Wednesday, February 28, 2007

All Good Things

Our lovely streak of lovely weather came to a crashinghalt this morning (literally). I had been starting to feel nervous and on edge about the nice weather; I knew we were living on borrowed time with all the bike rides and weekends that didn't have snow. This morning as I left the apartment for my 8 AM class, it had just started sprinkling snow. It wasn't realy sticking much yet and our outdoor thermometer said it was only 35 or so, so I risked it with just a scarf, though I did wear my heaviest wool jacket. Thank goodness I did, because by the time I started hiking up the hill 4 minutes from our front door, the snow was really starting to come down, with the wind gently blowing it into every crevice of my scarf, jacket and backpack. Even when I got to class, there was barely a thin layer of snow on the sidewalks.

When we came out of class two hours later, though, it was a different story. Two or three inches had fallen in that time and it was still coming down. I only wore sneakers (because it was just a light snow), so I had to be extra careful with the snowdrifts and piles of slush pounded under hundreds of Ugg-booted feet. The snow caused the predictable problems with buses, driving and general mood, but luckily both of us only needed to walk places today. *Sigh* Oh well, at least this winter is going to make for a REALLY appreciated Spring!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Another reason I love Apple

Peter bought a refurbished video iPod a month ago (a Christmas present from his parents), but he noticed that it basically would only hold a charge for 15 minutes before completely conking out. 12 hours of charging for 15 minutes is not cool, people. He just wanted to return the damn thing and be done with it. Only problem was, he couldn't just return it for a full refund unless it totally didn't work from the moment he opened the box. After a frustrating afternoon on the phone with the tech support people, he found out he could supposedly take his iPod (refurbished, remember, so much much cheaper than a new one) to the Apple store in town and trade it in for a new (non-refurbished) one. Seemed too good to be true! But he went in and sure enough, got a new iPod. We'll just have to see how this one works :-) I have the (non-video) iPod he gave me 2 1/2 years ago, and it still works quite well. Sure, I don't listen to it for hours on end, but it serves me well as I walk to and from class every day. Thank God for podcasts!

In other tech news, but without the happy ending so far, we got the "Watch Now" feature activated on our Netflix account (yay!) so we can theoretically watch movies at home anytime we want through the magical Interwebs. The program doesn't work on Macs yet (boo), but we have Peter's laptop hooked up to our nice big TV (yay!). But I've so far only had mixed success getting movies to play. Plus, no subtitles and the kind of jumpy, non-DVD quality you get from internet movies. People who think the future is entirely streamed video content seem to forget that even with very high quality internet (like we have here for free, but which usually costs a lot), so far you still can't touch the quality of a DVD. Until they really refine the process (I'm thinking chapters, subtitles, and maybe extras), I'd much rather see movies I really want to see on DVD. I'm even willing to wait a whole day or two to get it.

Scenes from the Boulder Bike Path

I took Bluebell out for an inaugural ride yesterday, taking advantage of an unexpectedly free afternoon and the nice weather before the next blizzard was supposed to hit (though it didn't, yay!). As I rode, I saw the usual characters: the bikers in racing gear, with fancy road bikes that cost 300 times as much as Bluebell (at least), eyes hidden behind metallic reflective sunglasses; bikers on mountain bikes or garage-sale beaters who are using the path to get from one place to another, usually riding either at a leisurely pace or standing up to pedal furiously; the runners of all kinds and speeds dressed in clothes that would make a less active person freeze; and the townfolk out for a stroll, maybe in pairs or singly, generally seen outfitted in some kind of high-tech, brand-name outdoor wear.

I also saw some unusual people. I rode behind a trio of girls, junior high-age, who blithely took up the width of the path (unheard of etiquette on the usually very busy path). They were goofing off, lifting up their legs as they coasted, weaving in and out between one another and generally enjoying the lovely afternoon, free from the fetters of school, homework, chores, and anything else that could tie these free spirits down. I was so strongly reminded on my own childhood friends and the beautiful bonds that we shared. I then remembered exactly why they make movies about those kinds of relationships: they are lovely, fleeting as childhood, and very rose-colored. I hope they can carry that lightness I saw in them into high school, puberty and beyond.

The other, extremely odd sight I was treated spurred my curiosity more than my reminiscing. It was a middle-aged man, maybe young 40s, dressed in a fleece vest over a long sleeved shirt, wearing khakis or slacks, clearly dressed for a stroll along the path, running at absolute top speed. His red cheeks were puffing, his fleece vest bouncing up and down over his heavier-than-Boulder stomach, and his arms and legs were pumping as he literally sprinted past me. What on Earth was he up to? Was he a visitor walking the path who felt shamed by all the runners and other athletic types zipping past him? Was he an engineer at the nearby lab who suddenly remembered he forgot to turn off his nuclear oven? Did he get a life or death phone call on his cell phone? My mind spun with possible scenarios, but sadly, he was running far to fast in the opposite direction for me to ever find out.

Coming up for air

Sorry for the long down time between posts. This past week was even busier than usual, thanks to putting in about twice my usual hours at one of my part-time jobs.

Good news:
Peter has a bike, but if we want to go out together, he has to run while I ride the bike (we'd go 50 feet if it were the other way around). We'd talked about getting another bike for me, but we didn't want to spend as much as a new bike, or even a good used one, would have cost for something I might use a few times a month. Until Monday. Peter scored this beauty:
Guess how much? $6.50! OK, it didn't have a chain then, but even with a new chain (at less than $20, with installation), it's still the deal of the century! I've named her Bluebell and she is very fun. She's a little on the small side for my daddy-long-legs, but we're going to see if we can get a taller seat post so my legs aren't perma-bent. Compared to Peter's mountain bike, she's super fast and really light. I love the lightness because we live on the third floor, and I always struggled carrying the mountain bike up three floors of stairs after a long bike ride.
And now we can go on bike rides together!

Let's see, what else? We went to see Jeff Corwin a few weeks ago, but I forgot to blog about it. We're settling in to our schedules, but it's hard to get used to seeing each other for only a few hours a day when we usually were able to spend most days together (even if we were both just doing homework). The weather has been fantastic, giving everyone a lovely taste of spring, but we've lived through enough of this winter to get nervous if the weather is nice for too long. We don't want to get our hopes up because Mother Nature will just squash them under three more feet of snow. But this stretch melted almost all the snow! There are still a few black icebergs on those streets that never see sunlight, but those are generally avoidable.

Come on, Spring! We're more than ready for you!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

New toys

So, we are definitely delaying the new computer purchase until June, when (hopefully) the new Mac OS will be released, along with (hopefully) the new iLife. To make life bearable until then, we got the new RAM chip in my Mac, and today, we bought a simple little device that will make Peter's tiny laptop much more functional. To wit, Peter set up the laptop to plug into our LCD TV screen, increasing the screen size from about 10" to 32" (not to mention the fact that his laptop screen is dim to begin with, because it's a different kind of screen you can use in sunlight). So there's that, but then we bought a wireless keyboard and laptop so we can sit on the couch and use the TV/computer like true couch potatoes. Much comfier and easier to see. That should last us till June, right?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Food glorious food!

Peter went shopping today at Costco, and I would be shocked if there was anything left on the shelves there. They must have been having some pretty good sales because he came home with a lot more, and more different kinds of things, than usual. I can't wait to get a chance to cook with some of them!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Comps, comps, ooh la la!

We had our first study session for comps today (like the ultimate final exam, the little test you need to pass to get your MA). Only 6 short weeks (or so) to study! One of the additional stressors this semester, and not a tiny one. Luckily, today made me feel a lot better about the topic we were going over, though I think that is my strongest area anyway. It's kind of funny to look back over what I've learned in the past year and a half or so and realize how far I've come. I thought I knew and understood linguistics when I came, the product of the vast experience I had gained getting my minor in linguistics from 3 classes, but I know realize I had only the shallowest and narrowest understanding of the field. Even now, there's so much I don't understand, or even know about, but I know a lot more, and even better, I realize how much I really don't know.

Stress Management

I need to readjust my skills for coping with stress this semester. The classes I'm taking are organized much differently from the classes I've been taking for the last year and a half, and they are taking their toll on me. For one thing, I now have lots of tests and quizzes, when I used to have 1-2 a semester. The level of preparation and stress that goes into a final exam is much more than semi-weekly tests, but I don't think my fight-or-flight reflex has figured that out (little tangent: for the longest time, I heard that phrase as "fighter pilot" reflex, so I thought fighter pilots had the most stressful job ever, so this thing relating to stress got named after them).

Right now, I'm in a bad place, where every little thing I need to remember to do, from studying for an exam, to watching a videotape for a class, even writing a thank you note, the memory of all of these obligations sends the little thrill of stress through my blood stream, and make my head throb a tiny bit. I need to calm down. Yoga, anyone?

Friday, February 02, 2007