365: January

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:32 pm

There’s a pretty active Flickr group for the 365 project, which is 365 self-portraits, one taken every day, for a year.  I started on New Year’s Day, which means I’ve done 31 of them, and I’m already sort of sick of myself.  It’s an interesting challenge, though, and I’ve gotten to look at a lot of cool pictures of other people doing the project.

Here’s a mosaic of January.  I realize there are only 30 pictures there.  It’s because 30 makes a nicer grid than 31, and I inadvertently did two days that were almost the same.

Click mosaic for my main Flickr photostream.


Trivia wrap-up

Filed under: — Aprille @ 5:49 pm

So, we’re home from Trivia.  It was the same as always, in both the wonderful ways and the not-so-wonderful ways.

Wonderful:  seeing some really fun, interesting people; eating excellent food; learning craploads of useless-yet-fascinating facts; and most wonderful of all, snuggling with baby Niamh.  She is outrageously cute, very good-tempered, and has a tiny little dimple when she smiles.  I love her.  John and Patty seem to be adjusting well to parenthood.

Not-so-wonderful: driving to northern Wisconsin (technically being a passenger while Denny drove); completely blowing my healthy-eating-and-exercising plan; answering trivia questions in a loud environment for a really long time.  The contest is 50 hours, though I am nowhere near hardcore enough to participate continuously.  We got a motel room, so I got some peace and quiet.

So, yeah.  Work is outrageously busy.  I’m tired and stressed.  Some family stuff is going on, but that’s actually looking okay for the time being.  Here’s to another year of Trivia over and done with.


Aprille’s hot travel tips, volume whatever

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:43 pm

SAS is offering some amazing winter bargains.  Haven’t you always wanted to spend Valentine’s Day in the Swiss Alps?  I bet they have really good hot chocolate.

Some highlights:

  • $325 round trip from Chicago, Newark, or Washington, D.C. to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, Bergen, Helsinki, and more.
  • $400 round trip from Chicago, Newark, or Washington, D.C. to Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, London, Milan, Vienna, Zürich, and more.
  • $450 round trip from Seattle to Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, London, Milan, Vienna, Zürich, and more.

Details here 

Friday Five (no answers yet)

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:55 am

I’m in a time crunch, but I will answer these questions when I get a chance. I just didn’t want to let them slip past me.

1) Name the 4 places your would be most likely to deposit a loogie.

a. Toilet
b. Garbage can
c. Kleenex
d. Um…my mouth?

2) If you had to live your next life as a nut, which nut would you be?

I like almonds the best.  I would be an almond because it has the same initials as me (the full name is Almond Clarke).

3) Longest period of time you have gone without shaving your armpits?

Probably a couple of months.  Normally I do it once a week or so.  I’m not very hairy.

4) If you were forced to lose a limb, which one would you sacrifice?

What counts as a limb?  There are a couple of tree limbs dangling above our roof that I wouldn’t mind getting rid of.  If you mean a body part, I guess I’d go with a leg because I’m pretty good at hopping, and I would be sad if I couldn’t type or cuddle babies anymore.

5) Is there an amazing talent that one of your friends possess that you are very jealous about and would like to steal for your own?

Ruby can speak Chinese, which is pretty awesome.  I’m jealous of that.  If I could do that, I would have so many pig stamps.


Trivia tomorrow

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:00 pm

Tomorrow afternoon, Denny and I are heading out for the annual, 50-consecutive-hour trivia contest based at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.

I personally do not stay up for 50 hours.  I don’t think anybody actually does.  Technically we’re supposed to sleep in shifts, but I’m not very good at sleeping under less-than-ideal circumstances, so I just go to bed when I’m tired.

Denny is more hardcore.  I admire him for it, yet not enough to actually do it to that extent.

Anyway, I’ll be online a lot over the weekend, because the way the contest works is a question is read (via radio station or internet streaming audio), you research the answer, and then call in.  Very rarely does anyone know an answer off the top of his/her head; it’s really a contest of research skills and persistence about getting through busy signals on the phones.

I personally prefer to research.  Talking on the phone gives me anxiety attacks (not in the clinical sense, but I do hate it).  Just now I had to make some cold calls for work; we’re doing faculty interviews about their experiences using our technologies, and I got all sweaty.  I am happier if it’s just me and a computer screen.  And, you know, a houseful of people hopped up on caffeine and good cooking, and possibly wearing leather pants.

I’m looking at you, Lance.


Great fares to Honolulu

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:12 pm

I don’t think it’s in the cards for me, but I thought some of you might appreciate these super cheap fares to Hawaii.  It’s $263 round trip from San Jose for dates through March.  Sarah Calaway and Ruby Hsu, I’m looking at you.


Sweating near the oldies

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:43 am

I realize I am a little unusual in my love for the Golden Girls, but ever since we got Tivo, it’s been my favorite thing to watch while I run on the treadmill (that and Good Eats and Iron Chef America).

Can you believe that Estelle Getty (aka Sophia Petrillo) did a workout video? Can you also believe that somebody made a remix of it to Beyonce’s “Check on Me” (or whatever it’s called–that song from the new Pink Panther movie)?

It’s a pretty wonderful thing.


Pork stamps

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:23 pm

It’s not often I wished I lived in China.  My friend Jeff is in Hong Kong now (I think; he was trying to get a job there last I heard from him), and that seems to be suiting him well.  Still, when I think of China, I think of censorship, poor treatment of girls, and my aunt’s brother who never had enough to eat.

And yet…they have invented the pork-flavored stamp.  It has its appeal.

“Stamps released in China to celebrate the Year of the Pig taste of sweet and sour pork.”

“When you scratch the front of the stamps, it smells of the popular chinese dish and when the back of the stamp is licked it tastes of the dish too.”


bye bye

Filed under: — Aprille @ 6:03 pm

I had so much to talk about yesterday, and today I’m all  …

Work is work.  It’s pretty busy.

Oops, and now it’s time to go.  My only cool thing to say is that I put a Countdown to Rome javascript thingy over there on the right.


O, great triumph!

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:41 pm

I was very proud of myself this morning, because I slept through the whole night without waking myself up by coughing even once.  Better yet, I remembered my dreams, which hadn’t happened in probably a week.  I think I was coughing so much I never got into a deep enough sleep state to dream.

It was a mixed bag of a dream; I dreamed Denny and I had just arrived in Rome, and my parents met us there.  The bad news was that I couldn’t remember the name of the hotel we were staying at, and my mother had broken her foot and was on crutches.  I remember thinking, “The ruins of Rome are not very handicapped accessible.”

Other good news triumphs:  dinner last night was awesome.  Denny took some pictures, but he hasn’t posted them yet I don’t think.  I got a bug up my butt to make fresh baguette; it was actually really easy and delicious.  I stuffed the dates with Maytag bleu (thanks for the idea, map!) and almonds, and they turned out really great.  Denny is a connoisseur of bacon-wrapped dates, and he said mine were better than the ones at Devotay.  I think it’s because I found some really nice, plump Medjool dates to use.

We had a really nice Australian Shiraz/Cab blend, a 2004 from Rosemount Estate.  It was really reasonably priced, too.

Finally, I opened the mail today (apparently I forgot to pick it up yesterday), and I had what I assumed was another rejection letter from a literary agent.  Popular wisdom is that good news never comes by U.S. mail, and the couple of other nibbles I’ve gotten have come via email.  However, I braced myself for nothing, because the agent requested sample chapters.  Woot!

Possibly the best weekend ever?  Well, it snowed kind of a lot, but otherwise it was great.


Tapas-related decisions

Filed under: — Aprille @ 2:33 pm

I just picked up some serrano ham and aged manchego at Prairie Table.  Denny mentioned recently that it’s been a while since I’ve made a tapas dinner, and that sounded pretty good to me too, so I grabbed some ingredients for the nameless tapas that are made of serrano ham, manchego, baguette, olive oil, and black pepper.

I’ll probably just make one other, to keep things simple.  Should it be patatas bravas (roasted potato chunks with spicy tomato sauce and aïoli) or bacon-wrapped dates?

(Or should I be really, deeply wild and make both?)


Thai Flavors

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:12 pm

Denny and I went to Thai Flavors tonight, because my stuffy head was craving their duck noodle soup with lots of hot sauce.  We got there, and it looked different.  Gone were the pictures of the owner and his wife with various progressive politicians.  Gone were the human rights-related notices on the walls.  Gone was the gregarious owner.

The walls were painted and some of the furniture was different.  Honestly, it looks pretty good.  It looks a lot classier, though it lacks that down-home hippie vibe.  We were greeted by a friendly young man who we later found out is the new owner.  We didn’t ask what happened to the old owner, but I guess  this guy has been in charge for about a month now.  We hadn’t been there in the last month (or much at all lately; we’ve been going to Thai Spice more often).

The menu was laid out differently but contained both of our favorites (the Bowl Noodle Soup with duck for me, the Drunken Fried Noodles for DC).  I don’t have my full senses of taste or smell at my disposal, but I enjoyed my soup a lot, and it didn’t seem noticeably different than the old version, except perhaps that the portion was more generous.  Denny’s dish was a bit different, but he said it was better.  There was a larger noodle-to-other-stuff ratio, which is good because he always used to run out of noodles before he was full.  He said it was very spicy but not overwhelming.

According to the table tent, they’re still doing community fund-raising events; I guess they’re just not as obvious about promoting them on their walls.

It’s still a more casual dining experience than Thai Spice, and considerably cheaper.  We shared an appetizer and each got an entree, and I think our bill was around $23.  We rarely get out of Thai Spice for under $40.

In sum, don’t be scared away from Thai Flavors by the new atmosphere and ownership; it’s still a great bargain for tasty Thai food downtown.


Day-Quil is my special friend

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:54 pm

My cousin was telling me about a virus that’s going around that lasts 10 days, and you don’t start feeling better till day 8.  I hope that’s not what I have, because I’m only on day 5 now, and I can’t deal with 3 more days of this.

Yuck yuck yuck.  Gross stuff is coming out of my lungs.  You don’t want to hear about it, believe me.


Poison vitamins

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:16 pm

I celebrated the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend by being sick.

In fact, I still feel fairly crappy.  My lungs feel better but my throat feels worse.  I didn’t get much sleep last night (and neither did Denny, though he was quite the sport about it) because I was coughing a lot.  I don’t like taking NyQuil because it makes it hard to wake up in the morning, but at least with NyQuil I can more or less sleep through the coughing.  Maybe I’ll do that tonight.
I just realized my vitamins expired in August 2006.  Maybe that’s what’s wrong.  I’ve been taking poison vitamins.


Yawn. It’s been a long week.

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:01 pm

I believe it’s finally winter, perhaps for the first time since last year. I had to walk across campus this morning and a short distance around lunch time, and I was glad I had my heavy coat and hat and gloves.

Classes start Tuesday. The three-day weekend will be nice, but things are going to get wild come next week. Luckily we have a good staff to handle the bulk of it.

Anybody have any exciting plans for the weekend? Denny’s cousin’s family is coming to town, so I think we’re getting together with them Saturday night. I was going to make lamb eggrolls (an attempt to duplicate some really good ones we had in a restaurant once), but that was before I found out about the Saturday night gathering, and I’m trying to have only one junky meal a week.

There’s a guy in my seminar who keeps moving his head in a weird way. I can’t tell if it’s just a personal quirk or if he has some kind of neurological disorder. I wonder if I do something like that that makes people wonder if I have a neurological disorder.


THIS JUST IN:  The chemical that makes hot peppers hot (capsaicin) may be an effective tool in cancer treatment, because it destroys cancer cells’ mitochondria but not regular cells’.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:30 pm

I’ve been in a seminar all day on the topic of learning portfolios.  It’s geared toward faculty, which means I don’t have tons to contribute, but it’s been pretty interesting anyway.  We had to do this exercise:

Teaching : Learning   is as

________ : ________

I said as filling a gas tank is to parallel parking.  You give somebody the basic resources, then he/she has to use his/her skills to synthesize it into something useful.  Those exercises are kind of silly, but it’s better than sitting at my desk.

The seminar is all day tomorrow, too.  I need to update my voice mail, because I think I have a bunch of messages waiting for me.  Giving people an off-putting greeting helps with that a lot.

Also:  Denny’s back!  Yay!  I fetched him at the airport last night.  He got in early, but luckily I arrived early too, so it was well-timed.  I gave him his romantic Snickers but he wasn’t hungry.  I think he may have brought it to work today.


iChat AV

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:16 pm

Denny and I did an iChat AV last night with the iSights in our laptops.  It was really cool.  I’ve only done that a handful of times in the past, and that was when the other person had a camera and I didn’t, so it was one-way for video (though two-way for audio), and it was always pretty laggy.

It worked great last night, though.

One thing that crossed my mind is that this technology is going to make it more difficult to explain certain concepts to children.  When I was a little kid, my dad told me that Bert and Ernie could not, in fact, see me through the television.  I didn’t believe him for a while, though it did eventually sink in.

Kids nowadays are going to have a good argument to the contrary:  “But Grandma can see me on the computer.”

I guess the next step is explaining that Grandma is a human with eyes made of eye jello, and Bert and Ernie are puppets with eyes made of felt.


Achievable goals

Filed under: — Aprille @ 5:44 pm

It is not as much fun to cook for one person as it is for two.  I made some pretty good lettuce wraps last night with leftover chicken, a bunch of crap from the fridge and pantry, and lettuce, but I’m feeling less effortous tonight.

Oooh, I haven’t had that one really good vegetable casserole in a while.  Maybe I’ll have that.  It means a trip to the grocery store, but  I do live five blocks from a grocery store.  I CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN.


4:30? More like fourth hurty.

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:50 pm

I woke up at 4:30 this morning because Denny had a flight at 6:30, which meant get to the airport at 5:30, which meant leave the house at 5.  To Denny’s credit, he offered to drive himself, but I want to pick him up when he gets home, just because it’s fun to pick people up at the airport.  I love getting off a plane and seeing his smiling face waiting for me, so I wanted to do the same for him.  Sometimes he even has flowers when he picks me up, though I don’t think I’m going to go that far.  Maybe I’ll bring him a Snickers.

So anyway, I’m tired.


Literate monkey

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:41 pm

My little cousin Max was part of a belated Christmas sleepover we had last night.  He lent Denny his monkey ears and they had some fun reading together.

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