Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Big Move, Part 2

Only a month late. Oh well.

5/19/2007 - Loading and Unloading

After averting a near disaster by picking up our U-Haul truck on Friday, all that remained was the physical loading of said truck, driving to Minneapolis, and unloading the truck. Now I know that Meaghan and I must be two of the strongest people in the world, but we have a lot of stuff. More stuff than we could probably shuttle in and out of a house twice in one day. So in order to manage the job, we enlisted the help of 12 extremely nice friends. Thanks Brett, Jeff, Mike, Kim, Tony, Urrv, Andy, Brett, Matt, Laurel, Chris, and Alaina. We really couldn't have done it without you. (Thanks, too, to Carol and Isaac for moral support and mad sidewalk chalk skillz.)

The help was so incredible that we managed to tightly pack the entire 24' truck with all of our earthly belongings in a mere hour and a half. Chris and Urrv's pack job was amazing, especially given how few things we had available to provide padding. After a quick lunch at Subway, the caravan hit the highway.

This possibly took longer than either the packing or the unpacking phase. I don't know if you've ever driven a fully laden U-Haul before, but man does it chug up hills. There's not exactly any Pike's Peak in between Rochester and Minneapolis, but we were topping out at 45 MPH trying to get up some of the larger rises. As a result, the first part of the caravan got to our new place a good half hour before the truck did. To kill time, the early arrivers apparently had some adventure trying to help a random woman turn off her two car alarms... or something like that. I wouldn't know, I was driving the truck. (Incidentally, not a day has gone by without a car alarm going off for minutes at a time at some point.)

Once we finally got there, it only took another 90 mins to unload everything into the house. Well... almost everything. Our new house was built in 1907, so it's safe the say that the width and angles of various doors and halls aren't up to modern building standards. Miraculously, with a little cajoling everything fit with the exception of our queen-size box spring. We figured that might happen, so it wasn't a big deal. It was only another week of sleeping on sleeper sofas before we were able to get our half-queen springs from Slumberland.

After a day's hard work, we all went over to Pizza Luce on Lyndale. (Thanks for the idea, Kim.) They have an interesting array of pizzas to choose from, all of them good. We'd been to the one in St. Paul before, but it's good to know one is so close by if we're ever in the mood.


It's been a week since I last posted, but luckily you haven't missed much of anything. I'm pretty sure I've worked 10+ hours every day (including the weekend) since then. While that means there hasn't been much new to write about, it also means that I haven't done any catch-up writing at all. Sorry 'bout that.

More interesting things coming soon.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Don't Fly Too Close to the Sun

I made a special trip to St. Charles after work today. Last night, I "won" (those quotes are for you, Tony) an auction for Kid Icarus for the NES on eBay. It went for pretty cheap compared to the $20-$30 this game typically goes for, plus I didn't have to pay for shipping. I was planning on picking up the manual by itself later since it wasn't mentioned in the auction anywhere, but it came with one anyway. Too bad it looks like it's been partially eaten by a dog and then taped back together. Oh well, I guess that's why it wasn't advertised.

After cleaning it for awhile, I got it to fire up. Turns out I've never played or even seen anyone play this game, but people tell me that it's one of Nintendo's finest. I tried it long enough to discover that you get one life, and when it's gone you get a whopping Metroid-esque password. Looks both fun and hard, the best of both worlds. We'll have to see if I'm able to build up any skill at it.

In the meantime, I've been working on Konami's classic horizontal shooter Gradius for the last week or so. With or without the Konami code (in its first appearance on the NES), I can only make it to level 3. I need to develop a better way of fending off the giant Moai heads and their oh so deadly ion guns. Don't ask me why the ancient statues from Easter Island are an enemy in this game, I have no idea.

Busy Busy

I'm trying to catch up. Really... I swear. It turns out that this whole move thing coupled with the busiest couple of weeks at work in recent memory makes for not a whole lot of free time. I've started a few posts, but haven't finished anything yet (obviously).

Have no fear, some stuff should be appearing tonight.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Our First Houseguest

For the first half of last week, our friend Andrea visited us all the way from Hoboken, NJ. The digital camera is still in a box somewhere, so I have no actual proof of this. You'll just have to take my word for it. I was working most of the time, but she and Meaghan have known each other since 7th grade so they didn't really need me anyway. Even so, we managed to do quite a bit.

Here are the highlights:

- Shopping for furniture at Ikea: I didn't go, but my misgivings about that place proved true. Meaghan and Andrea picked out loads of stuff on the showroom floor, but arrived at the buying floor to discover that only a single piece of the furniture that they had picked out was actually available. The rest had been discontinued, and they refused to sell the floor model. Which begs the question: why keep it on the showroom floor if you have none to sell?

- Went to see Waitress at the Lagoon: Great little romantic comedy of sorts chock full of interesting characters. I highly recommend it to everyone as it's now showing at regular theaters, too. If you're at all a fan of Nathan Fillion (Mal from Firefly/Serenity), you should love it. Best use of Cake in a soundtrack ever.

- Watched a lot of the first season of the Gilmore Girls: Turns out that Andrea's only pretty much seen episodes of this from season 4 onward and we happen to have seasons 1-3 on DVD, so it was fated. I'm not entirely sure what I like about this show, as I seem to enjoy it in spite of itself. As a general rule, I dislike the fast talking, the constant pop culture references, and I don't find either of the two main characters all that sympathetic. I must like the supporting characters.

- Learned we can get to the airport in about 30 mins without walking much more than a block in total, all for the low price of $1.50 per person. How cool is that?

A good time was had by all. Hopefully, we'll be able to see her (and her husband Mike) again before too long.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Welcome to the Hood

Thanks for all of the additional grocery store ideas everyone. We opted to ride the bus to Rainbow Foods this time around, and it actually turned out to be pretty nice. Maybe we'll expand our net a little bit more next time. There's a Kowalski's and a Lund's in Uptown and the Wedge isn't too far away. Trader Joe's is a bit farther afield (St. Louis Park), but probably worth checking out. Meaghan's sister raves about that place all the time.

One place we probably won't be looking at too seriously is Cup Foods. It's only three blocks south of us on Chicago, but we haven't taken the time to stumble down there yet. When we do, it will apparently be in the middle of the afternoon on a bright, sunny day. Google is a wonderful tool. I also found something out about that place on the corner that we went to earlier last week, Toni's. Now I don't want people to start freaking out or refusing to come visit us because they think it's too dangerous. These are simply the kinds of things that exist in fair cities like this one.

On the other hand, we're literally right across the street from our neighborhood association and the Pillsbury House Community Center and Theatre. Over the next few weeks, I hope to expand my exploration beyond our block and the nearby corner. There's bound to be tons more cool (and not so cool) things to do and see in the neighborhood. Maybe I'll even get to eat at Seafood To Go.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Grocery Store Ideas?

I'm going to resume with current topics now, too. If I only tried to play catch up, I don't think I'd ever make it.

Does anybody know of a good grocery store up here? Today's mission is to find something nearby where we can get most of what we need in one trip. After searching for the usual suspects, I've found a Cub Foods, a Rainbow Foods, a Whole Foods, and an Aldi. The nearest Hy-Vee is in Faribault. Are there any other big chains that would be up here in Minneapolis that I don't already know about?

We're planning at shopping some at the little neighborhood groceries and delis, but unless we want to eat nothing but canned and frozen food all the time that's probably not going to work all the time. We stopped in Toni's Market & Deli (which is literally right down the block) on Thursday to look around. We managed to scrounge together enough food for Meaghan to slap together some yummy tostadas for dinner, but the possibilities weren't exactly endless.

Please hit me up with ideas, and I'll keep you posted.

The Big Move, Part 1

So I know that I said in the beginning that this blog was going to cover the big move, but it turns out that when you're actually in the process of moving you're way too busy to write. We've officially been in Minneapolis since Tuesday night, so let me take you through some of the things we've been through to get here.

5/18/2007 - I Haul for U-Haul
I made a reservation with U-Haul on 5/11 for our move on 5/19, but apparently that wasn't early enough for the booming Rochester market. The way it works is you make a reservation for the size of truck or trailer you want (I went with the 24 foot, 3-4 bedroom variety), and they call you the day before telling you where to pick up your truck in the morning. It would've worked out all right except for two things:

1) We had to pick the truck up in Austin, over 40 miles away.
2) We had to pick it up at 9:30 Saturday morning when we had told all of our friends to show up at 9:00 to help load the truck

Luckily, the people at the reservation center were very understandable when I called them and said we could pick up the truck on Friday without being charged for an extra day. The only hitch was that the Austin rental place closed at 5:00 PM, so we had to get moving. Additionally, we had to make it back to Rochester quickly because we were going to a 7:00 movie with friends.

It seemed like everybody and their brother was clogging the roads around Rochester that day. I don't know if it was just the typical early Friday rush or if there were a lot of people trying to get away for the weekend to enjoy the nice weather (I saw a lot of travel trailers out and about). Either way, without breaking too many speed laws, we managed to get to Austin at about 4:55.

Now we just had to find our rental place. There are two U-Haul rental centers in Austin, both of them conveniently named West Side something or other. We were looking for West Side Auto Repair. According to the address and map at the U-Haul site, to get there you exit the freeway and turn left. When we got to that exit, however, we noticed a large collection of U-Haul trucks to our right. Straining our eyes to read the sign we could just make out "West Side...". Thinking it was the other one, I turned left. Two u-turns later, we ended up right back there at West Side Auto Repair. It was 5:03. Stupid lying maps.

Luckily, the place was still open and we rented our truck without a hitch. The drive back to Rochester was fairly uneventful... except for the fact that I took off down the highway in the wrong direction and the speedometer in the truck didn't work. Apparently I can't read road signs when I'm driving something big and new. After a quick conference with Meaghan at the next exit, we decided that she would lead the way back to Rochester since she had a working speedometer. It was a long, slow, bumpy ride, but we made it back in time to go to our 7:00 showing of 28 Weeks Later. I'll talk about that later.