Pan’s Labyrinth

Man, I just finished watching Pan’s Labyrinth on DVD.  What a beautifully brutal movie. Don’t be misled by the fairy-tale concept (young girl must complete three tasks to become the long-lost princess of a fairy kingdom), this movie is not for kids. It is full of torture, death,  and scary monsters of the old-fashioned, horrific fairy-tales kind along with the more modern fascist kind. Yet, it is a beautiful tale, and very effective (as I wipe the tears off my face).  Most of all, it’s a great story told with such a visual sense that I can’t recommend it enough.  Absolutely beautiful.

Taking My Bike for a Walk

Specialized Expedition Sport Women’s Bike

I mentioned previously that I was determined to one day be able to ride my bike to work.  I live 6 miles away, so it should be easy, but dang it, it’s hilly here in Flagstaff.  So I rode my bike part of the way a couple of weeks ago, but due to weather, and then a conference I was involved in, I didn’t try again until this past Friday.  You know that hill I complained about before?  Well, I managed to make it both ways without walking the bike.  Amazing. I don’t know if I was stronger or if my gear-shifting had improved dramatically, but I did it.

Since I had conquered that hill, today I decided to try the bike on a different leg of the journey to work. It involves an even bigger hill. Parking my truck at a trailhead on Lonetree and JW Powell road, I took my bike out and headed off to work (not that I intended to go all the way, just wanted to try this part of the route).  I didn’t get far before I had to stop. Yep, it was uphill.  The paved trail goes up to Coconino Community College and then back down.  I couldn’t make it.  This will be a challenge for me.  The bright side? If I can park at Coconino I can ride my bike to work from there.  It won’t be a bad trek in the morning with that downhill start, but coming back I’ll have a chance to practice the uphill portion.

Of course, I still need to get comfortable riding a bike.  It seems unbelievable that a bike was one of my main methods of transportation 15 years ago. Then again, I was in Phoenix, and hills weren’t too common. Gear-shifting is a much more necessary skill here in Flag. My body has also forgotten how to make tight turns.  My god, I am a wreck at turning.  All these fast downhills that usually end with a right or left turn, and I keep applying the brakes so I can slow down enough to make those turns.  Ugh.  On my way back on the ride I took some time at the community college parking lot to practice turning.  I’m still too afraid to lean into these turns, but I did improve some.

Riding back to the truck I had one last incline. I couldn’t do it.  I had to get off and walk the bike. That’s when two young women rode past me up the hill with no problem at all.  Sigh. I know I’ll get there someday, but I sure want to be like that now.

Besides the two young women there seemed a lot of bikers out on the streets today.  Some were even wearing numbers on their outfits, like they were involved in a race.  Sure enough, when I drove my truck onto campus later there were the remains of some kind of bicycle event.  It seems that today was the NAU Circuit Race, which is part of the Summit Center Classic. I’m so glad I didn’t ride onto campus, panting and weaving on my bike. I know I’m not cool, but I hate to see my uncoolness demonstrated to all in such a public way.

If you want to see part of the ride I do on campus and how it climbs and dips, here’s a map.  I start off a little before their marked start, but you can see that it’s about a 40-foot climb.  I know many riders would consider that a slight incline and not a hill, but hey, it’s a hill to me! I ride up past Campbell road, and then cut across to north campus. I just can’t wait until it all seems easy.
NAU Circuit Race

My New Cheap Addiction

Sheesh.  I don’t intend it to be cheap, but for some reason I can’t upgrade my Second Life membership.  I can’t even put some money in my account.  I’m telling ya, this is driving me crazy.  I’m ready to do some shopping, but can only do the window type of shopping.

Anyway, I find Second Life interesting.  I’d seen it demonstrated at a conference on education and technology this last week. I wasn’t too involved with the presentation (I was checking email and help tickets, and doing a little web surfing), when the presenter mentioned that you can design clothing and other neat stuff.  My interest piqued, I’ve been exploring the place trying to  learn how to do stuff.  I’ve also found some neat web sites.  My favorites so far are about the clothing and hair:

Linden Lifestyles

Savoir Hair 

SL Fashion Victim

Yeah, me, who thinks wearing sweats is a dandy fashion statement, really loves this stuff.   Let’s see if this will end up a short-lived addiction, or an obssession that spans eons.

Okay, Okay, What Can I Say?

 Luke, Leia, and Han rush off into history

It’s the 30 year anniversary of Star Wars, so guess what I’m watching tonight? Actually I’m starting with the Empire of Dreams documentary that is part of the trilogy DVD.  It’s so much fun watching how that first movie came together, and how the audiences reacted.  I’ll be putting in Star Wars: A New Hope after the documentary. Yep, I’m a Star Wars geek.

In a Galaxy Not So Far Away — Star Wars Blogathon

Man, I do feel old.  Sure I hit the dance floor last night as a buxom beauty in Second Life (I’ve never qualified as a buxom beauty), and strutted my stuff, but I just realized how OLD I really am — Star Wars (do I really need to link to the film so you’ll know what movie I’m talking about?) turned 30 today.  Good googly-moogly.

I was one of those Star Wars geeks who saw it time and again in the movie theater when it opened in 1977.   My sister had seen it and loved it, and dragged a not-so-reluctant me to the Cine Capri to see the film.  I was hooked.  I wasn’t the only one.

Edward Copeland on Film has organized a Star Wars Blogathon.  Lots of bloggers, who wax poetically about film, have written up some fun blog postings.  Check it out.  There’s posts on watching the next generation discover the movie, philosophical treatises on Greedo shooting first, and even similarities found between Revenge of the Sith and 1963’s Cleopatra!

My New Life

Today is my birthday. Getting older doesn’t hold any trauma for me. I treated myself to a few hours at the bookstore.  I bought Al Gore’s new book, The Assault on Reason.  I started a whole new life.

Yes, I finally entered Second Life, created an avatar, and even “talked” with a helpful guide on where I can go for cool hair styles. It’s a wonderful life so far — I’m a slim-hipped, elfin-haired tomboy (so NOT me).  The downside to this whole new life is that it is addictive.  My planned hour or so turned into a four-hour marathon!  All I know is, that if my sis, azmutt, discovers this she’ll go crazy.  She’s the type who can spend hours on those computer games that have you trying to figure out where to go next.  Second Life is all about that!

Air Car?

As gas prices skyrocket, this sounds like a good idea: an Air Car – First Air-Powered Car.

India’s largest automaker is set to start producing the world’s first commercial air-powered vehicle. The Air Car, developed by ex-Formula One engineer Guy Nègre for Luxembourg-based MDI, uses compressed air, as opposed to the gas-and-oxygen explosions of internal-combustion models, to push its engine’s pistons. Some 6000 zero-emissions Air Cars are scheduled to hit Indian streets in August of 2008.

Barring any last-minute design changes on the way to production, the Air Car should be surprisingly practical. The $12,700 CityCAT, one of a handful of planned Air Car models, can hit 68 mph and has a range of 125 miles. It will take only a few minutes for the CityCAT to refuel at gas stations equipped with custom air compressor units; MDI says it should cost around $2 to fill the car’s carbon-fiber tanks with 340 liters of air at 4350 psi. Drivers also will be able to plug into the electrical grid and use the car’s built-in compressor to refill the tanks in about 4 hours. 

No lining the oil companies pockets because of the way I drive. Zero emissions so I don’t gas up the atmosphere. Supporting innovation.  Too bad it won’t sell here in the States. Something to do with all-glue construction.  Oh well, I hope these kinds of ideas take off, and change our current gas-guzzling ways.