Sunday, December 11, 2011

Foosball: Sport of Kings

A typical night at the Cove:

8:45 We arrive and are not carded because the barman recognizes us.
8:46 We order a pitcher of Green Line.
8:47 Competitive banana-grams.
9:30  Foosball. Discussion re: foosball as sport of kings. Attempt to determine factors correlated with foosball success by playing every permutation of team/side of table/postition. Conclusion: Colin helps you win, however, increasing drunkenness of participants through time is a variable we have not corrected for.
10:00 Darts. Sucking in proportion to the number of years that we have spent throwing darts in the Cove, ie, third years suck the least.

Tim: "Oh, I just figured out how to throw these." (throws two bullseyes)
Everyone else: "Great, another game it's not fun to play with Tim."

11:00 More foosball, distracted by frat boys singing along in unison to the jukebox.
11:30 Jon offers various people five dollars to tackle the creepy animatronic Santa because "I don't want to touch it."
12:00 We order pizza to be delivered to the bar.
12:30 Jon orders a pitcher of Miller and tastes it.

Jon: "This is terrible."
Everyone else: "Yep."
Jon: "I didn't think it would be this terrible."
Everyone else: "Yep."
Jon: "Tim, drink this."

12:40 Discussion of Cove as appropriate location for a date.
12:45 More foosball until we run out of quarters.
1:15 Walk one block home.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Ugh, can't believe how long it's been. Being a person is a full time job, even before you factor in an actual job. My house is dirty, I haven't finished writing my Christmas cards, I haven't updated my blog...what have I even been doing with myself??? Actually, I know the answer: stalking the flies that have invaded my apartment. It's practically Biblical in there. Very gross. Oh, and I did do all my Christmas that's something.

In the spirit of the season, here is a picture of my mantlepiece decorated for Christmas:

And here is a picture of the festive lions outside the Art Institute. Chicago does a great job of decorating its public spaces for Christmas, I wish I had more pictures of the trees on Michigan and State, etc.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Happy 25th to Andrea, old friend and faithful reader! I freaked out about turning 25 too, but after a little bit of that I decided to age gracefully, as I know you will. Also, unrelated to your birthday, but still important, someday, we're going to co-host a very classy party. I've been thinking about Masquarade themes, but we shall require a ballroom...


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fall Cocktail Party

the food:

pear compote with toasted baguette and cheese (aged pecorino, gouda, extra sharp chedder).

lamb meatballs with cilantro raita.

coffee walnut creams and almond crescents.

roasted spiced pecans. this picture also shows the decorations. the small bowl is filled with fall leaves that kept blowing in the window as i was getting things ready.

the drinks:

ginger beer, rum, and lime juice punch, served in sugared glasses.

the blackhawk: vodka, creme de mure, and lime juice, shaken over ice.

and served in sugared glasses.
the dress:

some guests:



talia and madlen.


the carnage:


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Feats of Engineering

This morning I went downtown to go to the Apple store to get an iphone (!), but when I got to the Michigan Avenue bridge it was closed so a boat could go through. I have never seen them lift it before (although I saw it partially lifted for Transformers) so I stuck around to watch and it was totally cool! They lift it to a very steep angle, and it's very fast and very quiet because it's so perfectly balanced.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Favorite Hockey Comic

Instead of organizing my office I'm going to share this with you: my favorite comic about hockey. I mean, the whole comic isn't about hockey. Just this particular strip. Although come to think of it I can't believe Kate Beaton has never done a hockey comic. Anyway, from pictures for sad children:

If you click on it it will become big so you can read it. 

It's November so you know what that means in the NHL: really terrible mustaches. Or really great mustaches, I guess, depending on your opinions about mustaches. Here is a poll featuring the "greatest active mustaches in the NHL" including the coach of the Chicago Blackhawks (active in the sense of belonging to a player or coach currently in the NHL because, among other reasons, "The research required to analyze the staggering amount of ‘staches from the ’80s would have dragged this thing beyond November."). And here is an article about the mustache rivalry in the Hawks' locker room.

Also, there's this: a new McSweeney's column that might be my favorite irresponsible use of statistics ever. However I described it, I would not do it justice, so just read it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Party Pictures

This morning I downloaded the photos from my camera (which was out of my possession for a considerable time last evening). They included the following:

many pictures of Colin looking extremely excited about wearing rabbit ears
pictures accidentally taken without the flash that are completely dark
pictures where the person taking it held the camera wrong so half of a person's face is cut off
pictures with a giant cephalopod tentacle in the middle of the frame, covering up the intended subjects
pictures of Jesus with an AK-47
an inexplicible sequence involving baby dolls?
several pictures of a Darth Vader figurine
pictures of the March Hare kissing the Tooth Fairy, and vice versa (both portrayed by straight men)
an extensive series taken of the decorations at 2 am, because apparently the photographer felt they should be immortalized?

Here is the best full length picture of the mermaid costume:

This is not a great pic, but you can see my gills:

Here is a great pic of four Darwinians and one Darwinian Auxilary:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Post!

So it's been well over a month and I intended to write an extensive post of my doings over that time. I was going to tell you about my proposal, and the associated stress (I lost ten pounds and felt like my throat was going to close up and strangle me), I was going to tell you about the beginning of the hockey season (only one regulation loss so far (!), Kane's Savardian spin-o-rama, hissy fits in Vancouver), our trip to the opera, Indian summer in Chicago, and the impending Winter of Doom. But I am tired, so instead, I'm going to share with you a story that I find hysterical. I don't know if you will - maybe I find it so funny because I know my family and can picture this perfectly. This story involves the first time my mother met my dad's family, and my aunt Nancy tells it something like this:

"It was one of the first times your dad took your mom out, but he forgot his wallet at home, so after he picked her up they had to come back and get it. It was a nice day out, and we were all outside. Jeff [her boyfriend, now husband] and I had been babyistting that day, and we had been given ten dollars, so we went to the store and bought a kiddie pool and filled it up and were sitting in it in the backyard. Your grandma was sunbathing on the deck. We wanted to bring the cat outside, because it was so nice, but we didn't want him to run away, so we had tied him to the deck. So there we all were when your dad brought your mom to the house: two grown adults in a kiddie pool, an old lady in a tube top, and a cat on a string. It's astonishing that she still married him."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Someday I'll update again, I promise. When my proposal is over and I have my life back.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

One Of Those Days I'm Glad Just To Be A Regular Person

So as all sentient beings on the planet are doubtless aware, today is the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. I will not be doing anything in particular to commemorate them. In fact I am deliberately staying away from the thousand and one specials and movies and whatever because I still find those images disturbing and I don't feel a need to relive that day. It is just too sad and too scary. Since I am a regular person, I have a perfect right to do this and I likely won't bother anyone. However, if I were the president (or a governer, or a mayor, or a senator, or anyone in public life really) and a reporter asked me "Sir, what are you planning for the September 11th anniversary" and I said "Well, I was thinking about watching the NCIS marathon and maybe having a sandwich", this would be considered highly disrespectful. If I then elaborated "You see, it's early episodes when Kate was still on the show and also I was going to make some fresh bread and use some of this delicious horseradish sauce I found in my refrigerator" I imagine the response would be to stare at me in stunned disbelief. Moral of the story: being president is a thankless job, and I'm really glad someone else has to do it. Now, I am off to buy some roast beef to put my horseradish sauce on.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Buckingham Fountain

This is Buckingham Fountain:

It is located in Grant Park, just south of downtown and a block from the lake:

It shoots up a big jet of water like that every so often. This is what it looks like at night:

It is among my fondest wishes to go swimming in this fountain, despite all the bird poop. However, I only want this to occur under very specific conditions. They are as follows:

1. There must be at least four people, but there could be six or eight. There must be a roughly equivalent number of men and women. The majority of them must also swim in the fountain. Being the only one while everyone else stands at the edge and watches you is not satisfying.

2. We have to be dressed up. Like super dressed up, tuxes for the guys and long evening dresses for the women. These clothes should be the real deal: expensive, and probably ruined by splashing around in duck poop. We can't be dressed up to go swimming in the fountain, we have to have come from some fancy formal event, preferably in a limo, with a driver that will lean stoically against the car while we are in the fountain.

3. We have to be slightly intoxicated, but only slightly, in the giggly-swimming-in-a-fountain-full-of-duck-poop-seems-like-a-good-idea stage, not in the falling-down-drunk stage, because it would not be fun if someone drowned in the fountain, and vomiting is never glamorous. Also, we want to remember it later. It would be ideal if we were drunk on champagne, and had brought bottles with us to the fountain, but only if it's reasonably expensive champagne. It's lame if it's Korbel.

4. It has to be warm out, obviously. In any case the fountain is dry in winter.

5. This is the most important condition: we can't be arrested. It's ok if the cops show up. It is definitely ok to be escorted, in your dripping wet evening wear, from the fountain by two (preferably handsome) policemen. It is not, however, glamorous to then wind up dripping on the police station floor in said ruined evening wear. It's only fun if you get to flirt with the cops, then drive away in your limo. This being Chicago, this can't be an impossible thing to arrange, but on the other hand, the fountain swimming has to be spontaneous (obviously, not undreamt of, but not planned before the intoxicated formal event in question). Clearly, the best solution would be to be the daughter of the mayor in the 1930s or something. Granted, this is the best solution for most of my problems.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Best Thing From The Internet This Week

As brought to my attention by Mandy: My Drunk Kitchen

There are a bunch of episodes of this delightful mini-show. I am a big fan of cooking while drinking, although I usually am more ambitious with the cooking and thus try to get through it before reaching this level of drunkenness. That's not to say I never overshoot.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Heart Palpitations, Apparently Still A Thing In The Twenty-First Century

I've been having heart palpitations and it makes me feel ridiculous. Like i am suddenly a crazy victorian woman: fetch me my smelling salts, colleen, whilst i faint on this overstuffed divan!

p.s. the grocery store is still out of vanilla.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Back From Vacation, A Series of Random And Largely Disconnected Thoughts

There is going to be a movie based (?) on the classic game "Battleship." Yes. That is correct. The trailer is visible here and confirms the judgement that everyone in their right mind made upon reading that first sentence (or whichever sentence that first brought this information to your attention): this is possibly the most retarded movie ever made. EVER.

On Wednesday we went to the jazz night at the aquarium and to see the jellies. They were amazing:

But it was really crowded, so we bought some wine at the bar, put it in our bag, and went out on the grass to watch the fireworks from Navy Pier. To be honest, I'm not sure we even needed to stoop to subterfuge. To be sure, drinking in the park is probably technically illegal, but this is Chicago, so I don't think anyone minds very much. The city looked like this (I only had my phone, so the firework pictures didn't come out well at all. Someday I will bring my real camera and try again):

I am in the process of switching over to gmail because Mediacom is stupid (there is a more detailed reason, but it is not interesting). Anyway, the mediacom address will still work, but I'm going to try and move most of the traffic to gmail. Here's the thing about Google: they are actually helpful. For example, just now, I was having trouble setting up POP. When I went to the help pages about it, not only did I find a useful answer, I found it right away, and worded exactly like I needed it to be worded - "if you want to check mail on multiple devices, IMAP is a better choice." Yes. I guess what I am saying is that Google might take over the world but I am pretty ok with that.

This week I have been struggling to overcome the feeling that I am still on vacation. August is just like that. If only we were the French and just took the whole month off, I think that would be sensible. Since I returned to work on Tuesday, I have accomplished some important things (final resubmission of my paper, data entry of all summer data, decisions regarding Sweden trip), however, if you actually add it up, it amounts to maybe a full day's work - spread out over four days. The elementary school child in me is, I think, secretly disbelieving of this whole "work through the summer" thing. Well, anyway, next week it would become me to buckle down and churn out a new draft of my proposal.

As I mentioned above, sometime in the next two or three months I will be going to Sweden to stand on some beaches and squint at some plants. I am strangely reluctant about this, I think because it is (a) a trip for work, not a trip for fun (b) I will go alone and meet people I have never met before (our Swedish collaborators) thus (c) I will be a bit stressed and also have to be on my best behavior. This is, of course, the polar opposite of the last time I travelled in Europe when (a) we led a charmed life in which the concept of "work" in any form had no place (b) I travelled with a variety of intimate companions in booze-soaked harmony thus (c) I could remain happily co-dependent and could operate under the eccentric and idiosyncratic behavioral code particular to the Florence house. *Sigh* The tragedy of being a responsible 25-year-old on a career path rather than a carefree 19-year-old with a credit card and very little homework. Also, it's possible that the trip will cause me to miss the beginning of the NHL season, which bothers me more than I am prepared to admit, or would have believed a year ago.

To close: another picture of the Chicago skyline at sunset:

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Combination Of PMS And Extreme Heat Makes Me A Terrible Person

Things That Have Caused Me To Fly Into Near-Homicidal Rage Today

The truck driver idling outside my house this morning for at least ten minutes ("Really??? On a day like today, what you think we need is MORE air pollution???")

The ham and Swiss sandwich I bought for lunch mysteriously had no Swiss on it. Also, it appeared to have been made by a person who was either unfamiliar with the concept of the sandwich, or actually functionally retarded, as it was cut into sections and placed in a narrow plastic case, with layers that went bread-ham-bread-ham-bread-ham-bread, so there was no way to pick up the sections without leaving at least one open-ham-faced.

Any number of things to do with Powerpoint (there aren't enough expletives in the WORLD for how I feel about Powerpoint)

The grocery store is STILL (after like three weeks) out of vanilla extract ("It's like shopping in the fucking Soviet Union")

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Other Lives, Other Summers

Summer In Ridgecrest

These are the summers of your childhood. Popsicles and kiddie pools (the hard plastic kind that you had to chase down the street if it was windy and you didn’t get it filled up fast enough, and the soft sided kind that sat on a square of astroturf in the backyard) and earthquakes. You would go to the base pool for hours and hours. During adult swim Mom would give you money for fudgesicles from the snack stand, or she would bring summer fruit in tupperware and boxes of triscuits. You weren’t allowed to run, but the deck was blisteringly hot, so acrobatics were a necessity. You could look behind you and see your wet footprints evaporate, as if you were a ghost.

Later, when parental supervision was no longer required, you’d go up to Emily’s for pool afternoons. The dogs would be briefly annoyed that they couldn’t join, but they would calm down and you would lie, baking, on towels spread on the concrete in the 115 degree heat until you couldn’t stand it any longer, then jump into the pool where you once found a scorpion during a birthday party. Then lay out again until your bathing suits are bone dry, then into the cool house for Alias episodes on DVD until Betty gets home and you make margaritas before going home for dinner with the family.

Summer In Calabasas

You spend the days in the grubby worn classrooms and labs of CSU Northridge, but when you get home you collect your swim things and drive the short way to the big fancy house behind the fountain and the gate. You swim in the pool with the tile edges and the lovely foliage border while Brandon reads the paper under the broad porch. Then you eat what’s in the fridge or order takeout and walk the dogs. Back at home, you pretend to work on your organic chemistry homework, but it doesn’t take long before you abandon it to rented movies with chardonnay and popcorn served hot with lots of black pepper.

Summer In Malibu

It’s one of those cool, foggy summers, with June gloom well into July and lasting sometimes all day. You drive to campus and park on the curving street with, on one side, smooth grass all the way down to the road and the bluffs and the massive expanse of the Pacific, and on the other, climbing the rugged hills, the cream stucco and red tiled buildings of the university. You climb the stairs in front of the chapel and put your lunch in the staff room fridge, and go to the lab. You don’t mind the lab work but you don’t like the people from the tour groups peering in the narrow windows in the door. You feel like you are a zoo exhibit and you contemplate taping up the doors but never do it. In the late afternoon you go sedately back down the stairs and drive home and change into swim things and lie by the pool for an hour, reading Harry Potter and listening to little kids play with their moms. Then you make a little dinner – something light, maybe a veggie burger on arugula with sweet grape tomatos and cheese, or half a ready made Indian meal with some naan. Always, of course, with very cold white wine.

Summer In Australia

You take two cold showers a day and spend a lot of time lying on the marble floor, which is always cool, the kind of cold that soaks up into you the longer you lie there until you aren’t hot anymore (of course, in the winter, this same floor will necessitate the wearing of Ugg boots all the time, even when going to the bathroom in the middle of the night). On the weekends you take the train a few stops to Cottosloe Beach and walk from the station down, under the sighing pines and past the golf course, to the big iconic building on the beach with the echoing sandy changing rooms. You lie on the grass and watch thousands of people; you lie in the warm Indian Ocean water and let it rock you, womb-like.

Summer In Chicago

You get to the lake about five, when the light is already slanting. You climb down the rusted pipe ladder at the tip of the point and into the sloshing cool lake water, standing on the huge broken chunks of old breaks that litter the bottom (preferably the ones not slimy with algae). Some people swim out to the buoys, or across the curve to the 57th St beach, but you stay near the ladders. It’s enough to be out of the heat. After a while it gets to be almost cold, so you get out into the warm evening air, lie flat on the rocks and watch the ants crawl around and plan dinner. Which is mojitos with fresh mint and lime (add more sugar than you think), and bratwurst with mustard and chopped grilled onions, and grilled bok choy, and salad with dried cherries and walnuts and feta, and Leinie’s summer shandy. And the fireflies come out in the dim garden and you eat until you are super full and then go upstairs to watch Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog for the 4,532th time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chicago In Summer Part II

fresh berries
breezes off the lake (technically present in winter, but much less pleasant)
the way the trees meet over the top of the street
the smell of sunscreen wafting from passing pedestrians
flowers in gardens, flowers along the railroad tracks, flowers in planters on Michigan Avenue, flowers on the corner by the grocery store
sunbathing on the breaks by the lake
sleeping with the windows open
not having to layer
walking through people's sprinklers on the way home from work
lemonade that tastes like it did when you were little
long slow dusks

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Chicago In Summer

Chicago in summer is lush and beautiful and humid and full of tourists. I went downtown today, and it was exhausting. The Mag Mile is full of Europeans and Okies and cops. (I don't remember there being that many cops last year. I'm as cynical about cops as the next person, but for the record, these cops seem to actually want to help people. They are remarkably good natured for people who are walking around in black Kevlar in 90+ degree heat, and appear to spend most of their time giving directions to tourists, ignoring jaywalkers, and looking relaxed and nonthreatening.) Everyone smells pleasantly of sunscreen and half seem to be on their way to or from the lake. It's a whole different city than winter Chicago, and it reminds you why people live here, delivers a healthy dose of amnesia, makes you forget that other city, the one with the cold wind and dirty snow and bare trees for months and months and months on end. It is a relief and a blessing, a reminder that summer means more when you have to pay for it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Today I Am Badass

As a grad student, there are very few days I feel like a badass, but today is one of them. Pending final corrections, our paper has been accepted for publication by Journal of Biogeography. Yay!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Archetypal Weather

Certain holidays call for certain kinds of weather, otherwise they don't really count. In our heads, the holidays of our childhood were always exactly like this (even though they couldn't possibly have been, and what we hold in our heads is some complex blend of memory and fiction and cultural genetics).

Halloween should be cold, but not so cold that you have to wear a coat over your costume, because that's lame. There should be, if at all possible, a full moon, and clouds scudding occasionally across it in the chilly fall breeze.

Thanksgiving should be cold too, brisk, even. It can be brightly sunny or overcast, but the crispy leaves should be blowing in the gutter, and when you go out at nighttime, full of turkey, it's always nice if it smells like snow.

Christmas should be snowy (sorry, Australia). New snow, so that it isn't dirty, preferably falling on Christmas Eve night, but gently, not a blizzard. More snow should hold off so that after presents and lunch, you can take a walk, but its ok if it starts again in the evening, as you curl up in front of the fire to admire your loot.

Easter should be the most perfect spring day imaginable, so that when you step out of church and are confronted with the impossible sweetness of the blue sky under a wash of sunshine, you truly do feel reborn.

4th of July should be hot. It should be so hot you feel like vomiting most of the time. The air should smell like sunscreen and barbeque smoke, your legs should stick to the vinyl of your lawn chair, and, by the time it gets dark, the heat should have addled your brain so much that lighting off cheap fireworks seems like a good idea.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Sometimes when I feel sick and I don't know why, I worry that I am Patient Zero for some new and horrible disease.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Troy Brouwer Is Now A Washington Capital, Or, Why I Hate Summer

Hockey trades are made in the off season. They're made during the regular season too, but the off season is the time for reenvisioning a franchise, recalculating who you can afford under the salary cap, signing players to long contracts and locking down pending free agents. And inevitably teams change, sometimes dramatically, sometimes subtly. Sometimes to the delight of fans and sometimes to our chagrin.

And I hate it.

Seriously, it's like when they change facebook, or, when I was a kid, when my dance teacher used to rechoreograph our recital pieces. Even though I know from experience that I will accept and even like the changes within weeks, days, or sometimes hours, I still can't shake the feeling of betrayal. Even though I know I'll look back on the old version with nothing more than faint regret (if that), I still feel if something has been irrevocably lost. I guess I just don't deal well with change.

Reliving College

In counterpoint to the classy party of Tuesday night, we spent Friday in an apartment empty but for a single  sphere chair, a flat screen tv, and the internet (lacking only a bong and a guitar to truly be a College Apartment) drinking rum and cokes out of Solo cups. Then we ate mac and cheese while sitting on the kitchen floor at one am. It was refreshing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Midsummer's Night Cocktail Party

Obviously, the most important part.

Lots of pretty glasses, and shaker all ready to go. (It's really hard to take a picture in my sun porch without either the ugly a/c unit or the ugly radiator in it.)

Fresh squeezed lemon, lime, and grapefruit juice.

Lime and berry garnishes for drinks. 


The living room.

The living room from a different angle.

Candles in the fireplace and fresh flowers.


 The food table!

The menu: humus (Mandy's unconventional recipe with lots of rosemary and oregano) and baked pita wedges with olive oil, salt, and oregano. 

Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries with whipped cream (with a touch of vanilla and sugar). 

Trader Joe's multigrain crackers with cheddar cheese and grape tomatos or Usinger's garlic summer sausage with dijon mustard. 

Vanilla sour cream cupcakes with buttercream frosting and gold dust and silver ball decorations (illegal in California).

Fancy cupcake picture.

The orchid that lives in my shower decorated the bathroom for the night.

What time is it? Cocktail time! 

Sadly though, I have very few pictures of the party itself. I think someone else took some, and if I get ahold of them, I will post them. Although it was hot (appropriately for Midsummer), we had a lovely time. Everyone dressed very well. We drank lots of cocktails (champagne with berry garnishes, White Ladies (gin, Contreau, and lemon or lime juice with a lime garnish) and Manhattans (whiskey, sweet red and dry white vermouth, with a dash of bitters and a cherry)), ate food, and had sparkling conversation. All in all, a success!