Monday, May 15, 2006


My first dorodango

This is my first, very poor attempt at making a dorodango. It's not supposed to look this rough (I used soil that was too gritty), but I was still very impressed that it worked at all. You can't tell from the photo, but the ball is rock-hard and heavy. It looks exactly as if I found a nearly perfectly round rock and gave it several coats of enamel. I only dimly remembered reading about the Japanese art of making these things (I read the linked Web page a year ago), but while watching my son play baseball it occurred to me that the soil at baseball fields, with its mixture of sand and clay, would probably be perfect for making one. I just threw some water on the soil, formed a ball, and started polishing using dry soil. This is the result after a hour and a half or so. It would have come out smooth if I had sifted out the pebbles, which I may try next time.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Another year

Originally uploaded by ailishsul.

The beer, the TV remote control and lots of candles on the cake... The parallels with Homer Simpson are becoming scary.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Roman Holiday

Theresa looking out over the forum
Originally uploaded by Eamonn_Sullivan.

Theresa and I are back from a short trip to Rome, our first. The city wasn't high on my list of places to see. Iceland was considerably higher, to give you an idea. But I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As usual, I set out to learn the language before we went and didn't get far. My excuse this time was that my iPod died -- complete hard drive failure. That happened about three days into my attempt to get through an Italian audio course and it meant I had to listen to it in the car (30 minutes a month, approximately) instead of the tube (2.5 hours a day). I ended up barely knowing how to say non parlo italiano by the time we arrived.

We saw the usual sights -- Vatican, Coloseum, the Roman Forum (that's the Arch of Septimius Severus behind Theresa). We walked about 10 miles on the first day, so had to take a break on the second and hang around a huge public park near the hotel, filled with local families and some sort of African festival. We ended the day at a wonderful little trattoria (family restaurant) in an alley in the Trastevere neighborhood.

On the third (and final) day, we spent most of it in at the Vatican museum and St. Peter's. The museum was fabulous, but the crowd going to see the Sistine Chapel wasn't so fab. We felt like cows being herded. We quickly broke off and made our way to the quieter exhibits. For lunch, we ate at a pizzeria recommended by a colleague at work. We ended the evening at a more upscale restaurant near our hotel for a complete, six-course meal. It was wonderful, but I feel like I brought some of Rome home with me, around my middle...

The complete set of photos from the trip is here.