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Moving the blog Mar. 16th, 2008 @ 05:27 pm

I just blogged my Seattle trip over at my new blog. I think Blogger has a better UI (for me). I'm not sure yet if I'm going to move old content over there.

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Toys make chores more fun Mar. 1st, 2008 @ 12:56 pm

I managed to get his and hers snowshoe kits on deep discount at Sears/Lands' End at the Burlington Mall (marked down from $189.99 to $54.99 - how could I resist?). I just gave mine a quick test drive in the yard while taking the compost pail out to the bin. I love them! They're very light and comfortable, compared to the rentals I've used, and have a much better q-factor for my narrow stance. I might have to take them out to the reservoir today, if I can get some time. I'm in the middle of frantically trying to get homework done and packing for my trip to Seattle (I'm getting picked up at 6 a.m. tomorrow). It's a week-long conference and the keynote speakers are Bill Gates and Greg Lemond. I have kind of mixed feelings about Greg Lemond now that he's so embittered about his irrelevance, but I'm looking forward to his speech nonetheless.

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Life is good Feb. 21st, 2008 @ 11:32 pm
I hung out with my sister, folded the laundry, put away the Christmas decorations, cleaned up the entryway, and did a workout (over the course of several days). I'm struggling a little less to answer discussion questions in my classes. My policy professor liked my e-voting analysis better than I did. I reconnected with some summer '97 Cato interns through Facebook. One has her own dance studio and teaches belly-dancing! And the other night when we lost Lola, it turned out that she was safe and sound in the linen closet in the upstairs bathroom. Life is good. Now I need to work on getting to sleep earlier...
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» Confessions

Since I wrote last, I went to DC twice in two weeks (immediately after my return from Iceland), went to Maine for MLK weekend to see some friends, got very sick (as did Ed) for a few weeks and lost my voice (which made delivering briefings... interesting), started training for the road season, and started my penultimate semester of school (classes are in policy and econ). In some extremely surprising good news, one of my professors from last semester wants to publish my final paper for his class in the peer-reviewed journal that he edits. :)

Confessions:

  • There's a basket full of clean, unfolded laundry, wrinkling under its own weight, that I put in Ed's closet to keep Lola from furring it up. Now that I can no longer see the laundry, I keep forgetting to fold it.
  • Our (meager) Christmas decorations are still up.
  • I haven't seen my sister in almost 6 weeks.
  • I haven't touched the bike in over a week.
  • I think I injured my IT band while we were snowshoeing in Maine but figured if I never mentioned it, it would go away. (Which I think it probably has, since I haven't been aggravating it on the bike recently.)
  • I keep buying t-shirts I don't need and that I may be getting too old to wear.
  • I finally gave in and joined Facebook.
  • I'm really behind with The New Yorker because I'm too sleepy to read before bed.
  • I still haven't told the wonderful Tufts professor who wrote one of my recommendations that I got in to grad school. Maybe I'll send her a picture when I graduate.
  • I'll probably ask Ed to empty the compost pail even though I should put on some boots or galoshes, depending on the day, and do it myself.
  • I turned in my first paper for my policy class (slightly) late, at 12:21 a.m. Then I revised it and turned it again even later at 7:30 a.m.
  • I'm trying to stop freaking out about math every time Ed tutors me (something at which he is extremely skilled) in econ.
  • I nearly fisked a classmate during a discussion of water and farm subsidies (which, of course, I'm against) on our econ discussion board, despite the pointlessness of nearly fisking a person who is arguing about emotion and not demand and supply curves.
  • Ed keeps loading and unloading the dishwasher even though it's my job.
  • I'm interested in the election because it's so competitive, but I don't care as much as I used to because I don't hate any of the front-runners.
  • Every time I dip into our skyr stockpile, I feel a little sad.

» Iceland

We had the pleasure of visiting our friends Brad and Fiona, as well as their son Silas, for a week in Reykjavik, Iceland. We were there from 12/31/07 to 1/6/08.

Icelandair has a monopoly. I think that pretty much says it all. One amusing tidbit: the creamer that comes with coffee claims to be a "long-life blend of glucose syrup and vegetable fat."


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New Year's Eve is quite an event in Iceland. Pretty much anyone can get their hands on municipal-grade fireworks.

Brad and Fiona had a fireworks catalog on hand. Here we have the Snorri Sturluson, named after an important Icelandic saga writer. At only 2.3 kg of powder, it is relatively small. I'm not sure what the American equivalent would be -- a William Faulkner? A Jonathan Edwards?


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Fun facts

- Only 300,000 people.

- Everyone speaks English. It's embarrassing to be a very monolingual person there. It's also an interesting experience to know that you can't understand anything being said around you, but that anything you've said that's overheard will be understood.

- "According to studies based on Y-chromosome and mitochondrial polymorphisms, 75% of males who settled in Iceland were Norwegian and 66% of females were Celtic."

- "Krap" is the word for half-thawed snow. (They don't plow much in Iceland.)

- Tourists are still a bit of a novelty. We were looking at our guidebook and a person actually stopped and asked us if we needed help.

- Public pools and "hot pots" are like Zippy's or the mall -- lots of high-schoolers hanging out.

- All the kitchens and bathrooms we saw seemed to be straight out of IKEA (though I think most came from other furniture companies)

On New Year's Day, Brad and Silas took us on a tour of the Golden Circle.

This is a picture of the continental rift, Almannagjá, at Þingvellir. This is an important site because the Alþingi, Iceland's parliament, began meeting here in 930. Now they meet in a nice building in Reykjavik.

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More Golden Circle:

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This was taken near Geysir, for which all other geysers are named.

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The next day we went to the Icelandic Settlement Center in Borganes (where Ed discovered his love of rugbraud) and later had tea with Brad and Fiona's Icelandic teacher, Ingunn, near Reykholt. Borganes:

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Fiona set up some great tours for us at deCODE and the Reykjanes Geothermal Power Plant. The power plant tour was one of the highlights of the trip, as we got a personal tour from Thorgrimur (he rode along with us and showed us the bore holes, the pipes, the outflow area, the turbines, the partially complete museum, etc.). After the power plant, we had a great time at the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is filled with geothermal seawater that runs off from a nearby power plant.

Here's Ed at the Bridge Between Two Continents:


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We also spent some time getting to know downtown Reykjavik. Here I am planning our day in a bakery over coffee. (We usually had some time to kill, as places tended to stay closed until sunrise at 10:30 a.m. or so.) Ed said, "Coffee and strategy: my two favorite things."

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Graffiti is a problem in Reykjavik, though vandals generally leave murals alone. We particularly enjoyed this one:

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Tjörnin Lake:

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Ed the viking at the National Museum:


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In addition to the National Museum, we also really enjoyed the Culture House, especially the exhibits on Surtsey and very old manuscripts of the Icelandic sagas. Other unpictured highlights include the Grótta Beach lighthouse, the Aurora Borealis (breathtaking but hard to photograph), and dinner with a Norwegian diplomat and his family. (His Swedish wife was familiar with Uppsala, from which some of my ancestors hail.) We also ran into a college classmate of Ed's at a party. His name is Seth Sharp and he's competing to represent Iceland in Eurovision!

Leifur Eiriksson was Icelandic:


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Two views of Reykjavik from the bell tower at Hallgrímskirkja:


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The amazing pipe organ at Hallgrímskirkja:


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View of Reykjavik (including Hallgrímskirkja) from Perlan:

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Brad, Fiona, Silas, and I, also at Perlan:


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Ed photographed this Yule Lad, the Sausage Swiper, in the gift shop at Perlan:


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On our last day, we got to watch Brad race in the Kringler Mall parking garage criterium. During the race, we randomly shouted out Dick Ring-isms: "Lord love a duck!" "It's a whale of a race!" "Katie bar the door!"


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We brought back approximately 3.5 kilos of Skyr. You can only get vanilla at the local Whole Foods; pear is my favorite. Ed said to Silas, "Vanilla, blueberry, and plain are the manly skyr flavors. Oh, and 'banana splitti' is also manly."

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It was a wonderful trip and a super fun time with friends.


» Infamy

I am on the home stretch today with school for the fall semester! I've just got to crank out those last few pages.

In honor of Pearl Harbor Day, here's an old photo (5 years old, I think) of some cookies Ed and I made for a cookie decorating party/competition that took place on Dec. 7. (We won, sort of. Everyone else used host-provided cookies but we're overachievers. We cut all the pieces by hand using paper templates and then used scraps to build up the Wai`anae and Ko`olau mountain ranges.) I grew up at the southernmost end of the mountain range to the west (the Wai`anae range), in a town called Makakilo, on the foothills of a mountain of the same name (Pu`u Makakilo). (I love Wikipedia. I saw a few typos in that entry and it took me 30 sec to fix it myself.) We lived on the corner of two very hilly streets, so I never biked further from my house than 100 yards or so until after I was adult and had gotten into cycling in Honolulu, which is much flatter. I think I was 20 by the time I was finally able to make the climb up to Makakilo Drive.

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» Thanksgiving

I haven't been blogging because I've been unusually busy at work and at school. Sadly, both have taken so much time this fall that I gave up on 'cross. However, I am grateful that I have a challenging job I love and the opportunity to go to school.

I'm also grateful for my wonderful family, some of whom came for Thanksgiving:

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(from left) Dad, Brad (brother-in-law), Kris, Lani, me, Irene (mother-in-law), and Ed

I'm also grateful for the wonderful spread that we enjoyed (and are still enjoying), which included a local turkey (very moist, perhaps because it hadn't been frozen), my mother-in-law's stuffing and desserts, and a variety of wonders from Brad and Ed, skillful chefs both.

My Dad enjoys dog-training and used his skills to teach Lani (a human-lover but not an animal-lover) how to ignore my mother-in-law's Maltese, Penny, and Lola.

penny_lani

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This is excellent because now Lani can come hang out with us. :) My Dad was here for about a week and we had an excellent visit as usual. The house seems pretty empty now. Ed and I are back at our stations in the Situation Room, slowly making progress on our homework. I hope you all had an excellent Thanksgiving as well.

P.S. Even though I have never cared about football and only went to two games when I was in college (once as a paid photographer), I'm grateful that we got to watch Hawaii win the WAC Championship together!


» ASIS&T

I'm in Milwaukee at ASIS&T. The highlights for me were the first plenary speaker, Anthea Stratigos of Outsell, and a mock-scholarly presentation on the problems of non-standard English metadata tagging in I Can Has Cheezburger. Brilliant. I even made two friends, both knitters. We went to lunch today at the public market, where I ordered a "Hawaiian plate lunch," which was more like Hawaiian plate lunch meets southern BBQ meets Wisconsin. The "manapua" was a large, crusty dinner roll filled with BBQ pork covered in a sweet sauce. Along with the scoop of rice was mayo-drenched pasta salad and cheez-n-corn. Yum. I'm super tired and can't wait to fly home tomorrow.


» Happy bicycle pumps are all alike; every unhappy bicycle pump is unhappy in its own way.

We now have three pumps: one Park, one Topeak, and one Performance. They are all broken. I consulted with a guy at Gloucester who works for Pedro's, and he told me to buy a Silca. :) So, do you all concur? Is there some other excellent pump that I should buy? I would like one that pumps up my tires, has a working gauge, and doesn't crap out after two months. I realize this is a tall order, but I don't want to ride a two-lap warm-up at a 'cross race again at 20 psi.

EDITED TO ADD: Nashbar has the Silca Super Pista on sale for $49.99, plus there's a code for 10% off on the homepage. I've placed my order. I already heard back from Todson/Topeak, so hopefully I can also get the Joe Blow fixed as a backup. Thanks everyone for your help.


» Gloucester

Three hours of training in the past month didn't stop me from getting out to Gloucester for the 'cross race on Saturday. It hurt, but I had SO MUCH FUN. It was totally worth it and I hope to squeeze in a little more training so my next race won't hurt as much. Anyway, if you're wondering what 'cross at Gloucester looks like, check out this video at CTodd's blog.


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