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!