Sort of a busy weekend. This is the first one I've had off in a while, so I spent it doing a lot of overdue errands and chores, as well as a five-hour marathon closet reorganization. Part of that reorg consisted of a trip to Organized Living in Edina, where I found myself standing next to Harris Faulkner in the steel shelving section. Anyway, while the kitty seems to be moderately agitated about losing a number of his hiding places, I'm happy to finally get that huge pile of boxes and unused crap out of my dining area.
) ) )
I've started working on a list of goals and resolutions for 2003. While many are the same ones I make every year, there will be some new ones this time, too. Following a trend at work, I expect the new goals to be more quantifiable and metrics-driven than previous years' resolutions. I only wish I was joking.
) ) )
Cinergy Field in Cincinnati met its end this morning in a tedious 37-second implosion ceremoniously set off by a United Way raffle winner. While it was by no means a good stadium, it's somewhat saddening to see it go, if for no other reason than all the historic games that went on there. Biker Ben, his significant other and I visited the stadium in September, but it was only earlier this month that I was able to start organizing the photos from the trip. Although I'm still working on the cutlines, I should be able to post the photos within the week.
it20021225 - Wednesday - Christmas
Two Rivers, Wisconsin
It's a little bit after 1:00 this Christmas morning. I just got back from Biker Ben's a few minutes ago. In about nine hours I'll be on the road again, this time heading home to Minnesota. Today—or Tuesday, rather—was a fairly laid-back day. Uncle Pat came down from Green Bay in the afternoon for an early Christmas dinner, and in the evening I hung out with Biker Ben, Beth, and Eric, a mutual friend of ours from high school. We rented Waking Life, talked about how Two Rivers is actively working to destroy itself, discussed philosophy and joked about what Ben and Beth's kid is going to be named. As it happens, that last topic was by no means theoretical. Beth is due in early September.
What the heck is it with all these people having kids? It seems just about every other couple I know is planning on popping out a kid or two over the next year. You'd think there was an impending baby moratorium or something. I mean, sheesh.
) ) )
Ben decided to strike up a sing-a-long. "And so this is Christmas..."
No one bit, so I jumped in. "And what have you done..."
Then Beth. "Well, I know I've done it." And with that the singing ended and we put in the movie.
) ) )
Earlier in the evening I turned to Eric while Ben was making popcorn. "Do you smell smoke?"
"Do you see smoke?"
) ) )
As the evening progressed, the conversation at Ben's became more deluded. There was general appreciation of my high school rock throwing concept, but later in the evening, I had grander fantasies. "You know what would be cool? If we waited until they finished demolishing the old school, and then BURNED THE NEW SCHOOL TO THE GROUND."
"You really don't like the new high school, do you?"
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Just so I don't get branded a terrorist or anything, I'd just like to state I'd never do something like torching Two Rivers' high school, nor would I want anyone else to do so. Really.
Interesting day today. My mom and my friend Lisa both had the day off, so we headed down to Milwaukee to visit the Milwaukee Art Museum. There were some really good exhibits, and the building, well, the new addition by Santiago Calatrava was spectacular. Soaring, contemplative and graceful all at the same time, it may be the most beautiful building I've ever stepped foot in. Even the parking ramp was a work of art. If you're in Milwaukee and have a few hours to spare, make sure you visit the museum. It's really something to behold.
The evening was spent hanging out with Biker Ben and Beth. We had dinner at Friar Tuck's1, did a brief survey of some of the homes they were considering, and then went and hung out at Wal-Mart and ShopKo2. Why hang out at those places? Well, if you're stuck in Manitowoc on a Monday evening and aren't interested in getting drunk, there's really very little else to do. The Wal-Mart visit was particularly disturbing. A couple of days ago Mike commented how many of his friends who'd stayed in the area had grown fat and bored, and after tonight, I can say it's not just limited to his class. I saw a number of people I went to school with, and in a majority of cases they looked tired, worn, and aged beyond their years. I've never liked this community, but I'm still amazed at the damage it's capable of. It's sad, really.
Well, I'm getting pretty tired, so I think I'm going to check my email and turn in. More later.
Well, it's been a fairly quiet Christmas vacation so far. Yesterday was the first time in years all four members of the Danielson family were in the same place at the same time. This was completely evident to everyone, of course, but I still felt like bringing it up as we sat down for dinner. "How long has it been since the four of us have been around a table like this?"
It was my mom who answered. "Four years... And I'm going to cry." And with that, she did. In the end, we agreed we probably should try to get together a little more often.
Other than that (and all the presents exchanged around the tree last night) this has been a fairly typical Two Rivers trip. Usually I find myself driving around remembering how much this city sucks, but this time I had my brother to help me. Where I see one stupid city planning decision after another, Mike sees old classmates who should've moved, but instead stayed and grew fat. Flip sides of the same coin, perhaps. Whatever the case, we're both happy we got out, but at the same time find ourselves curious why anyone would want to stay in such a godforsaken place.
) ) )
About stupid city planning decisions, well, there's just one I have to get out of the way. While I'm sure the city played a significant role in this blunder, most of the blame probably goes to the school system. A few years ago Two Rivers had a number of marginal school buildings and one good one, all of which could have used some renovations. How did they deal with this? In typical Trivers fashion, they kept the marginal buildings and demolished the good one, replacing it with a prison-like structure outside of the city limits. In this case, the good building referred to was Two Rivers Washington High School. Where the school used to hold a prominent place of honor at the end of the city's main street, it now sits alongside a two-lane highway in a newly annexed portion of the city, quite literally between a farm field and a landfill. Where students used to be able to ride their bikes to school, they now can only drive or take a bus. While students and faculty once were able to walk downtown for lunch, they now have to stay on the grounds to eat. Where Two Rivers could once take pride... Oh, wait. I forgot. They don't take pride in anything.
Granted, the old school wasn't a perfect building. With its age came problems, especially in the areas of accessibility and wiring, but it was nothing that couldn't be resolved. From what I've been able to gather from those who witnessed this catastrophe, the main argument against renovating Washington was that doing so would cost more than putting up a new building. While that may be true, making such a decision on a purely financial basis completely ignores the larger role such an institution should (and did) play in the community. The location of the new high school makes it invisible to the city as a whole, and its boring, occasionally oppressive design is nothing less than an attack on the importance of education. There's also a psychological element to all of this. While the old building looked like what a high school should look like, the new school looks like your standard government-order correctional facility. That's not exactly a great environment to learn in.
This afternoon Mike and I stopped and visited our old school for 20 minutes, walking around the security fence bitching about all the stupid things that once went on there. (While I'm annoyed to see the place go, it's not because of any sugar-coated memories I have of what went on inside its walls.) We remembered our high school being a fairly small place, but wandering around its ravaged, hollowed mass, we could see that our memories were a bit off. Washington was a big school. At its highest enrollment, it held almost 1400 students. Its replacement is much smaller, possibly only a third the size of the previous school. What that says for the future of the city, well, you can draw your own conclusions.
On the way back to the car, we asked a person going through the security gate if each of us could run in to grab a brick. At first he found this request odd, but when we explained we used to be students, he let us pass. If I were a less law-abiding person, I suppose I would've grabbed an extra brick, gone to the new high school that evening and chucked it through one of the front windows. Of course, I am a fairly law-abiding soul, so I didn't.
That's not to say it wasn't an attractive idea, though.
Well, I'm off to my folks' place for Christmas. If I don't slide off the road, I should be back Wednesday.
) ) )
As It Happens played White Christmas before signing off this evening. They dedicated the song to Trent Lott.
) ) )
"You've never used the Internet Movie Database before?"
"No, I've always used movies.com"
"It's a lot prettier."
"I know, content content content."
Some coworkers, friends and I caught the 2002 British Television Advertising Awards at the Walker this evening. The ads were good, although it was moderately disturbing that many of the best ones were from, uh, Nike. The PSAs were notable for how much they relied on shock to get their points across, and while that worked in many cases, the speeding ad came across as pretty heavy-handed. As far as the general commercials go, I have to wonder about American Airline's logo as well: "The American state at 35,000 feet." Um, okay. Hope you don't get shot. The funniest commercials were probably the ones from Dulux, although the Durex condom ads were pretty funny, too.
) ) )
She had a blank game of hangman on her whiteboard. "Is there an A?"
She wrote in an A.
"Are there two Rs?"
"You don't get to play anymore."
I headed over to Southdale after work this evening to finish my Christmas shopping. The shopping was successful, but I almost wish I hadn't gone out. Three conversations, overheard:
"Jenny, look! A New York Firefighters calendar!"
"What? Oooh, that one's hot."
"No, no, I like him."
"Yeah." Pause. "I wonder if any of them died in the World Trade Center."
"'Bowling For Columbine.'"
"Oh, I've heard about that! What's it about?"
"I dunno. Something about how bowling can cause violence."
Finally, while passing Abercrombie...
"We need to get you pecs like that."
"They look like breasts."
"But they'd be my breasts."
With that, they stopped and kissed.
) ) )
Don't even get me started on the couple making out in line at Crate & Barrel. Some people found it to be good entertainment. Me, if I had a spork, I would've stabbed them.
) ) )
Finally, the Minnesota license plate for the evening is KAP 159. She rear-ended me while I was waiting at the light at Hennepin and Franklin, and then drove off when I pulled over to inspect my car for damage.
Well, it was a fairly quiet weekend. Biker Ben and Beth were up on Saturday, so I spent much of the day hanging out with them and a couple of Beth's Minnesota friends. We wandered around the area, did some shopping, had dinner at the French Meadow Bakery, pondered the infrared cameras at the Walker's sculpture garden and generally had a good time. Today I spent a few hours working (of course), finished off the Christmas shopping and ran errands. I'm not really happy with the results of this year's gift hunt, but at least it's over with. Other than that, well, Friday was kind of different. While I don't mean that in a bad way, I'm not sure what to write about it.
Monday should be busy. I'm not sure about the rest of the week.
Got a call from Biker Ben this evening. He and his S.O. will be up in Minneapolis this weekend, and he was just checking to see if we could do something. We made some tentative plans, at which point he started off on how one of Beth's Minneapolis friends is ordained and will be running their ceremony come June 7th.
I interrupted him. "June 7th?"
"Oh, I haven't talked to you for a while, have I? That's when we're going to be holding the wedding."
"Okay, June 7th. I suppose I should put that in my planner..."
"If I'm not, I can make myself open."
"I probably should have talked to you about that. Hey, can you be my best man? I hope so, because I've been telling everyone you're going to be..."
I've been without my home email for a few days. It's good to be connected again.
) ) )
After trying to help Robin find a way to save Real Audio files from This American Life's website yesterday, I rediscovered one of my favorite episodes: Jobs That Take Over Your Life. As much as I've been griping about my unusually hectic work situation lately, the episode is a good reminder that I actually have very little to complain about.
They're about a year overdue, but I was finally able to post my photos from last fall's trip to New York.
) ) )
It was an expectedly busy weekend. Aside from the somewhat disturbing amount of time I spent slaving away on stuff for work, I cleaned the car for the first time in three months (kinda gross), took care of much of my holiday shopping (but not enough), and spent a lot of time thinking about things I'd rather be doing and people I'd rather be talking to. For a number of reasons I considered holding off on shopping until next weekend, but there's a good chance that Saturday and Sunday will be wasted on the same project much of this weekend was lost to (only in a much more critical and panicked fashion), so it was probably a good move to try to take care of the shopping this weekend.
A few months ago a coworker pointed out if I work more than my regular hours I'm effectively paying my employer so I can keep doing work for them. I have a deep respect for people who work hard and I try to maintain a good work ethic myself, but at some point such pursuits can turn into something dark and even dangerous. I think I've completely crossed that line, and for my health, my dreams and my quality of life, I really need to do something about it. The goal for next year is to keep the work-weeks under 45 hours, something that has been little more than a pipe-dream over the past month and a half. It's next to impossible to get myself out of the projects I'm already involved in, but if I'm diligent, I should be able to keep myself from getting stuck in too many of them in the future.
) ) )
I should note the weekend wasn't all bleak and gloomy. Meg and Amanda held an open house yesterday, which fun, and in the early-morning hours I was able to catch up on some reading. But, unfortunately, that was pretty much it. We'll see how Monday goes.
I put in a load of whites while doing laundry this evening, mostly T-shirts and dress shirts. No big deal, except everything came out pink. Dismayed, I tore through the pile to find the culprit, but when done only had a bunch of pink clothing that used to be white. There was absolutely nothing in the load that should've caused it to turn pink. Nothing. So what caused it? Some kind of residue from a previous load? Rust in the water? I have no clue.
There are a lot of words I could use to describe this week. "Stupid" would probably fall somewhere near the top of the list.
) ) )
So, anyway, The Site Who's Name Cannot Be MentionedTM had a get-together in Minneapolis earlier this evening and because I was too busy this week and didn't bother to check the discuss section I missed it. Dammit dammit dammit.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about that's okay. I just had to vent.
So, I was expecting my evenings to be fairly productive this week, but that was before my new iPod arrived on Monday. Since then my spare time has been wasted in front of the computer as I've raced to get my CD collection converted to mp3s. Sure, the iPod can pull an album from the computer in about 15 seconds, but it still takes five minutes to convert each disk to mp3.
Of course, there's no highly necessary end to this. I'm just smitten with the idea of having my music collection with me wherever I go without having to lug a huge CD case along all the time.
) ) )
"You bought a Mac?"
"I got an iPod."
"Well, it's an Apple."
"You bought a Mac."
"What's wrong with you?"
"It's pretty cool."
"It's a Macintosh!"
"It works with my PC."
"I can't believe you. A Mac."
"Yeah. Hey, don't shake your head at me."
Sort of a busy weekend. Aside from all the errands I had to catch up on after that heinously busy month known as November, I spent much of Saturday hanging out with Heather, Rich and Jason. We decided to go explore Block E, the suburban-style entertainment complex in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, and it turned out to be a decidedly surreal experience. Heather summed it up best: "I know where I am, but it doesn't feel like I'm there." Rich later compared it to something one would find in Edina. There's a Hard Rock Cafe, a 15-screen movie theater, a Border's bookstore, a GameWorks and a Starbucks, all under one roof. I can't wait until they open the Applebee's. That'll be swank.
Granted, we did have fun, and if Block E lures suburbanites to come in and spend money in this fair city, all the better. I'm just a bit ticked we had to subsidize it to the tune of $39 million.
) ) )
For the record, we didn't eat at Block E, but walked a few blocks to Pizza Luce instead.
) ) )
"Mark, how you doing?"
"Pretty good, Phil, you?"
"Good. You coming back from the store?"
"No, just out for my evening walk."
"Evening walk? It's almost 11:30!"
"I keep a fairly late schedule."
"And it's cold out, too..."
"Oh, it's not too bad. I kind of like it."
) ) )
Not that this should surprise anyone, but I'm not quite done with the New York photos yet. I should be able to post them sometime this week, though.