Monday, March 29, 2010

A Weekend Away

We spent the weekend in Urbana-Champaign with our friends from undergraduate, B&R. It was a fun and relaxing weekend! The main activities: Eat, Play, Tour

Tour - We got a nice walking tour of the Illinois campus, it is quite pretty! We also used the nice weather to throw the football around a little. We also did a driving tour of the cities, I always thought it was a bigger area than it is for some reason. Combined, it is about 120K. My hometown, Duluth MN has 86K, within the city proper and more in surrounding areas, and in a way almost felt bigger tha Urbana-Champaign once I saw the downtowns, minus of course the giant University.

Play - We played a lot of games! DH is all time champion in Mexican Train (a domino game that is quite fun and I think I will be teaching to my family the next chance I get) and in Monopoly. I am all time champion in Poker (texas hold'em) and Phase 10, though DH is claiming my Poker title is invalid because he was not playing like he would if it were for real money. However, I think that my overall poker record is better than his, so I will still claim the title. Sorry B&R for coming into your house and beating you at everything. LOL. You can try and return the favor when you come to visit next, but we won't make it easy for you.

Food - Wow, did we eat. Saturday lunch we grilled steak and veggies, and it was amazing. So delicious and tender! Saturday night we went to Bayernstube in Gibson City, a very authentic German resteraunt that took my back. It even had the real german bread for the appetizer. It was so tasty. I have to say, it puts Columbus' popular German Resteraunt, Schmidt's to shame, especially for anyone who actually wants German food, and not just German-like food. Sunday we had a nice Jause, also called Abendbrot, this is basically a spread of meats, cheeses, and vegatables that is eaten in many European countries (including of course Germany and Austria) for dinner, as lunch is the big hot meal of the day. Then we went for frozen custard at a local place, which was quite tasty. Unfortunately it was too cool to walk around more.

That was the weekend, we came back home to five pets very happy to see us! Too happy really, I got horrible sleep last night due to a combination of (1)worry about the puppy having not gone before we went to bed (2) all five pets demanding attention at various points throughout the night (3) overheating and (4) bad dreams. It was charming! LOL.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wedding Weekend

This past weekend we headed up to Toledo to attend a wedding between two friends from my graduate school. It was a very relaxing weekend - not worrying about the housework that needed done or goals going unfinished, just doing what we felt like and what was fun.

The wedding ceremony was pretty and sweet, and the reception was very well organized and beautiful. The reception was at a old country club with hardwood and windows overlooking the golf course. There was a cocktail hour where waiters carried around trays of gourmet goodies, and then a sit down meal with amazing food. Eventually there was dancing, of course, and there was the basketball tournament on for those who cared. We had a lot of fun! The only two hitches - for all the good service, there was a major glitch with the cake (they either did not have enough cake for everyone, or did not cut a grooms cake they were supposed to cut), and the coffee service, which seemed to just skip tables at random, and the DJ insisting upon turning up the volume way too high. Everything else was spectacular!

Sunday morning I got up "early", that is earlier than everyone else (this may have had something to do with me being the designated driver... well... I was technically not drinking because I was the DD but DH ended up not drinking because he is watching his empty calories, and he ended up driving). Anyways, I got up early and went swimming. It was wonderful!! Then back to the room for a hot shower and lazing around waiting for everyone to get moving. We watched the start of some Jet Li movie that I want to figure out what it is and go back to. Once everyone was roused (10:30am?) we got together and headed out to the famous "Paco's", the resteraunt that Klinger continually raves about in M*A*S*H. We ate chili and hotdogs, fried pickles, and wandered around the resteraunt looking at Hot Dog buns signed by famous people. You know, Toledo has a reputation of being ugly, the "arm-pit of Ohio", and I can see where it get's that reputation. There is a lot of empty lots and a lot of factories right along what could be a beautiful river front, that said, the suburb the wedding was in was beautiful (full of big old houses), and there are lots of beautiful churches there, just scattered about all the neighborhoods. It was fun! A leisurly drive home, arriving to a clean house. We spend the evening reading on the sun porch, and then I came inside and watched Dirty Dancing.

Overall, a very relaxing weekend!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Family Portrait

When my cousin and aunt came over on Thursday to meet the new puppy they were kind enough to try and get a family portrait for us. Here are the results in all their glory (and hilarity)!!!

Age Fun

So... how old do I look in this picture?

I am 25 yrs old (almost 26). I think I look my age, and I don't feel one way or another about it (isn't that how your 20s should be?).

Thursday evening I answered the door, looking just like this (I had DH snap a photo a few minutes later with this blog post in mind). It was the Tru-green door to door salesman trying to tell us we should dump chemicals all over our lawn. Anyways, I stepped out of the house onto the front stoop to speak with (easier that way with the dogs), and the first thing out of his mouth is:

"Good evening, is your mom or dad home?"

The look of shock on my face must have been something. Seriously, it took me several seconds to process it and then an awkward moment before I told him I own the house. He was apologetic. I told him it was not a big deal, I should be flattered? Maybe? I don't know. I don't really care to look like I am young enough to live with my parents, but its not really an insult either. It was just a very odd situation because I really don't think I look that young, at all. DH and I talked about it and decided MAYBE with the tanktop and sunglasses I could look like I was an undergrad... but hardly. So odd.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Not sure why, but I have never been huge on St. Patrick's Day, which is odd since pretty much every other holiday I look at as a great excuse to have fun, decorate, and in general just make the day different. Today, I am not wearing green. I might have tried to wear green if it had been easy, but the green shirt I bought in December (to wear w/red for Christmas, LOL), is currently missing.

In other news... well, not much. The week is creeping by. I had trivia last night (a night early), which makes it feel like today should be Thursday, but its not.

Random note - I realized the paint colors in my part of the building are the same as in my house (almost) - a slightly darker red than our bright red that is in our Kitchen/family room, and almost an identical shade of blue as what we have in the living room.

Random note - we have been vaguely looking at some used dining sets on craigslist, we want something elegant, cherry, and relatively big (or gets big with leaves). We went to look at one table, but we did not like it because the leaves turned it into a square rather than making it longer. That would totally not work in our room, and I don't find it to be elegant.

Random note - I am adding learning to play the Piano to my bucket list. Also considering adding other instruments.

That is all for now folks!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

As I was saying...

Little updates on things I am sure you want to know about:

River continues to be an escape artist. Yesterday, despite being crated when I left with the latch properly locked, she greeted me at the door. I went upstairs with some trepidation to find out exactly how she got out. Turns out she just flat out pushed out the front door, snapping part of the plastic that holds the door on. I spent the hour and forty-five minutes that I was home first walking her, then cleaning up the mess she had made (some poop of course, and every shoe in the house had been dragged to the middle of the room, one sandal destroyed), and then devising a way to fix the cage. I did not have the tools or abilities necessary to find a real solution to the broken cage, so I ended up putting the new, solid crate inside of the larger, wire crate. So, the puppy is now double-crated. It has worked twice so far, we will see how long it takes her to figure out an escape route.

My finger is healing. It still is UGLY, looks like there is a centimete cut across the pad of the right middle finger, but it does not hurt anymore, and is actually just a seem of dead skin that has yet to detach itself. It finally stopped tingling, which was a problem for the last week or so, and last night I caught it on something and it did not even hurt!!

Book club last night for Sense and Sensability. It was fun. We talked about the book a little, which is always nice, but I found I had the most to say about it of anyone, which does not make for much of a conversation. I do have fun at book club, but something has got to give if I want to simplify my schedule, and one or both book clubs might be it.

I do not have big weekend plans, we are having people over to watch Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (extended version) on Saturday night, and I am visiting Grandma's, as I won't be able to for the next two weeks. Other than that, its puppy time (I hope we can go to Alum Creek Resevoir, I am Lake-Sick... that is similar to home sickness), reading time, and perhaps a movie or two. Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hockey Time!!

Last Wednesday DH proposed that we go to an OSU hockey game over the weekend, and I readily agreed. OSU was playing Notre Dame in the first round of playoffs. After work on Friday we headed down to the first game of the three game series. Due to last minute scheduling of playoffs, and conflict with the high school state wrestling finals, the game was being held in the small arena at OSU instead of the Schottenstien. The Schottenstien holds something like 16,000 people. The small Arena, more like 600. It is a tiny building with the rink and one side lined with your basis metal bleachers. We sat in the second row, about 8 feet from the ice. It was pretty amazing. The game was awesome. It was a very close game, and Notre Dame seemed to have it more together than OSU, but in the third period we pulled ahead 2-1 with an amazing centering pass, and then 3-1 with a great break away. My throat was hoarse from screaming. OSU has some great players, I especially will be keeping my eye on #26 Peter Boyd, his puck handling skills were impressive.

Also, as an extra bonus, it turns out (most logically) that if you want to meet Minnesota transplants to Columbus, you should go to a hockey game. The man sitting in front of us was from Northfield, MN, and he ran into another man he knew (that he introduced us to) that is from Cloquet, MN (a "suburb" of my hometown, Duluth).

Trivia Rockstar

Once again, I find I have many things to post about and will probably be posting three posts in a short ammount of time. Thats just how I roll. LOL.

First, I want to thank Allison for pointing out my math was wrong in the reading update post. The reason it was wrong was because I had a typo, the reading goal I set for myself was 40,000 pages, not 10,000.

Second, answers to last weeks trivia questions:
What year did Coldplay release their first Album? -- 2000
What type of lens sends light rays away from one another? -- Concave
What is the name of the first Harry Potter book, as released in the UK? -- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
What movie is the quote “Open the Shuttle Door, Hal” from? -- 2001 A Space Odysset

Then, finally, to tell you about our great trivia success. Our team, FYC, used to be very good and frequently score in the top three, "in the money" as the top three get gift certificates for the resteraunt where the trivia is held. Well, all that success was before DH and I started coming. Maybe we were bad luck, maybe the people we replaced were trivia geniuses. Whatever the case, DH an I had never seen the top three. That changed last night. We got third place, and I played a major contributing role for once!! I single handedly got the anagram, which is unheard of, I am really bad at anagrams, that is just now how my brain works. Here is the anagram.

Rearrange the letters in the following phrase to form the name of a famous actor:

african led field

It should be a huge giveaway that I am the one that got this answer!! Here are the other questions I helped with:

Who wrote the novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
Where in Europe was hops first used to brew beer?
How do you spell the word commiserate? (clearly the question was asked verbally)
What two countries border Liechtenstein?

Then there is the one question on which I utterly failed, and my sister will be so disapointed. I just could not remember: What is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey?

Sorry LEKT!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Reading Update

As you all may recall, my reading resolution for 2010 is 40,000 pages. I am doing quite well on it, or at least, keeping pace. As of yesterday, I am 17.4875% done (that is 6995 pages) with 16.4384% of the year gone.

March 1st also marked the end of the Winter Challenge and the beginning of the Spring. From December 1st to Feb 28th I read the following books:

77 Love Sonnets
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking-Glass
American Gods
The Amnesiac
Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast
Blue Sky July: A True Tale of Love, Light and 'Impossible Odds'
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2)
A Christmas Carol
Extras (Uglies, #4)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)
The Hindi-Bindi Club
The Host
House of Leaves
Kim (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
Living History
Oryx and Crake
The Remains of the Day
The Stranger
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread
Tender Buttons
Tenth Circle
The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University
Water for Elephants
We Are On Our Own

That makes 31 in all, for 10941 pages and 355 points. These should all be clickable links if you are interested in any, or you can just ask and I would be happy to talk about them more!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

2010 Olympics in Review

The 2010 Winter Olympics have come to a close. I already don’t know what I am going to do with myself tonight! (read probably, see the next post). Anyways, I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on the best and worst of the Olympic games. Worst first, (save the best for last).

Five Worst Things from the Olympic Games
5. Hockey announcers incessantly compare hockey to the Miracle on Ice in 1980, despite the match between the US being relatively even and there being no political battle at stake.

4. NBC runs promo after promo for two movies that are coming out, pretending they both have something to do with the Olympics. I now want to see neither.

3. Ski officials decide its OK to have two skiiers on the course at the same time despite white-out conditions. Lindsey Vonn falls and the officials stop Julia Mancuso, who is running behind her with a gold medal time.

2. Sven Kramer is skating a world record 10,000 meter race and is disqualified because his trainer makes a mistake and send hims around the wrong direction.

1. The day of the opening ceremony Nodar Kumaritashvili, a luger loses his life to a freak accident, setting a dim mood on the beginning of the entire games and especially all sliding sports.

Five Best Things from the Olympic Games

(5) Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski take Silver and Bronze in the mens 1500m short track after an exciting race and a freak wipeout of two Koreans. Apolo Ohno ties the U.S. record for winter Olympic medals while Celski comes back from a very serious injury.

(4) Lindsey Vonn and Julie Mancuso take Gold and Silver in the women’s downhill, and look like they have a great time doing it!

(3) Seth Wescott repeats U.S. gold in the Men’s Snowboard Cross.

(2) Shaun White takes gold in the men’s half pipe in style, and then ups his score with a second “victory” run and a trick that has never been done at the Olympics before.

(1) Simon Ammann, Swiss hero of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics (I loved him during those games!!), takes flight and seemingly without effort wins two gold medals (both on the normal hill and the giant hill), setting a new record for gold medals for his country.

Now, what am I supposed to watch??

Purim and the Book of Esther

There is actually three blog posts I hope to make today, we will see how far I get!!

This Saturday was the beginning of Purim. This is a Jewish holiday that has an annual party in my group of friends. In years past I knew a little about the origins and story, but mostly knew the saying – “drink until you don’t know your right hand from your left” – and that they ate delicious Hamentaschen cookies on the holiday. This year I learned quite a bit more because I headed over to the synagogue and attended the tail-end of the Jewish service that night and the Purim Play, which one of our friends was participating in (he actually turned out to be one of the main roles).

The “service” I am referring to is the reading of the book of Esther in Hebrew. It was quite the experience. Half the people were in costume, and every time that the bad guys name is said (Hamen), the entire crowd boos and makes noise with noisemakers to block it out. There were kids running around in their costumes playing with balloons and laughing. The rabbi’s who were doing the reading were making jokes. They had a green light to tell you when to make noise. It was a blast. You have got to appreciate a religion that knows how to celebrate!!

After the end of the reading we crossed the hall into the social room to watch the play, which turned out to be quite a big production!! It was “Purim with the Beatles” and incorporated Beatle Songs every which way. The story of Purim goes as follows. The King Ahasuerus decides he wants a new wife and orders young beautiful women to present themselves to him. He chooses Esther, not aware she is a Jew, because she is the most beautiful. He also hires her cousin, who raised her, to work at the gate. Her cousin discovers a plot and saves the kings life. The king decides to take on a new advisor, Hamen, who is a bit crazy and asks the King to order everyone to bow down to him, the King orders this. Hamen soon discovers that Esther’s cousin, and all other Jews, refuse to bow to him because they only bow to God. He starts a campaign to hang all the Jews for breaking the law. In order to save her people, Esther admits to the king she is Jewish, he responds by telling all the Jews to not obey Hamen and to fight back. From that point on Jews are safe in the kingdom, and they celebrate Purim to commemorate it.

The best song of the whole play was “A little help from my friends,” hum the melody in your head, and then put these lyrics in: “What would you do, if I said I’m a jew, would you hang up and walk out on me?... If you are a jew, I would say nothing new, it really doesn’t matter to me”. Quite amusing. Our friend performed very well.

We then headed back to the friends house and made merry with tasty food and drink, and good conversation.

On a more serious note, the thing that surprised me the most about the purim story and in general my experience at the Synagogue was the culture of persecution. The story and celebration are all about Jews escaping persecution, and the Engish translation we had of the Book of Esther included footnotes discussing the lessons Purim teaches about the holocaust and people's acceptance of that persecution. To me, it seems like it would sort of be like the Church of England celebrating a day that a Catholic king stopped persecutions, or some protestants celebrating the day that they arrived in America and were no longer persecuted. It is a very odd cultural difference, I think, between most Christian denominations and Judaism. I am guessing it is mainly the difference in the fact that Judaism is not only a religion, but also an ethnicity and culture.