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I'm never going to write up a full travelogue -- I spend enough time working on the pictures for Flickr -- but here are some random thoughts about my trip.

  1. Denmark is expensive. We thought we were prepared for it -- we've been to Europe before, and based on the hotel rates we thought we had a feel for how expensive it would be. We were wrong. The food was insanely expensive, as was getting around by bus or train. (In Copenhagen we walked everywhere, but in Esbjerg we had to takes buses and trains to Ribe and Legoland.)

  2. Denmark is cold. Esbjerg is especially cold and damp, and the nicest it gets there is approximately the worst it gets in Santa Barbara.

  3. Danish food, with the fish and the mayo and the herring and the pork, is so not our thing. I did have some tasty fishcakes at one point, but we ended up eating lots of shwarma and falafel. You know you're in trouble when you're looking forward to London for the better prices, weather, and food.

  4. Legoland was awesome, though.

  5. We went to the British Museum, and wandered into their Africa galleries. We were sorely disappointed by the curation of it, though -- organized by type of object (masks, ceramics, textiles), with little to no discussion of culture or history. Boo.

  6. I sampled the eeee!'s beer in Denmark, and didn't particularly like any of it -- lagers are just not my thing. But I love English ales, and at a random pub he had a pint of Sharp's Doombar, which was the best beer I have ever tasted. Maybe it's just because I haven't really had any beer for the past five months, but it was amazing.

All in all, it was a great trip, and seeing my brother was wonderful. But I do not see myself going back to Scandinavia any time soon.

Trip time!

May. 29th, 2009 09:56 am
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We leave a week from tomorrow on our big trip to Europe. Hooray! I am so excited. We are going to London, Copenhagen, and Esbjerg (to visit my brother). Right now all we need to do is:

  • Pare down our list of what we want to do in London. There's Westminister Abbey and the Globe Theater and the British Museum and the Tate, and we don't want to get museum'd out. (The eeee! and I have each been to London before, but never together.)

  • Figure out what we're doing in Copenhagen. Other than swinging through Tivoli, we have no earthly idea what we're going to do there. Any suggestions? I'm looking forward to just wandering around and checking out the architecture, but beyond that, we're stumped.

  • I have to figure out which lenses to bring with me (dork!).

We're staying with the eeee!'s cousin in London, which will be great. And while we're in Denmark we're going to Legoland! Yay! We're all very dorkily excited about Legoland.

That's about it here. We have my in-laws' dog here this weekend, and then the eeee! has a work trip, and then we're off! So the next week is just going to fly by.
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Things here have been pretty good! I will enumerate, because transitional sentences are too complicated for me today.

  1. Friends threw me a small graduation party/baby shower this weekend at the beach! It's been overcast, but the sun did come out for a few hours, and it was lovely. Lots of tasty food -- the eeee! wowed everyone with his spicy grilled corn -- and lots of fun. One person got us this navy blue hoodie that has a SHARK embroidered across the front of it, which is totally awesome.

  2. The eeee! and I are incompetent when it comes to grilled chicken -- we burn it, or undercook it, or both. Blah! But we tried the Italian Grilled Chicken in a recent article of Cook's Illustrated, and it was amazing. We might blog about it at some point, but highlights include butterflying the chicken, pressing it on the grill with a hot cast-iron pot (or bricks), and eight cloves of garlic. It came out perfectly, and as we were eating it, we were exclaiming, "We could actually make this for a guest!"

  3. I will actually need to buy maternity clothes soon, because while my low-rise jeans still fit (especially the sexiest ones, which is kind of hilarious), my skirts are getting tighter and tighter. This means I have to buy stuff before I leave for Europe, ack. But! I have a gift card for the Gap (graduation present from my brother), and a 25% off coupon. So I am about to go crazy online.

  4. When I go to Italy in July, I get into the Venice airport at 9 a.m., but my shuttle to the middle of nowhere isn't until 6 p.m. or so. I started doing some research on the Venice airport (awesomely named Marco Polo), and I think I might actually be able to get into Venice for the day. Yay! If any of you have been to Venice, I would deeply appreciate any and all advice about transport to and from the airport, and about Venice itself.

  5. We finally watched the pilot of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency last night, and loved it. We have the whole season recorded, and so far I cannot recommend it enough. It's shot in Botswana, and is so beautiful and funny and interesting. Now I need to read the books -- which will require going to the library, which will require paying my library fine, egad.

Okay, I guess that wasn't all strictly about my weekend. Anyway. Happy Monday! The sun is shining, our new chairs are coming today, and life is good.
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The Jesusita Fire is still burning, but the winds last night were calmer than expected. If the winds pick up again tonight, our friends' house will likely be in the path of the fire, which is nerve-wracking. But a lot of progress on the fire has been made -- it's certainly less smoky here than it was yesterday -- so we're crossing our fingers and toes.

So, a few other tentatively good things going on:
  1. We leave a month from today for our trip to Denmark! When we were planning the trip, I had been a bit nervous about how I'd be feeling, since I'll be about 5 months along then. People had told me that the second trimester is a breeze, but that's different than experiencing it myself. Anyway, given how I feel now, I am looking forward to the trip with no hesitation! My energy levels are back to normal, and I don't think I will have trouble maneuvering with my belly, or anything. (My belly is definitely at the point where I'm always conscious of it, and it slightly affects how I sit. But it's not at the point where people will immediately guess that I'm pregnant.)

  2. And oh, my conference in Italy begins two months from today! I am curious as to how I will feel when I am six months pregnant. Whatever. This should be good motivation for actually doing some damn prenatal yoga.

  3. I'm not sure I fully understand the focus of the Trifter website, but an article on Mt. Popa used two of my pictures, with mostly proper attribution. (I have to check Creative Commons to see if my name should be listed there, but I'm generally not bothered as long as there's a link.) Anyway, nifty!

  4. Things might improve for the Penguins now that they're playing at home? Oof.

  5. If you like sports, TV, and smart women talking about those things -- as I know many of you do -- you should listen to Play Ball, my SIL's podcast!

Right, back to work. (What? You mean it didn't end with the defense?)
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The lovely [profile] pescana asked me some questions, so here we go!

  1. So how are you finding life in Santa Barbara?

    I like it. I don't love it, but I've barely been here two months, and for me, that's not nearly long enough to meet people and get involved with things locally. A lot of the day-to-day things are really nice -- the weather, the food at the farmer's market -- so I'm trying to take advantage of all of that. I am not particularly outdoorsy or athletic, but I want to step that up, now that I live somewhere I can enjoy the outdoors year-round. It's a small town, though -- smaller than Ann Arbor, and I had previously marked AA as the minimum size town I needed to live in.

    I don't think I could stay here long-term. It's not really an option, since we can't afford to stay here long-term, but I don't know if I'd want to even if I could. But who knows -- ask me again in six months!

  2. How do you think being a science geek influences your view of the world? (I'm specifically thinking things like feminism and the working world, but feel free to go where ever you want with this.)

    This is an awesome question, so I am copping out and giving it its own entry. I've been thinking a lot about this, particularly about how physical scientists and social scientists aren't generally capable of talking to each other.

  3. What are you reading these days? Any trends, or no?

    I seem to be on a food memoir kick. I just finished Heat, by Bill Buford, and I'm reading Julie and Julia right now. From the library I just got Ha'penny, by Jo Walton, and Children of Men, by P.D. James, and I'm really looking forward to both of them. So I suppose I'm veering into dystopia sci-fi alternate fiction genres.

  4. If you could go anywhere in the world for vacation with no issue of expense, where would you go? What would you do there?

    Oh, I want to go everywhere -- Southeast Asia (again), Spain, Turkey, Tanzania, New Zealand . . . okay, I'll limit myself to two itineraries:

    • Southeast Asia: I'd go to Bangkok and Phuket (and maybe Chiang Mai) in Thailand, then to Vietnam to visit [profile] zoje_george in HCMC, and then to the Mekong Delta. I'd see everything -- beaches, floating markets, modern SE Asian cities, the back country, you name it. And the food! Oh my god, the food. But, I've been to SE Asia, which is why I would also consider:

    • Spain: Traveling all around and hitting Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, Granada (and the Alhambra), plus some of the islands. This gets me islands and beaches and a variety of awesome, old cities. I love old cities. And the food! And the wine!

  5. What's your favorite leisure activity?

    It's a tie between photography and reading. There is something seriously wrong with me -- I go for a walk, and the next thing I know I've spent half an hour taking pictures of a fence. (And then I don't get any of them quite right.) Going to the beach with the dog is gaining, though!

Happy Friday, everyone! And if you want questions, just ask for some.
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The quick numbers of the trip so far:

  • Days driving: 2
  • Hours in car: 21.5
  • Hours of horrid, torrential rain: 6
  • Number of times we said, "At least it's not winter and snow: Many.
  • Chain restaurants eaten at: 2
  • Number of drivers in Iowa who signaled when changing langes: 0
  • Number of signs/bumper stickers/etc we've seen for the 2008 election: 1, which I wouldn't comment on except for the fact that we drove the entire way across Iowa.

We're in Frisco, CO, which is a little town in the mountains that exists as cheap lodging, being equidistant between Vail and Breckenridge. But it's cute, and there's lots of lovely places to take Doc for a walk. And we keep threatening to move to Colorado.


Aug. 18th, 2007 09:37 pm
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With spectacular timing, I am sick tonight. We leave at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning for our drive across the country.

I'm really hoping it's just a nasty combination of stress, allergies, lack of sleep last night, and too much to drink last night.

I am looking forward to the drive, though. I've always wanted to road-trip across the country, and now I get to do it with the eeee!. (I hope to put pictures on Flickr during the trip, but we'll see what sort of free wifi Motel 6 has across the country.) And I am SO READY to drive in flat states! I drove today on a quick errand run, which included a fast-food drive through (hey, we were hungover), and I didn't stall out at all!

I'm not looking forward to finding a dog-friendly place to live in Santa Barbara, but I am not thinking about it now!
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Here is the statistical summary of our weekend in New York:

  • 3.5: Number of hours in our layover in Dulles. Our Detroit-LaGuardia flight was cancelled, and at least we got a rebooking for the same day, I guess.
  • 2: "I'm Not a Plastic Bag" sightings.
  • Countless: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sightings.
  • 6: Number of hours of torrential downpour on Sunday, causing us to cancel our planned outing to the Cloisters.
  • 24: Number of hours it took my shoes to dry.
  • 3/3: Fraction of dishes at the Chinese place we went to in the Village that were awesome.
  • 9-12: Our places in the VIP line for the Daily Show. We were in the front row!
  • 1.5/5: Fraction of mezzes at the Turkish place that I liked. This was disappointing -- I love Greek food and Middle Eastern food, so I should like Turkish food, right? Wrong.

We had a great weekend, despite the travel annoyances and the weather. I finally made it to MoMA, which was awesome -- the Serra sculptures were great. Unfortunately, much of the photography section was closed, due to installation of a new exhibit, but we got to see the Barry Frydlender and JoAnn Verburg exhibits. Oh, I love photography and sculpture and modern art -- I need to make more of an effort to see modern art exhibitions.
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Travel Meme stolen from wonderlanded and others... )

In other news, I am at the stage where I am writing a paper. Hooray! Although, um, that means lots of opportunities for procrastination as I try to craft the perfect damn sentence . . .
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Things here are going quite well, despite all the residual stress:

  1. There is a most excellent thunderstorm outside right now! And it's not high winds or anything -- just lots of great thunder and lightning -- so I don't feel too guilty about enjoying it.

  2. I had an excellent weekend in Florida, visiting a good friend and her husband and their three-month-old daughter. My honorary niece is very cute! Also, I saw alligators.

  3. There have been two official viewings of the house! Not even counting the open house!

  4. Work is going fairly well -- I should have more data soon, and I'm also outlining a paper that will be Chapter Three of my thesis.

  5. I'm reading The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy, and I'm really enjoying it. I was warned that it was depressing, but after reading Sweetness in the Belly, by Camilla Gibb (which is also excellent), I have a pretty high tolerance for depressing books.

  6. My brother loved his birthday present! (I got him the three Pirates! In an Adventure with ________ books, plus the Communist Party t-shirt.

  7. I ordered the haiku t-shirt for myself, because it makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.

So things are pretty good! And I'm going to Santa Barbara this weekend, and I'm annoyed that the weather won't be any better than it will be in Ann Arbor.


Jun. 25th, 2006 10:41 pm
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I've been back from Europe for a week now, and in that time I've done a crapload of work and gone to a wedding in my hometown. Egad. Now I'm just trucking through to my committee meeting on Friday, and then I leave for the family reunion/golf outing. And then, THEN, the eeee! and I have a luxurious four consecutive weekends at home.

I finally got a Flickr account, and I've uploaded my pictures from Italy and France. But there are three things worth mentioning that aren't in the pictures:

1. The location of our flat in Rome was perfect. It was a side street in Trastevere, so we were close to everything, but a bit off the main tourist drags. So the restaurants right by our flat were cheap and fantastic, as were the cafe and gelateria outside our doorstep. It rocked. And oh my, the cappuccino at the cafe was the best I've ever had, and it was only eighty centimes! I love Rome so much.

2. When driving from Florence to Nice, we (me, the eeee!, and his sister) didn't want to eat at just an AutoGrille, so we vaguely picked a small town on the map that looked close to a highway exit. Near the exit for Sarzana, there was a sign about the "centro historico", so we figured that was promising. Sure enough, we ended up in this smallish town and found a restaurant that was open for lunch. No one spoke any English -- we were definitely the only Americans around -- but we managed to order some pasta off of the menu. And of course, we then found some good gelato. It was a lovely, quiet break in our day -- we really lucked out with the exit we picked.

3. While in France, we went to the Matisse Chapel in Vence, and we ended up in there with about 75 Dominican nuns. It turns out that since the St. Dominic's pilgrimage goes through that area, a Dominican nun (who used to model for and nurse Matisse) convinced Matisse to design a chapel for the Dominicans. So these Dominicans nuns were following the pilgrimage, and this was a stop on it. That was really neat, but it also meant that we got to hear about the art from some sort of official guide. And the translator was awesome -- she had a booming voice and a very strong presence.

And now, to bed! Zonk.
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Whoa, things here are crazy! No time for transitional paragraphs!

  1. I read You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again, by Suzanne Hansen. Eh. The first half of the book annoyed me, because either she was a naive twit, which is annoying, or she was playing up how much of a naive twit she was, which infuriates me. But it was a quick, trashy read.

  2. Work is driving me crazy. But I think I'm on target to meet the goals I've set for my committee meeting (June 30).

  3. I started reading Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer. Even the first chapter was quite harrowing, and I'm completely hooked. I'm not sure I want to bring it on vacation, though, because it's kind of scary, and because it's a large hardback from the library.

  4. However, the other two books I'm thinking of bringing are Wives and Daughters, which I'm looking forward to diving into again, and Howard's End, by E.M. Forster. Then I worry that the two of them are too similar, but I don't have much fiction in the house that I haven't read yet, and I don't have time for another trip to the library and/or used bookstore before we leave tomorrow. So I don't know, maybe I'll reread Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis, because the first time I read it I raced through it.

  5. It is going to be Animal Planet here while we're gone. A friend who's staying here to watch Doc is also bringing her cat, and she brought the cat over last night so we could see how he got along with Doc. The two mostly ignored each other, although Doc was pouting when the eeee! was petting the cat, and the cat was pouting when my friend was petting Doc. Ha! The cat was wandering the house, just exploring, and as soon as he rejoined us Doc was all, "Oh! Look at me! Aren't I cute? Hello!" and jumped up on the eeee! and started licking him. Heeeeee.

  6. I am really excited about this trip! I'm going to Rome! And the south of France! Aieeee! It has been taking all my effort to actually get work done today. And tomorrow I have a 9 a.m. meeting. Wheee.

  7. I can't believe I'm about to leave for a week in Europe, and all I can talk about is the books I'm reading. But I guess I'll talk about my trip when I get home.

  8. Okay, I was going to go to bed like half an hour ago, but this time I really am going to bed!

  9. (After I have some frozen yogurt.)
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I just finished A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle, and it was delightful. And oh, it's the sort of book that must be read with a good cup of coffee or glass of wine in hand. Or maybe some good cheese. But the descriptions of the food were mouth-watering, and now I want to drop this whole astronomy business and buy a vineyard somewhere. That's probably a bit impractical, but another side effect of this book is that now I'm really excited about my upcoming trip to Europe. (I leave on Friday!)

I haven't had much time to read lately, and I wasn't sure what to bring with me on the plane this weekend. However, I have just now learned that You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again is in at the library, so now I have something fluffy to read on the plane. I'll probably also bring Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell, which I am late reading (as usual) for Chicklit. I'm really enjoying it, but I haven't had time to really sink into it lately.
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So the eeee!'s in Greece for a conference, and since he's been gone I might have watched nearly a dozen episodes of Gilmore Girls. And maybe I danced around the house to Motown music, and tried to chop garlic to the beat of "Devil with a Blue Dress". The intro to "Devil with a Blue Dress". I'm really not talented enough to do that. And maybe that's why I'm surrounded by five thousand books that I'm not reading, and I need to decide what to bring with me to Greece.

  • Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov, Possession, by A. S. Byatt, and Ship Fever, by Andrea Barrett. The first two were on my to-read list, and as the bookstore didn't have Servants of the Map I picked up Ship Fever. It turns out I've already read Ship Fever, duh, and while I like it, and don't regret buying it, it's not a contender for the trip. So I'm considering the other two, but I admit I'm a bit intimidated by the Bulgakov. This is entirely because Crime and Punishment scared me away from Russian novels.

  • Diary of a Provincial Lady, by E. M. Delafield. Oh my, this is brilliant, and written in the same sort of clipped first-person perspective that Helen Fielding later used for Bridget Jones's Diary. I started it today, and fell absolutely in love at:
    Arrival of Book of the Month choice, and am disappointed. History of a place I am not interested in, by an author I do not like. Put it back into its wrapper again and make fresh choice from Recommended List. Find, on reading small literary bulletin enclosed with book, that exactly this course of procedure has been anticipated, and that it is described as being "the mistake of a lifetime." Am much annoyed, although not so much as having made (possibly) mistake of a lifetime, as at depressing thought of our all being so much alike that intelligent writers can apparently predict our behaviour with perfect accuracy.
    It's very tempting to bring this with me, but I'm afraid that it's so short I'd finish it before takeoff.

  • Edith Hamilton's Mythology. This is coming with me, because it's small and easily fits in a bag, and what better place to read about Theseus and the Minotaur than Crete?

  • No Place for a Lady: Tales of Adventurous Women Travelers, by Barbara Hodgson. It's . . . fine. It's interesting, but it's going for a broad overview of women travelers, rather than focusing on the adventures of a few. And that's fine; I was just hoping for the latter. It also seems too short to bring for a trip.

  • The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece. Not only am I a dork, but my brother's a classics major, and he recommended this. This has a nice broad view of Greek history, and I hope to flip through it before I leave town. On Thursday. Morning. Because I have to fly through freaking D.C. on the way to Greece, because heaven forfend the eeee! and I ever buy plane tickets or make hotel reservations in a timely fashion.

  • Sense and Sensibility. I like this book so far, very much, but just haven't had time to really sit down and read it. So maybe it's a good choice for the plane ride. Plus, small paperback! (The eeee!'s luggage didn't make the plane at JFK, despite a FOUR-HOUR LAYOVER, and with three stops between here and Santorini, I'm a little nervous about mine. I might carry it all on, which I hate doing, but I'm afraid that we'll be in Crete before my luggage gets to Santorini.)

I don't know why thinking about this is always so difficult. I mean, I should be doing laundry right now, or working -- not considering which books to take on vacation.
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On my Hawaii trip (pictures soon, I promise), when I wasn't swimming or talking about cosmology, I had a chance to get some reading done. I flew through The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood (thanks, [profile] aakepley!), and knocked off a significant chunk of Sense and Sensibility. Screw Emma: I much prefer the Dashwoods. And I'd never read any Atwood before, but I loved The Blind Assassin, and I feel like I've been digesting it since I finished it. Stories within stories and roundabout narratives are both techniques that I love, but I also think something finally clicked for me when I was reading it, and I've been looking for that feeling for a while now.

Also during my stay in Hawaii I went to see the lava flowing from Kilauea. We were staying near Kona on the big island, so this required a 3.5-hour drive each way (over the saddle road!), plus some significant hiking (climbing over rocks in the dark) to get to the surface flows. We started hiking at 11 p.m., and as there are no direct trails to the surface flows, we were on our own with our flashlights. First we followed the coastline for a few miles to where the lava was flowing into the ocean -- there was plenty of orange steam, and from the right angles you could see the lava flowing out of the lava tubes into the ocean. Eventually we cut inland, hoping to get close to the hotspots we could see in the distance. There were some very large ones that never seemed to get any closer, but we finally noticed a hotspot flaring behind us.

I think I was too awestruck to take pictures, but a friend did -- he and another friend also got close enough to this hotspot to poke sticks in the flowing lava ("Lava on a stick! Lava on a stick!"). I was content enough to stay a whopping 75 feet away and watch the ongoing creation of earth, and feel the warm rocks beneath me. By now the moon had risen behind us in the east, so while the lava still stood out (which it doesn't really do in daytime), we could see each other and the ocean behind us. It was one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen -- nothing to see but rock, but it was beautiful.

I think that may have been the coolest thing I've ever done in my life. And I'm finally starting to think that I really can do anything I set out to, whether it's hiking to see an active volcano or reading modern fiction.

March 2013



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