Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rachel and Josh's wedding

I spent last weekend in Knox-vegas for Rachel and Josh's wedding. It was, in short, an amazing weekend. Neilie was my date since our husbands both had school commitments. We arrived on Saturday in time hang out with Deb and Paul, family friends (of Rachel's family) who hosted us. The rehearsal dinner was on a riverboat. We had a great cruise on the Tennessee River. On Sunday we had a lovely French brunch. Afterward Deb took Neilie and I around downtown Knoxville. We saw the Tennessee Theatre and the Knoxville Omnium Criterium in Market Square, as well as the Sunsphere.

Then we went to the wedding in the evening at Crescent Bend. Rachel and Josh were so cute and it was a great party in a gorgeous place with a rocking band. All the people I've met who are friends of Rachel's family are so wonderful and I spent so much time talking with people that I completely missed out on the dancing. :(

On the last day, we went to breakfast at Rachel's parents' house and then visited the bat house and beautiful garden of Rachel's aunt. We had a great time and I'm so happy for Rachel and Josh!!

Two chicks on a bike

On Saturday, June 28, I will be participating with in the Cape Cod Getaway ride to benefit Multiple Sclerosis research. I will be doing the first day of the ride, 75 miles from Quincy to Bourne, with my friend Claudia. Claudia was last year's top fundraiser with $40,000!! Her husband broke his ankle hiking recently, preventing him from riding a bike, and Claudia has a slight visual impairment that prevents her from doing the ride by herself. Therefore I will be captaining her gorgeous orange Co-Motion Supremo tandem on the ride. We've already begun training together and are having a blast!

The ride benefits the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which devotes nearly $50 million a year to researching prevention, treatment, and a cure. The disease affects nearly 500,000 people in the U.S., including a friend of mine whom I know through bike racing.

My goal is to raise $1,100 for MS research by the middle of June. Please consider donating!

Here is my donation page, where you may enter credit card donations.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Home again

My class last week was so much fun. I got to sit with two of my favorite classmates, Lisa and Chris, with whom I started the program.

We had some good times outside of class, including drinks with our favorite associate dean, another visit to Dinosaur BBQ, and a round of afternoon tea that turned into a 8.5-hr talkfest. (These were some interesting and tasty drinks at Unique Tea House -- Chris had the "Green Night Elf.") I will miss them! Fortunately Lisa lives within a couple miles of my house and Chris has friends in Boston, so it won't be too long before I see them again. I have one more short paper to do before I'm done with school.

I got home late Friday night and had watched all my saved-up TV within 24 hours. Now I can start on the stack of books I've been piling up as a reward for finishing school. Oh, and the laundry.

On Sunday, Kris graduated from Tufts. I'm so proud of her! I managed to find some sock yarn in Tufts colors at etsy to give her as part of her graduation gift.

I snuggled with four different dogs at her graduation party and elicited no additional interest from Lola and Betty after I got home.

Betty is settling in well. She and Lola were within 3 feet of each other on the bed for an hour this weekend. They're not friends, but they tolerate each other. Once in a while they get a little feisty -- this morning they had a skirmish that woke me up briefly at 4 a.m. Betty likes to herd me once I start getting ready for bed. It seems to be her favorite part of the day and I like having the reminder to stop staying up so late for no good reason.

Ed is in Bombay on the Sloan Fellows international trip. We've had a couple of conversations on Skype. We got video to work last night -- it was great to see him. He's having a great time. He usually feeds the turtle, Benita, but now I'm on turtle duty as well. I actually said something to my sister yesterday about how I couldn't come over until after I had "fed the animals," as if I lived on a farm or something. ;)

I'm re-starting my training this week. It's kind of hard to get back into my pre-grad school habits but I'm working on it!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The home front

Ed is doing a wonderful job cat-wrangling back at the compound. Betty whisper-meows at him all the time (she can't make any noise because of damage from the pneumonia -- it's permanent, but she gets by). Lola and Betty can now hang out in the same room as long as they're supervised. Betty is apparently tougher than we thought and is good at standing her ground and maneuvering herself into an unassailable, superior position (such as the couch arm) when Lola gets a little feisty. Here she is admiring herself in the mirror.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Feats of strength

The first feat of course is graduating! I really have one class left, but that will end on June 6 and then I will be officially done. I got to walk at convocation though (I skipped the big university-wide graduation at the Carrier Dome).

Kris, Brad, and Ed all came. It was so great to have them there. I was very sad when they left -- and I won't get to see Ed again until June 2. I'm returning home late this Friday night, at which point he will have already departed for the Sloan Fellows international trip. He'll be in India and South Africa.

Here are some pics from graduation:

The lei was thoughtfully provided by Brad M., my BIL. We'll have to take pics of Kris, Brad, and Ed wearing it at their graduations as well. ;)

After convocation, we attended the opening of the new iSchool building. We enjoyed some "knowledge-enhanced beverages."

The food was yummy and I was so lucky to meet many of my professors in person. My econ professor in particular was so much fun to talk to. I think we really miss out on personalities sometimes online. My enterprise architecture professor invited me to visit him in DC (his agency is implementing SharePoint) and said my paper for his class, on enterprise information architecture, will be appearing in the August issue of the Journal of Enterprise Architecture. :)

Last night, I got to go out to dinner with Chris (we've taken many classes together) and her family at Dinosaur BBQ. I'm not particularly into BBQ, but the New York strip steak was charred to perfection (I ate every last morsel of my 14 ounces). The mac-n-cheese, featuring five cheeses and jalapenos, was the most amazing mac-n-cheese I've ever had in my whole life. The honey-soaked cornbread was divine. It was a fitting celebration!

This afternoon, I had to move from the "commencement dorm" to the "summer dorm." This turned out to be much more difficult than I anticipated; the taxi took forever to arrive and I made a stupid mistake and asked to be taken to last year's summer dorm and not this year's summer dorm. Once I figured out what had happened, I decided I needed to walk. Getting another cab would have taken forever. But in addition to my clothes and computer bag, I also had what felt like 300 lbs of food from Trader Joe's in EarthTotes. My second feat of strength was to carry all this stuff 2 blocks (halfway to the new dorm) before mercifully being rescued by a phone call from Rory, a guy with whom I've taken many classes who lives in Juneau. He picked me up. Whew.

After that we got together with two more classmates from econ and we had a blast hanging out on Marshall St and chatting. Online courses certainly have their weaknesses, but the great thing about them is that they make it possible for a systems analyst from Nicaragua, a technology analyst from New Jersey, a consultant from Alaska, and an info systems engineer from Massachusetts to become friends and grab a non-virtual drink together at the end of the semester.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Asheville: The Northampton of the South

I got to spend most of last week in Ashe-Vegas (NC) with my friend Heather. She was in Birmingham visiting family and took the train to meet me in Greenville, SC.

Tuesday, April 29

We spent the day exploring Asheville. After a yummy brunch at Tupelo Honey (hooray for grits and sweet potato pancakes), we checked out Kress, Mast General Store, and Longstreet. We indulged in one of our favorite hobbies and made snarky comments about some of the lesser pieces at the Asheville Art Museum. We walked part of the Urban Trail until we got bored and gave up. The Basilica of St. Lawrence was amazing. Malaprops yielded a couple of good guidebooks for the next day's travels. We finished off the evening with dinner at the Noodle Shop and dessert at Old Europe. All the food was yummy!

Wednesday, April 30

We drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville until it ended, then drove through Great Smokey Mountains National Park. It was gorgeous!!

We had another yummy meal at the Laughing Seed. Many of their dishes featured seitan, which I was afraid to order since I did not have the Internets with me and I was too shy to ask the waitress what the heck it was. Also, I do not think that "steaks" should be made of things other than animals. (Just kidding, sort of.)

Thursday, May 1

I took Heather to the train station at a very early hour and slept in after I got back to Asheville. I spent some more time in downtown after a lovely breakfast (more grits) at the Early Girl Eatery. The Grove Arcade is so cool. I had afternoon tea in Biltmore Village. The village was built to house servants who worked at the Biltmore and is a very weird, twee little English village. The houses all have fancy businesses in them now, such as Ye Olde House of Wachovia.

I met up with Ed's college friend Blake, his wife Cindy, and their gorgeous daughter Hattie for dinner at Old Europe. We had several sitings of the Hillary Car. (Click on that link. Please! Make sure you see the Hillary car, the masked Hillary army, and the 3 a.m. phone trailer.) We had incredibly tasty desserts at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge.

Friday, May 2

I was at a loss for activities, so chose late the night before. The theme of the day was "things I studied in Mrs. Neser's American history class in 8th grade."

I did a report in Mrs. Neser's class about Swedish-Americans (my paternal grandmother was Swedish-American), including a brief bit about Carl Sandburg. I went to his house, and as my guidebook (gifted to me by Alison) promised, the goats were indeed "enchanting." Sandburg had what I think of as the Swedish chin, which my sister and I have both also inherited (though obviously not from Sandburg!).

I did a presentation in Mrs. Neser's class on the Revolutionary War battles of Kings Mountain and Cowpens. These two battles turned the tide against the British during their Southern Campaign, leading to the end of the war. First I visited Cowpens, site of the one of the few successful double envelopments ever executed. I had the great fortune of meeting a volunteer named Bob Lebrun. Mr. Lebrun fought in the Battle of the Bulge and has been on the History Channel more times than he can count. He is originally from Waterville, Maine, and was delighted to meet a "Yankee" (that would be me). He fell in love with a girl in South Carolina before he left for the war and married her when he got back. They were together for 57 years before she passed away. I hope to be as youthful as Mr. Lebrun when I am 82.

At Kings Mountain, I spent some time in the museum, watched a video, and walked the battlefield path (as I did at Cowpens). I was at each park for periods (1.5 hrs) that were longer than the battles.

After that, I got my flight back to Boston. It was a wonderful trip and I'm so glad I was able to go. I loved Asheville and the surrounding area and had a blast with Heather! I will be back.

An open letter to the National Park Service

Dear NPS,

I am a big fan of your work. I love that my taxes help support you. That is saying a lot, for me.

However, I need to mention to you the horrendous typo I discovered last Friday. I was enjoying the small museum at the Kings Mountain National Military Park when I saw this in a very permanent exhibit:

I know you folks are busy over there at NPS. You might want to outsource your editing to my friend Heather at

Sincerely yours,

EDITED TO ADD: I didn't mean to be so mysterious. :) The apostrophe is not necessary because "Carolinas" is a plural and not a possessive. I used to write a humor column for the Univ. of Hawaii student newspaper and did a whole piece on the extra apostrophes on permanent signs on campus ("Hot Entree's"). I'm nerdy like that.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


We're hanging out in the spare room with our new kitty, Betty, right now. We picked her up earlier today from two of my co-workers who volunteer with the Billerica Cat Care Coalition. Betty was rescued from a feral cat colony near the Wal-Mart in Tewksbury last fall. She and her kitten, Widget, both had upper respiratory infections, and Betty had pneumonia as well. I met Betty and Widget at a "meet-and-greet" at the local Petco when Kris and I were shopping back in December. They were a package deal, so as much as I liked Betty, I was really sure we didn't need 3 cats. I ran into my co-worker who was fostering her a couple weeks ago, and she said Widget had just been adopted separately. So we applied for Betty and now she's chilling in Ed's lap because she's kind of nervous.

These photos were taken a while ago for her PetFinder profile. We'll post some new ones later. She's gorgeous! She looks like she could be Lola's sister. Which I guess she sort of is now. :)


Widget (left) and Betty: