Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Big Show

Tonight was my first night helping out at our church's Vacation Bible School program, and even though I was a bit nervous at first, things went off pretty well throughout the evening. I was not in charge of snacks, or break time, or arts-n-crafts, or songs, or even leading kids to the bathroom. No, I was put in charge, more or less, of the puppet show. And ho boy, what a show it was. :)

Ok, so I wasn't technically in charge of the puppet show, but I did play the major roles and had to find another kid to help with the minor ones. One of the ladies who was running the VBS program was the "Storyteller" and I was both Matthew and a Centurion, while my young helper played Jesus. We both handled some minor roles too, like Pharisees and whatnot, and I have to say, it was the best puppet show I have ever participated in. And we get to do it again tomorrow and Thursday, with new skits each time. So if you're in the area and in need of some top-notch Biblical entertainment the next few nights, you know where to find me.

Last weekend we went to my friend Jon's parents' cabin with him and his girlfriend Sarah, and as usual, it was a great time. We hit up all the usual haunts like the Brass Rail, Wal-Mart, and the shifty Packer Bar. We did all the usual things like fish, watch movies, play Wii, and even got in a few rounds of Cowboy Golf. I started out great, but soon met crushing defeat at the hands of my wife and Sarah. It was fun, though, which is all that matters. Overall the trip was a great time, despite some tiredness on my part as well as a stronger-than-usual case of the Post-Brass Rail-Stomache-Ache. And with that, allow me to close out this post with the view from the cabin, and a big thank-you to Jon and Sarah both for a great weekend.

Friday, July 25, 2008

May the Force be with you

Ok, so last night my wife and I went to the Star Wars exhibit at the Science Museum, and it was extremely cool. We saw models and costumes from all of the films, watched lots of mini-documentaries about special effects and other aspects of the films. There was a short animatronic presentation about robots, which was kind of silly, but I appreciated the sentiment behind it at least.

But enough of my yakking. On to the photos!

Me standing next to the actual model used for filming Princess Leia's Corellian Corvette as it escaped from the Star Destroyer at the beginning of ANH.

An A-wing model, which is much larger than it might seem.

She'll make point five past light speed. And she's huge! This model is about four feet long.

Note the black piping holding this Star Destroyer up. I figured they would have used a mount that extended from the bottom when filming this ship in action, but this type of rig allowed them to film from underneath much easier.

The Man in The Helmet.

Two Wookiee costumes used in Episode Three.

An actual AT-AT model used in filming the Hoth sequences.

So yeah, you could (and I would) say the exhibit was pretty awesome. They had a few things that cost extra money, like an OMNI movie about special effects, but we decided against it. The rest of the science museum was really interesting too, by the way.

Tonight we head to The Brass Rail again, on our way to Jon's parents' cabin in Wisconsin. And right now it looks like a nice thunderstorm is brewing. If there's a better way to start the weekend, I'm not sure what it is. :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On one wheel

Two nights ago I took the advice my brother Tom has been giving me, and rode our unicycle around for a while. It has been a while since I've been one one, except for a teensy bit at my parents' house a week ago, and lemme tell you (because I am right now) that it was a great way to spend part of an evening. I rode around on the bike trails that wind through a park near our home, and got some nice looks and Hellos from people I met, which is always nice. I didn't practice any tricks, but it was really nice to get out and ride for a while.

Thanks, Tom. :)

The other day I was at Costco and decided against a slice of pizza for dinner. Instead I came home and made Macaroni and Cheese. I'm not one for living with regrets, but wow...if I am ever made to choose between Costco pizza and Mac and Cheese, well, let's just say we live and learn. Wow.

Now on to play some Mario Kart on the ol' Wii for a little while. Ah, this is the life...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Just Visiting

Yesterday morning I went to see my cousin Eddy for a while, and we had a great time chatting, looking at photos, and going out for coffee at a Starbucks near his house. We had actually planned on visiting the local Starbucks alternative, Caribou Coffee, but after driving around for 15 minutes with no luck, we gave in and supported The Man instead. But we were provided with delicious drinks, so I guess it's all good in the end.

One thing I realized while hanging out with him is that the iPod Touch we got last week is a fantastic photo viewer. I wanted to show Eddy some pictures of our recent trip to Nebraska, so I whipped out the iPod and wha-bam! Tons of photos at our fingertips, on a screen that was big enough for both of us to see easily. So score one for Apple, I guess.

We might go to see the new Batman movie today, which I've been itching to see ever since I saw the first trailers several months ago. One guy I work with in the summer went to a midnight showing last week and clocked in the next morning barely able to describe how awesome it was. All I know is, M. Night Shamalyan has nothing on Christopher Nolan, who has yet to make a bad movie. Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige, Batman Begins...dude. The guy's amazing.

Alright, time to head off for church. Later.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Wow...summer has been anything but a break, though it has been very much a vacation. After spending a week in Montana we were home for three days and then whisked ourselves off to Nebraska to see family and friends for a few days (how's that for alliteration?). It seems like there's never enough time to see everyone, and do everything, that we would like to while we're visiting down there, but it was very enjoyable to visit with the people we did get in touch with. As anyone who knows my family can probably guess, there was a good deal of card and board games that were played throughout the weekend, and probably far too much eating out than what was good for us. In our defense, though, we try to hit the local haunts for which there is no Twin Cities equivalent, such as Amigo's, Valentino's, and Fazoli's. So there really is a purpose, you might say, to all the indulging.

The highlight of the trip, though, was Sunday night which was spent with several family members along with some of my friends I haven't seen in a while. We had dinner, went bowling, and played "Loaded Questions" back at my parents' house. To any of you who were there and are reading this...thanks for a great time. Seriously, it was really cool to just hang out for a while. In fact, the whole trip was fun, and I'm already excited about going back in a few weeks for my ten-year class reunion.

Today we went to the Apple Store and purchased a brand new iMac, complete with a free iPod Touch and inkjet printer, which will stay firmly inside its box until we sell it, because inkjet printers are the devil.

Next to the iMac you can see my four and a half year-old eMac, which has served me faithfully and largely hassle-free, but was just too slow for any serious video editing, though a few projects that I completed on the eMac helped to purchase the iMac, so it has earned its keep for sure. It's nice to have a zippy computer again, not to mention a cool new gadget to play with too. :)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Gates of the Rockies

Yesterday we took the boat trip I mentioned in my previous post, though it turns out it was on the Missouri, not the Madison. Here's a few highlights from the trip.

(click each photo for a much larger version)

Views like this are not uncommon up in Montana.

The State owns the land on the eastern side of this river, while the western side is privately held, but designated as a Conservation Easement. Our tour guide said that a hundred years from now the land should still look just like this: pristine and undeveloped.

Much of the vegetation on the eastern side was destroyed in a fire last summer, which lasted several months and was finally extinguished by December snows. Fires like this are actually good in the long run, though, as they give the forests a chance to renew themselves.

Today we don't have much planned in the way of actual stuff to do, but it should be a relaxing day of just being with family. And what better way to celebrate our Nation's independence? And by the way, major props to TJ for making this trip possible.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

It's not the heat

This entry comes to you, once again, from the great western frontier of Montana. Well, perhaps not as much of a frontier as it once was, but stepping out the front door of my in-laws' house reveals a view of such majesty that the pioneers, were they to behold it, would still be in awe. It's mighty pretty out here, and mighty nice overall. The weather has been warm but the humidity is much lower than Minnesota, so things feel much more pleasant overall.

We arrived late on Saturday and have spent the last few days relaxing with the relatives and their little puppy* Maggie. The nice thing about being on vacation is the distinct lack of an agenda, in that when we come up here we are usually not beholden to a schedule or routine, and are free to sleep in, laze about in the day, run errands, eat, watch movies, and stay up, all with relative impunity, though at a slight cost to our own natural sense of biological rhythm. Sunday we went to see one of the coolest (adjectives fail me) movies I have seen in a long time, Wall-E. Sure the animation is peerless, but Pixar's ability to tell a story is second to none. They rely not on cheap scatological humor and pratfalls such as some other movies out there, but instead create characters that are so real and entrancing that they need no cheap crutches to be entertaining. This time, though, with much of the story being told sans dialog...good gravy. These guys are animation wizards, I tell you.

Anyway, platitudes about Pixar aside, it's been a great couple of days. Tomorrow we might take a boat trip down the Madison river, but other than that it's just nice to be out here with relatives.

*she's about 15 years old, but small, so we still call her a puppy. Don't tell her, though...