Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We've hit the final stretch.  I have half a week of work (plus today).  After that there is a weekend and two days.

Then it's Christmas.

It's a bit odd to me.  Christmas snuck up this year.  We're not going anywhere, so the holiday has a different feel.

I've always loved Christmas.  I think I get it from my Father's side of the family.  Grandma always seemed to love the holiday as well.  Their house was decorated with not one, but two Christmas trees.  Christmas Eve was the big day at their house.  Lots of relatives.  Lots of food.  And a joke box of ladies undies that went to a different person every year.

My Aunt seems to have kept up that tradition.  A gift exchange.  Lots of food.  Lots of wonderful conversation.  Lots of wine and whiskey.  (Apparently we missed the year of the drunken Christmas carols a few years back....)  But always fun.

This year it's going t be quiet.  Food, church and my collection of Christmas DVDs.  I still want to hit Christmas Town again.  When I feel nostalgic for those holidays of my youth, it hits the spot.

In the days leading up to my holiday vacation, I plan on cleaning my house.  Why?  So I can relax and lay around in my pajamas and feel absolutely no guilt.

9 days to go....

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Guys, I'm 40 now!!

This past weekend was my birthday weekend!

This past weekend was also the deadline for graduate applications....

Friday, we got take out from Noodle and Company (free Birthday noodles).  Saturday I worked on graduate stuff.

Sunday.  Sunday was the big day.

Sunday I woke at 6am, and got ready for my big race.  The Christmas Town Dash 8K.  The previous day had been rainy, but there was nothing but sun forecasted..


And wind.

Holy CRAP, the wind!!!

As people already know, the race is a whole lot of parking lot, with only a bit in the middle in the park.  I had a zip front sweatshirt on, and was glad of it.  I took it off and put in on multiple times during the race.  I used my interval timer, and Map my Run for the race, but no music.  Actually, Map my Run wasn't speaking to me, so I had no idea of my pace.  But in the end it turned out to be ok, as I beat last year's time.  Seriously, I wish they'd have more park and less parking lot!

Honestly, the best part of the race is high fiving the Marines on the San Marco bridge.  It comes in at about the half way point and is a welcome sight.

They even gave me my medal at the end.

Medal in hand, we went home for a nap.

Later on that afternoon, we left to go back to the park to eat some food and meet some friends.

But the sore, scratchy throat from Saturday caught up with me, and we were home by 6, me with a headache, sore throat and feeling generally crappy.

Yesterday my co-workers gave me a cake, and all sorts of people wished me a happy birthday.

Not a bad way to turn 40.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A rather successful Saturday

This time of year is always rather stressful.  It's a mad rush of things that need to be prepared for next year.  The biggest of all of these tasks is graduate applications.  The job involves scanning, uploading, filing and data entry.  It's hours of work for weeks on end.  The worst of it happens around this time.  The dreaded deadline.

After working all day on this for most of the week, I spent 6 hours today hunched over my keyboard to get the rest of it done.  (And my back is paying for it.  Ow)

And I did.

I also managed to run, play some Just Dance, vacuum 2 rooms and put away a mountain of clean clothes.

It feels rather good to have accomplished so much, while at home in my jammies.

Tomorrow is the Christmas Town Dash, and the beginning of my birthday week.  We're doing a trip out to the park after the race.

I'm turning 40.  And I plan on ringing in my 40th year riding the rather tame rides at Busch Gardens.

And now, to wait for the Spousal Equivalent to come home so I can dye my hair.  After missing a chunk of it once, I need a spotter to help!

Have a wonderful Saturday everyone!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Christmas is Coming to Busch Gardens

Since Thanksgiving has come and gone, I am now free to begin my Christmas Festivities!

  • The tree is up.
  • I have lights hung around the front window.
  • Stockings are hung on the wall with care.
  • I found my collection of Christmas Socks.  (It's a family tradition to wear them every day in December)
  • And last, but not least, We went to Christmas Town!

I've honestly been waiting for that last one for MONTHS now.  It actually opened last weekend, but we didn't get a chance to get there until yesterday.

Why do I love Christmas Town?

I tweeted last night:

It's the honest truth.  Not all the rides are open (Only 1 roller coaster is open, but the more carnival-ly rides are open).  Not all the parts of the park are open (the Sesame Street area is blocked off).  But everything that is open is covered in lights.  They bring in potted pine trees, reminding me of a time before I was allergic to pine (it's fake trees for me, sadly).  The restaurants have Christmas dinner themed meals.  And everywhere that you look there is hot chocolate.  The shows are Christmas themed.  The newest show, Scrooge No More is fantastic!

Buy a mug, it makes refills cheaper.  And you'll want refills.  Especially of the peppermint fudge hot chocolate.

The park is open from 2 to 10 most nights, but it's only after the sun goes down that the magic in the park happens.  And it is magic.
from behindthethrills.com

from www.themeparkreview.com

Next weekend is the annual Christmas Town Dash 8K.  That was my first race.  That race is the
reason that I'm a runner today.  It's also my birthday the next day.  Next week I'm going to run that race, then later on I'll come back with my friends and we'll have hot chocolate and ride some rides.

And since we're home for the Holidays, and have a season pass, I suspect that we might spend quite a few evenings in December wandering the park and soaking in the magic.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Suspension of Disbelief and the Musical

Suspension of Disbelief: a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment. (coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

We all suspend our disbelief every day.  Every time we watch a movie, read a book or see a stage show.

But I believe that we suspend our disbelief in different ways for different past times.

Think about it.  You're watching a musical on the stage.  The sets are minimal (Like Chicago), the character has a massive deformity, but the actor has no makeup or prosthetics (Violet or the Elephant Man), the actors talk to the audience, and are ignored by those around them (seriously, too many plays to mention).  Those conceits don't fly on television.  They hardly every fly in the movies.  (The end of the History Boys was a bit off putting with the stuff at the end, and the Producers was just WAY over the top... in a way that would work on state but not on film)

Now live musicals are a thing again.  We had the Sound of Music last year.  Next week is Peter Pan.  People are either loving these or hating them.  Me, I'm always pro-musical... but I have these thoughts:
from nbc.com

  • The casting last year was terrible.  I have hopes for this year.
  • Without a live audience, the performances lose something.  Ask anyone that performs live, and they'll agree.
  • I've hard that they made the role of Tiger Lily less offensive.    I'm interested to see how.
  • There's talks of Grease and The Music Man next.  Both of these make me immensely happy.  But casting will be key.  As we all know now *cough*CarrieUnderwood*cough* it doesn't work.
  • People REALLY shouldn't be looking for the slick production that a movie musical has.  There is no CGI or post production.  It's all harnesses, costuming, sets, makeup and camera angles.  I wonder if this is causing some of the disappointment.
Needless to say, I'll be there.  With wine.  And popcorn.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Eating Locally: 3 new restaurant reviews

Over the last few months a bunch of "mom 'n' pop" eateries have opened near us.  The Spousal Equivalent and I decided that we'd try them out!

from Facebook, because we were too hungry to take a picture
The first one that we tried was Mr. Gyros and Burgers.  We've been watching them renovate the old Greyhound station for a few months now.  The fare is Greek based, with the addition of burgers.  As the name implies.

the burger (I got a Greek burger) wasn't anything to write home about, but I put Gyro sauce on it, when made it pretty darn tasty.

There isn't much in the way of seating inside, with the exception of a counter and a few stools.  It's clearly a "take it and go" kind of place.

We want to go back and actually try the Greek food!

Earlier this week we got pizza from Emo Italiano Pizza.  These people have an IMPRESSIVE menu of Greek and Italian food, as wekk as burgers, subs and sandwiches.

As you can see, this place has a few tables to sit and eat.  It's also within walking distance to our place.  And they deliver!

The pizza?  It's not bad.  I want to try their Chicken Parm, which is a weakness of mine.

Today, we rounded out or tour with Viking Burger.  This place is relatively new, and (I believe) owned and run by members from the local branch of the SCA.  (hence the name)

I must say that I didn't really get what I ordered....  (I orders a single Thor burger with out the lettuce tomato, pickle and raw onion. and WITH grilled onions... I got a double cheeseburger) but I was hungry and it was GOOD.  toasted buns,m flavorful patties.  And fresh cut fries (the menu says they are massacred fresh every day).  The place really doesn't have much seating, (like Mr. Gyros) so we took our food to go.

The SE was SO HAPPY with his food.  Even the dog liked the fries.  (well, she loves all food, so she's easy to please).

We definitely want to try these guys again.  I hear that there is Viking Sauce, which we remembered as we were leaving with our loot..  I must investigate the next time that we're there.

And maybe I'll get my burger with the grilled onions....

The prices on all of these?  Reasonable.  Both of the burger joints had prices that were comparable with Hardees and the pizza place was actually almost the price of Papa Johns.

Honestly, of all of these places, I see us going back to Viking Burger the most!

But honestly, with such good local food, why even frequent the chain places?

In Summary:

  • Mr Gyros and Burgers:  The burgers are ok... the jury is out until we try their Greek food.
  • Emo's Italiano:  Good pizza, and GREAT prices.  I can even walk there.
  • Viking Burger:  GREAT burgers.  2 thumbs and 2 paws up from our household

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Virginia Running Festival vs. The Crawlin' Crab

I was all sorts of ambitious when I signed up for not one but 2 half marathons this fall.

Now that I've done them, which one will I do next year?  I'm only doing one.

Let me see....  Let me compare

Race Routes

Both races had some amazing routes.  Virginia Running Festival (VRF) was flatter.  Crawlin' Crab (CC) had some hills.  It may have been me, but multiple times during the VRF I felt as if I had to stop and ask directions.  Some of the intersections weren't clearly defined.  And the fault may lie with the fact that I run slower than a turtle and they were starting to break down the course a bit.

Water/Rest Stops

There were plenty of water stops in both races.  Both had water and Gatorade.  But the VRF has a HUGE lack of porta-potties.  CC had the potties at every stop.  I don't know that every water stop is necessary, but having at least one on the front half of the course might have been nice...

CC also had a candy stop, which was a nice change of pace.  (I hear that the Richmond Marathon has a beer stop!)

Finish Line

Not that Crawlin' Crab's finish was bad.. but nothing can compare to the finish line at VRF.  There's nothing like coming into a stadium and taking an actual victory lap.  There is plenty of space for people to line the course at the end to cheer you on!

Distance to Home

Obviously VRF wins in the distance to home category!  Hell, my BFF can walk to the course from her house!  (If I do it next year, I'll tell her where to go and when!)

I don't know yet which of the two races that I'm doing, but I do know that VRF has a lot of room for improvement.  It's not that it's a bad race, it's just that I know that Flat Out can do SO much better!

But next up is Christmas Town!