Sunday, August 30, 2009

Caching In

Yesterday I went geocaching in the big cross country course just behind our apartment, and while I have a few battle scars in the form of bug bites and scrapes from thornbushes, and even though I did not actually find the final cache I was looking for, I still deem the hunt a success. Since getting my Garmin Venture HC GPS about a month ago I have taken it on a handful of geocache hunts, most of which were successful, but yesterday's solo trip was a bit different because I had to go it alone. I did not have the wisdom or experience of my brothers Phil and Tom to guide me--only the GPS and a few basic hints from

The cache I set out to find was a multi-part cache, which means the first find is actually a set of coordinates for another find, which is a set of coordinates to another find. After finding the location of Part 1, I spent nearly 10 minutes looking for the coordinates marker, and finally saw it--a 2" square piece of wood attached to a tree branch by a piece of wire. The second destination was a little trickier to get to, but the coordinates marker was brilliant: a decoy pigeon attached to a tree branch, 50 feet from the cross country trail. No way passers-by would ever find it, and if they did they would just see a bird sitting in a tree and think no more of it (that's what I enjoy the most about geocaching: finding things hidden, like autobots, in plain sight).

The third and final marker was a little more tricky, and I didn't actually locate it, though I do have the coordinates and will try again when the weather isn't so hot and the mosquitoes aren't so hungry. So all in all I spent at least an hour walking around some beautiful countryside and found two out of three things I was looking for. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.

Before going to bed on Friday night I purchased an ad on facebook for Walking Taco. So far nearly 4,000 people have seen it and 0 people have clicked on it. :) It's a learning exercise for me, though, and because I don't pay unless someone clicks, I'm out nothing. Not a bad deal, really, and who knows...maybe something will happen before the ad runs its course by the middle of the week. We'll see.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Corn for popping

Tonight for dinner I had a giant bowl of homemade popcorn, my first since moving to Stillwater and, come to think of it, my first in at least a month. I wouldn't say it was worth the wait, because the wait itself wasn't a deliberate decision on my part, but man, was it delicious. :)

But anyway, here's a dilemma my wife and I are facing now that we live in a small town with fewer choices for these kinds of things than Minneapolis offered. Since we've been married we have gotten most of our groceries at Cub Foods, even though it was a tad more expensive than some other places (but not as bad as Rainbow). Mostly it was out of convenience, but it was also a small way of sticking it to the man--the Mega Store man, that is. The one who is rearing his ugly head here in the form of not one, but two, Wal-Marts in town, both a short drive from our place. But not only is Wallyworld omnipresent, the competition really does have higher prices and not as much selection.

So what to do? Do we give in and follow our wallets, thus contributing to the ever-growing chokehold that the Walton family is placing on small businesses in places like this across the country? Do we stand on a veritable financial soapbox and, with our hard-earned dollars and a sense of duty to the people who built this town from nothing, shop for groceries instead at one of the few local stores, knowing we're paying more for the same thing?

Well, we've sort of come to a stalemate over all this--going mostly to the Food Pyramid, but also getting a handful of things at Wal-Mart when it's (gosh darn it!) just convenient. I would like to say we stand on principles and only patronize the locals, but sometimes you just gotta buy the 47-cent cornbread mix even if you know you're feeding the war machine all the while.

In college I was on this high-minded one-man Wal-Mart boycott that changed no minds, affected no one, and in the long run only helped my 22-year-old ego--not the local business owners. Now that I'm married and have enough dollars to buy more than ramen and off-brand spaghetti o's, I still try to shop the locals, but...yeah.

Is it a tragedy? Nah, not really. I sleep well enough at night.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lazy Saturday

Two weeks of living in Oklahoma and things are going pretty well. The people are nice, my job is great, and our kitchen is virtually box-free. So score one big victory for the 'smuths. But one thing they're missing in our town is a Target, and while this seems virtually impossible for our Minneapolis-dwelling brethren, it is most definitely a reality down here. So today we took a drive over to Oklahoma City to hit up one of the many Targets they have, along with some clothing stores at the mall and an Ace Hardware to boot (yes, it's true--there are no Ace Hardware stores here. Heck, there's not even a Do It Best, though they are probably opening one soon).

Target was cool, and we snagged some polo-type shirts for me and a few house-type stuff for our home. After that we went to the mall, and even though I'm not much for doing the typical mall thing, and generally feel out of place amid throngs of shoppers carrying bags from places like Hollister, Abercrombie, and Macy's, I did find enough to do at the mall to keep me interested while my wife looked for some clothes. All in all the trip to the Big City went fairly well, despite a few ominous-sounding rumblings from the front driver's side of one of our cars. I'm fairly sure I know the problem, though, and hopefully my dad and I will be able to get it fixed next time we're in Lincoln.

I missed the Perseids this week, which was a bit of a bummer, but a few of my friends got out to see them and hopefully I'll make it next year. I know there's a few other meteor showers throughout the year, but this one is good because it happens when it's still warm out. :) In college a bunch of us went out around 3am to see the Leonids, and it was awesome seeing the night sky lit up by streaks of white, burning bright across the night expanse. Sometimes I think the Lord gives us stuff like that just to remind us how small we are, and how powerful He is. He really does have the whole world in His hands.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Warming up

Our first week of officially living in Oklahoma has gone very well. Not entirely without issues, mind you, but overall it has been a good experience, and while I already miss the people, activities, and weather of Minnesota, I have a feeling things are going to be just fine down here.

The moving truck finally showed up on Monday, and even though the crew of three was down to only two since one of them didn't show up to work, they still got everything unloaded and up to the third floor of our apartment building in one afternoon. I was at work (the second day of my new job, which is going very well) but came home for lunch to see how things were going and bring some McDonalds to my wife and the two movers. Bummer of a thing, though, the people at McD's forgot to put a fork in with the salad that one of the movers ordered. So this dude who had been lifting boxes up three flights of stairs in 95 degree heat couldn't even eat his lunch. But instead of complaining, he was totally cool about it and just kept on working. I'm not kidding, those moving guys had such a great attitude about it the whole time, and the next time I start to whine about something stupid I hope I remember the movers.

As far as life in general goes, I can't complain. My new job is going great, the a/c in our cars is holding up well, and we've been taking stock of the local surroundings as best we can. We spent two days on two weekends looking at houses with our realtor, and have found two that we really like but a ton of questions left to answer. We went to a nice church this morning, ate at some local establishments like Taco Bueno, Mazzio's, and Ci-Ci's, and have spent time unboxing our stuff almost every day since moving in. So yeah, all in all this whole Oklahoma living is going pretty good.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


About a week ago I finally got my hands on the GPS I've wanted for a while, and so far it has been very nice. My brothers and I went geocaching and found several caches, one of which was a "multi-cache," which means that the first found item was a clue that led us to the real item. My wife and I also went on three 20-mile bike rides, and the GPS tracked our speed, position, and total miles traveled. Even better, I was able to upload the trip data to Google Earth so we could view our bike trips on a map. All in all a nice little device, I must say.

We had a good time in Lincoln this past week, but like usual, it was over all too soon. Mostly we spent time with family, and played lots of cards and board games, but we also made it up to Omaha to see some of my wife's friends who just bought a new house. There were people I wish I could have seen, and things we didn't get time to do, but the nice thing about visiting Lincoln is its proximity--home is merely a short car trip away. It was true in Minnesota and it's still true here in Oklahoma.

Speaking of which, we made it here safe and sound two days ago and it's been pretty good so far. Most of our belongings are still on the moving truck, which should arrive on Monday, so we're living in a hotel until then (courtesy of the moving company, which said our stuff would be here two days ago). We got the keys to our apartment, I started my new job, and today we are meeting some people for lunch and then checking out some houses with our realtor. The weather is nice too, but I've been warned about the annual August Heat Wave. Here's hoping all those years in Minnesota haven't softened me to 100+ degree summer days. :)