Well, I've decided which laptop I want. The Apple 12" MacBook.
Unfortunately, it doesn't exist. (Yet.)
I think I've already mentioned that Apple is in the process of overhauling their laptop line(s) and putting in Intel chips. The MacBook Pro is their latest thing, with Intel Core Duo processors; 15" and 17" models are already out. I've played with them in the Apple store, and they're very nice, but too big for my needs/tastes. But ... the old 15" Powerbook was replaced by the new 15" MacBook Pro; therefore, the only Powerbook left on the Apple site now is the old 12". That suggests to me that there may be - no, that there probably is - a replacement in the works for the 12", too.
Personally, I love the current Powerbook design - the way the keyboard runs right up to the edges, thus making the footprint as small as possible, and the way the speakers are hidden in the hinge. I also love the new innovations that are coming with the MacBook Pros, like the magnetic power adapter (so it won't pull your computer off the table if someone trips over your power cord). But the reason I'm still not so thrilled about the rumors that are flying about the newest, smaller replacement (to arrive within the next month) is that it's probably going to be a 13" widescreen MacBook (not Pro). It's not that I don't like widescreen, but I'm not a fanatic for it the way some people (*cough*Dad*cough*) are, and adding a widescreen would be the end of the tiny footprint and right-up-to-the-edges keyboard I like so much. Not to mention, it will probably add to the weight.
Anyway, reports conflict as to whether or not this model will be replacing the 14" iBook, the 12" Powerbook, or, indeed, both. My one glimmer of hope, however, is coming from the fact that the release of any potential 12" models would probably coincide with the back-to-school window, and since we'll probably be seeing the 13" widescreen model in May, I suppose Apple has all the time in the world to figure out a smaller version before September.
Bottom line? Personally, I want a tiny 12" aluminum (not plastic) Apple laptop which weighs 4 pounds and has Intel Core Duo. Apple can stick whichever name they like on it - the iBook, Powerbook, MacBook, WhateverBook - but my wants and needs are really that simple.
Some people are going to wonder why I changed my mind about Apple versus PC. I don't really have an answer for you. Several things sort of coincided and snowballed. I was never completely closed to the idea of a Mac in the first place, because (like the rest of the world) I have an iPod and love it... but then there was the fact that I couldn't find any current PC laptops that I liked enough to buy. And then there were all the cool little features I read about on the Apple website, like the magnetic power adapter and built-in camera and remote control, that I thought were so smart. And the e-mails and opinions I got from various people, telling me how much more stable the Mac OS was. And the fact that the Intel-chip-equipped laptops will be able to run Windows, should I decide I want to. Then, the fact that my sister and I went into the Apple store here in Jacksonville, and I (a) fell in love with and (b) physically picked up the 12" Powerbook display model, and discovered that 4.6 pounds really isn't as heavy as I was imagining it to be. And then, of course, we played with every computer in the store... and what can I say? They're gorgeous. And everything is laid out in a practical, user-friendly way. I had no trouble figuring out any of the applications or settings, even though I've never used a Mac in my life. (Well, okay, yes I have, but the last one I'd used was from the mid-90s and hardly even qualified as a functioning computer anymore.)
...Anyway, I liked them. And now I want one. But it seems I'll have to sit and twiddle my thumbs for a few months while the Apple gurus (hopefully) work their magic on a 12" MacBook.
(Oh, and fijne Koninginnedag to all the Dutch readers... ;))
I have finished my five oral exams ... paid my $191 infirmary debt ... taken my last Latin quiz ... picked up my cap and gown ... gotten my weight training test score (good enough to be exempt from the final) ... and I am now finished with all classes at the University of Florida, forever!
Okay, so I have two written finals, French (Wednesday) and Latin (Thursday), but frankly, I'd still pass the classes even if I didn't show up for those finals - and I have 155 credits even without them. (My degree requires 120.) So can I put my Florida Gators Alumni license plate frame on my car now?
I still have to pick up my honor cords - one for graduating cum laude (3.7 GPA, which will be even higher after my grades for this semester are in) and one for Golden Key. There might be another one I don't know about; I'm not sure yet.
Anyway, my good deed for the day was taking a box of Merci chocolate (and a card) to my academic advisor. Okay, so he wasn't exactly my assigned advisor, but I got referred to him during freshman year, when I was heading to Utrecht the first time, and just kept going back to him for everything I needed from that point on. He has a lot of clout at this university - he's not only a political science professor, but the director of the Academic Advising Center and even the associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - so he's been a good person to have in my corner. Despite the various roles he plays here, he always manages to solve my problems within hours and make me feel as if they're the only important issues in the whole world. So, yeah, he deserved some chocolate and a nice card. The only problem was, I went to his office three different times today and just couldn't seem to catch him in. I finally just scribbled a 'sorry' note on the back of the envelope and just left it on his chair. Hope he has a sweet tooth.
As for the swimming, I've gotten a lot of responses from the online Channel community encouraging me not to let one bad swim make me give up the solo attempt, so I think I'll stick with it, at least for now. After all, when my shoulder became a problem, I found a way to get around that (weight lifting); now I have a new problem to deal with (nausea) and have to find a trick for that. There are a lot of solutions out there - ginger tablets, Dramamine, more water, more carbs, and more time in the ocean being just a few of the suggestions - so I'm sure I'll find something that works. Like I said, I'm going to get some Maxim to use during the Key West swim, and take Dramamine beforehand, and see if that combination does the trick. If not, I'll try something else for the next swim (possibly the Boston Light, assuming they still have space - that swim is just six days after I get out of camp, so I could stick around in the area for a few days and do it if I wanted to).
Speaking of the summer, I'm trying to figure out a way to continue my weight training while I'm not at school with free gym access. I might be able to get a one-month student membership to the YMCA (and since I'm not planning to work during May, I might actually have time to use it). There's reportedly a weight room at camp which counselors can use during their free time, so it shouldn't be a problem while I'm there, but Key West is on June 10th, so I need to continue lifting up until then too. But I'll be able to swim with the Jacksonville masters team, which will be three days a week in the pool and Sunday mornings in the ocean, so I should be okay on the swimming front, too. It'll be weird swimming only three pool practices a week instead of five, but kind of nice, too. I was getting a little burned out (though I think school and the general lack of enthusiasm on the team these days was contributing to that as well). And I don't have to train as much for Key West as I did for Tampa since it's only half the distance. The Masters schedule should be fine as long as I keep lifting and running and doing stuff outside of the pool, too.
And speaking of running, I ran last night for the first (okay, second) time since the River Run (March 11th), with my new broken-in Asics and my new orthotics, and WOW. What a difference. I mean, I could tell I hadn't run in a while - my quads are a little sore today - but wow. I had an actual rhythmic stride, none of that hop-skip stuff I've been doing, and I was able to run for the entire 38 minutes it took to run my new route (down 20th, up 34th, a loop onto campus, and back the way I came). I'm estimating it at slightly over 5k, but maybe I'll do it with the car tonight on the way to swimming. Anyway, that was really encouraging, since Monique and I want to run the Disney half marathon in January. We've decided that if we can do the River Run (9.3 miles) on essentially NO run-specific training, that we can do 13.1 miles if we DO put in some training time. A full marathon won't be in the cards for me for a few years, at least, but a half marathon I think I can handle. And jogging through the Cinderella castle - that's gonna be awesome.
Quick blurb on the laptop front: these days, I'm actually leaning toward the Mac. Apple has just come out with its 15" MacBook and, this past weekend, a 17" model, so now they've discontinued the 15" Powerbook and have left last year's 12" Powerbook model sitting all by itself on the website. That's practically a giveaway that the next thing is a 12" MacBook. There are several cool things about the MacBooks (check out the site), but one of the neatest, to me, is that since they're using Intel Core Duo chips, they can run Windows. Meaning one can have the stability of a Mac and the compatibility of Windows. I like that. :) Now all they have to do is come out with a 12" model that (a) is lighter than the Powerbook, and (b) has better battery life than the Powerbook.
Anyway, I'm going to go do a little more packing and then head off to what is most likely my very last swim practice with Club Alligator (*sniff*). We're taking a team trip to the Ichetucknee tomorrow, even having breakfast at Panera and all that jazz, which will be really nice, and then I'll be heading home right after we get back. I'll be back in Gainesville Wednesday morning for my French exam that night and the Latin one the next morning, and then it's just a waiting game until I can walk across the stage on Saturday and say goodbye to this university - and city - forever.
To start with the good stuff: my shoulders did great; I have no pain at all today. Also, the mouthwash trick, which I forgot to use in Key West, was really effective; I didn't get that 'shriveled-up sponge' mouth like last year. And for the most part, the zinc oxide worked great too - no sunburn.
The one thing that didn't go as planned was my stomach.
I had gotten seasick in Key West and started throwing up around the 11-mile marker, but since there was only a mile and a half to go, I pushed through it. This time, I brought along some Dramamine, both for Anna (who gets seasick on boats) and myself. She took some an hour before the start. I decided not to, since I'd never taken it before and didn't know how it might affect me. We took it along in the bag, and I decided to just take it when and if I needed it.
Mistake. At our third stop, around mile 3, the first time I tried to ingest anything aside from water (chocolate PowerGel), I started feeling seasick. At subsequent stops I gave in and took the Dramamine, then tried water and Gatorade, but nothing made the nausea go away. This may not sound like that big of a deal, compared to the shoulder pain or other things that could have happened, but trust me, nausea - as any woman who's been through morning sickness will tell you - is incredibly debilitating. It makes it hard to even concentrate on anything, let alone perform any strenuous physical activity.
Around mile 6, I started throwing up. At first, this gave me a second wind - "Oh, I feel so much better now!" I exclaimed - but after 20 more minutes of (good) swimming, I was puking again. Nothing would stay down, not even water. I pushed through until about mile 8, but I could feel my arms and legs getting weaker and weaker, like limp spaghetti noodles, because I couldn't get any nutrients to them. Thoughts of swim-proof IVs danced through my head. Pity that food has to enter through my mouth, I kept thinking. Everything else felt fine, just weak, but I knew I couldn't take much more of this.
Eventually I said to Anna and Bernie, "I think it's obvious to all of us by now that I'm not going to finish this race, so I think I just want to get out with the least amount of damage possible to my body." Anna tried to convince me to go on a little farther, "You're at eight miles, and we know you can do thirteen miles, because you did it in Key West, and you're in way better shape now than you were then!" But for me, it was all or nothing. Knowing that I was this run-down after only one-third of the race, and that I had sixteen miles to go, was enough to make me reach for the ladder. It was very much an "all or nothing" decision for me, and I wasn't going to prove anything to myself by pushing on a little further, only to give up at mile 10 or 11 instead of mile 8. Once the "all" was out of reach, it didn't matter to me anymore.
As it turns out, only one of the solo swimmers finished; none of the three women made it, which makes me feel a little better. All the relays finished, though, and after hearing their stories, I'm considering coming back and doing this race as a relay next year, if I could find two other people crazy enough to go with me. In fact, that's become my justifying line for this year -- "Well, I swam my eight miles, my third of the relay, and it's not my fault that my two partners didn't show up!" :)
As for what this is going to mean for my Channel aspirations, I don't know. For some reason, the Channel feels much more 'real' and intimidating to me now that I've been in a race of (almost) the same length and had to get out at 1/3 of the way across. I'm going to swim Key West again this June and (a) try taking seasickness meds AHEAD of time, not during the swim, and (b) try Maxim (a different form of carb intake), so maybe those two things will prove to be the ticket, but still, the prevailing thought in my mind throughout almost the entire race, aside from feeling sick, was "Why am I doing this? This is BORING!" Right now, I'm really feeling like I'd sort of like to do a Channel relay first - since I'm almost 100% confident I could handle that - and then maybe consider a solo swim at a later date. I'm not sure how I would find anyone crazy enough to want to do it with me, but at this moment, I am far, FAR more comfortable with the idea of a relay - having others to lean on and being able to rest once in a while - than I am with the idea of a solo. We'll see.
But anyway. I really don't regret getting out (though I do regret paying $675 to swim 8 miles!). Floating there in the rolling swells, agonizing over what to do, it turns out that this was absolutely the right decision.
So, tomorrow I head down to Tampa for the swim on Saturday. I can't decide whether I'm excited or nervous. I've been training for this for ten months now - ever since my shoulders healed enough for me to get back in the water after the Key West swim last June - and I think I'm as ready as I'll ever be. But... what if "as I'll ever be" isn't ready enough?
I've trained well. In the Netherlands in the fall, I swam long distance workouts on my own several times a week, sometimes as long as 6000 meters (4 miles). And this spring, I've been swimming with CAST, two hours a night, and making up workouts on Sunday nights with Hayley or Saturday mornings with my Jacksonville team. It's rare that I have a week with fewer than five practices. Plus I bike to and from school every day - campus hills and all - and lift weights twice a week (which has helped my shoulder tremendously). There's no question that I'm physically fit.
I've had a good taper, too. My last full-distance workout was last Saturday. Sunday I didn't swim, and Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were short 2000-meter practices (as tonight will be). I've been eating carbohydrates (angelhair pasta plus Havarti cheese plus minced garlic = excellent), drinking water, and napping as frequently as possible (just woke up from 4 hours of sleep, actually). I feel somewhat more tired and sluggish than usual, but I know from experience that that's normal during a taper and is actually a sign of muscle recovery. The only thing I'm really concerned about is the fact that I'm still sore from my tetanus shot on Monday, but even that pain is diminishing by the day, so I'm reasonably confident that I'll be okay on Saturday.
The external factors seem to be falling into place, too. I have all my gear and supplies, the food situation is sorted out, my boat pilot Bernie (who has piloted this race for 4 years in a row) seems to be really knowledgeable and friendly, and even the weather is looking good - 84 degrees with a bit of a cloud cover (so the sun won't be beating directly down on me all day).
So what am I worried about?
Well, my shoulders, mostly. They're feeling good right now, and if they both hang in there - especially the right one - and don't spaz out on me around mile 6, I might be okay. But if they do break down, I can almost guarantee you that I will not finish the race. In my world, pain falls into two categories: pain I can push through (which is a lot) and pain I can't. The tetanus site is (now) pain I can push through. The breaking-down of both biceps tendons is pain I generally can't, at least not past a certain point. If it kicks in at mile 21, I'll probably finish, even if I have to kick the whole rest of the way. If it's mile 7, like it was in Key West, I probably won't.
And that's the reason I'm nervous. The longest distance I've ever swum is 12.5 miles, and I'm about to go almost twice that. I've been lifting weights, and stretching, and using ice and heat, and eating protein, and doing everything I can to strengthen those shoulder joints - and they've done well, because I haven't felt any pain at all for weeks now. But what if it just isn't enough? What if this is just a weakness in my body that I can't exercise away? General fatigue - physical and mental - I can ignore. But knowing that my biceps tendon is just lurking in there, ready to betray me, and that I can't do anything more about it from this point on - that makes me nervous. I like to be in control, and I can't control that.
Because if all my hard work this past year isn't enough, and I break down anyway, then I don't see how my English Channel dream can possibly come true. If my body can't handle 24 miles in 75-degree water, how will I be able to handle the equivalent of 30 miles in 62-degree water?
So that's why I'm nervous. Because this is more than just a race - it's a test for my ultimate swimming goal, which I've been focusing on for a year and a half now. I've done everything right, but everybody has a breaking point, a limit that your body just can't go beyond. I'm going to be testing mine this weekend, and I suspect that I may be found wanting.
I'm trying to replace the negative images with good ones. Me swimming easily the whole way, joking with Anna and Bernie when I stop to eat and drink, smiling for photos, not feeling seasick, not getting 'dried-up sponge mouth', not getting sunburnt, my biggest problem the constant mental replay of whatever song worms its way into my head. I'd like to believe that that's the way it'll go, and I suppose there's a chance that that really is what might happen. But there's a much bigger chance that something will go wrong, because there's really no such thing as a perfect swim, and I'll have to deal with whatever it is. I just hope it isn't the shoulders.
What it comes down to is that I've done everything I can do, and what happens, happens. If I'm forced to quit in the middle, well then, I quit in the middle, and I'll be angry and upset, and it'll probably be bye-bye English Channel. It won't be the end of the world, and it's not going to make me stop swimming, or exercising - I'll find another dream, a new focus, and work toward that instead. There's always another goal to work toward...
...but wow, I really hope I don't have to give up this one.
Happy Easter! (Or, as my dad has been answering the phone all morning, 'Hoppy' Easter!) No basket this year, but I did get a big chocolate bunny and Hallmark card from Dad... okay, all together now... 'Awww.'
Anyway, Family Easter Get-Together #1 (with Mom's side of the family) was yesterday, and it wasn't as excruciating as it could have been, but it was definitely a case of the 7 mentally capable attendees (my parents, my aunt and uncle, my grandfather, my cousin Nathaniel, and me) sort of 'strategizing' against the two less capable (my grandmother and my uncle's father, both with some form of Alzheimer's and/or dementia). But between Dad's recently acquired Victrola, our home video of Catie performing in the FSU circus, and the food (pork tenderloin, baked potatoes, asparagus, bean salad, garlic bread, and strawberry pie), we managed to keep everybody happy.
Family Easter Get-Together #2 (with Dad's side of the family) is today - in a matter of hours, actually - which should be more enjoyable. My one diehard Southern Baptist aunt will probably be offset by my passle of cousins, including Megan (13) and Michael (10), my fellow swimmers, and by baby Logan, the son of my cousin Shayla.
In other news, I signed up for my classes at Chapel Hill - syntax (required for degree), phonetics (required for degree), a survey of Mayan languages (degree elective), and Elementary Persian (my own choice, which gives me no grad credit whatsoever but which will probably help me get in the door at NSA). I have three classes on Monday and Wednesday and just one on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday - and, the best part - my earliest class is at 11:00. Gotta love that, after getting up at 8 every morning for the past semester. I'm not much for sleeping in, usually, but I like doing all my computer stuff in the mornings (gives everybody else the rest of the day to get back to me) and I also like exercising in the mornings (gets it out of the way for the rest of the day). So yes, I think this is going to work out juuuuust fine. :)
Still perusing the laptop world for my next investment. At last count, I had five possibilities; I've now narrowed that down to three: the Sony SZ, the Dell Inspiron, and the Apple 12" Powerbook. I gave up on the other two because although they were smaller and lighter and had better battery life than these three, they were also considerably more expensive, with slower processors and smaller hard drives. I have to strike a balance: as small and light as I can possibly get, without entirely sacrificing the few essential creature comforts of a desktop replacement.
Also, Mom and Dad have amended their offer: the new deal is, I get a gift of $3000 to do with as I like - meaning, the laptop comes out of that. (Meaning, too, that I can get the Mac if I decide that's what I want. Dad, a PC man through and through, had originally put the kibosh on that idea.) Anyway, the version of the Sony TX that I wanted was $2999, which is part of the reason I dumped it. I want a good laptop, but I'd also like to have a little money left over for other stuff, like a case (and, once they come out with an appropriate capacity for my needs, an iPod nano...)
Anyway, guess that's about all I have for you today, except...
06 days till the Tampa Bay swim, 10 days till school is out, and 20 days till graduation!
The current meme circulating through cyberspace... enough of my favorite bloggers have done it that I figure I should jump on the bandwagon.
Go to Wikipedia. Type in your birth date (but not year). List three events that happened on your birthday. List two important births and one interesting death. Post this on your blog.
Three January 30th Events: 1661: Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, is formally executed - after having been dead for two years. 1835: A mentally ill man named Richard Lawrence attempts to assassinate President Andrew Jackson in the United States Capitol - the first assassination attempt against a President. Both of Lawrence's pistols misfire, and Jackson proceeds to beat his would-be assassin with his cane. 1933: Adolf Hitler is sworn in as Chancellor of Germany. (Yeah, I knew about this one.)
Two January 30th Births: 1882: Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States (d. 1945) 1941: Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States (Ugh! Are you kidding me? Can I change my birthday?)
One January 30th Death: 2006: Coretta Scott King, civil rights activist and wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. (b. 1927).
Apparently Phil Collins was also born on my birthday, which almost balances out Dick Cheney (but not quite). And Ghandi died on the 30th too, in 1948.
On a totally unrelated note: Stephanie and I were sitting in front of the O-Dome this afternoon, waiting for class to start, and we saw Joakim Noah walking down the other side of the street. It was like spotting a celebrity. Goooo Gators! :)
And I forgot to mention that (a) a valve on my bike tire is broken and thus the tire won't hold air, and (b) the linguistics advisor has once again screwed up my course equivalencies, because she told me to do one thing and now the computer is telling me another. I still have the e-mail as evidence, and if she refuses to straighten it out and I don't graduate in three weeks it is going to be ONE HUNDRED PERCENT HER FAULT.
UPDATE: Tuesday 8am - Albert Matheny in Academic Advising has saved my butt yet again. The magic words 'All requirements fulfilled' now parade across my degree audit. I seriously need to buy that guy a box of candy or something, with the number of times he's bailed me out over the last four years.
For the first time since I can recall, I have no homework whatsoever. We've been watching a movie in Wolof for the past two days, and we had a substitute in French, so nothing in either of those classes, and since I had a Latin exam today that teacher didn't have a chance to dump any translations on us either. In weight training, Josh says my Tampa Bay swim counts as an absence makeup (LOL), and we're doing presentations in Spanish, so nothing there either. Woohoo!
Unfortunately, however, I have just as much non-school stuff to accomplish these days as school stuff, and maybe more. At the top of my list: finding a place to live in Chapel Hill. I'm in contact with one complex, townhouses with 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms apiece, but it's not furnished and utilities aren't included. I really prefer the electricity, water, cable, Internet, and everything else be already included, and I'd definitely prefer not to have to drag thrift-store furniture all over the southeast over the course of the next two years, so I'm still looking. The other problem is that most of the places up there don't seem to do individual leases, and since I don't know anybody up there (yet) that I could rent a place with, that's a problem. I've found one group, Mill House Properties, which has four good-looking complexes, but so far nobody's answered my email or phone message. If no one responds within the week, I'll probably end up going with the first option, because I've certainly had enough experience already with complexes that don't answer email or phone calls. (*cough*LaMancha*cough*)
Anyway, aside from finding a place to live, I also have to go to Target and buy all the stuff I'm going to need for my Tampa swim, which is a week from Saturday. I need:
- seasickness pills (for me as well as for Anna - people don't realize you can get seasick while swimming, but trust me, after the first six hours or so, you most definitely can!) - zinc oxide (that thick white stuff that you used to see ocean lifeguards put on their noses - regular sunscreen won't stand a chance during a 12-hour swim.) - PowerGel or Gu packs (that carbohydrate gel stuff... I didn't use it in Key West, but think it will really help in Tampa.) - if I can find it, Maxim (a tasteless carb powder to mix with drinks... all the Channel swimmers use it. I don't expect to find it at Target, but I'll look.) - Fig Newtons (for some reason, these go down pretty well while swimming - everybody has their own food preferences, ranging from Snickers bars to soup, but this is the only solid food I've found so far that doesn't make me want to gag.) - mouthwash (rinsing with it every hour or so stops the salt water from shriveling up your tongue like an old sponge. I didn't have this in Key West and was extremely sorry.)
I already have ibuprofen (for eventual shoulder pain), Vaseline (for greasing my neck and under my straps - otherwise, the salt water lets you chafe right down to the blood in no time), extra caps, two pairs of goggles (tinted and clear), a heating pad (because I bet I'll want it later), Bullfrog sunscreen (for my face), and a skinny-strap Lycra suit (I can't wear my usual Endurance one for a long open-water swim because of the stiffer material on the straps). We'll see in two weeks what I forgot... because, trust me, there will be something.
One last thing: we had a bench press contest in weight training today - guys pressed 40 pounds, girls 30 - and we had to see who could do the most in 3 minutes. I came in third with 73 reps - only 13 behind the winner - not too shabby! But the two girls who beat me both went after me, so they knew what they had to beat; that makes it easier, in my opinion. Otherwise I might have been able to do more. Oh, well, it was fun to shake things up for a change.
Wow. I feel like I've been through a tornado. But I'm alive and well and posting, and since the pool is closed tonight for the Gretchen Wilson concert, I actually have a little time to reorganize my life.
First off, Mom and I drove to North Carolina on Sunday and stayed at my aunt's house for two nights; the three of us went to visit Chapel Hill on Monday and I loved it. So much, that I just put my deposit in the mail this afternoon. So now I can say, with one hundred percent certainty, that I am going to grad school, I am going to do a masters program in linguistics, and this is all going to happen at Chapel Hill.
Pros: the campus is beautiful, it's not that far from home, I'll get some money in the second year, I can take Persian, the other grad students seem really cool, and there's a coach at the natatorium who has lots of open-water experience and can put me in touch with some Channel swimmers.
Cons: I get no money the first year (meaning I'm going into debt for the first time in my life), the club team's practice pool sucks, all the housing I've seen so far is really expensive, and the weather is colder.
But no school is perfect. The biggest drawback for me is the horrible pool (one of those where you walk in and get slammed by a wall of hot, humid air), but I had the impression that the coach I met at the natatorium might be able to let me practice in the same time slot as the varsity team (they don't take up anywhere near the entire pool). If so, that would eliminate that complaint. I'm really glad I bumped into her. (Well, I didn't exactly BUMP into her - I found my way down onto the pool deck, saw her putting the varsity swimmers through their paces, and walked right up to her and asked if she could answer some questions. LOL! Yeah, I'm a little pushy. But she was really nice and seemed genuinely interested in helping me out. Hope that's still true in the fall.)
Other highlights of the trip:
- my aunt's house (which is beautiful and huge and way out in the country), - on the drive back, Mom singing along at the top of her lungs to all the Sesame Street songs on my iPod, - my aunt's 'lowcountry' dinner (made primarily of shrimp and cheesy grits, which may sound like an improbable combination, but was excellent), - getting the chance to reread The Da Vinci Code (who knows when I would have found the time otherwise?), - finally getting the Cracker Barrel meal (Country Vegetable Plate!) that I've had coming to me ever since December, - and, of course, the Gators stomping UCLA into tiny little pieces in the NCAA Championship. Woohoo!
As an aside: Chapel Hill is a better school than I thought it was. They rank pretty high on the 2006 college lists, and in my admissions letter, it says that they had over 11,000 graduate applications and only took 1800. So I'm in that elusive 16%. Wow. Suck on that, Georgetown!
But anyway, the two days since I've been back have been insane, because whenever you miss school you end up having to do twice the work in half the time in order to make up for everything you missed. So I had to write a French composition, plan a Spanish presentation, and complete a thousand other menial assignments. Tonight, I have to fill in a (long) Latin verb chart and translate a story, do a little Wolof, and study for my French exam tomorrow. Then I have a Latin exam on Monday, after which things will finally calm down a little.
The good news is that we're not going to the Georgia meet after all. Okay, so that's not exactly good news, but the universe seemed to be conspiring to keep us from going: the cost was going to be $80 per person, the only available hotel was an hour from the pool, everybody had conflicts with the departure time, and then Anna's brother Michael topped it all off by attempting to drive their 7'6" conversion van (which we were going to take) into the 7' O-Dome parking garage and cracking the top. So we talked about it for a long time before Tuesday's practice and decided not to go. Which is disappointing - it would have been my last meet with this team - but also a big relief. Plus, now I can go watch Catie in her circus performance, assuming we can get our hands on some tickets.
One other thing of note this week. We had an assignment for weight training to find our resting metabolic rate (the number of calories you'd burn if you did absolutely nothing but lie in bed all day long), the thermal effect of our food (the number of calories that our bodies use to digest and process our food), and the amount of calories we burn with exercise. Adding all those numbers together gives you the number of calories you expend each day, i.e. the number of calories you should be consuming if you want to maintain your current weight. Well, my resting rate of 1500-something, my food digestion of 150-something, and my exercise calories of 1900 (2 hours of swimming plus 45 minutes of biking every day) added up to almost 3600 calories! I didn't think that could possibly be right, but my teacher insists it is, that swimming in particular burns a ton of calories. I don't understand it, though, because I don't eat anywhere near that amount - I eat around 2500 calories a day, and I thought that was a lot - and yet I'm maintaining the same weight, not losing weight. Odd.
And then when I brought it up with a couple girls from my swim team and had them try to guess what my number was, they guessed 1200 and 2100. These are girls with backgrounds in physiology and pharmacy! When we discussed it in depth, they told me that the 'standard' 2000-calorie diet was too much for the average woman and that they were only supposed to eat around 1500 calories a day. Well, I don't know where they're getting their information, but they are wrong, wrong, wrong! I don't care which website you check, they all say that women need around 1900-2000 calories a day and men need around 2500. My RESTING metabolic rate was over 1500 calories. I sincerely hope that these girls are underestimating the amount that they eat. Otherwise, I don't know how they manage to swim!