Yesterday marked my long ride ever, coming in at approximately 139 miles as a part of the Rapha Gentlemen’s Race. We headed out to the beach (Lincoln City) on Friday evening and stayed in a suite at the Inn at Spanish Head thanks to team president Jim who served as sugar daddy for the evening. [...]
Archive for October, 2008
So far my New York Haloween experience has consisted of…
-a 40 year old slicked-back hair superman riding the subway
-Several Lara Croft Tomb Raiders
-Sarah Palin and a Caribou
-hundreds of other costumes
…and the best yet. A caravan of hydraulic-lifted lowriders driven by, among other things, a scary clown.
After my expo shift this morning I headed to the South Ferry Terminal, where I learned that you have to get there several hours early to get a ticket to Liberty and Ellis Islands. Since I couldn’t do that, I hopped the free Staten Island Ferry and got to make some more use of the new camera.
First up, I put together my Photsynth of Times Square. If you’ve got a PC and don’t mind installing a browser plug-in, check it out. It looks like the image below, only you can click and drag to view a 360 degree panorama generated from 30 separate images.
See it here!
Anyway, to get into the city without obscene parking charges for our trucks, not to mention the hassle of driving/unloading/reloading our trucks in New York, we rented a cargo van and packed our gear for the weekend into it. We were able to do this because we have a very, very tiny space and no finish line presence at this event.
The back of the cargo van, loaded with random stuff and people riding illegal-immigrant style.
New York Style pizza. So far, I’ve tried chicken tomato, pepperoni mushroom, ravioli, buffalo chicken, and margarita pizza slices.
It’s ironic that in such a massive city, everything is so tiny and cramped. Here is our hotel room, taken standing in the shower. There’s hardly room to unpack bags, and it costs $340 a night per room.
And our 10′x10′ expo setup. Nearly as large as the hotel room. Half-way through the day, the radio station booth next to us packed up and headed out for the day, so we removed the railing seperating the booths to allow for better flow through the booth. It’s still very cramped.
And FINALLY! I have my camera. It’s great. Image stabilizing lens, wide angle and macro lenses, three filters, a bag, and lots of other odds and ends.
I had to let the battery charge a while, so I only made it out to test the camera out around dusk. I spent a while using a colorful storefront to test out various image settings, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO, etc. to see what the camera can do. I was really impressed, and as I got a little more used to using it, I found myself for the most part using manual settings rather than auto modes to get the results I wanted. I took 180 pictures in about an hour, and many were various shots of the Empire State Building (also to test out settings for the most part).
Here’s a good example of image quality (click to enlarge on all these for full appreciation – still much smaller than actual image size)
And a different angle in the dark on the way back to the hotel.
And in following with the pizza theme…
On our way from Washington DC to our next event in New York City, Molly, Lyndsay and I stopped through Princeton, New Jersey. Since Molly and I enjoyed ourselves the first time through and found some local gems, we decided to go with what we knew. I had another sandwich from Hoagie Haven,
And then we had ice cream at the Bent Spoon again. I found myself in a chocolaty mood, as I ordered ice cream consisting of a scoop of dark chocolate, double dark chocolate, and mint chocolate cookie. Excellent.
Princeton had a nice feel in the summer, but it’s a great atmosphere to experience fall in as well. The colors of the trees changing combined with school being in session and fresh fall air made for a pleasant experience.
We’re staying in Morristown, NJ prior to heading into New York, and after we arrived at the hotel I hunkered down for a while and set to work searching job sites (with less success than I might have liked) and read a bit. As of 10PM I finally got hungry, so I went to see what I could find. Molly had warned that food options near the hotel were sparse, and I quickly found that to be true. Plus it began raining about the time I headed out. I thought I’d found at least a decent solution when I saw Burger King, but,
Instead, I ended up at Cluck U Chicken, which was surprisingly good. I had some mac and cheese and a buffalo chicken wrap which was extremely spicy and really good.
They feature a hot sauce called 911 sauce. You have to sign a waiver before being served wings with it, and the waiver includes such stipulations as that you agree to not touch your hands to your eyes or any part of your body until you wash them after you consume the sauce. Serious stuff. I opted out, at least for tonight.
It’s interesting having a public blog that can be read by anyone and everyone, and at the same time occasionally want to write things to remind yourself, but only privately. I’ve considered various ways of doing this within the blog, and have occasionally added seemingly obscure references or odd titles as personal memory triggers. If you see something confusing on the blog, there’s about a 50% chance it’s something only I’ll get, and about 50% chance I’m just in a random sort of mood.
I want to write a post using nothing but metaphors. I also still plan to do some stream of consciousness at some point… problem is I never bring my laptop with so if that is to happen it will probably be while in my hotel room.
Confidence is the coldest of weapons.
Here’s a puzzle for you. Don’t spend more than five minutes on this one if you’re not making any progress or you’re wasting your time.
And even if you do figure that out, it’s still cryptic! I know, I’m cruel. Tell you what, if you figure it out email me or facebook me or twitter me or something and let me know you cracked it, and I’ll fill you in on what it means. I really hope, for your sake, you have a life and don’t even attempt this time-waster. It took me long enough just to encrypt it.
This morning we set up in the marathon finisher village area, which coincidentally was also right near mile one on the course. I got to watch the runners come by today, which didn’t happen so much in Chicago since we were swamped giving out free stuff for our grassroots efforts there.
Nate and his mom ran the marathon, and they finished in just under four hours, which is great considering he’s coming off of a stress fracture and hasn’t run more than a half marathon in several months.
I also appreciate that when the marines do something, they go all out. Take for instance road closures. Where any other race would have put up fencing, cones, and barriers, the Marines used school buses, police cars, and armored FBI trucks to block roadways.
We had a successful day and a very successful weekend in general with new records for data capture, lots of ice baths, and good numbers all around. The finish area was packed today, but many of the people there were simply waiting for a metro train.
Almost everyone in this picture is waiting to get on the metro. The wait was likely for the better part of an hour (if not more) just to get down into the station. I’m glad we had a two block walk back to the hotel.
After wrapping up at the finish line area, Molly and I hopped a metro train (it wasn’t so packed at this point) to go see Perry and Megan and their new 1 month old, Parker. On the way, our conversation ended up, among other things, on the sense of time this job brings with it. I have done ten times more in the last four months than in any other four month period of my life, yet it’s flown by. I don’t know where the time has gone, yet event one or two events ago feel like they were months in the past. Overall, I think it’s a really good thing. While at the end of the tour it will feel like it was over very quickly, I’ve certainly been busy enough to not feel like half a year of my life has disappeared. Anything but, really.
Perry and Megan are doing well, and are surviving the chaotic schedule that comes with a newborn. We went for some Mexican for dinner and enjoyed catching up and sharing some laughs.
Speaking of nothing in particular, I figured an update was in store for anyone who is confused as to how I’ve been typing the letter J recently. Well, the key is gone, but the little rubber pad is now back in place and can still be pushed down to record a keystroke.
I wonder which key will go next.
The last two days have mostly been consumed with working the expo, but today was my afternoon off so I decided to go for a long run as part of my training for whatever half-marathon I can run during the remainder of the tour (likely San Antonio). I set off expecting some rain, but I ended up facing a torrential downpour for nearly 4 miles, and hard rain for much of the rest of the run. I found out what it’s like to run with lead weights for shoes. Given the rain, wind, and extra water weight, I felt great and was really happy with the run. I ended up doing about 12.8 miles in an hour and fourty five minutes, with an average pace of just over eight minutes. Compared to how I felt after running the half in Philadelphia, I feel great today. A little sore, but I’ve definitely come a ways from running that half untrained. I ran miles 7-9 at a pace just over 7:00 per mile, and I feel like that should be manageable for a half marathon if I continue training in the meantime.
During the run while getting pounded by rain and spray from passing cars, I experienced what many runners would refer to as the runner’s high. As I was soaked to the bone running through 6 in deep puddles, I felt completely happy and at peace with the world. The endorphins kept kicking in for a few hours after the run, and I was feeling rather bubbly as I rode the metro back to the expo and perhaps a bit too energized when I got back to help break down our booth, as the coworkers were a little more worn down than I was.
Lyndsay stared off into space…
While Molly dozed against the wall tops.
At least we get to sleep in tomorrow! Instead of getting up at 4AM as normal, we’ll be able to get up around 5:30 and walk two blocks from our hotel to set up our tents. That will be a welcome change.
Today I started off the day by hopping the Metro over to the national mall area. First I checked out the Smithsonian sculpture garden. One sculpture I saw last time I was in DC but had to check out again is this one:
It’s designed so that it appears to be a 3 dimensional house no matter what angle you look at it from. It moves as you do. Artwork such as this is really great.
And then there is artwork consisting of random cubes of metal stacked oddly…
I feel like I could have come up with that. If I make a sculpture of wooden spheres stacked on each other can I get it put in the Smithsonian sculpture gallery too?
My favorite part of the sculptures was actually watching the elementary schoolers on a field trip where their assignment appeared to be to draw what they saw, but throwing gravel and asking if they could climb on the pyramid occupied much of their time.
Next up I headed into the National Museum of Natural History.
I chilled with the dinosaurs for a while. T-Rex is looking toothy as always.
Most people are creeped out by the thought of big dinosaurs eating them, but to me, it’s all the little guys that I don’t like. Seriously, if you have a T-rex chasing you it’s obvious you’re in trouble, but if you have a bunch of these little guys sneaking up on you -
You can expect to be nibbled to death. It’s like in movies with robots where the big evil robots always have little tiny helper robots that don’t just kill you outright – they torture you while killing you by methods such as mini-saw blades, electrical shocks, mini-rockets, etc. (think back to the Transformers movie last summer, crappy as it was).
While living with dinosaurs may not have worked out so well in the survival category, the ice age may not have been much better. This dude doesn’t look like he would have been very friendly.
And wouldn’t it be awesome to live in a coral reef? It’s a party under the sea!
A lot better than chilling with this guy in the depths of the ocean.
One of the more important (if not obvious) principles I live by…
Though I suppose there are many ways that could be interpreted. I just try not to be the prey that manages to fall on a tree right in front of the predator (don’t tell me it actually hauled that thing up into a tree).
Look at this guy! He’s managed to evolve to the point where he has a trunk built into the side of his shell for storing… stuff. And to get access to his spare tire!
Completely unrelated to the animals, I also saw the Hope Diamond. You know it’s some serious bling when the camera can’t even capture the diamond because it shines too brightly.
Also of note – I’m pretty sure I was the only guy in the room. Oh, girls and their diamonds. And they all wanted to know how much it was worth.
Girl: “I wonder how much it’s worth!”
Guard: “It’s priceless. Too valuable to put a price on.”
Girl: “Yeah, but, it’s gotta be worth you know, a ton of money!”
Girl: “I’ll marry you if you turn the other way while I steal it!”
Guard: “Not like I don’t get that a hundred times a day.”
Next up I headed to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. Disclaimer: If you’re not an art person, you may as well skip the next section.
One of their main galleries at the moment is works of Georgia O’Keeffe contrasted with photography of Ansel Adams. Here’s O’Keeffe’s “Manhattan”
And here is George Washington as partly painted by Gilbert Stuart. He didn’t finish it (nor the matching portrait of Martha) which actually makes the two paintings more famous. Also of note, this is the painting that the Washington head on the dollar bill is modeled after.
Another interesting gallery was of Herblock’s various political cartoons featuring presidents. I thought this one of the economy going to Hell in a handbasket was very fitting for the times.
Another gallery, titled “Ballyhoo!: Posters as Portraiture” was pretty much what it sounds like. It featured various posters (some older, some newer) as portraits.
This is the first time I’ve ever seen Lance Armstrong’s signature in person.
I still don’t get modernism.
A custom Steinway & Sons piano commissioned by Theodore Roosevelt.
Finally, an interesting work of contemporary art. This one features outlines of all 50 states in neon light tubing, and in each state TVs of various sizes replay footage of historical events and cultural aspects each state is known for. This one gave me a bit of deja vu, as I’m 99% sure I’ve never been here before, yet it seemed oddly familiar.
After exploring the two museums, I met up with Nate and Molly for lunch at… wait for it…
After lunch (The Steakhouse – romaine, cherry tomatoes, grilled onions, steak, and blue cheese dressing), we headed to the national archives. Nate’s main motivation was to relive more parts of National Treasure after our Philadephia experience, but I mainly wanted to see the important documents and revive memories of visiting the archives back in 1997.
The Declaration of Independence hasn’t fared particularly well, but “In Congress” is still fairly legible, as is the remnants of John Hancock’s signature.
The constitution is doing much better, and is still readable for the most part.
Then we had to go to the expo. When we got there, we found WMDs!
Guys were running around in full camo gear with gas masks. I just can’t believe they actually made the signs.
The expo is at the DC Armory, which is basically an old gym.
Nike’s presence is nothing compared to Chicago. Brooks is the title sponsor for this one. I didn’t really notice the creepy mannikin staring at the camera until just now.
And finally, the booth across from us had a massive number employees. They had probably 10 people working at a 10′x10′ booth, which meant at least 6-7 were in front of the booth at any given moment. As a result, there was no way to really get to the booth or figure out what the booth was for unless you looked at their t-shirts.
Thirty pictures later, you’ve made it! Congrats.
Tonight Stephen and I wandered back towards the same walk I took last night in search of a cache and because Stephen wanted to see the Marine Corps Memorial. It’s a much more serene place when there aren’t busloads of people milling around (I was completely on my own last night).
Stephen took a picture of me taking a picture of him with the Carillon. It was interestingly timed, as Stephen would appear to be a Borg trying to assimilate me and bring me back to his cube-like thing. (I can’t believe I just referenced Star Trek.)
The highlight of the walk was the interesting lighting. We started messing around seeing what these magical lights could do.
The black lines weren’t visible to the naked eye.
Stephen the sorcerer – or picture taker, depending on the context.
This one is just plain bizarre. I somehow caused my camera phone’s light sensor to freak out.
After that walk I parted with Stephen and went the other way through Rosslyn. I saw a car get pulled over by a cop, only the driver’s idea of pulling over seemed to be stopping in the middle of the road. That’s never a good way to get a cop on your side.
I passed Ood Video… they need to rebrand anyway. Ood has a bit of a ring to it.
Did someone lose some money? Anybody? Just, you know, a little tiny bit of change. No big deal. If you drop the B after the number, it’s only $24!
You remember a while back I posted pictures of Ferarris and other expensive cars parking out front of hotels? It doesn’t have quite the same draw to upscale customers that, say, parking the Crocs truck out front does. I mean come on, this just says “people with money stay here,” doesn’t it?
That said, having the desk clerk tell us we could park the trucks in the hotel driveway for our stay was pretty great.
In other news, we have been in DC 24 hours and have already eaten at Chop’t twice more – last night for dinner and today for lunch. I want to figure out who owns that company and tell them to franchise it like there’s no tomorrow. It wouldn’t work in every market, but it would certainly be a popular place in a lot more areas than just New York City and DC.
Last night I went for a walk from our hotel over towards Arlington cemerety, which is less than a mile away. The cemetery is truly overwhelming during the day, but at night in the dark and quiet it’s kind of a surreal place to be.
On my walk I also stumbed upon the what I now know is the Carillion. Last night I simply saw this odd-looking tower with dim lighting.
The Carillion was a gift from the Netherlands in the 1950s to pretty much symbolize that they think we’re great and want to be buddies. It hold 50 large bells in the top that are tuned to four octaves of the chromatic scale plus two extra notes, and it can be played. Apparently it plays pre-recorded tunes at noon and six each day, but there are also live concerts from time to time in the summer.
I also saw the Marine Corps War Memorial. I had always thought it was simply called the Iwo Jima Memorial, but it has the name because it represents all the different wars Marines have fought in. It’s fitting that the finish line for Sunday’s marathon will be right next to the memorial.
This time around we’re staying in Rosslyn right near where we stayed at the Palomar hotel last time we were through. It’s a good area to be. walking distance from the Metro that takes you right into DC, as well as walking distance to Georgetown and Chop’t. It also seems to have the tallest buildings in the DC area (remember the building height regulation within DC itself.
Today we set up for the expo in the morning. This went rather seamlessly and we were done by noon. Nate and I went for a 5 mile run (and then ate Chop’t) and now I’m sitting in the room updating the blog after just having had a conference call.
You may have noticed that the link to the map of states I’ve visited has been broken for a couple days. It appears the website hosting the map and map builder has gone offline, so in the meantime I’ve replaced it with a map of our approximate driving route so far. This map is rather inferior to the one it replaced, so I’ll be looking for something to put there that’s a little more interactive and informative. In the meantime, you get to look at a 226 pixel wide map with some blue lines on it.
Anyway, mapping it all out got me thinking about how much we’ve driven. After some time spent making rough calculations, I estimate I’ve traveled just under 25,000 road miles (either riding or driving) since July. By the time the tour is over, it should be closer to 35,000. That’s a great deal of driving, and at this point the country feels much smaller than it once did. 3,000 miles isn’t a short drive, but when you can picture how each part of the country’s terrain flows from one region into another, the distance between oceans becomes fathomable (no pun intended, but it’s a pun nonetheless).
Today we had an easy drive from Detriot to Pittsburgh. I had no clue what to expect from Pittsburgh other than a depressed manufacturing economy based upon steel, but so far this city has actually been rather lively (especially when compared to Detriot). Our hotel is sandwiched right between the University of Pittsburg and Carnegie Mellon. There’s some fabulous old architecture around here. Most notable is the Cathedral of Learning (built 1926-1937), the tallest academic building in the world except for one in Moscow.
Plus, there are numerous spires sticking up into the sky that give the city a great mix of modernity and history.
Tonight we had the best food I’ve had in at least a week. We ended up at Lulu’s noodles, where I got some Teriaki Chicken. The prices were great. We surmised it would have been possible to get tea, an appetizer, soup, and an entree for around $10, with most entrees being only $5-7.
Tomorrow it’s back to Washington, DC for the Marine Corps Marathon. This is a huge event (nearly the size of Chicago’s marathon) and should be a lot of fun to work. And it’s only 200 miles away. Piece of cake.