Thursday, December 28, 2006

Male or female?

According to the Gender Genie, I am a male. I used text from this blog, and sure enough, it pinned me as a guy. :)

I still get a kick out of looking up at the mountains whenever I go outside here. Yesterday on a drive to Costco I was staring out the car windows like a kid might stare at a roadside carnival or petting zoo. It's awesome to see mountains on every horizon up here, and I could probably sit in the front yard and look at the mountains all day long. Well, except that it's a little cold and snowy right now, but still, one does get the point anyway.

One of the things I miss during the eleven months of the year that surround the Christmas season is the music. I really like Christmas hymns, and when we went to the 10pm service on Christmas Eve we got to sing all the great classics, and it was really cool (ok, so "really cool" is probably not the best description I could use, but it's early and I'm still kind of tired). You know how sometimes a certain song will trigger memories of a particular event or time in your life every time you hear it? I think what I like about "Joy to the World," "Away in a Manger," "Silent Night," et al, is that they always trigger memories of family, friends, presents, cider, warm blankets, and worshipping Christ. It's a good feeling, I tell ya. Sing away.

Oh, and yesterday we totally completed the newspaper crossword puzzle. Yes!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The week between

It's kind of nice being away from easy internet access for a while. In the past four days I have probably spent about 20 minutes on the good ol' information superhighway, not counting the time I was playing with the Opera browser on my Nintendo Wii (and that doesn't really count, since the absence of a keyboard makes "surfing" more like "hobbling around with crutches"). I'm writing this from Helena, Montana, where we are visiting relatives for Christmas, and as I look outside the kitchen door of their house I am greeted with a scene of rolling hills and majestic promontories that one just doesn't often see back home in Minnesota. The visit has been excellent, as it always is when we come up here, and today is looking like no exception. We will be here until the end of the week, that strange middle-child of a week sandwiched between the festivities of Christmas and New Years, during which the country pauses to catch its collective breath after one holiday only to plunge headlong into another and then back to the familiar routine for another 51 Mondays, at which point we will load up the Corolla and head back to the Twin Cities.

So yeah, I hope all of you had a wondrous Christmas and will soon have a happy New Year. :)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

So this is how it all went down...

First things first: I am now the proud owner of a Nintendo Wii. Proud and happy, actually. And pleased. And relieved. And other things, too. Suffice it to say, I'm glad to finally have Nintendo's new system, as I have been eagerly awaiting its arrival in my living room for a few years now.

But anyway, here's the scoop: I set my alarm for 4:45 this morning and got to Best Buy right about 5am. By the time I got there, a line of about 20 people had already formed and I was told by the last guy in line that there were only 17 Wiis available. Major bummer, if I do say so myself. There was a sign on the door stating as much, so I cut my losses and hightailed it over to Target where the same thing was happening. The sign on the door said they had 14, and there were 16 people in line. Actually, it looked more like a mass of blankets than a line, as I'm guessing several people had arrived late last night and slept on the pavement. More power to 'em, I say, since this morning was probably the last chance most people will get to snag a Wii.

So off to Circuit City I went, where I found three guys waiting by the front door. Score! I thought to myself, as I started chatting with them. The guy in front had the Sunday circular and in it was advertised the Wii, so we all figured they had to have 'em in stock. Right?

Wrong. The manager came out about 6:15 and told us that they had none, even though it was in their ad. Thrice denied was I! But no matter, I pressed onward and zipped off to Toys R Us near my cousin's house. I had no idea if they were getting any, but as I mentioned, this was probably going to be my last shot for quite some time. I was about the 14th person in line, and decided to bit the just-below-freezing bullet and simply wait it out. Soon the line grew to 15, then 20, and finally about 40 people, when about 7:45 the manager came out and began giving away the video game equivalent of Charlie Button's golden ticket: little white slips guaranteeing the bearer one (1) Nintendo Wii. She passed from person to person, carefully handing each one a four-by-five-inch sheet of bliss, and I held my breath as she neared my position in line. "Eight, nine, ten..." she counted as the small stack grew ever more anemic in her chilly little hands. "Eleven, twelve, thirteen..." I don't even remember what number I was (I'm *guessing* it was around 14) but when my hands gripped that tiny white piece of gaming joy, all else just sort of faded away into digital nirvana.

Ok, so that's a bit melodramatic, and in the time of year when we focus on the birth of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made so that we might have eternal life, it's silly to put so much emphasis on a game system. But the point is, I had finally secured my Nintendo Wii. And having spent some time playing it this afternoon, I can confidently say that it's a really cool system, and all of you should check it out. :) Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Broasted Chicken

Here in Minnesota a lot of people have connections to cabins, either in the northern part of our state or in neighboring Wisconsin. It's not too uncommon for people to take off to go to "the cabin" for the weekend, be it their own or their parents' or a friend's. We have been going to "the cabin" with my friend, his family, and his girlfriend for about two years now, and it's always a great time. The cabin is located near the town of Hayward, Wisconsin, and it's far enough to feel like one has gotten away from the big city, but close enough to drive without having to stop for the bathroom. :)

But one stop is required along the way: a hole-in-the-wall restaurant (and I use the term loosely) called The Brass Rail. It is about a half-hour north of the Cities, and there's no way you would know it's there unless someone told you, even though it's right next to the highway. This restaurant has the best fried chicken I have ever had the pleasure of consuming, along with excellent breaded mushrooms and fried cheese curds. Actually, it almost reminds me of a certain lengthy shiny-grey fourth-gospel kind of eating establishment in that everything on the menu is the same color, leading one to believe one's entire order, side dishes and all, was simply placed on a steel grate and drowned for several minutes in a rather large frying vat.

But cooking methods aside, this place is very very tasty, and a few days ago my friend and I decided to head up there this afternoon, even though we had no plans to go to the cabin. So about one hour past noon my wife and I met up with him and his girlfriend and we made the short trek to the Brass Rail. And oh, let me tell you, it was awesome. We had our usual orders of mushrooms, chicken, onion rings, and waffle fries, and about an hour later with arteries clogging so fast we could almost hear it, we plodded back to the car and drove home stuffed to the brim with chickeney goodness.

So yeah, next to De Leon's in Lincoln and the shifty Packer bar near "the cabin," this is probably the best little place to get your tummy stuffed and your heart stopped. Definitely worth checking out.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Something for Nothing

I got up early this morning and hit up 3 stores looking for a Wii, but none were to be had. So what's good about that? Well, for one, this certainly is teaching me the value of patience. I used to freak out about stuff like this, but you know what? The world continues, and there certainly are more important things to worry about than a video game system. Another good thing about it is that I keep on playing the original Halo (making good progress through "The Library" on Heroic) and re-discovering how awesome it is.

But something really cool did happen today: I got a coupon the other day for a free 1-gig USB drive from a computer store. Free, eh? I thought to myself. There's some sort of catch... It turns out there wasn't. I took the coupon to the store after church this morning and walked out a few minutes later with a free 1-gig USB drive, no strings attached. I think the goal was to use it to simply get people in the store, and it sure worked. I'll probably go back there any time I need computer stuff, just because they gave me a sweet chunk of solid state storage. Aw yeah. :)

Friday, December 08, 2006


Recently, I have...

• Started watching the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation (after pausing following the final episode in season five). Several episodes in, it is not nearly as lame as I once thought. Tonight's episode, "The Battle," was downright good.

• Finished a "pint" of Sesame Chicken from Lee Ann Chin. With apologies to Phil Hartman and Fabio, "I can't believe it's an Asian restaurant!"

• Gained a new relative, my cousin's baby Malachi. I'm not sure if that means I'm his second cousin, or first cousin once removed, or what, but either way it's pretty neat.

• Purchased not a Wii, but a Wii controller sans nunchuck. I've taken my first step into a larger world...

• Begun watching Episode III with commentary. What an awesome series.

• Realized once again the value of a good stocking hat in a Minnesota winter. :)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Grandma's Spaghetti

2 Cans Campbell's Tomato Soup
1 Can Water
3 Teaspoons Chili Powder
1 Pound Hamburger
Spaghetti Noodles

Combine soup, water, and chili powder, and heat until warm.
Brown hamburger, and season to taste with garlic salt.
Boil and drain noodles

Put noodles on plate. Follow with hamburger. Top with sauce.
Serves two.

That's about it, folks, but I promise it's one of the best spaghetti recipes you'll ever find. My dad's mother used to make it, and my mom made it, and two nights ago my wife and I made it. It was one of the best meals I've had in a long time.

(hey tarlo, reply to this with your Alpha Sigma Sigma chili recipe. That stuff rocked the shingles right off our house. And Andy, if you're out there, reply to this with your "it taste just like the stuff we used to get in school" chili recipe. Now if only we could find those cinnamon rolls...)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Gaming Trek III: The Search for Wii

The Nintendo Wii was released about two weeks ago, and I have yet to own one. I did have a great time playing my brother's system when we visited Lincoln over Thanksgiving break, and a great time was had by all. So ever since, I've been calling and visiting stores, and asking people I know, and I just can't seem to find one. Turns out the Wii is this year's gotta-have-it gift for Christmas, which is pretty cool for Nintendo and millions of game players who enjoy having fun without spending lots of cash.

So this morning I got up, made some phone calls, checked some message boards, and discovered that a Circuit City near my house was going to get about 15 overnight. Schawing! I quickly showered and ran out in the near-zero temps to snag myself a new Nintendo (thankfully I had my super-warm Cabela's boots my wife's parents got me for Christmas a few years ago, or my toes would have froze).

I got to Circuit City and found that there was no line, which was super cool. Then I found out from a lady standing by the door that there *was* a line and the manager had given tickets to everyone in line so they could come back later and not freeze all morning. The downside: the store only got 11 Wiis, and they were now all spoken for (the lady was #12 in line, and I would have been #13). Bummer, sure, but then I found out that the lady who was waiting by the door needed a ride to someplace warm. Apparently she was waiting in line for her daughter, who had left to go run some errands. So I gave her a lift to a Starbucks, and zipped off to Best Buy to try my fortunes there.

I waited in line there for a while until the manager came out and said they did not receive and Wiis last night. Bummer #2.

But check it out: there's a happy side to all this, and it has nothing to do with games. What I discovered this morning was that there are a whole bunch of really nice people out there. Sure, that sounds cheesy, but everyone I met in line (I did go back to Circuit City after Best Buy to see if they at least had some controllers) was really nice, friendly, and polite about the whole business. It was 13 degrees out, but people were chatting and sharing stories and generally having a really good time. And when we found out from the Best Buy manager that they were out of Wiis, nobody fussed or got mad--they just calmly left and I heard many shouts of "Good luck, man!" and "I hope you find one!" and the like.

Maybe Christmas brings out the best in people after all.