Friday, June 20, 2008

Skype Us!

Two months ago, Grammy and Grampy didn't even have a computer. Hard to believe, isn't it? But talk about a lightening fast turnaround...

The first trip up to Jersey was to set up the computer and introduce Grammy and Grampy to the operating system and its basic features. Lots of solitaire...right Grammy!?

Then, thanks go to Eunice for stopping by a number of times and getting some e-mail action going. Just make sure you respond when we send you messages...hǎo hǎo!?

Finally, on our last trip up north, we set up Skype, for audio and especially video calls. The opportunity to see each other from the other side of the world is very exciting (and essential!) for all of us. Here's how it went...

Install Skype on Grammy and Grampy's computer.

Drive to the nearest McDonald's (they all have wifi now). Actually, I went to the McDonald's that Grammy used to take Andrew and I to meet Eunice and Barbie when we were little kids. What a cool throwback!

Set up my laptop, with webcam, in a quiet corner of the restaurant (can you call McDonald's a restaurant?).

Buy a sweet tea. (Now there's a redeeming quality of today's McDonald's...a little taste of the South...no trip to Durham required...not that spending time in Durham is a bad thing.)

Place a Skype call. It all works! Hi guys...I see you!

Practice a bunch of times. I call you...can you answer? [Check.] Can you call me? [Check.]

Since then, it's been fun singing happy birthdays (June is a big birthday month in the Balla household). You guys look as good as you sound!!!

~Steve

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Great (and Timely) Gift

You know the age-old birthday question..."What do you get a [blank] who has everything?" Well, Desi and the kids found a way to surprise this old guy, even after all of these years of exchanging gifts.

The scene that greeted me as I was waking up was totally unexpected. Although I was groggy (and wasn't yet wearing glasses), I could clearly recognize the "athlete" who Julie and Z were carrying into the bedroom. There I was, crossing the finish line in the Charlottesville Sprint Triathlon, about this time last year. Desi had snapped the picture (perfect timing!), and now the crew had gone ahead and blown the thing up into a poster, complete with my swimming cap and race number as decorations. A truly thoughtful present...

...And one that now reminds me, every time I look at it, that this year's C'ville Tri is only a few days away. So I might as well lay out my goals. This way, I won't be able to manufacture an artificial "victory" after the fact (not that I'd do anything like that...yeah, right!).

I still, of course, want to avoid drowning and would really like to finish the race (for some reason I have flat tire on the brain). As for times, let's try these out:

Beat 1:49:56. This was my time last year. My training plan over the past 15 weeks has all been about going faster, so it seems like this will be an important measure of what I have (or haven't) accomplished in that regard.

Break 1:45. I really have no idea how reasonable it is to think that I will be able to shave five minutes off my time, but it seems like a good goal. It's what I will keep in my mind when all of that anaerobic pain kicks in, especially during the run segment. That, plus the knowledge that Desi and the kids will be waiting for me at the finish line. Julie will have way more energy this year (no mono related virus to slow her down!). Z will no doubt be running along side me for the final sprint. And Desi will be there once again with her camera in hand...

~Steve