and then rides all around it on her bike.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ah! Kites!

Today was DC's annual Kite Festival. I went, of course. I love kites, and this has been on my calendar for a long, long time. Also of course, I took lots of pictures.

It was a perfect day for a kite festival - sunny, warm-but-not-to-warm, and very, very breezy. The Kite Festival happens during the ever-famous Cherry Blossom Festival, which began this weekend and will go for the next two weeks. The kites were at the Washington Monument, and the cherry trees were right nearby, around the tidal basin (and some other places too), so I decided to make a day of it and just go see everything. Many other people made a similar decision. The whole city, it seems, came out for these two lovely spring events, along with large parts of neighboring cities, states, and foreign countries as well.

It was a party. A really, really crowded party. With lots of kites.

So yes, I took pictures, but do let me say this, that it's hard to take pictures of a kite festival, 1) because the kites move a lot, and 2) because there's really no way to capture, in a still photo, what it's like to have hundreds of beautifully colored kites flying above your head all around you in the bright blue sky for as far as the eye can see. The eye can see much farther than the camera, even if the camera has 8 megapixels and a 4x optical, 16x digital zoom.

So when you're looking at the pictures, if you go look at the pictures, I'm hoping that instead of inspiring you to think "didn't I just see this one?" that they instead inspire you to think (something like), "WOW! Imagine how vast and overwhelmingly
fun this kite festival must have been, that even all of these pictures that look kind of pretty much alike cannot begin to capture it!"

Sound good? Yeah, ok then, it's a plan. :)

workin' out

I recently joined a gym: the Washington DC Jewish Community Center.  Yep, the Jewish Community Center - the JCC, as we like to call it, or even just "the J", if the two of you are tight - has a gym, and a very nice one, at that.  Apparently Jews are concerned with keeping their people in good health, and hey, I'm 1/8 Jewish, so what the heck!  I signed up.  The nicest part of it all is that I get a free membership because I volunteer there every Tuesday evening for a couple hours.  It's a good deal.

Here are some reasons why I love my gym: 
1. They have a rowing machine
2. They have a nice view of the Carnegie Institute just down the street
3. It's almost never really crowded
4. You have a choice between "Cold" and "Ambient" water from the little water machine (I usually do a careful mix of the two)
5. There is a sign hanging in the main exercise room that reads "Absolutely No Freelance Personal Training."  God, I hate freelance personal training.  So glad to see they're on top of it. 
6. There's always at least one TV with the Home and Garden channel on.
7. You can buy fresh challah in the lobby.
7. It's close to my house.

Here are some reasons why my gym reminds me of "The Nanny":
1. On the sign in the elevator advertising their spring and summer league sports teams for young adults, they mentioned that several people have met their future spouses on a JCC sports team.
2. That's really the only reason.

You guys, I've started reading blogs.

(aka, I Have a New Favorite Extreme Sport)
(no, I do not consider reading blogs an extreme sport)

I never really did before. I know it's a huge thing, like, lots of people spend lots of time doing it, but I never really did, until just lately...


I have become completely fascinated with extreme snow mountain biking... in Alaska (obviously). Long, endurance mountain biking races on big bikes with giant fat tires...

There are people who bike the Iditarod. Did you know that??? The Iditarod! The dog sled race! The one they make dog sled racing movies about! Incredible!!! I've been following the stories/pictures of some of the people who did it this last month - yes, they do it in February/March - and I'm totally hooked.

The race starts in Anchorage, and there's a finish line in McGrath, after 350 miles, and then a brave (crazy?) few push on to the ultimate finish line in Nome, Alaska, 1,100 miles from where they started. This year saw the first woman ever finish the bike race all the way to Nome - in just over 25 days. WOW!!

Anyway, the reason I even bother bringing this up (don't worry, Mom, I'm not going to try it) is because there's one blog that I particularly love, that's written by a journalist from Juneau who did the Anchorage-McGrath stretch (350 miles), and the other day she posted a little story entitled Covering Ground that I'm copying here for you all to read:

A co-worker who doesn't know me very well stopped me today and said, "Hey, I saw you out on your bicycle by the ferry terminal the other day. Wow! You're really covering ground."

"Which day was that?" I asked, because it seemed the natural response.

"That day you were out by the ferry terminal," he answered.

"Could be a lot of days," I said.

"You mean you've been out there more than once?"

I just smiled because the ferry terminal is only 12 miles from downtown Juneau. There seems to be this perception among non-cyclists that their world is a very, very big place - too big to traverse without the aid of big machines and fossil fuels. It takes a slow-moving cyclists' perspective to realize that our world is in fact a small place, because all it takes is patience - just patience - and you can go almost anywhere.

Doesn't that just make you smile? And want to travel around the world? On a bike?

My roommies had a little talk with me the other day about how, like, biking the Iditarod would be really cold and stuff, and I'm making them nervous with all my talking about it and making them look at pictures of seas of snow and little people on little bikes riding through it all in minus 30 temperatures wit minus 80 wind chills...

They're really cool pictures though. 8-)

I have posted the link to this and other fun sites - like the one from the guy who actually did travel around the world on a bike (and a sailboat) - in the column on the right, for your reading/viewing enjoyment. :)

Little Skippy, by the way, is doing really well, and I'm completely in love with her, and for her part, she is happy that she will never see more than a dusting of snow. With her tires, I'm happy with that too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

OMG Caits

I FINALLY got pictures up from Caitie's wonderful visit now over a week ago. WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING THAT IT TOOK ME SO LONG!?!?! Well, it's not about what I've been doing, it's about what our internet's been doing, or rather, NOT doing, and that would be working.

But now its working. So now they're up. Here. Woohoo!

As you may notice, the photo album has some big blank holes in it, like, lots of trips to Caribou that went seemingly undocumented, and lots of "just got up" pictures that should be part of any photo album but just aren't in this one... oh, and that Chinese place in... Chinatown...

That's because a lot of the pictures are on Caitie's camera. And the pictures on Caitie's camera... somehow... haven't made it to the internet yet...

However, if she puts them up, I will happily post the link on my blog. She's got all the Alexandria pictures, for example, including (my personal favorite) "Caitie passes out on a picnic table at mile 15." Yeah, you've got to see it.

But ok, we had such a great time together. I made her come do all my favorite things with me, things like "eating falafel" and "biking to Alexandria," things I usually do by myself, and it was so much fun to share them with my little sister.

And let me tell you, she totally loved biking in the crisp, early-spring-early-morning DC weather.

So that was that. And it was awesome.

FYI, the social events calendar here is getting full... I've got some extra special visitors coming next week, and then a friend from college a couple weeks after that, and then a friend from Paris about a month after that... (not from Paris, but I met her in Paris...) so if you too would like to pass out on a picnic table at mile 15 or participate in any of the other fun events you saw pictured here, act fast! ;)

The extra special guests, by the way, are my parents. My dad will be making is debut journey post-transplant, and their trip happens to fall on his birthday, his first birthday with new, functioning organs... I don't know about you, but I feel a double pie special coming on... blueberry, and chicken pot. Yum, yum.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March 19, 2008

(Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

Some pictures from my morning downtown on this very significant day, as our country enters its sixth year at this war...  

The BBC has very similar pictures of some of the same people.  We must have been standing near the same spot.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Yes, I am that awesome, thank you.

This week I took a gig at a school that's just up the road.  I live at (around) the 13oo block of 14th street, and this school is a straight shot up, on the 5000 block of 14th street - all told, just over three miles, with a nicely marked bike lane almost the whole way.  Lovely.

A quick lesson in DC city planning: east-west streets are named, A-Z (actually, A-W, but whatev), then 2 syllable words A-Z, and the three syllable words A-Z, then plant names A-Z, and that takes care of the whole city by "Juniper" or so.  (This could be a much longer lesson, of course, but that's all we need for this particular story.)

So.  I live at (near) 14th and N.  The school is at 14th and Gallatin.  Gal-la-tin.  Just under two alphabets.

Anyway, back our show... 

One of the things I love about biking is that it's almost always faster than public transportation, especially for short distances.  Going up 14th street from P, by my house, to U, for example, I pretty much always beat.  This is because the bus has to stop every block to let people on an off, and I don't.  Also, I ride like the wind.  

This morning, as I turned right onto 14th at P, there was a bus, headed north.
Ready, set, go.  

It started badly for me.  Apparently no one felt like getting off from P-T, and no one really felt like getting on either, so the bus didn't have to stop at all, it just bumbled along and I pedaled away behind it, watching it get two, then three blocks ahead.  

But luck was on my side once we got to U St, where tons of people all of a sudden needed a bus.  Thanks, U St.  I not only caught up, but got a good enough lead goi
ng into the hill  starting at Belmont that by the time we got to the top, in Columbia Heights, at Harvard, the bus and I were neck and neck.  The better part of a whole alphabet and still no clear front-runner.  This was set to be quite the race. 

When the light changed at Irving, I took off, legs pedaling fast, eyes on the prize, down a little hill from Newton to Perry, then up again to Shepherd, then down another little one to Upshur, and then the final big hill, from Webster to Farragut, 5000 14th St. 

By the time I pulled into the parking lot at Gallatin, the 5000 block 14th St, I had not only left the bus that had started with me at P St in the dust, but 
I had also passed the bus in front of it as well.  

All while saving myself the $1.25 bus fare.  

God, I love my bike. 8-) 

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A room of one's own...

actually, a room of my own.  For real.  I, Shana, at 24 years old, finally got a room to myself.  

The big move was last weekend.  It's hard to explain how happy I am.  David was a wonderful, wonderful, completely lovely roommate.  But wow.  I feel like a real grown up now.  

I took some pictures, obviously.  You can check them out here.  OR, alternatively, you can check out this website and come see the room for yourself.  ;) 

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

(I really can't even think of a title here)

Last Friday I was going to write a post all about how, as of February 17, I'd had only two dollars left for the rest of the month, and about how I was determined to make it last, and about how I was actually quite successful in this endeavor, and when around rolled February 29, the last day of the month, I, having just passed go, next month's paycheck in hand, decided I'd better go spend those two dollars.  

(Except one was sitting in my dresser... it had been in my pocket, and I took it out just before sending it to its death in the washing machine - wouldn't that have been a tragic way to spend half of the remainder of my money for the month!?  and it never made it back to my wallet.)  

So on my way home from work, I swung by Whole Foods, thinking I might take my one dollar and buy, like, a can of beans, or perhaps some bulk popcorn.  I wandered around the store for a while, clutching my dollar, wondering what on earth I was interested in eating that could be worthy of my two weeks of careful saving, when I happened upon the olive bar.  Aha, I'd thought, this is what I want, I want olives!  I took one of the little tester cups and tested one, and indeed, it was a very good olive (feta cheese stuffed!), but testing the olive helped me to realize that I didn't want olives, I wanted one olive, and there, I had just had one.  So I left Whole Foods, still clutching my dollar.  Didn't even go back for bulk popcorn.

I never did get around to writing about it - busy weekend, you know.  But today I spent that dollar, plus the one I'd left on my dresser, plus a couple more from the new paycheck, on some toothpaste. 

That's pretty much the end of this story.