Usability Question 4

How do you open this hostel door? This is the door.


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This is the “key” which is the only hostel key I had to pay a deposit for.

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This system is so difficult that they have a demo door and key at the check-in desk so that they can demonstrate. Once it took me 2 minutes to open the door. I was a little ashamed.

For my Parents

My  mom sent me an incredibly sappy (and wonderful) email today for my birthday. It made me think of these pictures. These may be repeats, but I like them, so you get to see them again. Thanks mom!


With mom


Bedtime is singing time!

My dad sent me an email with the subject: “happy happy happy” and the body: “BIRTHDAY!!!! Love, Dad” He claims it is a party email. It didn’t make me think of these pictures, but I am an equal opportunity child. So he gets pictures too! Except they are family pictures, because I don’t have any old pictures of just the two of us, which is sad, because there is a great one of the two of us when I was a baby. Apparently most of the time when he was home and I was a baby, I slept. So I was scared of him. I blame it on the beard 🙂 </ramble>


First (and only?) Family Portrait


Family Hiking

And for my awesome little bro, here’s a picture for you.


Chillin’. Alaska Grown.

And some pictures of just me. Because I’m selfish that way.


Babycheeks KT


Off to go hiking with Teddy, raisins, and a box of tofu or cranberry juice concentrate. Because everyone hikes in their pjs, right?

30 before 30 Challenge

As I approach my 28th birthday, it occurs to me that I’m getting close to my 30th birthday and that now might be a good time to make some goals for myself.

So I’m making a list. I’ve seen this in some other places too. It’s called 30 before 30 and the idea is 30 measurable goals to meet by your 30th birthday.


1. Get a Ph.D.

2. Get a “real job” (one lasting more than 14 weeks)

3. Visit 1 “new to me” continent (not North America or Europe)

4. Go camping

5. Read (and record) 90+ “new to me” books

6. Watch the movies that Ben gave me a few years ago

7. Go to the Walker Art Museum or Minneapolis Institute of Arts

8. Organize and clean out my closet

9. Scan old negatives (involves me going to KY or parents coming to MN)

10. Call a friend or non-parent family member once a month just to chat

Diet & Fitness

11. Run a 5K (no walking)

12. Swim laps for 30 minutes straight

13. Do a one day, 50 mile bike trip

14. Juice fast for 5 days in a row

15. Reach my weight goal

16. Go vegan for a week

17. Go vegetarian for a month

18. Go ice skating 5+ times

19. Do all of the Wii Fit Yoga poses at least once without falling over

20. Master all the DanceCentral songs on Easy


21. Use all my kitchen gadgets at least once more

22. Make at least one recipe from each cookbook I own (or give said cookbook away)

23. Play the piano 90 times

24. Make a scrapbook from an international trip

25. Learn to change a tire (car & bike)

26. Make a piece of clothing with my sewing machine

27. Take a dance course

28. Keep my desk clean for 3 months straight

29. Make Bagels

30. Finish my knitting project



Backup Ideas

31. Write and post 90 blog posts

32. Grow cherry tomatoes every summer (2012, 2013)

33. Do a 4+ day trip with <20 lbs of luggage

34. Sell something on eBay or Craigslist

35. Buy a new iThing

36. Redecorate a room in the condo

37. Buy shoes that don’t make my feet bleed

38. Go to the zoo

39. Frame pictures


My idea is to blog about things as I do them (if they are interesting) or just count them if they are not.

If you have ideas or suggestions to change about the list or add to the list, please let me know. Tomorrow the challenge begins, so you have a few hours to get your ideas submitted.

Usability Question 3

This is a dryer. What does the 5 mean? Hint: It came on after the dryer had been running for an hour.


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How I travel (Part 4)

I like small towns. I also like cities, but as I am not a huge fan of being a tourist, often big cities wear me out. They also can make me feel guilty. They also wear out my feet, cost a lot, and many other things. But most people don’t go to small towns. This is a) because they are hard to get to and b) there is not a lot to do there for tourists.

However, because I’m a little crazy, I tend to go to a lot of small towns. I think that the smallest town I’ve ever stayed in was Brackenheim-Botenheim, Germany (pop. unknown) in 2004. It is the location of this picture and the longest time it ever took me to pay a hotel bill. (And by me, I mean my mom. For the record it was about 6 months. But it got paid.)

Spring Break

It may or may not be the case that I end up in small towns going to concerts. This trip, I went to Meldorf, Germany (pop. 8,000) and Lüneburg, Germany (pop. 72,000) for concerts as well as a suburb of Hamburg. To be fair, Lüneburg is a substantial town, but it is a tourist town for Germans, not really anyone else. The main museums in town are only in German and other than cycling, there’s not much to do. Other than eat ice cream.

This is my post to convince you that small towns are cool. I will also refer you to this ancient post if you have forgotten how cool small Swiss towns are.


In Lüneburg, you can park your motorcycle in the middle of a field/forest.


There are also cool buildings. Like the water tower. I think I could have climbed it, but I spent too much time not knowing how to check into my hotel, so I failed.


Yet another cool building. This was across the street from my hotel and looked oddly zebra-esque. Apparently Lüneburg is known for salt mines, but this also led to unstable soil and so a lot of the buildings aren’t exactly straight. This one is more than some…


Luckily, even in small towns, the restaurants are on facebook!


I have no clue what rubber duckies have to do with optometry or eyeglasses, but obviously they are a critical marketing point. And is it just me or does the guy on the left look a little like Carl Kasell?


I thought this was a cool windowsill, so I took a picture. Then the dude poked his head out and said something to me in German. It wasn’t angry though, so apparently he was happy I took a picture of his birds and clog.


Church towers are very important, even in smaller towns. Lüneburg was somewhat confusing to navigate because it had not one, but three cathedrals!


Here is the cathedral I went to a concert in. It is the cathedral J.S. Bach grew up as a choir boy in. It is pink inside.


More churches!



Because I was worried about how to occupy my time in Meldorf after the Ag Musuem, so I preemptively rented a bike. The rental store was very nice. They charged only 6 euros for a whole day and took care to explain to me (with consultations with folks who spoke better English than others) that if my bike was stole I had to pay for it and that’s what I was signing. Here I am on my bike ride.


Apparently you can keep donkeys in your yard in Meldorf. (I was sneakily taking this picture because the dude had just come to move the donkeys.)


Also, if you bike down the right street, you will find a windmill. I think there was a restaurant in the windmill. It was very random.


Also, every town should be required to have buildings with sayings on them in Latin. And another building with Latin characters on it (e.g. Ovid, Aristotle).


The Dom (Cathedral) is in the middle of the town square and is surrounded by parking lots, cafe tables, and very strange street patterns. I never understood why the cars could drive in the pedestrian area, but apparently they can. And then they end up entering the parking lot and hopefully no one dies in the process.


The Meldorf Dom and the location of the evening concert.


Inside of the Dom. Very pretty and with phenomenal acoustics.



This is a town of about 3 people. I was there for the workshop that brought me to Europe in the first place. We all stayed at Spiedel BrauManufaktur which had a hotel, restaurant, and conference rooms.

I love that this was the view from our balcony. (This patio is where we ate lunch every day. The open windows on the second floor of the yellow building are from the room where we met every day.)


The only open shop in town that we could find claimed to have a lot of items. They did not, however, have the pervasive European Ice Cream bar. There was another shop just down the road, but it was suspiciously always closed. The church is in the distance and the city hall (for all five of the villages of Hohenstein) is on the right.


The front of the brewery/hotel/restaurant/conference center. I love the painted buildings.


So, in summary, small towns are good! You should go to one.


I finally got Google and Blogger and WordPress to all come together and be happy. So for now, you’ll see all my posts from my previous blog on here. The categories may be changing as I do some maintenance, but everything that was here is still here and then there’s more as well. Sorry for the bother!


Southwestern Quinoa

Taking a break from all the vacation stories, I thought I would share a recipe I altered last week. With all the fresh produce around from the farmer’s market and the warm weather, I wanted a meal that was heavy on the veggies, but light in feel. This fit the bill perfectly.


Southwestern Quinoa

Adapted from Serious Eats and Making it with Meleyna

Makes maybe 8 entreé servings


zest of a lime

juice of a lime

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon oregano (Mexican preferred, not Mexican is fine)

1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper, ground

1/2 teaspoon (or more) ground cumin

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


Not Dressing:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed or pre-washed

1 teaspoon veggie bouillon base

1 ripe avocado, cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic

3 small summer squash or zucchini, in bite size pieces

~15 oz. corn (canned, frozen, or 2 cobs fresh)

1 block extra-firm tofu

Cilantro to taste

Chipotle to taste

Cumin to taste

Salt to taste

~15 oz. black beans, drained and rinsed

1 handful chopped cilantro

4 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)

Grape tomatoes (if you like tomatoes)



1. Mix together all the ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl.

2. Drain the tofu. Set between paper towels and heavy things to get moisture out.

3. Cook the quinoa. Directions vary. I followed the directions on the Making it with Meleyna website, with slight variation. Add the quinoa to a pot of boiling salt water with the bouillon base. Cook for ten minutes then strain in a fine sieve. Add an inch of water back to the pot and place the sieve over the water. Put the quinoa in the sieve, cover it with a kitchen towel, put a lid over it all, and bring the water to a boil. Steam the quinoa for about 10 minutes. Then remove it from the heat, but leave it in the pot with the lid and towel on for five more minutes. After this, fluff it with a fork.

4. Add the avocado to the dressing. Cut the avocado into pieces and put it in the dressing, this will mean the avocado doesn’t brown nearly as easily.

5. Fry things. Add the oil to a large frying pan and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add it to the dressing. Add more oil if needed and fry the summer squash and corn (if wanted). Add it to the dressing.

6. Season and fry tofu. Because tofu is bland, add spices to it. I used the spices from the dressing, but you could add other things too. Then fry it until it is to your liking. Set asside.

7. Add the black beans to the dressing mixture and stir. Add the quinoa to the dressing mixture, fluff gently with a fork. Add the cilantro and raw scallions and grape tomatoes and continue to fluff. Then add the tofu (because it is fragile and will break).

8. Eat it.

Info: The first time we made this we left out the tofu and beans, but it was severely lacking in protein, so this version remedies that.


Helsinki Football Fields

Eleven pm. July 23rd. Helsinki overlooking a soccer pitch. The skies are artificially dark due to weather. Moments after I took this, the street lights came on. I love the north.

Usability Question 2

What is the red button for? I never figured it out. It seemed to be popular in Finland, but not in Denmark, Sweden, or Germany. Sometimes the button was green, sometimes it was on the back of the faucet.

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Also, I do not know the answer, just by the way…

How I travel (Part 3)

Sometimes, I am slightly more normal than others. (Albeit, rarely.) One of these times came on my evening in Copenhagen when I ventured to Tivoli, a 150+ year old amusement park. Now granted my reasoning for visiting was probably different than many people’s, but I enjoyed it greatly.

When I was little, I read a book called Lotte’s Locket. I read it about 10 times or so, but all I remember is that Lotte got lost in Copenhagen and she and her class went to Tivoli. So when I was going to Copenhagen, Tivoli was at the top of my list.

I went for about 3 hours, including part of the Friday Night Rock Concert and dinner. I will say that while the screaming people on rides is one thing, the atmosphere at Tivoli at night is something different altogether. The lights combined with the concert are very special.

Tivoli is an amusement park, but not like Six Flags or a place like that. You pay for admission and rides separately and it’s quite possible that you’ll only pay for one ride, not a ride pass.

First, Tivoli loves recycling. If you recycle your plastic drink cup, you get a small refund.Very cool.


There’s a lot of cool looking gates and stuff. This door makes me think the most of “Tivoli Garden” the way I thought of it in the past.


Then there’s the Arabic looking castle. With cool fountains and roses…of course.


And amidst the rides and the chaos, there is a row boat on a lake.


The lake also has fountains. The steeple you see in the background is from the City Hall. Copenhagen (like many European cities) is very good at preserving trees. Go Green!


This stretch of Tivoli made me think of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley. Anyone else see a resemblance? Anyone know if J.K. Rowling had been to Tivoli before writing the Harry Potter books?


The open space area in front of the stage lit up for the concert. The palace is lit up in the background.


Norwegian flags and a statue…and roses.


The City Hall and the lake. At night.


One of the craziest roller coasters, all lit up, with screaming people aboard.


I would go back to Tivoli in an instant. Preferably with some friends so that I have people to hang out with and go on rides with, Obviously I should go back to Copenhagen soon.