A weekend in June

A quiet weekend. I did some work stuff (it’s conference season), shopped for some grown up clothes, and watched a number of episodes from season 2 of Orange is the New Black. I even cooked. And cleaned.

I’m about a third of the way into the final book in Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy. I predict that Lireal, the Second Assistant Librarian, is going to be kicking some serious Dead ass. Sam is far less annoying in this book and I expect to learn about his mysterious power. Above all, I’m looking forward to Mogget being terrifying again.

I’ve been using a Jawbone Up 24 for about a week now. I like that it integrates with LoseIt (and tons of other apps). It’s surprisingly comfortable to wear at night and the sleep data it collects seems to be about as accurate as can be expected for $140 sans physician’s care. The pedometer data seems to be in line with clip-on belt pedometers I’ve used in the past. The mood tracking seems goofy but that too, is a data point. Tracking energy levels seems to be the intent: I feel lousy doing on-and-off again stretches of caffeine intake or I sleep restfully on nights with more water intake and physical activity during the day.

I didn’t learn anything new because of this device. I know that my desk job is hastening my demise and that I should get enough sleep. I suppose the real value is in data collection and correlation, and the sense of accountability that comes with that big picture, painted in brightly colored graphs.

And now for a picture of my dinner. Because the Internet.

Sausage and peppers

Cold feet

It’s faculty annual report time, in which I’m forced to do some Very Serious writing about myself. I’m taking a break (of sorts) and would just like to be KNOWN:

There are few things in life I despise more than wet socks.

There. I said it! Farewell, 2013.

Miss Sophie

Sophie adopted us one whole year ago today.

She adjusted to life with us pretty quickly. She was so mild-mannered when we brought her home. For awhile, it seemed like she didn’t know how to play. Now, Sophie plays with toys, runs around, gets into places she shouldn’t, and on the rare occasion, nips hands that aren’t petting her enough. Clearly, this is her house.

I adore her chirpy, little meows. I am definitely fortunate to be her human.

Leap Day

Leap Day turned out to be a surreal, warm, perfect day (65 degrees!). Such an occasion DEMANDED a walk along Clear Creek Trail after work. Do you know those times when the sky and air and sun are just too perfect to bother getting out the camera and fussing over the framing of a shot? I hope you do.

While I know that I really ought to be gravely concerned that we’ve had a winter that was MUCH to warm while people in Europe are freezing to death, it has been a very enjoyable winter. So what if the globe is warming and allergy season lasts through February!

Of 2011

As a policy, I never make BIG plans or resolutions on New Years because I like to think that I’m empowered to make those big dreams, decisions, and plans at any moment in time. There is something about this time of year though. The days are darkest now, a time for quiet introspection. Some observations on 2011:

  • I’m tough; WAY tougher than I thought. I never would have known this if I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone. To those who helped, encouraged, or shoved me out of that safe zone, whether personally or professionally: thanks again.
  • I’m a sap. Yeah, I KNOW. So. Uncool. *sigh* But there’s no use denying any more how much I adore kittens, underdog stories, and watching Love Actually. I’m a total hopeless romantic. And, given that this sappiness is not going to go away, no matter how much I try to ignore it, I refuse to feel guilty about it anymore. I will no longer feel compelled to have to wait until Christmas to watch Love Actually. THERE.
  • I’m internalizing other people’s B.S. far less. It’s about time.

In 2012, I wish for you a discovery. A big one. The kind that realigns your understanding of yourself or your relationships or your community. The BIG discoveries are sometimes–in fact, usually–scary (2010 was a doozy for me). After some time, you realize that the discovery can either be something that weighs you down or sets you free. I hope that in 2012, I’ll have a chance to pay some of my good fortune of 2011 forward to others. Cheers.

Words in the Stars

I heard some words on this episode of Star Talk with Neil DeGrasse Tyson that I wanted to write them down somewhere:

(paraphrased slightly) People over-define the scientific method. You know what it is? Do whatever it takes to not fool yourself.

Isn’t that the cardinal rule for living! But hey, it’s tough to do, which is why it’s codified and taught to kids in school.

I recently saw Tyson on The Daily Show (see it here) and was impressed by his knowledge, his friendly demeanor, his adventurous spirit, and his wordcraft. On the same radio show linked above, I loved this image: “The universe is flinching.”

Right, quotes recorded.

Flying Fortress

Inside of the B-17 Bomber, Aluminum Overcast. Photo by Tim Johnson.I was incredibly excited to see the restored B-17 bomber, Aluminum Overcast, which was was in town this weekend at the Monroe County Airport. We kept hearing and then seeing it fly over the house–prompting many a mad rush to a window. Tim and I didn’t get to see it take off and land as we wanted to (one day, I WILL fly in one of these!) but we did take a ground tour. It seemed a more faithful restoration than other B-17s I remember being through. The only big component that was missing was the top gun turret, which, if in place, would have made it very hard to take tours through from nose to tail.

Before taking the tour, we did a walk around of the plane. The ball turret was open so that you could see the small space in which the gunner was confined. Two men in EAA coats, who I assumed to be the men who pilot the Overcast, were wiping down each of the engines, a task that took them the better part of an hour. Their pride in the bomber and all that it signified was evident. They worked slowly, deliberately. They were eager to talk to the folks milling about or standing in line, especially kids. What they did was special. This bomber was special. The most recent stat I could find claims that there are now fourteen B-17s flying these days (which IS slightly better than the ten I knew it to be about a decade ago). Between the cost of keeping these birds in the sky (can you imagine filling THAT tank?!) and losing the aging vets who served on these aircraft–it’s as if an entire chapter of history is drawing to a close. It’s frightening to think that these warbirds might not be in the skies in fifty years and that there will be no one living who remembers what it was like to serve on them.

There are more pictures over at Flickr. See here for more info on Aluminum Overcast and where it is currently touring.

The Herald Times put together a video (available online for those with a subscription) that included scenes of a couple veterans telling stories of their service cobbled together with historical footage and background on the bomber. I especially liked a comparison of aviators then in comparison to now. Sadly, the HT did not identify the veterans they spoke to. I’ve transcribed the story from one man below:

War is a terrible thing and it’s unfortunate that we haven’t, as human beings, learned to avoid it. Wars today are more brutal, I believe, at least the ones in the Middle East, than the ones the Harold and I were in.  As an example, when my brother, [Bill], bailed out and he was in his parachute coming down, he heard a FW-190, which is a German fighter plane, coming at him and he knew that [the German pilot] was going to turn his machine guns on and cut him in two. But [the German pilot] dipped down under him and went behind and went out there and made a one eighty. And [Bill] thought “Well, he’s really gonna do it to me this time.” And [Bill] could hear him throttle back and he turned around and looked and [the German pilot] had his flaps down and his wheels down and his canopy throwed back and when [the German pilot] got even with him, [the German pilot] saluted. Bill said “I saluted him back.” They don’t do that today.  They blow you up at a moment’s notice.  That’s the difference in warriors today.


Tim, Sara, Ne and I went out for ice cream last night. Here are a couple photos of my housemate doing her thing.

Natalie's post-ice cream high. Natalie also post-ice cream.

I made dinner last night: lower-sodium stuffed bell peppers. I altered a recipe found here. Sara kindly supplied the marinara sauce (recipe here), as we couldn’t find a low-sodium version in stores. Instead of ground round I used turkey and black beans. It came out pretty well–except that the recipe didn’t call for cooking the green peppers before stuffing and 45 minutes was NOT enough time to cook the peppers (actually, I added 10 minutes to what the recipe said). Next time I will cook the peppers first and then stuff and bake them.

Now I am off to DCI Quarterfinals. GO MAD, GREEN MACHINE!