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What a weekend!  Team Tim and Andrea just returned from a sun- and fun-filled tour of Southern Michigan.  While the casual citizen of the world might yawn and roll over to the words ‘Southern Michigan,’ TTA now know better.  Peaches, blueberries, wines, grape vodka, sun, sand, waves, and small-town fairs, (with sequined horse-riding youth) greeted us just over an hour outside our hustling Chicago.  Had you any idea?  Neither did we!

After filling up on cheese grits and banana pancakes at the legendary Sweet Maple Cafe, we drove through Indiana as quickly as possible and headed to our midwest paradise!  Those words are no longer an oxymoron!

The wineries out there were really cute and homegrown, with mostly friendly folks pouring lots of wine.  I think the Round Barn was the Team favorite, which was purchased in Indiana and moved –in pieces– to MI, where nice Amish folks reassembled it for our pleasure.  They had some fruity dessert wines and a grape vodka that made a smooth martini, and Tim couldn’t stop posing in front of the barn.  We also ran into a “town” fair, with Driers’ family-owned cured meats and some soft and squishy coffee-can corn bread, an art fair, with live twangy music, more wineries (I think we hit 6 in all), and bigger waves in that freshwater “ocean” than I’ve seen in some parts of San Diego.

Back in Oak Park, Tim is nursing his crispy skin.  That much fun has some consequences.

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I finally got a picture of the deer on the campus at Argonne.  Yes, they’re white.

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Last Friday I started working with Paul and Voya on experiments involving an electron microscope.  We tried some low energy ion scattering (LEIS) then and we’ll do a little x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) tomorrow.  Working with an electron microscope makes me glad that I ended up doing most of my work with x-rays where we can do thing in atmosphere and can live with a little shmutz on the surface.

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…and lastly: I purchased a Jack Spade laptop bag this weekend–which was bit of a splurge–but I really like it.  I actually made the ridiculous argument in my head that I had to get it in February since I get paid each month.  Makes me feel grown up, yet trendy.  I’ve been carrying it from room to room this weekend since it’s too cold to walk anywhere outside. (40 below windchills–blegh!)

I had a lovely time in Seattle.  I didn’t take too many pictures, which was unfortunate since it was sunny and fall-like every day I was there over thanksgiving.  I put a couple below, one from Ballard and another from a nice new restaurant in Wallinford name Tilth, which serves what I think is the best breakfast in Seattle now–hands down (but only on weekends).  I also threw in a picture of a light from a Turkish bar Diane and I went to in Andersonville yesterday, some simple bread I made loosely from this recipe (while incorporating whole wheat flour, honey, and milk for richness), and a trainer I got for getting some exercise when it’s snowy and icy out like it was this weekend.

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I should have been working on stuff for Jerry, but I decided to work on the apartment a little last night. So far I have been using three of the four rooms here, shoving unwanted stuff into the fourth. Which is a shame, since the fourth is the largest room with the most light (and noise from the street). So I ran out to get some plants last night and suddenly, it’s becoming my favorite room, perfect for coffee and reading Krugman (now that he’s free again–and he’s even got a blog).

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I just got a car–a black 07 civic. It’s beautiful, but it took about 4 hours even with an agreed-upon price to get insurance, financing, the whole nine yards. Well, one less thing to worry about with the impending move. Tomorrow-Sunday we’ll be in Vancouver–I’ll try to get some pictures up after the trip.

[warning…this is one of those pointless/rambling posts since I’m procrastinating/bored]

Nothing really going on tonight–felt like two nights out in a row would be too much for this one. I did take advantage of having Andrea’s car (while she’s in Boston at Smita’s wedding) and went to try to get a new grill rack for my l’il Weber at home despot up on aurora. They didn’t have the l’il size though….so I dropped by Ranch 99 to make the whole trip worth something. I guess dropping by Ranch 99 was sort of planted in the back of my head the whole time, but that place is so damn cool! Way better than Uwajimaya and at least half as expensive. Famished after my l’il adventure, I ate a quick plate of what I thought [hope] was tripe from the deli. The place is a lot less depressing on the inside now too–the funny smell is gone! Famished after my l’il adventure, I ate a quick plate of what I thought [hope] was tripe from the deli. I also got some nice fresh chow fun noodles and went to town with some of the shrimp I bought and sichuan pepper corns. Since it was so hot out this week, I grabbed a ton of mint for (you guessed it) mojitos! I guess it’s definitely summer if I’m making those again. I even had the hammock up today!

Without much to do (holding off on getting andrea knocked up till she’s back and the dissertation can correct itself tomorrow), I decided to see if I could find some friends on this myspace thing I’ve heard about… Took a while to find Dan Johnson’s since he’s fond of the clever monikers. As such I’ve put a few new friends in the blogroll. I wanted to put Lucas in for his nifty blog/nice background music, but he’s more of a friend-of-a-friend. It’s kind of weird that so many people (not just losers like me) are in these social-networking sites. Hell, my mom’s even on facebook.

In other web-related news, I started the webpage for the thermal class I’m teaching this summer. School colors withstanding, I think it’s a lot prettier than the standard school webpages.

Holy shit, I just noticed I can do greek letters in this wordpress wysiwyg editor! ομη! To celebrate, a round of mojitos!

Did you forget to give me a christmas present this year? Or did you get me something I thought was stupid (but was too polite to tell you so)? Hahahaha! Of course not! But for future reference, I made a silly little amazon wish list–mostly stuff I will probably purchase someday anyways, but I thought y’all might be interested. It’s kind of like one of those wedding or baby shower registries except it’s celebrating something much more important: the existence of me.

Ok, now that I’ve offended/alienated everyone, I’m going back to work. Still, around mandatory gift-giving day (barf), I do wish that I had a better idea what people want…so: link up your wish lists, folks, or you’ll just end up with a summer sausage like every other year.