Sunday, July 31, 2011

One year

It's not often that I can remember almost exactly what I was doing about the same time a year before, but this year- like last year- I spent most of yesterday at the Sugar Maple Music Festival.

Yesterday morning while I was running, I started thinking about all the similarities and differences between this year and last.

  • Last year I was training for the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon and I started the morning with a 20 mile run.  
  • This year I slept in and was glad I didn't have to run 20 miles because it was hot.

  • Last year I didn't do much strength training
  • This year- Tuesday, in fact- I'm planning to try for a new 1-rep max on the bench press (115lbs.  That's a 35lb plate on each side. Light weight, baby!) and did 3 sets of 2 reps at 150lbs on the deadlift last Thursday.

  • Last year I spent most of the day reading a murder mystery (A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley)
  • This year I spent most of the day reading a murder mystery (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).  Both are great books but certainly very different.

  • Last year Daniel didn't have a beard!  Wow, I forgot what that looked like!
  • This year he has been fully integrated into society.

  • Last year, after the 20 mile run and the music festival, we went to see a friend's band play a late night show.  I was like deliriously tired in that picture.  And I'd planned to do a 5-mile recovery run the next morning.  That didn't happen.
  • This year we got that out of the way the week before.  I'm also not doing a 5-mile run this year, but I am planning to hit up a yoga class in the afternoon.

  • Last year we went to a wedding the day after.  Wow, that was a lot of stuff in one weekend.
  • This year we still see almost all the people in this picture on a regular basis.  And one- second from left- is due with her first baby in October!  

It just doesn't seem that long ago!

What has stayed constant in your life since last year?  What has changed?  What do you think this time next year will bring?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

If I had a million dollars...

Periodically I get a clothing catalog from a company called Boden out of the UK.  I hadn't heard of it before, and I'm not sure how my name got on the mailing list, but I enjoy going through it and picking out all my favorite items.  Not only are the outfits cute, but it's one of the few companies I've seen that carry clothing that *I* consider truly warm enough for getting around in the winter.

I bet this red coat would raise January vitamin D levels all on its own:

BUT, all the items are super pricey.  Ever wondered what a $200 hoodie looks like?

Now you know.  Granted it's made of cashmere, but a $200 hoodie?  Really?  Better not spill anything on that.

Out of curiosity, I added most of the items I'd flagged when I was flipping through the catalog to the online shopping bag, just to see what would happen.

Actually, $2400 is less that I thought the total would be.  I must have missed some shoes!   Anyway, the fun is in the shopping, not the buying.

Have a dream kitchen/clothing/jewelry/housewares/sporting goods/whatever store you love to look at but is waaaaayyyyy out of your price range?

Looks like I need to go click "remove" 18 times and then head out for a run.  We're going to a music festival this afternoon, which will provide a lot of good listening and Girl With the Dragon Tattoo reading relaxation.  Have a fun Saturday!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Party like an undergrad

Saturday was my annual night out after 10pm!  Daniel and I went sent to see a friend- the husband of second from right- play at Quaker Steak and Lube (yep, a gas station themed restaurant/bar).

Smile if you normally go to bed at 9pm!
This was kind of a "reunion show" for our friend's band- except this year he didn't play with a band, he played with a guy who wasn't in the original band- I think?  The dynamics were kind of confusing.  The important part is that I'm fairly certain I haven't been out that late since his show last year.

Then I slept in until- gasp!- 8am the next morning.  My life is a Katy Perry song.

Although I don't remember anything about her making her own nectarine fro-yo ice cream sandwiches.  Mmmmm.... sprinkles.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Yes, that's exactly what it's like...

Nation's Optometrists Finally Starting To Recover After Raucous Optic Disc Expo 2011

It's pretty exciting when The Onion parodies something specific to your own life.  Not that I think the writers of the article had ARVO (the vision conference we attend almost every year in Ft. Lauderdale) in mind, but they got some great coaching on eyeball terms.

An excerpt:

While days were reportedly filled with "mind-blowing," "wild," and "f***ing amazing" presentations on hyperopia in baby boomers and new ways of reducing bilateral papilledema, optometrists said they also spent long nights in their hotel rooms talking with colleagues well into the morning hours on wide-ranging topics such as the vessels that supply blood to the retina and slit-lamp biomicroscopic examinations.

The eye specialists told reporters that when they returned home from the intense weekend of nonstop optic disc lectures and discussions they "immediately passed out."

"I got maybe three hours of sleep the entire expo," said Dr. Cyrus Patel, who had to cancel nearly 40 appointments this week because he was too exhausted to go into work. "I kept telling myself I was allowed only one more optic disc drusen seminar and then I had to go to bed, but that would mean missing Dr. Lappen's keynote on optical coherence tomography, and it's like, you only live once, you know? It's not like there's another Optic Disc Expo next month. This is it for 2011."

Yesterday was not the funnest day ever at work (at least the AC was fixed), so it was a great surprise when someone found this at 4pm.  I need to go raid the bins to get a couple paper copies.  As someone who spends waaayyyyy to much time thinking about "vessels that supply blood to the retina"- heck I'm hoping to have three papers on that topic accepted this year- that was probably my favorite line.  I've talked that topic to death but fortunately not in the wee hours of the morning.  Unless I was having nightmares.

Things are basically back to normal with the cooling systems on campus, and the gym is open again today.  I'm chugging coffee to try to wake up because we were out late last night at the Gillian Welch concert (fantastic!).  Hopefully I won't have to fight anyone for the squat rack as I am feeling slow and dimwitted.  Have any fun plans for the weekend?  My sleep schedule is going to be further disrupted by seeing a friend play a show Saturday night, but that's about it other than the usual chores, etc.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Good news, everyone!

From the UW website:

Relief, in the form of cooler and less humid air, was delivered Wednesday to the 47 campus buildings that went without air conditioning early this week.
As Madison struggles through a stifling heat wave, campus facilities officials were able to restore cooling capacity to the affected buildings and most workers and students returned Wednesday morning to find cooler, more comfortable conditions.
With the exception of a few isolated areas, the added air conditioning was reducing both temperatures and humidity levels. Facilities officials reported that temperatures in most of the affected buildings had dropped to between 72 and 75 degrees Wednesday morning.
OMG.  OMG.  OMG.  It was so hot on Tuesday.  So so so so hot.  My office was 90 degrees, and there was no air circulation.  Anything that was "cool" in comparison (the bathroom, the stairwell) was covered with a layer of condensation.  My building is one of those tall, 70s deals where no windows can be opened, and it was not meant to be inhabited without the HVAC system.  The lawyers got sent home Tuesday morning, and the transportation office got moved.  I lasted until 1:30pm and gave up and went home to lay on the floor in front of the AC.  I had to take a 1/2 day of vacation to do it, but it was totally worth it.  I just pretended like I was on vacation at the Sun and had gone back to my hotel room for the afternoon.     

Yesterday was MUCH better.  I borrowed someone's desk fan to get a little air circulating because I still wasn't getting any actual AC in my room.  However, there was AC coming into the rest of the building so it was cooler and smelled less like asbestos and bathroom.  

Unfortunately because of the heat, the gym is still closed:


The SERF weight room is closed for maintenance, but I'm hopeful that because the temperature is a bit cooler the rest of the week, they'll open the Nat again in the next couple days.  

I saved the best news of the entire day for last.  Here's an e-mail from our apartment complex:

Residents of XXX:
Due to the extreme amount of millipedes migrating through your part of the neighborhood, our pest control contrator, Anderson Pest Solutions, will be spraying for millipedes behind your buildings today. They will be spraying the exteriors of the buildings and the stairwells to the basement and some of the vegetation directly behind the buildings.
The product they use does not have an odor and is safe to be used in residential applications. Hopefully this will help control the millipedes so they do not continue to come into the buildings.     

Normally I'm anti-killing, but when they write "extreme amount of millipedes", they aren't joking.  The whole walk to the laundry room through the basement is "crunch, crunch, crunch" because every step crushes at least 20 of them.  Plus they were all over the walls.  And the dead ones smell horrible!  After three trips down doing laundry on Tuesday, I thought I was going to vomit.  So yes, death to millipedes!  I only hope that they've contracted someone to get rid of the dead millipedes.  

Well, I'm off to run while it still "feels like" it's in the 80s.  What's the best news you've heard lately?  


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I did not sign up for this.

I signed up for this

And this

And this

But did not sign up for highs in the high 90s with a heat index in the 100s.  It's only fair, don't you think?

After a Bikram run yesterday morning and a disgusting sweaty bike ride to work, I thought I had it made, sitting in the AC all day.  But no.  Three chiller plants on campus broke, and all the remaining cold air production capability was diverted to the hospital and to buildings with animals.  Okay, I don't really have an argument with that, but I thought this line of the press release summarized the attitude of university leadership/state government toward university employees perfectly:

This means human comfort will not be a top priority in chilled water distribution until the chillers are back to full capacity.

I work in one of those tall buildings that don't have windows that can open, and our office started to get steamy by the afternoon.  There was a huge rush to get more of our stored samples to a place with AC because trying to keep samples at -80F in a room that is 100F will kill the freezers.  And then there are our servers...

The most recent update from the university says that one of the chiller plants is working again, but they are kind of non-committal about what that will actually mean for the AC situation.  I'm guessing that if it's super warm in our building most people will work from home.  I'm going to try to stick it out, but I'm not above doing that, either.

This is going to make Al Gore cry, but we've been keeping our window unit on at our apartment during the day set to 80 degrees so it's not miserably hot when we get home in the evenings.  In fact, it feels pretty good right now.

Well, I'm off to do some Bikram weight lifting followed by some Bikram SAS programming.

How are you staying cool today?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beets are Digusting

I'm a big girl.  I like most vegetables.  So when I got some beets in my CSA box this week, I wanted to try to like them.

Aren't they cute?  It's like a little, spiky-haired beet family.

I even researched the proper way to cook them- wrap in aluminum foil and roast for 60-90 minutes at 400 degrees.  After they cool, the skin an hair can be pulled off easily with a paper towel.

The good news is that the process worked.  Beets = cooked and ready to go.

The bad news is that the peeling process left me with a cookie sheet full of carnage.

Who's up for some car accident delite?

The other thing is that beets STINK.  Ew.  I had planned to make a salad with the beets and take it to a potluck we went to last night, but I just couldn't inflict these stinky, rubbery things on people in their natural form.  Time for plan B.

Daniel's mom suggested beet brownies, which had two points in their favor.  1. They would use up the beets and 2. They involve chocolate.  After doing a bit of internet searching, I found this recipe, which looked like it would do the job.  Not too many recipes out there for beet brownies.  Imagine that?

So the nasty beets went for a ride in the food processor and were dumped in the blender with sugar and eggs.

Then comes the secret ingredient: Jello pudding mix.

The only way this desert could get more Midwestern is if it somehow involved Ritz Crackers.

No one will ever know...

Now no one will really ever know...

So what was the verdict?  They were kind of cakey and floppy compared to real brownies.  I think that had to do with the fact that the recipe didn't use any oil.  A few people ate them at the potluck but we took most of the leftovers down the the high school youth group meeting, where they were devoured in seconds by a pack of wild 10th graders.  I saved two big pieces for us to sample later.  I don't think Daniel ate his yet because he had a watermelon, which trumps all other deserts for him.  I thought they were okay.  They tasted mostly like chocolate, although I think I got a few distinct bites of beet in there.  The frosting made a huge difference.  I don't think I would have eaten a whole one plain.  If you want brownies, make brownies.  If you have beets you don't like, give 'em to the neighbors next time.

Anyone actually like beets?  Ever made a "sneaky" dish before?    

Friday, July 15, 2011

Five Things Friday

1. I got my hair cut yesterday (by Gen at ChaCha on Willy St. if anyone wants to know).  It's really short in the back now-  not so much the front- and I love it!  You can see it in the reflection in the mirror.  It's really hard to take a picture of the back of your own head.

2. I had another lovely evening at Concerts on the Square Wednesday evening with the stat group at work.  Lots of food and good company.  One of our fellows is moving on in a couple weeks, so it was one of the last times we'll all get to hang out together.  She would be very unhappy if her face ended up on the internet, though, so we'll pretend that R.A. Fisher joined us.  That's appropriate, I think.

I has mad Paint skillz.
 For my part, I made fruit salsa and cinnamon chips based on this recipe I found on Pinterest.  I actually used soft corn tortillas for the chips because that's what we had on hand.  Mmmmm... Summertastic.

3. The Brooks shoe fairy sent me a new pair of shoes to wear test.  This was perfect timing because I'm about 450 miles into my last pair, and it was about time for some new ones.  Thanks, Brooks!

4. I accidentally left two Mt. Dews in the freezer yesterday and they exploded.  I didn't even mean to put them in the freezer.  I was just going to stick them in the fridge, but when I came home to defrost something for dinner, my fridge looked like Slimer came for a visit.

Why you want to treat me so bad???  Don't you know I love you?
5. Our CSA box is filled with all kinds of exciting vegetables this week.

We've got beets, carrots, 2 kohlrabi, some fennel, and only two heads of lettuce.  I can't believe I'm finally saying this, but after eating a salad every day at work and often on the weekend for lunch for the past year(?) maybe longer, I think I'm officially sick of salad.  Too bad I have no idea what else to take/make for lunch!  I know a lot of people do leftovers, but anytime I make anything that's actually good for dinner, we always finish it up and don't have leftovers.  I only take leftovers for lunch when the dish was kind of gross.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to trying everything in the box except that I'm slightly nervous about the beets.  I don't know if I like beets (def. hate pickled beets like on a salad bar), so I think I'm going to cook those and take them to a potluck we're going to on Sunday evening.

And with that I've got to take off so I can beat the 19-year-olds taking calc 2 in summer school to the squat rack at the gym.  Happy Friday!  Got any big weekend plans??

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hipster Saturday

It all started with a trip to Art Fair on the Square...

We, and 75% of the rest of the local population, converged on the capitol at 9:30am to see some art before it got too hot (Read: 85 degrees- That's weak, people!).   Fortunately it wasn't too hard to see because at least half the people there had to hit up the food tents for a breakfast beer and ice cream cone with a side of Hot, Spicy Cheese Bread! before they were ready to shop.  Our mission was to find an appropriate gift for two certain someones who are having an eventful summer.

We made our way through the exhibits, trying to decide.  99.5% of things were automatically eliminated for costing more than 1/2 our monthly rent.  I was a fan of the giant metal yard giraffe, but after further discussion, we thought that TSA regulations wouldn't allow it to be carried on and stowed in an overhead compartment.  We also considered a painting of SNOW with one little tiny brown leafless tree.  (It's coming for you, A! - No, not really.  I bet you'll learn to love snow in DC because it means you get to sleep in for a few more hours until the plow comes by).  In the end we did find what I hope will be a fun gift.  However, it must remain a secret for now.

On the final stretch, we stopped at the busiest vendor we'd seen so far.  Kitchen ceramics + ironic stamps + nothing more than $100 = hipster bait.  It worked on me.

Do I need a spoon rest with a whale on it?  How could I not?

And what is the most appropriate first use of a hipster whale spoon rest?  Attempting to make homemade ice cream in the food process, of course.  Inspired by this recipe at cooking with TJ's and a huge bag of cherries in the fridge, I set out to make my own Cherry Garcia froyo.

Pitted cherries go in the freezer.

Then they get thrown in the food processor with Greek yogurt and sugar.  After pureeing everything, I stirred in some chocolate chips and poured it into a container to stash in the freezer for a couple hours.

Dinner is served:

So what?  I had a salad, too.  It was pretty good!  Not Babcock Hall, but so what?

Daniel's contribution to Hipster Saturday was to watch the entire Ken Burns Civil War Series on Netflix (also he helped me pit the cherries).

And now to start Hipster Sunday with a bike ride to church...  In the spirit of national reconciliation, I hope all the  Northerners are stocking up on their vitamin D and the Southerners are enjoying their central AC!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Theme from A Summer Place

In Madison, you have learn to cram a year's worth of fun in four months.  I think I'm starting to get the hang of it.  So far I've:

  • I've attended a 3-way birthday party,


  • Gone to my first Mallard's game

  • Learned there's a reason I've never eaten a mulberry before (Holy stems, Batman.  My hands are still a little purple)

               and that I enjoy my healthy CSA veggies best in gooey pasta form

  • Watched the sun set from Observatory Hill

                  and the Rhythm and Booms fireworks from across the lake

  • And traveled to Dubuque where I won my weight in catfish at the slot machines.

Thankfully not true on that last one.  We visited crazy 300lb dino-catfish at the Aquarium of the Mississippi.

As a side note, I hadn't gone to see the fireworks in a couple years, and I'm glad that they are still making advances in fancy explosion science and technology.  My favorite was the smileys.

The one thing I haven't managed to do yet is get re-conditioned to running in warm weather.  I ran on Saturday morning when it 77, and I was sure it had to be 107.  After a water stop and a walk for a minute in the shade break (yes, I'm not too proud to admit it) I was happy I wasn't trying to crank out a 20-miler like I would have been last summer.  Yesterday wasn't soooo bad, but man, SWEAT.  Hopefully I'll get a little better conditioned so I don't die when I try to run when I'm back in Florida in another month.

Hope you are having a fun summer so far and had a relaxing 3-day weekend.