Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Desayuno (breakfast) - Fruit Loops (Edd's recommendation)

My younger brother Edd suggested I should enjoy American cereals while I can. He has a bit of a thing for Fruit Loops and I found some in the cupboard. Unsurprisingly, colourful and sugary! I miss my sugar free museli (silly really I rarely miss food when I'm away!).

I heard a rumour today that someone had heard the word 'Alpen' so I'm hot on the trail of that.

And if anyone knows how to make a cup of tea at high altitude, I would love to hear about that. I am going to be gasping for a cuppa when I get home! (Kathryn, take note!)

Admin De Jour

Temporary car license plates have now run out. I am told I will need to hire a car if I need one within the next month or so, while the fleet car sits unused on my drive. Bicycle is now my only transport.

Got an urgent DHL package today which I thought might be some plates but was just a letter asking me for some obscure Nevada Licensing paperwork. The fleet company said it will be 10-14 business days from when they get the paperwork back before the plates arrive.

Such delays might appear usual, however, you should know this car has sat outside a dealership since April and was still not ready when I went to get it in June.


Food is improving!

Found some great food! Albeit in odd looking boxes. Sadly the Heinz beans were not as good as usual....

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Yoga - "nah, not just for girls"

Did the Yoga class here today. Before going I just checked with my mates Dave and Scott to ensure that Yoga is not totally a girl thing here. They completely assured me that, it was, of course, not just a girl thing.

No, indeed, there was one male in the class - me!

So much for my reliable informants.

Yoga pretty good though, and I ached after that more than from cycling or running, so that's good!

night cycling - this place really isnt cambridge

Having worked late I cycled the 3 miles home with my great little LED head torch on. Well, that's great to be seen by if you live in Cambridge with street lighting. Rural Nevada is quite a different story, there is very little light pollution here so cycling in the dark really means that!

As I set off at first I stayed close to the edge of the road but the edge had no markings to I managed to slip off the road badly once. In the pitch dark, vaguely remembering deep ditches and hearing running water and sensing wildlife around got a little spooked! In the end cycled home down the middle of the road, which had a nice painted line, but as cars came (I had about 2 miles warning on these long straight roads) it was pretty hard to find the edge of the road to get out of the way!

Nice to be back on the bike. And when I chilled out about cycling in the pitch dark, it was amazing to look up and see the stars, quite something else. I may need to learn how to photograph stars! (and I may need to buy a better front light!)

Birthday Present List

Everyone keeps asking what I want for my birthday so here are some thoughts (don't all go and buy the same things now):

1. Some nice photos of people for my house/desk (nice ones, even of the surprisingly less photogenic people please - why such jolly people as Fred and Kathryn scowl in most photos I do not know).

2. Lord of the Rings extended version in Spanish (still have the 40 quid christmas money for this so perhaps a supplement and I'll buy it!)

3. Latest Harry Potter book (due out in July!)

4. Sports tops, cycling tops or t-shirts from vegetarian society or that veggie sports club

5. Lightweight Binoculars (Kathryn!)

6. Understated cycling glasses but not as uncool as present pair!

7. Apple iLife 2005 (probably cheaper to buy in US)

8. Apple OSX 10.4 Tiger

Oh there, now I start to write my list I forget all the other things I was thinking of...

More on this later.

Admin De Jour

Today's admin has been trying to chase down some licence plates for my car - still no joy. I am now reduced to bicycle as my only mode of transport! (not a huge problem)

Oh and then I had to sign rental forms (again). I hope someone is paying my rent!

Went Cycling

Had the chance to go both cycling and hiking today but in the end just did the cycling due to the need to work.

Went out for an hour with Mel at lunch. Went over to Genoa, the oldest settlement in Nevada, pretty impressive little place, looks like the real wild west. The oldest bar in Nevada is there and it looked like it too.

It was about 87 degrees out there - who knows what that is in degrees C? I guess around 28 but the wind kept things cool enough.

Given the death ride sign up I thought I should get on the bike a bit. And conveniently, the Fleet car I have has a bit of a cock-up meaning it is not licensed after tomorrow, which means I shall have to cycle everywhere.

Nice to get out there anyway, I got to see the peaks of the death ride too - pretty awesome! I'd better get out there at the weekend!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Late night Walmart and new Kettle

Made a late night dash to Walmart to spent peanuts on loads of stuff as usual. This time I bought a (GE) Kettle but it has a little design flaw which I found when I tried it later - any ideas? (clue #1: this is a usability/context of use problem. Clue #2: hard to get a good cup of tea here).

Anyway, Walmart was it's usual fun and staggeringly cheap. Best Buys turned out to be shut. But Borders ever reliably open, sadly Star Bucks closed by the time I left Borders (again) so no Chai Latte for the trip home.

However, I did my first CD here - any guesses?

Death Ride

I haven't done that much since I have been here yet because I've been working very long hours - I haven't even seen Lake Tahoe yet.

So I've set out to fix it and try and get to work on the 6lbs I have already gained since arriving. I signed up for the California Death Ride, 129 miles in the desert with 15,000ft of climbing. This is a somewhat nuts idea for a whole raft of reasons, like: I have not ridden anywhere for more than 2 weeks; I am used to cycling in flatlands (Cambridge); I hate the heat; I am not used to this altitude yet (it goes up to 8,700ft); I haven't done much exercise at all for quite a while; and I don't know when to quit, so my brain will want me to finish the whole thing (which someone tells me is a bit like riding 200 miles); oh, and it is windy as you like around here, from all directions.

On the plus side, it is a company supported event so it is free and there is a free t-shirt. And the circuit is a series of loops, crossing the start/finish line in multiple places along the way, providing ample opportunity to give up. And there is free food and some compulsion to eat as much as possible. And it's an excuse to try and get a bit fitter and see some of the mountains. And the roads are closed for the event.

Well, overall though, pretty mad, even by my standards.

Running - isn't it dry here?!

Went running today but only in the Gymn here. After a mile I needed to go and get a drink - I normally do 6 miles in the UK before and never drink during the run. It really is dry here and no mistake. Some nights I weigh myself before bed and when I get up and have usually lost 2 lbs, my record is 2lbs 6! I am somewhat concerned that if I have a lay in I will wake up as a crisp. The recommended dehumifier sounds pretty quiet during the day but at night sounds like sleeping under the wing of concord!

Back to the running. I did 1 mile and went for a drink; 1.5 miles and needed a rest and another 1.5 a bit slower. Pretty poor! Mind you, I don't notice the altitude here as much as I do in Denver, I think it is about 4,500ft here and Denver about 5,600ft - quite a difference it seems.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Admin De Jour

Today's little admin problem was the discovery that the rural post service doesn't just deliver your mail here - you have to go and ask them to start delivering it! Thankfully they had kept my mail and not sent it to Canada with the previous occupant.

Dave is a superstar, I would never survive here without him filling me in on the basics!

Arbury Website

A bit hot outside so I spent too much of the day working on the Arbury Community Centre website and discovered that the house is much cooler downstairs than upstairs, and that the air conditioning is a serious piece of kit which looks like it costs a bloody fortune to run.

Arbury website is now validated and AA rated for accessibility by W3C/WAI (and Bobby). A little more tricky than I hoped!

Am trying not to learn to love the (GE) fridge, which dispenses fresh water and crushed ice at the touch of a button and never needs refilling (must be magic or good plumbing).

I am hoping that all the leftover sweets, chocolate, biscuits (and that funny cereal which seems to be just made of bourbon biscuits) in the cupboard will evaporate in the heat or something or I will gain even more weight! Can't seem to get any Alpen around here. Edd - can we trade some fruit loops for some sugar free Alpen?

Sunday, June 26, 2005


Just sitting here on my computer and the house shook as if a big truck had driven into it. I dashed to look out of all the windows but couldn't see a truck. Went outside to see if I could see anything and nothing there either.

So I typed, 'Nevada Earthquake' into google and that explained it...

Earthquake epicentre was just to the north of Lake Tahoe (I live on the south east end of the lake, the other side of the mountains, I guess around 3o miles away. Someone had told me they don't get earthquakes around here. Rubbish!

Here's a more detailed look at how close it was...

This has all made me think about super volcanoes, so I looked those up too. It transpires that there are several around here, one pretty close down near Mammoth, called the Long Valley caldera. Pretty impressive to live about 40 miles from a super volcano!

Catching up with Dave and Alison in Atlanta

Great to take the opportunity to catch up with Dave and Alison in Atlanta, always amusing.

Friday night really appreciated them cooking for me in sympathy for my eating hotel food all week (Alison travels a lot so knows what that is all about). After dinner, somewhat knackered still, we went to see local events at the park. It was actually a huge Pride event, meaning that we got to see The Indigo Girls play for free. I think I was a bit too knackered to really appreciate it but free concerts are always good.

Went to a Mall on Saturday at Dave's suggestion. Very clear he rarely does that but we found the Apple store - no surprises there then!

Atlanta is HOT and at night too, very much (unlike Nevada which is cold at night (nice)). Was pretty impressed with the fireflys there.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Atlanta with work

Spent last week in Atlanta with work. Long hours - bloody knackered, especially having worked 16 hours in the lead up to the week and having worked the previous weekend too.

Not fun - why do I work here? Need to buy a lottery ticket... ...hey wait a minute, this is NEVADA, which way to Vegas?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Wept at the Veggie counter of Raley's

I dragged myself into Raley's supermarket tonight after a huge long day at work and stumbled upon this magical frozen food counter, away from all the others, which caught my eye with a product labelled "meatless burgers". Not believing this, thinking it instead turkey instead of beef, I was staggered to find the whole counter full of veggie food, and lots of organic stuff. I nearly wept! It was like walking through platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross. I dashed home with an organic ready meal (all ingredients pre-fixed 'organic') and some organic hot dogs! WOW (forgot the ketchup though).

Fortunately this place is about 3 minutes from my house! And they even do wheat free stuff too, which is a relief.

(ready meal ultimately tasty)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Hair by Sherese

Dave persuaded me to get my hair cut by Sherese. She was booked up all day but I squeezed in due to my interesting accent. Sherese apparently cuts Billy Idol's hair when he is in town.

Best head shave I've even had, including various scalp massages. Left feeling rather relaxed and went to explore town on foot.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

This blog - son of moto

Someone may be amused to learn that this blog template is called 'Son of Moto', I may explain why for those who don't know the significance. Anyway the template is one of Zeldman's so it should be good!