Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Midweek Update

Climbing on Monday night was phenomenal. Scott and I went with Nathan, who I’ve met once before when we all went tango dancing, and Rachel, who I just met that night and who made a great climbing partner. I felt nice and strong and was much closer to completing some routes that were pretty inaccessible the last time I went. Yay!

I did a track workout on Tuesday - I don’t think it took as long as last week’s – it was a bunch of short sprints, between 20 and 100 meters, instead of all those 400’s, but it certainly felt harder. I guess it’s because I’m just not used to that kind of workout. The Cardozo track right by my house was open, so I got to use that instead of the one up by Scott’s house. I had forgotten how much nicer (softer) it is. My warm-up laps felt like moon walking!

I spent the rest of the night at Scott’s house. We watched Walk the Line, which was a pretty good substitute for Swan Lake. Every time I woke up during the night, I had Johnny Cash music in my head. Not a bad thing – I really like it and am thinking of downloading some.

Tonight I’m off to a Josh Ritter conert – Aaron spearheaded the outing, and convinced Jesseca, Liz, Scott and I to join him. We’re missing BRDM practice on a beautiful evening, but I’m pretty sure it will be worth it.

Tomorrow… climbing or violin? I should practice. I haven’t practiced since Sunday, and I’m going to a tournament this weekend, so I won’t have another opportunity to practice until Monday. Also, going climbing means getting to bed pretty late; I’m already a behind on sleep this week and certainly won’t get caught up this weekend! But climbing is so fun, so addictive. We’ll see what my muscles have to say about it tomorrow.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Good Monday Morning News

Jesseca passed her exams, and Alissa and Chris found a beautiful little house to move into this summer. Hooray!

My sister was racing all weekend, but I haven't seen her yet. Hopefully the rain didn't make things completely miserable for them...

Practicing Handel instead of handling

One of the nicest things I did this weekend was practice my violin. Wet fields suddenly opened up my Sunday afternoon schedule (BRDM practice was canceled), so I played the violin for two hours. I surprised myself - I expected to get sore or frustrated after 20 minutes, but in fact it felt wonderful. My brand new D string is still getting stretched out, so I had to retune it between every piece, and sometimes in the middle of a piece, but besides that my instrument sounded good.

Last night I dreamt about playing. I heard this story on NPR, about a violin exhibit at the Library of Congress, and I dreamt that my violin was on display there. I was visiting it, and even though the library had just closed, the librarian let me take it out and play it. My alarm went off just as I was trying to tune the D string.

I'm impatient to play again, but I'm going climbing tonight instead.

Another nice thing I did this weekend - danced in the kitchen with Scott while we made dinner and an apple pie to celebrate his birthday.

Friday, April 21, 2006

This Friday feels like a Monday.

Remember how in December I was really looking forward to The Nutcracker but then it was canceled and we couldn't go?

You know how I was really looking forward Swan Lake next week? I just found out:



The producers of Matthew Bourne's SWAN LAKE -- Back Row Productions and NETworks Presentations in association with New Adventures -- informed the Warner Theatre on April 20, 2006 that the international touring production of the show will be going on hiatus effective April 24, 2006, thereby canceling the planned engagement at the Warner Theatre. Future engagements for the show are planned for Paris, London, Australia and Moscow.

Business Week cover story

A big story about Second Life. Yay for more coverage in mainstream media!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Climbing, climbing, climbing, I get to go climbing tonight!

Turtles, turtles, turtles, I get to see (not be) Trampled by Turtles tomorrow!

Exciting news at work today.
1. It's our birthday! A year ago today, The Electric Sheep Company was incorporated in Delaware.
2. We trying out a Skype-like program in Second Life, which enables an avatar to call himself in Real Life. Crazy!

Big things of the world can only be achieved by attending to their small beginnings. -Lao-Tzu

I did a track workout last night, by myself. I wasn't sure I'd be able to. Running 400m ten times is a daunting task, particularly when you're out of shape from a winter of not playing, and you've got nothing but your conscience to make you do them. Add to that the fact that I hate 400's with a passion, and you'll see why I was fairly certain I'd come up with an excuse for myself to get out of doing them.

But no! Miraculously, I did the workout!

After work, I went home and got changed. Then I got myself to the track. I got warmed up and stretched out. I ran the first three 400's. And then I ran two more and was halfway done. A little while later, I had only two more to go. And then, somehow, I was on my last one! My body hurt, but I finished! (Many, many thanks, by the way, to Jerry for supplying the soundtrack. I listened to a fantastic dance mix he gave me last year. Definitely more fun to think about dancing than about pounding down the track!)

An hour before The Workout, I was in a state of absolute dread. I was almost in tears on the bike ride to the track. But an hour after it was finished, I was kind of wanted to go back and do it again. Here's what Wikipedia has to say:
Although "adrenaline junkie" is usually used facetiously without any genuine implication of addiction, there may be an element of truth to the term. Many of the key elements of addiction are present in the behaviour of an adrenaline junkie:

1. An altered state of consciousness (in this case called an "adrenaline rush") causes desirable physiological and psychological effects.
2. The altered state eventually disappears, leaving a "crash" in its wake, usually involving feelings of disappointment and depression.
3. During the crash phase, craving for another rush manifests itself, prompting a search for a new rush.

This creates a pattern which is reminiscent of the classical addiction cycle.

An adrenaline rush is usually accompanied by an increase in endorphin activity. Endorphins are responsible for feelings of well being, as well as pain relief. Due to synaptic plasticity, increased endorphin activity creates an increase in endorphin receptor sites, which in turn can create a stronger desire for endorphins. Synaptic plasticity and receptor site proliferation are widely believed to be the mechanisms by which chemical addictions are developed.

However, the same can be said for any endorphin-stimulating activity, whether laughter, physical exertion, artistic expression, religious experience, or sexual intercourse. Although synaptic plasticity may responsible for chemical addictions, it is also believed to be involved in reinforcement, the mechanism by which animals learn to differentiate what is desirable from what is undesirable. Seen in this context, chemical addiction could simply be seen as an aberrant form of plasticity.

Although the effects of adrenaline is largely positive, increasing cardiovascular activity and oxygenation, extended or chronic adrenal stimulation can eventually lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and other stress-related diseases.

Instead of feeding the addiction, I fed my body. Margo had never been to Pasta Mia, so I took her there for a birthday dinner. It was excellent, and we had to wait just long enough to allow me to get hungry. We got gnocchi and ravioli, half a liter of the house red and, of course, tiramisu. Happy birthday Sis!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Jazz in the Garden starts May 26

Mark your calendars!
Enjoy summer evenings of jazz in the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden from May 26–September 15, 2006. Every Friday evening from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., rain or shine, experience an eclectic mix of top Washington-area jazz artists. Concerts take place in front of the Pavilion Café next to the grand reflecting pool and fountain. The café also offers a seasonal light fare menu and cold beverages during the Friday evening series. Sculpture Garden hours are extended to 9:30 p.m. on these nights.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter Weekend

A quick recap...

Lauriol Plaza after work on Friday was great. Good company, good sangria, AND we got to sit right next to the tortilla-making machine. Darn cool. I went to the Good Friday service after that - my first in a few years. It's a somber affair, but it felt good to go. I rounded out the night at Delafield; Scott and I put ingredients into the bread machine so that we could have fresh bread for breakfast and played Scrabble.

My father's daughter, I got up early on Saturday for coffee and some reading. Saturday morning might be my favorite time of the week. I spent the afternoon running errands and doing chores and then met Scott down at the National Gallery to see the Dada exhibit. We only got through a few galleries before it closed, but I'm not quite interested enough to go back. First I want to see the Housaki show at the Sackler. The gallery closed at 5, and it was absolutely gorgeous outside, so we laid down on the Mall and worked on the crossword puzzle for a little while.

We went climbing later on, but we arrived late and the gym closes early on Saturdays, so I didn't get to do much. I did buy a pair of climbing shoes for myself so that I won't have to rent them anymore! They're nice and tight and barely comfortable. After pointe shoes and cleats, though, I can't imagine what other damage they can inflict on my feet. A trip to DQ, a meandering drive home listening to Johnny Cash on WETA, a collapse into bed.

On Sunday, I had breakfast with my sis, and then we went to the 10:30 Easter service. We got to sing all of my favorite Easter hymns, and it was so nice to see the church full of flowers after being stripped bare on Friday. Such an uplifting service. BRDM practice that afternoon went well, but I should have worn sunscreen. Am definitely feeling the effects today!

An interesting tidbit from the Writer's Almanac:
The word "Easter" comes from an ancient pagan goddess worshipped by Anglo Saxons named Eostre. According to legend, Eostre once saved a bird whose wings had frozen during the winter by turning the bird into a rabbit. Because the rabbit had once been a bird, it could still lay eggs, and that rabbit became our Easter Bunny.

Also, I'm thinking of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. The next orientation meeting isn't until May 11th, so I won't be able to start for a little while. But I think it would be fun.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Swan Lake!

Only 11 days to go. Here are some dance videos to watch...

Thinking in Four Dimensions
The bottom video is the famous Four Little Swans variation, quite truncated. (The top video is a neat modern dance.)

From the Edinburgh International Festival
Video Clip 1 shows the Four Little Swans much more clearly.

Wiki has a few videos, towards the bottom of the page.
Two pas de deux, plus Odile's 32 fouettes!

A post for the sake of posting

A quiet, slow Friday. Looking forward to 5 pm when I get to meet up with Liz, Michelle and Jesseca. Only one drink for me, though, as I'd rather not be fuzzy-headed at the Good Friday service.

Did a track workout last night with Scott. I definitely would have skipped it if he hadn't ignored my whining and dragged me out. I'm really glad he did! I hate 400's... but when they're over the feeling of accomplishment is wonderful. I guess they'll make me faster and stronger on the field, and that could be a motivating factor in getting me to do them. But really it's the fact that the sooner I start, the sooner I'll finish, that gets me out there.

Waking up at 6:00 this morning to meet Liz for a 7:00 pilates class was about ten times easier.

No big plans for the weekend, besides attending an Easter service and BRDM practice. I might go shoe shopping; I want climbing shoes of my own.

What a boring post! My apologies. Go watch the Italian scooter ad again.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I Dream of Rimini

Tonight is the opening party of Paganello, a big beautiful international Beach Ultimate tournament in Italy. I got to go in '04 and '05, but not this year. I opted for Guatemala instead, and would do so again in a heartbeat. But that doesn't mean I'm not dying to be there right now!

On the Italian theme, here's a really terrific ad for an Italian scooter. Thanks for finding it Aaron!

Climbing Rocks!

I saw that on a tee-shirt, so I take no credit/blame for your groans.
I got to go climbing with Scott and Jack last night!
As usual, I can't wait to go again. I wasn't ready to leave at the end of the night, even though my muscles were like Jell-O. My hand and forearm muscles didn't tire nearly as quickly as they did on my first two excursions, and little by little, I feel like I'm getting the hang (if you will) of new moves. I'm going to get shoes and a harness for myself sometime soon...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Australian suicide dream

Crazy vivid dream sometime last night. Something about climbing beautiful sunny cliffs in Australia. The woman (I couldn't tell if it was me or not...) kept wanting to roll off into the ocean as some sort of beautiful, heroic suicide. Her partner (either me or Scott, I'm not sure...) kept preventing her from doing that, and they/we kept climbing to one more ledge. But eventually she rolled off and he followed her into the ocean.

And then we were ghosts together, but very tangible ghosts. And my cousin Jeremy was there warning us about the extremely dangerous guinea pigs. They'd attack and gnaw you or something, or maybe they were more like the bunny in Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail

A visually beautiful dream, but strange.

I was reading plot synopses of Swan Lake today, since Scott's taking me to see it later this month. Different productions give it different endings, but
In the version currently (2005) danced by American Ballet Theatre, Siegfried's mistaken pledge of fidelity to Odile consigns Odette to eternal swanhood. Realizing that her last moment of humanity is at hand, Odette commits suicide by throwing herself into the lake. The Prince does so as well. (From Wikipedia)
So maybe I had a Swan Lake dream last night?

I had another dream, a nice simple one. I dreamt that my left big toenail was no longer bruised and lumpy. It had miraculously shed its ugly top layer and was smooth and white. I didn't realize it was a dream until I changed my socks at the gym today and saw the offending toenail. It's going to take forever to grow out. Sigh.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Monday PM

I tried to practice my violin last night; it's one of those things I've been meaning to do for quite some time, and finally found the time, energy, motivation, lack of people to disturb, etc. Sadly, I took out my instrument and discovered I had a broken D string. So I picked up a new set of strings today after lunch (a nice kebab lunch with Team Dinner Party). Cheap, not the brand I usually get, but convenient. Good enough until I can order a nicer replacement online. Good enough to let me practice tonight! I'm excited!

We didn't get to go climbing over the weekend. It was pretty wet outside. But a lazy day at Delafield is nothing to sneeze at, especially when it involves baking banana bread and playing Scrabble.

Sunday was gorgeous. Palm Sunday service in the morning, first BRDM practice of the year in the afternoon.

Right now I'm waiting for immigrants' rights demonstrators to come marching past my office. Sixteenth Street is still open to traffic. I thought they'd close it by now.

Friday, April 07, 2006


Hey, I just bought my plane tickets to Duluth so that I can go see my brother graduate in June! Hooray!

AND it's Friday afternoon.
And it's not raining anymore.
And I might get to go climbing with Scott tomorrow. Outdoors!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Trampled by Turtles!

Hailing from Duluth, Minnesota, Trampled by Turtles (TBT) is an original, non-traditional bluegrass band whose raucous live performances put a unique spin on the genre, tweaking the tradition with their own mix of punk, alt-country, rock and pop.

Fredachi introduced me to this band, and as I was downloading some of their music this morning, I noticed that they're coming to DC (well, Arlington) on April 20th! There's more info on the IOTA Club and Cafe site. Yay Duluth bands!

IOTA is also hosting Cloud Cult, another Minnesota band, on the 16th. Yay for Minnesotan music!

I got to go climbing last night with Scott, Erin and Nina. I was tired and sore from a long-ish day at work but left the gym feeling rejuvinated. I was definitely tired and sore, but as the result of physical challenges instead of computer screens. As usual, I can't wait to go back.

On my bike to work this morning, I passed someone mowing a lawn. It smelled wonderful. It's so exciting that summer is on its way!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


What I did at work today...

Here I am at an astrology gazebo in, a virtual world sort of like Second Life.

Here's a view up a hill to the St. Louis Cathedral in Cabildos. I tried to go inside but couldn't find a functional door.

Here I am talking to another resident. We're trying to figure out how to look up. I imagine this church has nice spires, but I really can't figure out how to raise my virtual head to look at things above eye level. Sadly, you can't fly in There.

220 of My Favorite Photos from Guatemala

I finally got my photos up and organized on!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Sproats Go to Washington

The past weekend was pretty darn nice.

1) It started on Thursday night. My parents flew in, and Margaret and Scott and I met them at Coppi's for dinner. Margaret made friends with the owner and scored a free t-shirt when he discovered she's a cyclist. It was my parents' first time meeting Scott, an event that went well by all accounts. And, of course, the meal was excellent. It's organic Italian cuisine. If you live in DC and haven't been, go!

2) While my parents admired the peaking cherry blossoms, Scott and I drove down to Fredericksburg to join the Mighty Mighty Hurricanes (Amherst High School's alum team) at Fools Fest. I was nervous going into it - I hadn't played in months and wasn't looking forward to being rusty and out of shape. But I didn't feel all that bad after all - it would have been nearly impossible to feel bad under such great weather conditions and alongside such fun, spirited teammates. We played (and won) three games, and then

(3) Scott and I headed back to DC for another dinner with my family - this time a birthday celebration at Chez Limon for the women. Mom and I have March birthdays, and Margaret is an Aries. We arrived exhausted and hungry and very appreciative of my sister's vegetable lasagna. Carrot birthday cake, a little gift exchange (hooray for buying presents in Guatemala!), the Guatemala slideshow for Mom and Dad, and bed.

(4) Will kindly picked us up on Saturday morning for Day 2 of the tournament. Again, gorgeous weather, fabulous teammates. We won 2 of our 3 games and played really well all day long. We finished around 4 which meant we had a long time to crash at the hotel before the tournament party. Showering, eating pizza, watching the George Mason basketball game, napping.

(5) It's a good thing I volunteered to help out at the party. Otherwise I would have gone straight to bed and missed it entirely. Instead, Scott and Nick and I (Nick, who I met 5 years ago as a coworker at Explo and haven't heard from since!) headed downstairs where we poured beer for an hour. I managed to dance and socialize until 12:30, and then I was very done for the day.

(6) My parents came out to watch on Sunday! They saw our 14-13 win over Donkey Bomb and our 15-8 loss (but well-played loss) to the Brown University alums. It was really really wonderful to have them there - they haven't seen me play real (non-Duluth pickup) Ultimate before. They couldn't have picked nicer weather or a more exciting game to watch. Many thanks to my friends who chatted with them on the sidelines and filled them in on what was going on! My parents headed back to DC while the rest of us lingered - we had finals to watch, sun to soak, alcohol to consume.

(7) We stopped at Dairy Queen on the way home.

(8) Super quick showers before meeting the parents and sister at Tono Sushi in Woodley Park for dinner. Lovely! I often feel like I'd be friends with my family even if I weren't related to them. I wish we could have spent more time together... but I'll be heading home for Fred's graduation in June and will spend about a week there, so I'll get to see a lot of them then.

I feel like this list should extend to 10. So... 2 little post-weekend tack-ons.

(9) I went running after work yesterday, because I wanted to see the cherry blossoms one more time. They were beautiful, and they smelled beautiful. I was doubly glad I went when I did, because there was a big storm last night and the petals were all rained and blown down.

(10)Only three weeks now until Swan Lake! Scott's taking me since our Nutcracker date was such a sad failure.

Go Scott go!

This guy makes me so happy!

Almost as Cool as Pi Day

On Wednesday of this week, at two minutes and three seconds after one o'clock in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.

Monday, April 03, 2006

One more article

One more Sheep article - this is the best one I've seen so far that describes what our company does.