Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Five

The Week

There really isn’t any way to come down from the high that is TechEd gracefully. While there I was helping run certain areas of the show, I was on the move constantly, I was off hanging out with friends, I was switched on.

So getting back to normal and teaching a normal class is quite a big letdown. But yet there I was, in Dallas this week. The week on the whole was pretty good. Class went well, even if I was on a bit of a downswing emotionally. I wasn’t able to get outside for a run because of where I was, but I was able to get in all my runs this week. And I did manage to get out to a Seasons 52 this week, which of course is one of my favorite restaurants.

But it was still rather, just, well, flat.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ll come back around quickly. But this week was just flat.

And besides – I’ve got a glass of wine in front of me, I got the earlier flight I wanted, and I’ve got Annie Get Your Gun by Squeeze blasting through my Zune. It can’t be all bad, right?

For a little while now I’ve been wanting to post links to a few pictures. First up is the photos Karin and I had done while we were in Ottawa. I’m still amazed at how well the pictures came out, and you can see them by clicking on picture.


The second set, with all apologies to Susan who doesn’t like one of the pictures, is the shots from the GeneRACEtion 10K in Atlanta. That event did nearly everything right – including the pricing for the pictures, which are usually a solid $20/each and up. They made them affordable and I couldn’t pass up the chance to buy them.

The Travel Note

My familiarity with Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport that on more than one occasion I’ve offered people directions on where to find their gate or places to eat. There’s just something wrong with that.

The Restaurant

Unfortunately I really didn’t get to a restaurant that I felt was worthy of a review. I stopped by one local establishment that had vodka on tap, which I thought was kind of interesting, and that was about it. This will be rectified next week, I promise.

The Five

I sort of dig the questions at this week, so that’s what I’m going with.

  1. What puts you in a creative mood?
    If I knew, I wouldn’t be looking elsewhere for questions. ;-) All kidding aside, I really wish I did know. It comes and goes in spurts.
  2. What puts you in a silly mood?
    Oddly, it’s frequently the wrong situations. If I’m under a lot of stress, or there’s something bad going on in line, I’ve been known to get a case of the laughs. That also frequently happens when I succeed at something.
  3. What puts you in a contemplative mood?
    The right music. Many Cure or Smiths/Morrissey songs will do it.
  4. What puts you in a competitive mood?
    Have we met? Almost anything.
  5. If you’d call yourself a talkative person, what puts you in a quiet mood? If you’d call yourself a quiet person, what puts you in a talkative mood?
    Most people would probably say I’m talkative, even though I don’t really see myself that way on many occasions. That said, what will put me into a quiet mood will be an uncomfortable situation. If I suddenly go quiet, that generally means I’m looking for some form of escape.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Friday Five(s)

The Excuse

As you’ll read below, I was just a bit busy this past week. At the moment I’m currently sitting on CO1689, watching a little DirecTV and heading home, with the hope of just a little sleep in my not too distant future.

The Weeks

Wow. I mean, just wow.

Sorry - still no kidsTwo weeks ago I was sent to the city so nice they named it twice for a weeklong course. As anyone who reads this knows, New York is my favorite city on the planet, and there’s a lot of people to go visit. As a result, Karin joined for the first part of the weekend, flying out on Saturday and home on Monday. That Sunday we were able to schlep[1] out to Long Island to visit our friends Megan and DaIMG_1177vid, who recently welcomed Hunter into their family. I have to say that Hunter is a rather cute baby. Megan and David are going to make great parents.

Unfortunately, that was the only day that we were able to visit the friends we’d intended to visit. But it did give us the opportunity to get out to Pegu Club[1] for a couple of cocktails.

IMG_1181Of course, there was work to do at some point. But the nice part about the location I work at in New York is its location. It’s right on the southern tip of Manhattan, affording an amazing view. The timing of my trip[3] wasn’t lost on me. While I wasn’t at all worried about what might happen, I will say I did get a bit startled during the week. They were IMG_1189filming some TV show in the floor above the one I was working in. At one point on Thursday there was a loud “bang”, that caused my heart to skip a beat.

While Karin left way too soon and even though I was working during the day, I was certainly out playing every night. I was able to hook up with the friends that weren’t available when Karin was in town, not to mention a little trip to the new Yankee Stadium. While I didn’t get a good chance to roam around the stadium, I have to say I was impressed by it. IMG_1188But I’ll still take the original any day of the week.

From there, my week only got crazier. I flew on Friday from New York to Atlanta. The reason being I had to put in my first 20 mile run. For those of you not up marathon training, most every training plan caps out at 20 miles, making it the biggest and most important run of the program. Because I had to be in Atlanta on that Saturday evening, I wasn’t able to do that run from home. Fortunately, the run went off without a hitch in Atlanta.

After the run? Well, can you believe my week went back to being even more insane? Yes, that’s right – it was TechEd week. For those of you scoring at home[3], TechEd is Microsoft’s biggest annual conference. This week was particularly busy for me as I was chosen as the Study Hall/Exam Cram lead for the week. This meant quite a bit of additional work, especially at the beginning of the conference. That said, it did eventually settle down, and I was able to catch up with great friends.

IMG_1224During the week, I was able to get to see a bit of the city. My dining experience certainly ran the gamut. On one end was Monday night at a rather nice restaurant with my dear friend Susan. On the other end was Friday with a few friends at Gladys Knight’s waffle house. While I certainly enjoy high-end cuisine, there’s just something about a pile of amazing fried chicken and a waffle.[4]

GeneRACEtionUpon the end of TechEd, Susan, Michael, his wife Laurie and I ventured out for a 10K called the GeneRACEtion 10K. It was the first for Michael, and both he and Laurie did an amazing job. As for me? Well, I hit a PB (49:45) and I beat Susan. :-) Considering the week I had, and how hilly the course was, I’m thrilled with the time I was able to post.

In all it was a great couple of weeks. I’m hoping by mid-June I’ll have caught up on my sleep.

The Travel Note

Added to the list of things forgotten: My fleece.

The Restaurant Cocktail Bar

With the rebirth of the love of the classic cocktail comes the recreation of speakeasies. The one in San Diego I’ve been trying to visit for quite a while is Noble Experiment. You need to have a reservation to get in, which guarantees you a seat. It also means you have to get your reservation a couple of weeks in advance or you’re just not getting in. Once I heard Abram was coming to town I knew I wanted to get a chance to take him there.

The bar itself is in the back of a bar, behind a wall of kegs. Basically, walk towards the restroom, take a right, and then walk through the wall in front of you. You’ll be greeted by the hostess who will then show you to your table or seats at the bar.

The bar itself is amazingly small – a few small tables line the outside of the area, and the bar itself has about 10 stools. The d├ęcor is suave but understated. The bar itself is perfectly well stocked with all the items you’d want for putting items together.

Upon sitting down, I started with a sazerac, and unfortunately I’ve long since forgotten what Abram started with. It took a couple of drinks, but we eventually worked up a rapport with the bartender and were eventually just ordering by base and if we wanted it citrusy. I don’t know that Eric poured a drink that either of us didn’t like; some better than others, but none worth sending back.

The one thing I didn’t like about the place was there wasn’t a bathroom in the speakeasy part of the bar. This meant you had to leave the area, thus breaking the illusion of the speakeasy. But outside of that, Noble Experiment is currently my favorite cocktail bar in San Diego.

The Five

As always, I’m looking for ideas for here. My couple of usual spots to find ideas have been pretty dry lately, so I’m having to come up with some all on my own. Here’s 5 things about TechEd.

  1. Because TechEd is basically a nonstop event, I wasn’t able to get in my usual number of runs last week. I have to say I felt it emotionally; I was in a bit of a funk the days I didn’t run.
  2. The downside to working the event is you’re unable to do really anything else, in particular attend any sessions.
  3. The upside is you are able to make some great connections and meet some remarkable people. Basically it’s adult summer camp for geeks.
  4. I was able to see a bit more of Atlanta than I see of most other cities when I’m travelling for work, but I still don’t feel like I have a good handle on Atlanta. Either that, or it really is just there for Delta, Coke and Ted Turner.
  5. For me personally, this was a great show. I presented three Cram4Exam sessions, and I ranked 1st, 4th and 5th. :-)

[1] Yes, schlep.
[2] Have I mentioned how much I love the Pegu Club?
[3] ...or even if you’re alone.[5]
[4] Yes, I finished that entire plate. Did I mention I ran 20 miles?
[5] I can hear you saying it, Sarah.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Five

The Week

I don’t know if it’s possible to visit every airport in the US that serves commercial traffic, but I figure I have to be getting relatively close. This week found me in another new location – Knoxville, TN. I had full intentions on going to explore downtown and trying to get a good sense of the city, but unfortunately the fates[1] conspired against me. I did, however, make sure I stayed downtown so I could run along the river while down there. Knoxville has a great running trail, which was fantastic.

The Travel Note

Because I’m whatever the top level frequent renter is on National I wind up getting relatively new cars. But this week was a first for me – I had a car with 4 miles on it.

The Restaurant

I don’t have a restaurant that’s really worth highlighting this week because of the way everything shook out. However, I do have a small word of wisdom that I need to remember more often – never eat at the hotel restaurant. It’ll always be too expensive for generally disappointing food.

The Five

One of my favorite expressions is “It’s the little things in life that make me happy.” Here are five little things that make me happy.

  1. The 20 minute power nap. It’s a shame that once you become an adult you aren’t allowed to take those in the afternoon any longer.
  2. Shortcut keys in Windows. Granted that’s a very geeky thing as well, but it does make me happy. I love being able to use the Windows key to move windows around on my desktop.
  3. Being able to wear flip flops. It’s one of the best signs that spring is (hopefully) here to stay and ready to give way to summer. It’s also just easy and comfortable.
  4. An open seat next to me when I’m in coach. While legroom is certainly nice, what’s always more important to me is shoulder room. Being stuck right next to someone and having to lean into the aisle for 4 hours makes for a long flight.
  5. Crossing things off a todo list. One of the things I’ve started using quite a bit lately is the tasks in Outlook. There is something near magical about clicking the little flag and watching the item disappear.

[1] And by fates I mean work.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Friday Five

The Week

I can’t say I was just out of reach of a big city this week, as there wasn’t a big city as far as the eye could see. Just lots and lots of open space. And plenty of flatland so the wind could get a solid running start.

This week found me in Sioux Falls, SD[1]. Oddly enough, though, I actually have a friend in Sioux Falls with whom I was able to do dinner. This is an old friend[2] from college. In college she went by her middle name Kate, but now goes by her given name of Molly. Unfortunately for her, old habits die hard and she’ll always be Kate to me. Fortunately for both of us, though, even though it had been a solid 5 years or more since we’d seen one another, we were able to pick up right where we left off. I treasure friendships like that. While in a perfect world we’d be able to see each other more often, time apart doesn’t harm our friendship. That’s special.

Oh – and that wind. It was absolutely insane. Both runs that I was able to get outdoors for were in winds of 20mph+. The only way you make it through a run like that is by running into the wind to start. The nice part about a run like that is you’re guaranteed negative splits.[3]

The Travel Note

While regional airports mean flying in on crop dusters, it makes for an awfully short security line on the way out.

The Restaurant

I’d be remiss if I didn’t at some point mention my favorite post-run restaurant, Oggi’s. While there isn’t much to say about it – it’s an above average brew pub – it’s still a great little spot. Very good beer, a menu that includes both unhealthy items and some fantastic salads. And a very friendly bartender[4] who works Saturday afternoons. It’s a great place to unwind and imbibe, and at least partially undo all the good you’ve just done for your body.

The Five

Five things about life

  1. I don’t know what my next goal will be after running the full marathon in June. Right now the only plan is a race in September and one in early December. After that I’m just not sure yet. But I do know that there will be another marathon.
  2. I’ve noticed that once I mention that I’m a runner during class I’ll wind up spending a good portion of break time talking about running. That’s actually just fine. I rather enjoy talking about running. Ask any one of my friends who’s had to listen to be babble on and on about running. Or my poor wife.
  3. Although really, you should feel sorry for my wife just because, well, she’s my wife and has to put up with me.
  4. People frequently ask how we manage to handle being apart so much. I think Karin puts it best – “You just do.” And that really is it. It’s just life. And you live it.
  5. At the end of it all, if you’re happy with where you are, you really can’t complain about where you are or how you got there. And we’re both happy.

[1] That’s South Dakota, not San Diego
[2] Not saying she’s old, just that we’ve been friends for a long time.[5]
[3] Meaning that your time per mile decreases during the second half of the run.
[4] Friendly isn’t code for cute. Although she is very cute.
[5] So I guess if anything I’m saying we’re both old.