To be fair, there are also theoretical physicists in my building, so if I had to take a guess I’d say it was one of them. You’d think after going to school with so many budding scientists and engineers I’d be used to it, but there’s always something new. They never cease to amaze me.
Will and I found out that last week was National Park Week upon our arrival to Pinnacles National Park on Sunday morning, which was filled to the brim with screaming children and lines for the bathroom. Flup.
We had to park in an overflow lot and eventually accepted what we thought was a 1.2 mile hike to the start of our intended hiking loop, in order to avoid sharing a shuttle with said children. We later found out that the approach trail was closer to 2.7 miles. And by later, I mean about 45 minutes in, when we finally found the start of the loop next to a sign pointing back they way we had come that said “Visitor’s Center: 2.7 miles”. Will was not pleased.
Ultimately, we hiked about 9 miles on the trail, although we did do some extra exploring to find some climbing spots, so I’d round up to fifty miles or so total. Somewhere in that ballpark. At the end of the hike, we end up taking the shuttle back to our car from Bear Gulch, so I guess technically it’s more of a scribble or a poorly drawn sigma than a loop, but you get the point.
And now for story time. One of the sections called High Peaks is quite steep and narrow, and Will and I were quite excited when made it to the top. As we passed another couple up there, the woman turned towards me and said, “Good for you.” No exclamation point, no emphasis, just a statement of fact. Being a rational human being, I assumed she was talking to her partner and kept hiking.
Will, on the other hand, looked all confused, and as we were walking away from the couple he turned to me and said, “Was she talking to you?” A few seconds later: “Hmm, that was a bit condescending.”
Now I was the confused one, because I couldn’t think of a good reason for a total stranger to congratulate me, let alone why that would be condescending. My first and best guess was that the woman was complimenting me on the attractiveness of my boyfriend. I’ll admit he’s quite dapper. But that’s a compliment, for Will at least. Maybe I appeared to be batting out of my league? The messy hair probably didn’t help.
Will, of course, went in a totally different direction. He thought that the woman might be complimenting us for making it up the steep climb, because maybe we looked like we barely made it up the mountain? Which is, indeed, condescending. But come on, we weren’t crawling the last few meters or anything.
We ultimately came to the conclusion that the woman couldn’t have been talking to me, but it makes for some fun speculating. Will and I had a good time coming up with other reasons she may have wanted to compliment me:
We have an awesome camelbak (thanks to my brother)
It’s a beautiful day out for hiking, good for us for coming out
Good for us for being chipper in the face of such a steep trail
My hiking leggings are pretty fly (in Will’s words: “Maybe she was complimenting you on your outfit?”)
And finally, good for you for making it to the end of the post. I very much appreciate it.
Since my mother is currently working as a doctor in New Zealand, Will and I along with my brother jumped on the chance to visit her for a few weeks during the summer months.
Days it took me to write this post: 41
Technically we got back on March 9th, so I’m only a little over a month behind…
Spiders killed during a single 3-hour kayak trip down the river: 12
I counted. I kid you not. You’d think that once you kill a few spiders on a kayak, you’re good to go for a while, because it’s in the water and all. Not true. And we all know how much I like spiders.
Total spiders killed during my stay (approximate): A million gazillion
Clearly this is an overestimate; it’s probably more in the two zillion range.
Total hours of travel to get from my house in San Francisco to my mother’s house in the middle of nowhere: 18
This is more hours than I’m usually awake, but it’s better than that one time it took me 44 hours of straight travel to get to my hotel in India.
Total hours spent on a plane: 27
I’m counting the little helicopter hop we did in order to explore an active volcano.
Hours from touchdown in Auckland until I got sunburnt: approximately 5
Which is impressive because we landed at 7am.
Times there were cows in the middle of the road: 1
I swear, you never actually see the cows moving, but you turn around and turn back and they magically appear somewhere else. It’s crazy business, kinda like those flying cows from France.
Times we ate ice cream at Blueberry Corner: 5
Which is just about the cutest name for an ice cream shop.
Times we had some sort of zucchini for dinner: 9
Out of 13 dinners, that’s pretty impressive. Check out the size of these things, grown in my mother’s backyard.
Number of days I wore a bathing suit: all of them
We literally went to a beach/river/hot spring every single day. Did I mention how awesome New Zealand is yet?
Number of hobbit holes we saw in Hobbiton: 44, plus the Green Dragon pub
Minutes to bike around the whole town: 15
And that’s if you go the long way.
Minutes to the beach by bike: 7
More like ten if you’re moseying along like Will. Still pretty good though.
Hot springs experienced: 3
New Zealand is on the famed Ring of Fire in the Pacific and has a lot of geothermal activity, which saavy businessmen basically turn into giant pool-sized hot tubs. We did go in one natural spring, which fed right into a cold river such that you could choose your own temperature by moving closer to or further away from the hot spring. It was pretty cool.
I’m sure lots of other fun things happened, too, besides the spiders, obviously, but I’m terrible at taking photos of it all. Thanks to Will and my mother for taking most of these.
No matter how many tutus they are wearing. It’s not like they can dance on those spindly legs of theirs anyways.
Today was the second time in two months that I found a ginormous spider in the shower at the SLAC gym. And for those who are asking, yes, ginormous is in the dictionary. Sometimes I wonder who’s in charge over there, because “twerk”, “fauxhawk”, “selfie”, and “apols” have also been officially added in. Don’t know what “apols” means? I’ll save you the time of looking it up–it’s short for apologies. Seriously. Someone decided that was a good enough reason to get it added to the bible of the American language. Notice I said American, not English, because NO ONE in England is going to say “apols” ever. That would be akin to skipping afternoon tea.
Now that we’re back from that slightly ridiculous but oh-so-necessary tangent, we can discuss the overabundance of spiders in the gym shower. I was happily washing my hair and cooling down from a sweaty lunchtime soccer game* when I turned around and saw his black beady eyes staring down at me. From a vantage point just out of reach on the wall of the shower, I just know he was taunting me, ready to strike if I so much as dared to disrupt his afternoon siesta with a spray of water.
But daring, I am not. At least not in the face of so many black spindly legs. I stared at him for the remainder of my shower, which involved rinsing out whatever soap was currently on me and getting the heck out of there. I couldn’t look away, because the worst possible thing would have been for me to look back to find that he’d gone.
After the fastest shower I’ve taken since the last time I’d stumbled** upon a spider, I rushed to the lobby (with clothes on, I promise) and told the gym manager about it. She happens to be fearless and marched right into the locker room with a broom. A minute later she came out with the spider clinging to the broom, went outside, and proceeded to deposit the spider right into the bushes outside the door. I mean, come on, if you’re not going to squash the little guy***, you could at least put him down across the parking lot or something. I’m not going to be surprised if he scurries right back into the locker room, ready to pounce on any unsuspecting gym-goers. Or suspecting ones. I’m going to keep a watch out, that’s for sure.
*70 degree weather in February for the win. This is why I deal with commuting in the Bay.
**It was literally on the floor by my foot. I was traumatized, if you can’t tell.
***I’m not saying that spiders all deserve to die, because I realize that they kill mosquitoes, who are the actual scum of the earth. There’s a tough toss-up there.
Make no mistake, I appreciate the instant connectivity provided by my smartphone as much as anyone, and fast-forwarding through commercials with DVR is possibly the greatest thing since sliced bread, or maybe since designers made dresses with pockets*. But sometimes, a moment of reflection between an action and its consequence can make all the difference.
For example, my bathroom both currently and at home growing up is a combination shower/tub, so once the water starts running for the tub there’s a little thingy (for lack of a better word) to pull that diverts the water to the shower head. And the shower head water is always freezing, no matter how hot the bathtub spigot water was before I pulled the trigger. When switching from the faucet to the shower, I seriously need that 1-2 second delay to get out of range and post up on my tippy-toes on the back wall of the shower, so that the water has time to warm up before I hop back in. It’s a critical part of my morning routine, and if I’m too slow I get shocked.
In a similar vein, Gmail’s “undo” function has saved me from many potentially awkward situations: spelling people’s names wrong even though it’s clearly spelled out in their email address, sending to the wrong person, asking dumb questions, etc. I tend to proofread quickly, click send, process what I saw, and frantically click “undo” to fix the mistake. This also applies for Gmail’s “you said there was an attachment but didn’t actually attach anything, do you really want to send this (you idiot)?” feature. Lifesaving. Or at least, awkward-email-mitigating.
Other times I enjoy getting delayed:
When there’s traffic but I’m listening to a really good audiobook so I don’t care if I’m late to work
Also that one time I missed my highway exit because I was super into my audiobook (check out anything by Ken Follett; I particularly liked Eye of the Needle)
When the ski chairlift stops and you have a perfect view of the terrain park, or the ski team slalom area
When your friend won’t tell you the answer to a riddle but then you figure it out all by yourself and feel pretty darn accomplished**
See, it’s not always a bad thing. Particularly the shower example. Cold showers are the worst.
*I wore one such dress to both my high school and college graduations, and found that I could store many fun distractions in the pockets, like paper clips and silly putty. I don’t recommend putting silly putty in a dress pocket if you ever want to wear it again.
**One of my favorites: He who makes it, has no need of it. He who buys it, has no use for it. He who uses it can neither see nor feel it. What is it?
Will and I had a lovely weekend at Mt. Rose just north of Lake Tahoe. The snow wasn’t great, but it was beautiful and sunny outside and we had a wonderful time skiing, watching the ski team practice slalom racing, watching others checking out Will and his sweet ski suit, and attempting to take a few selfies (#strugglebus).
The breakroom in my office at SLAC is a place fraught with spilled coffee, the CERN Courier (the magazine of our over-shadowing and vastly superior big-brother of an accelerator), and conversations with people who don’t want to go back to work and will thus trap you forever with continued chatter. It can be a dark place regardless of the full-length windows, which incidentally look right out over the parking lot so people can tell when you get to work and when you leave. Dang it.
People will sometimes leave extra food/snacks/desserts in the breakroom that are up for grabs, and just today there was a bag of freshly picked lemons waiting for me as I went to fill up my water bottle this morning. But alas–as I was filling the bottle and daydreaming about some fresh lemon slices in my water, another lady walked into the breakroom, saw the lemons, and proceeded to grab the entire bag and walk away. There must have been twenty lemons in there. What is she going to do with all those lemons?! There has to be some universal moral rule about taking more than one free piece of food from the breakroom. I haven’t actually seen this particular lady in my building before, but she will henceforth be known as the Lemon Thief. I will keep you updated if she makes a reappearance.
Some other questionable behavior I’ve come across in the breakroom:
Microwaving your pasta for six minutes. It really doesn’t need to be that hot. I hope you burned your tongue.
Taking up a bunch of space in the fridge with a whole freakin shopping bag full of food. You can store your lunch for the week at home and leave some space for the rest of us.
Letting the drain on the espresso machine get so full that it overflows. There’s a little red float thingy that tells you when it’s time to dump the extra water, and if you wait longer it spills all over your pants when you try to drain it and of course it’s right before an important meeting and I don’t even drink coffee I was just trying to be a good person and now I have wet pants. This sucks.