Norway, A-OK

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:56 pm

Whoaoaoaoaoh! You know how DC and I were hoping to go to Norway this summer because our friends Kaspar and Sabine are getting married there? And even though we were excited by the prospect, we were nervous because the tickets were looking very expensive (~$1100-$1500 each)?

Yeah, well. Kaspar sent an email this morning about a special deal from Scandanavian Airlines, a Swedish carrier. The prices they were offering were amazing; Kaspar said he never sees deals like this for the summer, and he flies to Norway pretty often.

The dates are a little tricky, since I’m going to be at a conference in Canada up until August 2, and the wedding is the 5th. I tried every combination of dates that seemed workable, and everything was showing up as sold out. Kaspar recommended that I call the airline directly, which I did, and I was on hold for 45 minutes listening to some Swedish lady say “Thank you foh waiting. Please hode.” But I was tenacious, and when I finally got through, another lovely Swedish lady totally helped me out.

Wednesday, August 2: Fly from Toronto to Chicago (time TBD)
Wednesday, August 2: Meet Denny in Chicago; fly to Stockholm, Sweden
Thursday, August 3: Arrive in Stockholm; connect to Oslo, Norway
Thursday, August 3: Get to Bergen, Norway one way or another (apparently there’s a gorgeous train ride through the mountains we could take, or else it’s a half-hour flight)

We should be plenty rested by the wedding on Saturday. Hooray! Best of all, we saved a whoooole lot of money. I love Swedish ladies.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:47 pm

I booked my conference registration, hotel, and airfare to the conference in State College. I hope it’s good. Every conference I’ve ever attended has been basically worthless, but my job is always encourage people to attend conferences. It’ll be kind of nice to get away, I guess.

Wine class starts tonight, which I’m looking forward to. This is “Wines of Italy,” which should be fun considering I don’t know very much about Italian wine. Generally speaking, I like new world wines (California, Washington, Argentina, Chile, Australia) better than European wines, but I think this class will help me move beyond those generalizations. When we took our first wine class, which was just a general overview course, I learned that I do, in fact, like some Rieslings and Gewürztraminers. So there you go.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:52 pm

Oh, man, I just got out of a really exhausting meeting. I won’t go into detail. It’s too tiring to think about.

The sky is blue, the weather is reasonably warm, and I’m enjoying a mint. DC and I are making pork/apple/onion kebabs with apricot-mustard glaze for dinner. Now if there’s a new Lost on tonight, I’ll really be on the upswing.

*checks tvguide.com*



iPod as Magic 8-ball

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:34 pm

I’m copying this from Angie, who’s copying some guy I don’t know.

Basic instructions: set your iPod on shuffle (although I’m going to do it with iTunes since I don’t have my iPod with me at the moment), and the songs that come up answer the questions below.

How does the world see me? “Slippery People,” Talking Heads (doesn’t sound so good)
Will I have a happy life? “Raining in My Heart,” Buddy Holly (oh dear)
What do my friends think of me? “Palace of the Brine,” the Pixies (?)
Do people secretly lust after me? “Thriller,” Michael Jackson (I am a sexy, sexy zombie)
How can I make myself happy? “Happy Birthday,” Concrete Blonde (that seems logical)
What should I do with my life? “I Go Walking After Midnight,” Patsy Cline (set low goals…)
Will I ever have children? “Cat People,” David Bowie (no! I am not a crazy cat lady who refers to felines as children!)
What is some good advice for me? “S.C.O.,” John Scofield with Pat Metheny (um…)
How will I be remembered? “Under Pressure All the Time,” (50 Cent’s “High All the Time” mashed with Queen/Bowie’s “Under Pressure”; I hope I don’t come off as that stressed out)
What is my signature dancing song? “Cherry Pie,” Warrant (hah! I think it actually was, in 8th grade)
What is my current theme song? “Pumps and a Bumps,” MC Hammer (no comment)
What song will play at my funeral? “Down to the River to Pray,” Alison Krauss (wow! I’m not religious at all, but this is actually a very pretty song, and somewhat funereal)
What type of men/women do you like? “Der Kommissar,” Falco (authoritarian types, eh?)
What is your day going to be like? “Something Against You,” the Pixies (sounds like a bad omen, but actually I had a pretty good day)

That was kind of creepy. I guess I should just be glad that only two of the songs were embarrassing for the world to know that I listen to.

What to do in PA?

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:16 pm

I’ve had a busy day so far. This is the first chance I’ve had to stop and catch a quick break from work.

So…does anybody know anything fun to do in State College, PA? I’m going there for a conference this summer, and it’s kind of a long conference and I’m the only one going from my work, so I won’t have anybody to hang out with. And seriously, people, it’s not like I’m going to make friends with any other conference attendees. I’m too scared of strangers for that. I wonder if that has to do with the insane amount of “stranger danger” anti-kidnapping training that went on in elementary school. Does that still happen? It seemed like there was a rash of kidnappings in my youth, and I don’t hear about them (or read about them on milk cartons) so much anymore.

So anyway, no on the strangers, yes on the other interesting activities. Are there good museums there that are open in the evenings? I can’t stray out of State College, since I won’t have a car and I’ll be busy with the conference for most of the time. I really like going to museums by myself, because I don’t feel pressured by anyone to go too fast or stay longer than I want to.

Oooh, I just saw that the hotel I’ll be at has a fitness center. That’s good to know. Conference food is always so junky, it’ll be good to have an opportunity to work some of it off.


Cute baby, sleep-talking, wide rice noodles

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:29 am

There are three topics in this post. See title for details.

1. Cute baby. On Saturday, Denny, my parents, my grandparents and I all went to Dubuque to see my cousin Debi’s new baby, Meredith. She is extremely cute. She was also very mellow; she spent most of the day either sleeping or looking around. She only cried for about one second, and that was very quickly remedied with nourishment.

2. Sleep-talking taken very seriously. I’m glad I don’t live in a world in which I’m legally bound to the things I say in my sleep. Sheesh! This couple in India is being required by local Islamic personal law to enact the divorce the husband requested in his sleep, even though they don’t want to. I wonder why they ever bothered to tell anyone.

3. Wide rice noodles. I’ve had a few requests for the recipe for fresh wide rice noodles. Here’s what I did, and it worked pretty well.



  • 1.5 cups white rice
  • 1.5 cups water
  • vegetable oil


  • A blender
  • A large steamer (I didn’t have one, so I invented one by putting four large spoons in the bottom of a big dutch oven rounded side up, adding water until the spoons weren’t quite submerged, then putting a cake pan on top of the spoons)
  • 9-inch in diameter cake pan
  • A brush for spreading the oil
  • A cutting board and sharp, skinny knife


  1. Soak the rice overnight in the water.
  2. Put the whole mess in a blender and blend for about 8 minutes, or until the mixture is very smooth and you can hardly feel any graininess between your fingers. Blend longer if needed; err on the side of too smooth rather than not smooth enough.
  3. Dribble about a teaspoon of vegetable oil into the cake pan and spread it out on the bottom and sides with the brush.
  4. Put the cake pan in the steamer and steam for five minutes.
  5. Open the steamer and pour about half a cup of rice batter into the cake pan, or whatever it takes to get a thin layer on the bottom. Close steam and steam for three minutes.
  6. Open the steamer and dribble some more oil onto the cooked rice layer. Spread out with the brush. Add another layer of rice batter. Close and steam for three minutes.
  7. Repeat step 6 until all the batter is gone. Close and steam for 5 minutes to set the whole thing.
  8. Remove (carefully; it’s hot) the cake pan from the steamer and invert onto a cutting board. Cut the slab into sections about 1 inch thick, then width-wise however you prefer your noodles to be sized. Separate out the layers, and bam, you have wide rice noodles.
  9. Use immediately, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and use within 1-2 days.

I’m happy with how these noodles turn out, but I still haven’t managed a satisfactory sauce. All my sauces seem too drippy or something. I think it’s because I’m using the same basic recipe as I use for dishes I serve with rice, and rice is more absorbent in grain form than noodle form.


wiggly wiggly birthday

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:37 am

Today I am 29. There are only 365 more days (364, if you don’t count today) until I am a grumpy old 30-year-old, so I’d better enjoy this fresh-faced youth while I have it. I’m already getting a little bit old and grumpy. It made me irritable yesterday when we were driving home from work and whippersnappers were throwing a football back and forth from opposite sides of the street. Stupid whippersnappers.

I’m all pumped up for a fun day, though. Denny woke me up this morning by singing Happy Birthday to me, and then he gave me my birthday prezzies. He gave me this really beautiful necklace; it’s hard to describe, but it’s small aquamarine-colored glass cubes strung on four vertical wires, so it makes kind of a square grid, about 3/4″ x 3/4″. It’s very unusual and cool. He also gave me a laser printer so I can finally achieve my dream of printing customized shopping lists (and, you know, other stuff like writing).

Denny and I are taking the afternoon off for some recreation and relaxation, including trying the lunch fare at Prairie Table. I’ll also assemble the almond cake I posted about a while back, which I baked last night. This afternoon my parents are coming over, and we’ll do more presenty fun (this is a belated celebration for Denny’s birthday, too), then go out to Mount Vernon for a delightful dinner. Then, assuming we have the energy, we’ll all go to No Shame. My parents haven’t been to No Shame in a while, but I think they’ll do ok. Frankly, it’s been pretty tame lately anyway. Unfortunately, two very solid writers are out of town tonight, so I’m afraid it won’t be a very good show. Oh well; I’m reasonably happy with the piece I wrote, so we’ll see.

Most exciting of all, tomorrow we’re going to Dubuque to see my cousin Debi’s new baby. She’s over three weeks old now, and I’ve never even seen her once (the baby, I mean; Debi’s older than that and I’ve seen her lots of times).


Great moments in history

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:21 am

Some of my favorite moments in history are when people in bad circumstances use their ingenuity to turn things around. For example, at the end of the oppressive Franco dictatorship in Spain, an aging and ailing Generalísimo Franco groomed future King Juan Carlos to be his successor. The people of Spain were chagrined, assuming it would mean another 40 years of right-wing totalitarianism. Was a revolution in order? Maybe, but their wounds from the recent and bloody civil war were still festering, and no revolution happened.
Franco died, Juan Carlos took the throne. Then he promptly assembled Parliament, said, “Hey, guys, how about democracy? I’ll just be a figurehead. Cool?” and Spain belatedly progressed into the 20th century.

That’s hilarious. And from what I can tell, the people of Spain were really psyched about it. People my age grew up in a democracy, so they don’t know the difference, but their parents are still just tickled pink about it. Many times during my travels in Spain has a person of my parents’ generation pointed out a piece of public art or a sexy billboard or even an example of dissenting political activism and said, “You see that? We couldn’t have had that under Franco.” They’re so proud of just being able to say what they want to say and do what they want to do.

Why does this come to mind today? Well, I was reading about Cecilia Fire Thunder, the president of the Oglala Sioux tribe in South Dakota. As as health care professional, Ms. Fire Thunder was incensed when Governor Mike Rounds signed HB 1215 into law and effectively banned almost all abortions. Since her tribe is based on the Pine Ridge Reservation, a sovereign land in which the state laws of South Dakota do not apply, she is working to establish a Planned Parenthood clinic there (source).

A little more research led me to this blog, which contains information about how to donate to Ms. Fire Thunder’s cause, if you’re so inclined.

Regardless of your personal opinion on HB 1215, you have to admire the creativity of someone who turned a situation in which she and her people were getting screwed (land stolen, smallpox transmitted, forced to live on reservations) into an advantage not only for the Oglala Sioux, but for people all over the state.


2 days till my birthday

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:30 pm

Why does the word until have only one L, but the word till, when intended as an abbreviation of until, have two? What’s up with that?



Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:48 pm

The day has slipped right past me. I woke up at 6:45 as usual and saw that there was about an inch of snow on the ground. I went out and shoveled and told Denny to take first shower. By the time I got in and showered and ready to go, it had snowed enough more that another shoveling was required. Fortunately, Denny did that.

Denny and I have a deal, see. I do most of th snow shoveling and he does all of the lawn mowing. I don’t think it’s so bad; the mowing season is longer than the shoveling season, and shoveling is good exercise.

Now, of course, the sun is shining and almost all the snow is gone. Spring is so weird.


Mildly inaccurate fame

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:57 pm

My friend Ben sent me a recent copy of the Iowa Memorial Union newsletter. It featured an article about weddings at the IMU. I vaguely remember being contacted a million years ago by someone about including a wedding picture of Denny and me outside the IMU, but then I forgot about it.

But here it is!

Notice how we are deemed slightly more important than Curious George. The funny thing is, we didn’t even get married at the IMU. We got married at the Museum of Art, across the bridge. We did get ready at the IMU, though, because that’s where people had hotel rooms. I also find it funny that they were kind enough to include my dad’s copyright on the picture (upon my request), but we are completely unidentified. I guess that’s so nobody contacts us and discovers the truth, that we didn’t get married at the IMU at all.

If you’re curious, here’s a zoom-in so you can read the article, and here’s a zoom-in on the picture.


Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:45 pm

My first post to the Fitfare blog is published today. The editor emailed all the writers and said she wanted the posts to be less recipe-centric, so I guess I screwed that one up. She said that recipes are ok, but that they should be an accompiment to an article rather than the purpose of the articple. Well, I’ll see what I can do. She also said no bulleting or numbering. WTF? Bullets rule. When I see a bulleted list, I read it. And numbers are very useful as well.

  • See?
  • Don’t these bullets
  • make you want to read their contents?

Sheesh. I guess I’ll follow directions, but it seems a little draconian to me to outlaw bullets. I mean…bullets don’t kill people. Bullets going really fast kill people.

I would also like to add:

The “Keep your lamplight trimmed and burning” breakdown from Beck’s “Peaches and Cream” is the prettiest 15 seconds of music I’ve heard lately.


Denny’s teeth are in my purse

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:21 pm

Remind me to take those out before I horrify some well-meaning cashier somewhere.

Denny got his wisdom teeth out this morning. Everything went just fine; the oral surgeon said there were no problems with nerves and he doesn’t anticipate any issues. Denny’s relaxing on the couch watching basketball right now. His favorite team is winning.

Edited to add:

Many of you are probably at work and are therefore Tivo-ing or taping the game that just ended. Out of kindness to you, I will not comment on the results.

Last night my favorite teams were Gonzaga and George Washington, and they both won. I was running on the treadmill when Denny turned the games on, and even though I was still listening to my audiobook, I found myself half paying attention. Both those teams were behind when we started watching, but they both ended up winning.

I like Gonzaga because my childhood penpal was from Spokane, and also their star player looks like he should be in the Ramones. I like George Washington because that’s the name of the elementary school the kid in the movie Big went to, and people assumed he meant the university. And then he spit out the caviar and misunderstood what the sexy lady meant when she said she wanted to spend the night. Comedy gold, people.


I am the James Earl Jones of Iowa City

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:25 am

You know how James Earl Jones says “This is CNN” and it sounds all cool?

Well, guess who’s going to be the person who says “This is University of Iowa Cable Television, UITV.” That’s right, this guy (imagine me pointing at myself with my thumbs). I don’t think my voice sounds very much like James Earl Jones, but apparently it’s good enough for a university cable channel that nobody watches. At least, I never watch it. Maybe I will now.

I always kind of wanted to be a voice actor, like for cartoons or something. It’s all the fun of being a movie star without having to be under hot lights or be in dangerous action sequences, plus you can wear your pajamas to work.

ALSO: Exhibit A in the People vs. Obvious Casting Choices, Benicio del Toro is set to play Wolfman in an upcoming remake of the Lon Chaney classic. I don’t mean that “obvious casting choices” thing as an insult; I like Benicio del Toro and think he would make an excellent Wolfman. What’s more, I love Wolfman and am very excited about the prospect of a new movie. I sure hope it’s not terrible. Our generation needs another Teen Wolf. Only in this case I guess it’s Adult Wolf. I hope that’s what the movie’s called.


Old old old

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:34 pm

What is my life coming to that most exciting email I got all day was about mutual funds? I was having some problems with my account on the management website for my Roth IRA, but that’s figured out now.

I turn 29 next week, but it sure sounds like I’m 30 already, doesn’t it?

Also, happy Ides of March, everyone. Be sure not to get murdered. IT’S HAPPENED BEFORE.


Happy Pi Day

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:30 am

Today is Pi Day.

When I was a child in elementary school math classes, I learned about Pi. I think it was from Mr. Stromen in sixth grade. I was really impressed–there was some magical number out there that was so amazing it couldn’t even be depicted completely in my textbooks, and it was the key to the universe. Maybe not the whole universe, but enough of it that I found Pi pretty awesome.

I remember thinking it must be some very advanced new scientific discovery, and I went home and told my parents about it, and I was disappointed that they already knew about Pi.

Oh well. I still relish the joy of learning about dear, sweet Pi. It will always be my one true love for the purpose of determining the circumfrence and area of a circle.


Mexico: better weather than Iowa

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:25 pm

Well, we’re back to cold and windy, and it may snow this week. But I shall not let it get me down. I love springtime, and it has not abandoned me forever. Springtime wouldn’t do that to me, and I won’t turn my back on it.

One time quite a few years ago, I visited a town in Mexico called Cuernavaca. The word “cuernavaca” means “cow horn,” but it’s really just a way of smooshing the native word for the town into something that sounded Spanish. I don’t remember what the native word was, but it meant “whispering trees.” Cuernavaca has the little tagline of “the city of eternal springtime.” From what I understand, just about every country has one of those, but I’m lucky to have visited Mexico’s.

It was really a beautiful town. It’s about an hour south of Mexico City, and like Mexico City, it’s at a pretty high altitude. That means it doesn’t get as hot as other parts of Mexico, and there are always nice breezes. It was a lovely place all around and I would like to go back.

Especially on a gloomily-poomily day like today. Mexico is fun. I ate ice cream there.


Oh, what a beautiful mornin’

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:17 pm

It was gorgeous out this morning, so I took my first outdoor run of the spring. It was hard! I’d forgotten how much easier it is to run on a treadmill; no barky-barky dogs, no mud puddles to dodge, no other joggers to pant “hi” at. It was still fun to go outside, though. The gentle breezes are refreshing, the scenery is more interesting than my basement wall, and best of all, it means that spring is coming.


Happy Friday

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:07 pm

Hello to all of you working stiffs who are winding down the week. I am one of you.

I have a present for you. It is an audio present. It is a mashed-up audio present.

Super Holla Tricka (Beastie Boys vs. Gwen Stefani vs. A. Skillz & Krafty Kutz)


Project Runway finale

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:26 pm

Daniel V. and Santino got robbed.

I like Chloe ok as a designer overall, but I really didn’t like her Fashion Week collection nearly as much as Daniel’s and Santinos. This collection was the first time I would actually wear something Santino designed. It was really very beautiful, and Daniel’s work is always elegant and interesting.

Denny is having his wisdom teeth out next week. I’m going to make him strawberry milkshakes. Would strawberry seeds be dangerous on open mouth wounds? Should I strain the strawberry paste before I put it in the ice cream and milk? What are other good post-oral-surgery foods?

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