Monday, January 28, 2008

Sick as hell

I've spent the last week with flu-like symptoms, or a particularly strong cold. On several days, I didn't hardly do anything except sleep, and I haven't had much appetite. The doctor checked for strep, but that came back negative, so I suppose it's a virus. I went for a run last Sunday - the day before I started feeling sick - and I wonder if that did me in. It was a fairly nice January day for Denver, with temperatures in the upper 30s, and when I stepped out the front door to check the temperature, I didn't even feel a breeze, so I didn't cover my ears. That was a mistake, because there was a breeze, particularly on the run back home. My ears were freezing. Also, in addition to 20 minutes of easy jogging, I ran 1 very fast mile around the track at Green Mountain high school. That's 6 minutes of sprinting, and consequently, 6 minutes of pretty cold air pounding on my throat and bronchial tubes. It was my throat, bronchial tubes & ears that started bothering me the next day.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cowboys with Blackberries

We took the kids on Friday to the National Western Stock Show and rodeo - a Colorado institution. There's no doubt this is the largest gathering of people in cowboy hats anywhere in the state. You can generally tell apart the folks that wear cowboy hats and boots for real, and the posers who dust them off once or twice a year so they can fit in with the crowd. It's amusing and incongruous to see cowboys chatting away on their cell phones and blackberries like a bunch of urban teenagers.

As for the kids, the Andrew enjoyed petting and feeding the baby goats and sheep, but Elizabeth was a little bit freaked out by all the critters. Andrew's favorite part of the night was when we bought him a bag of gummy worms.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Beaver Creek

I've been wanting to ski Beaver Creek for years, and finally had a good excuse to go on Saturday. My fraternity brother Eric Ianuzi was in town from Connecticut, mainly to ski, but also for an exhibit of 2 of his paintings at the DU art school. I joined Erid and another of our fraternity brothers, Rhidian Orr, on Saturday at Beaver Creek, which had about 4 feet of new snow this week. It was a near-epic ski day, with plenty of Colorado's famous powder. To top it off, Rhidian's wife got us $40 lift tickets - that's $52 less than the full price $92 tickets - ouch!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Powder day

I woke up at 5:30 this morning and checked the snow report. 7.5 inches of new snow and 12 inches in the last 48 hours at Winter Park. My work calendar was nearly empty of meetings (which is very unusual) so I decided to take a powder day. No, I didn't lie and take a sick day - just took a vacation day. Of course since I get PTO, a sick day is the same as a vacation day.

Amy and I had had a great time, and found some good powder stashes. A storm hit on the drive home, and a few miles from the house, I hit a patch of ice at a red light and bumped the car in front of me. Fortunately, he was driving a big ol' SUV with a solid bumper, and my 4Runner's bumper was the only part that got messed up. Nothing bad, no cops, no insurance claims.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Soda and fudge

Andrew's grandma made some fudge for Christmas, and Andrew has a new favorite food now! The other day, while grudgingly finishing his meal, he told us "I wish everything was made of soda and fudge." I couldn't help but point out that if his wish came true, he could never have ice cream.

Americanized Chinese Food

Since returning from China just over a year ago, I've purposely avoided the typical Chinese restaurants that cater to gringos. The reason is that real Chinese food isn't anything like the phony fare you find on the menu at those restaurants (sweet and sour pork, pu pu platter, General Tso's Chicken, etc.) - it's much better. I have gone out of my way on several occasions to drive down to Denver's China town (near Alameda and Federal) and found authentic Chinese grub at Superstar and King's Land, which satisfied my cravings for the good stuff.

There's a Szechuan restaurant near home at Garrison and 6th Ave, and I've been craving Sichuan (aka Szechuan) food for a while, so I thought I'd try it. Amy and I dragged the kids there on a last-minute whim on Friday night, and it was disappointing. Nothing on the menu that resembled the fantastic and spicy Sichuan food we had in China. Just your standard Americanized Chinese menu. Blah. The only redeeming thing about the place is that we learned that Sichuan means "4 streams" (Si meaning 4 - which we already knew, and chuan presumably meaning stream).

Anybody know where to find authentic Sichuan food in Denver???

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

5:05 on a treadmill

I'm still training to run a 5 minute mile, which is tough with snow and ice everywhere for the past several weeks. This morning, I ran a 5:05 mile on the treadmill at the gym, which is faster than I could run it outside, I'm sure, where I actually have to propel my body forward rather than just move my legs fast. Anybody know how to convert treadmill time to real time?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Australia (March 29, 2002)

This is another installment in the series: 'Round the World Revisited. I sent this email from Australia on March 29, 2002 during our 6 month journey around the world.

Greetings from Australia (Oz)!

Quiz: translate the following phrase from Australian
into English: "I've got tinnies in me eskie, mate!"
(answer at the end of this message)

First some observations about the differences between
New Zealand and Oz.

1. Northern Australia is hot! In fact, I dare say it's
freakin' hot! In Cairns and Darwin it seems to hover
around 99 degrees (that's 37 to the locals) with high
humidity. At night it gets all the way down to about
85. Southern NZ was getting a bit chilly by the time
we left.

2. Australia is swarming with 20-25 year old kids
running around in swimwear looking for cheap beer. And
the tourism infrastructure is really geared to cater
to them. The average NZ tourist is slightly more
mature and sober.

3. Prices. Food in Australia is dirt cheap, but cars
are not. We paid US$12 per day for a nice 4-door car
in NZ, but in Oz cars are running about US$30 per day
for a tiny Daihatsu with a squirrel cage for an

On to our adventures. We started in Cairns on the
north east coast, and did a 3 day live-aboard diving
trip on the great barrier reef. We also took the
advanced open water diving course. A great time,
except for the broken air conditioning on board the
ship (refer to #1 above). We did 8 dives plus
snorkelling, including a night dive, deep dive (28
meters/90 feet), and a boat/drift dive. Great marine
life -- colorful corals of every variety, giant clams,
white-tipped reef sharks, giant Maori wrasse
(friendly, approachable, and several hundred pounds),
turtles, etc. Visibility wasn't spectacular, but

Next was a few days' driving around the tropical
north, including the Wet Tropics World Heritage area
(rain forest preserve). It's fairly rare in that the
rain forest comes right down to the coast. We were
able to spot a wide variety of wildlife, including
crocodiles, cassowaries (huge flightless birds),
lizards, wallabies, brush turkeys, scrub fowl (build
huge ground nests 9 feet tall and 15 feet across),
giant yellow orb spiders (bigger across than your
hand), possums, pademelon (tiny marsupials) etc. But
no luck spotting the elusive Platypus.

Next stop Darwin, in north-central Australia (the
Northern territory, which is NOT a state, kind of like
the old territories of the western U.S). Our primary
aim here was to visit the huge Kakadu national park.
We're here at the end of the wet season, although this
has been a relatively dry season. We did a guided 3
day tour, and our guide was a real Aussie character,
ala "Crocodile Dundee" or Steve Irwin (the Crocodile
Hunter). He loved to hike around barefoot and had a
vast knowledge of "bush tucker" (outback foods),
aboriginal culture, and the flora and fauna. Plus he
told some great stories! The tour was great and we saw
some amazing country, with impressive sandstone
formations covered with lush vegetation, ancient
(10000+ year old) aboriginal rock art, and beautiful
water falls and swimming holes. We really got off the
beaten track where there were no trails, and he even
got us to follow him barefoot up a canyon
appropriately called the "garden of Eden" where we
climbed up a waterfall and took in the scenery. It
definitely wasn't your typical tour of 50 old farts
packed into a big tour bus.

We also did a 1-day tour at Litchfield Nat'l Park,
which was similar scenery and swimming, but much more
crowded. The highlight for me was seeing hundreds of
huge black bats -- flying foxes -- hanging from the
trees, and a little rock wallaby with a joey (that's a
baby) poking it's head out of her pouch.

Here's a question for you MBA types out there: how
does a pub give away free meals and free beer and
still make money? There's a bar in Darwin which gives
away free dinners 7 nights a week -- all you have to
do is get a ticket from any tour company. So 7 of us
from the Kakadu tour went for our free meal after our
tour, and were surprised that the food is actually
pretty good. Not only that, but after we sat down, the
bar tender brought 3 free pitchers ("jugs") of beer to
the table. By now we've had 3 free meals at this
joint. Not bad! There was a place in Cairns that had
free meals too -- they really compete to bring in the
partying crowd of young backpackers.

Next we're off to Katherine Gorge, where we'll do some
exploring before we begin a 4-day volunteer project
with Australian Conservation Trust. We'll be
revegetating an area of thermal pools (presumably
damaged from too many people visiting the area), and
hopefully meeting some great people. We've done
trail-building projects back home and the people we
meet are always interesting.

Quiz answer: "I have cans of beer in my ice box,

We hope all is well back in the USA! Happy Easter!

--Brad and Amy