Monday, September 29, 2008

From Fog to a Fine Day

For those of you keeping track at home, today's musical selection on the radio included Kings of Leon, the Kooks and Noah and The Whale. The commute was relatively traffic free so only a few songs today...

It was a beautiful weekend this past weekend so I thought I would share a couple of photos from my usual wanderings.

To start, the last few mornings have dawned bright and clear. Of course on Saturday when it was time to ride, it started with some very thick fog. Obviously this was a lot more photogenic in person (I pictured a nice black and white with some good lighting) but the camera phone only does so much when dripping wet. I promise a new digital camera is somewhere in my near future.

The ride ended up being a killer due in part to my stupidity. Note to self: when someone asks you if you want to ride in the 'fast' group and you look over and see 9 guys in full racing kits, the answer should be No. Luckily, at one point when I couldn't breathe any more, one of the guys in our group got a puncture (that's British for a flat tire). We stopped to rest and re-fuel and gab a bit. Then Mr. Puncture - who was struggling with inflating his tire - says 'Can I get some help here? Does anyone have any big guns?'. That's funny. Really funny. For those of you who know anything about cyclists, you'll know that they tend not to have the largest upper body. As a pretty smart guy once pointed out to me - cyclists are like a T-rex. Big, strong legs - and teeny little arms. If a guy racing is throwing water bottles off of his bike to lighten his load before a finish, you can imagine that he isn't exactly spending any time in the gym adding muscle on the bench press. Okay, so long story -but I wasn't the only person who laughed at his question.

Later in the day after a recovery nap (oh so necessary) I took Tucker for a walk to get a few photos of the leaves changing. It is pretty, but if you'll notice they are just going from green to brown. You might recognize this path from an earlier post. This is a little further down The Long Walk which starts at the castle.

If you do a 180 degree turn, here is the other part of the Long Walk with the castle in the background.

And here is my crazy dog trying to christen every single tree.

Lastly, I just want to plug a great book I read. I recommend picking up a copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I've been meaning to do that for awhile but keep forgetting.
Yeah, I know. Not the most exciting of weekends but I can't be at Wimbledon/Oktoberfest/parades every weekend. A girl's gotta do laundry you know... Happy Monday....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fun With Physicists

You know it is going to be a good day when your British alternative rock station plays some Run DMC on the way into work. Though they did follow it up with some Arctic Monkeys to get back to more modern times....Subsequently, the sun is also shining. Let's see how long it takes for work to burst my happy little bubble....After a quick email to my new physicist friend explaining how big a hit the neutron joke was, he sent along another. Whoever said rocket scientists don't have a sense of humor?

A doctor, actor, and physicist are debating the question of whether it is better to have a wife or a mistress:

Doctor: Clearly a wife. The stability, maturity of the relationship, it's the best way to be.

Actor: Obviously a mistress. It offers freedom, keeps you young.

Physicist: You must have both. That way, on a Saturday night, you can tell your wife you are with your mistress, tell your mistress you are with your wife, and go into the lab to get some work done.

I also got this one from a friend of a friend physicist in California. Apparently I'm only two degrees of separation away from some wicked smart people.

Two atoms walk down the street. One walks into a pole and shakes his head...
He says "i think i just lost an electron and become an ion''
The other one says "are you sure?"
"Yes" he says "...i'm positive".

You can laugh or you can groan. Either way, I know you are smiling. Tucker on the other hand keeps giving me the grumpy look when I tell him the jokes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I had to go to Germany for work this week and coincidently it happened to be the opening day of Oktoberfest. For those of you with an aversion to alcohol, I suggest you not read this post. Somehow, it is all about the beer.....

After a nasty bout with the flu this week (thank you Motown and my apologies to everyone on the British Airways flight from the U.S. who probably caught it from me), I flew to Frankfurt to catch the train to Kaiserslautern. I took this picture in the Frankfurt airport train station because I found the combination of the palm trees, the glass ceiling and the looming construction a little unnerving.

After a couple of days of meetings, it was once again back on the train and this time headed for Munich. With my co-worker as my tour guide we navigated to our delayed train only to have it overflowing with people. We were lucky to find two spots in the bar car and ended up standing for most of the 3 hour trip. It's a good thing there was beer. Yes, this is how we roll.....

The next morning I was up early to put in a ten miler in Englisher Gardens. Unfortunately, there are no photos as I didn't take the camera on my run. I just wanted to mention 1) that not everything I do involves alcohol and 2) Englisher Gardens is a beautiful, huge park set in the city. (Yes, I needed to burn some calories before my carbo loading day) After my run, it was time to hit the underground to get to the festival. On the subway, I was at first confused as to where I needed to go. But, I solved that by using my mantra of 'follow the lederhosen'. Once again, I'm trying to inconspicously take photos of strangers.

Oktoberfest takes place in the middle of a giant square in Munich. I didn't actually get close enough to find out what this huge statue is for but our guess is that this woman is the Goddess of Beer. Also, for those of you going to Oktoberfest, just because you see a line of people standing in line to buy tickets, doesn't mean you should do the same. Before finding the beer tents, my new friends and I ended up in the livestock/county fair/craft show area. Note to self: make sure you know what is on the other side of the gate before forking over 12 euros.

With a little luck, we ended up in the Paulaner bier garten.

Here we are with our first beers. I met these two gentleman on the train that morning. Pat and Mike are high energy physicists from Harvard. That's right. I spent the day hanging out with rocket scientiests. I love smart people! I have to admit, I had a great day and these guys made me laugh out loud several times. Who else looks around for a napkin to draw you a scatterplot distribution when trying to make his point? They also told me this joke -

"A neutron walks into a bar and orders a beer. He says to the bartender, what do I owe you? The bartender says, there is no charge for you."


Our table got quite lively as the beer flowed. We squeezed in between some nice Spainards with funky hats and some not so nice Germans who ignored us the whole time. I think they were personnally annoyed with the Australians and Brits behind us and therefore took it out on the unsuspecting Americans.

One of our neighboring Brits, Ian, kept putting his kilt where it wasn't supposed to go so we decided to have a chat since we were getting so friendly without trying. He was there having a reunion with his groomsmen from his wedding the year before. They had t-shirts made representing all the texts they received last year when trying to find someone inside. For anyone who knows how difficult it is to save seats when thousands of people are trying to sit there, you can recognize the frustration of trying to meet up in a BIG crowd. Apparently these guys never met up....

Something else that was funny (which prompted me to take a picture of his knee) was the reason he gave when asked if his wife was nervous about him being out with the guys at Oktoberfest. He laughed and said, "oh no! My wife told me that no girl is even going to be remotely attracted to the two white sticks that I call legs so she knows it is safe". Okay, so this might have been much funnier after drinking a couple of litres of beer.

Working my way through a litre....

The other beauty of Oktoberfest is the food. You can only last on beer so long. Therefore, we ordered a couple of chickens and enjoyed the best chicken ever! Okay, so it might have been influenced by the beer, location and possible starvation. Whatever.

After the chicken, I decided I needed a hot dog for the fair. This is what they gave me. Yes, that is a hot dog and that is the way they stuck it in the bun. Even the rocket scientist started blushing.

After a few more litres, if you are dressed in lederhosen, apparently you are supposed to start standing on the tables and professing your love for mankind and beer.

We decided it was time to stroll about and find the rest of the Harvard and MIT crew. We toured the carnival grounds and did some excellent people watching.

With the appearance of Jay, it was time to hook up with the rest of the brainiacs. How many high energy physicists does it take to find the Spaten tent? The answer is apparently 3 as the directions we were given were "it's by the bumper cars". I counted no less than 4 bumper car stations in our wanderings around the fair. Nice.

As the evening draws to a close, Mike buys himself a beer drinking hat to remember his day at Oktoberfest. I think he could have bought that hat in Wisconsin actually.

And lastly, I'm still standing (well sitting) after almost 12 hours and several litres at Oktoberfest. I think it was the hot dog that saved me.
And yes, I am thru drinking for a while. I am ready to dry out/detox/get on the wagon/ - pick your phrase. I think my liver deserves a break from the past few Saturdays. With that said, who wants to plan for next year?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tucker's Travels

Too much drama. Way too much drama. But he made it and I'm happy so no more crying for 2008.

The new crate arrived and I made sure that everyone knew who was traveling in it.

All set for the trip from Motown to San Francisco.

At the cargo office, we are first told that Heathrow did not approve the shipment so we waited an hour and a half for clearance. Good thing I called ahead to confirm. Once we get clearance they think the crate is too small. More panic ensues. Finally, I get the go ahead and Tucker is taken off of my hands. For the record, it costs more to ship him than it did for my first car. It looks like it's ramen noodles for me from now on. Wait, no ramen noodles here. Maybe spam?

Tucker gets loaded on to the plane - and we sit. Unfortunately engine no. 4 doesn't want to start for our 747 so we call in engineering. In the mean time, the captain kindly checks on my pooch only to find it too hot in cargo due to our 3 hour ground delay and he gets off loaded to enjoy the fresh air. Most passengers are jealous as we are all stuck in the plane. Luckily they remember to load him back up before we finally take off.

Upon arrival, Tucker gets quarantined due to my faulty paperwork. Apparently, you need a USDA stamp of approval to export an animal. As if he is a piece of meat! Here's where he is imprisoned for the evening.

Thankfully, the vet makes an early appearance and Tucker is issued his very own passport. Twenty-four hours after imprisonment, he is now free to move about the country.

Once free, Tucker makes himself at home on the stoop of number 47.

Finally, exhausted from all his efforts, it's time for an extended nap. And so his new life begins for my ex-pat mutt......

Friday, September 12, 2008


Well, I made it back to the UK but I'm still missing the company of my favorite neutered male. After much frustration, stress, long delays and plenty of tears from me - Tucker arrived at Heathrow only to be booked into quarantine for the evening. I'll give you the full story with photos after I spring him out of jail sometime this weekend (hopefully).

In the meantime, I had a little revelation on my way back into the living room. After surveying the scene on the coffee table, I realized it's time to spend more time unplugged. For those of you counting at home, you are looking at two laptops, two crackberrys, an iPod, digital camera cord and CD. Thankfully, it gets balanced by the two bottles of water and my three books I've got queued up. Sadly, I've only been home about 5 hours and this is what I ended up with. Even more sad - it's a Friday night. The funny part is, I hate this. Really, after spending all day working in technology, the last thing I ever want to do is turn on the computer. A good book, comfy place to sit and glass of wine is much more preferred. Thank goodness the triathlon group has a pub crawl scheduled for tomorrow evening (after the morning group ride naturally), at least I'll be social and not staring at electronics.

Thanks again to everyone who could carve some time out of their schedule to spend some time with me this past week. It was great seeing everyone in San Fran, Motown and around the coast.

Still Missing My Mutt,

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Just a quick update to let you know I survived my 100 mile ride this weekend. The weather was hot when we were above the marine layer and cool and foggy when we were screaming down the hills. Here's a quick (albeit sweaty and seriously dorky) pic of me at the top of one of the first climbs. More pictures and stories to come when I get back to the UK. A big THANK YOU to everyone who sponsored me and the Best Buddies organization.
Up next: shipping a 75 pound mutt via cargo.....

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tucker Update

As Tucker is fast approaching his big trip - he's emigrating from the U.S. in a week's time - he had a last opportunity to enjoy the California landscape. A big, big thanks to Jeremy for being a fantastic dog watcher. Here are some photos from their hiking adventure where Tucker has proven to be quite recovered from his side wound.

Hartford (on the left) and Tucker awaiting their next command.

Resting in the shade

Imitating a mountain goat?

Surveying the mountain landscape (and looking like he needs to lose a few pounds, eh?)

Thanks again to Jeremy for taking care of him! Hopefully I'll be able to provide Tucker some adventures over here - there might not be any mountains - but he is allowed in the pub. Look for Tucker to join my social circle soon....

Also, I have my big charity ride this weekend. If you have not already done so and want to sponsor a good cause, please see the post below for instructions on how to donate. Wish me luck!