Monday, January 28, 2008

The Escape Pod Is Not An Option...

As I start my blogging career I am attempting to grasp why somebody would care to read about Publius and Old Asian Running Man (WHERE ARE YOU?!?), it dawned on me maybe those reading my blog are interested in some of the fascinating but usually not published aspects of my life. Okay, I'm game...

Did have a multitude of events that constituted a pretty damn good weekend. It did start with a bit of a thud on Friday on my return from the retreat. It seemed everyone appreciated "getting away" but my co-workers peeled off quickly yearning to return to their loved ones, family, etc. When I got back to the office, I uh, went straight to my desk to continue my mapping work on one of our Clean Water Management Trust Fund applications. It was a seemingly calculated effort on my part to stave off having to come in Saturday, which seemed inevitable. It was only another hour or so.

On my return I had some pizza for dinner and watched The Illusionist. I thought it was a fantastic movie with an even better ending! For those that have seen it already, you might wonder how surprised I was at the end - not too much. After being totally fooled by The Usual Suspects, I definitely saw the clues that Eisenheim (along with Sophie) were way too clever to take the standard "I'm leaving you" route. Following the movie I was really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed. The air mattress I have is not even close to being queen-sized is okay (my old housemate Maureen slept on it for over a year), in addition the room at the cabin was way too hot. I hate being hot, if you take away anything about me, it's that I'd rather be cold.

In the morning it was obvious that I would have to work in the office today! Rats. Saturday is usually my day for a long run, so I thought I'd mix it up. Instead of wasting gas to drive up there and back, I left the house around 9AM heading north. My running route took me through the Sedgefield neighborhood, a route I usually take on my bike to reach the Dowd Y. Instead though I did hung out on South Boulevard, which gave me a new appreciation for some of the subtle elevation changes. If you have read any of my Publius posts, you will also know I love to describe and learn about "The Boulevard." I finished the first leg along the new Lynx (Charlotte's light rail) route. The distance was approximately 5.65 miles which I covered in 47:58, which works out to about an 8:30 minute mile. Not too bad for solo running. I always get lazy running by myself. Once at work I spent about 45 minutes working on maps. This was a true gambit as two more people had to have their say on map revisions later on, so it was possible I would have to come back again. From there I left to complete a big clockwise route, running down Morehead, turning on Queens, then Selwyn all the way to Park, forking over to Tyvola and up the hill to where I usually take Cooper to finish off the adventure. This leg was a little longer, 7.62 miles, which I covered in 66:56, or 8.8 minute mile. For the entire 13.3-mile distance I averaged an 8.7 minute mile. Pedestrian but okay.

I know I didn't pass out after that, but what transpired that afternoon remains a mystery. At 5PM my girlfriend showed up and we went down to Ballantyne to watch The Diving Bell and Butterfly, which quite honestly made The Illusionist look like a paltry piece of entertainment. What a tour de force! This is the true story of the Elle editor who has a massive stroke and is completely locked inside his body, and only able to wink one eye. The gravity of the situation and how he defined his life through making the best of the situation just floored both of us! This movie also featured who I sincerely believe is the greatest living actor - Max Von Sydow. Damn he nailed his part!! In my opinion, Det Sjunde inseglet is the best movie ever made. Exactly 50 years later Sydow still rules!

After later reading some background of the movie, I am SO GLAD it was not filmed in English and even more glad that Johnny Depp did not take the leading role. Afterwards we went to the Flat Rock Grill, which was quite good. Both of us had the salmon dish, which I would highly recommend.

Sunday morning is usually reserved for my bike ride! Now last weekend was disappointing as it was too cold to ride. It was obviously going to be sunny for the ride, but still a little on the cold side. I was, relatively speaking, bundled up. I did not RSVP for KC's "and the Sunshine Band" ride, instead I timed my departure to meet up with them at Wilkinson and Old Dowd. My bike route took me out my standard shot of Tyvola, except this time I continued to Byrum (preferred westward route to the climb on West) to Wallace Neal. Nothing had changed with the detour status out there. I constantly fretted about my allotted time, knowing the final climb on Old Dowd would put me close. The good news is that I made it there a minute early, the bad news is they never showed up. Later I read the announcement more closely and saw they probably took another route.

Okay, so it turned into a solo ride. I had my green iPod Shuffle and was jamming out, so all was well. I continued up to Belmont to the base of Cramerton Mountain. I had a decent climb, nothing spectacular. I have been meaning to begin timing my ascent, but it never seems to happen. From there I jumped on 279 for the patented hammer-fest SW past Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens towards South Carolina. From there it is a bit of a slog with four climbs to Highway 49, which ultimately takes you back to North Carolina. Once at Shopton, it seems like a long upward climb. The last part of the journey, after climbing back to Tyvola, is definitely the most dangerous, especially because it's when I'm the most tired and most likely to make a bad move. However today I felt good taking it home. In the end I logged 47 miles and averaged 17.0 miles per hour, which is above average for this time of year. This was my 52nd ride on my Trek Madone, affectionately known as Holman, for 2,653 total miles logged on the saddle.

Once home, I finished off the rest of my pizza as I watched the "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" episode of Red Dwarf (Season VI). I think this is about where Red Dwarf jumped the shark. Well, maybe after this episode, as it is one of my favorites. In case you missed the obvious reference in one of my preceding posts, I consider its predecessor high on the list as well.

Was also running low on foodstuffs, so after my shower I headed south to my local ghetto Food Lion. I could probably dedicate a whole post to my experiences shopping there, but I will paraphrase. My ultimate Food Lion scare was the first night I arrived in North Carolina (Durham) in August of 2000. I went to the nearest grocery story and it scared me. Needless to say, I'm usually the only white person in this south Charlotte store. No, this is not your neighborhood yuppie Harris Teeter. I was about to have a normal shopping experience except near the end two black women started calling each other names and then started to fight. Awesome. What row is the popcorn in, please?

That evening I went over to watch the Duke vs. Maryland men's basketball game at the home of my favorite Charlotte Tarheel, Jin Woo, in Plaza Midwood. He had just received a DirectTV "upgrade" over Time Warner. Anyway, that was a great experience, but I know he'll get worked up with his Duke insults for the big UNC game on the 6th. Later on Lisa came home from her long shift at the hospital. We had a delightful chicken meal over some nice conversation. I left around 10PM and then had my usual Sunday night video conference with my parents in Kirkland (Washington).

And while not technically on the weekend, the most pleasant surprise happened on Sunday afternoon when I got a call from my cousin Jeff Zierdt in Minnesota. He was scheduled to be in Charlotte for business and wanted to know if I could get together Monday night for dinner. So after work I picked him up. I first took him home to meet Winston, and then we went to the Roasting Company. As usual the fare was delightful and it was great to catch up with him and hear all the stories behind the great housebuild. Among our fondest memories was my sister's wedding outside Madrid in 1999. It was a rather toasty day on July 3rd and us guys got to wear suits. OH THE HORROR. Man, that was a nightmare. Only for my sister!

Det är fullbordat.

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