Saturday, April 30, 2011

How do you like your quasi-futuristic hats? (Daniel)

Via Buzzfeed, the eighteen most awesome hats at the royal wedding.

Coming in at number one are Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice of York.

Evil stepsisters IRL

The bizarre non-Euclidean geometries of Beatrice's eldritch millinery drew comparisons to Cthulhu, lord high priest of the Great Old Ones, who lies not dead but dreaming in his sunken city of R'lyeh until the stars are right again.  Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Beatrice's Hat R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!


Sally Bercow, wife of House of Commons speaker John Bercow, dressed up her brain slug for the occasion.

Zara Phillips will be serving drinks in Ten Forward after the ceremony.

We ain't one-at-a-timin' here (Daniel)

We're mass communicatin'!

Chelsea is gone until Thursday.  In the meantime, I have assumed control of this blog.

Expect fewer discussions of food, running, and life goals, and more pictures of cute animals.

Now, as promised, baby otters.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A huge check mark

Even though I listed it in the 11 things I wanted to accomplish in 101 days, one of my goals has been almost two and a half years in the making.  This morning I finished reading the Bible.  The whole thing.  And this is a study Bible so I read all (well, not quite all, but almost all) the notes, too.

Lots and lots and lots and lots of pages with lots and lots
and lots of little words.  I'm sorry I gave you a hot coffee bath back in 2010.

For those who are interested, I actually started reading the New Testament back around January of 2009.  It took almost a year to finish because at that point I was taking fairly detailed notes as I read.  I started the Old Testament in Dec. of 2009 or Jan. of 2010, and I finished this morning.  I read a few pages every morning- text and notes- which took me about 20 minutes, and I would spend 10 or so minutes in prayer and reflection after that.  Kind of skimpy, but it's easy to transition from prayer and reflection to sleep at 5:15am.

The second half of this goal is to put together a "guide to the Old Testament" presentation for my church small group.  There's so much information and so many stories, it's easy to let it all blend together, and I thought teaching it would help me solidify things in my mind.  I've mentally set aside a couple days at the end of our vacation to work on this.

A few quick thoughts about the whole thing:

  1. You should read it, too.  Believers, you already know that.  However, I think it would be a good project for non-believers, too.  So much of Western civilization is based on the stories and concepts contained in its pages, that even if you read it from a purely academic perspective, you would learn a lot.  It's not much of an exaggeration to say that everything we say comes either from the Bible or Shakespeare.  
  2. The Old Testament is actually really interesting, and I was afraid it was not going to be.  My favorite parts were the Joseph story, the David story, and Ruth.  The only parts I felt got a little boring were the lists of names in Chronicles, the three descriptions of the temple, and some of the psalms and minor prophets.  Although everyone else loves Song of Solomon, it kind of made me feel embarrassed- like an 8th grader in health class. 
  3. It made me feel connected to the past.  These are words that people have been reading for thousands of years in incredibly diverse places and situations.  This was especially true when I was reading the book of Isaiah.  There's a lot of messianic prophesy in Isaiah, and Jesus quotes from the book often during his ministry.  It's like wow, this is so old and so important that Jesus studied it as a child.  It still blows my mind. 
  4. I'm planning to start reading through the New Testament again, and after that I'd like to read a Jewish translation of the OT.  The books are in a different order, and obviously the commentary would be different.  I think it would be a good way to motivate myself to take on the challenge again.

Well, that's the last you'll hear from me for awhile.  My flight leaves super early tomorrow, but Daniel will be guest posting some throughout the week.  I have no idea what he's going to blog about.  Probably courage wolf.  See you on the other side!  

Thursday, April 28, 2011

T-minus 2 days

Until I'll be on one of these

flying here

for this

with this

in tow, and I can officially check this

1. Finish my poster, analyses for a co-worker's poster, and analyses for my boss's talk, fly to Ft. Lauderdale for a week and participate in a conference

off of this.


It's hard to believe that other than little things like... packing... or building my itinerary so I have some idea where I have to be and when during the conference I'm ready to go.  Even though our days are full and I do have to hope someone I don't already know comes to talk to me about my present my poster, my role once I get to the conference is pretty passive.  It's fun to be all professional and "travel for work for a conference" especially to a place where one might procure a fruity drink and sip it on the beach.  The high in Madison today is 47 with snow and rain forecast in the afternoon, and I'm ready for some warm weather and sunshine!   

Sunday, April 24, 2011


First off, Happy Easter to everyone.  Hope you are having as beautiful a spring day as we are.

There's a lot of things about the internet that I don't understand (Courage Wolf, for example.  Can anyone explain the appeal?), but I am a sucker for baby animal squee.  Actually, now that I think about it, I kind of hate the word "squee".  I retract the previous sentence.  I am a sucker for cute baby animals.    

So with the promise of seeing baby goats bottle fed on the 10am tour, Daniel and I journeyed out to Hinchley's Dairy Farm  east of Madison Saturday morning.  During the drive, I was contemplating how actual farmers must view farm tourism.  Every morning they get up to milk the cows and feed and care for all their animals, and we will pay $10 a person for the privilege of pretending to do just that*.

Hinchley's is a real working dairy farm that supplies milk to Dean Foods.  They also grow corn, wheat and alfalfa to feed the cows and raise a variety of other animals, mostly as 4-H projects for the kids and to supplement the family's income.

First stop, the baby goats:

Most of the kids did well on the tour, but there was one little girl who screamed and cried almost the whole time.  Poor thing is going to grow up to be a vegan and have an irrational fear of cows.

Next stop was the baby cows.  This one was born just the day before.

This "little" one was two days old.  It was chilly out so the calves had to wear cow snuggies.

Then it was cow milking time.  I was kind of afraid I'd hurt the cow because you have to squeeze pretty hard to get milk to come out.  Juicy the Cow was unimpressed.

Then we went back outside to see the other animals.

Gigantic fluffy geese:

Mean, nasty, ugly geese:

Bessie the Dog, who we nicknamed Hambone, who followed us around during the tour:


When we pet the chicken, we were allowed to touch the comb and the waddle, which the woman running the tour described to the kids as feeling like a hot fruit roll-up.  I'd agree with that.

Newborn baby chicks:

Baby lamb:

After the animals, we saw a bunch of farm material and equipment, including a gigantic $350k combine.  That thing would be like driving our 2nd-story apartment around.  The whole tour took about 1.5 hours, and was fun for kids and adults.  The only downside was that it was pretty cold out, and I was glad when we got to go inside and defrost my feet.

It was neat to see the animals and get a glimpse of the hard work that it takes to keep a dairy farm running.  Although this is exactly the kind of non-organic, large-company supplier farm that people like Michael Pollan love to hate, it was certainly clean when we were there, and the animals seemed well-cared for and happy.  And the farmers seemed to enjoy being able to carry on the family tradition.  If you live in Madison and are looking for some relatively inexpensive family fun (with our without kids), I'd recommend it.  They have a corn maze in the summer, and a pumpkin give-away in the fall.    

Today is just a relaxing day.  We went to church this morning, did some cleaning, and will go to yoga and Easter dinner at Samba tonight (gotta use up a Groupon before it expires tomorrow!).  Tomorrow begins the final push before our trip to ARVO.  Have a good Sunday, all.

*Well, I didn't have to shovel any poo...  Probably couldn't get $10 a person if poo shoveling was involved.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Why Marathon?

A couple weeks ago, Michael from WhyMarathon e-mailed me to ask if I'd be willing to exchange a link to the WM site for a free shirt.  While most of the blog world feels that freebies are sooooooo 2008, my blog is stuck back  in 2008, so I said, "Heck yeah.  And can you explain how to put a link to your site on my blog?  In the blogroll?  Okay, gotcha."

Sure enough I got the shirt in the mail a few later.

It's pretty nice but big enough on me to be a dress.  I actually put it on with a tights and a belt to take a funny picture, but honestly it was embarrassing to both me and the good people at WhyMarathon so I ditched the idea.  Even though I can't wear it, I did pass on the shirt to someone who will put it to good use.

So why WhyMarathon?  What's that all about?  I did go check out the site before I agreed to link to them.  I wanted to make sure that the answer wasn't, "Because it's a great warm-up for knocking over the all-night Taco Bell."  The WhyMarathon film crew travels around to races and asks finishers- from the winners to first timers- why they do what they do.  The 1.5-ish minute responses looked like they were going to be very Motivational and Inspirational.  That made me nervous.  I'm not really into the whole "power of the human spirit" thing.  I think people who do too much introspection should get a second job, and the last three times I cried all involved banging a body part into furniture during late-night trips to the bathroom.  However, I know plenty of other people who are into that kind of thing, so I thought I'd put the link out there for them.

But when I started to write this review, I thought, "You know, I really should actually watch a few of the videos."  Just for research purposes of course.  A few videos later and I was hooked.  The 1.5 minute length is perfect.    It's long to feel like you've gotten to "know" the person in the video but short enough to be ADD and watch a whole bunch of different videos in a row.  I went from the woman who won a marathon 4 months after giving birth to the 18-year old guy who finished his 1st marathon sub 2:40 to the doctor who ran in honor of a patient suffering from ALS to the guy who was REALLY REALLY REALLY excited that he just finished Boston.  About 5 videos in I realized that I'd watched 5 videos (I was planning to watch like... 2), and that even though they were Inspirational and Motivational, they were genuine and not saccharine.  Watching a couple of these would definitely get you pumped up for a big race or even a though workout.  My only complaint is that they don't have many interviews with women.  However, they are actively interviewing people at races so ladies, if you see the WM film crew, stop and do an interview.  We've gotta represent.

I have not been compensated in any way for my review (other than a shirt that I gave away because it didn't fit), but I honestly think the site is a neat idea*.  It's Inspirational and Motivational for those of you who like that sort of thing, and it's interesting from an oral history perspective for those of you who will never admit to crying for a reason other than almost losing a toe to the dresser.

*If anyone with $$$ out there is listening, I'm not opposed to being compensated for... nearly anything that won't get me divorced or fired from my job.  This ugly blog layout is not going to change itself!


For further proof that I met the internet devil at the cross-roads at midnight see my interview here about running in Wisconsin.  I should note that I actually have no desire to run a race with Daniel.  I just couldn't come up with any other answer to that question.  Who would I run a race with?  Jesus?  Probably would be against me trying to pass blind people.  Kara Goucher?  Probably couldn't run as slow as me even if we had run a race while she was actively in labor with her son.  Usain Bolt?  I don't really like chicken McNuggets.  So sorry, D, you got thrown under the bus for that one.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When setting goals

It's best to set at least a few that you area already 99.5% sure you can accomplish.

I give you... tripod headstand:

Even though my form is crummy- I'm basically using the weight of my butt to counterbalance the weight of the rest of my legs- I was able to balance long enough for Daniel to, "Get some pictures- and make sure one is from the side so everyone knows my feet aren't touching the wall."

Yep... this is what people do when it's too miserable to go outside.  Yesterday and today are what I *hope* are winter's last kick in the teeth.  The walk to and from the bus ride to my piano lesson involved no less than snow, rain, slushy (Does anyone know what the real name for this is?  Is it just "wintry mix"?  Some of you must know what I'm talking about.  It's where it looks like there's big chunky snowcone ice all over the ground.), hail and thunder snow.  While I was waiting for the bus, there was a particularly loud rumble of thunder, and I overheard this exchange:

Undergrad1: That doesn't normally happen.. does it?
Undergrad2: Nah, bro.

Even though it's not so bad right now, I'm glad to be going to the gym.  Where's my spring????  Bring back my spring!!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dear The Weather,

We regret to inform you that there is a mistake in your Page-A-Day calendar.  The entry for November 19 was accidentally duplicated and inserted in your calendar in place today's entry for April 19.  Here is a copy of the the correct page if you'd like to print it for your use.

So your agenda items should include this

and this.

Instead of this
That's snow on the roof.
 and this.
More snow

We regret any inconvenience this error may have caused.  We are still the leader in calendars, planners, and stationery for natural phenomenon, and we hope you will continue to use our Page-a-Day calendars in the future. 

Thank you,

The Management

Monday, April 18, 2011

11 in 101

First off, good luck to MM and everyone running Boston today.  Hope you have beautiful weather and a great run!

Thinking about everything that has to happen in the next two weeks before I leave for a conference in Ft. Lauderdale is intimidating.  It seems almost impossible that in 30 days I will have prepared for and gone to the conference, come back, finished up projects, and be on vacation.  I know it will all get done, but wow.  So, riffing off of an idea from Sarah, riffing off the 101 in 1001 meme, I present 11 things that will get done or I want to do in the next 101 days*:

1. Finish my poster, analyses for a co-worker's poster, and analyses for my boss's talk, fly to Ft. Lauderdale for a week and participate in a conference
2. Attempt a 120lb (bodyweight) bench press
3. Go on vacation and visit family and friends in TN and NC
4. Celebrate my 5th wedding anniversary

I like this picture of us despite the fact that it has a random
arm in it and that I'm officially as pale as my dress.  

5. Finish analyses for two papers
6. Do a 150lb deadlift
7. Do a tripod headstand

8. Finish reading the Bible and create a guide to the Old Testament for my church small group
9. Invite at least one of two couples who live in our apartment complex to have dinner
10. Attempt a 30-day blogging challenge
11. Learn to play a pop song on the piano

Now it is time to inhale some applesauce, bundle up, and head to the gym.  What will you accomplish in the next 101 days?  Work goals?  Personal goals?  Fabulous vacations?  Feats of speed and/or strength? 

* By July 28, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bird watching

Last Thursday while I was getting some software updated on my computer, I looked outside and noticed two swans were swimming in ponds out by the marching band/ ultimate Frisbee field.  We get birds- including cool stuff like swans and cranes but mostly just nasty geese- passing through on their way north for the summer.  So I grabbed Kerri and another coworker and we braved the weather to check out the swans.

They were so beautiful and didn't seem to be bothered by people watching them.  I took about 10 pictures.  

Kerri brought her binoculars to get a closer look.

Although you can't tell from the pictures, the feathers were incredibly detailed.

Even though it was windy and gross outside, the swans just swam around the ponds peacefully... impervious to us... to the guy chasing geese off the flag football field with a net... not even moving their heads at all...

Because- as we realized after 5 full minutes of oohing and ahhing- they were fake.  Those incredibly detailed feathers?  I guess you can do a lot with plastic these days.  The groundskeepers must have put then in the ponds to scare away other birds.  I'm guessing it will work because they sure fooled us.     

Leaving nature alone, Friday night Daniel and I went over to check out the opening of the new UW Union South.

It's pretty fancy.  There's a bowling alley, a rock climbing wall, a movie theater, food court type restaurants, a bar/grill, concert space, and offices and meeting rooms.  Daniel is happy that he will be able to cut through it to get from the computer science building to the engineering building during the winter.

It was pretty packed, but we were able to catch a free showing of The Social Network.  Although I was obviously not a computer science major at Harvard, the movie did take me back to my undergrad days in the early 2000s.  The whole idea of spending a Friday evening watching a movie at the student union was reminiscent of Gator Nights.  I thought the movie was pretty good, but I did have a hard time watching any part with Justin Timberlake in it and not thinking "Hey! That's Justin Timberlake!  Wow!  Justin Timberlake is in this movie!"  Daniel didn't like the message it gave that good and innovative computer science is all about hacking and binge drinking and twizzlers.  But he did say they got the parts about Mt. Dew and Asian girls right.  He also plans to start writing all the solutions to problems he's working on on the window.


Skipping ahead to today...
It's 9:30am on Sunday, and I have the whole day ahead with no obligations.  Normally we'd be going to church now, but Daniel went in to work on a paper he's submitting to a conference on Thursday, and we've already heard the sermon so I decided to stay home.

On the agenda:

  • Update the blog 
  • Apply to a summer fruit/veg and a meat CSA - I've done the research.  Now I just have to get the printer to work
  • Go through our "in box" and deal with mail, etc.
  • 1 hour Dave Farmar yoga podcast
  • Practice the piano
  • Figure out what I'm going to bake for our church group meeting tomorrow night
  • Walk to the store (I have the car, but it's beautiful out!) to get ingredients
  • Update our budget
  • Get lunch stuff ready for the week
If there's time:
  • Work on my afghan while watching a movie/ Pushing Daisies?
  • Do some vacation research?
Hope everyone in NC is doing alright after the crazy storms yesterday.  Get out there and enjoy some nature! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

T-shirt Scarf

I had some old t-shirts that had sentimental value that were not going to last much longer at their current rate of use.  I wanted some way to preserve them but still be able to wear them.  I've seen t-shirt quilts before, but I didn't have enough that I thought "went together" to make a quilt.  Awhile ago, I was thumbing through an Uncommon Goods catalog, and I saw this t-shirt scarf, and thought it would be the perfect solution.  If only I were good at sewing...  I mean, I could probably throw something together if I wasn't worried about doing "do-overs", but I didn't want to wreck my stuff in the name of a Sunday afternoon experiment.

So I turned to Etsy to see if anyone made them.  After some poking around, I found Laura's shop: Banoonoos.  She pre-makes scarves to sell but indicated that she'd do custom orders.  After some discussion, I sent my shirts, and very soon after, I had a new scarf (for only $15 plus the cost of shipping).

The shirts are all from our days in Albuquerque: three running shirts (one of which was made of tech material), a snowshoe race shirt, and a shirt from a trip I took with our church.  Laura did a beautiful job preserving the logos on the front.  I really manhandled it putting it on to take the picture, and all the stitching felt sturdy.  It's also thick and warm enough to be useful.

You can still see almost all of the print when its on.  If I were going to wear it "for real" I'd pair it with jeans and a plain colored long sleeved shirt.

I have no financial incentive to write this review.  I did think it was a neat idea that some of you might be interested in, and I am truly happy with it and wanted to give Laura some free advertising.

And with that, I'm going to go deadlift 145lbs.  What a great way to start a Wednesday.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Guess who did a pull-up this morning?!?

Me!!!!!!  I've been trying to do one for about forever.  Even last night when Daniel and I were walking, I made an attempt at the pull-up bars and was able to pull myself up until my chin reached the bar, but I had to give a kick to get my chin up and over it.  This morning, I walked into the gym and decided to give it another go as a warm-up.  That's when the magic happened.  I jumped up and grabbed the bar (and then let myself back down so my arms were fully extended- we're all about good form around here) and *did a pull-up*.  I was so shocked that I did another one just to be sure.  I think the main difference between this morning and yesterday afternoon is that the bar at the gym is thinner than the bar outside, so it's easier for me to get a good grip.  Regardless, it still counts!  I actually did a few more throughout my workout just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating, and yep, I can do a pull-up.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Now with 80% less funk

Good funk:

Bad funk:

Ewwwwww... this is what happens when you and everyone who comes to visit you takes off their snow boots in the same place for six months.  It feels pointless to clean it when ever day brings another layer of sludge, but fortunately, maybe, possibly we are beyond all that for awhile, so it was time for scrub-a-thon 2011.

The lineoleum is old so it doesn't *look* that much cleaner, but I guarantee you, it is.

 I'd say I was doing spring cleaning, but it really feels more like summer.  It was beautiful yesterday, but the weather is about to go all Wizard of Oz on us this afternoon.

Our indoor/outdoor thermometer is confused:
Indoors: 76.4 (that'll be fun for sleeping tonight); outdoors: who knows?
What is this "warm weather" you speak of?
I wish I could say I spent the day outside, working on my tan, but it's already windy and thundery.  So instead I played Miss Domestic (Servant) and cleaned (see above) and cooked lasagna for our neighbors who just had a baby
While I'm on a roll, I'll share my #1 (and only) cleaning tip with you:  Denture cleaner will clean anything.  Well, I haven't taught it how to vacuum, but every week we soak our dish drier and my water bottle in hot water with a few Target brand denture cleaner tablets, and it clears up all the hard water and general gunk that builds up.  

So fresh and so clean, clean.
Now it's time for straight chillin'.  And hoping we don't get hit by a tornado.  And finding the fan for the bedroom.  Please deposit any lazy cleaning tips you have in the comments section.