David Bowie = my forever boyfriend

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:33 pm

Did you know he can do comedy?

See this YouTube movie.

Shut your mouth about Labyrinth. This time he’s funny on purpose.

Also, this morning when I was in the hazy mental state where I’m a little bit awake but not exactly, I thought Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillipe, and their kids were staying with us.  I was worried because I couldn’t remember whether they were staying in the guest room upstairs or on the futon downstairs, and the futon is right by my treadmill and I didn’t want to disturb them when I took my morning run.

Perhaps it was just my brain trying to make me be lazy and talk me out of the run.  (Un)fortunately, I realized that we had no houseguests by the time the alarm went off.


Good old Denny

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:25 pm

This is my last full work-week for a while (taking a couple days off next week for a wedding and most of the week after that for a conference), and it feels like it’s dragging on foreeeeever.

Denny made his official announcement that he’s leaving, which was difficult for many people.  Yes, there were tears, even though he’s just moving a couple of blocks away.  Heck, I would have cried too if I didn’t get to live with him.  He’s a peach.  The downer for our office is that it’s become more and more difficult to fill open positions, so who knows if and when they’ll get someone to fill his spot.  Plus, he’ll be hard to replace.  There aren’t very many computer programmers who are also really nice, sociable people who can explain things to a lay person without making him/her feel stupid or completely confused.

Good old Denny.


Things I wonder about

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:58 pm

* Why do people (read: Geraldo) get mad at John Stewart and the Daily Show for not being “real news”?  When have they ever purported to be real news?  That’s like getting mad at a pair of roller skates for not being good for walking on snow.  It’s an entertainment show that just happens to be astute.  Emphasis on the tute!
* How come sometimes I’m thirsty, but I have to go to the bathroom at the same time?  Either my body has too much water or not enough; why can’t it decide?

* In the movie Gremlins, when they weren’t supposed to eat after midnight, how did they decide when the next day began?  Sunrise?  It was never explained, and it’s always after midnight one way or another.


Denny works hard for the money

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:55 pm

In a couple of weeks, I’ll no longer be married to my coworker.

No, Denny and I are not getting divorced (I’m much too fond of him for that).  He has accepted another job, one with some exciting new possibilities. I will miss working with him, although he’ll actually still be within the same organization, just a different unit.  We’ll be in different buildings for a while, but this spring, both our groups are moving to the mall, so we can go back to having lunch together.

It will let him work on some high-profile projects and be part of a team that offers a lot of growth potential.  He’s excited about it, yet freaked out.  I’m just glad he’s made the decision, because he’s been sleeping poorly due to the stress of deciding, all tossy-turny-like.


Weekend + Roman apartments

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:46 pm

We had a fun weekend, even though I’m still not completely over my head cold.  James and Jessica got thoroughly married, and it was fun to be a part of that.  We also got to spend some time with my aunt and uncle from California, who were visiting my parents in Ames.  We went to an art fair downtown and picked up a set of paintings by one of Denny’s local favorites, Chris Vance.  I’ll take a picture once we get them hung up.
On another topic entirely…

I gotta say, renting apartments while traveling is the way to go, if you’re going to be in any one location for more than a couple of days.  We had a great experience doing that in Norway, and we’re hoping to do it in Rome, too.  There’s usually a fairly wide price range available; for the ones we’re looking at, it’s about the same price or cheaper than a decent hotel.  For that, you get much more space and freedom, including a kitchen and laundry facilities.

I think it’s more fun than hotel living, too.  You get to feel a bit more like a local, shopping for groceries in the markets and hauling crap up the stairs.   You’d think those old Europe buildings would develop some kind of complex pulley system.  Didn’t Leonardo da Vinci invent that?  He invented most things.

I submitted the rental request today; our top two choices are the Madonna dei Monti (great location, right across from the Forum and close to a Metro stop) and the Athena (super-cool modern interiors, decent location, has a dishwasher).  We’ll see what we end up with, based on availability.


Bah bah black sheep

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:16 pm

It’s very confusing that it’s Friday, because I was out sick two days this week.

I didn’t say anything about it on the blog because I didn’t want my poor mother to worry about me.  Don’t worry, Mub; I’m fine now.  It was just an attack of the concrete-filled sinuses.  The weather is really nice right now, and I hope it stays that way, because my friends James and Jessica are getting married tomorrow and they’re hoping to have an outdoor ceremony.

Double archive check!  I’ve now been using this particular blogging package long enough that I can check out what I was doing on September 22, 2004 and September 22, 2005.

Two years ago, I was excited because Denny and I both had good horoscopes, and I posted a link to some beautiful photos he took.

One year ago, apparently, we got our couch.  I feel bad for forgetting that it’s our couch’s birthday.  Maybe we should have a party for it tonight.  I could bake it a cake and put a little hat on it.


Coup de time

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:16 pm

The day goes fast when one is busy.

I’m busy today.  I still haven’t had a chance to read my daily websites.  I have no idea how that coup in Thailand is going.

Nonviolently, I hope.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:08 pm

Buying tickets with vouchers is very hard.  There are so many restrictions.  I just found out the tickets we booked don’t actually count, because the return trip is on a partner airline.  The dude on the phone rebooked us on a qualifying flight, but it means spending the night in Copenhagen.

I don’t know anything about Copenhagen.  Is it cool?  It looks like the city center is pretty accessible from the airport, so we could probably spend some time in Copenhagen.  Any tips?

Lira and Euros and Italy

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:08 am

I’ve been practicing my Italian in preparation for the Rome trip.  It’s going pretty well; I’m surprised how much I remember from college.  One thing I had forgotten about is the passato prossimo, which is a very common type of past tense.  It’s a lot like the present perfect in Spanish (e.g. ¿Has comido?–Have you eaten?) except you only sometimes use the verb avere (to have).  Other times you use essere (to be).  So instead of saying literally “I have gone to the restaurant” you say “I am gone to the restaurant” and what it means is “I went to the restaurant.”

It’s kind of confusing.  I’m glad I have another six months to get it sorted out.

One thing that’s really good is that Italy has now moved to the Euro.  The last time I was there, they were still using lira, and it required knowing really complicated numbers, because everything cost fourteen thousand six hundred fifty-nine lira.  It’s lot easier to understand when nothing I would buy costs more than a hundred Euros.


Your reward

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:41 pm

This trailer looks pretty good in its own right, but please keep watching for the very end for the brief shot of Nicole Kidman like you’ve never seen her before, I guarantee it.


Post-weekend recovery

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:54 pm

I think I have a food hangover from all the tasty stuff I enjoyed this weekend.  Ungh…

I’m also feeling droopy because I have had zero caffeine units so far today.  I think I’ll get something from the vending machine in a few minutes.

Do you ever finish a weekend feeling more tired than when you started it?  It was fun but not very restful.


The most terrible day of the (every other) year

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:31 am

Tomorrow is Black Saturday.  More accurately, tomorrow is Black and Gold and Cardinal (and sometimes a little navy blue) Saturday.  It is the Iowa/Iowa State football game.

I don’t like football Saturdays anyway, because there are too many rowdy fans being drunk and rude and driving badly and shouting obnoxiously.  This one is the worst, though, because it’s a game that’s easy for a lot of people, local and otherwise, to get to, and there’s this very negative vibe.  Some people even have t-shirts with extremely distasteful statements on them regarding the team they don’t like.  Can’t you just support the team you prefer?  Why all the hate?  Where is the love?
I grew up in Ames, and I’ve lived in IC for over a decade, and therefore I have absolutely zero preference on the outcome of the game (except that my brother is a lot more pleasant to hang out with when Iowa wins).  Football fans boggle my mind.  I just don’t get it.  Almost all the star players on either team are recruits from out of state; how on earth can you feel like some kid who’s just here for 4 years somehow represents you?

If it’s all in good fun, that’s one thing, but people get downright mean and destructive about it.  Calm down, people.  It’s just pretend.

I plan to ignore the whole situation as much as possible.  Maybe I’ll go apple-picking at the orchard outside of town.

In other news, there’s a Project Runway Season Finale party in the works.  I’m trying to think of good theme foods I could bring for the occasion, besides the obvious Moët champagne (which, dang, costs $50 or so.  Maybe I’ll buy cheap champagne and tape a Moët label on it).

I was considering crepes all wrinkled up like that garbage dress that got Allison kicked off.  A cake with 20 billion rosettes like Angela’s stupid trademark?  That would be fun, but it would require learning to make frosting rosettes, which I do not know how to do.  Any other ideas?


Rome if you want to

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:29 am

Augh! This is good screaming!

I reserved our tickets to Rome last night. I need to mail in the vouchers and pay the balance (it was a tiny bit more than our vouchers covered) yet, but things are definitely underway. We’ll be going in March. Somehow I thought the person on the phone would be able to take the voucher numbers and settle it that way, but I have to send them in certified mail. Weird.

We have a 7-hour layover in Stockholm. I never expected that I would come to know the Stockholm Arlanda airport so well, but after another long layover there waiting to catch a flight to Oslo, I know it inside and out (actually, that’s not true; I only know it inside). It’s a very nice airport. It’s very clean and bright and spacious, with lots of pale wood and glass.

I was doing some reading last night, and even though Rome isn’t the cheapest city in the world, it sure looks like it in comparison to Norway. You can get an all-day transportation pass for just a little over 3 Euros ($4 USD or so) that allows for unlimited rides on the Metro, bus, and tram systems. A single tram ride in Oslo cost about that much.


The trip to Rome is, unofficially, our last hurrah as DINKs (double income, no kids). It will be all about drinking wine, seeing tons of art and architecture, and eating grown-up food.


Tip for navigating SAS’s booking engine

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:40 pm

I figured this out when I was fiddling around yesterday.

When you’re checking prices, the initial screen gives you a dropdown menu of departure and arrival cities.  It’s a limited list, and my airport of choice (Cedar Rapids) wasn’t included.  I picked the closest one (Des Moines) and filled in my request.

On the next screen, you get the price quotes, and you also get a link at the bottom that says “Start Over.”  The cool thing is, it’s not actually starting over; it takes you to another screen with similar tools to the first one, but instead of a dropdown menu for departure city, it’s just a text field.  Fill in your favorite airport code and dates, and you’ll get information for that city.

SAS is affiliated with United, so you can pick anywhere United flies.  Woot!

Shuffling off to exercise-alo.

Filed under: — Aprille @ 1:58 pm

I’ve got to say, the new iPod Shuffle is super-cool.  I wish I had thought of the clipping mechanism.  My first-generation Shuffle already feels practically weightless, but the armband I wear while jogging is kind of annoying.  Sometimes it chafes me.  The clip is the perfect solution, except for nudist runners.  Which I am not.

I’m a little concerned about it being made of aluminum, though.  Doesn’t it get hot in the sun?

I’ve been feeling kind of in an exercise rut lately.  Somebody (yes, you, N.) suggested breaking up a daily workout into two chunks, the logic being that you get twice the post-workout elevated metabolism time.  I got up a few minutes early today and knocked out a mile and a half on the treadmill first thing.  It certainly put me in a better mood than I usually am in the morning, so that was nice.  Plus, it’ll seem like a treat tonight when I only have to do an abbreviated version of my typical run.

The only downside was that I didn’t want to have the TV on too loud and disturb Denny.  Did you know that the local morning news programs don’t seem to have closed captioning?  How rude.  I guess I’ll use my Shuffle next time.


Going to Denmark or Sweden?

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:46 pm

I’m not in the market right now, but I thought some of my loyal readers might be.

SAS is having an amazing sale:  $400 + taxes (comes to around $470) round trip from Newark or Chicago to Copenhagen or Stockholm; also Washington, D.C. or Seattle to Copenhagen.

The Seattle one is especially amazing.  You never see good deals like that from the west coast.

Travel dates are for Thanksgiving and January 11-March 22, ’07.

SAS has a new booking engine, and I highly recommend it.  It’s giving me very reasonable prices (e.g. ones that our vouchers will almost cover) on exactly the itinerary I want, which is Cedar Rapids to Rome.  Before it was quoting me seriously $10,000 on that route, when Chicago > Milan was like $900.  Obviously the latter is preferable, but it means getting from Cedar Rapids to Chicago and Milan to Rome, which adds time and money to the total.  The new booking engine seems to realize the ridiculousness of the $10,000 quote and adjusts accordingly.  Yay for advances in booking technology!


Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:19 am

Denny (finally) posted his Norway pictures. Enjoy.

Also:  as you may have noticed, I posted a little picture and “about” section over there on the right.  Is that stupid?  It’s something I always appreciate when I read someone’s blog, but I think 90% of my readership is friends and family anyway, so maybe it’s unnecessary.  I did feel a bit doofy when I first saw it.

I think I’ll give it a couple of days and see if I get used to it or not.


In more fun news…

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:38 pm

This is my best estimation of myself as a Simpsons character, only I don’t think I would wear that outfit.

You can do it too. 

The requisite “where were you when…”

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:54 am

It seems impossible not to think about September 11, 2001 today.  Gosh, my life has changed so much since then (obviously not nearly as much as the people who were directly affected, who were injured or killed or lost loved ones).

It was my last semester of grad school, and I was in the Info Arcade classroom about to lead a 7:30 Spanish class in an intro to the WebCT site their class would be using for the fall semester.  I was feeling like quite the martyr for getting up that early, since it wasn’t a class I usually taught; I was just there to do the demo.  The actual instructor of the class said something about the World Trade Center, so I went to cnn.com and caught a little bit of footage before the site got overloaded and wouldn’t refresh anymore.  I think at that point I didn’t really understand the severity of things.

I went back home for a while (to my apartment on Davenport street with my roommates, Michaela and her now-husband Bugra) and watched TV, and that’s when it started to sink in.  I was immediately worried about my dear friend Ruby, who lived in NYC at the time.  I called her cell phone but couldn’t get through.  I was comforted to remember that she worked at Columbia University and lived uptown near there, pretty far from the WTC.  I did hear from her later that day, I think.  I’m sure her memories are about 100 times more vivid and scary than mine.  The word I remember her using is “Armageddon,” not necessarily in the Biblical sense, but in the way things were so chaotic.

Far away from the center of things, my life changed only in small ways.  One of the most notable came from living with Bugra.  Bugra was, at the time, a doctoral student in physics (and has now graduated to full Dr. B, physicist extraordinaire).  He’s about the nicest, most affable guy in the world, but to be frank, he’s kind of intimidating-looking.  Combine that with the fact that he’s from a Muslim country (albeit Turkey, the most westernized, secular Muslim country out there), and he took a lot of harassment.

Sometimes he’d rant, “I’m not a Muslim!  I am an atheist!  I am a scientist!”  But that didn’t do any good when he was getting pulled over for no discernable reason by the cops.  The last I talked to Michaela and Bugra, they were living in Dublin, Ireland, where Bugra is doing post-doc work.  They might be done with that now, though.  I should check in on them.

After the horrifying loss of life, I believe the worst side effect of the September 11 attacks is the lumping together of people.  Bugra is about as much of a terrorist as Mr. Rogers, but he was still made to feel like a criminal in a place where he came to learn and teach.  Worse yet, many members of the American public have fallen victim to the lumping mentality; I’m always shocked to see how many people believe the war in Iraq is related to September 11.  Let us recap:  Osama bin Ladin is a Saudi based in Afghanistan.  Not only was he almost certainly not in cahoots with Saddam Hussein, they were enemies.  He considered Hussein and Iraq to be dangerously secular.

I admit I’ve been guilty of stereotyping too.  For a long time, I had little sympathy for members of the military, figuring they were volunteers and wouldn’t have signed up if they didn’t support the causes the U.S. government was pushing.  I’ve since learned that it’s a lot more complicated than that, that a lot of people get in over their heads and are bullied by recruiters who promise them posh jobs guarding embassies in Paris.  Even people who go in basically aligned with the missions they’re assigned often get disillusioned along the way.

I don’t have any answers.  I have a lot of questions.  Are we safer now than we were pre-9/11?  Maybe, maybe not.  Is life different?  For some people, it is in big ways.  For me, it is in small ways.  I think I’m more nervous in certain situations, such as airports, but I have no idea whether it’s founded or not.  Air travel is probably safer than it’s ever been, and the next attack will come in an entirely unprecedented form.  It’s scary, but life has always been scary.  Our enemies just change.  Some things get more dangerous, some things get safer.  Breast cancer killed my great-grandmother, but my grandmother survived it, thanks to improvements in medical technology.  She’s celebrating her 80th birthday next week.  Cancer is a terrorist that threatens us all and has killed a lot more people than al Quaeda, and I’m so thankful for the advances that are being made in the fight against it.
I keep trying to write a conclusion, but I can’t seem to come up with one.  Maybe conclusions are too glib.  Have a good day, everybody.


The trouble with former athletes

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:56 am

The sun is setting earlier these days, and it’s getting to the point where I can’t fit a run in after work, dinner, and a digestion break before the sun sets on me.  I used the treadmill last night for just that reason.

While I was treading, I turned on the TV.  There was nothing good on.  The best I could find was some sort of singing with the stars kind of thing, where celebrities from non-singing fields sing duets with actual famous singers.  I think my favorite was Lucy Lawless, aka Xena, Warrior Princess.  She looked skinny and blonde, which was weird because she was always brunette and sort of strapping on Xena.

One surprising contestant was Carly Patterson, former Olympic gymnast.  She wasn’t that great at singing, but I bet she’s a lot better at gymnastics than Kenny Loggins is.  One thing that caught my attention was how chunky she’s gotten.  She wasn’t obese or anything, just a very different body type than when she was last in the limelight.

Elite athletes are a weird bunch, gymnasts especially.  These little girls start training so hard at such a young age that I think it must stunt their development and delay puberty.  Then, when they stop working out at the level that an Olympic athlete must, their bodies kind of go crazy.  It happened to Mary Lou Retton, too.   I wonder if Kerry Strug’s voice ever got normal once her hormones had a chance to level out.

I noticed a similar thing at my 10-year high school reunion last year.  A lot of the guys who were super-jocks and had the great bodies in high school have gone very soft.  It’s to be expected, I guess; back then, they were working out at a high intensity just about every day of the week.  Then, when they went to college, they probably kept eating like athletes, but they mixed in beer drinking and a greatly reduced activity level.

On the other hand, a lot of guys who were scrawny little weiners in high school put on 20 pounds and looked all the better for it.  Hello, Winston Huang.  Another good example is my handsome husband, Denny.  I didn’t know him in high school, but I’ve seen pictures, and he’s come a long way.  Maybe when he’s 50 he’ll reach average levels of chubsiness.

But I love his skinny butt just the way it is.  He, in turn, has promised to love me no matter what the ravages of pregnancy, time, and cheesecake.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop treadmilling, though.  It gives me a good excuse to watch trashy TV.

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