Friday, August 28, 2009
Monday and Tuesday were just trial runs with no luggage on board. Very smooth, although I learned (as I said on Tuesday) that the route there is uphill. Wednesday and Thursday I added the junk I use for class--laptop, textbooks, dry-rase markers, folders, etc--lunch, and extra clothes... and "uphill" became a dirty word.
Wednesday was slightly fraught, although I had prepped much of the stuff the ngiht before, but I had to be at My U before 9 am (class time) through the heaviest traffic of the day in my 'hood.
And, ironically, the city decided to tear up the street one block from the entrance to the university grounds for one full block--putting up detour signs, bringing in heavy trucks, and molto guys in hard hats by 8 am. The day classes started is the same day the roadwork began: timing is everything.
Despite that, I arrived early, locked up and unloaded the bike, changed clothes and refreshed makeup in the ladies room next to my classroom, and got myself set up and on-line in time for class. Thank goodness I brought a clean blouse to change into, because the t-shirt I wore was soaked.
Going home, the roadway was blocked not only with roadwork, but gardening truck. This is always the case by mid-afternoon in my 'hood. One truck parked illegally and three guys weed-whacking. next block, one bigger truck with a crane planting mid-life trees. With about seven guys "helping."
And... I arrived home safely. Happy that the road home was all downhill.
Thursday, much the same, except that I travel in for a 2 pm class, so the traffic issues are different. Surprisingly, less sweaty arrival--although I notice my thighs are protesting earlier in the ride! I was also carrying about 5 lbs less weight yesterday than Wednesday. Each trip has been lighter, since things were left in my office or given away to students.
So far, good riding and good exercise. I am puffing like a blowfish when I stop at the traffic light at the edge of My U's grounds (always have to stop, never green my way), and aching quad and calf muscles, but I think that will actually be better by the end of next week. I feel much more confident even after only two days of class-specific riding, negotiating the streets and sidewalks on campus as well as in my neighborhood. I'll try a new route next week, as well.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Good News: while the ride took more time than the same car trip, it was a more pleasant ride all around. I had no trouble locking Bella up to one of the two bike racks--where I think several of the bikes are actually rejects left behind. They had flattened tires and looked as if they'd been on-site for several weeks, if not months. Sadly.
The ride to My U is all uphill (also a new discovery), which means that the ride home is all downhill. What a great discovery! Granted, none of it is a big grade up or down, but sweet that the ride home will be easier.
I think that making the trip at 8:30 am will be different than at 2:30 pm, however, will involve a lot more car traffic than I encountered, given my experience with driving in at that time regularly... which also suggests use of alternate routes. There are at least three.
I also made the ride with regular teaching clothes: heeled sandals, skirt, t-shirt, and over-the-shoulder purse. Very easy, and again good news. I was definitely sweaty and breathing hard once I arrived, but not as much as I thought. Yay! Keeping clean shirts in the office and an icy water bottle will probably solve the worst of this problem. Regular riding will do a lot more.
Today is another trial run, for a short meeting requiring nothing but keys, etc. Tomorrow will be the real test: a full day of classes, requiring laptop, folders, texts, etc. -- and my lunch.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Instead, my research led me around to the ABikeStore.com site, where my beauty resides. Since this was one of my favorites when I was (briefly) considering ordering a bike online, I am pleased about that.
Ironically or perhaps by the hand of fate, Isabelle is one of my favorite names.
Synchronicity. Synergy. Syncopation.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Bad News: I have my suspicions about the cleanliness resulting from our community washers.
Good News: The one dryer that works (dries) has been tweaked by some kindly person to run continuously... without quarters! So I am drying for free.
Bad News: This is my last free Friday before the semester starts. In fact, the semester starts Monday, because I misread the notice from my dean about his fall meeting: I thought it was Tuesday (Freudian!). Monday, Dean's meeting. Tuesday, Divisional meeting. Wednesday, classes start 9 a.m. for me.
Bad News: My office is still in "new office furniture" uproar, which means 1 day this weekend will be devoted to fixing that by re-positioning shelves in very tall new bookcase (and reshelving books), re-hanging framed 18th-century map of Versailles so it can be seen instead of hidden behind very tall new bookcase, and generally cleaning up the dust and loneliness of my school office, deserted for the summer months... Necessary before the tons of kids start popping their heads in and asking directions to classrooms, to borrow paper and pen to leave a note for another prof, or the office hours of other profs. Sure, I could keep my door closed, but I ask you, what fun would that be?
Good News: Class websites, syllabi, and assignments are READY for all three classes... good to go!
Meanwhile, this is my workplace, pretty much everyday.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The Bronx offers outdoor and indoor dining, although I've only ever eaten indoors. I actually like eating in a restaurant-bar that's got a great ambiance, kind of old-fashioned and clean. It's located on Cedar Springs Road.
The food here is good, the wine mostly Californian, and the prices reasonable. Tuesday I had the avocado-bacon burger with onion rings: both were delicious. The burger was perfectly cooked, a good size wihtout being too giant for one person to reasonably eat. The toppings were also well prepared: bacon crispy, avocado fresh and cool. The onion rings were neither over-cooked nor too crumbly: the breading stayed right in place. And there was very, very good coffee.
They open at 5:30, which is my only gripe about the place. I generally like to go out earlier, have a glass of wine, and order dinner after I've done some reading or writing. I think this is a result of time spent in French cafes, and most American places feel comfortable with this arrangement. You sit down, you order, you eat, and you go home, all in one long sweep, thereby freeing up the table for more hungry customers. It's all rushed and quick.
But The Bronx doesn't care if I sit and read for an hour or so before ordering dinner, which is another reason I like the spot. I did indeed read and take notes, moving between two books of French cultural history. The waiter was friendly but not chatty, which was again perfect. Several tables filled and emptied while I was there, and everything ordered looked and smelled great. Maybe if I could get over the burgers I'd order something else.
The prices are right, as well. My bill, including coffee, tax, and tip, came to less than $25.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Good News: I've been asked to write a bunch of entries on French actors and actresses for a theatre-centered encyclopedia, which will PAY me either in $$ or in books (you get more worth in books, generally).
Bad News: My 30-year-old air conditioning system is wheezing like a smoker running uphill with a 20-lb. pack on its back... meaning I've turned it off for the day.
Good News: A.C. Man says it needs only one part and freon to work.
Bad News: He recommends whole new system, which makes sense since this system is, well, ancient. The equivalent of the abacus to the Apple. Landlord Man is fighting the inevitable.
Good News: My credit card balances are the lowest they've ever been.
Bad News: So is my savings account.
Good News: I'm healthy and I have an out-of-town friend who will let Jack and me stay at her place until the a.c. mess is resolved.
Good News: Completed first power point presentation for theatre history class (barring ancient Greek music soundtrack: can't figure it out!) and it looks good. Should prep 'em mighty well for class discussion.
Good News: Next week Life 2 is available on DVD. (Just a kiss goodbye to this fabulous show that NBC cancelled--like idiots--and will no doubt replace with something lower class. I am bitter, in this case. No more Damien Lewis! No more Adam Arkin! My autumn stretches before me, a wasteland*.)
Bad News: I think I'm out of bad news. This is all pretty good, in the end.
*Do you see why I am in drama?
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Right up front, let's deal with the cons:
- Pretty deserted on a Tuesday evening at 7 pm: I was the only patron when I arrived;
- I was asked if it was "just" me: not a question a woman eating alone likes to hear; I would suggest practice with a rephrasing of this question to make it sound less pathetic and weird for a single woman to take herself out for a delightful solo dinner;
- The menu is schizophrenic: part inexpensive soup-and-salad material, part Filet Mignon, Lamb Chops, and Spinach Fettucine, fancy designer fare at much higher prices/higher cuisine status;
- The menu lists about 15 soups, but doesn't clarify that not all choices are available every day; only after I had decided on the red pepper bisque did I find out that it was not available;
- The soups available were hardly 'warm weather fare,' meaning summer soups. French Onion, Clam Chowder, Split Pea, Minestrone, and so forth are hardly the flavors I want on a 100+ day;
- I didn't get what I asked for, which was French Onion Soup -- instead I got Italian Wedding Soup;
- I had to ask for water and coffee, and I was never offered dessert, which is not on the regular menu but on the website gelato and cheesecake are both mentioned.
Now, the pros:
- The Italian Wedding Soup was delicious, and a cup, at $3.95, was the right size and price to share with one of the best Greek salads I've had in a while;
- The salad was crisp and well-made, the dressing was light and just enough;
- Martinis were $5.00, a great price, and beers were $2.00;
- The ambiance was nice, and with a few more patrons, cooler weather for the lovely patio, this would be a great post-work spot for drinks and maybe a light dinner;
- Lots and lots of free parking close.
So here's my final deal. I would eat there again but I would know to be much more assertive with the wait staff about my order (being correctly taken) as well as about water, a drink, coffee, and dessert.
I would also like to try the patio on a cooler day.
On Tuesday, after completing my dinner, I went to Ziziki's for dessert--their ice cream baklava cake--and a glass of cabernet. I definitely wanted dessert and this is one of my favorites. Besides which, Ziziki's has a great patio with a fountain. By 9 pm, the patio is pretty deserted on a Tuesday while the fountain plays prettily in the background. I read my novel and enjoyed both the wine and the treat.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Unwritten because I take it for granted, I think.
Dream #2: Somehow the cement foundation of my parents' garage got chopped/lifted out around my car in said garage. Various garage mechanics and so forth were there, making various gestures and ineffective actions to fix the car (which was dead) and the garage floor, but instead, the floor continued to telescope up--making the gaps/missing concrete bigger, taller, and more ridiculous. Then my dad came into the garage from the house... and I woke up. Of course. Garage a mess, getting worse, Dad walks in.... who wouldn't wake up?
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
There were also couches, where you can sit and drink/eat, too. That's a ltitle "Arabian Nights" for me, as well, and makes for dangerous eating: spilling, juggling, slouching. Not my dream eat choice.
The cocktails were yum-yum good, especially the lemoncello. The food was not bad, but nothing to rave about. Not the best bruschetta or pizza I've had, not as good as other DFW locations. Like Fireside Pies, which has the BEST pizza and salads I can think of. Or Rocco's, which does the best delivery pizza in my area. De-lish and reasonable. (Used to be Sagno's but they closed... and the result is that my bike store moved in.) In fact, the bruschetta was untoasted (surprise!) and came with a "salad" that was sadly limp.
Our waitress was good, and there were many, many young men in white Ts wandering around (doing what, exactly, was unclear... ).
Rather obviously, a meet 'n' greet place for younger folks and a weensy bit pretentious (check the site, that doesn't give menu, photos, or anything but "atmosphere" and delivery #." Curiously unfull bar--limited wine list, limited cocktails, not sure about beer... Not enough of a draw to go back again.
Review #2: A Perfect Getaway, new film out this weekend. Action-adventure. I saw this this morning... need the action-adventure jolt every once in a while. Mixed reactions.
a. the script has its too precious, too pretentious moments, especially when it dwells in screenwriting (the director is the screenwriter, by the way). Ugh. But there are also funny moments, and it is not a terrible script. Semi-well crafted, with certain payoff moments.
b. Timothy Olyphant has a smoking hot body. He is not only the best actor here--seriously, seriously better than everyone else--but in good shape. A bonus. His character is crazy, weird, slightly (or more) strung out, but as in Deadwood, he is very good and under-appreciated. Oh, and smoking hot.
c. the landscape is beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. If I was inclined to hike or climb or do anything remotely like that, I would go there, to Hawaii, to do so. If I had a partner who could track/climb/hunt/clean/cook I would go there and do that.
Some good action sequences--mostly of the hand-to-hand fighting sort. Some good dialogue exchanges. Some twists--too easy to figure out. Steve Kahn is good, Milla Jovavich is in good shape, Kiely Sanchez is also in good shape and might be pretty good a few years from now. Director-writer Twohy depends too much on run-of-the-mill crafting of the screenplay, following the directions for a do-it-yourself thriller/adventure flick. The problem: it comes across as lack of commitment and a wink wink, nudge nudge to the audience. Aren't we all so smart? The actors are committed--at least Olyphant, Sanchez, and Kahn are. Who ever knows about Jovavich? They are working, committing, turning in performances that I hope people notice; but Twohy is selling a product. Just my opinion.
See it for the good stuff--it will work for you, as long as your expectations are middling. But--again--Olyphant is very, very good and did I mention the smoking hot body? The combination is too rare in recent films.
Friday, August 7, 2009
my style by pearl2164 featuring Old Navy
Before and since purchasing The Bike--which I still haven't named, obviously--I have become a passionate reader of sites about biking. Most recently, sites that combine my interest in commuter biking (what one friend calls non-spandex biking) and biking style.
Like Let's Go Ride A Bike and Bike Skirt and http://www.copenhagencyclechic.com/.
Since my big plan is to ride The Bike to work daily and the heat in DFW will continue to be intense (picture Venutian) until late October, this is a concern. The commute is only .75 miles without major hills or road blocks, so that is not the problem. It is the heat. THE HEAT.
No matter that the commute will take 15-20 minutes, because in that time I can and will become a sweaty, bedraggled mess. Even with the panniers, I will be carrying a backpack. That is clear since necessary for every class meeting is my laptop, once the Powers That Be removed the convenient computer/AV towers in every classroom, decreeing that professors could utilize our university-provided laptops. Mine is analogous to the Tyrannosaurus Rex of laptops: big, heavy, unwieldy, with a too-small brain requiring electrical cords and a mouse. I keep everything on stix and discs after having had my desktop model stolen from my office (that was the T.R. of deskstops too--which seems to be my legacy from My U--I get the biggest, heaviest versions available... I do not know why, for the love of Bill Gates, but it is so). So the discs and stix I need for any given university day must also accompany me to and from My U, carrying lectures, power point material, iconography, current in-process paperwork, and my link to the wonderful worlds of email and Blackboard.
And the anthology, the textbook, the papers, the gradebook, the pens. The dry-erase markers and chalk (yeah, can't actually find them in a classroom any more, so I carry my own). And then of course the lunch, the water bottle, the cosmetics, the wallet, the phone, the iPod and buds, the daybook, the journal, the camera... The Stuff (is it necessary? No... not until you don't bring it!).
Oh, and the gym clothes and shoes. And a portable bike pump and repair kit. (Don't learn the hard way!)
So, uh, yes, panniers and backpack.
I do not teach physical classes, but theatre history, performance studies, playwriting. All read-and-write classes that enable me to indulge my personal style. Which is sort of classic casual (see above).
Soooooooooo... the question remains: carry clothes for changing (more stuff) after short but sweaty commute or keep clothes in the office for said change? And wait for (brief) fall. Probably carry face wipes and plan to wash/makeup at school. Just more planning.
This would not be on my mind if I was content to teach in sloppy sweats every day. For a jeans/T-shirt/boots day, little to no problem. But on hot days, to teach I wear dresses, linen shirts, skirts, boho cotton tops, linen pants and heeled sandals--not shorts or sweats. Better for teaching, better for meetings, better for running into dean, provost, or president at My U. Which I do, often.
And while academics know it is superficial to judge people by their outer packages... yeah, we do. A lot. Male administrators on my campus wear suits, shirts, and ties everyday. Many male professors do, too. Female administrators and professors wear pants suits, dresses with jackets, and skirted suits. And even though we are in the arts school, no one wants to see a professor wearing sloppy sweats, paint covered jeans, or shapeless Ts... unless they're in the classroom in the middle of an exercise. Parents, patrons, admnistrators and students react quite differently to these cues. I've seen it and felt it.
Beyond all that, I know I get better responses from students when I am dressed more formally: they speak up more, they test better, and they pay more attention. I know, that sounds ridiculous: but it is so. Maybe it is my attitude: I feel better, therefore the class goes better. Maybe it is because they need a prompt to see a middle-aged woman as someone to respect: in our culture, middle-aged women become invisible and unimportant easily and I might remind them more of their mom than of a professional authority. Maybe it is because it gives a bit of distance between us: most students call me by my first name and consider that means we're friends and equals, or they see themselves as customers in a department store talking to a clerk doing them a service (thanks, Edu-Speak!). Maybe it is all of the above... whatever, it works and I do not mess with success in the classroom.
In any case, while I am planning my syllabi and assignments for fall, I am also planning my commute, a little more closely than I did when I drove the car and simply threw whatever in the backseat. No backseat.
Oh, well. Despite all this fussing, I am pleased and excited to look forward to riding The Bike everyday. Happy to know that come December, I will be in better shape, my car will be less messy, and my wallet will be fat from gas savings. Or at least not as lean. And I will have all my answers about biking in style answered, whether I like the answers or not.