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Snowy Day in Pittsburgh January 14, 2009

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The difference between Salt Lake and Pittsburgh….When it snows in Utah, the snow is removed before you know it.  Especially at the airport.  Everything is de-iced and ready to keep going no matter how big the snowstorm is.  In Pittsburgh, even with an inch of snow, you would think that it was a blizzard.  This is what the airport looks like after a ‘big’ storm: img_1117

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Pittsburgh January 13, 2009

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img_1115The whirlwind trip has begun.  I’m in Pittsburgh today.  There is something about a city that I really like.  I think it might just be that I like wandering aimlessly and always have something to look at.  There are so many things to do, places to eat, and things to see.

We are staying in Station Square and I’ve been watching trains from my room.  I really love trains.  I can’t quite figure out that obsession either but if I could use a train as my sole method of transportation for the rest of my life, I would be pretty content.  I went for a walk along the river and the train tracks this morning and despite the frigid, humid, bone-chilling cold, it was quite nice.

Otherwise, not a lot to say today.  Just enjoying a day away from the office and trying to get some work finished this week.  We have our first focus group tonight.  This project so far has run so smoothly, it is unbelievable (knock on wood) and I am just waiting for something to go wrong.  I’m hoping it will continue to go well because this is by far the biggest research project I have ever done and I’ve put a lot of work into it and am pretty close to this one.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.  3 more days and it will all be over….well at least until phase 2 starts….

It’s Been A While…. January 7, 2009

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I don’t have a lot to say but figured that it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve said anything so I’d at least give a quick update to my few readers out there…

Hope everyone had a nice Christmas and Happy New Year.  We had a good time.  It was quite relaxing.  Some time off work and everyone was home.  S went back to Germany yesterday and I’m jealous. (Even though she doesn’t want to go back) and D goes back to Italy in a couple more weeks.  If anyone out there knows of any art restoration jobs, let me know.  She’d be eternally grateful.

As with all New Years, I made some resolutions that I intend to  keep but won’t likely do.  I’m going to try though.  Nothing crazy and impossible:

  • Go to yoga twice a week to help my old lady arthritic joints
  • Stop buying books and use the library….and read the books I already have
  • Read 36 books this year
  • Go to all the National Parks in Utah (I’ve been here almost ten years and there is no excuse anymore)
  • Stop working more than 45 hours a week.
  • And finally, finish my first book.

I’m getting ready for my first focus groups next week.  I’m very excited.  It will be a whirlwind trip.  I leave for Pittsburgh Monday and we have two groups scheduled for Tuesday evening.  Then on to Cincinnati Wednesday morning and two more groups that evening.  Phoenix Thursday morning and the final two groups that evening. (Along with In-N-Out as many times as I can get there)  It should be an interesting trip – for a nerd like me anyway.

And last but not least, a while ago I posted about knitting scarves for the Special Olympics and I finished mine and sent it and forgot to take a picture before it went out.  I was pretty impressed with it.  My first pattern and only a couple mistakes.  Right now I’m working on my first hat, first time knitting in the round, and first cable knit pattern.  I’m also working on a checkerboard scarf.  Lots keeping me busy right now.

Let me know if you have any good topics for me to write about to prevent further ramblings such as these….

Cooking Class with the Accidental Tourist October 29, 2008

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San Grignano

San Grignano

Last Thursday, while in Italy, I took a cooking class.  The tour company is called The Accidental Tourist (www.accidentaltourist.com) and it was fantastic.  Our guide, Jesse, was very good.  I would wager to say that the day was one of the most fun we had while in Italy and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for something to do while visiting Tuscany.

Where the Olive Oil Rests & Ages

Where the Olive Oil Rests & Ages

We did the full day.  In the morning, they picked us up in Florence and drove us out into the Tuscan hillside to the first villa and vineyard.  This villa was amazing.  It is currently owned by a family in the fashion business in Milan that uses it solely as a vacation home a couple times a year and bought it because making wine was a hobby.  We got the tour of San Grignano and learned how they make olive oil and wine.

The Wine

The Wine

It was very interesting and I can see why people would like wine as a hobby.  I also would say I have a much greater appreciation for wine and olive oil.  It takes nearly a year and a half to produce wine from the time the grapes have been picked to the point it is ready for people to drink.  And it takes so many olives to produce olive oil.  One olive tree on average produces 2 liters of olive oil.  Now I know why it is so expensive.  Make sure from now on when you are buying you get olive oil that was produced and bottled in Italy.

All the Wine We Tried

All the Wine We Tried

After the ‘how-to’ tour, we drove down to the next villa where we had a wine tasting and olive oil tasting to try everything we just learned about.  Most wine tastings are a sip of this and a sip of that.  This on the other hand was a glass of each.  Needless to say the majority of the small group was pretty intoxicated by the end of the tasting. Lesson Learned: make sure to eat breakfast before going to a wine tasting in the morning.  Though I did try everything, I can’t say that I care for wine.  However, my palate is learning how to identify the various flavors wine can have.  I was pretty impressed with myself 🙂

Our Ravioli

Our Ravioli

After the wine, we went to villa number 3.  This used to be a watch tower built in the 1100s for the castle down the road.  The family that owns it had added on more living space about 300 years ago.  It was everything you woule ever imagine a Tuscan villa to be (aside from the very modern, stainless appliances and plasma television).  People live in this house and we used their basement for our cooking class and learned how to make fresh pasta.  We made taglietelle and spinach & ricotta ravioli.  While we were making pasta downstairs, Cristiana was upstairs cooking the rest of our meal.  We joined her later to have an amazing dinner.  It started with a cauliflower something, a zucchini fritatta, and homemade pizza.  Then she cooked our ravioli and noodles for us.  I have to say, they were pretty good.  Then for dessert we had the most amazing tiramasiu (and I don’t generally care for it).

Overall, it was a fantastic day….good food and good company.  So if you get the chance, try this one out and hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

The Vatican October 29, 2008

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St. Peter's

St. Peter's

One of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my life is St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.  I could tell you a million things about it but what I’m most impressed with is the scale in which it was built.  When you are inside, everything is proportioned so well that it doesn’t feel like it is nearly as big as it is.  It is enormous.  There is not another Catholic cathedral in the world that could not be contained within St. Peter’s walls.

When in Rome, don’t miss this.  It is right up there with the Colosseum and Forum.