Tuesday, July 31, 2007

BBQ at HarrisWorld

Just wanted to give a quick shout out to the folks over at HarrisWorld for another fabulous Saturday barbeque. Despite the fact that their place was literally swarming with tiny tots, Meaghan, Zelda, and I managed to have a good time.

I rocked it as Moon Knight (who knew that guy existed?) in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance with Mike, Chris, Tony, and Kim's brother, Jay. Think Double Dragon with superheroes, if you're not familiar. Incidentally, I stake my claim now on Amethyst, Princess of Gem World (just check out that winged horse) if a DC version of this ever comes out.

We also broke out our German card game Bohnanza, in which you trade, plant, and sell different kinds of beans. I think a good time was had by most, even though we'd never played with 7 people before and inadvertantly made a mockery of the rules as a result. We'll get them right next time, I swear.

I don't get to see a lot of the people that spent a significant amount of time hanging out in my dorm room very often as they're all spread out so far across the country (it turns out that people don't often want to stay in Iowa), so it was good to see Jay again. I'll have to see if I can dig up some embarrassing photos that prove that I knew him my freshman year at Iowa State.

Go Get 'Em, Tigers!: an addendum

Apparently my praise of the Tigers is solely responsible for their recent four game losing streak (at least my mom says so). With this knowledge, allow me to give my true opinion on the matter.


The Detroit Tigers are the worst team in baseball.

Thank you.

The Wheels on the Bus...

Thanks to this hot tip from Tony, it looks like I'll be doing my part to save the polar bears. Rochester City Lines finally has bus service to Minneapolis, and it starts tomorrow. I have to get on a local bus at the ridonkulous time of 5:20 AM to make it there, but that's why they make those commuter buses so plush and cozy, right?

I'll try to make it and let you know how it goes.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Spicing Up the Morning Routine

Speaking of the Detroit Tigers, I've started getting back into them over the last couple weeks because I've developed a new morning routine. I used to roll out of bed, eat breakfast, shower, and start working, but now I've found a better way to kick off the day.

It took us awhile, but as of last weekend we've managed to officially complete a room in our new place, the kitchen. Everything has been unpacked from boxes and filed away in a drawer, shelf, or cabinet. (I would provide pictures of the house as we round it into shape, but I have no idea where the cable to connect our digital camera to the computer is -- I'll have to buy a replacement.) Most of the other rooms are close (80% or so), but this is the first that's completely done.

Now if anyone is not familiar with the way our kitchen's operated in the past, let me fill you in. We haven't had one of them new fangled dish washy thingers since we moved out of Quarry Ridge in Jan 2003, so the goal has usually been to see how expertly we can pile all of our dirty dishes on the various counters and side tables without breaking any of them. Two weeks of this is typically followed by a back-breaking day that we like to call "Dish Armageddon" in which they all find their way back into a cabinet to restart the cycle. (Coincidentally, we tend to have a lot of "Laundry Armageddons", too, especially when it requires a trip to the laundromat.)

With the new kitchen looking so fresh and clean, I decided that I wouldn't stand for it this time around. So now, my new morning routine consists of rolling out of bed at 6:00 (when Meaghan gets up for class), having breakfast with my lady friend, taking Z dog out for a morning run in the yard, and doing the previous day's dishes while listening to the most recent Tiger game on MLB's Gameday Audio on my laptop. I usually have time for all this, other random chores, and taking a shower all before 9:00 when I start my work day.

It's only been a week, but so far so good. Hooray for me and clean kitchens!

Go get 'em, Tigers!

It's a good time to be a Tigers fan.

Three days, three games, three one run wins over the Twinkies at the dreaded Dome. Good pitching, timely hitting, and a whole lot of choking by Minnesota = a recipe for success. Combine this sweep with some shocking results by Boston and LA (losing twice to cellar dwelling Kansas City and Tampa Bay, respectively) and Detroit now has what they had most of last summer: the best record in baseball.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Sound and the Fury

Over the past five days, we've been treated to a lot of spectacular light and sound shows. On Wednesday, of course, we walked the two blocks to Powderhorn Park to catch one of the two official 4th of July fireworks shows in Minneapolis. If memory serves me correctly (and feel free to correct me if you know) this is the first official state-sanctioned fireworks show I've ever been to, and it did not disappoint. The crowd literally ooohed and aaahed at the impressive variety of shells that were fired off.

Normally, we go back to the old cottage on Blue Lake in upstate Michigan for the holiday where we put on our own considerably tamer display and watch other people launch big stuff around the lake. We had to stick around this year as Meaghan had classes on both Tuesday and Thursday, giving us no time to escape for the holiday. I hope everyone had a good time at the lake without us last week.

This is also the first year that I've been in an urban setting for the holiday, and let me tell you it felt like we were under siege after the show finished. There were rockets, bombs, and firecrackers going off in all directions around our house well into the night. Needless to say, the animals were not the happiest of campers. There was a lot of hiding and nervous panting going on.

Yesterday we were treated to another tremendous display, this one of the thunder and lightning variety, as a thunderstorm materialized right over our neighborhood around 3:00 in the afternoon. Luckily the hail missed us, but around 3:30 a distinctive sizzle accompanied a particularly loud thunderclap, and our electricity was reduced to brownout levels. Did I mention that it was in the 90s and extremely muggy yesterday?

Needless to say, being thrown into the dark without AC or fans on a day like that is no fun. After making sure the pets were well watered and transferring the contents of our fridge to a cooler, we decided to seek the cooler climate of our local neighborhood Perkins for dinner and a Dinkytown coffee shop for a nightcap once we realized that the power wasn't coming back anytime soon.

We literally burned dozens of candles before leaving Rochester because we didn't want to tote them around anymore. Unfortunately, we didn't save any for emergencies so we had to make a trip to Target to stock up. In proof that Murphy's law works for the forces of good, too, seconds after getting all of our candles lit and situated the power flickered back to life at about 10:30 last night. Oh well, at least we'll be prepared for next time.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

They Said It Couldn't Be Done

It only took ~16 hours of game play spread over four days, but I managed to beat Ghosts 'n Goblins this afternoon.

For those not in the know, G'n G is renowned as being one of the more difficult games for the NES. Funny that I started playing this because I was finding Gradius to be too difficult. There are six grueling levels, and you have to beat them each twice to rescue the Princess. Apparently the first time through the game is just an illusion created by Satan himself.

The game plays a bit like Castlevania, only you don't have a whip, and instead of a life bar your heroic knight has a mere two hit points to get him through each level. You start with a suit of armor, and if you get hit once you have to finish the rest of it in your skivvies. Luckily there's a replacement suit in at least four of the six levels.

The game truly would be impossible if it weren't for the fact that you have unlimited continues, and let me tell you... I used a bajillion of them. By today, I was getting significantly better at the game, though. It only took me one continue to reach level 5. I won't tell you how many it took to get through level 5.

Anyway, now that the Nintendo portion of my vacation is complete, it's time to move on to other things... like going to the fireworks show tonight in Powderhorn Park.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

#92 - Message to Love

For those of you not in the know, I started a silly project a few years back when Meaghan went off to Bemidji State. The idea was to keep our Netflix queue occupied while she was gone, but not watch many (or any) movies that we were interested in. So to meet this end, I arbitarily picked a year (1997) and decided to watch as many of the movies from that year as I could in rough chronological order.

Needless to say, Meaghan has long since returned from the Great White North and the project has continued. To date, after nearly four years I have watched 91 movies as part of this endeavor and I'm only about halfway through February. It turns out there are a lot of films screened at the Sundance Film Festival. So many that after 30+ of them I decided to proceed with the chronology and go back to Sundance films when I feel like it.

Anyway, without further ado... #92 - Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival

What, you may ask, is a documentary about a music festival from 1970 doing in a list of 1997 movies? It apparently took 25+ years for the director to get enough funding to complete the film, but I'm glad he did.

Even just for the footage of the music, this movie is worth watching. Among many others, you get to see The Who (with Keith Moon), Jimi Hendrix (in his last major performance before dying), The Doors, Joni Mitchell, and Joan Baez -- truly outstanding stuff. This was the last and largest of the big festivals (Woodstock, etc.) other than benefit concerts (Live Aid anyone?) up until the '90s when Lollapalooza was born. It was the last because it didn't make any money, despite 600,000 people being in attendance.

The film, as well as providing concert footage, focuses on the conflict between the artists, the promoters, and the concertgoers. You see, despite 600,000 people attending, only a mere 10% of that actually paid the £3 ticket price. The promoters lost money trying to pay all of the artists who appeared over the four day event. Many of the hippies, etc. who attended the festival thought that it should be free, so they all sat on a hill outside of the grounds where they could watch and listen to the music. The promoters built a fence to keep them from seeing, the mob tore the fence down, guard dogs were employed... crazy stuff. Interesting as all of this was, this movie was all about the music for me.

Next: #93 - David Lynch's Lost Highway
I've actually already watched this once, but want to view it again before attempting to write about it.

Amuzing Race

So I'm not sure how it managed to happen, but the powers that be here at the Amber Tower and over at HarrisWorld have both neglected to comment on the funnery that was The Amuzing Race (brought to you by the Rochester Public Library). I'm positive Kim took pictures at some point, but maybe all evidence has been erased by now.

It turned out to be a great way to spend a Saturday morning, that is if you find things like running through a dealer's lot looking for a car with a specific VIN, running up a large hill to the edge of a quarry, shagging flyballs whilst attached to your spouse, constructing the world's flimsiest birdhouse, and flying paper airplanes to be fun. There were a few rough spots, but that's to be expected given that it was their first try at it. Luckily, they let us submit constructive criticism afterward. My biggest disappointments were that there really weren't any puzzles (most clues told you exactly where to go and what to do) and that we never left Rochester (the propaganda said it would span across Olmsted county).

Scavenge Like the Dickens managed to take home 16th place out of 35 teams, and for some reason we're still waiting for our trophy in the mail. We did somehow win the Grand Prize during the door prize drawing at the end, a night's stay in one of the better suites at the Kahler Grand in beautiful downtown Rochester. The Harrises graciously let us keep it, as we no longer live there and could perhaps one day be seeking lodging there.

Speaking of lodging, this marked the first time that Meaghan and I had ever stayed overnight at the HarrisWorld B&B. I must say that we heartily enjoyed our stay and hope to be able to visit again sometime in the future. I recommend the room they call "Kim's Mom's Room" to anyone thinking about staying there.

Oh, and unless I'm misremembering, people were talking about how cool it would be if there were something similar in Minneapolis only you were restricted to using public transportation. It turns out that already exists. Thanks Salvation Army! Maybe we'll try this one next year, too, when we know Minneapolis a little better.

All in a Fortnight's Work

It's over.

It's finally over.

As of 8:30 this morning, my responsibilities surrounding a certain release of a certain piece of software have finally been completed. As a token of appreciation for making myself available virtually 18/7 over the last two weeks, I've been given next week off completely without having to use vacation. I'll still be on call Monday and Tuesday in case there are any disasters, but I'm not anticipating receiving any phone calls.

It'll be good to relax and get back to some fun again. It's been two weeks since I've been able to go with Zelda on her walks, two weeks since I've read anything, two weeks since I've picked up a Nintendo controller. I'm hoping to get most of the rest of the house organized this week, too.

I haven't been completely devoid of activity over the last two weeks. Let me fill you in on what you've missed.