Thursday, February 21, 2013


by Liz

I’ve always been comfortable in water.  Growing up, I loved swimming in lakes and pools, etc.  Being able to hold my own, in 2001 when I embarked on my first summer at Camp Chatuga.  I decided to head down to Mountain Rest, SC for Lifeguard training before the kick off of all staff training and summer sessions.  Spending a week in the lake, learning new skills and fine tuning some old ones, opened a door and world that I still enjoy.  

That first day, I met a dear friend and fellow first time counselor Nan.  Throughout that summer and the following summer Nan was generous enough to help me learn more about the art of swimming.  Getting more technique minded and less floundering around just for the fun of it.  A skilled swimmer for a long time, Nan was great teacher and I will forever be grateful to her for the extra tutelage she bestowed on me. 

Due to walking through that open door, I spent a lot of my three summers at Camp Chatuga in the water.  When returning to Charleston Southern University for my final year in the fall of 2004 I was presented with an another opportunity.  I was offered the position of head lifeguard for the CSU pool.  Happily I took the position and was able to make the summer classes I had to take instead of going back to my beloved camp more bearable.  Expanding my love of swimming ever more. 

The following years after I left CSU I found myself drawn to swimming when I could.  Getting on kicks of swimming regularly for a while then, taking hiatus from the activity.   Most recently in the last two years I’ve kicked up my swimming activity and have enjoyed the Seattle Public Pools and most of late my fitness centers pool facility. The last nine weeks has been met with a steady three swims a week.  Swimming works well, because with the unpredictable winter climate, I can always get a good workout in no matter what the elements are. 

In the past nine weeks I’ve noticed and appreciated my swims in a whole new level than ever before.  Now, I’m not sure if I can attribute this to my age or just all in all where I am currently in my life.  However, the lure of taking forty-five minutes to escape while completing any activity that I truly enjoy and love is addicting.  Unlike other exercise routines where you can plug in your music, watch TV on a elliptical, or participate in a group swimming is solo.  Putting on my cap and goggles, gliding through the water swimming laps, I usually am able to only hear my thoughts and the sound of water rushing past my ears. 

I find I go in stages of over thinking everything for the first five-ten minutes of my swim… My work craziness.  Money.  Missing friends and family.  What I plan on doing for the weekend.  Then, most likely the last song I heard on my drive to the gym, enters my head and is on repeat for a few laps until I’m able to shake it.  The last twenty-five to thirty minutes is golden.  It’s the part where I unwind, daydream, think of hopes, goals, and all the centering that I need to make my workout more of a body and soul rejuvenation. 

As amazing as that sounds, I have to admit that lately my thoughts have gone to my swim-face.  What’s a swim-face?  Well, if you swim laps you may understand.  When I commence my freestyle stroke I opt for the breath every three strokes.  Which means that I alternate the side I breath on.  It’s second nature to me now and it makes me wonder what else is second nature?  After taking my breath, my head resumes its linear path looking at the line down the middle of the lane.  I really wish I could see my face at this point.  In my head I imagine that I look graceful with a kick-ass hardcore look upon my mug.  However, In reality I have a feeling I look more like a consorted Ursula instead of Ariel.  It’s silly right.  Unless there was a camera or someone on the bottom of the pool looking right up at me as swim overhead.  Who cares?  Well, I guess no one, but that is my ponder thought of the moment.  Swim-face.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The 747th Heaven

By Jeremy 

Flying, at least commercially, is sort of humdrum for me these days. I guess that when you fly at least four times a month for two years, the magic of rocketing through the sky five miles up in a chair wears off. It doesn’t help either that there isn’t much I haven’t done, when it comes to flying. Aviation has been incredibly good to me over the years in that regard. I’ve checked off everything from the tiny little Saab 340 to the newest 787 Dreamliner, the old 737-200 classics to a factory fresh 777. I’ve flown on most of them many, many times over. But there was one that was always missing: the 747.

A Dreamy Quest
Family vacations often brought us through Chicago during the hub and spoke days of the 90s. While everyone else in my family dreaded connecting through delay ridden O’Hare, I was thrilled to have the chance to see the battleship scheme jumbos of United at the gates, bound for exotic destinations far, far away. I marveled at the airplane’s raw power with every window-shaking departure. I reveled in its ability to fly half way around the world and look sexy while doing it. Yeah, that’s right, the 747 is a sexy airplane. It always has been, and it always will be. And I dreamt about being on one, ticket in hand to some place new, exciting, and far from home.

Yet for years it has evaded me. In days past I used to look up crazy itineraries, hoping for a good price, in a bid to get aboard one on the cheap. I’d look up Boston to New York - via London, or a weekend in Tokyo. Unsurprisingly it never worked out. So with most of my travel being domestic, I got to fly an endless number of A320s and 737s instead. They got boring, and flying got kind of boring with them.

Meanwhile, most of my first flights on the big Boeing jets were while working events for NYCAviation. Both the 777 and 787 went down this way. So while it was awesome to fly on them, I can’t say I was paying all that much attention (yeah, I know, cry me a river). Even still, the 777 and the Dreamliner just don’t connect with me in the same way the 747 does. They don’t have the same elegance or the same obvious raw power, nor have either served as the symbol of global travel for decades. Maybe what I’m saying doesn’t make sense, but the 747 is just different. At least for me, it represents everything there is to love about flying: the beauty of flight and the promise of adventure.

In any case, while the first twenty-six years of my life were devoid of luck, the twenty-seventh turned out to be the charm. Thanks to some clever routing and help from the good folks at Delta, I finally scheduled up my first flight on the jet late in 2012: Tokyo to Detroit.

The 747-Plane Cometh
There it was, sitting at gate 23 of Tokyo Narita, basking under a partly cloudy sky: a big, beautiful 747-400. In my hand, a ticket on Delta 276 service to Detroit; seat 74K. Detroit wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I dreamt about going somewhere exciting, but at least coming from my first visit to Japan made it close enough. The gate agent merely called out our flight number and I felt myself getting excited about going flying for the first time in awhile. After snapping a few pictures from the terminal I stepped on board.  I spent a good long time admiring the iconic forward cabin (the nose) for the first time, before pressing onward to my seat on the upper deck. While putting my things away I noticed the flight deck door was ajar. Never missing an opportunity to visit an open cockpit, I ventured on up and asked if I could pay a visit. Thankfully the pilot said yes.

After a few minutes of gawking and talking, two young kids sheepishly knocked on the door. Their father – in tow - remarked it was their first time on a 747. They beamed with excitement when our pilot not only invited them in but offered them each a chance to sit in his seat; quintessential pilot cap included. Both kids were clearly over the top. Pictures were taken, smiles shared, and a short while later the family was off to their seats.

Admittedly I was sort of jealous of their ability to be so unabashedly excited. It was my first time on a 747 too, I thought, and I’ve been looking forward to this day longer than they’ve been alive – combined. I was crazy excited about it just like they were, but didn’t want to show it for fear of looking, well, childish. After all, I was in the first class cabin with all the prim and proper international business people, most of whom had probably flown on the Queen of the Skies for years by now. As a result I spent the entire time boarding the plane trying hard to contain my excitement. The effort probably resulted in this creepy half smile that left fellow passengers thinking I was nuts, but that didn’t occur to me then.

Back on the flight deck our pilot then turned to me, asking if I wanted my picture in the captain’s chair; quintessential pilot cap included. I get this offer often in my visits to the front office, and almost always pass it up in an attempt to act my age. But the cap; the cap was rare. I couldn’t recall the last time I was offered to wear the cap. And this was my first flight on a 747. The weight of the offer, which I figured may never have happened again, became too much. So just this one time, I caved.

I stepped into the left seat, sliding it forward until my feet reached the pedals with ease. My right hand reached out for the throttle, with all four fingers slipping onto their own lever. My left hand took hold of the yoke, and I glanced out the windshield imagining the view our crew would see shortly. Our pilot handed me his cap, snapping me out of my av-geek induced haze. I put it on—instantly feeling the same age as the kids who just visited—turned to the camera, and smiled.

I chatted with the crew for a little while longer before reluctantly wandering back to my seat for departure. Settling in for the long flight ahead, I couldn’t control the excitement anymore. The smile that started on the flight deck had extended from ear to ear by now, and wouldn’t go away. I looked excitedly around the cabin, soaking in every detail and likely scaring fellow passengers who wondered why I was smiling so widely. My eyes transfixed on a wing with two engines out the window, we climbed out of Tokyo and headed east into the night.

I felt like a kid again; occasionally laughing quietly to myself all the way up to cruise. The last time I was this excited to be on an airplane had to have been many years ago. Truth be told, it felt great. It felt great to let go and enjoy it for all it was worth. It felt great to remember why I love to fly. It felt great to live out a dream.

New Site!:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I Heart Seattle!

by Liz 

Perks of driving… As the winter has come and my bus riding has come to a complete halt, I’ve relied on getting to work via the Vibeno!  Which I aptly named my Pontiac Vibe seven years ago.  One benefit would have to be the ability to leave my house twenty minutes before my work day starts and make it on time.  Much better than the fourty-five minute to hour earlier I have to leave when taking the bus.  My other incentive is that I’ve been busy after work with some activities that deviate from my would be bus path. 

All good enough reasons right?   Well, my icing on the cake of late has been my route into the office.  As I head across the Ballard Bridge I take a alternate track that lets me skirt Queen Anne hill.  As I climb up 1/3 of the way up the hill and round it towards to Lower Queen Anne if you may, I get to enjoy negligible traffic which is one bonus.  The other would have to be the amazing sweeping view of Seattle’s cityscape that I get as I round on W. Olympic Pl.  Every morning Seattle greets me, saying hello and in all it’s glory.  I wink back at the Emerald City in wishing it too a wonderful and amazing day ahead.  
 Quick Pic of my Seattle Morning View does not do it justice for what I really see...

Gracious to this lovely city I live in, I find myself falling deeper and deeper in love with it.  Maybe it’s the pending Valentines Day.  Maybe not… I am however, totally digging this winter we’ve had in the Pacific Northwest.  More sunny days than normal, mild climate, and enough rain without feeling too bogged down.  What do you say Seattle, will you be my Valentine?  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What's in a nickname?

By Liz

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,  Juliet asked “ What is in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  I however am asking what is in a nickname?  With a name like Elizabeth that has a plethora of alias to choose from I am no stranger to the nickname.  To my knowledge I was named with the nickname already in mind.  For as long as I can remember I’ve always felt more connected to Lizzie and Liz vs. the proper Elizabeth.  Don’t get me wrong I do love my name, my parents did well if I say so myself…  

Eight!  Yes, eight separate nicknames that I am regularly associated with and identify with.  I  know of people whom prefer to only go by their proper name, let alone eight additional classifiers.  This is not even counting sweet endearments that are given on a regular basis too.  

I've already shared Liz and Lizzie two of my pseudonyms.  Now, as you can see Lizzie is spelled with an 'ie' and not a 'y'.  Never a 'y', I don't know why, but it drives me crazy to see the 'y'.  Family, friends, school all called me Lizzie until I went to college when I started introducing myself as Liz.  I don't mind being called Lizzie still, it's who I am.  However, in the professional world, I'm not ready for Elizabeth unless I have to, so Liz it is.  My lovely kin in the south have added to Lizzie and call me Lizzie-lyzzie or Lizzie-Lou.

For my immediate family and a very few select peeps get to call me one of the variations that my Dad gave me at a very young age.  Okay, this is weird, but again it's me and I'm weird so who cares right?  Ready for it?...   Scuzbucket.  Yes, Scuzbucket.  If I hear the name Scuzbucket on the street or in a store I will turn around knowing that my family is trying to get my attention.  Derived from Scuzbucket comes two more nicknames that are from that nickname.  Confused yet?  Me too! Trying to map all this out takes some heavy duty navigation.   Scuz and Scuzzie, are the two other connecting names in this long list of monikers.  

The next two are given from the friend realm.  Lizard, is a common one used in the playful sense.  It brings back good memories and makes me think of a dear friend Dennis, whom would call me Lizard all the time.  I then aptly named him Den-ard.  Very original, I know!  Going back to my camp days I was given another moniker by a British gent and whom my friend and his now lovely wife still use this name in addressing me.  Lizbef.  He once told me that in french the name, not me had a resemblance to roast beef.  Hmmm.....

Last, but not least in my mind is a name that given solely by my sister Micki or shall I say Mule?  Well, she calls me Nag to her Mule.  Yes, for all of you movie lovers out there you guessed right!  A League of Their Own the 1992 film where sisters Kit and Dottie affectionately call each other Mule and Nag.   I'm not sure if it was the sister's relationship that in someways mirrored ours, or the love of the game that made the names seem very appropriate for the Morris sisters.   My Mule is the only one that can call me Nag without bringing up any feelings of abhorrence.

That sums up the many alias' of Elizabeth, or shall I say Liz.   Looking at common nicknames for Elizabeth on Wikipedia, there are over 32 common monikers for the name.  Wowzers Penny!  That's a lot and I only have to deal with eight.  A little etymology for you though.   Nickname originates from eke-name in 1303 which means 'additional name'.  Although the spelling has changed, the pronunciation and meaning have relatively stayed the same.