30 November 2013

Thanksgiving Spare Time

You may be wondering why there's been such an explosion on my blog recently. I've been maintaining a steady diet of one post a month until this week. There is one inexplicable reason: I remembered my password. Just kidding, my girlfriend is out of town for Thanksgiving. With Caity cruising through Europe for 9 days I've had to come up with my own ideas to avoiding extreme boredom. Normally this would be easy, but normally I live with 6 other guys who keep me company. This week we six were narrowed down to two. It felt like Survivor. Who could drive the other one out first in order to truly rule the house? Some of the tactics employed were:

  • Him turning the heat down to near freezing temperatures. Ha! Can't get me! I just stole his covers and put them on my bed. He stole them off another of our roommate's bed though, so pretty much we just evened out on that one.
  • I took control of the remote! I enjoy watching hockey, but I'm the only person in my house who does so. But these were dire times. He came in and sat down to watch the Bruins game with me. To further deter him I put on an episode of Battlestar Gallactica. Still he stayed. Finally I pulled out the big guns: America's Funniest Home Videos. I get more enjoyment out of that show than anyone I know. Six hours later, we were both still on the couch watching. Turns out we were pretty bored, and neither of us was willing to give in and move out for the week.
  • He hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house with his whole family. Ah! This was his most effective strategy. How could I just hang out and be myself while his whole family was spread out across the house? My one counterattack was blasting 80's music at full volume from my room. Many of his family members commented on it, but still they stayed. And stayed. Eventually I gave in and left. He only won that battle because he brought in reinforcements.  Roommate: 1 Me: 0
  • To counteract his dirty move I decided to play hardball too. I stole all the shower curtains in the house and took off all the bathroom door handles. Ha! I kept them in my room under close supervision; when it was time for my shower I put the door handle back on and hung the shower curtain again. The whole process ended up taking about four times as long as my actual shower. I felt like I'd won at first, but after three days of my shower taking 1.5 hours each time I began do doubt my victory a little bit. Plus, he just stopped showering which- if I'm being honest- ended up annoying me more than it did him. Dangit. Roommate: 2 Me: 0
  • Our last effort to kick the other person out of the house in order to maintain sole possession was... a vote. We decided all these games were silly, and as responsible adults we ought to try something less barbaric than forcing each other to watch America's Funniest Home Videos for six straight hours. A vote seemed like the most civil thing to do. We agreed that whoever lost had to pack up and leave until the Saturday after Thanksgiving, thus relinquishing all power of the house to the remaining roommate.
The results of the vote were shocking. We ended up tying, 1 to 1. Neither of us saw that coming. This was a huge wrench in the plan, and neither of us really knew what to do. We hadn't thought that far ahead, but we knew the games had to end. Finally my roommate got an idea: Bring in a third person to break the tie. He suggested his fiance. She likes me good enough, so I agreed. Well, that ended up being my downfall because she voted for my roommate. I can admit defeat, so I conceded the house to him with a firm handshake. Luckily the vote happened on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so I just had to leave for one hour. I had to go to the grocery store anyway so things worked out in the end.

24 November 2013

Run of Dye 2013!

Earlier this month Caity and I ran a 5k along with our friend Liz and my sister Emily. We all had different reasons for running, and we were all satisfied with the result and can't stop talking about how much fun it was! The 5k we chose was the Run or Dye 5k. The theme of this fun run is colored chalk. I figured since I'm a teacher and just can't get enough chalk in my life I ought to think of ways to include it in my weekends as well. But seriously, this was a bizarre race. I think we treated it a little more seriously than we should have. 
First off, there was no clock. No one kept time and no one cared. I was hoping for a chip in my shoe for an accurate reading, or better yet a surgically implanted time keeper in my forearm, but they couldn't even provide a simple analog wall clock. Secondly, many of the runners were in costume. There were men in tutus, women with crazy wigs, and Superman. Several people were pushing strollers along, and even more people walked the entire time. At each mile interval there was a chalk station where volunteers pelted chalk at you. most of it was crushed and in powder form, but every once in awhile you'd get a whole stick that stung like a bee when it encroached upon your sweaty flesh. They were the friendliest assaulters I've ever encountered. All of them were volunteers. I think the organizers went to their local Middle School and said "Who wants to throw chalk at people on Saturday?" It's any middle schooler's dream come true. At the chalk stations there was so much powder buildup under our feet that you felt like you were in a Chernobyl-esque-flour-plant-disaster aftermath. It was like the King Arthur Flour Plant was bombed by the Benjamin Moore corporation and the result was some very sticky and colorful chalk... everywhere.
One of the assaulters really had it would for me and squirted an entire dressing bottle of green chalk down my shirt. Direct hit. It took three showers to get all off, which means I looked like Kermit for the next week. In addition to the bizarre chalk obsession, the route of the race was downright strange. The race was held at RFK Stadium in DC, which I thought would be pretty awesome. However... the route left some to be desired. We ran around the fattest part of the parking lot, down an access road, then turned around and finished back in the parking lot where we started. The stadium was incidental to the parking lot. We never went into the stadium, or got any closer than a hidden access road that went under a sketchy bridge. Even at 10:00am there were drug dealers hanging out under there, asking us if we needed any 'street chalk.' I will say, however, that the wildlife was stunning. I saw at least two pigeons and a whole colony of ants. The ants were happy that their colony was finally getting some colored walls.
 This was Caity's first 5k and I am very proud of her. She trained for it, then killed it. It's not easy running while people are throwing chalk in your eyes, but we somehow persevered. Caity's family was impressed that she ran that far in a situation where she wasn't being chased by a rabid dog.
There were times when I wasn't sure if we were doing a 'fun run' or if we were being covertly taught how to make homemade play-doh. I will say these races have quite the following though. This one had thousands of participants, some of them runners and some of them Halloween leftovers. All in all we were all glad we did it and we had a great time! Yay for fitness!

23 November 2013

Walking to School

Last February I moved out of my aunt and uncle's house into a house of my own.* I had many reasons for wanting to move, one of which was to be closer to my work. The ten minute commute I had was just unbearable. On days when I hit the traffic lights wrong it could take up to 12 minutes, and this was just unacceptable. My rule is if you can't drive where you need to go in one song's length then you needn't go there at all. It usually means I get half way to the grocery store before I have to pull over and walk the rest of the way. It's pretty annoying, but rules are rules. Anyway, my new house is within walking distance to my work. And my Church. And my girlfriend. And more than half way to my grocery store. I'm so close to my work in fact, that I walk to school everyday. 
Walking to work is one of the most underappreciated blessings of life. According to The Atlantic, less than 3% of Americans walk to work. I've also heard that only 2% of Americans are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and less than 2% of Americans grew up without a TV, so... I'm pretty much one of a kind. But back to walking. Here's what I love about walking to school:
  • It wakes me up. Seriously, moving around for 15 minutes before starting the work day is ideal. I've gone running before work in the past, but that just gets me tired because I have to get up early and then I'm tired after my run. With a 15 minute walk I don't have to shower after, I only have to get up 10 minutes earlier, and I arrive at work with my blood flowing. 
  • It provides great thinking. I get 15 minutes before work and 15 minutes after work to just ponder. What do I think about during the only 30 minutes of my 'alone' time a day? Well, it differs by the day. On Mondays and Fridays I weigh the pros and cons of earbuds verses over-the-ears headphones, mostly. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I usually try to solve the Border/Immigration problem. On Wednesday my mind is always dominated by the intricacies of keys. I just don't get how the ridges line up so uniquely in the keyhole? Beats me.
  • Your feet never let you down. Okay, that's not literally true. (Every time I sit down my feet let me down. But then they pick me back up!) When I go outside to walk to work I don't have to scrape the ice off the windshield, wait for the car to warm up, siphon gas from my roommate's car in order to get mine started, or pick a radio station. I just walk outside... and then keep walking all the way to work. My feet always start in the morning- no matter how cold it is, they're always registered and never get tickets, they don't require gas, and I never forget where I left them.
  • "But David, it's so cold in the morning! Wouldn't you rather get in your warm car and be at work 2 minutes later rather than walk for 14 minutes in 30F temperatures?" No. Remember how I said I was one of a kind? Cars are a huge convenience and a huge hassle. Feet are reliable.
  • I'm a believer in little things. Skip that one extra cookie and it will make a difference. Smile at one extra person and it will make a difference. My commute to work is only 0.9 miles. The economical and environmental impact on not driving those 1.8 miles a day are pretty minimal. But I believe in little things. If everyone in America drove 1.8 miles less a day we would see a huge difference in our pollution. If every  American walked 1.8 miles instead of driving 1.8 miles a day we would see significantly less obesity in America. I believe that that 'through small and simple things are great things brought to pass' (Alma 37:6)
Yep, don't expect me to stop walking to school anytime soon. Also, my feet have been likened to Hobbit feet, which may explain why I love walking so much.

*Six other people also claim my house to be theirs, but whatever.

22 November 2013

New York City 2013!

A few weekends ago I had a three-day weekend at school; the extra day being a result of Veteran's Day. How to celebrate, how to celebrate.... How about a two day mini-vacation to New York City! I figured a two day celebration would be the best way to celebrate the three day weekend.
Caity (real name has not been changed. We're over that) and I took the 7:00am bus from DC to NYC. Since you're all wondering, it was the Peter Pan bus. I was hoping for some flying action, but that idea never took off. It was comfy, convenient, and cool, but definitely not colorful. We agreed that was okay.
Upon arriving at 10:45am and being unable to check into the hotel and with our only obligation of the day being at 3:30pm, we immediately wished we had taken the 11:00am bus. Then we would have gotten to sleep in and not missed a dang thing. I thought NYC was the city that never sleeps, but it turns out 11:00am on a Saturday is a perfect time to sleep. Oh well.

Upon arriving the first order of business was to delve into the culinary uniqueness of NYC via the aqueduct of... Chevy's Mexican Chain Train. Actually it's just called Chevy's. I tried to get the most NY dish I could so I went for the San Antonia quesadilla. It was delicious. After that we went for a walk, as all New Yorkers do. We walked and we walked. We walked from midtown to downtown, narrowly avoiding westtown. By the time we arrived at our destination- a little cafe where Caity's brother and his wife were dining- we had logged 4.23 miles. This figure was confirmed by Caity's sextant, which she had conveniently brought along. I thought she might leave it at the hotel, but she insisted on knowing our exact latitude at all times so I lugged it along. It proved crucial to our survival, as you shall see later.
Meeting Caity's brother was splendid. I enjoyed seeing how much alike he is with Caity, and meeting his wife who was lovely. When dudes meet each other it can (and always is) awkward, but when you throw a female in the mix it's not so bad. We hopped on the subway back uptown for hot chocolate at an Italian cafe called 'Eataly.' Ohhhhh man it was hard hiding my excitement for that pun, but I wanted to leave a good impression on Caity's brother so I refrained. We spent the rest of the afternoon together, heading to the 9/11 Memorial. It was really reverent and enjoyable.
After that we took the subway back uptown to Times Square, where we made a reservation at Carmine's. Carmine's is a NY staple for Italian food. I was told it was a staple in Times Square, but I was surprised to learn that they actually use staples in their cooking. That's how they keep the pasta together- staples. They are even brash enough to just use regular, inedible staples. As I munched on pasta manicotti alfredo penne gelato rigatoni it felt like my insides were being assaulted by a staple gun. Their dessert menu includes a staple remover. Not bad though, not bad. After that we ventured to 30 Rockefeller Plaza. From there we went in the general direction of... skytown? We went to the top, basically. From the Top of the Rock we could see the whole city- The Statue of Liberty, The Empire State Building, The Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, the park in the center, and further to the east, Madrid.
After the Top of the Rock we walked back to the hotel via Central Park. It was not as friendly as it appears in the movie Enchanted. It was poorly lit and the dog walkers with 'Peterson Family Reunion 2013' matching sweatshirts were super sketchy so I made sure to stand between them and Caity, with my grip firmly on the sextant in case... I needed to relay our coordinates to the mounted equestrian officers that roam the park like they wish they at least got a Segway. Our stroll that evening was short.
Sunday morning was delightful. We met Caity's brother and his wife in Central Park (it was light by this point) and we walked leisurely further uptown to Lenny's- a famous sub shop. I got the corned beef and pastrami- a Jewish New York staple without the stomach surgery. Delectable on all accounts.
That afternoon the other couple had to go home, so we said 'Good-bye, it was nice to meet you. See you at Christmas' and Caity and I headed easttown. Our goal was Madrid. There we were, two young lovers walking hand in hand through Central Park. It was pretty spectacular, actually. We saw a couple get engaged directly in front of us (honest to goodness their friend/photographer had to ask us to move because we were in between him and the couple). We golf clapped when she said yes. We saw street performers performing in the street, dog walkers walking dogs, pizza deliverymen delivering pizza, and everything else you come to expect when you're expecting everything, including rain. As the rain fell on the Park that is neither uptown or downtown or midtown- merely Central- we headed to FAO Schwartz. We binged on candy and took pictures with large Lego structures. We then walked back to our bus, stopping at Angelo's pizza on Broadway. It was Angelic, in a masculine sort of way. The bus ride home was fine. Still no flying though.
The whole weekend was just downright awesome. I loved being with Caity, I loved meeting her brother and sister-in-law, and I loved our open agenda. We just went by what we wanted to do and avoided the hustle and bustle that is usually associated with NYC. I'll definitely be back. And if not... at least I can say I will because it's so close.