Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dangerously high levels of awesomeness

Our lives are coming along extremely well this time around. Just this week, we have been able to find an excellent cleaning lady and babysitter. Fortunately, this means that Mary Ann will be able to have more opportunities to participate on social engagements than before. This is very well timed as we have a social gathering with some work friends this Thursday night. Everything is just snapping along! Hopefully, the car will be ready in another week or so.

Tonight, I will be experimenting with a new internet connectivity system which should make it possible for us to get a better connection shared among all the computers at the house. Things are going quite well indeed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Running Around

This weekend has been particularly pleasant. I've been trying to decide if I should split it up into a series of posts, but that is fairly unlikely to happen. Instead, I'll write a bit about the 10k. I'd received a flier for it last week, but didn't read it carefully enough to not the registration deadline, which had passed. Fortunately, my sister has taught me the value of race-day registration, so we went down and gave it a try. Perhaps in conjunction with the laissez faire flair the Lebanese do so well, I was able to get registered for the princely sum of 10,000LBP (~$7.00)

I've only run one other 10k, so I don't have much experience with the mechanics, but I was surprised that they were giving out the shirts before the race. It turned out to be logistically impractical for the family to come with me to the start of the race so my clothing options were a bit limited. I ended up going with layering the race shirt over what I was already wearing. Not ideal, but what the heck.

In order to get a shirt, I had to show up about an hour and a half before the starting time. Fortunately, Steve Jobs and the miracle of podcasting kept me suitably entertained. 80% of the crowd appeared to be about 17. This could be a factor of me getting older, but I rather doubt it. I was pleased to see the race getting such broad participation, being that it was on a Saturday night and all.

Since I'm not the type to push around in lines, I decided to hang out near the back of the crowd. This turned out to be a mistake, as the above mentioned crowd of teenagers was more interested in goofing off than actually running. Whatever floats their boat, but it took a while for the pack to sort itself out. Next time, I'll make sure I'm in the first third and not the last third. Because the first mile had a couple of hills to it, things sorted themselves out nicely.

While my GPS watch is very confused, I was surprised to see that it did successfully track me through the course. It seems to be a bit fuzzy on where the land ends and the sea begins, but the relative route is accurate.

With my first 10k I automatically adopted the pace I keep for my 2-3 mile runs, which made things harder than they needed to be. For this race, I purposely tried to slow down to between an 8.5 and 9.25minute mile, which turned out to be very pleasant. I think I could do better next time. As it happened, I ended up having about a 52 minute time.

I had a great experience, got a swank microfiber shirt, medal, and the feeling that my fitness goals are more on track than they have been. All in all, a great night!

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Horizons

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A little German never hurt anyone

Today, the family will head down to the German school of Beirut to submitt and application for the kiddos. Hoepfully, things will go smoothly and they will be in a new routine by the end of the week. We have processed our passport photos, medical records, etc., which should put us near the end of the process.

I'm particularly eager to get our new lives here fully established. So far, we have been able to take care of the big basic things like housing and so forth. However, I find the activites outside school and work to be so enriching, I want to get them underway as soon as possible.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

They're here!

Today, the rest of the clan arrived safe and sound, with all expected baggage. So many fortunate things happened on the trip that it has been our best yet. The next couple of days will be spent in school registrations, unpacking, etc. For now, the most important thing is having a trail of night lights from the kid's bedroom to the bathroom...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Scenes from the day

In Saint Louis, fall has been changing the colors of the trees, and putting a chill in the air. Soon, kids will start thinking about Halloween costumes, harvest festivals and Thanksgiving. Out here is Beirut, the season is a bit different. One of the nicest things about Lebanon is the wonderfully temperate weather. Today, I indulged a personal goal, and took a swim in the Mediterranean. A temperate climate, and a cool sea made for a very pleasant time.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Yipee! I'm not homeless!

Finding an apartment in Beirut can be very challenging. The real estate market is more tight that two years ago, which has caused prices to rise. Plus, the school term has started, given the proximity to AUB of the areas we want to live in, we get caught up in that cycle as well.

We were very fortunate to have friends in our old neighborhood who helped us out tremendously. We were ultimately able to find a lovely 2 bed room apartment in Ain El Mresseh with a lovely view of the Med. As a side bonus, it is very close to a little port that I hope to make use of with an as-yet-unpurchased boat. Now, it is time to turn my attentions to getting settled in to the apartment so that everything will be ready for the arrival of the rest of the family.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nice to be back

I am really enjoying reconnecting with Lebanon. Of greatest surprise to me are the smells. At times it seems like this must be how animals see the world. When I first arrived, I couldn't quite place it, but I later understood that I was smelling the hint of the sea.

Now I am enjoying the changes that come with immersing in a different culture. Olives for breakfast and ubiquitous taxi drivers. I'm impressed by how far Beirut has come in the last two years. Parking meters with attendants, new construction all over the place, the place has come a long way.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Spot Man

In preparations for my coming relocation, we are getting the house ready to rent. This has included an interior paint job, some supplements to the phone wiring, and dealing with a certain carpet problem. Our upstairs carpet has always had discoloration on it, and our best attempts with a rug doctor did not produce the results we were hoping for. With getting renters in, we would either need to replace the carpet or have a cleaning miracle (or dye it black).

Here is the before shot:

Not a pretty sight at all. We needed fast turn around, since I am leaving on Saturday. Fortunately for us, a local company called The Spot Man did a wonderful job for us. They were very flexible in scheduling and quoted us a price that was within one standard deviation of the average, which counts as a good deal to me.

Before they started, they did a quick spot test to see if there was a hopeful chance of success. It looked promising, so they went to it. We were very pleased with the result: