Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday "Blah"g

Well, here's my weekly update! Not a super exciting week for us here - we seem to be settling into the winter blahs. Same old routine, day after day. This is usually the reason I hate this time of year. We've got snow, but not enough to get excited about. We had some sun, but it was super cold and windy outside when it broke through the clouds. Blarg. I'm glad to be so busy with school since it gives me something to focus on. We tried to break out of the routine this week by going hiking on Wednesday night at Egypt Valley - we actually had a lot of fun, although I was thinking about all of the studying I should have been doing while we were out there. We also went out for dinner on Friday night and got treated like dog crap at the restaurant we went to so that didn't help much. I'm officially boycotting One Trick Pony downtown - the food was TERRIBLE and the service was even worse. No wonder there were at least 7 empty tables (on a Friday night!) when we were there. Even worse, the manager was falling all over himself to make the people next to us happy but didn't even bother to ask us how we were doing during one of his 10 trips over to check on them. We left there pretty disappointed, especially since we don't really get to go out that much anymore :(

Today was great, though. We got up early and drove down to Saugatuck to hike on the dunes. We had originally wanted to go snowshoeing but there really wasn't enough snow to justify it. We made our own trail up and over some of the dunes and eventually got to the beach. The waves were big and we could see big snowstorms out over the lake. We also saw some mountain bike tire tracks along the beach which gave us a new goal for the winter - to ride our bikes on the beach! The tricky part will be figuring out where to ride from, since most places involve a significant hike to get down to the water. We're considering a night ride since we'll be able to be a little less obvious because evidently it's illegal or something. We hiked along the beach for quite a while and went back into the dunes along a pretty well-worn trail. The trail took us to a county park as well as the site of a former minimum-security prison. The building is still standing and is covered with grafitti. We hiked over to it to get a closer look. It was so eerie and bizarre - all of the windows were either boarded up or smashed out, there are still beds and various other pieces of furniture in it, and there are absolutely no signs telling anyone to keep out. We got halfway back to the car and decided (after asking some people what the building was) to go back and go inside. It was really creepy - we went in through a window and into a big room that must have been the common area for the prisoners. There were two split level wings of cells and a few smaller rooms that must have been offices. The inside of this place was trashed - everywhere you looked there was graffiti, broken glass, paint cans, charred remains of fires, etc. I would have taken some pictures but my camera batteries were dead - plus it gives me the chills just thinking about it. Wonder what I'll dream about tonight? The wierdest thing, though, was that we only found one bathroom in the whole place - a single toilet and sink. No showers anywhere. Ewww. The whole place was bizarre because outside of the prison, there was a basketball court, an old BMX-racing track, and a gigantic brick mansion (the Felt Mansion) surrounding the county park. We left there scratching our heads as to why any of these things were out in the middle of the dunes and why someone would have thought to stick a county park out there with them. At least it was a good adventure to end the week! Since I don't have any pictures from today, I'll just post the one we took at the end of our Cannonsburg hike -

Sunday, January 21, 2007

46 Bottles of Beer

A nice snowy and cold Sunday - perfect for bottling our first batch of homebrew. Steve started the process almost 2 1/2 weeks ago, with the help of our friend and super-brewmaster Rick. It involved a lot of measuring, boiling, and cooling. Then, the beer went through 2 stages of fermentation - 1 week in a bucket, 1 week in a big glass jug. Today, we finally siphoned the beer from the jug into individual bottles and capped them. Now we have to wait about 3 or 4 more weeks while it ferments and carbonates in the bottles. Here's Steve mixing the brew with a solution of priming sugar prior to bottling. The priming sugar reacts with the yeast in the beer and creates carbonation.

I thought the whole process was pretty cool - I can't wait to taste the final product! We're already planning our next batch.

In other news, this week was super busy with school. I got really scared at the beginning of the week because I felt like I was already falling behind in some of my classes. I seriously underestimated how busy this semester would be. In the back of my mind, I know I'm doing just fine - I'm just not used to this type of learning yet. I've already decided that it's harder than what I'm used to, which I'm glad. I need the challenge to keep me motivated. I have tests on my program material every week and I'm happy to say that I did well on the first round. I will be glad when this semester is over, though, so I regain some free time :)

I did still manage to stick to my workout schedule this week, though. I went to the gym Monday through Thursday and did my Chick-Flick Friday ride for an hour. I swam for about a half hour on Thursday and enjoyed every minute of it - I've missed swimming. I almost bagged on the Friday ride, though, since the chick flick I rented didn't work in our DVD player. I just watched Shrek again and that got me through it. We really need to invest in some more DVDs - Shrek, Shrek II, and What About Bob don't give you much to choose from when you want to watch a movie.

Anyway, it's back to the grind for awhile. I need to get some reading done before I go yoga. Here is a picture of our wonderful cat, helping me study on Friday morning. Have a great week!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

B is for......

1. Boo-hoo: I instated "Chick Flick Friday" this week and will try to continue this all month and possibly all of February. Since I'm not working on Fridays and should have most of my classwork done, I'm renting chick flicks and watching them while I ride my bike trainer on Friday afternoons. This week I rented "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and rode the trainer for 90 minutes at 75% of my max heart rate. I felt great - it's definitely a workout I can stick to for awhile.

2. Boredom: I had the first of four Saturday clinical skills classes this weekend. It wasn't too bad - just a lot of emphasis on things I pretty much already know such as the proper way to wash your hands, how to take off dirty latex gloves, etc. Luckily, the next three classes are about things I don't know so I'm hoping they'll be a little more exciting.

3. Broken: While I was in class, Steve was out doing this to his bike:

For those not familiar with bicycle anatomy, the rear derailleur is not supposed to point upward and touch the spokes of the back wheel.

4. Bummer: I had heard a rumor but now I know it's official - the guy who did the commuter story on me for the local news got FIRED recently and I'm pretty sure that the story is not going to air. I guess I'll just have to wait some more for my day in the sun.....

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I don't have a ton of time to write today but I found something very disturbing this morning as I was cutting out some coupons and I just had to share it. Yes - I cut out coupons. Laugh if you will but I'm saving mad cash at the grocery store....

Now you tell me - what ad executive over at Snack Pack thought this would be a great way to sell a new product? It may just be the workings of a dirty mind, but I'm feeling a little offended by this kid.....

Monday, January 08, 2007

My Brain Already Hurts

This picture kept going through my mind today as I was walking around the GRCC campus, wondering where everyone else was. I was confused about when my class started but I figured it wasn't today since when I went to my classroom, it was dark and locked. Thanks to the guy at the bookstore who told me that classes don't officially start at CC until Thursday. But dang it, I sure do know where to go on Friday morning for my class. Since I was on-campus, I decided to walk through some of the buildings and check out the computer labs. I think I've got a handle on it. The only thing I need to figure out is how to lower the chairs in the computer lab. The one I sat in was so high that my feet didn't touch the ground and when I went to pull the lever to lower it, the back of the chair reclined instead. I can't believe the girl next to me didn't bust out laughing since I damn near fell out of the chair. It's a good thing the computer lab was so quiet since everyone else saw me, too.

The GRCC class (Human Anatomy and Physiology) is the only traditional classroom class I have this semester. All of my other FSU on-line classes started today. I'm still trying to get my head around the on-line forums. I think I'm slowly figuring it out. I don't have too much to do this week besides getting used to posting and replying to on-line discussions and I have one dry chapter of my Health Care USA textbook to read. The biggest problem I'm having is that every course is set up differently on-line and I keep getting them all mixed up.

Everything aside, though, it was a good day. I'll be excited to get past all of this intro stuff and get into the subject matter of my classes. I even dragged my squishy butt to the gym after work today. I'm trying not to be discouraged already - I need to give myself a little time to get used to going to the gym again. It's just disheartening when things that used to be reasonably easy are suddenly ass-kicking hard again. Agh.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Thanks to my friend Jessica for sending me the link to the Rainier route map. I wasn't nervous about the climb until now. Aside from a bad case of vertigo, this picture also gives me the motivation to train like never before.

I think I got off to a good start this weekend, though. Steve and I did some mountain biking at Yankee Springs on Saturday. It's so pathetic but I don't think I've been down there in two years. I forgot how much fun the trail is and except for a few boggy spots, the trail's in great shape. It still kicked my butt - I don't know if it's because I'm out of shape or because my lungs were on fire. I'm sure it had something to do with the cold, but I've never had such a hard and painful time trying to breathe.

Today was better. I met Margo at her house and we set off on a 20ish mile ride on our cross bikes. It was pretty cold and really windy but we had a great ride. No kamikaze bus driver incidents or dirty rednecks in kidnapper vans licking their windows at us so I gotta say it was a good day. I'm planning on doing Margo's yoga class tonight at the gym. I'm definitely not as bendy as I used to be. I've also started having some issues with my right hip and I'm hoping the the yoga will make it stop hurting so much. It's not a big deal - it's been acting up on and off for the last year or so. I think all of the walking and standing around during the Ford funeral events really aggravated it. Surprisingly, I think all of the riding this weekend made it feel better for the time being. Let's hope....

I'll leave you with some super sweet action shots of Steve and me tearing up the trail at Yankee. We slammed like thirteen Mountain Dews apiece before we hit the trail. Yeah dude!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

So Far, So Good

Happy New Year! It's January 3 and this year has already been interesting and new. As I'm sure all of you know, the funeral and burial of President Ford took place over the last two days here in downtown Grand Rapids. The preparations started well before his casket arrived here yesterday. Steve and I walked downtown to the Ford Presidential museum on Sunday afternoon to look at the memorials and sign the condolence book. While we were there, the military band and colorguard were practicing on the lawn in front of the museum. There was a practice casket in front of the burial site. After the practice was done, some of the service people stayed around and talked with people outside of the museum. We spoke to a couple of Air Force guys who had previously been in California and Washington DC and one of them let me hold the rifle that he carries throughout the ceremonies. Pretty cool - and heavy. Here are some photos from Sunday: The military band on the lawn. The practice casket in front of the burial site. Signs, flowers, and a whole lot more at the entrance to the museum.

After seeing the museum on Sunday (and especially after seeing the Air Force jets from the parking lot at work), we felt compelled to go see the casket. Steve and I left our house around 8pm on Tuesday to go downtown and get in line. We were not expecting to wait in line for 5 hours - but we did. I don't think I have ever seen so many people in my life. It's hard to describe. What's even more remarkable was the general patience and peacefulness of the crowd. When was the last time you stood in line with a bunch of strangers and kids and didn't get angry or frustrated? Once we finally got to the museum entrance, a somber and quiet mood swept over everybody. There was no sound. The casket was right in front of us, draped with a flag and surrounded by honor guard standing at attention. It was truly humbling and moving and, for me, a little hard to understand. I've never considered myself to be a political person but it felt very special to be in the presence of not only a former President but in the experience itself. We were exhausted when we got home but I'm definitely glad we were there.

Today, I left work early to get home to see the funeral procession and the Air Force fly-over of downtown. I walked down to Fulton Street and stood just east of downtown to wait for the procession to come by. There were, once again, thousands of people. The motorcade came through very quickly - much faster than I expected - but I did get a glimpse of Dick Cheney and President Carter as they went by. I also got this picture of the hearse -

After the procession was done, I walked up to Crescent Park which is tucked into the Spectrum-Butterworth buildings and overlooks the north end of the city. After waiting about 30 minutes, we started hearing the cannon salute. We couldn't see the cannons but we saw the smoke wafting around the buildings in front of us. Shortly after the salute came the Air Force jets, flying the "Missing Man" formation over the city. I had seen them practice this from a distance the day before but it was quite a different experience to see it directly overhead. It was an incredible finish to an incredible week of events. I'm glad I got the opportunity to experience such a historic event.

In other news - I've been super busy at work the last two days. We received a huge shipment last week and it's been hectic trying to catch up on backorders. I'm cutting my days down to three a week once school starts. And school starts on MONDAY! I still have to buy some books and supplies this week but otherwise I am really ready to get going. This semester is going to be a lot of intro classes so hopefully I'll be able to ease myself back into being a good student :) I'm also planning on starting my Rainier training on Monday. Nothing too hard to start - just a few weeks to get myself back into a routine after two months of sheer eating and drinking and vegging.