Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day to me

I take the bus to school. And because I have class early in the morning this semester, that means waiting outside at the bus stop in zero degree weather before the sun has even come up. Brrrrrrr! That means stocking cap, winter coat, scarf, and gloves. I have even taken to wearing my snow boots to school so my feet don't freeze.

Once I get into the Krannert building and start to warm up, I can shed most of the extra clothing. The only problem are the boots. I am stuck with clomping around in them all day, even though I don't even go outside much once I get on campus. And when I heard a friend and fellow PhD student tell me that he kept a pair of slippers at his office, I was immediately jealous.

But because my wife is awesome, she convinced me to go slipper shopping. After an unsuccessful attempt to locate slippers on the clearance rack at Old Navy, we found this pair of slippers on clearance at Kohl's for less than $10. They quickly became my early Valentine's Day present. I couldn't wait to get to school today and try them out.

The verdict?

They were so warm and toasty - and much more comfortable than my snow boots. I was sad to leave them behind and put my boots back on as I left at the end of the day.

I highly recommend that a pair of slippers come standard at every office desk.

Friday, January 14, 2011

2010 Blog Awards

I thought it was interesting to look back at my blog for the past year and pull out some winners, losers, and statistics. So here you go:

The "Post with the Most" Award: The most commented post was, by far, the "Again" music video.

The "States that Rate" Awards: The top 5 states viewing my blog are (1) Utah, (2) Idaho, (3) California, (4) Michigan, and (5) Washington.

The "Googled & Oogled" Award: The search term that brought the most people to my blog in 2010 was "five guys vs in n out," thanks to this 2009 post.

The "Send 'em My Way" Award: The top referring website from last year was Deidra, closely followed by Whitney. I have a feeling it might have something to do with a trip to Paris we took together in January. They were too lazy to blog about it, so they just sent their readers to me. :-)

The big winner . . .

The "Peoples' Pick" Award: My most viewed post of last year was Part I of the Paris Trip (the prior award may have something to do with that). But, as with most sequels, apparently the fourteen subsequent Paris posts didn't bring the audience back.

And the big loser . . .

The "Viewed by So Few" Award: My least viewed post of last year was my call out for fantasy football.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Travel Tip from El Cheapo

Some of you may have read about my beverage of choice when flying, and I am proud to report that I held strong with the Cranapple again during our holiday flights. But today, I want to talk about the other part of the snack & beverage service. Yeah, it's the snack . . . how did you know?

It used to be that you were simply given peanuts, but now there are usually choices. On Delta flights (I don't really fly other airlines too often), the choices are always: peanuts, pretzels, and cookies. So which do you usually go with?

My el cheapo travel secret is that, if you're cool about it, you don't really have to make a choice!

Picture yourself in your seat as the snack and beverage cart draws near. You hear the flight attendant asking your fellow passengers what drink and what snack they want. (This is where I start to get a little nervous, because I feel like I'm about to get away with something.)

All of a sudden it's your turn.

"What can I get you to drink?" the flight attendant asks.

"I'll take a Cranapple."

That's the easy part. Just a simple drink - nothing out of the ordinary. Then comes the question you've been waiting for.

"Would you like a snack? We have peanuts, pretzels, and cookies."

Non-chalantly, you reply, "Can I get one of each?"

BOOM! Triple snack deliciousness, baby!

Usually the flight attendant doesn't mind, and it kind of catches them off guard. The next thing you know, you've got all three snacks piled on your tray table like a feast fit for a king!

(And then you realize how much you spent for the flight, how it's an hour and a half late, how you had to cram all of your belongings into a carry-on so you don't have to pay for checked luggage, and then how your all the overhead space was already taken up before you stepped on the plane and you had to check your bag anyway . . . all of a sudden your feast looks a little smaller. But at least it's a victory! And you want to tell all seven people that read your blog about it, so that they, too, can partake of the goodness.)

Anyway, for some reason, it really does make me nervous. Just ask my wife. Sometimes, if I don't think I'll be able to pull off the trifecta, I'll respond: "Can I get peanuts and cookies?" (Pretzels aren't integral to my snacking pleasure - just an added bonus.) Though, to be honest, I've never had a flight attendant shut me down on any request yet. Maybe as this becomes common knowledge, they'll have to crack down. And then I'll curse the day I ever posted this blog post.

But, until then, enjoy the triple snacking crown.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fantasy Football 2010 Champion

After eight years of heading a fantasy football league, including six years of the WEPCO league, and after years of enduring injuries, archrivals, and curses, I finally took the championship trophy in fantasy football. Not that anyone cares (nor should they), but I just wanted it stated for the record.

P.S. Thank you Michael Vick, for making it all possible.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Top 10 of 2010

Following in the tradition of last year's post, the following are what I consider the top ten accompishments, creations, experiences and highlights for me of 2010:

10. Bizarre HR blog: I'm pretty much the worst blogger around, but it was fun to create a blog about something that is a large part of my previous, current, and future life at work and school. I keep emailing myself ideas to add to the blog, and someday I might even post them on the blog!

9. Having my gall bladder removed: Hopefully that means no more sleepless, pain-filled nights.

8. Releasing "Iris": I have long wanted to record a number of cover songs, and when I won the opportunity to release a free single on, it gave me the opportunity to start with this Goo Goo Dolls cover. (It is now available on CDbaby and on iTunes.)

7. Completing a Children's Book: I got the idea for a children's book 15 years ago and I started writing it about five times since then. This year, that became one of my Sunday activities. I wrote a little here and a little there, and eventually it got completed. Now I'm trying to figure out what to do with it.

6. Recording the video for "Again": Sometimes I miss the time for personal creativity that I used to have when I was single and in a dead-end 9-5 job. (Though that's about the only thing that I miss.) So I had to make use of a full Saturday with nothing planned and Deidra away. Now the only problem is coming up with a good idea for follow-up video . . .

5. The Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay Race: Running almost 200 miles in about 30 hours. I don't really think I ever posted about it on this blog, but you can read recaps from other members of the Wilkins Wonders team here, here, here, here, and here.

4. Paris: My first time outside of the U.S. that was not tied to some sort of school excursion. Deidra was the queen of planning a great experience. Who needs a live tour guide when you've got Rick Steves? It was great to spend the time with Deidra and with Whit & Brian. It's probably my favorite vacation ever (so far). About 1/4 of all of my blog posts last year were spent recapping the trip because I thought it was so awesome. Next up? Convincing my dad that we should take a family trip to Norway (where he served as a missionary many years ago).

3. Expecting our First Baby: Ok, so many of you (my wife included) might be thinking, how can this NOT be number 1? . . . Well, to be honest, I initally had it there, but then I realized that it still seems kind of surreal to me, and it's not like it has impacted our lives all that much so far. But don't worry, my guess is that baby girl will be at the top of the list next year.

2.  Buying a House: It's quaint and it's old, but it's been well maintained and it's ours. No sharing walls and no landlords to deal with.

1. Starting my PhD program: We moved from Utah to Indiana, and I feel like the rest of my life has now been put in motion with the start of this degree. I'll spend 4-5 years working on the degree so I can find a job as an Assistant Professor, the next 7 years or so working toward tenure as an Associate Professor, then a few more years working toward becoming a Full Professor, and perhaps even a few more to become Chaired Professor. It's kind of crazy to think of my next 20 years mapped out like that, but also comforting to know I've got a plan.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Daddy-daughter duet

It's stuff like this that makes me even more excited to be a dad: