year. Last year I watched the opening parade as it went by my office building, but never made it to the actual event. I'll be attending the Pro-Rodeo Friday night, featuring the Pikes Peak Rangerettes! Whatever that means.
3.) Last night I tried my hand at turkey burgers from scratch. I didn't follow a recipe, which I tend not to do, and just threw some spices, an egg, and some bread crumbs into a bowl with the ground turkey. I think the burgers themselves were ok, but I topped it with a new "simply heinz" ketchup that has no high fructose corn syrup. It was pretty gross. Super sweet, kind of like the ketchup in Australia. I cooked up another burger to bring for lunch today, so I'll investigate and make sure it wasn't something in the burger. I'm a little bummed that ketchup was so nasty. I'm going to take the rest of the turkey, make up some meatballs, and make enough for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. I'm actually getting pretty good at the whole leftovers concept!
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
I used MeetUp, the same site I had used to find people to run with when I first moved to Denver. essentially, you log in, search for whatever activity you want, and voila, a vast assortment of choices. I quickly found a film club that goes to the movies every other Thursday and polls what movie the group would like to see. This weeks choice had all four movies that I wanted to see, minus Tinker Tailor, which I saw this past weekend. After the movie, the group goes for dinner and discusses it - wonderful! My nerdy tendencies were digging it.
The book group I'm a little less enthusiastic about, especially since I just realized I will have to miss their first meeting. I have never been a part of a book group before, mostly because I'm somewhat picky with what I like to read and fiction has never been a sell for me. Take last night, for instance, I have book ADD and very nearly started reading my new biography on Mary, Queen of Scots instead of finishing In Cold Blood (I'm starting to think perhaps I should throw a cheerier book into rotation, as well). I just bought this month's read: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stenger, but may just return it seeing as I won't be able to go to the meet up anyhow. Have any of you guys read it? Is it worth keeping around?
What was more disturbing, however, was what I discovered when I went to Barnes and Noble at lunch today. Within the fiction section, there is a whole row - multiple shelves and bookcases - filed under the category "Teen Paranormal Romance." Seriously? I get it. Sparkling vampires in the shape of Robert Pattinson fueled a bit of a craze - but was that enough to create a whole new genre?
As I rode the escalator down to make my purchase, shaking my head and thinking "kids these days" I suddenly realized: I can't judge. Not only do I own all four books in the Twilight series (not one of my finer choices) but I also own, on DVD, the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And really, wasn't Buffy the original Bella? Except with brains, strength, and substantially less complaining, of course.
So maybe I'll keep the Stenger book anyhow, lest people judge me for the "teen paranormal romance" books sitting on my bookshelves at home.
Monday, January 9, 2012
Given the amount of sleep I got, I was happy with the amount I accomplished. Saturday morning I jumped into my ill-fitting swim suit and headed to the pool. Given that I am not a long-distance swimmer, I wanted to get a baseline for where I was at on the 1.2 mile swim. I was delighted to feel really good in the water.
1.2 miles is 2,112 yards. I figured I'd round up to 2,200, or 88 laps of the pool. Most of my swimming workouts in recent years have been between 1500 to 2000 yards, mostly because I get bored and stop. I jumped in and got right to it, not bothering to start with my usual 900 yard warm up. The most difficult part was keeping track of my laps. I have a tendency to let my mind wander and then forget how far I've gone. At the halfway point, I saw 18 minutes on my watch and knew I could finish under 40. With the last 1000, I started counting backward and increased my pace. I happily finished at around 37 minutes, so my official 1.2 mile time would have been around 35/36 minutes. Not too shabby for a baseline!
The swim really energized me and I felt great for the rest of the day. The best I've felt all year 0 all 7 days of it. As the snow began to fall, I headed out to the movies to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - a movie I desperately need someone else to see so that I can discuss it with them. By the time I got out of the theater 2 hours later, all of Denver was blanketed with snow, including the Echo. I had been planning to see another movie that night, but happily made dinner and snuggled under my covers and went to bed early.
Sunday morning I woke at 6:30 to go cook breakfast for the kiddies at the Ronald McDonald House. However, I was still sick and opted to crawl back under my covers and promptly slept for 5 mores hours. I woke up with a pretty serious headache that stayed with me all day, but slugged out my 4 mile run. I then headed to a local bar, nalgene in hand, and watched Tebow defeat the Steelers. It was pretty incredible to watch that game in a crowded bar full on Broncos fans. I wasn't all that jazzed up over the game, but at the end, I was on the edge of my seat, nervous like all of the other faithful followers. The bar erupted during overtime and I was screaming and jumping as if it were the Eagles (if only it had been!).
Afterward, I met a friend for a quick dinner. I hadn't eaten at the bar and had stuck to water. We hit up the grocery store and I was back in bed by 9 - a mere ten hours after I had woken up. All in all, it was a relaxing and fun-filled weekend and I'm hoping a low key week will kick this bug for good!
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Friday, January 6, 2012
2.) I'm still bitter the Jets didn't beat the Giants. Eagles could have been staring down a post season game.
3.) I buy new purses occasionally but usually revert back to an old, dumpy one I got from American Eagle at least a decade ago.
4.) The stock show is in town. Longhorn cattle roamed the streets of Denver yesterday.
5.) I'm really enjoying not drinking beer during training. Its the most hydrated I've been in months.
6.) Miles (the Denver Broncos Mascot) is marching down 16th with a crew of marching band drummers handing out towels. It will be the Broncos first postseason game in 6 or 7 seasons. Timmy Tebow is going to be creamed by Big Ben.
7.) My Dad has started a food blog. You should read it.
8.) I own one pair of jeans. I wear them until they get holes in them and then buy a new pair of the exact same kind. I've done this for 6 years.
9.) When I wear high heels, I can't feel my smallest toes for the next day or two.
10.) I haven't turned on the heat in my apartment yet.
11.) I have a serious problem with buying pj pants. Not just my annual christmas jammies, but all pj bottoms. I have a whole drawer full and its overflowing.
12.) I have a really hard time coming up with these things. Sometimes I wait until Katie has posted hers, then steal some (ie: See #3).
13.) I don't have much patience. It's something I need to work on.
14.) I am putting off taking down my Christmas decorations because that means I have to wait a whole 11 more months to put them back up again. But part of my OCD brain wants them down so the apartment is in order again.
15.) I used to bite my nails constantly. One day I just stopped. I still don't know why.
16.) Sometimes I have trouble really relaxing because my brain is always planning the next thing I have to do.
17.) Oscar season is upon us! Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is on my list for tomorrow.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
I'm putting this mantra into practice today. I'm sick again (or still. And yes, mom, I've been washing my hands) and all I want are my covers and jammies. But my training plan says three miles are my destiny. Do I want to work out? Heck no! But, no excuses. So instead of doing an internal workout like I had planned, I'm just going to crank up the incline on the treadmill and walk/run for three miles. It's not the best, but its something.
2.) Today I finally sucked it up and started writing a section for a project that I'd be majorly dreading/putting off. It was complicated and big and one giant headache and I had been avoiding it like the plague. After bumbling along, I finally got into a rhythm and really started plowing through it. It's 90% done and I'll come in with fresh eyes tomorrow and polish it off. I am no longer filled with dread and even started to feel better, knowing the weight was lifted. Amazing how much taking something off your plate can make you feel better!
3.) I rejoined MFD, the site my sister and I both use for calorie counting. I'm not a huge fan of calorie counting (as evidenced by my expanding waistline), but I have found it very informative in the past for tracking nutrition, namely protein and vitamins. It does, however, make me think twice before eating something I don't need and shouldn't be consuming, so I guess thats a good thing.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
I cooked up my usual egg white breakfast in the smallest pan and couldn't believe the difference it made. My pans were actually more recently bought, and not Ikea-made, but I still needed to empty about half a can of Pam onto it to cook my eggs normally. I sprayed the new pan and, while flipping the eggs around, just about threw them across the kitchen because the non-stick coating worked so well!
After cooking breakfast, I happily emptied my stock of pots and lids (non-matching lids, I might add, from my original set my junior year in college) and put them in the cardboard wasteland that was beginning to pile up in my entryway.
After retreating back to my bed for a few more movies and napping, I planned a menu for the week, created a grocery list, and headed out to the store. It was a madhouse. Apparently everyone else was using their day off to catch up on their to-do list as well. There were a few items already sold out, but mostly I'm set for a week of healthy eating (minus those Poptarts that just jumped in my cart when I wasn't looking!).
For dinner I attempted to recreate the absolutely delicious pork chops (yes, pork chops) that my dad made last week while I was home. Now, I'm not a huge fan of the other white meat, but my dad's meal was so incredibly good I even went back for seconds.
He sent me the recipe and, while my concoction turned out ok, it was not the bouquet of flavors that he had created. I think my main problem was that I didn't measure things out and forgot to halve the recipe for some of the steps. Whoops! I also didn't use real paprika, but instead a blend that included paprika, which I think may have made the major difference.
Given the lack of proper nutrition in my diet, I had also picked up "Veggie Pasta" at Safeway and a new kind of red sauce to add to the meal. They were both terrible. The sauce was sweet and the pasta disgusting (although I brought the leftovers to try again today, sans sauce). So that part of the meal could be greatly improved. I threw in a salad for some greens (yes, I recognize it is pathetic looking) and would have had broccoli, but the store was out.
Overall, it was a decent meal that yielded leftovers for me to bring for lunch. I will try this recipe again, but pay a bit more attention to the instructions and maybe buy the real ingredients :)