Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Waffle House

While in Houston last weekend, on Saturday morning a group of us got together for breakfast and took advantage of our southern location to hit up the Waffle House for a filling meal.

I haven't been to Waffle House in a long time, and it was fun to go back. The place was packed with people and we almost got into a fight after Fred and I accidentally didn't wait to be seated and then were accused of jumping in line. Luckily we avoided starting a riot and got lucky and ended up being able to sit near the rest of our party.

It is hard to believe how much Waffle House food you get for a relatively low price. The all-star breakfast was a mere $6.65 and came with a plate-sized waffle, hash browns, two eggs, two pieces of toast (swimming in butter) and two pieces of bacon or sausage. That same meal at Perkins would cost way more.

Overall Waffle House was exactly like I remembered it being from past trips when I was a kid. They had the same mad-rush grill cooking style, cheap construction and furniture, quick service, and cheap and plentiful foods. I wouldn't be able to eat there regularly but it was a fun place to go once.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Overweight

On the way back from Houston on Sunday, our plane flight was oversold. They found a few volunteers to take a later flight and so when the plane showed up (late) we all piled on ready to get going. After sitting at the gate for a bit, they announced that we were 100 pounds overweight and they were 'working on it'.

After a long delay and quite a bit of commotion up front, it became clear that there was a passenger who was refusing to leave the plane. Eventually multiple security guards were called, the cops showed up, and still the guy wouldn't leave the plane.

The captain and flight attendants kept getting on the speakers announcing that they were still working on it, but yet the guy refused to leave the plane and was on his cell phone the entire time.

After about an hour he finally got off and the captain explained that the stubborn passenger was a Delta or Northwest employee who was flying standby on a jumpseat. Because we were overweight, they were making him get off the plane. Which makes total sense, since he was flying for free and the rest of us were paying. But apparently the rules are different between Delta and Northwest and he must have been saying that they couldn't kick him off. Which made the constant cell phone make sense, since he was probably on the phone to a union rep or benefits person or something.

It was pretty strange to see the captain of a plane, and three uniformed security guards asking someone to leave a plane, and that person not complying.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Houston Wedding

IMG_1173This weekend Linzy and I were in Houston for Brenden and Allison's wedding. We had an awesome, if slightly busy, time.

It has been a long time since we last went to a friend's wedding out-of town, somewhere that required a lot of people to travel. For a normal local wedding we would go to just the wedding and reception, maybe the rehearsal depending on how we were involved. Which is fun, but in this case there were a lot of good friends all in town for the whole weekend without busy schedules. So we got to do a lot of hanging out and having fun catching up.

Houston was an interesting place to visit, and the weather was pretty pleasant the whole weekend. I can't see how anyone lives there in (say) August though, as it was already pretty humid and it has to be absolutely misearable in late summer.

The wedding itself went smoothly and was a nice ceremony. The reception was a lot of fun as well, and everyone seemed to have a good time. Things ended pretty early on Saturday, but many of us met up afterwards for some pool and indoor shuffleboard at the resort's bar. We had a great time, and I was happy to see my good friends married.

The Johnson boys.
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The bow-ties, despite not needing to be tied were still a pain to get on.
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Brenden and Brian hamming it up
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Brenden and Allison posing for pictures (no flash because the photographer was busy earning his keep)
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Brenden and his Mom, Mary, sharing a dance
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Brenden, Linzy and I after the wedding
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Keeping Busy

Today was my last day of work this week (though I have a few conference calls on Thursday). Then it will be off to sunny Houston for Brenden's wedding. On Friday morning I'll be getting my money's worth out of a golf course and then picking up the tuxedo, going to rehearsal and the groom's dinner. Saturday is the wedding and Sunday is the flight home. It should be a fun, if busy, weekend.


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Monday, April 20, 2009

Volcano Sledding

Today while I was driving home from work I saw two young boys from the neighborhood dancing in the middle of the street, apparently showing off how they weren't afraid of traffic running them over. In that spirit of needlessly dangerous pasttimes, I offer: Nicaraguan Volcano Sledding

This was my introduction to volcano boarding, a young adventure activity that has popped up, most notably at Cerro Negro, an ominous charcoal-black volcano in western Nicaragua. Boarders hurtle down the active volcano’s bald, steep slope atop a sledlike piece of plywood, at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. It’s hot, dusty, a little scary — and crazy enough to be fun.


Somehow when I read 'live volcano' I was envisioning something really crazy -- involving lava in some way. Compared with what I had in mind, sledding down seems rather tame. Fun, but tame.


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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nerd Fest

Last night, Brenden's brother threw a gaming night party for Brenden as sort-of a bachelor party before the wedding this upcoming weekend. We went out for dinner, and then had a poker tournament, played Rock Band and Guitar Hero: Metallica, and some strategy boardgames.

The turn-out was pretty good for a short notice party without normal bachelor party activities. The poker tournament was interesting because it's not a game that many of us regularly play, so the ones who do were able to clean up. I made the final table despite horrible, horrible, horrible cards and wasn't even the shortest stack coming into the last grouping, so I was pretty happy with that. Even if I did end up finishing sixth.

We also played a game of Battlestar Galactica, which was just as much fun as the first time I played it. In fact, it might have been more fun as I was a cylon from the start this time and got to really wreck havoc on the unlucky humans. As far as I can tell it is virtually impossible for the humans to win, at least if you have reasonably crafty cylon players.

Throw in some beer and time spent debating video games (virtually the only topic I will debate), and it was a lot of fun. A late night, by the time things wound down, but a lot of fun.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wall Street Journal

This morning I went out to get the paper and as I was walking back to the house, I glanced at the front page and discovered I was carrying a Wall Street Journal instead of the normal Star Tribune. It was early in the morning and I actually turned around thinking that I was half-asleep and had grabbed the paper from the wrong house's paper tube (despite the fact that no one else gets the paper). But, that wasn't the case, there was no other paper in our tube or anyone else's for that matter.

Somehow instead of our normal paper we got a Wall Street Journal delivered instead. I'm not sure if it was intended for someone else, and the normal paper delivery man skipped us because the tube was full, or if one got mixed in with the Star Tribune stack, or what.

It was quite strange, but I did enjoy reading the WSJ. Even if it didn't have any of the Vikings news that I normally am looking to read during breakfast.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Completion Percentage

Today I finished Chrono Trigger DS, which I had been working on for several months. The game is basically identical to the SNES version from long ago which is both good and bad. Good because Chrono Trigger was a classic. Bad because it's identical.

I did enjoy replaying the game quite a bit, since I haven't played it since college. Unfortunately I got bogged down at the end finishing a new bonus area that was added to the game for the DS version, only to find out that it was monotonous and unimaginative. You basically warped back and forth between two time periods, bringing items forward/back through the same areas again and again. Obviously at a high level that is what Chrono Trigger is all about, but this particular attempt at adding content seemed tired and unimaginative. Yet I still felt compelled to play through since it was part of what was 'new' in the game.

Luckily the rest of the game was just as good as I remembered it being, including the ultra-marathon end boss fight, which, when you include all of the pre-bosses in the Black Omen ended up taking over two complete bus rides to win.

After well over a year of playing nothing but RPGs, I'm planning to go back now and replay New Super Mario Brothers from scratch, for a bit more action-oriented gameplay.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Smart Cookie

Pippen is not a particularly smart dog. She barks at leaves blowing through the yard, is afraid of the kitchen, and consistently falls for the 'did I throw it?' game with her toys.

This morning we were following our usual routine, so Pippen was waiting downstairs to go outside after I got out of the shower. Afterwards she went back to bed while I ate breakfast and made my lunch. That's the normal routine.

I happened to have some extra time and the weather outside was reasonably nice so after finishing up everything else I decided to take Pippen for a morning walk. Anyways, the second I walked back into the kitchen and opened up the drawer with the plastic bags in it (to bring with on the walk) Pippen immediately woke up, ran downstairs and waited by the front door to go on her walk.

She didn't come in to see what I was doing or stand at the top of the stairs waiting for me, she ran straight downstairs apparently knowing exactly what I was doing. Despite the fact that it has literally been months since the last time we went for a morning walk.

Apparently she's smart enough to remember the important things. And I'm sure tomorrow she will skip going back to bed and instead pester me all morning about going on a walk.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Lot Like Spring

The weather this weekend was perhaps not quite as nice as it has been on individual days this year, but for back-to-back days it was pretty nice out. That made it feel a lot like spring. Unfortunately that nice spring vibe came along with an awful lot of chores like raking the yard and cleaning out the garage. On the other hand, Linzy and I were able to get out and take the dog for some walks, and enjoy the weather.

My original plan was also to get out for a bike ride, but unfortunately the rear tire on my bike suffered some sort of major damage hanging from the ceiling in the garage, because I couldn't even inflate it. It will have to be changed, but that felt like too much work on top of everything else I had already done that day.

We also had a good time with my parents, who came over for Easter brunch. Linzy and Mom made quite a feast and it was fun to catch up with them. Even if my Dad did bring depressing news about the impending Emerald Ash Borer beetle that will likely be threatening the two ash trees in my front yard in the next several years.

All in all it was a good weekend.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ghost Peppers

Just for the record, you may think you can handle hot food, but you can't. At least not like Anadita Dutta Tamuly:

A 28-year-old Indian woman smeared chilli pepper seeds on her eyes after gobbling up 51 of the world's hottest chillies to earn a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

Anadita Dutta Tamuly completed her eye watering challenge in just two minutes on Friday under the watchful eye of chef Gordon Ramsay, who was monitoring her record attempt.

She then shocked onlookers by smearing handfuls of seeds from the "ghost chillies", or bhut jolokia, into her eyes.

That, my friends, is hardcore. Though I am amused that the previous record was eight jalapenos. How was that good enough for a world record?

Video, just for good measure


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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Rice Cakes

This week downtown Quaker Oats has had people handing out packages of Chocolatey Drizzle Mini Delights. Every day they have three or four girls standing in the skyways handing out a package or two to everyone who walks by all lunch hour.

Some of the girls handing out the packets take handing out free stuff very seriously, calling out to everyone walking by to come get the rice cakes. A few of them, though, don't do anything except stand around looking obviously disinterested. They don't even have snack packs in their hand to hand out if someone did want one.

The first day I was thinking they were mini packages of cookies or something, and was a little disappointed to find out they were rice cakes. But actually they are not too bad. The chocolate covers up the styrofoamy taste of the multigrain rice cake fairly effectively. They make a nice dessert to go with lunch.

Today though, I must have walked by when they were just trying to get rid of the last of the stock, because I got three packets shoved into my hands when I walked by. One of my co-worker ended up with an entire half case. I'm pretty sure the 'okay-ness' will wear out by the time we finish the sixty-or-so packets now sitting in the office.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Skunk Eye

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Whatever you are up to, Linzy doesn't approve.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Double Feature

Waking up to an inch or two of snow on the ground this morning was depressing, but at least the sun came out later in the day and melted most of it away.

Despite the spring-strength sun, today I ended up watching two movies. Death Race while I was exercising, and then later in the day Linzy and I went to go see Duplicity.

I'm still not quite sure how Death Race ended up coming from Netflix. I'm sure I threw it on the queue just because it has Jason Statham in it, but I don't know how it ended up on the top. Unfortunately by the time I noticed it, it had already shipped. Anyways the film turned out to be a pretty good one for watching while working out because I had no real need to hear any of the dialog, but there was lots of action to keep me interested. The movie was ridiculous and all, and dragged pretty significantly towards the end, but it was kind of entertaining.

Duplicity was also pretty good. It had funny moments, and the intricate spy-plot helped keep me entertained. Julia Roberts and Clive Owen made an amusing team, and I also liked the hyper-competitive CEOs. I did get a little bored towards the end of the movie when I could guess what was going to happen, but overall it was pretty good for a romantic comedy.

Hopefully by next weekend the weather will be nicer and there will be more outside activities.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Oh, I Remember Him!

When I was in Boston last week, one night stopped at the nearby mall to get fitted for my tux for Brenden's wedding. The guy who helped fit me was quite talkative, and happened to be from Texas (where Brenden and Allison's wedding is). That made him even more talkative, as he told me all about how he had lived there when he was a kid, when he moved, what he liked about going back, how it had snowed on his fifth birthday causing him to not be able to go to Chuck E Cheese, etc.

During his rambling, he started mentioning how he remembered when Brenden came in to get fitted and how he remembered everyone who comes in who is going to Texas. Of course this was in Boston and so Brenden had never set foot in the store. For some reason it amused me to not correct him, and listen to all of the things the sales guy 'remembered'.

The sales guy was nice enough, so I never mentioned that I wasn't from Boston and that he had never met anyone from the wedding party. I'm sure he is telling stories to the next customers about the big wedding party going to Texas that he was just helping out last week. Looking back on it, I guess this was a bit mean on my part, but it was quite amusing at the time.

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