Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm back... and I'm a year older?!

so, it has been a while since i last updated you all (my faithful 5 readers) of the happenings here in Rif. well, it has been happening all over austria and elsewhere, not just in my quaint little village. in the last 10-ish days, i have been blessed to have family time in vienna, and also in prague. it has been a dream to be surrounded by my most special people, and to soak up the euro vibes with my nephew in tow?!?! what a trip! he is doing amazingly, and i have been so lucky to get to watch him on his first big world adventure... you know there will be many more in his future! the simplest treasures have made my heart the warmest... wine in a cafe after a day of pounding the cobblestone, hearing the boy's giggles first thing in the morning, watching the photo hunters capture their favorite image, momma ordering wine when the rest of are drinking beer! the thing about family is, whether at home or across the world, these simple wonders never change, and even if they have been seen/felt/smelled/heard a million times before, they still stir up a wonderous satisfaction. yes. some things never change.

the other thing that happened since my last post, is that i aged by a year... can't say i'm too happy about it either. 28. nearly 30. way past 20. wow, how did that happen?? the numbers seem to hurt a bit more each year. just think, i have been in school for at about 25% of my entire life... i'm talking of my life expectancy?!?! that's a long time!! i know that i have lived these last 28 years to the fullest (at least the ones i can remember), and have made memories that no one take away from me, i guess i am having a bit of trouble accepting the fact that i am 28. in school. no kids. WHAT?! ok, let it go. you're gonna be an older mom, and that's ok.

on to the work related update. tomorrow is my first day on the hill!! in my 6th week here, i am finally collecting the data i came to collect. there have been some roadblocks along the way, and let's hope the snow will hold until the end of next week, but overall, the project is moving forward. the lab tests were completed last week, and now onto the good stuff. i hope everyone has some fingers crossed for me that it will go well, and rest assured, i will update with news of how it all goes.

so until then, i hope everyone back is home happy and healthy. the christmas spirit is alive and well (actually very loud) here, and it is such a delight! i can't wait to come home and share that holiday warmth with all of my dearest friends and family.

happy holidays

Friday, November 21, 2008

for those of you not on facebook... here's some pics!

did you know austrians speak spanish too?!

so last night i got invited to a slide show of my neighbours adventures this past summer in norway and sweden. i met christian in the hallway when i saw his ski boots out drying. since we have spoke about snow when we have seen eachother, and he seems like a very cool guy. so, yesterday, i was coming in from my run and he told me he was having some people over to look at pics, and that he "hoped i would be able to attend"... so polite! anyways, i was excited to get out of my room and meet some people, and it was great! there were about 8 of us, and most didn't know eachother which surprised me a bit considering how small this uni is... and i thought everyone in res knew eachother? the interesting thing was, when i was about to knock on the door, i could hear all these people speaking spanish?! sure enough, one of the guys (sergio... or something close to that) was from spain, and didn't speak any german. this apparently has been no big deal for him, cause everyone here speaks spanish too... i felt like a language lackey. all of these people were trying so hard to speak english for me, when i really was fine just listening to the swirl of languages all around me! ok, that's a new goal... spanish! i have felt horrible being here and not speaking german, but i think spanish is much more valuable of a language. i need a second language. period.

the real fun of the night was getting a glimpse of christian's passions... surfing, kite-surfing, skiing, and the main topic of the night, climbing! i was sitting listening to him speak of the emotional journey he went on over this 6 week climbing adventure with two best friends, and i thought to myself, self, this is life at the next level. this isn't feeling rejuvenated with a run through beautiful austrian country side, or a road-bike trip around p.e.i., this experiencing nature at it's extreme. his passion takes him to some of the most beautiful places i have ever seen in photos... and he was touching, breathing, smelling, tasting, drinking it all in. hanging from the face of a granite mountain, pushing yourself to the limit. his reality is so much different from my own. i have pushed myself to my limit before (first thing to come to mind is marathon), but last night reminded me that it is when you push beyond, that true greatness can happen. but do you have to risk your life to imagine beauty like that?
note: this picture was no one of his, but one i found online © Ingram Publishing / SuperStock

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

what a beautiful sight!!

as you can see, today is rainy, but the weekend is snow... sweet, powdery white stuff!! can't wait! in the mean time, here is a pic of some the snow that the mountains have had the last couple of days... this mountain has become my tracker of the weather, so i am sure you will recognize this picture!!

work is coming along, and hopefully my boots will be here today so i can get moving on the internal adjustments i need to make! i will take some pics if this happens, and keep you all updated. and as a sidenote, only 9 days till i get to smother my nephew with hugs and kisses.... can't wait!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

hello outside world...

so it is official, i exist in the outside world. today, not even 5 days after it was mailed, i have received a letter from home... G&G i love u!! for some reason, even considering the mass amount of electronic correspondence i have been lucky to have with home, receiving a hard-copy version of mail (you know the kind, where pen is put to paper, envelopes are licked, and stamps... come on, stay with me, stamps, they're the square little stickers that you put on envelopes to make them go to where they are addressed... are affixed, and the package is then dropped in a red stand-up box typically in post-offices, once found on street corners) brings a smile to the face unlike any other type of e-versions of similar messages. i am oh-so-fond of the little bundles of joy that arrive in my e-mailbox (see: did you get it?), but knowing that i have an address, a correct one despite the strangeness of it, means i have roots of some sort, and roots provide connection, i guess life in some sense... ok tiff, that's taking it a bit far, but you get the idea. anyways, it's a happy morning, and i thank mr. mailman for that!

so here's just a random thought of the day. maybe living in ctown the last 3+ years has screwed up my perception of the forecast, but it amazes me every day that i wake up here to see the skies exactly as forecasted the previous couple of days. sunny means sunny, cloudy means cloudy, and rain means rain. today, the sun is here, as i was told it would be... thank-you forecast, for not letting me down. imagine if we could actually learn to trust our weather people... what an interesting relationship that could be. rather than 'tomorrow will be warm.'... to which we would respond 'ya sure, i'll believe it when i see it', could turn into, 'tomorrow the sun will shine', and we would respond 'interesting, thanks for the information, i will be sure to bring my sunglasses'. i'm intrigued! i will enjoy the valid forecasts for the next 5 weeks, after which i will come home, and be entertained by the necessity to be prepared for anything (and everything) on any given day.

i hope the weather you are experiencing at this moment brings a smile to your face. here the sun is glorious, but the forecast is bringing even better surprises my way... in the form of little white flakes!! yippee!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

displaced... yes! lost... not a chance!

for a displaced runner, at what point does a jog switch from an adventure to exercise? well, i will let you know if/when that happens! so far, exploring the rural area surrounding the university by foot has been pure joy. armed with my ipod and runners, i set out initially with the intention of burning some calories, feeling my body move/breath/sweat, and as an added bonus, to do some sight-seeing. well, the intent quickly shifted to being only about the adventure, the beauty, the absolute majestic qualities of the area, and any thoughts of calories, distance, pace, or heart rate are soon forgotten. i guess a runner is always able to find their way to a path, and without thought, never seems to get lost. i always seem to end up in a loop, with no pre-defined turning point... things always just work out. i guess with a river and mountains as markers, neither a map nor a plan are needed!

most of you know me as the self-proclaimed gym rat i have been for many years, and to be honest, i miss lifting weights on a daily basis. BUT, without a gym to use (the student gym is only available to students for a couple of hours a week??), the alternative is running and push-ups! the running is a past-time i have also enjoyed for years, so this is a natural habit to fall back into. the thing though that makes it so pure and lovely, is the excitement with which you breathe every breath, see every sight, and smell every passing breeze. every step brings more energy... around every turn is a sight that makes you think, 'ah man, i should have brought my camera!'. but you are easily reminded that this is your time, your moment... soak it up! the image will be forever captured in my heart, so although i won't be able to share the images with you all, i know they are burned in my memory.

i think of runs i went on while in oz, nearly 9 years ago, and i can remember details that today, seem like just yesterday. i remember the 1st run i went on after arriving, and the distinct clumsiness i felt crossing roads, trying to figure out which way to look for cars, which side of the road to run on! i remember the texture and taste of the humidity in the air, and the weight it added to each step. i can remember thinking about the dangers of being a tourist in mexico when i was running on this path near our resort, that was lined with the tallest bulrushes that nearly arced completely over the trail, as if a tunnel. my steps quickened, and my heart beat faster, almost a sense of claustrophobia. just recalling that memory makes me type a bit faster now! in new york, on a trip i took by myself, running up 5th ave and into central park, hearing the silence of the streets and the stillness of the air... ohhh new york!

feeling these memories so vivid and clear makes me remember how blessed i am to have my runners here in austria. i know that each new adventure i share with my heart and the soles of my shoes will be banked like secret memories, easily brought to the surface to enjoy again and again. i wish you all could feel the euphoria i did this afternoon, with the sun warming my face and the sounds of the rushing river quenching my thirst... but at the same time, i feel selfishly sinful keeping that experience and memory all to myself!

ahhh, austria

Friday, November 14, 2008

friday again... wow, a week can sure fly by!

so, today is friday (already?!), which means the week is nearly over, and the weekend is soon upon us. because i am here for work, and not simply to dabble in rural-euro living, and because certain people reading this blog (hi g&g) are very supportive and encouraging of my work, here is an update...

arrived, settled, comfy... check!

assigned oh-so-invaluable helpers... check!

subject recruitment... check! (it is so easy with aforementioned helpers, and being at a sports university!)

subject timetable... in process (trying to convince 10 of 12 subjects to commit to 1st week of testing!)

skis and boots... skis are in lab (check!), and boots are on order from atomic... should be here soon (almost check!)

ski hills selected... 2 options identified... snow conditions in next 2 weeks will determine where we go. (arrangements with hills to book runs, etc., will be made closer to testing date)

in-lab stability test protocol... in progress. the posturomed which i thought we would use is not a great option. i have decided to use their force plates (much more accurate, and more in-line with the study i did at home), and now need to wait until next week when the techie returns from holidays to confirm that they are working (previous issues...). the protocol itself is also in progress... have time set-up next week with one of the subjects to pilot-test for me, to ensure the test is difficult enough, yet sensitive to ramp changes.

ramp angle adjustments... will start on this next week when the boots arrive. BUT, they do have a ramp angle measuring device (yay) that will make life easier. also, the boots have grindable zeppas (boot beds), so adjustments are possible.

software... the programmer is back from holidays next week, so will learn about software, and kistler system when he arrives.

snow... NOT YET?! the temperatures are getting a bit cooler, so i trust it will come soon... please snow, please come!

bottom line... next week will definitely be busy, but rest assured, things are coming together. i am getting excited to get on the hill... another rough day at the office!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

did you get it?

so there comes a time in a relationship (be it with a parent, sibling, partner, friend, or otherwise) when you must realize your differences, and accept them. i don't mean telling yourself, heh, we're different, it's all good (and secretly thinking/hoping that your differences will go away), but actually believing/knowing/trusting that those differences are unique elements of your relationship, and while not always simple, do add color to what may otherwise be a monotone existence. so one of these things that i am learning to deal with while being miles away from home, separated by hours on the clock and water in the oceans, is the compulsiveness of others dear to me to read emails, and more specifically, my emails. now i know my 'dear people' love me, miss me, and get excited to hear from me when today's modern technology connects us, but i am learning to accept that not everyone can find the refresh button on their hotmail page (or, for that matter, the send/receive button on their outlook page) standing on their head with their eyes closed... and nor do they care to?! the logical side of my brain congratulates them... that they are able to maintain a feeling of closeness simply with the warmth in their heart, the not-so-distant memories of us being together, and the excitement of soon being together again. i am not that person. i do not congratulate myself for looking forward to seeing the (5) beside 'inbox' (see it has to be >3 because i regularly get 3 junkmails overnight, every night) in my hotmail account, but that is my reality. i treasure words, hand written, spoken, sang, typed, texted... words. and i similarly smile at the thought of my words bringing warmth to the days of the people i am not able to see/touch/smell on a daily basis. and so i am learning... albeit slowly at times... that my world is not halted by a delay in electronic communication, nor shall it be stalled with the unknown... did they get it? did they read it? did it make them smile? how about laugh? i can be settled simply knowing that i have sent them my energy, my thought, and words that they at one point will receive... or not. it is their choice to receive this energy, but my job is done once i have sent it...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Weekend of Wonder and Wally

so, the weekend has passed, but the sore quads remain to remind me of my adventures! saturday saw a visit into the big city, salzburg. while not technically a big city (~145,000 ppl), it was a refreshing change from the somewhat village-esque setting i find myself in at the university. there was hustle and bustle, and slow weekend market gazers. there were tourists who spoke english (!!) and little treasures in shop windows. and, thankfully, there were markets! now it's strange how relieved i feel having saw these markets... it's not as though i bought a whole tonne of food?! but, it is nice to know that it is there for when my tiny fridge that is currently filled with lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, and apples, is empty and needs re-stocking. the market definitely brought a bit of wonder... you see, i am very intrigued by the concept of sausages. i truly do not understand the fascination with them. in salzburg, i found that most people were eating these very skinny sausages that appeared to be merely boiled, and simply dunked in mustard (no bun)?? and i am telling you, the market was filled with variety. even though i am not really into the cured meats, there were tonnes of them to choose from, with nice rolls and cheeses, and of course the amazing vegg i saw... and still the sausage?! this i will not understand! however, it was a nice place to visit, and i am sure i will be back. on the way home from the city, i walked to a bio-market i saw on the way in, which was a great stop, as i was able to find quinoa and soy-yogourt... two things i have been missing! the nutritional content of the food available within walking distance to my apartment is fair at best, so this should help!!

ok, so now my heroing adventure on the mountain they call untersberg! i was very excited to head out on the beautiful sunny day, to get the heart rate up with a hike. i had done my research, found the bus i needed to get to take me to the trail head, and of course had selected my trail from a very detailed, interactive map that i had found online. i was to hike reitsteg, which was described as a 'simple, even winter passable ascent', and was shown to have a series of simple switchbacks working their way up the significant elevation gain of 1200m. i was armed with map, and when i came upon the grouping of signs, somehow i got mislead... of course i didn't know this right away?! but i started to wonder with endless sequences of the stairs (pictured)... where are the switchbacks i definitely say in the map? that curve in the stairs does not count?!
it wasn't until i came face-to-face with the ledge of fear, that i really realized i had messed up! there was no way that ledge was 'simple' OR 'winter passable'!! i knew i had messed up. BUT, the kicker was, i had a goal in sight, and i was going after the cable car station which i could only get to if i hiked up that ledge. i was sitting and pondering my decision (ok, not sitting, cause i was on the side of a mountain and you don't just kick back and relax in that state!), when an older gentleman who could piece together a few english words told me "there is no safety rope on that pass". well, i can't disrespect the wise words of a seasoned austrian hiker who had all but told me "maam, you are forbidden to pass along that ridge... your safety is at risk" (yes, that's an embellishment, but it is funny how a scared mind has no problem at all twisting words to improve the level of safety!). so, i decided for a change of plans. i turned to the left at the 'intersection' and hiked up a freakin scary ridge (where did this fear of heights come from... mom?!) to a break-away point where the sun came rushing in, took my breath away, and i was left to stare in awe and wonder at the view into germany. it was stunning! the wally move did prevent me from reaching my goal (i was about 200 m below the station), but it brought me to a stunning vista... well worth the trek!
but this of course was only half the battle... now i consider myself a fairly decent climber, be it biking, running, or hiking, i enjoy the challenge of the elevation gain! and yesterday, i fared pretty well, i was holding my own (this is pretty easy to do when you are hiking by yourself... no one to keep up with, i was definitely holding my own!). but, my state of eccentric conditioning did not match the terrain i was climbing. bottom line, i knew i would struggle coming down... partly because of the difficulty, mostly because i am (and i think always have been) freaked out of going downhills. now i've always known i was a bit of a slowpoke on the descent, but it wasn't until the untersberg, that i realized how slow. people were screaming past me on the way down... i would hear them coming from behind, and i would literally get a chill as they blew past me whistling some austrian tune!! at one point, a guy was 'nice' enough to try to teach me the proper technique to come down with. this of course was in german, but i gathered i was supposed to only come down on my heel, which isn't the easiest thing to do when you are hiking in running shoes (come on people, give me a break, i only had 2 bags including ski equipment!). BUT, i did exercise this new technique, and for a while i thought i had got the hand of it. in fact, at one point i was cruising along pretty well, thinking, heh, i'm running down a mountain, and i'm holding my own. uh, no. at that very same moment, an older gentleman (i'm thinking 60-ish), not so gently passed me at a rate that was seriously embarassing... ok, i still don't have it! i really wish i had made it to that cable car to avoid the embarassment of my slow-poke downhill... maybe it would have been worth risking my life on that ledge?! well, the story has been told, and at least i got in 1.5 hours of eccentric training that will no doubt make my quads stronger for skiing!
the wally lead to wonder, and the view was amazing! i'm starting to get the hang of this rural austrian lifestyle!
pictures of the weekends events can be found here:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

options... the then and the now

so as it turns out, i don't live in salzburg right now, i live in rif... a small town about 10km outside salzburg, which is home to the sport university, the christian doppler laboratory, and that's about it?! well, i am of course exaggerating, but to be honest, this town is really small, in that quaint mountain town kind of way. the sport university clearly attracts the active type, as i don't think a typical uni-dorm-balcony would have a student riding a stationary bike, while typing on his laptop, over the lunch-hour?! today was an absolutely beautiful chinook type day, complete with people golfing (the golf club is right beside my dorm building), playing tennis, jogging, shot-putting (no jokes), biking, etc, which made a perfect night to venture down the main road to find the second, and supposedly larger, super market 'under' the freeway. it was neither larger, nor under the freeway, but of similar size, and 'before' the freeway. it got me to thinking, amidst the tune of the sound of music floating through my head, how completely convenient urban canada is...

whether you live in the horrifyingly character-less suburbia, or a fun urban community, a short walk, or in the former, a short drive, away will present you with a selection of stores that bring not only the essentials to your shopping bag, but the downright luxurious... like non-processed foods! even in the ghetto safeway in forest lawn you can get raw chicken breasts, and bagged salad. not the case here people... i'm talking about bologna, bacon, bacon pieces, cured ham, hot dogs, salami, and other varieties of sodium nitrite filled manipulations of 'meat'. this, and a COUPLE ROWS of sweets?! i had yogurt for dinner tonight?! i am not complaining, but i am confused... where is all the normal food?! or an even better question, how did americans get so entrenched in the need for MORE MORE MORE (food options), that you can now find whole sections in the market dedicated to gluten free, asian spices, packaged dinners, or olive oils?? i have to admit, i am fond of the gluttony found in america... i miss my food options... but i am envious of the simple approach to eating, if not to the every day life, of the austrians (and most europeans).

i hope you all will have an amazing dinner back home... and ask yourself when you pull out your 5-ish varieties of salad dressing, do you like the options?!

Monday, November 3, 2008

1 hr of internet = priceless

now that the tears have dried up, leaving nothing but glassy red eyes and salty lines down my face, i have a couple minutes (ok, an hour) to kill... which is why telus has made an astounding $10.50 off of their newest customer... did you know that the vancouver airport has free wireless internet?! or someone correct me of its latest status, but 2-ish years ago when i was last there it did. so why is it that the dump calgary calls its international airport, is charging me to fill my time since they don't even have the news playing on the tvs to help me pass these lonely couple of minutes until i jump on a germ-infested travel bomb?? ok, that was the sad-blogger who just said farewell to her man speaking... i really just wanted to check in, and the fact remains, everyone has to make a buck these days, especially considering the instability of today's economy... oh wait, i just read on the yyc-tv (nope, not actual tv, just digital factoids streaming across a screen that not-so-secretly wishes it was playing a hockey game, seinfeld re-run, or at the very least, the news) that nintendo, in spite of the tightening purse strings of civilians worldwide, has still had a record breaking year... thank-you wii! now not only will gamer-millionaires still prosper, young children will learn how to play tennis and practice yoga virtually... which is kinda ironic since their parents probably won't be able to send them to real lessons cause they have lost their retirement with the plummeting value of oil... gotta love wii!

anyways, i am off. as part of the sequence of events that i call my 'master plan', i am headed to the land of alpine skiing research, to learn from the best, push through the desolate land that has become of my phd, and remind myself how lucky i am that my choices thus far have only bettered my life, enriched it. this trip will bring life (read: greenery, fresh morning humidity in the tropics, birds singing, flowers blooming) to my thesis, all in the push to complete this phd. the snow shall fall, the skiers shall race, and i my friends, will be home in a flash with a whole story of data!

i think i have used 13 minutes of my 60... do i get the other 47 back?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

it's all over but the breakfast marathon...

today is the start of the weekend, and in light of my looming departure (2ish days away), ian proposed a wicked adventure to carry us through to the end... the breakfast marathon! i casually mentioned the other day that i wanted to have some eggs bennie before heading off, since one of the things that i found a bit disappointing in europe last year, was the lack of the greasy american breakfasts, and of course the lack of free-flow refills on the java! so, instead of simply heading down to our local breakfast bar, ian has planned three days of heavenly hash, beautiful bennies, and fab french toast. today is belmont... this will be the first time we have visited BD in the loop since i moved in, and i can see a calgary sandwich in my future (well, it depends on what ian orders, since i would really love a taste of their perfect banana pancakes). tomorrow will take us to diner deluxe... for a line up with coffee in hand, wafting scents of the adjacent urban baker, and promises of unique calgary breakfast grub. on departure day, we will head to buffalo... ooohhhh, buffalo... where it is quite likely i will delve into a stack of french toast with an ooey-gooey layer of apples and brie stuffed between.... a most beautiful creation! these three mornings of breakfast will either create a perfect image of the sunday breakfast that i can cherish for the 2 months i am away, or they will completely turn me off greasy garb, clogging my arteries (and pores) in the process! i have my fingers crossed for the former:)

Monday, October 27, 2008

7 days and counting...

so as i sit at my desk and try to shift from weekend mode to productive work day mode, the left-over key lime pie that i ate as the dust settled sits heavy in my stomach and tries to reach out and type "help me... i can't move!!". Sweetened-Condensed Milk, you are officially on my list of things to never again put in my mouth... but why-oh-why must you be so delicious and delectable?!
the weekend was an informal bon-voyage celebration with closest family and friends. there was not a lot of tears, but pure joy to have their warmth and love fill the house that is becoming my home. it is this dilemma you see that twirls and twerks (i just made up that word... it has a feel to it that fits the current state of my mind so perfectly. no, wait a minute, i just looked it up... how did my word already get published in wiktionary?! well, the 'definition' similarly fits the image in my head... it is a blend of twitch and jerk!) my vision of career, exposure, success, pursuit, conquer, CAREER. to what do you gauge success of a career? to me it has been stimulation, movement, progress, challenge, mind, matter, passion. but do you choose to let these words be the final gauge of success and happiness, or do they simply represent that of success in a career. it could be said that satisfaction must be measured in finite arenas... work, love, home, friends, family... but i challenge that thought as they each are one, yet are one together. i want the needle to be buried on the global scale... TRUTH. my personal truth encompasses all arenas, and it is this final indicator that should be considered when making decisions.
this all brings me back to the aforementioned dilemma... i imagine a similar party being held in a year or so when my 'dreams' have come to fruition (which they will... it's all part of the master plan!). if i choose to leave my family and friends in the pursuit of my career, what position will the needle max out at? these are factors that must be considered, as i shall not 'accidentally' find myself in a house that is so far away that the laughter and love of my closest people are not able to pour in, as this could never be a home.
thank-you for the weekend guys, it meant the world to us! 7 days and counting :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Are you kidding me?!?!

it was seriously two days ago that i said i would never blog... but, meh, why not join the forces right?! well no, this was not an accidental decision, nor an unconscious one. i thought to myself, self, you can blog, or you can not blog, and here i am blogging.

i need to throw in my disclaimer... i was reading my friends blog this morning (accidental or not, love ya acc.pharm.), and i was perturbed, again, by the admittance of accidental paths. i am an engineer you see, and by training, i can't really believe in accidents. we safe guard against accidents (hence the factor of safety), and personally, i believe in physical, emotional, and spiritual presence, which also inherently protects against accidents. and so i am a proprioter of choice, and why not. this allows us to be accountable, not give credit where credit is not deserved, and we can say we have made ourselves into who we are... by choice!

and so this blog begins... but this will not be a rant, rally, or renegade, i really just wanted a fun way to keep people up-to-date with an upcoming trip. so, please enjoy... if you choose.