London, whee!

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:43 am

So my friends and I are getting all set for our big trip to London this February.  I was checking into hotels, and there are tons of them that are the typical budget European models–basically glorified hostels.  But then I was doing some research and read this Frommer’s review, then I double-checked it through TripAdvisor reviews, and enjoyed the photos on the official website.

 It turns out that divided four ways, we can afford it, so we’re staying at the Main House.  It’s in Notting Hill, which is a place I’ve never been, but it’s supposed to be an interesting neighborhood.  I might have to rent that movie to get an idea.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:00 am

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

New Category

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:57 am

I have created a new category called Culture. Here is why:

A lot of times I’ll hear about a book I want to read, or a movie I want to see, or a musical artist I’d like to hear. But then when it comes time to actually go to the library or the video store or the iTunes music store, I forget about them and I just wander around aimlessly and pick something with a pretty cover.

This is not an effective strategy.

In an effort to better organize my cultural brain, I will post to this category when I hear about something I’d like to experience, and I’ll be able to open this category when I’m about to go find some reading/viewing/listening materials.

If only I had a Blackberry. Then I’d know on the go. PDAs have never really meshed with my lifestyle very well, but Blackberrys (Blackberries?) are cool.


My recent creations

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:59 pm

Denny has posted photos of three of my most recent endeavors.

1. Roast pork with sweet potatoes, shallots, and asparagus

2. Onion, pancetta, and aged cheddar tartlets (aka mini quiches)

3. Me with my pals Snowy and Flakey, before Flakey turned barbaric and draconian.


Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:27 am

It has been brought to my attention that I am long overdue for an update.

Speaking of overdue, I am going to go on a brief diatribe on behalf of all the other somewhat disorganized people who enjoy reading out there.

It is VERY MEAN that the library (the Iowa City Public Library, anyway; I’m not sure about other municipalities) no longer stamps the due date inside the book as you check out. I realize that this practice has been out of favor for a decade or so, but it just occurred to me to write about it.

Look, people. I love books. When I go to the library, a lot of times I get several. Sometimes I read one faster than the others, so I return it and get a new one. Or else something I had on reserve comes in, so I go get that. Or else I get a DVD that is only available for one-week checkout. Regardless, I often have multiple items out that all have different due dates. Those little slips of paper that say what the due date is are NOT HELPFUL. They are printed on very slippery paper, so they always fall out, and they’re not substantial enough to use as bookmarks. Not that I use bookmarks anyway; I’m more into the turn-down-the-corner or shove-a-magazine-in-there methods. Yes, I love books, but I treat them wrong. I’m like Johnny Cash when he was on drugs, and books are June Carter. Andrea, if you’re reading this, I’m very sorry. Sorry that I admited it! Hah!

Anyway, I always lose the slips of paper, and I never can remember when my books are due. This would all be remedied if they just did the stampy thing in the front of the book like the old days.

This is not to say that I am a reactionary when it comes to the library sciences. On the contrary. I celebrate recent advances in consumer library technology. For example, the ICPL now has self-check stations that I really enjoy, because sometimes I check out embarrassing things. I think I have a different threshold for embarrassment than most people, though. For example, I would not be embarrassed to check out a book called The Great Big Book of Boners and Buttholes and the Disease that Plague Them, because seriously, people; that’s comedy gold. However, there are times when I just want to read a trashy mystery novel, and I find it embarrassing to check those out.

Back in the old days, my friend Jamal worked at the library, and I would always try to have him check my books out for me, because I knew he wouldn’t judge me. Sadly, he got a different job, and I had to face my fears. Then, a couple of years later, they brought in the self-check stations, and I am able to cower behind my fears once again. It’s pretty great.

In my ideal world, they would have a little laser printer that would beam the due date onto my materials as I passed them under the scanner.

Andrea, please get to work on that. Thank you.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:09 am

Because our Christmas scheduling is kind of weird this year, Denny and I decided to open our stockings this morning before work. I got some awesome stuff, including a bottle of Argentine Malbec (my current favorite type of wine), some fancy mustard, and delicious orange-flavored chocolate (I had a square for a breakfast treat). Denny is so nice and thoughtful. I gave him some pajama bottoms, magnets, a fancy de-icing windshield scraper and some candy and gum.

I think maybe he gave me better stocking stuff. Oh well; I got him some pretty cool regular gifts that he will get to open tonight when my family arrives.

And–yes, I realize this is corny–mostly I just like the idea that we spent time thinking about what would make the other happy, and we take joy in making the other smile. It was a really nice morning.


Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:24 pm

I don’t have much to say today. I got some sad news last night, and it’s put a bit of a damper on holiday cheer.

My coworker Matt was kind enough to let me play with his adorable four-month-old daughter Charlotte, though, and that was nice. She had on this really cute little snowsuit that was wooly like a lamb, and it had lamb ears on the hood.


London calling

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:00 pm

I just bought tickets to London. My friends and I are going to go visit our other friend Sara (see engagement-related congratulations a few posts back). That will be very fun I’m sure. We’re not going for all that long, but I think it’s pretty glamourous to jaunt off to London for a long weekend.

I’ve been to London once before, but it’s been some time ago, so I’m excited to go again. I also can’t wait to see my ladyfriends. They are the best. It’s actually been really handy that there have been so many weddings lately, because I get to see them more often. We’re going to have to keep making an effort to get together once the wedding years are over.

Nerds r00l

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:13 am

If you noticed that my site was down or weird for an hour or two last night, it’s because I finally got around to upgrading my blogging software. I was (embarrassingly) still at WordPress 1.2, and last night I upgraded to 1.5. I may well upgrade to 1.5.2 later tonight; their support site recommended going to 1.5 first. You will likely not notice any change, but it should afford me better spam controls and a general sense of well-being.

I was also reminded of the fact that while I do enjoy a little recreational programming, I’m really glad that Denny’s the one who does it for a career and not me. There was this one little line of code that kept hosing me, and I had neither the patience nor the attention to detail to figure out which line it was and what the problem was. Luckily, Denny was able to solve it for me.

Denny is currently very interested in something called version control. To be quite honest, I don’t really know what it is. I do know that last night before we went to sleep, I was reading a cheesy horror novel about slimy little creatures that feed on human blood, and he was reading this thick, boring-looking article that had to be held together with one of those giant clip things.

I felt bad for him that he had to read such a boring article (purely recreational, by the way, though it may affect his work somehow), so I made him sing “Like a Version” with me. It went like this:

Like a version
Controlled for the very first time.
Like a veeeeeeeersion

I can’t remember the rest, because he went on and used some terms I didn’t know.

He is my nerd boy and I love him.


A weekend of movies

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:52 pm

Denny and I skipped two parties this weekend to just sloth around the houses. Actually, we were busy with stuff during the day on both Saturday and Sunday, and by the time evening rolled around, we didn’t feel like going anywhere.

We did, however, watch my two favorite Christmas movies: Love, Actually and It’s a Wonderful Life.

It’s a Wonderful Life is the quintessential Christmas movie for a good reason. It’s funny, sad, touching, and adorable. There are, however, some things that make it kind of weird viewing in 2005. For example:

  • The hokey sci-fi intro. It’s kind of charmingly low-tech, though, and I like it. I also like the depiction of angels as galaxies rather than guys in white robes with wings. In fact, despite the frequent wing references, no angel is every actually seen on screen in stereotypical angel garb. If the movie were made today, the director would probably take the opportunity to do all kinds of fancy CGI wings and flight sequences. It’s cuter without it.
  • Corruption of civilization evidenced by a plethora of bars in downtown Bedford Falls (aka Pottersville). That’s just silly.
  • The idea that librarians are old maids who have dorky glasses and don’t wear lipstick. There are some very foxy librarians out there.
  • Sexual harassment of African American domestic employees (I’m referring to the part where Harry smacks their housekeeper on the butt as if it’s perfectly normal). On the other hand, I did notice the fact that in the end (and this is a spoiler, people), there was a black person among the people who give money to help George. That was a nice touch, and rather forward-thinking for the time, because it implies that George sees black people as his peers and people from whom he can receive aide.

I think my favorite aspect of the movie is Jimmy Stewart’s naturalistic acting style. So many of those old-timey movies have such stilted dialogue (yes, even Greta Garbo is guilty of this), but Jimmy Stewart seems like he didn’t even know he was being filmed. His dialect dates him, of course, and the fact that even in his bitterest rages the most vulgar name he has for a person is fool, but I still find him a very disarming actor to watch.


My party plans

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:13 pm

So, I like the idea of throwing a party more than actually doing it. I have dreamed up lots of great party ideas that never came to fruition (anybody remember that Robot Bar Crawl I was so excited about a while back?).

Right now, I’m all worked up to throw a holiday party that includes a hot chocolate bar. Available would be several different types of hot chocolate to use as a base (white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, Mexican cinnamon-infused chocolate), lots of different liqueurs to use as flavorings, and assorted marshmallows, whipped cream, and sprinkly items.

I would then set out little cards with recommended combinations, which guests could use to make delicious drinks, or they could make up their own if they preferred.

Here are some of the ideas I have for combinations:

Heath Bar

  • Milk chocolate hot cocoa
  • Amaretto
  • Butterscotch schnapps
  • Whipped cream
  • Chocolate shavings


  • White chocolate hot cocoa
  • Grand Marnier
  • Vanilla schnapps
  • Whipped cream
  • A curl of orange peel

Knight Rider

  • Dark chocolate hot cocoa
  • Kahlua
  • Lots of mini marshmallows
  • A drizzle of chocolate syrup on top

Nutty Russian

  • White chocolate hot cocoa
  • Amaretto
  • Frangelico
  • Whipped cream
  • Crushed nuts

I could also come up with a whole bunch more, like minty ones with peppermint schnapps and candy cane stir sticks, or chocolate-covered cherry, or even get really wild and use crystalized ginger or chili peppers or something. Boy, I hope I never actually have this party. I’m getting a sugar rush just thinking about it.


My job

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:09 pm

Sometimes I get grumpy about my job, but today I was reminded about the part I do enjoy:

Someone comes to me with a problem, I solve it, and then I call the person back and he/she is really happy. I love that.

Yay for Sara and Joe

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:53 pm

Giant congratulations to my wonderful, beautiful friend Sara, who is now engaged to be married to the dashing and talented Joe.

Joe had better realize that he is one lucky fellow. Sara is one of the most exceptional human beings I know.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:15 pm

I’ve been waiting and hoping to get a geo-tracking hit from Africa, and I finally got one. It’s from somewhere in the northeast of South Africa.

I assume it’s my friend Charlize Theron, home visiting for the holidays. I hope it’s not Winnie Mandela. I hear she’s a jerk. It’s a good thing The Cosby Show got cancelled before the Winnie Mandela domestic help abuse scandal broke, because otherwise Sonya’s daughter would have felt like a jerk for being named after her. Also, it’s a good thing that The Cosby Show is fiction.

Note: I am not actually friends with Charlize Theron, but I think she’s beautiful and a good actor. What’s more, I used her picture as an example for my last haircut. If she is interested in becoming friends with me, I hope she takes this opportunity to get in touch.

Cruddy weather

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:21 pm

The clock radio woke me up this morning by listing all the area schools and businesses that are cancelled or delayed today. I listened to the alphabetical list, and of course the University of Iowa was not included. I don’t know if it’s the rugged pioneer spirit of our ancestors or what, but this place never closes. I heard a rumor that it closed once in 1994, but that was before I lived here so I don’t know.

I think it might have something to do with the hospital, which is part of the University and by far the largest health care center in the area. I guess if they shut down the University, they’d have to shut down the hospital too, and then everyone would die. That would be a shame. I don’t see why it would be so hard to shut down everything except the hospital, though.

It has been just about the worst December ever, weather-wise. I’m really glad we moved into the house last year at this time instead of this year; moving in 2 degrees Fahrenheit (a couple of weeks ago) or with 4 inches of wet, heavy, sleety snow on the ground (now) would be a giant pain.

Hm, I didn’t mean to sound so whiny. It’s not really that bad. I have boots to keep my feet warm and dry, and I bought myself a little treat over lunch today: some peppermint-scented shower gel, to get me in the holiday spirit.

Fa la la la la to you too.


Hi dudes

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:06 am

I’m back at work. I took a sick day yesterday because I was feeling headachy and lethargic and gross. I’m doing better today, thanks.

Due to the immense awesomeness of the geotracking thingy I included in my last post, I have decided to make it a permanent fixture (see sidebar). It’s so interesting to see all the places around the world from which people are visiting my site. Japan, Germany, the Canary Islands, Venezuela, Iran…it’s really amazing. Now I feel like I need to write things that are more interesting to a global audience. I bet I’m never going to have a hit from China, since my site is probably blocked there. I swear too much.

We had a nice weekend. On Saturday I made two snowmen. I was originally just going to make one snowman, so I made a giant ball of snow to be the base. Then I made another ball of snow to be the middle part, but I rolled it too far away from the original ball. By the time I rolled it to the right spot, it had accumulated so much snow that it was too huge to lift. Hence, two snowmen. I decided to make them very chummy and romantic, so I had them put their arms around each other. The snow was too heavy to support itself, so I used a stick as a structural mechanism. They looked very cute. Denny took a picture, but I haven’t seen that one yet.

Then it got warm.

Poor Snowy’s head fell off, as well as the arm that was extending out to go around Flakey. Flakey remains mostly intact, except now it looks like he’s holding a stick and stabbing poor, beheaded Snowy with it. It’s really pretty gruesome.

Luckily, my parents came to visit and help us get a Christmas tree on Sunday. They have a van and friendly dispositions, so we’re always happy to have them on this journey. We got a very nice, chubby tree.

Denny hugged me, which made me feel better about my friendly-turned-violent snowmen. Stupid Flakey. I should have known he was going to turn out mean when I included so much yellow snow in him.

Thanks to Dad for the images.


Where are you?

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:29 am

I’m going to try this thing I found (thanks to Jessica‘s link to cool Google maps). Apparently it will tell me where, geographically, the visitors to my site are located.

IP Geolocator

Um…apparently the last 100 visitors to my site have been in Iowa City. That doesn’t quite make sense. Either that thing is wrong, or I don’t have nearly the geographic penetration I thought I did. Hm. Oh, wait, I get it. It doesn’t actually search my site stats; you have to click the button for it to figure out where you are based on your IP. That’s not quite as cool as I thought. Really all it’s doing is saving me the trouble of looking up where IP addresses are coming from, which I already do when something seems fishy.

Update: Oooh! This is getting more exciting now that people are clicking on the link. Thanks for playing, guys! I now have an Iowa City, a Cedar Rapids, a Des Moines, and a Utah (gotta be Lettie, right?). This is a good Friday activity. Feel free to copy the code and put it on your own site; I’ll do my best to go to yours and add to your Google maps geo cred.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:17 am

I have something I have to get off my chest.

On slow days at work, I pass the time by reading celebrity gossip websites. I try to read things like online newspapers, too, just to keep my brain from getting too squishy, but the celebrity news beckons.

What I’ve gleaned lately:

Whitney Houston looks wrung out and has giant hands.


Christmas shopping

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:29 pm

I’m plowing through the list pretty well.

This morning, I made online purchases for Denny and my mom. Today over lunch I went out and bought another thing that goes with my mom’s present, plus something for my Secret Santa partner in this Secret Santa exchange I’m doing. I already have one of my dad’s presents and know what I’m getting for the other one. We know what we’re getting for Denny’s parents (Denny is in charge of that). The only people I have left to shop for are my brother and my cousin’s boyfriend Michael, whose name I drew in the cousins’ gift exchange.

Oh, right, I also need to get something for Denny’s cousin, whose name I drew for the Beary family exchange. The downside is that I have never met this cousin, since he lives far away, and I don’t know him in the slightest.

What do you get for a total stranger? I was thinking of an iTunes gift card, but I don’t even know if he has an iPod. This is very challenging. Maybe I should get him something completely inappropriate, like a dozen eggs or a subscription to Tiger Beat magazine or something.

Wait, that’s a terrible idea.


No more phone

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:40 pm

I wasn’t so lucky today; my phone did ring. However, I just got off the phone with one of my favorite clients, so that wasn’t bad at all. The next couple of weeks are going to be busy, followed by a few weeks of near-dead time. The end of semester scramble is about to begin. Earlier today, my über-boss interrupted a meeting to come in and tell us that we should drop all our other work and concentrate on this one task set for the next few days. That’s kind of nice, actually, since I’d been feeling unfocused lately. It gave me vision.

I’ve been working on those tasks, but now I’m taking a break. I think I’ll have some nice fruity herbal tea.

For dinner tonight, we’re having Pasta a la Whatever’s Around, which is my fall-back meal when I haven’t gone grocery shopping in a while. I told Denny that, and he got excited, since it’s one of his favorites. That’s funny that what I think of as a method of using up kitchen scraps has risen so much in popularity.

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