Friday, October 29, 2010

So my house caught on fire last night…

… no really, FIRE. And not just a little fire. BIG flames shooting out of the garage. See...

I know you all are dying to hear the story, so here it goes.

The fire started Thursday night around 9:00pm. I was laying on the couch waiting for the clothes in the dryer to finish before going to bed. I’m so glad that I did not go to bed with the dryer running!

As I walked into the kitchen I heard what sounded like the dryer banging against the wall. At that point I smelled electrical burning and I knew.

I ran out of the house as fast as I could, opening the garage door and fully knowing what I was about to see. It was already bad. I grabbed the fire extinguisher and hit the flames but they were too big and the extinguisher too small.

I ran back inside, grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911. I also grabbed Malachi and threw her in the car. Thank God that she was still laying on the back of the couch and not hiding under a bed or on the fridge. She was more perplexed why I was grabbing her and running. I also managed to grab the laptop, camera, and my purse and a few pictures.

After what seemed like forever, the fire department finally got there. Though I was more than annoyed when they ‘charged’ up the hose, and there was no pressure in the line. Seriously WTF.

At this point I realized I should take some pictures, so I snapped some with my phone. As you can see the flames were HUGE!

The cause of the fire is definitely related to the dryer, though there are conflicting reports. The fire marshal says that it was caused by a faulty three way plug behind the dryer. However, the Nationwide investigator says that it was caused by lint build up in the hose running from the dryer out of the side of the house. I’m starting to believe the second cause over the first, because I can see the fire origin on the back of the dryer and the direction of the flames.

Note to all you out there. Make sure your lint line coming out of your dryer is clear. My line had a 90 deg bend it in and that’s where the buildup occurred.


The garage is pretty much gone, as are most of its contents. The mountain bike, fixi, and the old beater bike are all destroyed/melted/etc. All the power tools are gone, gardening stuff, etc. The bike tools are gone. However, I did say that “most” everything was gone. What was not destroyed was my silicon baking stuff that my mom got me a while ago. I hardly ever use the stuff, but there it was, in good condition, not even damaged. I little dirty, but not burnt or melted. I was amazed. My house should be a commercial for that place.

So that’s the update. I’m tired now and I’m going to take a nap. I will be homeless for a while, but the insurance will be putting me up at a hotel (woo hoo).

Thank you for all your concerns and well wishes. Sorry if I have not gotten back to you yet.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Army 10 Miler - Part 2 - The Weekend

I had to split this post up into two parts, otherwise it would have been way too long.

While my main purpose for going to DC this past weekend was to visit Jeremy's cousins and to run the Army 10 Miler, I also wanted to take some time to visit some college friends and to see the city.

On Friday morning, Jeremy and I took a short tour of the Capitol then walked down the Mall. I love walking down the National Mall on a beautiful fall day. It was gorgeous out. Although we had walked the Mall before, it was nice to do it again, and a great way to spend the morning.

Mid-afternoon we met up with Jeremy's cousins to pick up our race packets and then head down to Granville Moore's for dinner. I LOVE this place! I discovered it while watching the Food Network two years ago, and come here each time I'm in DC. Okay, it's only been twice so far, but their mussels and fries are soooooo good. Not to mention their huge selection of Belgium beers. My favorite was the La Chouefe.

Thanks to our friends Albert and Shawna for hooking us up with a great table. It's so hard to go to a small restaurant with 8 1/2 people and try to get a table together.

Saturday was a great day. I had told a friend that I would be in town and mobile (that is, with car) and he organized a bunch of people to come watch the PSU game at a local bar. I was so surprised to see so many of my college friends there! Kenz, KB, Heslin, Cory, Janine... it was so great seeing all of you. I felt like I was back up at Penn State again.

Not only did I get to hang out with the gang above, but on Sunday, my friend Jesse, made a special trip down to Silver Spring to hang out with me at Jeremy's cousins place after the race was over. Thanks for making the drive Jesse! I can't wait to hang out with you and Erin in May.

Sunday night we had a large cookout at the house, thanks Angela and John, and then Monday morning we took a quick trip downtown to check out the view from the top of the old post office. If you haven't gone, I'd suggest taking a few minutes to stop by. The view is great and I really love the architecture of the building.

Thanks to everyone for making this a great weekend getaway. Can't wait to see you all again next year!

The Army 10 Miler - Part 1 - The Race

I just got back from an amazing weekend in Washington DC.

The main reason for this trip was to visit Jeremy's cousins and to run the Army 10 Miler. Of course if I was dragging my butt up to DC for the weekend, I was gonna make sure that I also had a chance to visit some other friends from way back in the day. But that's a different post.

First, the Army 10 Miler.

For the last 4 months I've been training to run this race. When I started 'running' back in May, I could do about 3 miles in 34 minutes. Since then I've been out on the trail 2-3 times a week at distances varying from 3-8 miles. I even did two 5K runs to see what it was like running in a big group. By the time race day came along, I felt confident that I could at least finish in the required time (15 minute/mile pace). My goal: finish somewhere between 2 and 2 1/2 hours.

I was fortunate to be in the first wave so I had a little more time to make it to the 5 mile marker by 9:30 (cutoff time). Turns out that I didn't need this extra time, but you know, it's always nice to have. As a pleasant surprise I found out that my friend from college, KB, and his wife, Janine, were also running the race and were also in the blue group. Surprisingly out of 3,000 people in our blue group, I managed to find them! It was great starting off with them and passing back and forth for the first few miles.

The first few miles went by quickly. Mile 1 approached before I knew it, then mile 2, then mile 3. Somewhere between mile 2 and 3, I tore off my long sleeve shirt and wrapped it around my waist. It was fairly chilly in the early morning but it had warmed up nicely and was around 55 deg for the race. Perfect weather. I hit mile 3 around 28 minutes and mile 5 around 48 minutes. My best 5 mile time yet. During mile 5 you run past the runners coming back toward you during their mile 8. I looked up just in time to see Jeremy toward me. He was doing great. At the mile 6 water station I slowed down to a fast walk and took a bit of water and a Clif shot packet. Since I knew mile 7 and 8 would be a bit uphill I kept running and saved my "fast walking" for then.

I was surprised how little I really had to "fast walk." Every time I slowed down I found myself wanting to keep running. I was a bit concerned at this, as I wasn't sure this ability to keep running constantly would last another 3 miles. At mile 8 the bridge begins. This is seriously the longest bridge ever. Okay, maybe not ever, but when you're running across it, it feels long. I mean, it just keeps going! A bit of the way onto the bridge there was a guy dressed as Michael Jackson handing out beer. The smell of it almost made me puke. Around mile 9 I knew that I'd make the 2 hour mark and decided to try to beat 1 hour 45 minutes. My feet had started hurting but I was still surprised how good I felt. As we came into the home stretch I slowed down a bit to look for Jeremy and was happy to see him cheering me on. I sprinted toward the finish and raised my hands in joy. I had finished my first 10 mile race and I felt pretty good... for now.

My official results were:
10 miles
10:17 min/mile pace
1:42:51 total
top 66% overall
top 52% of females

Now I say that I felt good after the race... for a while. It took me about 10 minutes to manage my way through the crowd and back to Jeremy. When I got to him, I felt my stomach start to turn. For the next 3 hours my stomach was terribly upset. I have no idea why, but I'm suspecting it had something to do with those 10 miles I just finished. Damn you running! And that was just the worst part. It's 2 days later and my stomach still isn't right. Though I had a good run, so I guess you gotta take the good with the bad.

Besides the stomach pains for a few days, I also noticed that I had a very tough time getting out of bed the next day. And by tough I mean I could barely move. Wow. Even after riding my bike 170 miles, I never feel as sore as I did the day after running this race. I miss my bike.

All in all it was a fun race, and I'm sure by the time sign-ups come around next April I will have forgotten about the pain, and sign up again.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An Open Letter to Website Designers

Dear Website Designers, Photographers, Event Sites, and anyone who owns a website,

I cannot possibly express to you in words, how much it pains me to visit a bad website.

As a future bride, I spend quite a few hours each day looking at websites. Everything from photographers, videographers, vendors, reception halls; if you've got a website, I'm looking at it.

First, lets discuss my number 1 (and by far number one) pet peeve... music. Ugh. Come on people, some of us are at work here! I HATE visiting websites that automatically play music. This isn't myspace... turn it off. Not only is the music annoying, but it's usually set to play at max volume. If I can't find your "off" switch within 5 seconds, I'm gone. Done. Not coming back.

Secondly, how easy are your photos to view? And this is really a #2 and #3 complaint here. If I'm looking at your event center for my ceremony or reception the first thing I want to see are your photos. I should be able to flip through them quickly on ONE page. Not a separate pop-up each time I click a new image. Not a new tab or new window. All in the same window. And what's with the annoying scroll bars that scroll either way too fast or way too slow. Here are some classic bad photo websites:

Example A:. go ahead, click on "home."
Example B: "for more photos click on snapfish, to which you must be a member to view photos."
Example C: scroll bar at 1000x per second.

And while we are on the subject of photos. Events centers, pay attention here. I could care less about a closeup of the brides face. I could care less about a closeup of the wedding cake or the flowers, or anything else not related to your venue. As a perspective customer, I want to see the VENUE! I want to see a nice shot of the ceremony site as well as the reception hall. I want to see how big it is, how big your dance floor is, if you have 1970's carpeting. And if you're making me use your catering, show me pictures of the food you make, and your presentation style.

I really don't understand why these concepts are so hard for people to understand. If you're a web page designer you've gotta talk your client out of these traps people fall into. "Oh would it be cool if we did this awesome flash thing on our home page that takes 10 minutes to load, but looks really neat?" NO. No it would not be, is not, and will never be "cool." It's annoying.

Thank you for your time. Now, please go fix your website.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Crazy Crazy Weekend

Jeremy's brother, Matt, and his cousin, Jake, came down from Ohio this weekend. Wow, I don't think I've had such a go-go weekend in a long time.

Of course we hit up all the best eateries: Hula Hut, Daily Juice, Fliphappy Crepes, Saltlick, and one still TBD (but most likely Guero's or Maria's). After the Saltlick binge last night, I don't think I'll be eating meat for a while. We went through 4 plates of all-you-can-eat family style. I can't believe we ate all that meat.

Saturday morning we took Jake trapezing at Trapeze Experience. He loved it. Jeremy and I also went again. Check out some of the video's below and the rest of the pictures HERE.

Jake on the Trapeze

Jeremy on the Trapeze

Shelley on the Trapeze

After the trapeze I took them all down to Seismic to go climbing. It was at this moment in my life that I finally discovered that I officially am no longer a climber. Okay, I may climb, but I can't consider myself a climber any longer. Why, you ask?

Well, up until this point I may have lost my endurance, but I did not loose my technique or a degree of strength. Sure, I couldn't do 10 climbs in a day anymore, but I could still manage my way up climbs like Prototype, Bolt Talk and Unnatural fairly well. However, yesterday was my first day back to Seismic in about 2 years. My favorite climb at Seismic has always been Diving for Rocks. It took me a while to master the dynamic move in the middle, but since then I've always hit it, and the stick has always been solid. Yesterday, while we were waiting for some of the 7's to open up, I decided to give Diving a go. There was not a doubt in my mind that i couldn't do this climb. After all, I'd done it like 1000 times in the past.

Lucky for me, I had Jini there to belay me. First time up, I set myself up for the jump. Left hand in the bowling ball hold, right hand in the pocket. Left foot up, right foot up, butt down, prep and jump... and... fall. Fall?!?! WTF? I couldn't believe what just happened. In fact I was in a state of confusion. It was almost a little surreal. Okay, I thought, that was weird.

So I setup again and went for it. A little more "umf" this time. Bam. Stuck. Excellent. Then... fall. Fall? Again WTF? The contact point was not as solid as I once remembered and I could tell it was very polished and my hands were very slimy.

I went up for the third time, again sticking the move, but this time just not having the strength to hold on to make the clip. I couldn't figure out where to place my feet and my arms were hurting so much that I knew I couldn't hang on with one hand to make the clip. I also knew I didn't want to throw a heal up there, as my chance of successfully clipping was about 10% and I didn't want to land on my head.

At this point my arm strength was shot (which I'm sure the trapeze didn't help with), so I accepted my failure and decided to go put up some climbs for Jeremy and Jake. I need to get back out to seismic sometime soon to regain my strength and to work on that climb again. I will not accept defeat :)

Jeremy and Jake did great climbing and they both had a lot of fun. Check out the pictures in the set above.

Before my little climbing tirade, I was talking about this awesome weekend that we had. After running around trapezing and climbing, we took a little break had some dinner and headed downtown for the night. It's been a while since I've been out downtown and around midnight I had my second epiphany of the day: I am not the same person I was in college.

I know, shocking.

Around midnight I realized that I would be much happier at home, sleeping in bed, then staying up drinking for the rest of the night. And it's not that I don't enjoy being out with friends and listening to music. It's that I didn't want to stay up drinking until 2am, cause I knew the next day it would hurt... bad.

At what point in life do we start thinking of the consequences of our actions and letting those dictate our current decisions?

I must admit, I felt a bit lame. But I was happy to leave the boys to have their boys night out and to come home and relax a little. I think they had a great time, because they came home at 3:30am laughing hysterically.

Sunday we chilled out, walked around south congress, gorged on meat at Saltlick, and took a run around town lake. I did my best time ever at 29:14 for 3.1 miles, which was quite surprising considering my abs were killing me from trapeze.

It was a great weekend, and I think I'm going to need to spend Monday night recovering. Oh, and in addition to all this, I made a Mickey cake this weekend :) I think it turned out quite well.