Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - A Retrospecitve

It's 9:30 on New Years Eve 2011 and the good people of Orlando have been celebrating with fireworks and/or gunfire for the last 12 hours.  I'm not partying like it's 1999, because I was a senior in high school that year, and I did, in fact, party.  I'm full of Twisty Treat, bored with Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve, and in a contemplative mood so sit back, relax, and get ready for a really long year-end recap post.

There were a number of "firsts" in 2011.

My first time walking across a frozen lake.   

First Badger basketball game (in a blizzard!)

First hockey game

First protest  

and recall petition

It was kind of a weird year for running.  I was able to run through most of the winter

and ran two pretty decent races (but no PRs at any distance :( ) but it often took a backseat to life and other athletic pursuits

I finished reading the Bible, attended several shape note singing conventions, returned to the motherland to see J graduate, had a "hot topic" poster at a conference, and jumped head first into the hipster class by signing up for both a meat and a fruit and vegetable CSA.  As always, the weather came up as a topic of conversation.    

All things considered, it was a pretty busy, pretty good year.  I'd like to sit here and lay out grand plans for the year to come, but one way or another, 2012 is going to be a year of transition for me, and I'm hesitant to try to force some kind of idea of what will happen.  This year I want to try to be a little more Zen about life, the universe, and everything, and look forward to things as they come- not as I think they should be.  Easier said than done for sure, but Dec 31 is the time for great aspirations and big dreams.

Happy New Year, All! 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Greetings!  Glad tidings from a land way up north
I hope this note finds you in comfort and warmth
The nights they grow longer; they days they grow dim
But still I am heartened.  It’s Christmas again!

This year has been one of a political sort
But our jobs should be safe, we delight to report
There are protests and petitions and recalls, Oh Dear!
We can only hope it will be calmer next year

Now Daniel has finished the last of his classes
He does research and prepares lessons with each day that passes
This summer he worked with Google’s Madison bunch
No slide in the office, but they got catered lunch!

Chelsea is still analyzing ocular diseases
And will be running outside until everything freezes
In the church band, Daniel plays the guitar
And at open mic night he’s become quite the star

We are happy and healthy with the New Year in view
And would love to know what’s been going on with you
So if you’re so kind, please do drop us a line
And remember, dear friends, all good poems should rhyme.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Seven things Saturday

1. It snowed!  The weather channel says no significant accumulation but the street in front of our apartment begs to differ.  I'm headed out for a little Winterland excursion as soon as I finish this post and find my grippers.  Hopefully the plow comes by soon so I can get to the grocery store and yoga this morning.

2. I picked up a few end of 2011/ start of 2012 items in the last couple days.  A new planner and calendar and some Christmas cards for the final few names on my list.  I actually like these cards way more than the ones I originally bought.  If I have leftovers, I may have to send some people a second card...

3. This is who I want to be when I grow up.  Too bad I'm already short one PhD from Harvard.

4. If you get one song stuck in your head this weekend, let it be this one:

5. Last week we had a huge flock(?) of swans hanging out in Lake Mendota.  And they were real this time!

6. Dinner from a few weeks ago: Chicken. Waffle. Sandwiches (Hat tip, Cooking Light).  Very strange, but quite tasty.

7. Tonight starts Christmas party season.  We have our church small group party tonight, our singing party tomorrow afternoon, and my work party is on Wednesday.  We aren't making anything special because we'll be going out of town so soon, but we're planning to bring along a crudites platter and (ssshhhh) some random things from the fridge that need to be finished up.

What's going on in your world?  

Friday, December 16, 2011

This is a thing?

Pictures of Ryan Gossling with biostatistics captions.

I can count on one hand the number of people who would get this or care, but I'm one of them.

Hat tip, Daniel.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


WIWW FAIL.  It was really cold last Saturday: 9F with a windchill that brought the temp down to -1.  I had on tights, wool socks, a long sleeved shirt, a fleece jacket, a neck muffler, a hat, and heavy gloves.  I thought I was dressed warmly enough, but I got out to the stop sign about 1/4 a mile from our apartment and decided to bag my run.  I wasn't really under dressed- I probably could have used another layer on top and some Hot Hands and Toasti Toes, but the truth is- for me at least- running when it gets much below 10 degrees is not a lot of fun no matter how you dress.  Any exposed flesh hurts and breathing burns a little.  I probably could have kept going- I was only planning to go out for about 30 minutes- and I've run in temperatures that cold plenty of times before, but I just didn't care that much.  I went back and enjoyed a warm 90 min yoga class instead.      

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011


J at Morning Runner tagged me to play a game called 21 things where I share 21 things (duh) that you might not know about me.  I'm not sure I will get up to 21- that's a lot of things for a boring and lazy person- but I will do as many things I as I can until I have to get dressed for church.

1. I got a Kindle for Christmas!!!

I'm currently about 2/3 of the way through paper version of The Blind Side, but I was able to find a Kindle edition using the Amazon lending library, so I can finish reading it using my new toy.  I've already checked out the offerings at the library, and it looks like I'm going to get spoiled by instant access to nearly anything I want to read.  It's like Netflix for books!

2. Daniel and I exchanged Christmas gifts on Friday night.  Why?  Um... just because.  I got him a few little things.

Customized chocolate bars (used a Groupon, woot).  The one on the left is white chocolate with nerds, jelly beans, and pop rocks.  The one in the middle is chocolate with sprinkles and Gushers.  The other two are combinations of dried fruit and nuts/seeds.

Puzzle games (we follow the Sunday puzzle), two party-type games to bring down to play with family in Florida, a CD, and his favorite orange soda (not pictured).

3. Thursday night I was farted on for the first time in my life by my friend's 5-week old baby.  Who knew something that powerful could come out of something that small?  It vibrated my leg!

4. I don't think pictures of people's abs belong on the internet.  I don't care if you are pregnant and/or have an eight-pack.  I do not want to see your bare stomach.

5.  Holy cow it was cold the last two days.  I wore my new calf-length down parka for the first time.  It's like walking around in a fashionable sleeping bag.  I don't know how I lived without it!

6. I know some people reading this will disagree, but it drives me nuts when people call their pets their kids.  You are not a dog mom.  The dog is not your fur baby.  Dogs that have puppies are dog moms and puppies are babies to the dog.  Basic science, people.  I understand loving your pet- I've had pets that I've loved very much- but they weren't my kids.  Just had to get that one off my chest.

7. I maybealmost wish it would snow... just a little.. before Christmas.    

I'm supposed to tag people, but since no one reads my blog except me, if by some miracle of science or nature you are reading this- consider yourself tagged.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Although you might be tempted to think that marshmallows are their own element, composed purely of atoms of marshmallonium (element 823 on the periodic table), you can in fact make them in your very own home kitchen.  I used this recipe from Alton Brown, but it's actually quite simple and can be made with things that you might already have lying around.

First you mix gelatin (what, we're the only people with a huge box of gelatin sitting in the cabinet?) and water in a mixing bowl.

That hangs out while you bring water, sugar, and light corn syrup up to 240 degrees, which is somewhere between the "soft ball" and "firm ball" stage.  (Insert "that's what she said" joke here.

Keep stirring...

Then you slowly pour the sugar water into the mixer while it's running at a low speed.  I didn't take any pictures of this part because I didn't want to capture Daniel being disfigured by third-degree burns if there was a mishap.

Turn the mixer up to high speed and let it run for 15 minutes.  Wonder of wonders, it starts to turn into marshmallow fluff!

Then transfer the marshmallow goo to a baking pan to solidify.  This was way easier said than done because it was so sticky.  I thought my hand was going to be permanently adhered to the side of the mixing bowl trying to scrape out the last of it.

But we eventually got most of it into the pan.  Sprinkle with cornstarch and powdered sugar and let it sit uncovered for a few hours or overnight.  Cut into chunks with a pizza cutter (it's not sticky once it's had time to set up).

We each tried a piece yesterday afternoon and declared them to be both tasty and marshmallow-like.  I took them to a cookie swap last night, and got a lot of "I didn't even know you could do that" comments.  We are planning to make these again for friends from Christmas gifts- I can think of a lot of fun variations with flavors/mix-ins.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Last Saturday morning I did 3 miles in 38-degree weather (about 33 with the windchill) in the rain.  Those are really hard conditions to dress for because one the one hand, it's warm enough to be raining rather than snowing, but on the other hand, cold rain can feel much colder and more miserable than snow.   For this run, I wore tights, one light and one heavy long sleeved shirt, gloves, and a fleece headband.

This was borderline too much.  If I'd been trying to run faster I would have over heated, but since I was just going out to stretch my legs, it was fine to be a little overdressed.  It wasn't too windy or rainy by the time I stepped out the door, so the conditions were actually pretty nice for running.  I know that it's too cold for some people, but I think the 20s and 30s make great running weather if you're dressed appropriately.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A hidden benefit of exercise

Going to the campus gym is a lot like going to one of those cabins in Siberia where you sit in the sauna for awhile and then run and jump in a frozen lake.

Both are hot.

ZOMG the campus gym is so hot during the summer.  There's no air conditioning, and 90 something degrees + 20-year old boys trying to burn off some extra testosterone on the weight bench = heat and sweat.  On the hottest days the floor is slippery.  Gross.

During the winter it's not much better.  The gym is part of a building with classrooms, and so it's heated to a comfortable (but uncomfortable if you are running on a treadmill with no air moving) 68 degrees.  By the time I get off the treadmill, I look like I did my run in the shower.

Those Russian sauna things also involve a lot of sweaty bros hanging out.

And both involve ice cold water.

First you have to trek across the chilly locker room/ frozen tundra in a state of undress.

Then, you take the icy plunge.


At the campus gym, you have to wait for a glacier to melt to have a warm shower.  If you go on M, W, or F, the swimmers usually use the shower enough that the water has climbed from "Lake Baikal" to "tepid", but on T and R, when I usually go, the best you can hope for is "Not frost-bite inducing".

Then you repeat.  At the sauna, you just... repeat.  At the Nat, it means bundling up in all your winter clothes (sauna) and walking out into the freezing cold to get to work (frozen lake).

Sounds like fun, huh?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Winter haiku

My nose and mouth delight in
Your damp existence

Face cries for lotion
Delicate skin flakes without
External moisture

D. D. Vanilla
Sweet warmth in a coffee cup
Wake me up today

Saturday, December 3, 2011

November goals recap

I set out 5 things I wanted to do before the end of last month, and the results were... mixed.  While it's lame to set goals and not meet them, I think actually having a measurable goal helps me get closer to achieving something (that I actually want to do) than not having it.  So how'd it go?

1. Continue riding my bike to work through the end of the month - Well, I gave up on that awhile ago, but I have been doing a good job walking to/from work and taking the stairs as part of my anti-laziness campaign.

2. Finish another row on my snowflake afghan - Um... I got a row of snowflakes done but not sewn together.  I think doing one or the other but not both is realistic for one month.  I also blame the Gators and their abysmal season for me not finishing the whole row.  I'm sure I would have worked on this more if I'd had some football to enjoy.  It will actually be half way done when I finish this row.

3. Practice the piano for more than 11 hours -  I had 10 hours, 35 minutes when I totaled up my practice time at the end of the month.  We'll be gone a lot this month traveling for the holidays so I know I won't hit 11 hours, but I'll try again in January.

4. Do yoga at least twice a week and figure out my winter training schedule -  I actually have done a good job with this one.  I got a month unlimited yoga package from the Ashtanga studio down the road, and I've really been enjoying it.  Since I ran the Haunted Hustle, I've been doing yoga 4 days a week, about 1/2 hour of weights two days a week, and running about 1/2 hour three days a week.  I think that's a good schedule for the winter, but part of me wants to take the plunge and do yoga 100%.  I'm really enjoying it and making progress, but I know that daily practice is important, and I'm not good about doing it without actually being in a class.  BUT, I'm scared to completely stop running.  I don't want to turn into a human bowl of Jello.  Maybe I'll try it next week and see how it goes.  I'll certainly still be able to run three miles in a row if I take a whole week off and then start again.

5. Write my Christmas letter and get my cards ready - I did write the letter (actually a 5-stanza Christmas poem) and buy cards, but we had some technical difficulties getting our picture ready.  I'm planning to get that printed off at Target this evening, and I can assemble the cards tomorrow to get them out in the mail on Monday.

December goals...  Because of all the rigmarole around the holidays, I'm only going to set two:

1. Continue doing yoga multiple times a week.  There's an Ashtanga studio that's not really close to where my parents live, but they have a 1-week "try it out" deal that you can do that would be perfect for our vacation time.  I also have a good DVD I can bring along.  

2. This one is terrifying, but I'm putting it out there - stop drinking soda again.  I really like Diet Mt. Dew, but I got a scare a couple weeks ago when I chipped a tooth, and I know diet soda is not good for bones/teeth.      In the immediate future, I want to replace soda with coffee (because I would die without either the magic fairy dust or caffeine), but I want to quit coffee and caffeine after I get my teeth cleaned in January.  I think the motivation to keep my teeth sparkly white will be helpful.  What have I done???... I'm getting heart palpitations just thinking about it!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Do not want

Two things I definitely do not want to for Christmas:

1. Jukusui-kun, the giant bear pillow that tickles your face at night if you snore.

2. Any craft book that involves my own pet's fur

I guess you could make the argument that a dog and a sheep are not really that different, but... ew.

Seen/heard of any crazy Christmas gifts this year? 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Woe to the Gators

An exchange on the Gators' message board that pretty much sums up our entire season:

What do you think about the Gators' execution?

I'm for it.  The coaches, too.

Yeesh, that game could not end fast enough.  The Gators played horribly, and that was BEFORE our quarterback threw three touchdowns and had to be Medivac-ed out with a fatal injury to his pride.

And what's up with Urban Meyer possibly/probably going to Ohio State next year???  Doesn't anybody have any loyalty anymore???  What happened to the "I need to spend time with my family.  I'm going to die if I don't get my blood pressure under 200/150" we heard last year?

The only thing good that came out of the game last night is that I learned that this exists.

ZOMG.  An electric jacket.  Be still, my heart.

One last day of freedom until we return to the work week.  Enjoy it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I am thankful for

1. Saint Toasti, who kept my feet warm at the Berbee Derby this morning

Best.  Thing.  Ever.
and for Kerri, who gave me the hook up with the exclusive Team in Training indoor waiting area so I could     pee in warmth and comfort before the race started.

2. The ability to get out and run a 10k, even if it wasn't as fast as I would have liked.  At least the 6 miles I ran should balance out the entire box of toffee I'm currently nomming.

3. Vegetables served with brown sugar and cinnamon.  I'd eat way more vegetables if they all came with brown sugar and cinnamon.

4. The fact that Daniel took care of disassembling the chicken.  I don't like it when my meat looks too much like an actual animal.

5. The democratic process.

Signed the petition first thing this morning!

6. I don't have to go to work tomorrow!!!!!!  Let the epic laziness begin!

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Now that the temperature has dropped another 10 degrees, it's time for a new installment of What I Wore Wednesday.

This is a 20 - 30 degree outfit that I wore to run about 6 miles a couple weekends ago.  From top to bottom, I'm wearing a fleece headband, a long sleeved tech shirt under a thicker long sleeved shirt, heavier gloves, fleece-lined tights, regular socks and shoes.  

If you are looking for tights (I transition to wearing tights sometime in the 20-30 degree range depending on the wind chill factor) I highly recommend the Sugoi SubZero tight.  Yes, they are pricey, but I bought this pair 3 years ago, and I've worn them MANY times each winter.  Fleece-lined tights are the way to go not only because they are warmer, they are thicker which makes them less revealing (I know some people don't like tights for that reason).  Despite the name, I would wear an additional pair of athletic pants over these if I were going to run when it's around 0 (about the lower limit of my comfort zone).

Happy pre-Thanksgiving.  Safe travels to all.  Wish me good luck getting stuff done at work so I can take Friday off!  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Got plans for Saturday night?

Our church has a service that meets downtown in an old theater (The Majestic) that during the other 85% of the week functions as a bar and concert venue.  It's always fun to look at the posters and see what they've got going on.  Usually it's reggae, jam bands, and 80s vs 90s DJ spin-offs, but occasionally they do something unique.  This month there are a few good ones.  

If you're free Friday, Dec 2, you can catch the Talking Heads Dance Party.

All images from the Majestic's website
 On the 10th there's the Brittany vs Gaga Dance Party.

And on the 17th there's the Mad Men Holiday Soiree (featuring real glass cups- you know it will be classy).

Actually, if I were cool AT ALL, I think it would be super fun to dress up all 60s-like with pearls and dance like white people were meant to.  

Speaking of the early 60s, I started reading The Help this weekend, and it is really good!  It's not a book I would have picked out myself, but I'm enjoying it so far.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mash Up

Have you ever thought about two different songs being sung about the same thing but from both the male and female perspective?

Like Carole King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?"

vs. The Dave Matthew's Band's "Say Goodbye."

She wants some commitment - he's thinking "friends with benefits".

Or how about T-Pain's "I'm in Love with a Stripper"

vs. Brittany Spears (!!! I had no idea she was back!) "I'm in love with a criminal."

Two sides to every story.

Have any other examples?  I'm sure there are plenty of good ones out there.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Seven things Sunday

1. What would blogging be without internet memes?  I wouldn't even know what that word meant.

I started it all!  There's no going back.

2. Funny political news story of the weekend: Lululemon customers are outraged over the company's new "Who is John Galt?" shopping bags.  Evidently Lululemon's founder, Chip Wilson, was a huge fan of Ayn Rand.  However, many yoga devotees find the message of Atlas Shrugged- in some ways considered the Bible of the Tea Party- at odds with the tenets of yoga.  

3. Horrifying political news story of the weekend: Police peppery spray defenseless protesting UC Davis students who were just sitting on the ground.

4. Back to point #2- yoga is hard if you go to a real class and actually try.  After a 90-minute class doing most of the Ashtanga primary series, I was totally wiped out.  Between all the sun salutations and vinyasas, I have no idea how many push-ups I did.  My arms say "a lot".

5. After dreaming of a 4-day weekend for several weeks, I think I may actually have to go to work on Friday.  Oh the humanity!

6. I just discovered Goodreads again from Katie at Cookies and Crafts.  It's a cross between Netflix and Facebook where you can rate books you like and don't like (take that, Heart of Darkness!) and see what your friends are reading to get book suggestions.  Anyone else on it?  I don't want to spam the world, but I currently only have two "friends" on there.

7. I need to go or I'm not going to be able to dry my hair before we have to leave for church.  The temps are hovering around freezing, and I don't want to be like this guy:

Credit  If you actually want to take credit for that...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A little biostatistics humor

Although I think anyone who does academic research would find these videos funny... but sad... but true.

Statistical power and p-values from Statisticsblog

A biologist talks to a statistician

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Change of plans

I started this month with the good intention of continuing to bike to work every day.  However, reality- in the form of it being super cold in the morning and dark by 5pm- has set in and I decided to hang up my bike helmet for the season after I got home on Monday.  It was warm enough to bike yesterday, but I would have had to ride on the bike path in the dark during a very busy time.  I always wear lights/reflective gear, but plenty of other people don't, and even though I hate riding the bus, it was a slightly less horrible prospect than playing "dodge the freshmen and high school boys cross country team" trying to ride home.

BUT I haven't given up on my anti-laziness campaign.  For one, even though I probably don't have time most days to walk to work, I can walk home until it gets really really really cold.  And I've taken on another challenge.  I'm not going to use the elevator at work through the rest of the month.  I work on the 4th floor, so it's not taxing to walk up to my office, but it's right at the point that makes the elevator look tempting.  Anyway, day 1 of no elevator was a success.

If you live in a cold place, do you try to find ways to increase your activity during the winter?  Or do you just embrace the natural rhythms of the earth and do your best to hibernate from Nov - ... May?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

All I ever needed to know

about politics and fast food, I've learned from Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me, the soundtrack to my weekly kitchen scrub.

Most people have at least heard that many fast food restaurants have secret menus you can order from if you know what to ask for.  Kind of defeating the purpose, In-N-Out Burger actually has its secret menu posted on its website.  In-N-Out will serve you a "4x4" - four patties with four slices of cheese between two buns- with or without onions.

In 'n Out Burger
In all its glory.
This post from CouponSherpa gives the 4-1-1 on fast food hacks from several regional and national chains.  They range from totally lame - you can get a cheese sandwich at Blimpie (if you can find a Blimpie, that is, all hail Jimmy John's) - to horrifying - ordering a "bleeding penguin" will get you 800 calories worth of regular and white chocolate mocha with raspberry syrup at Starbucks.

However, the king of all fast food secrets is the McDonald's Air Land and Sea burger.  That would be a beef patty, a chicken patty, and a fish patty stacked together in a bun.  

Wait Wait's Sandwich Monday blog contained a hard-hitting expose on this beast, declaring that "the three patties are separated for a reason" and that this item is on the secret menu "to protect customers".  Disgusting yes, but like a train wreck, I just can't look away. 

Would you eat a bite of the air land and sea burger on a dare?  Any of the other secret menu hacks sound good to you in a "deep fried Oreos at the fair" kind of way?