Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cold Shoulder

On Saturday last weekend Linzy and I went to a party at a friend's house who moved back into the state last year after being gone for six years. I've been friends with him for quite a few years and so have met quite a few of his friends over time. Despite that, it is usually a bit of a struggle to get them to include me in conversations. The bulk of the friends all grew up in the same small town, so tend to only talk with others from the town.

When Linzy and I got there, there were only a few people there, some that I had met in the past and some that I had never met. Since I had been promising myself that I would try harder to strike up conversations with random people (something I am not good at), I made a concerted effort to be more outgoing then I normally am around people I haven't met several times.

The topic of conversation was the Vikings and football in general, which both Linzy and I can usually get involved in. So I was trying to add to the conversation, but not getting much response at all. Finally, after I said something about the Vikes' new running back and was met with dead silence, one of the guys goes "Hmph" and physically turned so that his back was to me.


I've been to lots of parties where I couldn't work myself into conversations (college parties with random Ely kids come to mind), but I don't think I've ever gotten the literal cold shoulder.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

TV: The Loop

When I was in Cambridge for the server room move, a good portion of my time on the weekend was spent sitting around in a conference room waiting for things to get fixed. The nice thing about the conference room that we use for these kind of things is that it has comfy chairs and, more importantly, an easy to use projector system.

Thus whenever we are stuck at the office over the weekend we always end up having something on the projector screen while we are working/waiting. In February it was the Daytona 500 (which is not exactly my cup of tea, but some of the other guys liked it) and the Family Guy. This trip it was portions of Eurotrip (Mi Scusi) and mostly the TV series The Loop.

We watched The Loop at the behest of one of the sysadmins, because no one else had ever heard of it. We watched the second season first, courtesy of the Fox website's streaming video, and then on Sunday watched the first season DVD my co-worker picked up. The second season was good, but I thought the first season was funnier.

The gist of the show is a guy does his college thesis on an airline company and ends up knowing more about the company then anyone else there, so they hire him as an executive right out of college. Meanwhile he is still living with his college friends and trying to balance his new career with having fun with his roomates. Hilarity ensues (more or less). The second season ditched most of the roomates and focused on the workplace, and mid-season cancellation ensued.

The writing was fairly good, and some of the situations were pretty amusing. My favorite character was probably Derek Tricolli, who was a huge jerk just about anytime he was on camera, but it was so random that it was funny.

Anyway the show is not anywhere near as funny as Entourage, but its only 17 episodes long so probably worth checking out.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Filter by Actor

So today I was going to complain that IMDB still doesn't let you interactively filter by actor and actress to find movies multiple people were in together.

For example, there was a random movie on TV with George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and Sam Rockwell in it on TV that Linzy was watching today. She didn't know what it was, and we weren't downstairs with the HDTV receiver to be able to easily tell.

What I want to be able to do is put in all three actors and have IMDB spit out a list of possible movies it could be. In the past there wasn't an easy way to do that, you had to pick one actor and go through their list of movies looking for the others, or make educated guesses.

But when I was looking at all the various search options I noticed joint venture search which was exactly what I was looking for. Just a few clicks later, I discovered that it was "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" and could go back to what I was doing.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

One Fifty

Last Sunday, while we were waiting for Linzy to get back from the fitness center, I was watching the Price is Right with Larry. I haven't seen that show for a long time, but it was exactly like I remember it. Same games, similar questionably-useful prizes (i.e. two off-road dirt motorcycles and a trip to Africa for Grandma?), etc.

Anyway, at one point they brought up a new contestant from the audience, a sailor. He ran up to contestants row and watched the prize they were trying to guess the price of. It was some sort of outdoor swing, with two separate seats.

The guy's guess at a price was $150.

Bob was like "What? Did you mean 1150?" Nope, he meant $150. The lady next to him bid $1250.

Now, seriously, when was the last time Price is Right gave a way a prize worth only $150, 1960? Can you imagine if they did? You're the contestant who won a $150 outdoor swing, while they guy next to you wins a $42,000 Cadillac. Ouch.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Courtesy Card

A month or so ago I got a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort 2 noise canceling headphones, based on the idea they would be good for all the plane flights I have been on lately since they would cut out a lot of the background noise. They are pretty good at blocking out noise, but I don't like them quiet as much as my Shure SE210s.

Anyway, the strange thing about the QC2s was that inside the headphone case there was a velcro business card holder stuck to one cover. At first glance I assumed it was some sort of name tag where you could put your name and address in case the headphone case was lost or something. Instead it turned out to be a holder of 'courtesy cards'.

There were ten cards along with a note of explanation claiming "Many of our customers say they frequently get asked about their headphones, so please use these courtesy cards if people ask you questions". (Or something to that effect). I've never had a product provide me with street marketing paraphernalia before. Very strange.

For the record: I took the holder and cards out of my case and threw them out. I also didn't get asked about the headphones on the last trip. Or maybe I just didn't hear anyone ask me about them.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007


On Sunday afternoon while I was up in Duluth, I talked my father-in-law Larry into cutting down some dead trees that were around the yard. This was despite the fact that I've never really run a chainsaw before.

It really didn't turn out to be all that difficult, although Larry wouldn't trust me to cut wedges for any of the trees that mattered. We cut down half a dozen or so trees in various spots, the largest was a big spruce tree right next to the driveway.

After cutting them down and chopping everything up into manageable pieces, we loaded up the trailer behind the four-wheeler and hauled the trees out to the woods behind Linzy's grandparents' field. Driving the four-wheeler is always fun.

All in all it was a satisfying bit of manual labor, and now we don't have to worry about those trees falling over in a storm.

Getting instruction on how to use the chainsaw from Larry

Cutting a wedge on a 'practice' tree

Larry cutting the wedge on the big spruce

Cutting down the spruce


The tree fit nicely lengthwise in the front yard

Safety First

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hot and Humid

Linzy and I got back from our trip to Duluth today. It was a pretty good trip and we got to spend quite a bit of time with Linzy's family.

The weather wasn't quite as hot as I was fearing, but by Sunday night it was starting to get pretty humid, and then on Monday the heat and humidity really rolled in. By Tuesday I was glad we were going to be heading back to sweet, sweet air conditioning.

We spent most of the weekend with Linzy's family and extended family, and doing stuff around the house. I did fit in two long bike rides on Saturday and Monday morning. On Saturday I had a nice ride from Brighton Beach to Knife River (about 26 miles round trip). The weather was great, and I rode for a bit with a random guy (that I had passed on the way to Knife River and then passed again on the way back) which was kind of fun.

The ride on Monday morning was not so fun. For some reason, despite the threatening heat, I decided I should go whole-hog and ride from Brighton Beach all the way to Two Harbors (about 40 miles round trip). That was looking like a good plan until I was riding into Two Harbors after a little over an hour and I was already having problems with my bike seat.

I have some trouble with the seat on longer rides, but it had been good the previous ride so I thought it would be OK. Instead it made the whole ride back one painful exercise. That coupled with riding into a headwind that picked up in time for the ride back, running out of water 5 miles into the return trip, and temperatures soaring into the 90s with 70 degree dew points made the trek back very un-fun. I did eventually make it back without needing to throw in the towel and call for a pick-up, but I did seriously consider it on three separate occasions when I stopped to try and regain feeling in key body parts.

After 2.5 hours out in the sun and heat, I wasn't good for much of anything the rest of the day, so I watched The Untouchables with Larry and then caught up with Bill, Anne, and Alice for Bill's softball game (which didn't look like much fun to be playing in the heat).

It was nice to get back home today, and I'm looking forward to not traveling for a little while. Of course these days 'a little while' still translates until less then 10 days home in a row, but I'll take what I can get.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Gone Again

After 48 hours at home it is time to head out again, but this time its by choice.

Linzy and I are heading to Duluth for a 4-day weekend to visit her parents. Hopefully the weather will remain somewhat tolerable, since her parents don't have any air conditioning. The trip should be fun regardless, so I'll see you when I get back.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007


On Wednesday I was leaving the airport and trying to pay my $128 parking bill with my corporate credit card, when it was denied. Our cards (for most people) have a $5,000 limit, and while I had just paid a hefty hotel bill with it that morning I shouldn't have even been close to the limit. At least according to my math.

So once I got home and unpacked, I called up American Express to find out what was going on. The rep explained that the charge was denied because it was for $128 and I had only $103 of credit left. I expressed my confusion, since their own website which I had checked first had shown only a couple hundred dollars in unpaid charges.

The guy said "Well, I can go through your charges with you", and I took him up on the offer.

He proceeded to list off about 20 miscellaneous charges for $3-$20 for various things. $3 for donuts and coffee one morning, $6 for lunch, another $3 for breakfast, $20 for dinner, etc. While I scrambled to write them all down.

After those 20 piddly charges, he goes "And $4,552 from the Hotel for lodging".

Now, I had just checked out that morning and the bill was only $1,750, but they had not yet cleared the hold on my card from when I checked in. And the hold was much higher then normal thanks for some confusion over my reservation where they thought I was going to have a suite for 7 nights.

What I couldn't understand is why the rep didn't just start with that charge. It seemed obvious to me that you start with the charge taking up 90% of the balance, rather then with the $3 I spent on bagels and coffee in the morning 5 days out of 7.

Oh well, I'm just glad there should have been enough room for the remaining charges that hadn't hit yet, so I didn't get any nasty phone calls from the hotel.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Back from Cambridge

My eight day odyssey to Boston is finally over. I flew out to Boston/Cambridge last Wednesday at 7am and got back this afternoon. After 83 hours in the office over 7 days, I was more then ready to come home.

I was out there for the usual reasons at the end of last week, and then stuck around to assist with a big server room migration over the weekend and into this week. The actual movement of the servers went pretty much as expected, but on Monday morning we discovered that the electricians had run power for the new room off of a panel that was servicing other parts of the building. So when the rest of the building came in to work on Monday and started turning on lights and powering up desktops, the main breaker burned up taking out the power to the new server room (along with a significant portion of one floor of the building). That wasn't cool.

So we ended up being down most of Monday while they (that is, the electrical sub-contractor and our facilities group that hired them) tried to sort out the power problems and get a temporary fix put in place. It was pretty disappointing to spend all weekend working hard to get everything up and working by the start of the week, only to end up looking like idiots for something completely out of our control.

But there isn't anything I can do about that, and it is definitely nice to be back home.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007


The other day I ate at the Mexican restaurant with the strange tacos. My burrito-ordering improved significantly now that I knew more-or-less what to expect (I still wasn't brave enough to try the tacos).

Anyway, I went upstairs to eat the burrito, where as last time we had eaten downstairs. Upstairs was apparently their rice storage area, as they had no fewer then 34 100 pound bags of rice. Yes, 1.5 metric tons of rice.

Thats a lot of rice. I was wondering how long that supply lasts them.

Interestingly, it was all Chinese rice. But perhaps that is the only kind of white rice you can get these days.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Vienna Sausage

When we were over at Gerard's apartment two Saturdays ago, he was showing me the latest addition to his kitchen: 24 cans of Armour Vienna Sausage.

After his Grandmother passed away about 6 weeks ago, Gerard's grandfather has been doing some cleaning up around the house and getting rid of things. Among the things that Gerard 'got' were all these cans of Sausage.

Now, they weren't exactly normal sausages, they were more along the lines of Spam. Which kind of makes sense since the grandparents live in Austin, Minnesota (home of Spam). The sausages claimed to be made from Beef, Chicken and Pork stock in a Beef casing. And they looked vaguely like normal sausages...if you closed your eyes and squinted I guess.

Anyway, upon inspecting the nutrition facts, I discovered that these little beauties were quite the health marvel. A serving size was 3 sausages, totally 120 calories. Of those 120 calories, 100 came from fat. Yes, that's right, 83% of the sausage was fat. I assume the rest was the casing.

Someone had thrown some of the sausages in the crockpot with the cocktail weenies and meatballs. Gerard and Richard both tried one and didn't eat more then a bite. When I was showing the sausages to Brenden, I mentioned that. He scoffed and said "Well, I can eat one".

That sounded like a challenge to everyone standing around, and so Brenden became the first to choke down an entire little fatty treat from heaven. I, on the other hand, felt no such compulsion to try one. They just looked gross.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

TV Hours

I had a guy out last Monday to take a look at our TV as there was the picture was slightly bowed in one corner. It wasn't super bad, but it was definitely noticeable. Since we were coming up on having the TV for a year, and thus the end of our warranty I thought I should get it looked at.

The guy was really amiable to helping me get the problem fixed (I was expecting a bit more resistance) and we spent 30-40 minutes putzing with the alignment of the DLP chip getting the picture just-so. The repair guy won major points with me when he whipped out a tape measure so we could make sure the picture was exactly straight, and when he was like "nope still a sixteenth off, lets try again".

Anyway, as we were chatting and he was finishing up the paperwork he looked in the service menu to see how many hours the TV lamp had on it.

It turned out to be 586 hours, in the 362 days we've owned the TV.

That works out to be about 1.6 hours a day. I suspect that is very, very low compared with national averages, but it seemed a little high at first glance.

After thinking about it, I guess it is explainable. With all of the hours on the treadmill in the winter, the time spent watching movies, or those rare occasions when I have time to sit down and play some video games it probably adds up. But at first blush I was like "Wow, thats a lot more time then I would have guessed".

On the other hand, the service guy was like "You've had this almost a year and that's all the hours on it?"

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Thursday, July 12, 2007


I was out walking Pippen the other night and while we walked up one of the roads, I was watching a big Suburban try to back a pop-up trailer into a driveway.

The lady driving it was having a bit of trouble getting it arranged on the driveway the way she wanted to. She would try to pull in, end up getting more crooked then she wanted, pull forward, try to straighten out again, etc. Over and over.

Unfortunately because of the way the hill and driveway met, each time she went back and forth from driveway to road the trailer hitch would make this horrible scraping sound on the driveway.

Backing up...scrape...oops, going forward...scrape...backing in...scrape...etc.

Eventually a guy came out of the house. I was, quite frankly, expecting that it was the husband coming out to say "What are you doing!?!". Instead they had this conversation:

Guy: Uhh, what are you doing?
Lady: Trying to get the trailer into the driveway
Guy: Umm, why?
Lady: Uhh, because this is where I was supposed to take it.
Guy: What?
Lady: Isn't this XXXXXX XXXXXX?
Guy: No, it's XXXXX XXXXX?
Lady: Oh, sorry.

At that point she guns the engine and pulls out of the driveway. With one final huge SCRAPE.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Gate Change

On Wednesday morning, I was supposed to be taking my normal 7:15 am flight to Boston. According to my boarding pass printed on Tuesday morning, the flight was departing from gate F13 (which is where it normally leaves from). The parking lot was a little more full then normal, so I ended up back in the Red lot.

That lot is a little further away from the terminal, so I had to take a tram to security. From there, I went over and got some breakfast and then started heading down the F concourse towards my gate (which is all the way down at the end).

On the way, I stopped to go to the bathroom, and as I was starting back down the concourse I heard an announcement saying some flight had a gate change. I only heard part of the announcement, but it sounded like they said Boston was moving to gate G17 so I decided to head back to a gate display to double-check. Unfortunately that was quite a bit further down the concourse then I thought it was, so I ended up walking all the way back to the beginning.

The screens said my flight was departing from F14, so I started back down the concourse. When I got to the gate area, it was deserted and none of the displays said anything about a flight to Boston. So I asked around, and the gate agent told me the flight was indeed leaving from gate G17.

Shaking my head, I made the long trek all the way back down the F concourse and then all the way down the G concourse (G17 is nearly at the end). Just as I was walking up to the new gate, they came on the intercom and announced that flight 718 was moving gates, to F14.

So it was back to the F concourse, for the third trip down its full length. All the gate changes ended up causing them to delay boarding (the last gate change was like 20 minutes before we were supposed to take off), so on top of all the unnecessary trips up and down the concourses, I ended up being 30 minutes late getting into Boston.

If you aren't familiar with the Minneapolis airport, here is a map showing the path I walked. The G concourse has a people mover, and there is a tram between the Red lot and the main entrance, but all the rest was walking.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Friends and Good Times

This weekend we were fortunate enough to have a couple fun events to go to.

On Saturday night Linzy and I went over to Gerard's apartment for Angel's birthday (Felicia's husband). It was a pretty small gathering, but it was still good to see everyone there. We didn't do a whole lot other then hang out. That was partly because the Wii was tied up by others playing a single 4+ hour game of Mario Party 8 (hint, 30 turns is way, way too many), and partly because I couldn't find a good game that people wanted to play. But it was definitely a good time.

On Sunday I got together insanely early (considering the late evening the night before) with Brenden, Fred, Thad, Chris and Bill for some gaming. Then that afternoon we all, along with our wives, went over to Fred & Robin's house for a BBQ. That was a blast, as everyone there is normally so busy that we don't get to hang out all that much.

Unfortunately the BBQ was primarily because Thad and Rebecca are moving to Pennsylvania shortly, so Thad can get a masters degree in ancient Mediterranean studies from Penn State. It's a good move for them, its just too bad it is all the way across the country.

But regardless, it was a good weekend.

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Movies: Transformers

On Saturday afternoon, Linzy and I went to go see the Transformers movie. It was awesome.

Now, I'm not claiming it was a perfect movie, but it was a lot of fun to watch. The action was engaging, and the movie kept up a pretty good pace despite being nearly 2.5 hours long. The Transformers themselves were really well done. They looked cool, were well animated, and were reasonably authentic to what I recall from the original cartoon.

Showing just how much I enjoyed the movie, my biggest complaint with the whole thing was the 15 solid minutes of commercials and 10 minutes of previews the theater insisted on showing before the movie. Still I'm glad we saw it at the movies, it was well worth the extra cost and seeing it on the big screen was great.

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Monday, July 09, 2007


Last night we had a bit of an emergency at work. There were some strong storms that swept through late in the afternoon and either the roof of my building got hit by lighting, or something nearby got hit and sent a huge surge through the power our cooling units run off of.

A bunch of the wires ended up fused together, and so even though the AC units came back online after the power surge they stopped actually cooling. It doesn't take long for a room of a couple hundred servers to heat up so a bunch of the systems shut themselves off preventatively and most of the others were shutdown on purpose until the cooling could be repaired.

That didn't finish until close to 10pm at night, so I and a few co-workers got to spend the rest of the night bringing everything back up. That's not as easy as it might sound, because systems tend to come up in the wrong order, configuration files get out-dated, minor changes that never got tested cause trouble, people forget to comment things out/comment things in, etc. Effectively you end up logging into each server, checking if tens of things are running correctly, and fix things that didn't start up.

We eventually got everything finished around 3am. Not exactly how I was planning to spend the night, but at least I was already intending to work from home on Monday so I could sleep in a bit longer.

[ And yes, I realize this sort of thing wouldn't probably happen at a real data center with redundant everything. But the relatively small size of our data center is precisely one of the things I like about my job. Here no one faces threats of being fired over an act of god, where as at the old job those kinds of threats would have been virtually guaranteed. ]

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Sunday, July 08, 2007


On Wednesday Linzy and I are both leaving on trips through next week. I'm heading to Cambridge for work and Linzy is heading to the Windy City to visit relatives. Both trips are fairly long; I'll be gone for 8 days and Linzy for 6. That raises some unusual luggage problems.

Earlier this year Linzy got us a pair of really nice Samsonite suitcases, which are specially designed to be carry-on-able. That's great for my normal 4-day trips to Cambridge because it saves me from having to check any bags. But it doesn't leave much space for longer trips.

Normally when we travel together, we take our one larger bag and one of the Samsonite bags. That usually works out because I don't need that much more space, so a couple items of clothing in the bigger bag is enough.

In this case we'll be going different places, so that won't really work. It should be interesting to see what we end up doing. If all of the pictures from one of the trips shows the same outfits, you'll know who ended up with the smaller suitcase.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007


I really like what my neighbor has done with the place.

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Friday, July 06, 2007


For my 30th birthday, my sister and brother-in-law got me a 'box of thirties'. Among the things in the box was a package of 30 fireworks. Wednesday being the 4th of July, I decided to try them out.

My original plan was to light all 30 for a single massive orgy of destruction. Unfortunately the fuses were way too short for that sort of mayhem. Instead I had to content myself with bundling them into groups of threes and fours, and Linzy managed to make one 6-pack by using the wick that fell out of another.

Once it got somewhat dark we tried lighting them. They were more like sparklers then firecrackers, spinning around real fast and shooting out colored sparks. Regardless, Linzy and I had a good time lighting them. No one lost any fingers and nothing unintended got burned, so that seemed like a success.

Twisting the wicks together is serious business, apparently.

The final collection of 29 fireworks (one lost its wick during twisting)

The single test one I lit to see what we were in for

A four-pack just after they were lit

After the fireworks separated a bit

The aftermath

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

4th of July

After going to see the Bloomington fireworks on the 3rd, the next afternoon we went over to my parent's house to spend the 4th of July with them.

We spent the afternoon hanging out and played a board game. Then we had a delicious dinner of grilled shishkabobs and fruit cups for dessert. Around 8pm we left and headed home so Linzy could rest her back. We watched the fireworks from our deck and called it a night.

It was strange having to get to bed in order to get up for work the next morning. I definitely could have done with a 5-day weekend.

I didn't take many pictures, but I did take a few of us playing Aggravation. (Read On)

Discussing the rules before we started

Time has not been kind to the collection of marbles that is supposed to go along with the game. We ended up having to raid Sorry for pieces.

The starting position. Notice how far across the board Linzy is from everyone?

Dad taking great pleasure in knocking one of Mom's guys back to the start.

Mom hoping for a little payback

Things are not looking good, see 75% of my guys still on the starting square? Linzy had knocked them all back in one 6-fueled rampage.

Linzy, who dominated the game from the start, celebrating her win.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

One of the Biggest

On Tuesday evening Linzy and I went over to Brenden's apartment to enjoy a terrific dinner of his homemade deep-dish pizza. We spent a while hanging out with Brenden and Allison, and then went over to the Normandale Lake area of Bloomington for the fireworks.

The fireworks at the Bloomington Summer Fete are advertised as "One of the biggest and best displays in the state", so we were all excited to see what they were like. The Normandale Lake area is actually a pretty good place to have something like that from a logistics standpoint, because with four huge office buildings right there, parking is not a problem.

We didn't have any trouble getting in, even though we were there only about 15 minutes before the fireworks were scheduled to start. We spent the rest of the time trying to guess where the fireworks would be launched from, and so where the best seats were.

The seats we picked out gambled on being able to view 90% of the lake perfectly and 10% not particularly well. Of course the fireworks were launched on the 10%, so we had to do some hasty re-arranging. The view was still pretty good, although partially obstructed by some trees for any low fireworks.

Still the display was pretty impressive, and quite long. They had all kinds of different fireworks, including a kind that was not something I had seen before. Basically it looked like a normal bloom firework, but after the initial explosion, instead of all of the colored particles dropping down slowly, each individual piece shot off on a wavy pattern in different directions. It looked pretty cool.

All in all it was a very fun time, and I would definitely go back to the Bloomington fireworks. Particularly now that we know where they are launched from.

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Monday, July 02, 2007


Last week was the first week all summer when I managed to fit in four bike rides in the same week. Years ago that was nearly the rule, but now it is the exception. As things have gotten busier, its been harder to fit all the rides in.

Anyway, last week I happened to do the same route twice, on Sunday afternoon and then 6 days later on Saturday morning. What was interesting was that my speed on the two rides was vastly different. One day I did the 15 miles at about 17.5 mph, the other day I was only averaging 16.8mph.

There were some differences between the days that could account for some of the speed chage, but not enough to explain it all. After thinking about it for a while, I decided the difference was probably mostly due to another rider going the same direction as me.

You see, the rider was a ways ahead of me when I turned onto one road. So, being the overcompetitive person I am, I decided to catch them. After not too long, I managed to pass them, and went on my merry way. The rider apparently didn't appreciate me passing them, so they raced back and passed me back. At that point it was, of course, on.

The end result (besides a more interesting ride then I usually go on) was the big increase in average speed. And very sore legs the next day. But I never saw the rider again after I passed them a second time.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sorry Goes a Long Ways

Have you ever been somewhere, and had just a terrible experience? If an employee asks you how things were, do you tell them?

On the occasions where I do, which isn't as often as people think, most of them time all I'm looking for is a sympathetic ear. The meal doesn't necessary have to be comped, I don't need a gift certificate to come back, or a free dessert. Most of the time, just saying "Sorry" would be enough.

What I am not looking for is sarcasm, flippant responses, or a dumbfounded look like I am speaking Latin. Telling me everyone else suffers too, thus implying that I should "get over it" is not going to help matters. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that it is going to make things worse.

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