Friday, June 27, 2008

For a spin

Last night we took our bikes out for their inaugural ride of the summer, even though it has been pretty warm for several weeks, and even though the ride was kind of short. My wife got a bike for her birthday a month ago, and we figured it was good enough weather to bike on a short errand to deliver something to a friend. It's times like these, when the weather is warm but not too hot, the sun is out but not too bright, and the evening is coming but not here just yet, when the trails just beg to be ridden. And so we obliged. We have a much longer ride planned for tomorrow, providing it does not storm, though there is roughly a 40 percent chance of that happening. It's all good, though, because we could use the rain too.

We leave tomorrow evening for a week in Montana again, visiting family and enjoying the summer. I have been re-reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy recently, and if I'm not too tired from the bike ride I'd like to get some reading done on the plane. A few weeks ago on my trip to Kansas City I tried (honestly, I really tried) to listen to an audiobook of The Silmarillion, but gave up after about eight hours. Seriously, that stuff is for hardcore Tolkien fans, and a detailed atlas and genealogy of Middle-Earth are all but required accessories for anyone attempting the task of wading through Tolkien's history of the imaginary land he invented. It's mind-blowing, to be sure, that anyone could ever dream this stuff up, but not well suited for a long drive through Iowa. So it's back to the classic Trilogy for me, having started it a few months ago and reading it sporadically in the meantime. Sometimes, what works best for me when reading a book is just being forced to do so, free of internet and other distractions. Thus, plane rides, when not too tired, are great for reading. And for staring out the window.

Ok, off to edit some more stuff in Final Cut.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Back to the Voyager

This afternoon I went to the "Back to the 50s" car show at the State Fair Grounds near our place. I'm not really all that interested in old cars, but my friend Matt had a restored Chevy Nomad in the show, so I mostly went to see him along with my cousin (also named Matt) and one of their friends, Brian. We chatted for a while, watching people stroll by and check out the Nomad, and then went to see some of the other cars at the show. Highlights included, but were not limited to the following...

(click all photos for much larger versions)
One of several "Rat Rods" that were super old cars modified with all kinds of parts that looked like they were just welded on by a drunk mechanic with a Frankenstein complex. This one really was that low to the ground.

Another Rat Rod. The photo kind of speaks for itself. Yes, those are boat seats. Yes, there is a Vice Grip on the shifter. No, I did not get to ride in it.

The engine compartment of the above RR. Note the plastic jug that serves as the coolant overflow tank...

A Dodge Delivery Van. This photo is for my brother Tom, who once, along with his friend Dan, drove his minivan from Lincoln to Saint Paul in the summer with a canoe tied to the top. It was 90 degrees that day, the van had no AC, both guys drank over a gallon of water, and they never stopped to go the bathroom...

Note the comfy driver accommodations of the Delivery Van. To make up for such modest surroundings, there's always the couch, I guess. And yes, the tape deck does feature Auto Reverse. Yuss!

And finally...
This is me standing next to none other than a Ford Edsel. Like I said, I'm not a huge car fan, but this one caught my eye because I remember my dad telling me about the infamous Edsel when I was a kid, and until now I had not seen one in person. In addition to the nostalgia factor, though, was a much more nerdy motivation: the Edsel was once mentioned by Tom Paris in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager.

I did tell my cousin the second reason for the photo until after he took it. And for the record, that is a Root Beer in my hand. :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

And Ye Shall Receive

Living in an apartment is nice, though my wife and I long for (ok, look forward to) the day when we can own our own house. It won't happen for at least a year, though, and until then we like our place well enough. It's got a lot of nice perks, as far as apartments go, such as a pool (which I used after a long day of work outside today), convenient indoor mailboxes, and a helpful management staff. And we hardly ever have problems with the neighbors, nor they with us, but last night the people below us engaged in that perennial cause of Apartment Strife: loud music. It's usually not too bad, but last night we could not only hear, but feel, the bass thumping on the floor. And had we been watching a movie or otherwise actively distracted, it might not have been too bad, but we were both trying to get work done, so it was kind of annoying.

And wouldn't you know it, the bass was continuing today. So I figured I would go down and ask them politely to turn it down. I shirked my PJ pants in favor of jeans, donned an old pair of sandals, and descended the stairs to their apartment door, mentally preparing for the worst. I knocked on their door and half a minute later a guy about my age opened it, and I started to expound extemporaneously regarding the volume of his tuneage. He beat me to the punch, though.

"Is the music too loud?" he asked politely, catching me off guard.

"Yeah," I responded in kind.

"Sorry about that, man. I'll turn it down," he said, appearing positively friendly at this point, and even looking a tad guilty for bothering his neighbors.

"Thanks, man. I really appreciate it."

And that was that. Pretty cool what a bit of politeness will get you.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Quick Round Trip

Yesterday I drove down to Kansas City for my friend Seth's wedding, and as I write this I'm in my hotel getting in one last internet fix before checking out. The drive was fairly uneventful, as most drives through Iowa are, but I did see some of the recent flooding, particularly in Des Moines. I have taken the 80/35 route around the northern part of the city many times, and yesterday there were huge swathes of countryside that were underwater. From what I've heard, it's pretty bad downtown, so I hope things let up soon and the waters start receding. Oh, Morgan Freeman, where are you when we need you?

The wedding last night was a lot of fun, and I'm glad I was able to make it. I sat by some friends of the family at the reception and talked about movies and video games with three really cool kids. It pays to have a nerdy hobby sometimes, I suppose. :) I also hung out with some of Seth's college buddies and enjoyed lots of Mac nerd-talk with one of them who is a huge Apple fan like me.

Today I'm meeting a friend, who also happens to be in KC, for lunch and then heading back to the Twin Cities.

Good people, good times.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ergo Propter Hoc

So the past few days have been a little crazy. Last Thursday my wife drove to Saint Louis for a wedding, and the following day I joined her via an early-morning United flight. In doing so I discovered that the only United terminal at the Minneapolis Airport is hidden behind a vending machine on the basement floor next to the hydrogenation reclamation plant. I actually walked past it several times before realizing that it was, in fact, allowing passengers to board a for-real airplane bound for an actual destination. I made it out, somehow, no thanks to the massive banks of Northwest computer screens and flight information kiosks that only served to obscure the United gate even more. Aside from my semi-harrowing MSP experience, though, the rest of the trip was a breeze. Our hotel was within spitting distance of the Arch, and during our brief time in the City of the Cardinals and Rams I was able to see some giant pretzels, eat at Hardee's, and kick it on the dance floor at the wedding on Saturday night. It was fun seeing good people, eating delicious food, and generally having a relaxing time overall.

Sunday we went over to my aunt Donna's place in a Saint Louis suburb and spent the day with her, my cousin, his wife, and their two kids. And dude, they are two of the most energetic and talkative kids I have ever seen. We went smimming, had dinner, and took it easy back at Donna's place. After they left the three of us (me, Donna, and my wife) played some card and board games and called it a night early enough so we could get a good night's sleep for the long drive on Monday.

Good times all around, man. And now I'm off to play some Mario Kart Wii online (friend code: 3909 8376 4843, in case you want to get rocked by me on Delphino Square...)

Oh, and after two days of my summer job, my hands are killing me and my joints are almost frozen. It's good work, though, and I work with great people, so what more can you ask for? Not much, says I.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Rain, Rain

Few things are as refreshing as a nice spring or summer thunderstorm. Not the local bulk storms, mind you. I'm talking about the big Corellian storms now. The kind where thunder shakes the walls and lightning strikes from the clouds like the greatest fireworks show you have ever seen. When I was a kid my brothers and I would go outside and make "rain gauges" in the sandbox, which consisted mostly of piles of sand lines with leaves, whenever a storm came along. We would often go biking in the rain, and look for overflowing ditches and culverts, just to see the spectacle of it all. I still enjoy driving in the rain, but whether transportation is involved or not, it's a great feeling to experience the liquid renewal of the earth. The storms outside right now are subsiding and moving Eastward, but gosh darn it, they were cool while they lasted.

Today more or less kicked off our unofficial Summer Travel Season, which means that starting this morning my wife and I began the first of many trips we will be taking this summer. She is in Saint Louis right now for her friend's wedding, and I will be flying in tomorrow to join in the festivities. We will spend the day with my aunt on Sunday and then make our way back here the following Monday. The next several weeks, then, are going to involve visits to Nebraska, Montana, northern Minnesota, not to mention several weekend-ish events that will be happening around us here in the Cities. I also have three wedding videos lined up for the summer, and my wife and I are both going to be busy with our jobs too. *whew* It's good to stay busy, though, and if it's anything like last summer, we'll be in for a good time.

And by now my leftover Papa Murphys (hamburger and pepperoni, with pineapple chunks added by me) is about done, so it's time to check the oven and pop in Gladiator on the ol' VCR.