Monday, September 29, 2008

The Big Three-Oh

We went to visit The Fam in Lincoln last weekend for my brother Andy's 30th birthday party, and it was pretty awesome. First off, we made the trip in our 1992 Geo Prizm (don't laugh, it's paid for, sucka) which finally hit 168,000 miles. Even though it's old, it still keeps going strong, so we keep it around and probably will do so for a while yet. Anyway, we got to town late Friday, went to bed, and I got up around 8:30 the next morning so I could change the oil and get things rolling for the day. I met up with Andy for lunch at one of Lincoln's fine eateries, D'Leon's, and had one of the best burritos I have eaten in many moons. Seriously, it was super delicious, and pretty cheap too.

(I gotta say, for all the Big City-ness of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, there is a dearth of small-time Mexican eating establishments, which is part of the reason I like Amigo's so much: there's just no Minnesota equivalent. At least none that I know of. Same goes for Taco Inn and the aforementioned D'Leon's.)

Saturday evening my whole family was over, along with my uncle Pete, to celebrate Andy's birthday even though we were, technically, a few days early in doing so. Andy invited some of his friends from church and we all watched the Huskers game on his homemade big-screen, which was the exactly kind of over-the-top venture I would expect from Andy. :) We had a great time, ate tons of good food (thanks Mom!), and even got in some Croquet and Bocce Ball action too. At halftime we all watched the slide show I made for Andy's birthday, which you can take a look at if you want to.

Today, back in MN, things were getting decidedly Fall-like, and I made my first cup of hot chocolate for the season. As long as it's getting cold, might as well enjoy it with a steaming mug of chocolately goodness...

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Great Debate

I go to Costco a few times a week, mostly for gas, milk, and cheese, on which we save enough on to effectively take care of our $50/year membership. But today was one of those days when I had to be at work late, so I stopped at the Food "Court" (can a place that serves six total menu items really be called a Court?) and stared at the same food choices as always, but stuck in the debate which has, even after more than two years, left me with no easy answer:

Is it better to get a Polish Dog and pop for $1.50, or a slice of pizza and a pop for $2.58?

There's the economical side of things, which tells me that the Polish option is a better deal. It also includes Sauerkraut, which is super tasty. It also is cheap enough that I can justify purchasing a Berry Sundae for $1.65 and not feel too guilty in the morning.

But then I'm left with a soda and a Berry Sundae, which is about four pounds more sugar than anyone should really eat in one sitting.

So another option is to get the pizza slice alone, for $1.99, and a cup of water, which is free. I'm then left to get the Berry Sundae with only spending about 50 cents more than if I had purchased it with the Polish, and I can feel extra good about m'self since I had good ol' H2O to wash down the 'za.

Anyway, I ended up going with the Pizza Option, with a pop, which is usually enough to last the evening. The real question, though, is which would Obama or McCain choose?

...and would they consider the churro? it's so delicious...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Muchos Nachos

I was given free nachos for lunch today.

And then again for supper.

It rained after work, and I got to see a massive lightning bolt strike the ground.

I got a new CD this week and I'm listening to it now and it's awesomeness is staggering.

What once was lost (the screw-in thingey to stir the popcorn in our popcorn maker) now is found (I ordered a new screw-in thingey and it arrived two days ago).

My new water bottle is BPA-free and just the right size for my hands.

I'm putting the finishing touches on our final wedding video of the summer.

My wife and I are going to a friend's house for dinner tomorrow.

I changed the oil in our car yesterday without spilling hardly a drop.

Yes, it's been a good week.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Three months to go

I like to measure time in how long it has been since Christmas, or how long it will be until Christmas. It sort of puts things in a weird perspective: today, for example, is September 15. That means there is precisely three months and ten days until Christmas. Wow. In just over three months we will have gone to Georgia, gone to Montana, hopefully gone to Lincoln, finished the school play, and nearly come to the end of the semester.

That was a haiku.

This weekend, though, was very busy in a relaxed sort of way. We didn't have to go out of town, or go anywhere special, or do anything momentous, and for those reasons it was just a nice easygoing weekend. I slept in yesterday and today, and my wife and I both got a lot of stuff done around the house too. But my cousin Beth was over last night, which was really cool. And this morning I taught my second Sunday School class of the year at our church. And this afternoon I delivered some flyers to houses in the area for a meeting at our church tomorrow. Yesterday morning I went to the camera store and got one of our video cameras back from its covered-under-warranty head cleaning, and in a little while my wife and I are going to go to the library. So it's been busy, but not busy, which is really nice. And even though it's kind of dreary and rainy today, and the Vikes lost 18-15, it's still been a great weekend.

And a short disclaimer for those who think I'm being a bit too cheerful here: Winter's coming, which means snow, bitter cold, and about two hours of daylight. I gotta enjoy what I've got while it's here. :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pearly Whites

I went to the dentist today for my six-month checkup, and as I hoped for, everything was fine--no cavities, no gingivitis, no lectures about tartar buildup...just a clean bill of dental health. I'm not kidding, ever since I was a kid I have had a terrible fear of the dentist, and have never ever liked going even for a checkup. When I was nineteen I had all four wisdom teeth extracted, and they were so huge that my dentist had to drill them out with some sort of tool that looked like it was straight from an episode of 24. I remember taking my CD player (remember those?) and, for over an hour, blasting my ears out so I would not have to listen to the drill-saw-thing, and also to take my mind off the many shots of novocaine I had to endure.

So yeah, anyway, the dentist has never been my favorite place to go, which is partially why I brush my teeth religiously, and floss at least once a day. It's not so much out of a concern for my health as it is to ward off any future Wisdom Teeth Extraction-type incidents. And thus far, it has worked spelndidly.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Yesterday my wife and I finally saw The Dark Knight. We had been meaning to go for quite some time now, but the summer months were extremely packed with work, studying, trips, and other things that ultimately took precedence over going to a movie. But yesterday we made the short trek to the local AMC Mondo-Plex and sat down for a matinee showing of Christopher Nolan's comic book epic. And what a movie it was.

Imagine a continuum in which Arnold Schwarzenegger's Commando is on one end, and Francis Ford Coppola's* The Godfather is on the other. The former is two hours of sheer bombast and cheese--Arnold waves guns around like fourth of July sparklers, shooting anything that moves, be it animal, vegetable, or terrorist. The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, and a direct line can be drawn from the opening premise (all bad guys must die) to the closing credits (all bad guys are now dead). The other end of the continuum, occupied by Coppola's opus, is awash in moral complexities, violence is a necessary means to an end, the hero becomes the villain, and very little is clearly laid out for the viewers.

Most action films would fall somewhere in the middle, or closer to Commando. Most have a hero who knows what to do, and set about doing it. The girl is kidnapped? Go save her. The city is going to be blown up? Find the weapons and destroy them. The country is in danger? Kill the terrorists. And this mold has been extremely successful over the years, resulting in scores of John MacLanes, Jack Bauers, Indiana Jones-es, and others like them. And I certainly enjoy these types of blow-'em-up fests.

But The Dark Knight is far different: its villains are complex, its heroes are tragic, and its messages of morality and justice are far more complicated than "do the right thing." It is a film, albeit with a hefty share of explosions and a body count that approaches three dozen much more in line with its spiritual predecessor, The Godfather. Heath Ledger's Joker is at once the most transparent and yet the most complicated villain to appear onscreen in many years. District Attorney Harvey Dent, played by Aaron Eckhart (minus the ginormous Fu-Man-Chu from Erin Brockovich), wants only to do good, and punish all those who do evil. But even this polar view of morality gets twisted to the point where he ultimately becomes the antitheses of the man he once was. And Batman, played to near-perfection by Christian Bale, is a haunted protagonist who does what has to be done, no matter the personal cost, even if it goes directly against what he wants to do.

Suffice it to say, The Dark Knight is an amazing character study masquerading as a summer blow-em-up fest. And that is a mighty good thing.


All that aside, last night when our friends Jon and Sarah were over, we were surfing YouTube and found this video of a restaurant that serves a 14-pound pizza for $50. If two people can eat the whole thing in an hour, they get $100. In college my friends and I used to take the Stuffed Crust Challenge, by seeing who could eat the most Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust Pizza in one sitting of Wayne's World...but I doubt any of us could tackle this beast:

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Tonight my wife and I might finally take the plunge, if time permits: we will go out and buy one of those digital converter boxes for our TV. Until now this hasn't really been a priority, since we watch about four hours of over-the-airwaves TV per year in our house (no kidding), but with the February deadline looming closer every day, we though it was high time to join the party, albeit a tad late.

We ordered our coupons a few weeks ago, and they got here yesterday, so tonight after running a few errands we will probably head to Best Buy, Circuit City, or another similar place, and snag a converter box. Not that we'll use it much, but it will be nice to be prepared at any rate.

Three weeks ago the two of us went to a "tent sale" put on by National Camera, a local camera outlet, and purchased some nice schwag to boost the quality of our wedding videos--two tripod heads, one set of tripod legs, a camera bag, some lens filters, and, the pièce de résistance, a new Sony HC96 camera. Well, "new" as in "open-box item." Since we already have one HC96, and like it so much, we bought another so the secondary camera in the weddings we record is now of equal quality to the primary. Anyway, the one we bought, unfortunately, did not work, so I took it back the next day for warranty service. Sadly, they told me it would be at least a month until they could fix it, but lo and behold, last night they called and said it was fixed and ready to be picked up. Sweet! It's possible they were pulling a Scotty and just over-estimating from the get-go, but in either case it's nice to have our new camera up and working.

Time to finish up my root beer and get back to some schoolwork...