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Journal for 25 July 2006


Okay, kind of quiet around here lately. I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk, and busy on top of that. This site may go into hibernation for a few months in the near future. I have a number of major projects I need to be working on right now, and this site is one of the many things keeping me from focusing the appropriate amount of time on them.


Lisa and I saw Beth Orton at First Ave last night. Aside from some annoying Ticketmaster hi jinx–they considered her earlier show “cancelled and rescheduled” instead of “postponed,” which essentially means they got to double up on the processing fees–it was a lot of fun. Neither of us had been to a concert in quite some time, and Lisa actually enjoyed Orton’s performance, which was no means a given considering her lukewarm reaction to her albums. The start of the show was a bit rough–guitars out of tune, technical problems, Beth sometimes sounding like she had a cold–but it got progressively better as the show went on. The show was really heavy on her new CD, which I’m not the biggest fan of, but the songs came across a lot better live than they do on the album. We missed most of the opening band, but the little that we heard sounded pretty good, too.

Monday nights are kind of crappy nights for concerts, but you take what you can get. Driving home we decided that we need to go out to concerts more often. To some extent that will be a matter of money and time, but for the most part we’ll just have to keep a better eye on what’s coming through town.


“Even if we have kids, we still need to do stuff like this.”

“Only then it will be to shows with puppets.”

“No, I mean *real* concerts.”

Posted in ConcertLog,Journal at 10:38 pm

Journal for 13 July 2006


This is one of those weeks where everything seems to be malfunctioning. In addition to all the crap with my car–they cracked the exhaust manifold while replacing the catalytic converter, by the way–my new phone is over two weeks late from Verizon and my clinic has managed to screw up my cholesterol test for the second time in a row. (The frosting on the cake this evening is that Firefox crashed while I was finishing up this entry, meaning this is actually the second time I’ve written this.)

The cholesterol test issue is especially annoying. My cholesterol was found to be a bit high last time it was checked, so my doctor told me to have it tested again six months down the road. When I did so the results were over two weeks late, and when they did eventually arrive lacked any information about cholesterol. I called the clinic to find out what the deal was, and they said that there must have been some oversight and that I’d have to be tested again. I did that about a month ago, and when my results hadn’t arrived by the start of this week, I started making phone calls again.

This afternoon I got an absolute gem of a voice mail saying, hey, we mailed your results on the 16th, no, wait, the 19th, so you should’ve gotten them by now. “It looks like it was your kidney function tests… I will resend these out to you. They may have been held up in the system or in the mail, but I’ll put another copy in the mail for you tomorrow. Thanks Mark! Bye!” Of course, this was despite me explicity referencing the cholesterol test when I called them on Tuesday.

Lisa has been telling me for some time now that I should find a new clinic, and the more crap like this happens, the more I think that’s the case.

Posted in Journal at 11:12 pm

Journal for 9 July 2006


This weekend was all over the map, both literally and metaphorically. Much of it I won’t go into.

The big news from today is… I finally bought a bike! Sure, it’s a $130 model built in some commie country on the other side of the planet, but if some thief decides to be gone with the Schwinn, well, I won’t be out all that much. We did an inaugural bike ride around Harriet and then the Isles this evening–my first real ride since I trashed my last bike in cinematic crash back 1999–and it was a lot of fun. I need to get a better seat than the P.O.S. that came with the bike, but otherwise it seems to fit me pretty well.

I kind of wondered if the bike ride was going to show me to be out of shape, but not really. I guess all that walking I’ve been doing for the past seven years was good for something. Now I just need to get a camera mount for the front of the bike. Hmmm. Lisa is going to love that.


Saturday was kind of interesting. Lisa and I jumped in the SUV–more on that later–and headed to Stillwater since, really, we had nothing better to do. We had a really bad lunch at some crank diner along the main strip, and then wandered across the bridge and watched the boats for a while. (Note to self: Lisa does not respond well to jokes about the bridge opening without any warning.) We probably would’ve walked around some more, but it was brutally hot, so we retreated home to air conditioning and then went and grabbed dinner at Kahn’s Mongolian Barbecue. (Note to self, Part II: The Roseville Kahn’s is nowhere near as crowded as the Richfield Kahn’s, and just as good.)

Beyond that, there’s not much else fit or right for report. I have an 8:00 meeting tomorrow morning, which is dreadfully early for me, so I guess I should hit it.

More later.

Posted in Journal at 11:03 pm

FoodLog: Dinner at Amore Victoria


As it happens, today’s my birthday. I’m usually not much one for celebrations, but Lisa went ahead and surprised me with dinner at Amore Victoria anyway. We had a good time, but unfortunately the food was disappointing and the service kind of passive aggressive. I had rolled chicken with mushrooms, asparagus and potatoes. It was edible, but didn’t have much else going for it. The chicken was overcooked and very dry, and the asparagus seemed one degree away from canned. Lisa had some bland concoction of eggplant and noodles in a white wine sauce, which was pretty uninspiring as well. It was also obscenely oversized, with her plate holding enough for three or four people. For a moment I thought we were at Buca, but no, that was supposedly a single serving on her plate. Leftovers are nice, but her dinner was ridiculous.

Before leaving we decided that Olive Garden would’ve been better, even though neither of us actually likes Olive Garden. We also decided we need to eat out at Figlio more often.

Not recommended.

Posted in FoodLog at 10:41 pm

Journal for 4 July 2006


Well, we’re in Madison. It feels like early morning, but in reality it’s early afternoon. We had a 6:00 start to our day yesterday, and didn’t get to bed until 2:00 last night, so we’re both kind of wiped.

Tire issues really threw yesterday off. We didn’t get out of Detroit until after 11:00, more than a couple of hours after we hoped to be on the road. The stop at the Firestone was necessary, though: The bolt they pulled out of the tire was over an inch long and had made the tire unrepairable. We would’ve had problems had we taken the car on the Interstate. Good thing I didn’t try pulling it out the night before, I guess.  (For what it’s worth, I found a tire place more than 12 miles closer than the place the concierge pointed us to.  She needs to put down that contact book of hers and open up an Internet connection.)
Anyway, we got in really late last night, so we’re visiting Lisa’s folks today. This means I won’t have time to visit my relatives down here, but hopefully we should be able to get back down to Madison in the next month or so.

It was good to meet Lisa’s relatives in Indiana. They’re a nice group of folks. Her grandmother is a spry little woman, although one who’s unfortunately not completely aware of everything going on around her. While over Lisa’s uncle’s place, “Jaws” was playing on the TV. Just as the scene where Quint gets violently ripped about and then eaten came to an end, her grandmother turned to the group and asked “have any of you ever gone fishing on Lake Michigan? It’s a lot of fun.” It sounds like those taking care of her hear such statements a lot, and I have to respect the infinite amounts of patience they must possess to be able to handle that.

Beyond that, not much. We stopped in Ann Arbor on the way out of Michigan so Lisa could see Michigan Stadium and the University of Michigan campus. The stadium was closed to visitors due to construction (usually it’s open on non-gamedays so people can wander in and look), but at least she got to see the campus. On the way out of town we stopped at a grocery store so I could buy some Faygo soda for coworkers. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes over.

Well, the family is slowly starting to congregate downstairs, so I guess I should wrap it up. The next entry will likely be back home in Minneapolis, unless the car breaks down along the way. (More on that potential issue later.)

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 12:12 pm

Journal for 2 July 2006


Going through customs is always annoying, but it can become more so when you don’t have proper proof of citizenship. We hadn’t planned on going to Windsor, so we didn’t have our passports with us. Then again, we didn’t plan on getting a large bolt through one of the Saturn’s back tires, either, and when that happened we were effectively without transportation until tomorrow morning.

But more about the car later.

Following a few online suggestions, we decided to take the bus to Canada, and, in retrospect, that was somewhat of a mistake. Windsor was a bit of a hole, one that actually made us want to get back to Detroit. Getting back to Detroit turned into a challenge in itself, first with the bus being over a half hour late, and then with customs. Everyone else passed through quickly. Lisa and I… didn’t.


I handed him my driver’s license.

“Proof of citizenship?”

“That’s what I have.”

“All this proves to me is that you drive in Minnesota.”

I didn’t have much of an excuse. “We weren’t planning on going to Canada.”

“Where were you born?”

“______ _____, Wisconsin.”

“Why were you in Canada?”

“We went over this evening for the heck of it.”

“Why are you in Detroit.”

“We’re on vacation.”

Long pause. “Think about what you just said. Who vacations in Detroit?”

“Well, I do.”


“I’m an architecture nerd.”

“That’s the only good reason. Is the Thunderbird Hotel still in Minneapolis?”


When Lisa was asked why we were vacationing in Detroit, she replied “because my boyfriend is obsessed with it.”


So, Detroit has actually been pretty fun. Or, at least it was until the bolt incident, which exposed one of the primary ways Detroit lacks as a city. Just about any other major city I’m familiar with lacking a car could at worst be an annoyance. In Detroit, you’re pretty much fucked if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on cab fares. Tomorrow morning will be an early one, as we make the trek to the only tire store the concierge was able to find that would be open tomorrow. It’s almost 15 miles north of here. Dammit.

Anyway, the drive down from Mackinaw City was pretty painless, except for the cruise control shorting out and killing the car in the process. (We were able to revive the car. No such luck with the cruise control.) I’d wondered how I’d introduce Detroit to Lisa, and in the end decided to drive in Woodward from the Davison Freeway. It turned out to be a good way of doing things, as Lisa was able to see both the devastation and signs of hope that mark the city. Vacant lots on one side and burned out buildings on the other one block, then tasteful restorations and new condos on the next. Hope, destruction, and back again, ad infinitum.

We settled in at the Renaissance Center and grabbed the People Mover to Greektown, a block-and-a-half strip with a lot of restaurants. As we paid our bill our server learned that we weren’t from Detroit. His response was kind of typical of what we got from the locals here: “So, do you think Detroit is as bad as everyone says it is?” Lisa responded that she didn’t think it was, and the server launched into a short speech on how he had to defend it to his family and convince his mom that the area he lived wasn’t, you know, all that bad.

Today we started by wandering around the downtown and had lunch at the Hockeytown Cafe. (Hey, we’re tourists, and everything else was closed.) When the rains came we retreated to the Detroit Institute of Arts, which despite showing an extremely limited portion of their collection due to renovations, was still an interesting and worthwhile visit. From there we embarked on a short tour that was going to take us around Tiger Stadium, Michigan Central and Belle Isle before heading to some of the more interesting suburbs for dinner. The bolt made it’s introduction at Michigan Central, and the evening went downhill after that.

Lisa noticed Michigan Central well before we left Tiger Stadium. “Oh my god, what building is that?” It seems to have that kind of effect on a lot of people. Standing in front of the station, a fantastically beautiful yet utterly destroyed piece of architecture, we watched four other groups drive up and do the same thing we were doing: Look, point, and probably wonder how the hell something like that is allowed to happen.

The front of the building probably would’ve been enough, but no, I had to show Lisa where the sheds used to be located. That’s when the tire got fucked up. You’d think Detroit, with it’s obsession with cars, would have at least one 24-hour tire place, but no. We got a hold of a number of towing companies, but they all just changed tires, not replaced tires.

It was kind of sad to see Tiger Stadium again, knowing that it’ll probably be gone the next time I’m here. It’s a great stadium, and deserves a better fate than demolition, be it partial or otherwise.


Well, it’s getting late, and now we have errands we have to do tomorrow. Mackinac Island will have to wait for some other time.

The next entry may be from Indiana. Or from Wisconsin. Or maybe a Sears Auto Center in suburban Detroit.

More later.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 10:22 pm

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