Thursday, February 27, 2014

What I Learned: Etymology

I have been listening to Don't Know Much About History while doing my long runs lately, and there have been a few interesting tidbits that I have learned from it. Actually, there have been a lot of different things I have learned, relearned or remembered, and of course they are all very interesting and very educational and I can just feel myself getting smarter by the day.

However, there were a few interesting factoids that I had no idea about, and actually never thought to question them! For example, do you know where the word "sideburns" comes from?

Sideburns were first called "Burnsides", after a civil war general named Ambrose Burnside, who, as you can see below, had a pretty nice display of facial hair.

source

I also found out why "booze" is so named. It's from the Dutch word būsen, which means "to drink to excess". However, DKMAH states that it was given it's name due to a man named E. C. Booz, who was a distiller in the United States in the 19th century.

Do you know the game "rock, paper, scissors"? Do you ever call it Ro-Sham-Bo? We do. However, I never knew that there was a man named Rochambeau who was a French nobleman who participated in the revolutionary war. 

Do you ever wonder where certain words came from? Or why some things are called different words, even throughout the US? My mom's family is from Back East and they have some weird words for things, as well as pronounciations.

For instance:

Bubbler / drinking fountain
Pocketbook / purse
Cabinets / cupboard

Or there is always the coke, pop, soda debate. 



Why is that? And what do YOU call it?

What information have you learned lately that made you say "hmm"? What weird words do your friends and relatives say that make you giggle? Did you know where the word sideburns originated?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

L'hôtel de Lisa

Since last weekend was a long weekend, I took advantage and went to see Lisa in Charlotte. If you read her blog, you know she has been missing her home city of Minneapolis, so we thought a little get together and some girl time would be just the ticket.

You may have read the news last week? Charlotte was having a "bit" of bad weather and the airport was cancelling flights in and out like crazy. However, on Friday morning when I flew out of San Francisco, it was all systems go. Our flight was full and I was one of the last people on the plane, so when they said there would not be room for carry on bags, I dutifully checked mine.

I arrived to Detroit and turned on my phone. "Your flight from Detroit to Charlotte has been cancelled."

Darn it.

I called the Delta hotline, while at the same time checking out the departures board. There was only one other flight to Charlotte and it was overbooked and it was scheduled to leave about 20 minutes ago. There were flights to a couple of cities about 150 miles away from Charlotte, but they were all booked. The only flight left was to Raleigh. I secured the Raleigh ticket and went to the counter of the prior flight to try to see if I could get onto the earlier one by chance. There were so many people there and I waited at the help desk until they were almost all the way boarded, so I never thought I would get on. However, I got to the desk and the lady said my name was already on the list! I asked about my bag and she said there was no way it was going to be on the plane with me. I didn't care; I was on the plane!

Luckily Lisa is the same size as me, because in the next 48 hours, I had to borrow a lot of stuff! It was like being in a hotel; I had a toothbrush and jammies and everything! It was better than staying at the Westin. However, we didn't let a little thing like lost luggage slow us down. On Friday, we had Lentil Enchiladas and a really good corn, bean and avocado salad (which also was a very good chip dipper). They were delicious and thank goodness we both like spicy food, because the jalapenos were a nice addition (and kick) to the dish.

Saturday we had planned on an outdoor run, but due to the recent snow, we were forced to do a treadmill run. I had to borrow Lisa's shoes so we took turns. It was a long treadmill run and I was really glad to be done. Soon after, we headed out to Asheville where our first stop was the Biltmore.

Biltmore

This was home to George Vanderbilt and is the largest home in the USA. It has something like 250 rooms and over 40 bathrooms. It was fun to explore the grounds, even though it was pretty cold and the gardens were not at their best. However, there was a really cool greenhouse full of exotic plants, including hundreds of orchids. We did an audio tour of the inside of the house, which was fascinating and includes a bowling alley and indoor pool, as well as a really interesting servants quarters.

Downtown Asheville

Next stop was downtown Asheville, where our first stop was The Gourmet Chip Company, where we got homemade potato chips with goat cheese, rosemary, thyme and sea salt. They were so good! Next we headed to Tupelo Honey for some down home southern food and some local craft beers! My favorite things there were easily the homemade biscuit and the Green Man IPA.

I recommend the Parisian

And if that wasn't enough, we decided to pop on down to French Broad Chocolates for some dark chocolate ganache hot chocolate and a coconut macaroon chocolate brownie.

source

The next morning while Lisa was at church, I wandered around and took some photos. Asheville is a cute little town, that is nicknamed "the Berkeley of North Carolina". While I am not sure it's exactly like Berkeley, I can see where the name comes from. There are a ton of fun places to eat, lots of local coffee shops and a small town, rustic vibe, along with a plethora of gluten free and vegan options.

Downtown Asheville

After brunch at Cafe 64, which had serve yourself, all you can drink coffee (I am a total fan!) we headed back toward Charlotte, with a quick stop for a hike at Crowder's Mountain. Afterward, she took me to one of her favorite food spots where we got fish tacos and I tried another local brew. We headed home for some Super G on the tube and ended the day with a couple of medals for the USA, and some Dove dark chocolate squares. You can't get much better than that.

Crowders

All too soon, it was time to go home! We had a chilly morning run and then I was back on the plane heading for the West Coast. It seemed like I wasn't even there for very long but we sure packed a lot of fun (and eating!) into the weekend.

Have you ever been to North Carolina? What did you do for the long weekend? What's your favorite Olympic sport? 

Edited to add: You can read Lisa's recap here

Monday, February 17, 2014

Barclaycard Arrival Changes

 If you've been thinking about signing up for the Barclaycard Arrival, you may want to do so quickly as the sign-up parameters will change soon.  Currently you receive 40,000 miles if you charge $1,000 on the card in ninety days.  You earn two miles for every dollar you spend, and those miles can be used for any travel expense:  a flight, hotel room, car rental. 

But soon you will have to spend $3,000 to earn those same 40,000 miles, so you will need to act fast.  While the company won't say exactly when the change will occur, it is promising to do it very soon.  Click here for more information from The Points Guy.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Don't Know Much About

I am stealing this idea from Lisa, who did a post about things that people may not know about her last week, because it is fun to hear weird quirks of other people, plus I am about to get on a plane right now and to go and hang out with her this weekend! Here go, a few things you may not know about me.
- I grew up on the Pacific Crest Trail. It actually comes down a mountain and you have to walk along a road and cross the river and then go back up another mountain. I lived on the road that the hikers have to walk on. Aside from that, my mom was the Postmaster for the post office on the road, and post offices are the life blood of the PCT. We had hikers for dinner at least once a week in the summertime. PS. they smell REALLY bad and are quite hairy, but they are very nice people.

Home sweet home

- I hate presenting in front of people. I used to go all pink and shaky and my heart would be beating a mile a minute and I would stutter a little bit. I have gotten a little better. I presented at work this week and I didn't flub it too much. I still have a ways to go, but I am learning to control my fears, or to fake it! It's a lot easier when I know when I am talking about and don't really have to read from the cards/power point. Also, I have gotten better at saying, "I don't know" or "I will look into that". I used to really fear getting a question I couldn't answer.

- I love going barefoot. I used to run around barefoot as a kid all the time and my parents would make me put on shoes because there may be gross things on the ground, but I still snuck out without shoes as often as I could. Now I take off my shoes as soon as I get home. A caveat: since the roommate got a dog, I wear socks because the floors are filthy! Then I take them off before getting into bed. I don't want to put dirty feet in my bed.

- I drink a lot of tap water. I have a reusable bottle that I drink from and I fill it up from the tap. Even when I travel or fly, I bring one in my bag and fill it inside the airport. Disposable water bottles are such a huge part of our trash problem. Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

source


- I've eaten ants. Not on purpose, but we used to have a bad ant problem in our house when I was a kid and once they got into the Raisin Bran. The little black ones taste slightly of peppermint. Not in a good way.

- I have to make my bed every day. Coming home to a mussed up bed would make me a tiny bit antsy. I really love coming home to a calm, serene space. It only takes 2 seconds, because I don't tuck everything all the way in and I don't thrash around a lot when I sleep; I just flop it back into place in the morning and I am good to go.

- A couple of gym peeves of mine: (1) people who crank up the speed or incline really high and then hold onto the treadmill while they are running/walking. I feel like it just creates back/neck problems and they would get a more beneficial workout if they just turned it down a bit and let go. (2) People who sweat all over and then hop off and you are waiting for them to come back and wipe off the machine but they never do.

- I almost never wear skirts. I will put on a dress for a nice occasion, and I own several skirts/dresses. I just don't really feel that comfortable with my legs hanging out. I don't really wear shorts very often either.

- I wear my hair up 90% of the time.

- I eat approximately 8 salads a week and drink roughly 3 cups of coffee a day.

- I am trying to improve my Spanish by getting Spanish books from the library, and by using a flashcard app. Now I just need to buck up and start working on talking to people! That's the hard part for me (see: public speaking, above).

Do you wear skirts/shorts a lot? Do you speak a second language? What can you tell me that I don't know about you?

I almost forgot to mention: Happy Valentines Day!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cheap--Luxurious--Sleeps

Flying to Paris for a pittance is all well and good, but if you have to pay hundreds a day for a hotel, your savings are quickly frittered away.

That's why David and I find luxurious accommodations in every city we visit and always pay  m u c h  less than the cost of a five-star hotel and usually less than a bare-bones, toilet-down-the-hall hostel catering to backpackers.

Here's how we do it.

Continue Reading>>

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Paris for a Pittance

David and I are flying this June from Tucson to Raleigh where we'll spend five nights celebrating my son's wedding. Then we're going on to Paris for four nights, staying in our favorite apartment near the Marais, before heading to Colmar in the Alsace region of France for a week.  We'll round out the trip by renting a car in Germany to tour the Black Forest, the Alps, and the Romantic Road with detours here and there to see some of Switzerland and Austria, before boarding a flight in Frankfurt for the return to Tucson.

American Airlines says that these tickets (a one-way to Raleigh and an open-jaw ticket to Europe and back) should cost $1,885.50.  Momondo, a website The New York Times frugal traveler mentioned recently, says we can do it for $1,872.

But we'll do it for less.  A lot less.

My flights cost $513. (David paid $775 because he did not have Southwest FF miles.) And if we'd had a bit more time, the cost could have been zero.*

Continue Reading>>

Monday, February 10, 2014

Street Cred

We are finally getting the rain that we have needed for so long. It was kind of ironic for a while there; where the rest of the country were suffering with record low temperatures and snowfall, we were sitting over here, dry as a bone. I went to Tahoe in January and went HIKING. This never happens. We really needed snow and rain in a bad way.

rainy sf
Rainy day in the city

So, it never fails, as soon as you wash your car it rains, right? For me, it's not about washing my car, it's about having back to back long runs planned for your weekend run. Currently, I am in the midst of a really strange training schedule: week 8 of 18 for the Boston Marathon and week 4 of 16 for the Miwok 100k. I know, it probably wasn't the best planning to have to train for both of them at the same time, but that's the way it is, so I am rolling with it.

Which meant I was supposed to run 20 miles on Saturday and 18 on Sunday. My plan was a nice long run in the city after work on Saturday and then a trail run on the East Bay on Sunday morning. However, after work on Saturday it was raining. Hard. But these miles weren't going to run themselves. So I went on a loop around the city.

And it was great. I admit, I cut it short at about 17 miles, but I still felt good afterwards. In fact, the only thing keeping my from the last few miles was my own laziness. I had it in me, but I had returned to the start and didn't feel like doing an extra three mile loop. I wanted some dinner.

The next day I woke up to no rain and hurried out of bed to get going. However, as I was eating breakfast, the skies opened up. I procrastinated for a while, hoping that it would ease up, but finally it was time to go. It poured the entire time. My feet were raisins, my shorts were sticking to me like nobody's business and my hat brim was like a waterfall. I cut this one short too because I had a rubbed raw spot on my heel and I tried to band-aid it, but it was really giving me grief.

I have to admit, running in the rain is probably my least favorite weather to run in. If it's cold, you warm up after a couple of miles; if it's snowing, it's cold, but not wet. However, when it's raining, running more doesn't make you any drier. And as you run, things are sticking to you, rubbing and pruning up. The other one I really dislike is extreme heat. It may be a toss up.

However, running in the rain makes me feel like a rock star. There is nobody else out; there weren't even any cars on the road. Everyone's hunkered inside watching Breaking Bad and you are outside, braving the elements. The few people you see, usually other runners, give you a knowing look as they pass you on the sidewalk. It's that look that says, "yup, you are one of us and we are awesome".

On Saturday, a bike rider said as he rode by me on a hill, "we are obviously dressed for different types of actives". He was wearing boots, waterproof pants, gloves and a rain slicker. I was wearing a tank top and shorts. I laughed at him and puffed up the hill, feeling like superman.

So, overall, last week was a good one. California is avoiding a drought and I am starting off this week feeling like a rock star. You can't ask for much more than that.

How was your weekend? Are you getting any wet weather? What makes you feel like a rock star?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Looking Forward

Today I am looking forward to having a burrito at one of my favorite places in the Mission. When I used to live in San Francisco, I would walk over to this Taqueria from my house. It's kind of a strange venue; it's tiny and its right next to a fish market and a Mexican shopping center. But the burritos are just as good as I remember! From work, it's only about an 8 minute BART ride to get there, so its a fun lunch time field trip!

This week I am looking forward to the rain (we need it!!), a great long run on Saturday (hopefully with no rain) and the Sour Beer festival on Sunday. Its the SF Beer Week and although I do not attend all the events, it's fun to attend a couple. You get to try a lot of different types of beer at once, and there are many varieties that the brewers bring that aren't normally available to the public. Plus, you get to see a butt load of beards!

This month I am looking forward to going to visiting Lisa. We have tentative plans for much hiking, hopefully lots of hot chocolate and gabbing and reading and fun! I have never been to NC, except to fly though the airport (which has rocking chairs), so this will be a fun adventure for me. I am also looking forward to the Way Too Cool 50k, as well as a tentative plan to see one of my good friends the first weekend of March for some food and catch up time with her.

This year I am looking forward to the Boston Marathon, a trip to the Grand Canyon, a probable trip to Oregon this summer, lots of running, my first 100k race, a hopeful trip somewhere foreign (as of yet TBD), lots of reading and a super great summer (with two trips to Tahoe planned so far) with lots of swimming and outdoor activities!

What are you looking forward to? How's the weather where you are?