Friday, August 31, 2007

Winter is Coming Part 2

Last week it was a trailer full of snowblowers being delivered to various stores in the area. This week the sign winter is coming was when I was mowing the lawn, and yellow leaves were blowing off one of our ornamental trees like crazy.

Sure that tree has been looking stressed out from the drought and so it is probably jumping the gun. But regardless leaves are still changing colors and dropping.


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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Live Arcade Price Drops

I saw today that they are dropping the price on a number of Xbox Live Arcade games this weekend. I think its a good move (not just cause Zuma for $5 seems like a reasonable deal), I've long wondered why all the prices are fixed and never change.

Dropping the price is standard strategy to eek more sales out of an aging title. Now that the XBLA catalog is growing to the point of having some crufty titles out there, it makes sense to start dropping prices and getting a few more sales out of the older titles.

My 360 is by far my favorite gaming systems these days (the Wii is fun, but only really with other people) and over the past year I've probably spent as much or more time playing Xbox Live Arcade games then anything else.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Water Usage

A week or two ago, we got our first water bill fully including the new sprinkler system for May 8th through August 8th. I had been curious to see what it was going to be like, to assess just how much more water we were using now that I was allowing machinery to handle what I was too lazy/busy to do myself.

Our water usage for those three months was 68,000 gallons, up from 40,000 gallons for a similar time period last year. Thats a 70% increase, and an average of about 755 gallons a day. That seems like an awful lot of water usage, and I'm kind of embarrassed by it because it seems wasteful.

Now, somewhat in my defense, it didn't rain for like 4-6 weeks over this time period. At the end of July we were almost 7 inches below normal for precipitation (officially a 'severe drought') and it was hotter then normal. So my lawn needed much more watering then in previous years. But a significant portion of that extra water usage was probably due to the sprinkler system.

The frustrating part of the sprinkler system is that it could in theory be more efficient. After all, it can water at 2 am when I am nestled sweetly against my pillow and it is relatively cool outside. Also, with proper adjustment of the spray heads it should be getting less water on things other then my lawn (note I said less water, there will always be some over-spray).

But the fact of the matter is that different heads have to cover different amounts of lawn, and so you are basically forced to over-water in some areas in order to get a sustaining amount of water on the other not-so-well-covered areas. My backyard is particularly bad as there is a steep hill (so the water wants to tend down to the bottom of the hill) and there are two poor sprinkler heads that have to cover full 30 foot radius circles.

I tinkered with the sprinkler system all summer trying to get each zone adjusted to cover well but not excessively. By the end of July I had added a whole second cycle just to hit the drier areas a second time so I could reduce the time on the regular cycle. That seemed to help keep everything alive and kicking, but probably used up even more water.

On the other hand, while I certainly would have used much less water without the sprinkler system, it would have been because my lawn looked like Nebraska in the 1930s. Since I was gone roughly every other week all summer long the 'less water' would have been more like 'no water'. So I am certainly happy with the system, and not having to deal with watering every other day starting at 6pm and moving the sprinklers every hour. I just wish it wasn't quite so blatantly excessive in water usage.

[ For the record Linzy said it was the best money we have ever spent. I said 'but it doesn't save you any time', to which she replied 'Yeah but I don't have to listen to you complain about watering the lawn'. Exaggeration perhaps, but that should tell you how much I disliked trying to keep up with the watering. ]


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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Movies: Hot Fuzz

Linzy and I finally got around to watching Hot Fuzz, which we've had sitting at the house for weeks from Netflix. I enjoyed it, and it was probably a bit more accessible then Shaun of the Dead.

I like parts of Shaun of the Dead (more thoroughly the second time around, versus then the first), but Hot Fuzz took a similar type of humor and applied it to something a bit more mainstream then zombie movies. The result was better in my opinion.

In particular the interactions between Simon Pegg (the super cop) and Nick Frost (the bumbling sidekick) were well done and amusing. I've seen my share of action cop movies, so I could appreciate all of the references to various movies and cliched cop actions (like firing two guns whilst jumping through the air).

Anyway, the movie was good, I would recommend it.


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Monday, August 27, 2007

Spiders

On Thursday last week, when I got home from Cambridge, Linzy was out at a doctors appointment. So I unpacked my bags, went through the mail and started picking up the house a bit. Shortly thereafter Linzy came home, and after a quick hello asked that I come downstairs and 'take care' of something.

I was thinking it was carrying something upstairs, or moving furniture around or something of that nature. Instead it was taking care of spiders outside. This was important enough that it needed to be looked at Right Then, despite the fact that it was pouring rain out.

Apparently Linzy had been sitting on the bench under our deck earlier in the week, when she looked up and noticed a number of large spiders had made themselves at home in the cross-beams under our deck. That freaked her out, but even worse as she was coming back in, she realized a particularly enterprising spider had made a huge web just off to the side of the door, angling between the sliding glass door and the deck right at head level.

That was too much, and so the downstairs door was not used again until I came home. Thus there I was, 20 minutes after I had gotten home carrying a ladder and a roll of paper towels out into the rain to take down the webs.

In Linzy's defense, the spiders were quite large, fairly creepy looking (though harmless, I believe), and relatively numerous. And she did relent on me having to kill them in the rain, and let me wait until later that night after the rain had stopped.


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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cascade Bay

On Saturday, in addition to going for a bike ride and attending Moen's birthday party, Linzy and I went to Cascade Bay with my parents, Aunt and Uncle, and two of my young cousins. I had never been there, and I must say that it was a lot better then I was expecting.

No one who went on Saturday had been to Cascade Bay before. I've been to many water parks in my day (though not for a long time), and usually have a good time. I like water slides and swimming in general. I was still keeping my expectations low, however, as Cascade Bay is a municipally-owned and operated water park.

It was actually surprisingly good. It's no Noah's Ark (or even Family Land), but it did have a couple fun water slides and a pretty decent lazy river. It also wasn't even remotely crowded, which helped immensely. The slides weren't that good that they would have been worth waiting in long lines for, but when you could walk up and get on them with just a minute of waiting they were fun.

I was also pleasantly surprised at the relative value of the place. Admission was $9 for adults which seemed cheap considering the Waterpark of America charges $29.50. We also got ice cream cones which were obscenely large and only $2. We only stayed for about three hours, but it seemed worth it.

My two cousins seemed to have a good time, particularly on the lazy river, which was really the point of going. It was even better that everyone seemed to have a good time.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Inevitable


In the words of House Stark: Winter is Coming.

If you can't tell from the small mobile picture, that is a truck pulling a giant trailer filled with snowblowers.

[ Incidentally, I am much happier with the picture quality when I copy the pictures directly off my phone rather then letting Sprint PictureMail butcher them. ]

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sting

Linzy and I were in the kitchen talking about our weeks, while we waited for dinner to finish grilling. Pippen was, of course, hanging out in the kitchen with us searching the floor for tasty morsels and crumbs that might have slipped through our watchful guard. All of the sudden Pippen snorted, shook herself and high-tailed it over to the hallway carpet. There, she proceeded to paw at her face, stick out her tongue like she had something on it over and over, and snort.

Linzy and I kind of looked at each other like "What happened?". Linzy went over to check out Pippen, and I looked down where she had run away from trying to see what she had gotten into. There I found a dazed and confused bee.

Apparently the bee must have followed me in from outside, and then somehow landed on the floor long enough for Pippen to find it and, I suppose, try to eat it or sniff it. At which point the bee stung the dumb dog on her face and/or tongue.

Luckily a couple minutes later Pippen was back to normal, so no harm done. Except for the bee of course. It didn't survive the encounter.


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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Taste Buds

One of the side effects of all of the traveling I've been doing for work is a lot of eating out when I'm on the road (obviously). While we try and go to new places on a regular basis, there are still some that are just more convenient and so we end up going there more. That has eventually translated into much more adventurous ordering then what I would normally do. After all, I'm not paying for anything, and a lot of these places I'll be back to in a few weeks so I can always get the old favorite then.

More diverse eaters will probably scoff at my mundane list, but these were among the new things I've tried in the last few months:

Kobe Beef burger - This was actually really, really good. Lots of people eat Kobe beef on a semi-regular basis, but I had never had it before. I'm not normally a huge hamburger fan, but it was very good.

Traditional Antipasti tray - An appetizer, it was a tray of sliced italian meats, olives, cheeses, hot pickles, stewed peppers, and a number of things I couldn't identify. It was OK, but not probably something I would order again.

Crab Cakes - These are all over the place in Boston, but I had never actually had one before coming here for the first time. Now I'm practically a connoisseur.

Fresh Alaskan Halibut - Very surprisingly good. I don't normally like fish at all but it was really tasty. It was black bean encrusted, with a spicy green tomatillo sauce. The fish was light and flakey and very good.

Mozarella Appetizer - Slice of tomato, slice of fresh mozarella, covered with spinach and basil and drizzled in balsamic vinegar. I actually had this a few weeks before Allison served something similar as an appetizer when we were over at Brenden's for dinner.

Flatiron Steak covered in Bearnaise sauce - This was OK. The steak was a New York Strip and really tender and tasty. The sauce was pretty good as well, but a bit overpowering.

Crazy Chinese foods - We ordered $150 worth of Chinese food one night at 1am during the server move for like 5-6 people. It was four grocery bags filled with little cartons of stuff. Nothing was labeled, but I tried a whole ton of things that weren't easily identifiable.

Cheesy Gordita Crunches - They aren't even on the Taco Bell menu, but you can order them.

Salmon Bruschetta - Someone else ordered this as an appetizer, and no one else was trying it, so I gave it a shot. It was what appeared to be raw salmon on bruschetta bread. I didn't like it.

Virtually Every Appetizer at Cheesecake Factory - The Cheesecake Factory is in the mall attached to our hotel, so we go there a fair amount. Since it is also across the street from the office, sometimes it is in a big group. Thus over time, we've ordered nearly every appetizer on the menu. Most are good, some surprisingly so. Most of the fish ones, not so much to my taste buds.

Gelato - Very tasty, considering the reduction from 16% buttercream in regular ice cream to 2.5% in Gelato (at least at this place).

[ Update: Added Gelato, which I just had last night but forgot somehow, and corrected the Mozarella Appetizer description to include basil ]

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Movies: Ghost Rider

This weekend we watched Ghost Rider with some friends. They happen to get free pay-per-view movie channels and since Ghost Rider was just starting when we were flipping through channels, we decided to watch it.

The movie wasn't particularly good, which wasn't too unexpected. But what was unexpected was one of the reasons I didn't like it: Nicholas Cage was totally unbelievable as his character.

Now, I don't mean unbelievable as in 'he had a flaming skull for a head', of course that was unbelievable. Its a comic book movie after all. What I mean is that Nicholas Cage is looking old. Much too old to be playing Johnny Blaze. His face is scarily tight-looking, he was obviously wearing a wig, and he just looked awkward.

I used to like Nicholas Cage. I enjoyed The Rock, National Treasure, Con Air, etc. So I'm not sure why I disliked him in Ghost Rider so vehemently. Maybe it was just that I wasn't enjoying the movie, so complaining about his age gave me something to go. Who knows.


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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Teeth Whitening

Linzy and I were driving home from my parent's house tonight and there was a makeshift sign on the side of the road for "$29.99 Professional Teeth Whitening".

Now, I certainly appreciate a bargain, but that seems a little much. Just by paying me $30 to whiten your teeth, I'm ostensibly a 'professional' at it. But I could still just be handing you a cup of bleach and having you swish it around in your mouth.

I think I'll keep my teeth yellow, thank-you-very-much.


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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Helicopters

A few weeks ago I happened to end up watching an F1 race on TV for a little while. I don't recall exactly how that was what I ended up watching, but it must have just been on whatever channel the TV turned on to and I just left it. Anyway, this was towards the end of the race, and the leader was way ahead (like a lap or two), second place was a ways back of first but a ways ahead of third, so the announcers were scrounging for stuff to talk about.

At one point they were talking about the infield of the track, and how it is basically a giant helicopter landing area for all of the rich and famous people who fly in for F1 races on the weekend. Apparently the track becomes the UKs busiest airport on race days with all of the helicopters coming and going.

Must be rough to fly in your personal helicopter just for the race. Quite a bit different from Nascar.


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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dripping: Follow-up

So, the Dripping story from yesterday has been a hot topic of conversation with people I've seen in person today.

For one thing, the sick passenger from yesterday was on my bus ride home today apparently no worse for wear. Now, if you had witnessed him throwing up in a bag the previous day and he comes and sits down next to you, would you have gotten up and moved (it was the late bus so there was plenty of room)? I have to admit I would have considered it. Not for any fear of him throwing up on me, but just from fear of catching whatever stomach virus he had.

Another conversation I had with someone was around what exactly the right thing to do in that kind of situation. I mean, the guy was in the window seat at the back of the bus. The windows don't roll down. There was a person between him and the aisle, and in fact there happened to be many people standing in the aisle on that ride. Plus, even if there hadn't been there were two people on the other side of the aisle.

You can't really lean over someone to hit the aisle, and going for the floor just seems like a bad idea. What if it rolls around while the bus is stopping and starting? That could be an even bigger mess then a fabric bag.

And, did he plan ahead on the fabric bag? Was that just his normal bag and he dumped everything out in order to sacrifice it as a make-shift holder? Or did he bring it along just in case he got sick? If you were that ill at work, wouldn't you have someone come pick you up? Or find a plastic bag of some sort?

I'm glad people took an interest in what I had to write, but I have to admit I spent far more time talking about vomit today then I probably ever have before.


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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dripping

I rode the bus home tonight in the sardine row at the back of the bus, so I spent the ride studiously playing Puzzle Quest trying to ignore those around me. About 10 minutes from the end, there was a sound I couldn't ignore. The sound of a guy three rows forward puking. A lot.

Even better was the fact that he was puking into some sort of fabric bag. Which worked just as well as you might imagine any sort of porous bag holding vomit.


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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Scratch Off

On Sunday I learned an important lesson: do not try to scratch off the scratch off section of the back of an XBox Live pre-paid card with a scissors. It worked well at taking off the top layer, but it also scratched off the letters underneath, rendering the code unusable.

Normally you go buy a card and then you enter the 25 letters/numbers into XBox Live and it credits points to your account to buy stuff online. In this case Circuit City was offering the cards two-for-one, but then promptly ran out in the demand. I had them order me one, and a couple weeks later they finally came in. Which wasn't that big of a deal, since I didn't really need the points right now.

But then after cutting open the plastic case, I used the scissors to scratch off the back of the card which turned out to be a very bad move. Initially I tried calling XBox support, thinking they could somehow help me out. After talking to two separate people calling themselves 'Lucy', they basically told me tough. The best they could offer was to check if the code was already used or not by entering it themselves. Ignoring the fact that if I had all 25 letters and numbers of the code, I wouldn't have been calling in the first place.

On a long shot I went back to Circuit City to see if they could help me out. I was fully expecting them to scoff since, for all they knew, I could have entered the code successfully and then came to return it to them. But amazingly they were very helpful and took the card back with very few questions asked.

The cashier actually said it happened all the time, and had happened to him as well when he used....scissors to try to scrape off the back of the card. I had to laugh at that. In the end, I got my two cards for the price of one, although it ended up being a lot more of a hassle then I was thinking it would be.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Phoneix Games

I heard tonight that Phoenix Games is going out of business. Phoenix Games was a local nerd shop. They sold D&D and Warhammer books, miniatures, strategy board games, science fiction books, etc. Back in the day they used to have two stores, one near downtown and (more importantly to me) a store in Burnsville just a couple of miles from my house.

In addition to being somewhere I could spend way, way too much of my hard-earned money on Warhammer miniatures they also had the all-important 'back room'. Now, this wasn't a back room like Shinder's had a back room (filled with porn), but instead was just a room with card tables that you could reserve for game playing.

For us kids, it was a million times easier and more fun to meet up at Phoenix games for a gaming session, rather then having to play at someone's house. Plus they had all of the books on hand in the store if you just needed to 'look something up'. Oh, and to top it off my favorite pizza place (Davanni's) was in the same mall just around the corner.

Bottom line it was like a nerd paradise. I met Gerard for the first time at Phoneix Games (when I joined in a campaign he was running which Dan was a part of), and my group of friends and I spent a lot of time there playing games and hanging out.

Later, perhaps even before I finished with High School, the Burnsville store closed and now 12-13 years later the main store closed. Sort of sad, but there are lots of places to buy nerd games these days. Which, ironically enough, is probably part of the reason they are going out of business.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Best Cake Ever

A few weekends ago, at the party where we got the literal cold shoulder, there was one unexpected bonus: really, really good cake. The party was the same day as one of the attendee's birthday, so my friend had arranged for a birthday cake. But not just any kind of cake. Instead it was a cake made by another friend, one who is a professional pastry chef.

The cake was amazing, probably the best tasting cake I've ever had. It was a triple layer sheet cake with both buttercream and ganache frosting. The filling between the layers was also frosting, but it was frosting mixed with bits of chopped-up fruit. The frosting was flavorful (unlike most whipped toppings) without being too sugary, and the cake itself was light and delicious.

Layer cakes with fruit filling in the middle are pretty common, but I had never had one with frosting and chopped up fruit between the layers before. It was a tasty way to do it.

The strange thing is that since then, now I hear about chopped up fruit in frosting between layers all the time. My boss' birthday cake a week or two ago had the same thing (though not quite as tasty), right down to using strawberry chunks in the middle layer. Then a week or so after that, they had another cake at the office with the same frosting/fruit middle layer.

It must be the popular thing now, but I can understand why.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Savings Rates

I was reading something today about the personal savings rate. That lead me to the chart above, and this press release which announces that the personal savings rate increased to 0.6% in June. With the median 2005 household income of $46,236, that would be a mere $277 a year in savings. Ouch.

That made me curious about our own savings rates, so I looked at our Money data (similar to what I used to generate the hedonic treadmill graph). Our annual savings rate (of gross income) has been all over the board, anywhere from -1.49% the year I bought the house, to over 28% the year before I graduated from college. In general the rate has hovered around 20%, dipping a bit the first year Linzy was back in college but otherwise fairly steady.

On one hand that shows what I've mentioned before, that our efforts at cost containment are relatively ineffective; We always find something to spend extra money on. But on the other hand, at least we aren't spending all of that extra income. Plus, if you looked at savings rates of income excluding taxes, that is the income we actually have an opportunity to save, the rate would be a bit higher.

Obviously a higher savings rate would be better, but I am comfortable with where we are at. If I was saving only $277 a year, I think I'd be more then a bit nervous about just exactly how I was going to pay for retirement.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cambridge Trip Pictures

I brought my camera with on my most recent trip to Cambridge, for the first time since my original trip out there. I took the bulk of the pictures on Monday afternoon/evening as I was heading to and from work. After that I was largely too busy with uninteresting things to take any other pictures. Most are just of the mall area and the hotel.

The bed after turn-down service, complete with chocolates on the room service menu and the infamous leopard-print robe.


This car is parked in the parking ramp I walk through each day from the hotel to the mall on the way to the office. I've never seen it moved.


The view from my canal-side room on the eighth (top) floor.


They are still working on building the condos across the T tracks, the condos start at 400k, for 1000 sq feet of interior condo on the lowest floors. Awesome.


I find this statue/pole/totem thingy kind of creepy. It has heads on all four sides.


The canal leads to this bay and fountain behind the mall.


My office building is actually three old mill buildings that were combined into a single building. This is the area between buildings two and three.


The area between buildings one and two is an outdoor courtyard.


Mr. Johnson's wine. I found out he is an 'inner circle elite' member. You have to stay 45 nights in a year to qualify. I've had 24 nights so far this year.


The 'normal' welcome package for frequent stayers.



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Mr. Johnson

The hotel I stay at in Cambridge, MA when I am working at our office in Boston has a frequent guests program. Its pretty typical, you get to set some preferences for where you like your room, which morning paper you like, etc and then after 21 nights of stays you get a free night stay. Another little perk is that the first day when you arrive, they leave a bottle of water, a box of cookies, and a card from the manager in the hotel room.

Monday was my first day of my stay, so when I came back to the room after work, there sat my little frequent stayer collection of items. Just like normal. I didn't feel like eating the cookies then (they aren't particularly good) so the items just sat on my one nightstand untouched.

On Tuesday when I came back to my room there was a bunch of stuff on my other nightstand. Specifically a bug bucket of ice with a bottle of white wine, two wine goblets, a bag of raspberry nut mix, and a card. The card was addressed to "Mr. Johnson".

Apparently there is another whole level of 'frequent guest' that I'm not apart of, but Mr. Johnson is!

The other amusing part was that I got back to my room so late the wine ice bucket had melted down to just water, and was sweating like crazy. Which ended up leaking all over the nightstand and got the card soaking wet. Luckily it didn't get my book on the nightstand wet, as that would have upset me.

I was honest and didn't crack open the wine that wasn't intended for me, but called the front desk to have someone come up and get the stuff. I wonder if Mr. Johnson was pissed that his wine wasn't waiting in his room when he came back to the hotel today.


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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mayhem

My flight to Cambridge on Monday was delayed about three hours due to mechanical problems with the plane (some sort of valve problem, again). After numerous 'more updates in 20 minutes' announcements, they eventually admitted that the problem was going to take a bit to fix and so we could get off the plane if we wanted.

Since the valve that was broken also happened to be involved in the air conditioning (or at least the AC was off while they worked to repair the valve) everyone got off the plane.

Then, an hour later they decided that a new plane would be required. The problem being, of course, that everyone's carry-on items were still stowed on the former plane. Meaning everyone had to get back on the old plane and take their luggage off.

Now, think of the chaos that is boarding a plane. Add in the chaos that is trying to get everyone off of a plane. Now, try doing both at the same time. With people who are already cranky that they are running 2 hours late for their trip. It was quite awesome, I assure you.

Initially there was some semblance of order, i.e. a few people would go back, everyone would wait and a stream of people would file out, but after a while people just kept trying to pack onto the plane apparently oblivious to the fact that having 10 people standing in the aisle trying to come on and 10 people standing in the aisle loaded down with carry-on items trying to get off, wasn't really going to work.

Luckily through some fluke I got to pick frequent flyer elite seats for free (normally an extra cost), so I wasn't in the last row of the plane like usual. So the whole experience wasn't quite as bad as it could have been. And I did eventually make it to Boston safe and sound and in time for my meetings, so I guess it wasn't all bad.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Party Bus

At the wedding last weekend, they didn't have a limo to bring the wedding party from the church to the reception hall. Instead, Stacia's youngest brother Jason bought an old school bus and turned it into a party bus.

From what I understand, he and his buddies spent several weeks working on the bus, repairing it, repainting it, ripping out all of the seats etc. The end result was quite the vehicle. It had full carpeting and shades for all of the windows, a couch and some chairs, a bar, two fridges, a full-bus speaker system (with laptop connection for mp3s), bunk beds and a deck off the back.

After the wedding there was a steady stream of people taking tours of the bus and laughing over it. It was pretty cool.

Read on for some pictures.


Supposedly there is some Honda promotion where if they see the logo in an unexpected place you can win something. I'm not sure falsely labeling a bus with their logo qualifies.


Jason's nickname on his hockey team is Whiplash (after the Taco John's monkey, apparently).


It's not a party bus until there's a deck off the back.


You know you are in northern Minnesota when there is a wall of chew tins.



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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Stacia and Mike's Wedding

This weekend Linzy and I were up in Moose Lake (about 40 minutes south of Duluth) for her cousin Stacia's wedding. Everything went off without a hitch, and people seemed to have a good time.

The reception was the wildest one we have been to in quite a while, as Stacie's Mom's side of the family likes a good party, and so did most of the friends in attendance. Free booze from 5:30-8:00pm and cheap drinks after that probably had something to do with it as well. The DJ was really good as well (at least relatively speaking), keeping people involved and the dance floor packed.

Read on for some pictures if you'd like.

The reception was at the Armory in Cloquet, which worked out pretty well as there were tons of people attending, so the extra large room was put to good use.


Linzy was a personal attendant again, and also did a lot of the decorating. She was particularly proud (justifiably so) of the wedding arch she made up.


One of the flower girls getting her fingernails painted.


Stacia and Mike


During the ceremony


Linzy and I


The whole wedding party


Linzy and her parents


Stacia's younger brothers, looking a bit disheveled



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Saturday, August 04, 2007

No Sand Please

I thought the sticker was a hot coffee warning label. Instead it warned against sand.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Travelin' Man

Linzy and I are headed to Moose Lake this weekend for one of her cousin's weddings. Then I'm coming back to the Twin Cities for just long enough to repack my bags before heading out to Boston for the week. Meanwhile Linzy will be staying in Duluth visiting with her family, before we meet back up at home on Thursday.


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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Mobile Testing

Tonight I was working on testing out mobile blogging from my new cellphone.

While it was pretty easy, all things considered, the main thing I learned was that a 1.3 megapixel cell phone camera without a flash or autofocus sucks. A lot. And it doesn't look any better after the pictures have been shrunk and recompressed with high compression prior to being sent out.

As far as I can tell I have no control over the size or quality of the pictures that get sent out, which probably means posting pictures right to the blog will be reserved for blurry pictures of people doing amusing things. For example a few weeks ago in Cambridge I could have used it to post pictures of my co-worker doing the worm across the dance floor in a downtown Boston bar (we were all extremely disappointed when we discovered the next morning that no one had gotten any proof of that happening).

The only good thing is that picture mail appears to be free on my new plan. Which boggles the mind, since they charge 15 cents for each 30 byte text message. But I'll take it I guess.


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Mobile Test



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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Baking

Today we had our quarterly team event at work, we went to see the St. Paul Saints afternoon baseball game. For non-locals the Saints are a local independent league team. They have an outdoor stadium (as opposed to the Twins) and acknowledge that no one comes to their games primarily to see displays of baseball talent, and so have lots of sideline entertainment and funny commentary to keep things interesting. For example, they will pick on an opposing player and if he strikes out, the whole crowd wins coupons for free food from a local restaurant.

I had never actually been to a Saints game before so it was all new to me. It was a good time, but ridiculously, insanely hot. We were sitting out in general admission on metal bleachers, with no shade anywhere all afternoon in the direct sun. I looked and it got up to the mid nineties, but in the sun it felt much, much hotter then that.

Other then the heat, the game was pretty fun. The baseball playing was somewhat questionable at times, but the sideshows and various promotions and contests help keep things interesting. Work supplied us with a bunch of vouchers for concessions and beer and we also each got Saints hats with our company logo on the side. That was unexpected but kind of cool because the hat is actually pretty nice.

The game was absolutely packed, at least in the general admissions section. The reserved section behind home plate was not very crowded but there were lots of other companies and kids groups there. Parking was pretty much a disaster, but that wasn't too surprising since there is very little normal parking available around the stadium.

We didn't make it to the end of the game, but I did see the Saints big scoring rally where they put up 6 runs in an inning. Watching the pitching, you got the feeling that any sort of lead could collapse at a moments notice. In this case it looks the game ended up being close by the end, but the Saints pulled out the victory.

Unfortunately after 3 hours in the sun, everyone had had enough so we left early. Still it was a pretty enjoyable group outing.


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