Sunday, February 28, 2010

the olympics (part 2)

But on to my thoughts on the current Vancouver (which I can actually pay attention to now that the hockey game is over)....

The Canadians have put on a great show beginning right off with the opening ceremony. My favorite parts were the whales appearing to "swim" across the floor of BC Place and Shane Koyczan's Slam Poem "Define Canada" (or "We Are More" depending on what you read). I
tried really hard to find a decent video of it but just about every link (other than NBC's which requires some upgrade to your browser - no thank you!) I find for the video either leads me to "this video is currently unavailable" or "this
video has been removed at the request of the IOC." Maybe in the next few days. For now, click here for the text of his awesome poem. I just really liked that they reached out into the Vancouver community, celebrated the entire country and the talents of its residents, and just did what they wanted without trying to top Beijing.

But the Olympics are all about athletics, right? Oh yes, they are. I love watching Olympic sports because they always include events that we wouldn't know anything about otherwise like parallel giant slalom, snowboard/ski cross, moguls, Nordic combined, speed skating, and many others.

We were always pulling for the Americans but "Go Team North America" was a phrase often heard as well. "If we couldn't have it, the Canadians should" is what we figured. It doesn't hurt that Will loves Canada.

So a few of my favorite moments:

We'd heard a lot about the lack of Canadian gold on Canadian soil so watching Alexandre Bilodeau win their first gold on the moguls was pretty awesome. Moguls are also just really cool. I don't know how they can do that to their knees.
Both of Shaun White's half pipe runs were amazing. It was just so great that even though he had the gold medal wrapped up before he even took his second run, he put forth great effort, did his fancy new trick, and beat himself.

The 2 South Koreans took themselves out of the 1500m short track speed skating race giving Apolo Ohno and JR Celski medals. Of course, afterward the South Koreans tried to blame it on Apolo. JR Celski is just such a cutie. After that we didn't care who was skating as long as they beat those meanie South Koreans.
Joannie Rochette is just an inspiration. I don't know how many people can lose a parent and function well much less have the composure to skate and win a bronze medal. AMAZING!

I was kind of obsessed with ice dancing and it was great to see the Canadian team, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, win and a young (if pinchy-faced) American team, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, get the silver. I have to admit that I was cheering for the Canadians because they're prettier.
The men's curling final with the Canadians against the Norwegians in yet another pair of crazy argyle pants was actually really interesting even though I wasn't watching it as intently as Will was.

And last but certainly not least, the gold medal hockey game. Holy cow. That was a nail biter for sure. To get the goal with less than a minute left in regulation to put the game into overtime was just amazing. Unfortunately the Canucks got the better of us but perhaps they should win their game in their country?

And a final favorite moment from the Closing Ceremony - the mime raising the last leg of the cauldron from the floor making light of and acknowledging the glitch from the Opening Ceremony. Gotta love a whole country that can have a laugh at its own expense.

Well, the games are very close to being finished (it's taken me a while to write this, most of the time spent trying to find the "We Are More" video). We'll now have to wait until London 2012 for more Olympics. Can't come soon enough!

(Picture credits: Shane from Vancouver Sun article linked above and all others from Vancouver 2010's Facebook page or ESPN)

the olympics (part 1)

As I sit and watch the USA v Canada gold medal hockey game... my reflections...

As always, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the Olympics over the last 2 weeks. I love the Olympics - always have.

Katarina Witt, Elvis Stojko, Kristy Yamaguchi, Kurt Browning, Brian Boitano and the French guy who would do back flips figure skating through my childhood - I even remember when they actually had to do "figures" which they quit doing in 1990 (last seen at the '88 Olympics).

Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair back in the day.

Way back when in the days when you got an election year, Summer and Winter Olympics all in one year! And then the subsequent 6 year break in Winter Olympic Games. I have to say I like getting my dose of Olympics every 2 years instead of 4.

I wish I could say that I remembered the Miracle on Ice but I was only about 3 weeks old.

And that's just the Winter Olympics; I'm equally as obsessed with the Summer Olympics. I have distinct memories of watching Olympic tennis matches in the middle of a summer afternoon with a tennis obsessed friend in '92.

The archer lighting the cauldron in Barcelona. Muhammad Ali in Atlanta.

Amazing Opening Ceremonies and joyous Closing Ceremonies.

I even had the opportunity to visit the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland in '04 - the best 14 francs and rainy day ever spent. One of my favorite days spent in Europe.

Taking a break in the art gallery.

The first birthday present I ever got Will was a poster from Atlanta's games from the museum (which is sadly in the basement right now due to our lack of wall space).

It is actually a life goal for Will and me to make it to an Olympic games. We almost tried to make our big vacation for 2010 a trip to the Vancouver games but would have had to make too many decisions on the heels of returning from our honeymoon.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

new book club

Will and I had been part of a book club that began in our apartment complex back in the day - before we were even together. But then Will picked a book that "killed" the group or so he says (it was weird but I liked it. of course, I was also the only one to read it; Will included), people moved away (including us) and I started school and there just wasn't time for that sort of thing.

Well, now that I'm done with school, I've been fortunate to able to join a new book club with a few UD friends and some other fantastic ladies. There are about 9 of us - 4 from VA, 1 from MD and the rest in DC. All sorts of backgrounds, single, dating, married and even one little reader. It's been great to get into the group and they've all been very welcoming even though I've only been participating for about 3 months and they've been reading together for going on 2 years!

I thought that I might write about our book each month here. We'll see if I keep it up. If I get really inspired, I might even throw in some thoughts on other things I read (I'm a bit of a voracious reader so one a month doesn't do me).

But first I want to catch up and talk briefly about the 3 books we've read since I joined the group.

Complications: a Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande

complications The book is organized as a series of topics with one main case study example. I'm not usually a fan of non-fiction but I really enjoyed this one. One of the things I really liked about it is that it gave me a lot of insight into the world that my good friend, Callie, and my SIL, Kate, live in - particularly Kate because she's training to be a surgeon. It really puts a human face on the practice of medicine and it is indeed, practice. I highly recommend this one.

You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas by Augusten Burroughs

you better not cry This book is a series of Christmas-themed short stories by the author of Running with Scissors which I had also read. If you know anything about Augusten Burroughs, you can expect weird and strange. Odd was more like it. Augusten grows up as the stories progress and it's a little dark at times for a Christmas book. Those of us who had read his other books (Running with Scissors and Dry: A Memoir) had a hard time fitting some of the stories around the events of his life that we were familiar with. All in all, it would be more enjoyable if you already like Burroughs and it's not quite what I look for in a Christmas story.

Run with the Horsemen by Ferrol Sams

horsemen This was the story of a young boy growing up on the farm in Georgia in the post-Great Depression 30s and 40s. Porter is the only son in a truly Southern family and all that that implies and expects of him. Father is a drunk, Mother rules the roost while letting Father believe that he does, the sharecroppers are his friends and Porter's a precocious one. It was a really interesting insight into post-Great Depression life in the South which is not a common period to read about - at least for me. It may not have been the most immaculately written book (it kind of took a bit to figure out the flow of things while reading) but it held my interest. I would have liked to hear more about what happened to Porter later in life after the story was finished.

Well, hopefully I'll have better insights for future books.

Monday, February 22, 2010

what i did over my snow-cation

We had a great plan in place to balance doing productive things and fun stuff. We actually made two lists - productive activities so that we wouldn't forget the various things that we hoped to accomplish and the fun stuff just so that we knew what all the possibilities were so that we didn't just sit around on the couch like when it snowed in December.

That lasted about 2 days, 3 days max. After that, it was straight up laziness.

But what did we do:

  • I organized photos. I got through 1992 and most of 1993 is done.
  • Will organized the recipes to a point. He got them all sorted into basic broad categories. Now I just have to decide if that's good enough or if I want to go further. They should probably at least make it back into their binders before the chair they currently occupy eats them.
  • I cooked. A LOT. I tried a few new recipes and at least one old stand by.
  • We finally both played Beatles Rock Band. The singing is really easy because I know all the songs for the most part. Will's pretty good at most of the parts but I'm really bad at bass, pretty bad at drums and I didn't even try guitar.
  • We got almost all the way through 2 levels of Super Mario Galaxy that I got for my birthday. It's basically single player but a second player can help you out which makes it the perfect game for me. I suck at video games.
  • We shoveled a ton - except for Saturday and Wednesday. We probably shoveled about 2 hours a day at the very least.
  • We wrote blog posts.
  • I wrote thank you notes and cards.
  • Will re-alphabetized all our DVDs and resorted most of his CDs.
  • We spent a lot of time on Facebook. I don't know what we would have done without it or if the power or internet had gone out. Some days that was how we found out that we didn't have to work the next day.
  • On Tuesday, we trekked out to the grocery store to restock before it began again.
  • I conducted a Heritage vs "regular" Dr. Pepper taste test for Will. He has no problems telling the difference between the two.

  • After awhile we just watched a lot of movies - we took turns who got to pick (the movies are listed in the order in which I remembered them and the color code should be obvious):
    It was during all the movies that I was able to finish my cross stitch project.

    i finally decided

    In a previous post I was bemoaning my fortune of having to build myself a Timbuk 2 bag - something I've wanted to do for quite some time and am able to do because of the joys of cool sisters-in-law and Christmas presents.

    I think I finally have it.

    What do you think?

    Will actually picked his out a long time ago but here's a shot of it anyway.

    update: I ordered it and received the following confirmation e-mail which I redacted all details and boring parts out of. I'll highlight the funny parts.

    "Thanks for picking us. Your new bag is gonna ROCK!

    Here is your order summary email.

    We suggest that you actually read it and like it because this is what you are getting and the Lucky One's address below is where we are going to send it. If you must be That Person, we can TRY our best to make changes or cancel your order. This is only if we have had enough coffee and our warehouse hasn't. You will need to send your email to Remember, this is only if your order is NOT IN PRODUCTION. Once your order makes it to our production line, we can't change it for you and if it's custom, we can't take it back. Not because we don't love you; but because we already have really, really nice custom made Messenger bags from Timbuk2. It's part of the uniform.


    Marcy Davenport
    Marcy Davenport
    When will my order ship?
    ------ Business means Monday through Friday and excludes most US holidays, just in case you didn't know. Now you do. FYI custom bags do not require any additional processing time.

    How long will it take my order to get to my loving, waiting arms?
    What if I entered my email address in wrong?
    Our deepest sympathies are being sent to you via UPS because you haven't read any of this.

    Much Love,
    Timbuk2 Designs

    These people are funny!

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    snow specific peeves

    I love winter. I love snow. But the combination of people and snow annoys me. People just do reeeeally dumb, inconsiderate and even dangerous things in the snow. Like driving in a blizzard. But here's a few things that specifically drive me nuts....
    • People who don't completely clear the snow off their cars. That's just dangerous, people. If it's just the roof snow, there's a good chance that it will just fly off car onto the windshield of other cars. But I've even witnessed people who didn't clear the snow off the hoods of their cars. That's dangerous for the driver - that snow can fly up in the windshield and there's a good chance that these same people haven't dug out their windshield wipers - so how can they see to drive?!
    • If they're going to plow the roads and shovel the sidewalks, why can't there be a path from one to the other? I get that the roads are cleared by the city/county/state and the sidewalks are the property owner's responsibility but it's hard to navigate when there's no transition from sidewalk to road and back again. I've seen so many nicely cleared sidewalks that just end in a huge pile of snow. WHY??
    • People who walk in the road with traffic. Is it not still the rule that when walking - no matter the conditions - you're supposed to walk against traffic so that you can see the cars coming and they can see you (and know that you've seen them)? This is especially true when people are having to walk in the road because there are no sidewalks. I swear someone is going to get killed.
    • People who decide that traffic rules no longer apply because there's snow. Last I checked it didn't matter if there was snow or not; if an intersection says no U-turns, they mean no U-turns. We definitely saw people pulling that maneuver in the middle of Washington Street in Old Town in the slushy snow on my birthday.
    • and last but certainly not least, if someone has gone to the trouble to dig out a parking spot and mark it with something - do not steal it! Seriously, digging cars and parking spots out from 3 feet of snow was a pain in the butt so we tried to move our cars as little as possible and left a cooler in our spot when we did move (a lot of people are using chairs but we were afraid of it blowing away in the wind). We were nice and didn't even try to save our spot when we went out of town for 3 days. But when we finally moved my car for the first time in nearly a week, we came home at 11:30pm only to find that someone had nicely put our cooler off to the side and took my spot! It can be hard enough to find a parking spot around us at 11:30 at night regardless of weather conditions but this was probably the most annoying thing I've experienced in a LONG time.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    son of snowmageddon

    With barely a chance to dig out after nearly 2 feet of snow on Saturday, it began again Tuesday night (the 9th). What had originally begun as a 3-6" forecast continually rose until we were expected to get 10-15".

    And come Wednesday morning, we did. With blizzard conditions included. Real blizzard conditions this time. Every news channel and all area authorities were essentially begging people to stay inside.

    The drifting was pretty crazy.

    Wednesday was the day that I gave in completely to the lazy and we didn't even shower or get out of our pjs. We watched movies, ate, and watched other people shovel.

    A few shots from the front door.

    maybe this will give some idea of the winds and the white out conditions that we had

    snowmageddon: cooking & foraging

    I had been in NJ before the initial storm hit and I remembered what the produce department looked like after the 18" we got back in December - empty. So I planned a few meals and went to the store on Wednesday before anyone could get crazy buying milk, eggs, bread and TP. From what I gather - it was probably the best decision I've made in a while.

    Soup is fantastic cold weather food in my opinion so I made 2. The first is a recipe that Mom got from someone and is one of the few recipes that I know by heart.

    Taco Soup
    1 can each black, red, and white beans and corn (15oz cans)
    1 can Rotel
    1 large can diced tomatoes (28oz can)
    1lb ground meat - I usually use beef but you can probably use whatever you like
    1 package Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix - not the dip mix
    all or as much of a package of taco seasoning mix - I only use about a spoonful. It just depends on how much heat you want
    oh - and 1 medium onion chopped - I always leave it out because I'm not fond of onions.

    This can all be made in a large pot. Cook onions. Brown meat. Drain off the excess fat and water. Open all the cans and pour in their contents in their entirety - do not drain. Mix in the ranch dressing mix and the taco seasoning. Heat through and serve with tortilla chips and shredded cheese. I've thought that sour cream and avocado would probably go well with it if you like them.

    The second one I made came from a Real Simple recipe that Will picked out: Cheddar and Beer Soup. Except for the dicing (my knife skills could definitely stand to be improved), it was really easy and super tasty. The only thing I did was to be sure that I bought good cheddar cheese - Cabot's Seriously Sharp to be exact.

    My only thing with the recipe was that it makes no mention of needing to blend or process it but to get it as smooth and creamy as it looks in the picture in the magazine, it had to have been.

    By Tuesday, we needed some more supplies after eating 3 meals a day at home. Snow makes you want to eat, by the way. So we grabbed our bags and trekked out to the grocery store.

    Will waiting patiently in line; all the other folks waiting too

    headed home with our provisions

    I really should have taken pictures of the pitifully empty milk and OJ cases. I was short actual lemons and heavy cream but I made do.

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    500 visits!

    I wandered in this afternoon and happened to notice that we had exactly 500 visits.

    Wow. I can't believe that our little blog has gotten 500 visits in about 8 months. I know that it's somewhat inflated because my mom and Eileen check in about 3 times a day (I'm only exaggerating a tad). But I still feel somewhat accomplished.

    Now you may remember from this post that I'm kind of obsessed with the sitemeter stats which tell me lots of things but the ones I'm most interested in are the referral site (how did the viewer get to our blog) and location (where the viewer is from - not terribly accurate but close enough).

    So here's a few new points of interest:
    • Who out there is reading from Mississauga, Ontario? Will's love of Canada is really curious about this one.
    • Why are there all of a sudden a few people who are googling "" to find us? Confusion over the google search box vs. the address bar, perhaps?
    • We've gained links on a few other friends' blogs: Maura T and em!ly Thanks ladies!
    • From which Mountain View, CA comes somewhat frequent hits? It would appear that there are 2 Mountain Views in California.
    • Why do folks that find us in Europe come up as just that, "Europe"? I want something more specific.

    If you want to satisfy my curiosity on any of these points, feel free to leave us a comment!

    And not to worry, there are still a few more posts about the snow in process but I had to mark this ocassion.

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    it's a snowmageddon miracle!

    Backstory: when I was about 10, my cousin Eileen made me a gorgeous counted cross stitch Christmas stocking and a tradition was born. She continued the tradition and made stockings for Erin, Kevin and Greg. I got "stuck" with the task for my other nieces and nephews. I did fairly well for Eric - he was about 1 when I finished his.

    Next up was Leia (born in 1998). I'm not actually sure when I started on hers. It was right around when she was born, I know that much.

    Well.... 11+ years later - I'm finally finished.

    Reasons why it's taken me so long to finish:
    • it's on navy blue cloth which makes it hard to see the holes.
    • as you might be able to see, it's a very intricate pattern.
    • it's a smaller count (number of stitches per inch) than the "standard" 14 count which makes the pattern both more dense and more difficult.
    • I got 3 degrees, a job, and married in those 11+ years ;-) which contributed to the fact that I would get tired of it and put it away for months at a time - the most recent break being 13+ months.
    Now it's up to Mom to make it into a real Christmas stocking.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    It was bound to happen...

    We've been getting updates on the recent snowstorms from Snowpocalypse (a group on Facebook that somebody started during the 19 December snowstorm of the same name). The guy running that group gets a lot of his information from the Capital Weather Gang. One item that particularly caught my eye included this graph:

    Update: the 9-10 February blizzard helped to break the 1898-99 record of 54.4 inches

    I thought it seemed pretty telling. Pretty clear, in fact, that every 7 years the DC Metro area gets slammed with a lot of snow. So, maybe we'll all be better prepared for the great whiteout of '16-'17... It might look something like this:

    why we can't go to work

    The main reason is Metro.

    We both work off the Navy Yard metro station so we're Metro dependent to get to work. When DC gets more than 8" of snow, Metro goes underground as in they don't service above ground stations.

    This is what the service map looks like in that situation:

    See how so much of the map has been greyed out?

    Here's one that shows where we start and end our commute:

    See how most of the yellow line is greyed out and doesn't connect to anything that isn't?
    Yeah, that means we can't get to work.

    And I haven't even mentioned that they haven't been running our buses to get to Metro in the first place. In the brief moments that the Fairfax County Connector buses have been running, they have only been running on limited Saturday or Sunday snow schedule. This means that they are hardly running and they don't come into the neighborhood - we'd have to walk out to the main road to catch the bus.

    As for why they keep closing the Federal Government, we think it's somewhat dependent on Metro's status because so many federal workers use Metro to get to work. It becomes a safety concern because if people can't Metro that puts more people out on the roads which isn't a good idea.

    We will begin Day 4 tomorrow.

    Snowmageddon: Digging out

    On Sunday, the sky cleared up and the sun was shining. Perfect day to dig the cars out from the recent snowfall.

    The cars before clearing

    A cross-section of what we were up against

    I started digging out an igloo on top of my car until I found a problem with the igloo's roof.

    Marcy took a different approach.

    I think it took us the better part of an hour (I forgot to check when we started); the wall of ice and snow was a problem for another day.

    This one's not car-related but it's a good shot of all the snow on the path to our door.

    Snowmageddon: Into the Storm

    It was Saturday and as the snow wouldn't stop until later that evening, we didn't see any point in clearing the cars. Marcy had some things to mail, though, and we were getting tired of the view from our windows so we ventured out to see something new.

    a snowy view from one of our windows

    Plows, cars, and pedestrians -- which actually belongs in this scene?

    Marcy celebrates a direct snowball hit to the photographer

    Even in my imagination, I missed this shot

    This frozen little guy fell to a branch outside our window


    I'm going to "steal" a few things from our favorite new facebook group - Snowpocalypse.

    "The Snow Man" by Wallace Stevens

    One must have a mind of winter
    To regard the frost and the boughs
    Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

    And have been cold a long time
    To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
    The spruces rough in the distant glitter

    Of the January sun; and not to think
    Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
    In the sound of a few leaves,

    Which is the sound of the land
    Full of the same wind
    That is blowing in the same bare place

    For the listener, who listens in the snow,
    And, nothing himself, beholds
    Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

    Washington, DC Snow Storm from Es Video! on Vimeo.

    Snowpocalypse 2010 - Time Lapse - Extended Version from Peter Harsha on Vimeo.

    Snowmageddon: Time Lapse

    The snow started Friday and continued into Saturday. Marcy had made a grocery run on Wednesday so we were prepared to hunker down for awhile. (We just didn't know how long we'd need to remain in place...) Here's the view out our front door at various times. I should mention that we didn't get a picture before the snow started--the sidewalk on our side of the courtyard had no snow at the beginning of this storm.

    Friday @5:21pm; Friday @9:04pm

    Saturday @7:35am ; Saturday @9:37am

    Saturday @3:24pm; Sunday @9:56am

    An alternate view, looking to the left from our front door towards the street:

    Friday @5:22pm; Saturday @7:36am

    Saturday @ 3:25pm; Sunday @9:57am