Excitement of the week: turns out John was telling the truth about the South Africa thing: there really is a graduate assistant who accompanies the UNC honors program undergrads on their Honors Semester in Cape Town every fall. I've exchanged a few emails with the coordinator, and it seems like I'd basically be an RA - keeping an eye on the undergrads in the dorms and helping them get used to being abroad (ah, how well I remember!). I'd be funded through the honors program (rather than through my department, so no fighting there), and my airfare and housing would be paid for, plus a stipend. (And the South African currency, the rand, was something like a tenth of the dollar last I heard, so money goes a long way over there.)
The only thing I'm not totally clear on is the academics; I've been told that I would be registered for a 'placeholder' study-abroad course to keep me registered as a full-time grad student but that I wouldn't be taking actual courses while abroad. (The up side: I wouldn't be charged any tuition.) Most of the past assistants have apparently used the time to do research - which I could theoretically do, since I do have to take some credits of 'thesis' and my thesis will probably be on some Dutch-English-Afrikaans-general Germanic theme anyway - but I'd need to chat with my department about that. I'm only required to take 10 courses for the degree and I'll have 7 of them completed after this year, so a semester of no 'real' coursework was probably in the cards anyway, but for most of the other grads, it will probably be their fourth semester rather than the third.
Anyway, so there are some potential kinks to work out, but if the opportunity presents itself I'd be crazy to turn it down. As I've said before, this is probably the last chance I'll ever get to travel internationally on someone else's dime - airfare included! - and I've been dying to go to Africa ever since I started working with the South African counselors at Ton-A-Wandah in 2001. Nothing is certain yet, or even anywhere close to being certain - the coordinator has to speak to one of the main professors, whom she says may already have someone in mind - but if he doesn't, I'd have a very real shot at it. In my own mind, anyway. Maybe I flatter myself, but I really feel like I am exceptionally qualified for this - not only have I studied/lived abroad before, but I speak fluent Dutch (which is very similar to Afrikaans). I'm not saying I'm a shoo-in - not even I am that arrogant - but my application would definitely make them sit up and take notice.
Anyway, not much other news - I have a killer midterm tomorrow (phonetics) and seriously, if I believed in any sort of a god, I would be thanking him or her profusely right now for the existence of the other three linguistics graduate students, with whom I had a two-hour study session this afternoon. I swear I understand less and less of what our teacher says with every passing day. We also get our syntax midterm on Thursday, but at least that one's a take-home. No midterm for Persian (we've only just finished learning the whole alphabet, LOL), and nothing for Mayan languages either, since we've just turned in our first essay. So after this week things should lighten up until after fall break (the 19th) - knock on wood.
It is beyond me why groceries for one person - one healthy person - should run over $50 a week. I could buy the cheap white bread, the iceberg lettuce, the jellybeans - but no, I try to be healthy, and buy the whole grain bread, the dark green salad, the gallons of skim milk and orange juice, the dark chocolate, the high-fiber waffles - and my babysitting check is gone again. Honestly, shouldn't it be reversed? I bet if there were an overnight switch, and the healthy stuff cost less while the bad-for-you stuff cost more, that there would be a lot fewer sick people in this country.
So there's this list called Helping Heels, consisting of names of UNC (mostly) students who are available for child and/or elder care. About a month ago, I got an email asking if I wanted to be put on this list, and if so, my details and availability. I answered, figuring I had nothing to lose, then - as I received no calls - forgot all about it.
And on Tuesday... I was deluged. Okay, not deluged, but at least four or five people called looking for babysitters, including one woman who actually woke me up a half hour ahead of the alarm on Wednesday morning. ("I saw your name on the Helping Heels list." "Um (yawn) - did this list by any chance just come out yesterday?" "Yes, just yesterday!") Anyway, the only one I was able to accommodate was named Amber; she was looking for two people to work for the next four Thursdays at a preschool-slash-day care center for a few hours in the afternoons/evenings while a workshop was held for the parents. $10 an hour plus free transportation; not too shabby. So that's what I spent yesterday afternoon and evening doing (before the premiere of Gray's Anatomy, that is). The other girl's name was Erica; she's a sophomore, and doesn't have as much experience as I do, but at least she's not afraid to interact and get down in the sandbox with the kids and stuff.
We ended up only having to corral 4 kids, the ones who were old enough to run around. The babies stayed inside with one of the center's employees, who was putting in some overtime. So we had two little black girls, about two years old (whom I could NOT keep straight), a toddler boy of about 18 months (with a nut allergy, to add to the fun), and a four-year-old Hispanic girl named, of all things, Genesis. I was sort of sorry that some of the kids who were there when we arrived didn't get to stay - there was a little black boy, three and a half or so, with a shaved head, who was the most talkative, athletic, and polite child of that age I have ever come across. He could throw a perfect spiral with the Nerf football and run like a wide receiver, which you would think might make him hyperactive and hard to control - yet he was constantly asking, "Will you play with me, please?" and saying thank you for every little thing. After about 20 minutes with him, his dad was ready to go, so I handed him over, saying, "This kid's going to quarterback for the Panthers when he grows up!", making him laugh.
Anyway, all the kids were sweet, but I bonded with Genesis the most. She was the oldest by a good two years, and a real firecracker - always testing the limits, to see how much she could get away with. Standing on the table? Spitting water onto other people? Pulling off the other kids' clothes? You name it, she tried it. But after the first hour or so (during which time she dealt principally with me, as Erica seemed a little intimidated by her), she settled down and became a lot of fun. I'd forgotten how nice it is to work with a child that you can, at least to some degree, reason with. When I explained why she couldn't do something, she almost always nodded her head and went along with it. Dealing with an eleven-month-old two days a week tends to make you forget about that possibility. (When one of the two-year-olds didn't want to get out of the sandbox to be given to her mother to go home, Erica sort of laughed helplessly and asked me, "Any suggestions?" I raised my eyebrows. "Honestly? Just pick her up and take her over there!")
The other cool thing about Genesis was that she spoke Spanish. I didn't realize that at first, because her English wasn't accented, but then her father came to the gate at one point and said something to her which didn't sound like English to me. When he walked off towards his logo-imprinted van, Erica asked, "Does your daddy drive that van to work?" "Uh-huh. Genesis Carpet," she answered. (I wondered aloud whether she was named after the company or whether the company was named after her, but she didn't seem to know.) But she said 'Genesis' with an accent, tipping me off. "Hablas espanol en casa?" I asked. "Uh-huh," she replied, then looked at me curiously. "Como que tu sabes?!" I laughed. "Porque tu papa habló en espanol contigo!" "Oh!" That amused me. I know that bilingual kids often don't consciously realize they know two languages until they're a little older, but I still thought it was funny that she didn't make that connection - after all, her dad had been there less than a minute earlier. Ah, well, she's four.
(Forgive my lack of symbols on the Spanish; Blogger turns them into funny things when I try to use them. I tried it on 'hablo'-with-an-accent - past tense - because that could be misinterpreted as first person present if I left it off, but it still gives me a funny symbol instead of an accented O - what does it do for you guys?)
Anyway, the other thing was, working with Erica sort of made me realize how much I know. I liked her a lot - she was friendly and very willing to play and get involved - but there were things that caught my attention, too. For example, when one of the little girls was getting a little upset because she wanted to go see her mom (whom she knew was inside), Erica kept mentioning the mother. "Can you see your mama through the door? What's she doing in there?" That's just going to make it worse. The better course of action would have been to just distract her - which I did, picking her up and swinging her around and making her giggle. (Of course, then everyone else had to have a turn - and a second, and a third - but I didn't hear "Mama!" again for the rest of the evening.) Then, after eating (lasagna, no less), she let the kids go charging back down towards the play yard, covered in tomato sauce from head to foot. I had to catch them, get them turned around, and sluice them all off with baby wipes. And in the sandbox, when one of the little girls was dumping sand on her, she responded with a friendly 'Aaah! It's going down my pants! You're covering me up!' and stuff like that. Which, of course, drew both the other little girl and the toddler boy to join the fun and throw sand all over her. If she wanted them to stop (which she did - she wasn't really okay with it, she just didn't know how to discipline them), she should have either told them no or diverted them to something else - her feet, for instance, since she was wearing flipflops. After sand went in Genesis's hair one too many times, I said, "I bet you guys could cover up Erica's feet with that sand, look!" and sure enough, there was a new project, no throwing or sandy pants involved.
I don't know... maybe this is just a pointless, long-winded, arrogant post, but that sort of stuff just really doesn't seem that hard to me. I'm 22 and have been working with kids since I started being a mother's helper to my cousin Megan when I was eleven. It's instinctual. I know how to pick my battles with kids - when to say no, when to ignore, when to use a time-out, when to distract, and when to allow something because it isn't worth the effort of stopping it. I know never to fill a two-year-old's glass all the way, how high to push a toddler on a 'big kid' swing, and how to guess a child's age. I know what questions to ask a child, how to talk so they pay attention, and how to explain things in their terms. And you know what? I'm proud of knowing all those things. None of those skills are going to come in handy at all for my degree or in my future profession, I admit - but they'll help me out a lot when the time comes for me to be a mom. I've spent a lifetime learning this stuff, and the world needs people who have these instincts. Because the more people who know what they're doing during the formative years of the next generation, the better.
Anyway, I guess I started thinking about that today because I (finally) had that ultrasound on my arm, which took place in the women's hospital - meaning the first person I saw when I walked in was a woman in a wheelchair holding her newborn, and that during the multiple check-in processes I was constantly asked whether this was a pregnancy ultrasound. Lying there in the darkened room looking at the bands of gray swish around on the monitor, I thought about what it might be like a few years from now, when I might be lying there for a different reason, trying to decipher something else out of the swirling grayness on the screen. And it was sort of reassuring, because no matter how out of my depth I sometimes feel in my classes, I know that when it comes to the life stuff that 'really' matters, that I'll be okay.
They couldn't tell me anything, by the way - the tech just said, "I can see a tissue change, but what it is, I don't know," and said the doctor from the student health center should call me next week with the results. I'm not worried - the 'bad stuff' is usually painful and would keep getting bigger, not growing and shrinking every month - but I am curious.
Two more weeks until the triathlon, AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!
This weekend: one swim practice, a five-mile run (this afternoon), that darn Maya essay, the much-anticipated Jags-Colts game, an extra babysitting stint while the couple goes out for dinner with colleagues, and a possible open-water swim at Jordan Lake on Sunday with some members of the UNC triathlon team.
Next week: the Gilmore Girls premiere, midterms in phonetics and syntax (which is why the week is going to SUCK), the second Thursday babysitting gig, paying rent, and our swim meet at UGA.
I'm in my 2.5-hour break between classes, so I'm sitting in the sun at the edge of the Pit (every campus has a place like that, an outdoor plaza where students hang out and organizations set up tables), getting a tan, eating pasta salad, listening to the music one table is blasting, and surfing the Internet.
I spent the weekend at my aunt's in Fort Mill, SC, which was a nice break from the routine. She had brought my bike and a bunch of other stuff from Jacksonville (she visited there last week) so I now have new car insurance cards, a DVD of Johnny Depp's Letterman appearance (thanks, Dad), the sixth Harry Potter book, a pencil cup, and all manner of other things. I also have my old Nokia phone back, so bye-bye, Samsung display problems! For dinner, she made 'shrimp & grits', which is apparently a recipe from a restaurant in Chapel Hill. You might not think those things would go together, shrimp and grits, but trust me, they do - along with cheese, bacon, mushrooms, and other garnishes. Yum, yum.
The major accomplishment of the weekend was buying clothes for my cousin's wedding in December. I cannot be entirely trusted to pick out my own clothes - I won't show up in a paper bag, but I guess I don't always have a very good sense of what's appropriate for a given occasion - so we spent the day at the mall, trying on all manner of different things in all manner of different places: Ann Taylor, Nordstrom's, Dillards... I finally found a black dress at Belk which is a lot like the halter one I already have that I wore for graduation - same fabric - but comes down a little longer, with a deep V-neck and gathered (long) sleeves as well as a little gather/bow on one side. It's comfortable, although I may need a little double-sided tape to keep the V-neck from going places it shouldn't (it's one of those two-piece necks). The neck actually caused some problems at first - because of the two pieces of fabric, I couldn't get the dress on properly, not by stepping into it OR pulling it over my head. I was going in front of some layer that I should have gone behind, or something... anyway, it wouldn't center properly, and my aunt and I ended up laughing hysterically in the dressing room, with me stuck inside a cocoon of black fabric. But once we got it figured out, it looked good. We also found some Givenchy jewelry to go with it, a necklace-earring set, 'aged'-looking silver with red stones - which was a little expensive, but so pretty. The saleslady kept gushing about how pretty I was going to look. ("Such beautiful skin!")
I also bought a big candle from Bath & Body Works - it was sort of expensive, but it's the Pumpkin scent (which you wouldn't think would smell good, but which really, really does), which is seasonal and so can't be gotten at other times of the year. I have it burning right now, and boy, does my room smell good. It's making me hungry.
Oh, speaking of which - we also had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen on Saturday. WHY don't we have one of those in Chapel Hill?! (Or Jacksonville, for that matter?) It was really great. They have every kind of pizza you can possibly imagine - we had the Greek one, with grilled chicken, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, and tzatziki atop a cheesy crust - and the pizzas are small - big enough for two to potentially split, but still small enough for one hungry person. We also had an appetizer of some really awesome hummus. I think I may have a new favorite restaurant!
(Update: I just searched the site and there actually is one in Durham. Filing that away for future reference, maybe when my parents visit...? There are also three in Orlando, but unfortunately none in Jacksonville.)
Anyway, so when I was driving back to Chapel Hill (and getting gas for $2.27, woohoo!), I got a phone call (on my new-old cell phone) from a 407 area code. Hmm, Orlando - who could that be? It turned out to be my cousin Allison (not a blood relation, but someone I've sort of grown up with, whose parents I've always called 'aunt' and 'uncle'), saying that she was in Raleigh visiting her boyfriend and what was I up to? So once I got back in town, they drove over and we went to Panera and had iced coffees and pastries and caught up a little. So I missed swimming, which I made up for by going running after they left. The five-mile route isn't much of a challenge anymore, but my feet are starting to complain, especially that poor old right heel. Hopefully it'll hang in there until after the triathlon on the 7th, and then I can take a couple of weeks off running before I have to start my half marathon training.
The downside to this great weekend is that I didn't get any work done. So here I sit, at just after 2 in the morning, trying to finish up. We have a (partners) phonetics assignment due tomorrow, and it has been absolute hell - we've been working on it for over a week, and just can't seem to get it all straight in our heads. We've both got more or less 'final' versions done now, but I have to wait for Jenna to get up tomorrow morning (at 6am, poor thing - she's already a TA) and double-check mine to make sure my answers match hers before I print it. I also had Persian to do (we know almost the whole alphabet now) as well as some news from my Mayan class - that there is no class tomorrow, because the professor's toddler son has the flu (apparently pretty badly; they went to the emergency room today). This would be good news if not for the facts that (a) I need a photocopy from him of a source I need for an essay that's due Friday, and (b) he assigned us three more articles to read, along with a few questions to answer - which wouldn't be so bad except that we have our first essay due Friday (complete with PowerPoint presentation and handouts for our classmates) and these assignment are due Wednesday and Friday. You'd think he'd want to give us a day without any other work to do so that we could put the proper amount of work into our essays, but I guess not. Grr, why did I sign up for this class?!
Speaking of classes, the spring course catalog is online, and my schedule is going to look like this: Persian 102, Phonology II (not the same as Phonetics - phonology is better), Historical Linguistics, and Language Acquisition. Three classes on MWF, one on TR - same as right now, except nothing before noon (!!!). Not bad. Now I just have to see if my babysitting client's schedule is going to work out in a way that we can continue our current arrangement.
On tap for this week: grad student study group tomorrow (to work on our syntax homework, which is not as bad as phonetics, but close), four swim practices, one five-mile run, two trips to the weight room, Jaguars vs. Steelers on Monday Night Football, two mornings of babysitting, the Gray's Anatomy premiere, and that ultrasound on my arm on Friday. Which is going to suck, because the lump has now shrunk again (it's hormonal, I'm telling you) and I have a sneaking suspicion that they will brand me a hypochondriac, declare not to see anything, and send me home, upon which the lump will return in all its glory after another week or two and I won't know what to do. Sigh. It's been six months... I just want to know what it IS already.
Okay, time to go to bed now. (My insomnia has, knock on wood, mysteriously vanished, which is why I'm not worried about still being awake at 2:15am. Also, since I don't have my 11am class tomorrow, I can sleep in an extra hour. Woohoo!)
Life in North Carolina forges on - no more cars crashing into buses, which I suppose is a good thing, but there are of course other things to deal with, like broken cell phones and persistent insomnia and the tightening of the homework noose.
Yes, it's that time again - the crest of the first wave of work for the semester. The professors have all decided that we've had enough time to settle into things and that now they can start laying the heavy assignments on us. Yet for some reason, I'm actually not having trouble motivating myself and keeping on top of things. Knock on wood, I guess, but here it is Friday night (okay, Saturday morning, technically) and I've already finished the two assignments that are due Monday (both of which I was just given today). I'm sort of wondering how long this studious attitude of mine will last. I'm not usually so - so - so diligent when it comes to schoolwork. The downside of always being one of the smartest kids was that (the last two years of IB excepted) I never had to put out the same amount of effort as everyone else, therefore I never really developed any good study habits. On the other hand, I do remember being in fifth grade and having a teacher whose system was to give us a homework timetable every Monday, listing everything we had to do for homework each day of that week. My method back then was always to dash it all off on Monday (usually during class), to get it out of the way so I could enjoy the rest of my week without worrying about schoolwork. Maybe that eleven-year-old 'bite the bullet' attitude is what's going on here. Whatever it is, I hope it sticks around longer than just the first few weeks.
The exercise regime has been going pretty well, too:
Swimming. Readjusting to the demands of pool swimming was hard for the first couple of days, but I'm surprised by how fast it's coming back this time. The first day or two, I was among the very slowest, and today (my 7th practice with this team) I was leading the lane. Of course, it's the slowest lane - this team is good, higher caliber than UF's club team, and there are a ton of swimmers, about 35-40 at every practice - but I don't really care where I fall in the 'pack' as far as time goes, as long as I see progress and feel good in the water. Which I do, so I'm happy with that. Tonight we all went out for dinner after practice - over 30 people crammed into a tiny pizza and pasta joint - and it was a lot of fun.
Running. The running is going well, too - I can do five miles twice a week without it feeling very difficult (except for that godforsaken loooong hill on campus). The only problem is chafing - I've pared down my clothing as much as possible, to a sports bra and shorts with no iPod armband, but I still get chafed (badly enough to where it scabs the next day) on my inner arms and thighs if I don't use that special powder-gel cream beforehand (which I forget half the time). Oh, well.
Lifting. I'm also lifting weights again, albeit only 2-3 times a week and very quickly - the girls who work behind the counter at Student Rec think I'm crazy because I drop in, work out for 15-20 minutes, and then leave again. ("How was the workout?" they always ask with a giggle.) Still, if the gym is empty, my routine really doesn't take that long - usually just 2 x 10 reps on the lat pulldown, tricep pulldown, and pec deck, plus bicep curls and lateral raises with the free weights. Sometimes I'll do a few leg exercises if I haven't gone running recently, but most of my strength is in my legs as it is, so most of the time I don't feel the need to work them very strenuously. I also used to do ab exercises in the gym at UF, but the bench here is incredibly uncomfortable and doesn't fit me well at all, no matter how I try to adjust it, so I've given up on that. Crunches on my bedroom carpet will be fine.
Cycling. I don't have my bike yet, so I haven't actually been cycling at all - which makes me worry about that 25-mile bike leg of the triathlon next month. It's been annoying, too, because there's been more than one occasion where I've been late for something and haven't been able to do anything about it but wait, because my only transportation option was/is the bus. (We thought UF parking was bad, but UNC takes it to a whole other level!) Anyway, I'll finally have the bike a week from today, because my aunt (who's in Florida right now) is bringing it home with her to South Carolina when she comes back, so I'll take a road trip down there next weekend to get it. And possibly to do some shopping in Charlotte for what to wear to my cousin (her son)'s wedding in December. (It's a well known fact that I cannot be trusted to do my own clothes shopping for important events, much to the disgust of my mother and fashion-conscious younger sister.)
She's also bringing my old cell phone (since the display has died on my current one - hurray for expensive Samsungs, now may I have my Nokia back?) as well as all the little random things I forgot to bring with me - a couple of books, my bike pump, a DVD Dad made me of Johnny Depp's recent interview on Letterman, an extra power adapter for my laptop, my scale, my webcam and microphone, my pencil cup, and... a pack of Dutch pancake mix which is STILL in the pantry at home and which I intend to (finally) use by making pancakes for my roommates.
Well, two of my roommates, anyway - the two who are grad students. We won't get into the details of our difficulties with the lone sophomore in the bunch, but suffice it to say that we suspect she's never really lived with other people before and thus has no clue as to the general courtesies apartment-mates should afford one another. (Like: take the trash out once in a while, don't scream obscenities into your cell phone every night at 3am, tell Liz right away when her belongings get broken, don't leave huge pots of food in the fridge for weeks, don't give your boyfriend your apartment key if you're not with him, and please buy your own goddamn dishes.) Anyway, we're going to have a meeting sometime in the near future and discuss "division of labor", as it were, and hopefully bring all these things tactfully to light, since it seems they're just not as instinctive for her as they are for the rest of us.
Oh, and about the English Channel? I finally - dare I say it? - have a full team. Linda, the woman from Scotland, is still on board, as is Tommy, the one UNCer to respond to my first email about the subject way back at the beginning of the summer. The other three swimmers, unbelievably, are all UNCers too - Justin, Dan, and Danielle. I'm still waiting on final confirmation from Danielle, but her mother has given the go-ahead (I've been emailing with her), so I'm hoping I'll hear an affirmative answer from Danielle any time now. Linda's mom and Justin's dad are also coming along as support crew members, meaning we now have all 8 beds full AND - assuming the team stays exactly as it is now - we have one girls' trailer and one boys' trailer, since we're evenly split down the middle as far as numbers go. Linda is paying (or has already paid?) our 200-pound accommodation deposit - the advantage of having a UKer on the team: easy, pounds-to-pounds, personal-check transactions instead of messy, dollars-to-pounds, expensive wire transfers! - and I'm in the process of collecting our shares to pay her back. Once I've got everyone's $48 (which is what it came out to), I'll finally be able to draw a breath free of anxiety, and feel a little more secure in the fact that I finally, finally, finally have a solid team.
So - this update ought to take everyone several weeks to read - does it make up for my lack of posting since I've gotten here? Hope so.
That'll teach me to complain about not having anything to say... this afternoon on my way to class, a car hit our bus! We were turning left (on green, obviously) and a red Jeep Wrangler ran the red light and hit us on the left side (quite close to where I was sitting!) I guess the driver was just distracted or fiddling with the radio or not paying attention or maybe even deliberately thinking he had enough time to run the red light when he didn't... but at any rate, we all saw him coming and had just enough time to go 'whoa!', and then BAM! It wasn't really that big of a bump for us - most everyone's first reaction was shocked laughter, actually - but one of the bus's side panels was crushed in and the Jeep's hood was badly crumpled. (No air bags, I might add... the car was that old.) The driver, a student-age guy, wasn't hurt (aside from the kick in the ego that comes from being pointed/stared/laughed at by 40 students who are all thinking, "I'm soooo glad I'm not you right now!"), but the second it happened he lowered his head and started banging on the steering wheel, like 'damn, damn, damn'. Then he got out of the car, and I noticed he had been driving barefoot - he had to drop his flipflops on the ground and step into them as he got out. I didn't think anything of it, because it's legal to drive barefoot in Florida, but somebody told me later that they thought it was illegal here. We all had to fill out accident reports, and I guess I should have mentioned that, but didn't think it was that odd until later. Oh well.
Anyway, so I had my first legitimate excuse for being late to class. "My bus got hit by a car." "WHAT?!" LOL...
I guess I'm not posting as often as I normally would, but I just can't seem to think of anything to say. It's taken me a week to come up with enough stuff for a post.
Milestones this week:
I got a TV - an early Christmas present from Mom and Dad - a 15" flat-screen. Now I can watch my Jaguar games and Gilmore Girls (and the Extreme Makeover Home Edition Labor Day marathon...) Plus, it came with a free DVD player, so now I can watch my movies on a bigger screen than that of my laptop.
We're back to a six-man Channel team - suddenly, what with all the new people who have joined the email listserv since the year started, interest has been big. So now it's five UNC students and a 43-year-old woman from Scotland. That's got to lend itself to some interesting team names... Suggestions?
Suddenly, I'm able to run five miles nonstop without it being all that difficult. Which is great, since we're four weeks and five days away from my first Olympic-distance triathlon, with a six-mile run at the end.
I get to go visit my aunt in South Carolina in two weeks, because she's going home to Jacksonville for a visit and she's going to bring my bike back with her (plus a couple of books and a few other things I forgot). That's exciting, because I haven't been out of Chapel Hill since I got here, and I think I'm ready for another road trip. :)
Daily dose of randomness: I saw a Discovery Channel show yesterday about a potential transatlantic train, from New York to London. It would go through a tube 80 meters below the surface, its depth controlled by ballast tanks (like in a submarine) with metal cables anchoring it to the ocean floor for extra security. Current train technology can only go at about 500 miles per hour, so they would eliminate air resistance by making the tube a vacuum, and eliminate friction by having the train 'float' on a magnetic field (a system which actually already exists in some places). After a gradual acceleration (to reduce the G-forces on the passengers), it would be able to travel at 5000 miles per hour, and would reach London in 54 minutes! Let me tell you, my jaw was on the floor. I don't know if I'll see that in my lifetime, but think of the possibilities! We could go anywhere - so, so fast!