Saturday, 1:10 a.m.
So, this little Thanksgiving trip to visit family and friends is almost over. Just under 10 hours from now I should be on my way back to Minneapolis.
Not too much to report from today. The plans for joining the great post-Thanksgiving shopping rush fell through, so I spent the afternoon driving around to observe the continuing decline of the community, as well as a few hours sitting at this here laptop working. (Yes, I know.) In the early evening I joined Ben and Beth to see Master And Commander at the Strand. It was pretty good, and definitely better than last night's movie, not that the two have any reason to be compared. While it was technically an action flick, there were a number of interesting characters and side stories. The only thing I got hung up on (warning, minor spoiler ahead) was that the French ship was American-built. As soon as I learned that, it became a bit difficult to root against it.
Besides, the movie was set only 15 years after some guy named Jefferson was running around in Paris, and less than a decade before a little war broke out during which the Brits burned Washington. Anyway, as the credits rolled, and after a number of segues, Ben and I found ourselves discussing the French revolution. "It was natural selection," he said. "They killed off anyone who fight or run a government."
"But they left a bunch of people who could make really good cheese."
"When you're a pussy yeast infections come naturally."
The French Revolution to yeast infections in four sentences. Only Ben.
After the movie the three of us headed back to Two Rivers to check on a rabbit Ben and Beth were taking care of while its owners were out of town. (I'd vetoed another proposed trip to Country Kitchen.) Mel joined us after she got back from work, and the four of us spent the next three hours sitting around talking. Tired despite the good conversation, I decided to skip out around 12:30.
And that was pretty much it. I'm even more sleepy now, so, like yesterday, I'm going to defer my list of things I'm thankful for. I'm also going to defer my rant about Proex, although I'll probably come unhinged the moment I start organizing the photos from Robin and Andy's wedding.
1:30 a.m. More later.
Friday, 1:23 a.m.
Well, once again I find myself in Two Rivers. Thanksgiving was quiet and subdued at the Danielson residence this year. We had a late afternoon lunch (or was that an early afternoon dinner?), watched the Packers lose to the Lions at Detroit, talked politics and winterized my parents' lawn mower. My brother called later in the afternoon. There's a lot going on in his life right now, so he spent a half hour relating it to me, then another half hour conversing with our folks. In the evening I hung out with Mel, and the two of us drove to Manitowoc to catch Bad Santa at the Strand. It was an OK movie, a lot of fun at times but never quite as interesting as it should've been. After that we headed over to Country Kitchen, snacked on coffee and cheese sticks, complained about life and felt sympathy for our server, a perky, idealistic college student apparently oblivious to what was going to hit her after graduating from college with a philosophy degree.
How'd I end up babbling about this? Oh, yeah, driving across Wisconsin. I head back on Saturday. If things go as planned, I'll meet (Madison) Lisa for lunch in Wausau. Sunday should be quiet, which is good as next weekend will be covered by another trip out of town. As far as this week goes, I'm still not sure what I'll be doing tomorrow. There's talk of going Christmas shopping in Milwaukee or the Fox Cities, but nothing is set in stone yet. We'll see.
) ) )
Since I didn't have an entry on Thanksgiving, I suppose now would be a good time to list all the things I'm thankful for. Unfortunately, I'm pretty tried right now, so the only thing I feel immediately thankful for is the bed I'm sitting on. Hence, I suspect my list is best deferred until tomorrow evening.
2:04 a.m. More later.
Well, I'm off to my parents' place for the holiday. Hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. When I get back, expect one heck of a rant about Proex.
) ) )
In other news, it took six months but they're finally done with the repairs to my car. I get it back Monday.
"Is this growing now?"
"So many bachelor statements all in one night."
) ) )
Usually when you see something good, you want to share word of it. But at the same time, sharing the tepid and melodramatic can be fun, too. "I wouldn't call this a poem," she said. "I'd call this a crossword gone very bad."
Just a reminder: If you hate your cell phone service and want to change providers, as of tomorrow you can do so without losing your phone number. I need to get away from T-Mobile—my service has been mediocre at best—but I'm not sure who to switch to. I'm looking for complete coverage of Wisconsin Highway 29, US 10 and I-94 through Wisconsin, but none of the major carriers cover all three routes.
) ) )
A short set of photos, starting Saturday morning, ending Sunday afternoon:
Snow in November. Spiffy. Unfortunately, we're supposed to get into the mid-30s later this week, so it probably won't stick.
) ) )
"Didn't that happen to you at your last place, too?"
"Nudity, yes. Fucking, no."
"Do you think people could see into your bedroom when you lived there?"
"Yes, but we're not going to talk about that."
) ) )
"Life was more interesting for you back then, wasn't it?"
A short list of things that make Mark happy:
- 28 degree weather, low wind
- Snow crunching beneath my feet
- Loring Park blanketed in white
- Snowflakes dancing between the skyscrapers
A very short list of things that don't make Mark happy:
- Idiots in SUVs skidding over crosswalks
The snow is coming. We look west in anticipation.
) ) )
Unfortunately, I think it's only a matter of time before my sense of humor gets me in trouble at work. This evening was a case example, one where I narrowly avoided saying something that likely would've offended everyone present. A number of us had to stick around after-hours for some files being transferred in from another office, and to pass the time we struck up a typical pre-Thanksgiving conversation about the perils and hassles of traveling. After a while the topic shifted to air travel horror stories, with each person covering the worst plane ride they'd ever had. The conversation finally turned to me: "The worst flight I ever had... Uh, the worst flight I ever had was one from Mobile, Alabama to Memphis in a little 12-seat turboprop." That was true, but compare it to what I intended to say before thinking better of it: "The worst flight I ever had was the one where we flew into the World Trade Center."
So, yeah. Only a matter of time.
) ) )
They're forecasting two to six inches of snow on Saturday. Let's hope some of it sticks.
What part of "only an inch" is so difficult to understand? I walked into a hair salon near work this evening for a small trim and came out with practically no hair on my head. Also, who the hell gives someone whitewalls without asking them first? Is there a certain segment of the population—a segment for some reason concentrated in Eagan, Minnesota—that actually expects whitewalls to be implemented by default? Or maybe a segment that simply doesn't understand English? Because I SAID DON'T SHAVE AROUND MY EARS, DAMMIT. Oh, and then she gets all snooty with me because I didn't leave a tip. THAT'S BECAUSE THERE'S NO HAIR LEFT ON MY HEAD, BITCH.
AND IT'S NOVEMBER.
I really need to find a good barber, someplace I can go without worrying about walking out looking like Calvin after Hobbes gave him a haircut. Unfortunately, I haven't had a good barber since I lived in River Falls, and that didn't last long. About a year after I started going to his shop on a regular basis, he slipped one morning in the shower, grabbed for the curtain rod and ended up impaling himself.
But I digress. I FUCKING HATE THIS HAIRCUT. ARRGH. Ok, I'm going for a walk. I'm going to go downtown, stand on Fifth Street and see if the newly electrified catenary causes my hair to stand up. All half inch of it.
There's a very well-done photo in today's StarTribune of a new light rail train going on a test run in downtown Minneapolis Sunday morning. (I'd link to it, but the Strib has already removed it from their site.) It's been a long, 50 year absence, but it's good to see traction back on Minneapolis roadways.
) ) )
In other transportation news, there was a moderately-disturbing piece in the Strib on Sunday about the increasing number of Hummer owners in the Twin Cities. The usual bullshit reasons for wanting one were thrown about, including a divorced father cheerfully noting "It's big. It's wide. It's intimidating. People give you a little more room on the road." One of the biggest highlights, though, came from Greg Clark, general manager of Wally McCarthy's, on the subject of environmental responsibility:
"What I don't like about the Sierra Club," he said, "[is] they don't talk about a Rolls Royce [or a] Mercedes that gets the same gas mileage. I don't get that they have pinpointed a domestic vehicle" as their automotive target. The Hummer, he said, "is an affordable SUV that appeals to the masses -- other than the Sierra Club."
This is a flawed argument on a number of fronts, not the least of which centers on the fact Hummers get worse gas mileage than all but a few of the vehicles from Mercedes or Rolls Royce. More importantly, though—and this is something Clark either ignores or fails to recognize—is that it's the very fact Hummers are in reach of the masses that makes them such a problem. While many environmental groups have been pushing fuel efficiency for a long time, most have correctly decided not to focus on the low-volume, ultra-high-end market. There's a good reason for that. When you have limited resources to fight with, you have to tackle the areas you feel you'll make the most impact. That's in the commuter segment of the automotive market, not the luxury, dog-show crowd. (Besides, people irresponsible enough to blow a quarter million on an automobile probably aren't going to be convinced to switch vehicles because some penguins are getting sunburns.)
Anyway, while the environmental impact of Rolls Royce Phantoms or Mercedes S600s are inherently limited by the narrow markets they're directed towards, GM wants the H2, the "midsize" SUV between the H1 and the upcoming H3, to be big. They have a factory that can produce 40,000 of them a year, a figure larger than the total number of cars sold by Saab in 2002. With mass sales comes a mass impact, and this one will be a particularly dirty addition to the already grotesque number of SUVs clogging our freeways. It'll increase our reliance on foreign oil, accelerate the destruction of our atmosphere, and make our roads and highways more dangerous—you know the drill. If we as a society decide this kind of vehicle is normal, we might as well ask Ford to bring back the Excursion.
The issue of safety is one that really frosts me. People keep buying SUVs because they think they're safe—see the comment by the father noted a few paragraphs ago—even though most statistics put them as being more dangerous than most minivans or large automobiles. I don't like the way things are going, but if the trend continues, it'll only be logical for GM to start running ads encouraging people to buy Hummers... For the children. Oh, sure, you don't believe me, but just wait and see how long it is until we hear "Hummer, warming their hearts, warming our world" at the end of some H2 commercial. Trust me, it's going to happen.
In the end, we're all fucked. But you knew that already.
While I'd originally suspected overripe leftovers as the cause of last week's puke-a-thon, in the end it turned out to just be a peculiar case of stomach flu. I've talked to more than ten people at work who'd suffered in similar ways, including a few cases that made me feel a bit better about my experience barfing at a grocery store. Whatever the case, the stomach is back to normal now, and I'm quite happy that I can eat again.
Sorry about the delayed posts from the past week, but I've either been too sick or too busy to be in front of the computer.
Before Wednesday, the last time I could remember throwing up was in middle school. Since yesterday morning I've chucked four times, the lowlight of which came in a check-out lane at Kowalski's. (I was there on an apple juice run.) It was kind of like The Exorcist, only with lime Gatorade instead of pea soup. After apologizing profusely, and turning down a number of offers for help, I got out of there as quickly as possible. I've pretty much stayed home since. I'm feeling better this evening, and have been actually able to eat a little, but the stomach still feels a bit tumultuous. At least there wasn't any blood today. Throwing up and getting a nosebleed at the same time. Now that's fun.
Sunday, 1:25 a.m.
Saturday was good. After hanging out with my folks during the morning and early afternoon, my mom and I drove up to Green Bay to check out the renovated Packer stadium. We wandered around the building, gawked at the atrium and wondered where the heck all the other people had come from. In the end, I thought it was a nice renovation, albeit one that was completely unnecessary. Afterwards, at my Mom's suggestion, we headed across the street for dinner at Kroll's, a restaurant that remains my standard-bearer for good hamburgers. Those people at Culver's, Red Robin and those other pansy-ass hamburger chains have no idea what they're doing.
The evening was spent at a bonfire behind Ben's house with a bunch of people I knew (Ben, Beth, Diana, Matt and Mel) and a few I didn't (Lisa and Calvin). We watched the eclipse, feasted on curried chicken, bickered over the quality of various movies and played with fire. It turned out Lisa and I both went to UW-Manitowoc, a fact that eventually lead to a discussions about Canadians teaching US history, nontraditional course materials, and leather-clad professors found tied to trees in the woods.
For a two-year college, UW-Manitowoc was a pretty interesting place.
And that was pretty much it for the day. Tomorrow I head back to Minneapolis. Aside from a possible early lunch with Lisa (the Lisa I went to high school with, not the Lisa from the bonfire), the day will be one of driving.
Saturday, 2:15 a.m. I'm giving myself until 2:30, so this is going to have to be quick.
Ben and Beth were married this morning at around 8:45 in a judge's library in the Manitowoc County Courthouse. It was a quick and informal ceremony—I'm not entirely sure the word ceremony applies, actually—less than five minutes from beginning to end. Ben's mom was present, as was Diana, Seth (Beth and Diana's old roommate from Sheboygan) and me. (Ben's mom, who found out about the wedding less than two hours before it happened, briefly considered getting Ben's brother up but decided there was no way he'd be able to get ready in time.) Diana and I acted as witnesses, and, beyond that, there's not much else to say. The couple purposely didn't make a big deal about the ceremony, saving the pomp and celebration for the formal wedding planned for sometime next year. (Most of us had originally expected the two to keep their legal wedding date a secret until after it had happened, so the fact anyone other than the couple was there at all was a bit unexpected. That also contributed to the short warning time for coming across Wisconsin.)
The drive to the courthouse had been a bit more chaotic than expected. We were supposed to meet at Ben and Beth's at 8:00, which would leave plenty of time to get to the courthouse by 8:30, but things started going south when a few in the group decided they needed their morning caffeine fix fix. We drove to a nearby KwikTrip and through a democratic process I wasn't completely aware of it was decided that Seth would requisition the coffee for the morning. Now, Seth seemed like a nice guy, but he wasn't the most expedient person I've ever met. After about five minutes, conversation was completely centered on his apparent lack of haste.
Beth: "What's taking him so long?"
Diana: "You sent a gay man to get coffee. What did you expect?"
Eventually Seth returned, and after a slightly excessive drive to the courthouse (Ben: "I don't care if there are cops, I'm not stopping") the group arrived at the courthouse with a few minutes to spare.
After the ceremony everyone headed over to the local Country Kitchen along with some of Ben and Beth's gaming friends from Sheboygan. It was a fairly motley group, and breakfast topics ranged from GenCon (said their friend, Anna, "It's the Man Mall of America") to why blue and red make good motorcycle club colors. Strangely enough, one thing not extensively discussed was Ben and Beth's new marital status.
) ) )
After breakfast everyone seemed prepared to scatter and leave the newlyweds to themselves, an option the two didn't seem particularly keen on. "We were up late last night and have been up since 6:30 this morning," said Ben. "It's not like we're going to want to go home tonight and have sex." After a small amount of discussion, it was decided a bunch of us would go and catch an afternoon showing of The Matrix Revolutions down in Sheboygan. After deciding to meet at Ben and Beth's at noon, Ben headed home, Beth and Di went shopping, and I headed to my parents' to grab a quick nap1.
The drive to see The Matrix turned into another rush, but that's probably a story best left untold. As far as the movie itself, well, it wasn't the greatest thing I've ever seen, but was completely undeserving of all the negative reviews leveled against it. Granted, it would've been nice for Keanu Reaves to bother to act, but I suppose that probably would've been asking too much for three movies in a row. While I can understand that a viewer who hadn't seen the first two movies wouldn't have a clue what was going on, I suspect many who complained about the lack of plot simply weren't paying attention. And for those bitching about the ending, well, it was a completely logical conclusion to the situation set up in Reloaded.
That said, even if the movie had sucked I would've been willing to watch the entire thing for Monica Bellucci. And, uh, Tharini Mudaliar. Incidentally, both of them were law students at one time or another, but anyway...
) ) )
After the movie Diana and Beth headed off to drop off Seth before heading up to Beth's parents' place in Green Bay. Ben and I drove back to Two Rivers, during which time I got a quick course on Ben's view of seeing family and relatives on a weekly basis vs. seeing them only a few times a year but making those visits quality time. He and Beth seem to have somewhat different philosophies in that area, but obviously nothing they wouldn't be able to get past.
After visiting with my folks for a few hours, I spent the late evening hanging out with Mel. I wasn't expecting to find myself at Country Kitchen for the second time that day, but it was late and we were looking for someplace that would stay open past midnight. Munching on appetizers and drinking coffee and soda (way too much coffee in Mel's case), we sat and talked about random events past 1:00 in the morning. There was a lot of discussion about the media, a subject both of us are familiar with through employment and schooling, as well as Mel's plans for returning to college. Her present situation isn't the greatest, but at least she has some pretty good plans for moving forward. That puts her ahead of many.
) ) )
Well, it's 2:45. Time for bed.
I guess I'll just let this email speak for itself:
Hi Mom and Dad...
My plans for this weekend just went through a very substantial change. Ben and Beth are getting married Friday morning and I'm going to act as a witness. As it stands, I have to be in Two Rivers Thursday evening—I guess that's tonight, isn't it?—so I guess I'll be seeing the two of you a little earlier than I expected.
If there are any problems with me dropping in early like this, let me know and I'll see what I can do.
See you in a half day or so...
The last third of this year is really turning into one for the record books.
This morning found me decked out in my long wool coat, a Thinsulate-lined set of gloves, a wool stocking hat and scarf, and a waterproof pair of Timberlands. To say I was both expecting and looking forward to the first snowfall of the season would be a bit of an understatement.
) ) )
"It's coming down pretty hard out there."
"Yeah." I shook the snow off my scarf. "They say we could get two to four inches today."
"More like two to four feet."
"You would wish."
2:30 a.m. I just got back from River Falls where I spent the afternoon hanging out with Jason, Rich, Heather and Sarah. We rounded out the daylight hours with dinner on River Fall's newly-spiffified (and somewhat foreign) Main Street, followed Jason, Rich and me spending over seven hours embroiled in a fairly agressive game of Risk.
Seven freakin' hours. I'd sort of forgotten how much I love Risk, despite it being a member of that unfortunate category of games I've never won at. (Chess is another member of that group, which sort of makes me wonder if I have problems with spatial reasoning.) Despite the marathon length of the game, the conclusion was set early on: Rich quickly grabbed strongholds in Australia and South America, both of which are rather easy to protect. Jason spent most of his time defending his ground in Asia and North America, while I tried to hold Africa while making a number of failed attempts at Europe. (I actually took it for one round, but couldn't hold onto it long enough to get any extra armies out of the deal.) None of those areas are anywhere close to being as easy to protect as Australia and South America, of course, so Jason and I were put on the defensive from the start. I managed to break into South America for two rounds, but, despite numerous and costly attempts by Jason, Australia never fell. By midnight, it was no longer a question whether Rich was going to win or not but whether he'd be able to kill off Jason and I before 1:00. Going by the clock on the stove, Rich failed, but by the clock on the microwave, he won.
I can't believe I'm babbling about a board game. Hmph.
3:00. Time for bed.