Monday, February 05, 2007

Time for sports

Work is running quite smoothly now days. Been having an office all to myself for more then one month now as buildings are being changed and people move around. Next week, unfortunately I'll end up in a cubicle instead as the old building is running out of space, and the new one doesn't really have any offices. A more active and creative environment or a step towards the impression you get from the movie Office Space? I will soon find out.
This weekend has been a good relaxing one. Hanging out with friends, watching the Super bowl on Sunday and going surfing on Saturday.

Super bowl

Not everyone who reads this blog may even know what The Super bowl is. In Sweden we generally never hear anything about it. It's the final showdown in the National Football League (NFL). This American football thing is a craze. 100 000 million dollars in wages during the game (0,7 billion SEK). The final game of the NFL season, between The Chicago Bears and The Indianapolis Colts, was played today, in pouring rain. Prince had been dusted of to make an appearance in mid game break. It's not a bad pastime, watching football and drinking beer. Hockey makes more sense to me though. Me and the Bergman’s went to HP Pavilion in San Jose and watched the Sharks play at one time. It's pretty neat to be at this huge stadium and just chill out and sit back as home team scores and the crowd goes wild. Next year maybe I’ll go to see the local football team, The San Francisco Giants play. I’ve been at a football game in the college league when the two big universities in the area, Stanford and UC Berkeley played.


So me and a friend of mine went surfing on Saturday at the beach in Pacifica. The weather was nice. Air temperature around 70 degrees (21 C). Not bad for February ;) And the conditions were pretty rookie-friendly with waves of around 4-5 feet (~ 1,25 m).
The water is cold though, even in the summer. Right now temperatures are in the low 50's (~12 C). For the comfort and protection of nuts and other important body functions, a wetsuit is therefore required. And after spending a couple of hours in the water, my toes were pretty numb. I never got more then knee-standing on the board on any of the waves, but it was a great feeling. Paddling out on the board, turning as a new wave approaches, hearing it break behind you and holding on as it grabs you and sweeps you towards the shore. Good to have a Volvo Wagon to throw your board in and go out there. It’s fun and great exercise. To bad we don’t have that good waves in Sweden.


Squaw Valley

I was just looking through my blog material. This is a story about when I tried downhill skiing for the first time. Should have posted it earlier with some pictures but they ended up on some other guy's camera and haven't made their way to me yet. Oh well..

This December, I experienced snow and cold for the first time in quite a while. Me, my German colleague Jan and the guys from the house went to the Sierra Nevada mountains, to Lake Tahoe. The YSC owns a cabin there that members can rent fairly cheap. Early December is early in the season, and we were the only ones there that weekend.
It turned out that the snow conditions were really poor on the day we arrived. Most of the ground below the mountains was barren. We went to a nearby town to rent skis and were advised to wait for a front that was coming in later that day, hopefully bringing more snow to the slopes.
A fifteen minutes drive from the cabin brings you to Sqaw Valley, where the winter Olympics were held in 1960. We went there to check out the conditions, just to make sure.
We inquired skiers about the state of the slopes and decided to wait until the next day before renting equipment. Instead we spent the day at the cabin drinking beer and playing poker and trivial pursuit.
In the evening we crossed the border to Nevada, were the gambling laws are more liberal than California. Surely enough, right after the border, near Lake Tahoe, there are a few casinos. Not very fancy, but still interesting. So we lost some money, and got a bite to eat.

Soon it had started to snow, and it snowed all night. In the morning there was maybe 15 cms outside of the cabin and we got out equipment and went to Squaw Valley.

Having never skied downhill in my life, and only done cross-country skiing some 13 years ago, at Squaw Valley, I started out in the beginner slopes where there are instructors to help you out. They, and the other participants, were puzzled by the fact that there are Swedes that can't actually ski. Luckily, it went quite well for me compared to some of the others. There was this Chinese girl that despite many attempts failed to get very far up the hill, or on level ground either, before plummeting to the ground.

I was not so bad myself though. During the beginners introduction I managed to ski backwards into a tree (the only tree around). And also to cut the power to the lift by accidentally grabbing hold of the cord, effectively unplugging it.
Never the less, after lunch that day, I decided that it was time to try the blue slope (the only other slope open at the time). The hills were low on snow, and some parts were icy. We had to sign when renting the gear that we understood that skiing in low snow conditions was risky and
that we shouldn't sue the renters if we hurt ourselves.
Anyway, I pushed myself out on the slope.. and down I went. It took a while to get all the way down, and I fell maybe two dozen times. But during the last part I had improved a lot. well at least I had learned how to turn, break, and (most of the time at least) to stop and to get up quickly. It was fun. I will certainly go skiing again when I get the chance.
Any takers (preferably rookies like me) who wants to go to Chamonix for a week and get some practice? Wouldn't that be awesome.