Thursday, February 28, 2008

Almost there...

Today I donated my sixth recorded pint of blood at the bi-monthly blood drive where I work. I think my total is actually more like eight pints, because I remember a few times I donated before keeping track on the nifty little Red Cross Donation card they give you. I still get nervous every time I donate, though, mostly because I have somewhat of a fear of needles. As far back as I can remember, I have been scared of them, even though it doesn't really hurt all that much to get stuck with one. Still, though, I recall getting a tetanus shot when I was in middle school and bawling my eyes out for a while afterward, mostly because I was horrified of the hideously long needle they used to administer the shot.

At the blood drive, I look away when they stick the needle in my arm, but I sometimes venture a quick glance at the clear plastic bag slowly filling up with billions of my very own A-positive red cells. Then I quickly look away and watch the floor.

Anyway, two more donations and I get a cool "one gallon" pin. :)

It snowed today, which might be a bummer save for the fact that it's nearly March, and the prima-vera of spring is getting closer every day. Added to that is the bonus of a slightly earlier daylight savings time this year. Sweet.

In my efforts to rid myself of the sniffles which have somewhat plagued my sinuses these past three days, I am heading to bed early tonite. G'night, folks.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Grillin' the Cheese

The perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

1. Spread one side of a slice of wheat bread with liberal amounts of butter.
2. Place in frying pan on medium heat, buttered-side down
3. Place thick slices of sharp cheddar cheese on the bread. The thicker, the better.
4. Cover the cheese with jalapenos:

5. Place another layer of cheddar on top of the jalapenos:

6. Place another slide of buttered wheat bread on top
7. Flip sandwich occasionally until cheese is melted and both sides of the sandwich are golden brown.
8. Pre-dunk each bite in a bowl of ranch dressing.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Warming Trend

My sister called yesterday to see how things were going, and among bits of conversation about jobs, family, and the like, I mentioned that the weather is getting warmer. To a non-northerner this might seem like idle smalltalk, but I was sincere in my desire to discuss the weather because it really is nice when things start to warm up around here. There was a day this week when it was 13 below on my way to work, and when things start to warm up, it really is something to talk about.

My wife and I are going to see The Church Basement Ladies tonight, courtesy of my work. Last year they treated all the staff to a performance of Triple Espresso, which was a surprisingly good time. I'm hoping tonight's will be equally enjoyable, and at any rate, it will be a cool night on the town. :)

Last night we had dinner at a place called Bascallis, which is a little Italian diner about six blocks from where we live. It's kind of like the Italian equivalent of The Brass Rail, in that it's certainly not a well known or supremely popular restaurant, but the food is worth its weight in gold. After that we went to see Charlie Wilson's War at the second-run theatre near our house which, we discovered, will be closing its doors for good on March 31. I actually told my wife that I would not be able to blog about it because I could not find a positive angle to the theatre's closing. And one day later, I still can't. But I'm mentioning it anyway. Roseville 4, you will be missed. I'll pour out some popcorn oil for you...

Monday, February 18, 2008

When the chips are down

Tonight I finished off the last of my mom's Christmas present, thus bringing an end to my quest that began so many months ago. I didn't make any big deal out of it, really, and as I consumed the final few chips from the last lonely bag, Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion were keeping me company as they provided commentary for an episode of Firefly. All is not lost, though, as just last week I was given hope for future acquisitions of Fiery Habanero Doritos: I was given a bag that was purchased at Wal-Mart near my work. I suppose it figures that of all places, it would be that bastion of capitalism that finally offers me a solution. So here's hoping they have 'em in stock next time I'm there.

Last Friday we went to the Brass Rail again with Jon and Sarah, where my perpetual challenge to myself is to eat all the food that is presented to me. I used to not be able to do it, but now I can put down the cottage cheese, breaded mushrooms, quarter of a quicken, and onion rings without breaking too much of a sweat. I can't do the toast, though, but they say it's good to have a goal...

Afterwards we played some Wii on Jon's parents' massively gigantor TV, which was one of those projector dealeys on one side of the room and a huge screen on the other. I'm not kidding, Wii Bowling was more lifelike than Minnehaha Lanes. We made some cookies too, thanks to a nice valentine's day gift from my wife's dad, and I got to wrestle around with Jon's dog, Zac(k?). I don't want to own a pet, but I do like enjoying them when I'm not responsible for them. :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's not the years, sweetheart's the mileage

And things are looking good.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

That time again

Tonight, as my wife and I were eating dinner, she pointed outside and then asked me what time it was. "Six o'clock," I responded, not quite understanding her point. But a few seconds later it hit me: it was still light out. Not two months ago it would have been pitch black and the lamp in front of our apartment building would have begun bathing the walkway in shaded fades of yellow. Apparently we gain about one minute of daylight each day in January, and while this progression is hardly noticeable on a day-to-day basis, it's awesome when progress rears its head at the most unlikely of times.

I was informed today that Lord of the Rings is being produced as a musical. Odd, I suppose, but then, I think I would really enjoy going to see it. Trouble is, it's only in London, but maybe when it shows up stateside we could get tickets. I don't know how comfortable I would be seeing the Ringwraiths break out in song at weathertop, or the riders of Rohan defend Helms Deep with the slings and arrows of a well-timed harmony, but I suppose it could be done. Though it does give me cause to shudder, if ever so slightly.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Final Expansion of the Crack

Yesterday we went with our usual quisine-tasting friends, Jon and Sarah, to this place called "The Nook." It's basically a large dirty closet with a five square-foot kitchen that serves up greasy burgers and the like. Jon saw it on a TV show which explores places such as this around the country, so we all piled into our 1998 Corolla and drove four miles to see what the big deal was.

Turned out we were not alone. The place was jammed with people, but we got in soon enough and enjoyed a tasty meal next to a booth which was once occupied by none other than Barbara Streisand. We all ordered "Juicy Lucy" burgers, which contained a cheese-filled patty in lieu of typical burger fare in which the cheese is simply a topping. Next to this shifty Packer bar in Wisconsin where we go sometimes, and a place my wife likes in Saint Louis called The Fatted Calf, these Juicy Lucy burgers were probably the best cheeseburgers I have ever had. Definitely worth a trip, folks.

After that we capped the evening off with a perennial favorite: National Treasure, which contains the greatest twenty seconds in action movie history. So great, in fact, that I made the following video just to illustrate my point:

After that we watched the Blue Oyster Cult "Cowbell" sketch and went to bed. It don't get no better than this, folks.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Place to Be

I first heard of Snow Tubing when I was subbing at a school in the northeast part of the Twin Cities about three years ago. A bunch of kids in one of my classes said they were going after school, and I asked what it was. They told me, and I thought it sounded like one of the most enjoyable activities that could be done on a winter's down-covered hill.

Fast forward to a month ago when some friends of ours came over to deliver some Christmas cookies. They mentioned Snow Tubing, and it all came back to me: I wanted to try this strange, quirky, Minnesota winter activity. So last night my wife and I bundled up, each with several pairs of pants, a couple of shirts, winter boots, winter coats, and the like, and met up with our friends at Green Acres, the Snow Tubing facility nestled comfortably off a short beaten path near Highway 36 on the northeast side of the Cities.

Now, I went skiing last year, but I have to say that Snow Tubing was probably just as much fun and, as a bonus, involves, in a very direct manner, all of your friends at once. Here's how it works:

There are two hills, a bunny hill and the big hill, the latter of which ends on a small pond, which helps you coast for hundreds of feet after leaving the hill itself. There are piles of black vulcanized inner tubes, the big kind you might find in semi trucks, and you choose one (preferably one that's hard and well-inflated). Then comes the fun part. You walk over to the cycling tow rope, jump on your tube, and let the rope carry instrument and rider, while the rider desperately grips the rope, a hundred yards to the top of the hill. Once at the top you find a good place to launch yourself (or a group of people, with arms and legs intertwined) down the two-tier hill.

The hill itself is extremely slick, having been padded down by thousands of tubers over the course of the winter. It hurtles you at near-breakneck speeds down one tier, then levels off, and finally down an even steeper tier which finally launches you out across the pond.

What makes it so much fun, though, is the shared experience of it all. Riding down in groups or chains of people, pushing your friends at the top to give them a faster ride, spinning your friends before they leave the lip of the's just enjoyable, man. And the hill is crazy fast, but never so speedy that you are in danger of leaving the tube and flying off.

We spent two hours there, and came home to a couple mugs of of hot chocolate and an episode of The West Wing. If that's not living, I don't know what is.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Double Double

Why do I enjoy The West Wing?

If this was 24, CJ Cregg would have shot Big Bird in the head.

After first interrogating him.

With a rusty buzz saw.

...That's why I enjoy The West Wing.

In other news, my brother Andy just called right here, right now, to tell me he was waiting for Van Halen to take the stage in Omaha. It's communiqué s like these that make me smile real big and ponder those slightly off-kilter events in this world that are just...uniquely Andy. Go ahead and jump, man. Go ahead and jump.

Edit: apparently the show was awesome, as evidenced by the photo Andy just sent me, from his iPhone, of course. Let's just hope he doesn't get mugged by some mullet-headed dude sporting a Crystal Clear Pepsi shirt.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Friday Night In

It's been somewhat of a crazy week, and the evenings have not left much time for recreation or relaxing, but we did manage to beat a few more songs on Guitar Hero 3's "Medium" career mode. We not have four or five stars on every song except for the final set, of which we are a tad leery. Of course, there still remains two additional difficulty levels we have not even begun to tackle yet, but still...the idea of playing "Cliffs of Dover" or "One," even on medium, is enough to make any casual gamer cringe in fear.

Last night we made a trip to the nearby mall to look for a few things, and before we left I stopped by Chipotle to use my free burrito card I received in the mail a few days ago. Oh burrito. This is the second time I have received one of these, the first being when a new Chipotle opened up a few miles south of us. I think they do it as a promotion to let people know about the new stores, but whatever the reason, I walked out of those shiny metal doors with a delicious steak burrito loaded with extras, courtesy of the restaurant itself. Mmmm...steak burrito...

We spent the rest of the night watching the Michael Mann movie "Thief," which is a decent story about these guys who rob safes. While we do enjoy going out with friends and things like that, it's nice to just spend an evening at home, too.

I should also mention, albeit a tad belatedly, that one week ago I took the Buffalo Wild Wings "Blazin' Challenge" with a few other guys. We all passed, and our reward for several nigh-unbearably spicy minutes and an evening of abdominal discomfort was the same reward that has motivated more guys to do more stupid things than almost any other force in history: a free T-shirt.

The rules of the challenge state that each participant must eat 12 Blazin' wings in 6 minutes with no other sauces (ranch, blue cheese, etc.) and nothing to drink. The guys I was with did it in about three and a half minutes, and I finished my final wing in just over four. Was it worth it? Definitely. Would I do it again? I severely doubt it.