We checked out the "Terror Behind the Walls" at Eastern State Penitentiary the other night, and, man! was that fun! The whole place is an abandoned prison built sometime in the early 1800s and was abandoned in the 1970s. It's a totally imposing structure, and super spooky. They offer daytime tours, and during the fall season, they put on this "Terror Behind the Walls" with differently themed areas to walk through. It was both scary and hysterical (are those emotions even close to each other?). I had "prisoners" follow me, and talk into my ear, people jump out at me, and there was even a rad 3-D part, which was great. The whole night was super fun, and the money goes to support the preservation of this super cool place that used to be a prison. Great time all around.
We're heading down to Washington, DC to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear Saturday, and as such are missing out on a block party in our neighborhood. Our street has decided to do Halloween on Sat instead of Sunday, so we are going to miss out on seeing all those super cute kids in their little costumes. Also, no need to carve pumpkins, right? Although...I might just carve one for myself! The Ugly:
We saw Me First and the Gimme Gimmes the other night at the North Star Bar. Unfortunately, their sound was off the entire night (as in, I couldn't tell what the lead singer was even singing) and the crowd liked to shove people. I've got a pretty gnarly bruise on the top (!) of my foot. Ugh. The good about that? We were so close to the stage, I could read the setlist and see the sweat dripping off the band members. The bad about that? The skipped a TON of songs on the setlist, prolly because it was hot as hell in there and the sound sucked. Go figure.
In 1998, I took a trip with my friend D to visit Berlin, Germany. That trip was the first trip I took without my parents, and we had a blast. We stayed with a friend, Jens, who lived in Berlin, and the first night that we got there, he threw us a party. Actually, let me correct that, his friends (whom we had never met) threw us a party. We drank beers and hung out until the sun came up, trying to live up every minute we were there. We tried our hand at speaking German, we visited palaces and countrysides and the up-and-coming area of Berlin called "Mitte". It was such an amazing time, and such a lovely city, that I've always wanted to go back. I found Jens and his friends to be much more informed about world affairs, and they were so candid and interesting to talk to. The whole Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky thing was going on and I remember everyone asking me, "Why do Americans care about the mistress? We all know our President has a mistresss, it has nothing to do with how he runs the country!" To this day, I still don't know how to respond to that. Everyone spoke several languages, I felt rather inadequate speaking only one. Breakfast was cheese with bread and tomatoes, all water was carbonated. We hung our clothes out on the balcony to air the smoke out of them. At the party the first night, I met Martin. On our last night there, he asked Jens if he could "take me out on a date" (not that Jens was going to give permission, I think it was more of a language thing). Of course, I said "absolutely!" and Martin came to pick me up in his tiny car. He took me to dinner at McDonald's ("isn't this what Americans like to eat?") where we got beers and cheeseburgers. Then we headed to a concert by an "American Band" since he thought I might like it. It turned out to be Me First and the Gimme Gimmes singing some brilliant punk covers of songs I knew by heart. We jumped around, sang at the top of our lungs and had a great old time. That night was so bittersweet - hanging out with friends we had made during our stay in Berlin, realizing we had to head back home and would likely never see them again.
This summer, Alex mentioned that Me First was playing a club down the street from our house. He got us tickets and we're headed there tonight. I guess I'm a little bit older, and perhaps a bit wiser, but I can't help experiencing some nostalgia for those days in Berlin, exploring a foreign country, two girls against the world. My friend, D, is married now. We don't talk much anymore, but I still think about her all the time. I'm so glad I still have these memories, and I can't wait for the concert tonight. I'm looking forward to pretending to be 20 again...
On Friday, we went to one thesis defense party (although I had attended three defenses in the last week!). I had two High Lifes - the Champagne of Beers.
Rode our bikes over 60 miles on Saturday to Iron Hill Brewery in Phoenixville. There were 6 of us in a group, and I tried out my new road bike with the clipless pedals and new seat. The seat, I think I'll change. The pedals were scary and will definitely take some getting used to. But, thankfully, I did not crash or fall off the bike, but I was pretty tired come the end of the day. We then celebrated with one bottle of wine and a large amount of dinner.
Watched the Phils lose to the Giants, 4-3. What a bummer. But honestly, I'm kinda glad the season is over. I think the Phils performed to the best of their abilities. We've made it to the World Series or the NLCS the past 3 years in a row! Personally, I think they're an awesome team and I am really proud of how they played. I don't think the Giants will win it, though. Their pitching just isn't that strong. But I guess we'll see....
Ran errands and made all things apple yesterday. We literally had over 30 apples, so I made apple bread, apple cobbler and apple butter (canned). I made 9 jars of apple butter. Christmas presents perhaps? I must admit, my arms hurt a little today from all the apple peeling....ugh!
Today, I am writing 2 articles for our departmental newsletter. There have been some pretty cool science-y things going on around here and I get to write about them. Love it!
Loading up in Teton Village and getting ready to head out!
1921 Model T Ford in the Grand Tetons.
Guess where the gas tank is? Under the front driver's seat! Also? No gas gauge or automatic shutoff, so Dad just has to watch for when the tank gets close to full. We got about 20mpg on the trip, which would have been better if not for the altitude and the inability to adjust the carburetor.
Thankfully, tarps kept the cars dry when it rained overnight. When it rained while we were driving? Well, not much we could do about that except for plastic blankets, raincoats and hats. Oh, and the brakes aren't so good in the rain, so we tried to avoid driving in it as much as we could.
Some (most) of the people on the trip were characters. This is Uncle with Bob, who has his closet in the back of his T!
The best part about traveling in the Model T was the frequent stops, and the closeness you feel with the environment around you. We could have literally reached out and touched tree branches and buffalo as we drove by, pretty unprotected, unlike in a modern car.
We only had one problem, which was one of the back tires clickety-clacking while we drove. It got pretty bumpy and uncomfortable, but we made it back to Jackson just fine. While we were stopped here, people actually pulled over to ask if we needed help. I've never met friendlier folks.
I am really loving the TV series Ghost Adventures. I'm not sure whether it's because its getting to be Halloween and Fall and "spooky", but this show just fascinates me from the beginning. As we don't have cable, I had no idea this show existed until we stumbled across it while watching TV during our vacation to Yellowstone. It follows Zak, Nick and Aaron as they are "locked down" in some purportedly haunted place overnight. They walk the areas with infrared cameras, essentially in the dark, and place static night vision cameras around the places to try to capture "ghosts". Now, I am not sure how real ghosts are, but man, do I love this show. It's shot in infrared, so it's already a little creepy. And every show, they have some sort of unexplained phenomena, such as cold spots, peaks in electromagnetic energy, unexplained sounds or voices, "shadow figures", or physical experiences, such as scratches or being touched. The guys are likable, if a bit dorky, and the whole setting is spooky and somewhat interesting, as they try to put historic spins on things. I literally cannot get enough of this show, and am pretty excited to discover Netflix has at least three seasons to instantly watch online. I've already gone through the first season, and have just started the second.
I had a great experience today at Breakaway Bikes on 19th and Chestnut. Remember the pedal Alex couldn't get off of my bike? Well, we walked it over to Breakway, and they got it off in less than 5 minutes, and put my new pedals on, no charge. I'm headed there for a fitting tomorrow, so they the guys all introduced themselves to me and were really nice. One of the guys there said he'd take me out for a ride after the fitting to help me get used to the whole clipless pedals thing, which seems super nice and cool. And? Apparently they train real athletes there, so he asked me what my "goals" are? Hmmm...to learn how to ride a road bike and to be able to accompany Alex on long rides? Is that goal enough? Nope, he's trying to talk me into women- only triathlons. Hmmm...open water = scary, but 7 mile bike rides are nothing....maybe I'll have to look into this...we'll see. The bike fitting was so awesome, too. Apparently, I have very long femurs (haha, that's when SHE said). Who knew? A ride this morning was really nice, although I'm using muscles I don't normally use on the road bike, so we'll see how this death march to Valley Forge on Saturday goes. Ugh.
The weather is so amazing right now. Except for some rain last night and this morning, I could not ask for more beautiful weather. Every year I forget how amazingly beautiful fall is, with the colorful trees, the chilly nights and warm, sunny days, and the anticipation of holidays and changing seasons. It's really, really lovely, and probably one of the things I will miss the most about PA.
We went dancing last night for our dance lessons, and we really ended up having a blast! We've started improving pretty quickly, which is awesome. It's only taken 9 or 10 lessons! Ha! The cool thing is once you get the hang of the dance, you can just shut off your brain and just enjoy the music and add in a couple little fun moves just to have a good time. Our teacher even played some Madonna for us, which made it lots of fun since I could remember dancing around my bedroom to her music when I was a kid. Then we took another class on Blues dancing, which turned out to be pretty fun and unstructured. I am really loving dance and I'm hoping we can do some more classes like that one.
I got new dance shoes the other day, and I'm trying to get used to them, but it's kinda hard. Firstly, I don't wear high heels, so my balance is off. Secondly, they're new shoes, so I haven't broken them in yet. Sadly, I'm nursing some ugly blisters on my toes. Am considering buying some dance socks, just till I break in the shoes. I know, I know. Socks with high heels are a terrible idea.
This morning, as the coffee was being loaded into the pot, Moue ran across the kitchen and shoved herself behind the refrigerator, with a lot of noise and fanfare. Shortly afterward, I saw a big old mouse run across the kitchen and underneath the stove. While I'm glad Moue was on mouse patrol, I'm not too happy that there are rodents in my kitchen. I haven't seen any droppings or evidence of their presence before, so I am hoping this is just a dumb mouse. I also don't want to come home to a gift on my pillow. Yuck!
As you probably know by now, I am unable to physically walk by a Used Book Store without stopping to peruse the books. When we were in Jackson, we took a walk with my Mom and ended up at a store that was really lovely. Piled from floor to ceiling with books, books, and more books, Mom and I were in heaven. I picked up a couple books by David Sedaris, while Alex picked up Abraham Lincoln Vampire Killer. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim was the first of Sedaris' books that I read. It's basically a collection of short stories and essays that are great for anyone with very little time on their hands to read. I have read a few other of Sedaris' books and have thoroughly enjoyed them, at some points laughing out loud at the stories he tells. This book was not nearly as funny and I wonder if it's because his weirdo family and all the characters he's described before are making another appearance. This book is much more about his adult life, as opposed to the childhood memories that mostly composed Me Talk Pretty One Day. I did still laugh out loud at some of his stories, but I also felt that he wasn't trying to be funny in some of them. He was just trying to describe his life. For example, he writes a story about his husband (boyfriend? not sure) and how they get into fights in front of their guests all the time. He talks about how they had made a New Years Resolution not to do that anymore, but they still fight (more of a nitpicky fight, not really a fight - fight) in front of the guests. He describes how they will both go about cleaning up after the party without talking and how the first one to talk "loses" the argument, and the "fight game". This story so rings true on so many aspects of relationships and life. And mostly, it's funny because it's true, but it's not really that funny, know what I mean? His crazy neuroses also come to light, even more so than in his other books, which at times, drove me a little crazy. But a few pages later, the story would be over and it would resolve itself. Altogether, this book was neither phenomenal, but it wasn't bad. I think it was likely more honest that his previous books, as he's beginning to look a little bit more inward, instead of describing his crazy family and friends. There are some sweet and touching stories, some that make you laugh out loud and some that might make you cringe, but it was a pretty good read. The stories are short, you can put it down and walk away from it for a while and not lose your place, and it was pretty entertaining. A great read before bedtime.
Welcome back to Monday, folks. Here's an idea of what went on this weekend:
we rand a bunch of errands on Saturday that included about 10 miles of biking.
I purchased two new pairs of shoes, one for dance and one for the new bike.
We took a dance class called Salsa 101 and I think we finally figured out some of the basics we've been struggling with lately.
I ordered proofs for 2 or 3 "Save the Date" cards, so we'll see if we like any of them.
Alex went for a 100-mile bike ride yesterday, so he was gone from 7am until about 6pm. He came back smelly, exhausted and tired. I spent the day doing about 7 loads of laundry, running about 5 miles and chatting with a few neighbors. Man, is it nice to have a Sunday off where I don't have to go into work!
We decided to start the whole "registry" process at two stores. One was Macy's, which took about one hour since the lady had no idea how to enter in our info. The other place was Fante's, one of the oldest cooking stores in Philly (it's 106 years old according to a staff member!). It's located in the Italian Market area, and it's one of those cramped, uneven, city stores with more stuff crammed into that store than you thought possible. I'm not sure it will work out since they don't have their registries online.
Made one batch of pesto, which included one of our 10 or so basil plants in the backyard. I have a feeling more pesto is in my near future!
Bout two new pedals for my new road bike. Alex tried to get the old pedals off, and one would not come off, no matter how hard he tried! So, I'm scheduled for a bike fix and fitting this Wed at 5:30. Should be interesting. Not only will the ride there be interesting (rush hour traffic in Philly is not my forté) but they are going to measure my legs and arms and torso and set up the bike for my size and height.
Watched two Phillies games, one where they lost, 4-3 and one where they one 1-6. Also watched one Eagles game (they won that one) and one Vikings game. Altogether, this weekend included a lot of sports watching.
This weekend, we went for two bike rides on the new road bike. We are lucky enough to live near West River Drive, which is a four lane road that goes through a part of Fairmount Park. Every weekend, both Sat and Sun, they close this road to cars, allowing anyone with bikes, rollerblades, skateboards, etc. to head up and down this street all day long without cars. It's brilliant. I wish it would extend through the wintertime too. Anyways, we took the bikes out for about 10 miles each day, heading up and down this closed road. We stopped multiple times to adjust things on my bike, mainly my shifting and the seat. We travelled for a total of about 20 miles, which resulted in two very sore buttcheeks. Bet you wanted to know that.
I practiced my talk for our graduate group symposium approximately one hundred time. At least it felt like that.
Tried my firstSixpoint Pilsner, in honor of Coodence. We were lucky enough to find it on tap at The London Grill, a local restaurant. We enjoyed it while watching the Phils kill the Reds, 7-4. We're back in the NLCS again. For, I think the fourth time in four years? Can that be right?
Made two pie doughs. One resulted in a canadian bacon and Muenster quiche. I'm not sure what I'll do with the other one, but MAN was that quiche good. And easy too. Who knew?
Sharing our first Chocolate Malt at the Sweet Shoppe. As an aside, this lady who served up told us it's great to live in a small town. Her sister (who also works there) had a brain aneurysm and she rushed to be by her side. The town kept her business open by volunteers taking shifts and learning how to make the treats. They kept it open for 3 weeks while she cared for her sister. Pretty amazing, huh?
They may drive me nuts but they're all mine and I'm stuck with them forever.
I used to be real embarrassed to head to the locker room in the gym here on campus. I hate changing in front of people and I thought everyone was looking at me and how fat my ass is and all my cellulite and all my flaws. Turns out? No one even looks at me. Huh, guess I'm not that interesting, eh? So, I started swimming, and I have to take a shower after the swim, since I have to get the chlorine out. So, I essentially have gotten over the whole showering, changing, naked thing in the gym. I've been taking a 7:30am yoga class at the gym, which is usually pretty great. Afterward, I head to the locker room to get showered and changed. Apparently, there are other women who are not entirely "over" the whole changing in the gym thing. I've seen women stand there with towels that are too small trying to cover all the bits and pieces, and desperately trying to find their chonies or bra in their locker. Seriously? I just drop the towel. Haha! Probably terrifying for all involved, but she doesn't have anything I haven't seen before, right? I've also seen women butt naked running around the locker room, so I guess it takes all types. But the rule of thumb apparently is there is no talking in the gym. Unless its absolutely necessary, like someone is standing in front of my locker or something like that. I've made minor small talk with some women (like, oh my gosh it's cold today, or I love that lotion or that dress or whatever) and I'm always met with blank stares and shocked looks, like I've broken a covenant or something. Who knows? Maybe it's just a Penn gym thing, but it kinda cracks me up. I'm turning into that old, naked lady who parades around the gym, talking to people. LOL, who knew?
drove a couple hundred kilometers this weekend, shopping for bicycles, bicycle parts and getting bicycles fixed. Oh, and also attending a bicycle race. Ironic that we drove a car to these things, right? Oddly enough? The rental car was set up in kilometers - as in, the mileage, trip and regular odometer, and gas efficiency was in kilometers. Perhaps the car was Canadian?
Had at least 14 hour days, both on Sat and Sunday. I am exhausted!
Got to visit with La Chang and her professor husband. They live only about 30 miles from Philadelphia, but the drive takes at least an hour!
Awoke at 6am both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday, we headed to Trexlertown (I can't make this up, people) for the semi annual bike swap, which opened at 8:30am. We got there at 8:45am, and the line was out the door, around the corner and down the street. Who knew cycling was that popular?
I purchased a road bike for myself, so I can try to keep up with Alex. The bike was marked down from $1200 to nearly half off. Problem is? I spent my wedding dress money on it. Whoops! Haha!
I am not looking forward to the rain over the next three days. The weather has changed dramatically, from high 70s to high 40s in the last two days. Brrrr!
Our house now has 4 bikes, one bike trainer, two toolboxes, three new sets of brake pads, two helmets and 8 different blinky lights for the bikes. We have more bikes than furniture at this point. I hope you don't come over soon. Our house looks like a bike garage.