29 July 2009

Birthday Weekend

First and foremost, thank you, yes you. I had an amazing birthday weekend, and it was because of the friends that I am fortunate enough to have in my life. So, if you came to an event, wrote on my wall, danced with me, e-mailed or called, or just wished me well, thank you. You all are the reason my life is so wonderful.

Second of all, I over did it. I am old now, I need to plan in a little time for a nap.

I have no reason to believe anyone actually reads what I write here, it is after all my blog, it is about me. It is self-indulgent. I know plenty of people with self-esteem issues, I’m one of them … only instead of low self-esteem, I battle high self-esteem, self importance, and general me centric thinking. It is a constant struggle, with my own ego, to keep me from making everything about me. So after a weekend of birthday partying, I walked into work on Monday morning and read about this unexpected quote: when Arizona Cardinals linebacker Michael Young was asked at the baseball all star game what he would say if he met President Obama there, he answered that he would ask him “How can I help?”

My thoughts on perspective and alcohol are about the same, I’m always ready for a shot. It immediately made me (re)consider President Kennedy’s quote “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” The feeling isn’t so much about country as it is about my readiness to serve. I have been praying lately to have something to do of God’s making. Some of you may remember the last time I decided that I needed some work to do. If the question I ask is “how can I help?” I pray that my answer will be “Here I am (Lord)” when I am called.

Now, on to the weekend, it started on Wednesday evening after work with a trip to Blue Sushi downtown. Sarah, Maeg, and I met up downtown and headed upstairs. Ben (yes, but which one?) met up with us, and then we enjoyed a seemingly endless number of plates of sushi, a surprise visit from Becca, a strange malady which caused normally intelligent people to not be able to count (the number of martini’s I drank), and the oddest surprise of all, Ted & Wally’s had three good flavors.

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I tried some new sushi, it is on the left of the picture, I think it was called spicy tuna, and although it was good, it wasn’t spicy.

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Never mind the highly attractive people at the foreground table, check out the guy in the background, he wins!

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Check it out, “French Vanilla Malted”, “Amaretto”, and “Cherry Pie”. Who knew?

I have a couple more pictures here, as does Maeg here. Becca made friends with some of Omaha’s finest right before the party broke up, I’m not saying that these were related events, I’m just saying.

I woke up on my birthday and was greeting with a present from Danny, who “made” me some banana bread. Danny was quite happy to give me a present, until it turned out it was “his” bread and he wanted to open it … two year olds! I then headed off to that scourge of all birthdays, work (boo!), but my coworkers made it all worthwhile with cake, food, and unfettered adulation:

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After work was the big birthday event, dinner at Harrah’s casino and then gambling with the traditional loss of the money my mother sent me for my birthday. All the hard work I have been doing with portion control was out the window at a buffet. It started out at Stir (the bar), with a “manly” martini, and then we migrated to the buffet to eat our fill. There were a small number presents that were bestowed upon me, including a cow pie Frisbee, lots of chopsticks, an onion storage thing, some Bailey’s and a bottle of Cruzan black cherry rum, and the latest Prairie Cats CD, Fires Below.

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It’s a cowpie Frisbee, seriously, I can’t even make that up.

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Somebody was pretty excited about chopsticks.

More of my dinner pictures are here, with thanks to whomever was running my camera. Maeg has some too here. We then headed back over to the bar and eventually down to the boat where I failed in my annual quest to lose my mom’s birthday money … I ended up walking out with more cash than I walked in with, weird.

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Finally, a zero calorie martini, and we owe it all to Sarah.

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Thanks for a great birthday!

I took Friday off of work and decided (in advance) to treat myself to a round of golf, and now I get to treat you to reading about it. I used to golf several times a week, and I was very good. I chose to go to Tara Hills in Papillion because, I’ve golfed the course before, and I knew it would represent less of a challenge than most. This is only the second time I’ve golfed in the past five years and just the first time I’ve even picked up a club since the roller skating incident. Sarah came with me to walk/ride, and as the people who run golf courses like foursomes, we got two new friends to golf with, Al and Lloyd. Al was good, Lloyd much less so.

The first hole started off with a par, but the rest of the front nine was icky at +10 total. The problem was with touch shots, putting, and aiming difficulties. I got things together when I started on the back nine, and hit some really nice shots, including a very nice birdie on #17. I ended up 45-39 for an 84 (par 70). My (perhaps overly ambitious) plan going in was to shoot an 82, +12. Oddly enough, a tougher course might have been a better choice in that I would have played more target golf. I was just +2 on the last six holes, so I could have done much better.

Golf is odd because I get better with age. It’s not just about practice, it’s the ability to use my brain over my brawn that makes my scores improve. I just play smarter (not 100% of the time, but hey). One thing for sure, I still have the golfing bug, I would play every day if I could afford it.

After golfing, Sarah and I headed over to the zoo for a pleasant little afternoon walk.

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Okay, just a few seconds longer and I’ll take the perfect picture.

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Sarah makes a fine feathered friend.

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Who took my charge card?

More pictures here, but the highlight of the trip was the Skyfari trip. I video taped the entire trip, coming in at a “short” 9:31. It’s full of inane jokes, me talking too much, and unsteady camera work. If you would like to waste ten minutes of your life you can never get back, you can see it here

We actually had a short break before the next stop on the tour, dinner at Jazz. It turned out to be just Sarah and I, until Lisa showed up a little later. Lisa brought me a framed photo from our “lemonade” day last fall. The dinner at Jazz was pretty much exactly what was wrong with the whole weekend, too much food. One good thing, or at least entertaining thing, Lisa was the object of the waiter’s affection.

We left and headed over to JNO, now featuring more people in the birthday jam than in the surrounding circle. Sarah and I were exhausted, but somehow had enough energy to make it through the birthday jam and shim sham.

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Look who else had a birthday!

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I was insanely popular.

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I co-led the shim sham, for hopefully the last time.

Robin took the pictures with my camera, thank you, more here. Cliff also took some pictures that can be found here on his SmugMug account. Sarah and I left shortly after the jam and we each headed home for some well deserved rest.

For Saturday I had planned a busy day, but it didn’t exactly go as I had thought it would. The morning meet up was supposed to be at Standing Bear for a walk, but for various reasons, no one showed except me. I took it as a test of my positivity, a lemonade moment. Obviously, a one way walk was out with only one car, but I had my camera, so I walked along the trail and took some shots.

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Not the typical size for one of my pictures, but it fits the subject.

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Probably my favorite shot from the weekend.

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More from the weird seed pod department.

I eventually packed it back in, and headed down to Q’Doba in Papillion for lunch. Surprise! Jessica was there when I got there with some fresh peaches from her yard. Mmmm! She was there for just a few minutes due to having to go meet a client. Sarah showed up and then Frank. We ate outside, which was nice in the shade, a little warm after the sun came out.

After lunch we headed down to minigolf. I picked a place owned by the city of Papillion, Papio Greens, didn’t scout it out, and was sorely disappointed. It wasn’t a minigolf course, it was a dump, quite disappointing. However, we made the best of it. Frank and Joe made it really enjoyable with their sense humor. Sarah won, Joe used a club evidentially made for a three year old, and Frank met his arch nemesis, the windmill.

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Frank bows in defeat to the windmill.

Later Saturday night Maeg and I met at Troy and Merinda’s house and played a game of Dread Pirate which was won by me. Then Frank and Joe showed up, and we played a game of Shadows Over Camelot, which was won by the good guys, but not without some consternation. We also managed to squeeze in a little Rock Band.

Sunday was one of the prettiest days I have seen in a long, long time. Sarah and I met and went to church. Frank and Joe went too. The feeding of the multitudes was [insert link] the Gospel. The message I heard loud and clear was that Jesus prayed before and after He fed them … if Jesus could find time to pray, I probably need to also. Sarah pointed out to me that after the multitudes were fed, there were twelve baskets left over, one for each of the apostles, the message being that God will provide for you when you are doing His work. Take either of those thoughts away, they both work.

After church Sarah and I drove out to Wehrspan Lake and staked out a claim on the prettiest picnic spot in the upper Midwest, if not the world. Jenny showed up a little later, and then Maeg, who walked about three miles to get there. The temperature was perfect, the sky was perfect, the scenery was perfect, and I won the round robin game of ladder golf … perfect.

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If you were not here, you were some place not as beautiful.

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The only bug we saw all afternoon.

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Sarah was the only one to get the bonus point for this trick.

I got more pictures of the picnic here, and so does Maeg here … and that was it, thank you again.
Thanks to Maeg for picture use.

21 July 2009

Excuse Me, I'm Trying to Ruminate Here

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Sarah is always looking for deer on our walks, and we came around the corner and spotted one right there, no, I mean right there.

The Busy Time of Year

This is the time of year I both love and hate, all for the same reasons.  I am a person who likes to be included (or at least offered) to be in on all the fun.  There is so much going on, and to do it all requires sacrificing sleep or work ... too bad you can't pay the bills with rest.  This weekend was a busy one, even with a half day off, and naturally it began early ... on Wednesday.

Sarah's birthday was on Wednesday, and immediately after work I went and picked her up at her house, and I took her to dinner at Biaggi's Italian Grill across from Boys Town.  Well, it was me, and a dozen and a half friends.  Thank you to everyone who showed up, I know she appreciated it.
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Linda, her daughter, and Chris show off some happy smiles.

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Chris finds out he has to share the lemony cupcakes that Jenny made.
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Sarah gets her special milemarker gift, or at least a photo of it.

See all the photos here.  After we ate, we went downtown with the intention of seeing the Madness Sale show, but due to reasons beyond our control (21 and over only show), we decided to meet up with Merinda, Ben, and Suzie at Ted and Wally's and get some ice cream.  There was fun, fire, tree climbing, and most impressively, Ted and Wally's had one good flavor (see rant later).

Thursday after work I had a few minutes at home, enough time to throw in some laundry and then scoot out the door to Jazz on the Green to meet Sarah.  The band for this week was less than swingy.  So, we left there pretty quickly, and met Suzie, Erk, and Sarah's parents down at Zio's downtown.  I'd like to give a shout out to the people running the Joslyn: you really messed up the Jazz on the Green space, nice job.

Friday, I had a half day at work to make up being on call the week before, and so finally in the afternoon I was able to get some rest.  It was still Sarah's birthday week, so she wanted to go the the Music and a Movie at the Holland , the music was provided for by the Solid Brass Quartet, all four who play with the Omaha Big Band, so I was familiar with them.  The movie was White Christmas.  The last time that I saw White Christmas I was not a dancer, so it was enjoyable to watch it again and admire both the music and the dancing.  

After the movie ended, we went over to Jitterbugs Night Out.  We arrived around 2300, so Sarah managed to get out of her birthday jam.  We stayed for around ten songs or so, then grabbed Maeg and Jenny and ...

... went over to Kaleb's for the remainder of his monthly game night.  There was pizza, homemade hummus, and other treats, I mention it because a) it was very good, and b) I hadn't eaten since around 1400.  It was Jenny's first game night, so we gave her a break and ... no we didn't, just kidding ... we dove right in and played Tsuro, this was also mine and Sarah's first time playing also.  It was interesting, but we only played once, so it's kind of hard to tell if I actually would retain it's interestingness.  We also played two games of Lupus in Tabula, a.k.a. Werewolf (a mafia like game).  I have come to the conclusion that I need an entirely different way of reading C.J., I was fooled again, and would have had no clue if Kaleb didn't give it away.  We then played another new game, 25 Words or Less, which turned out to be a very entertaining party game, especially since our team won!  That took us to around 0115 or so, and we called it a night ... no we didn't ... no game night is complete without Rock Band until 0500 or sunrise, whichever.  Props to Maeg for hanging in there until the end even though she had to work at 0800.  Sarah sang, and Jenny played bass and then sang a country song I never heard of, but was really fun.  I worked on my drumming skills.

Despite the late (early) bedtime on Friday night (Saturday morning), I was awake at 0915, I don't ever sleep much past that.  I was up and moving and at headed over to Mel's housewarming.  Before I left my house, I texted Micah asked when she would be there ... "headed there soon".  When I got there, Brad and Isaiah were already there, shortly after Rob arrived.  So it was four gentlemen and Mel, I can't understand why she felt so picked on.

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Rob teaches Mel a new dance move while Isaiah captures the moment on film.

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Tux decides to hang out with the cool kids.

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Oh, look who showed up, I guess "headed there soon" means an hour and a half.

There are more pictures here.  Unfortunately, Ginger and Oreo were sleepy, and didn't wake up for the party.  I went home, and I actually got an afternoon nap in, after which Sarah met up with me and I went to take care of my two weekend charges.

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Sarah and I then headed over to Red, White, and Que at Haworth Park in Bellevue.  This festival has been going on for the better part of a decade, however, despite living right there in Bellevue, I've only made it once before.  We parked and walked, and walked, and walked, finally arrived at the river, paid our buck and found a nice spot on the grass to eat BBQ and enjoy some music.  The first band was pretty good and we danced a little after eating.  After a short intermission the second band came out, and they were not as good, and if that weren't enough, they played 80s music, and Sarah hates the 80s.  Since she didn't like the music and the weather was getting cool, Sarah decided to walk back to the car and get her jacket.  While she was gone, I took the opportunity to relax and watch the crowd.  There was a gentleman with a very fuzzy dog who walked by me three times while Sarah was gone, each time closer, and the dog was eying my kettle corn to be sure.  Shortly after the third pass I closed my eyes and suddenly felt hair on my face and something wet kissing me, so I shoved it away, oops, it was Sarah. Overall, It was one of those special nights, the BBQ we had was very tasty, the night was pretty, cool, and bug free, a beautiful clear sky and us laying there with the river just thirty yards away, and to top it all off, fireworks!

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This is why you go to a BBQ contest.  The food!

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Haworth Park is a great place, it can make the Missouri River look this pretty.

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Oooh! Aaah!

You can see more sillyness here from the Red, White, and Que festival.

After we left the festival, we decided we hadn't had enough food, so we headed downtown to Ted & Wally's.  As much as I would love to support a local business that makes fresh ice cream on the spot, there is one problem, the flavors often suck.  No I don't want to try "Grape Clover Honey" or "Lemon Catnip Green Tea".  Yes, you have chocolate and vanilla, but it's allergy and lame.  Feel free to mix in a berry based fruit or something creamy every once in a while.  So we left without any ice cream, and took a short walk around the Old Market.  Right around then we got a call from Jenny, and we decided to meet us at Village Inn for pie ... just so you know, Village Inn had tasty pie flavors.  Thus ended Saturday, although it was Sunday morning at the time.

Sunday morning Sarah and I met and went to church.  Oddly enough the sermon was about making time for God, and what do I complain about this time of year, not having enough time ... go figure.

After church we went to get some lunch and then headed over to Halleck Park in Papillion for the Lindy in the Park World Tour.  We sat down by the "duck pond" and had a nice lunch, virtually uninterrupted by the Canada Geese.  Afterwards, we walked over to the dance gathering.  Many thanks to Amanda, Dan, and Cliff for putting it together.  About a dozen people showed up.  There was a grill, a nifty little iPod capable boom box, and as it turned out, it was just as much about friends and enjoying the day as anything else.

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So willing to help out with lunch.

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At least one dancer was amazing, maybe all of us were.

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What a perfect day.

There are 37 more pictures here.  Unfortunately, I developed a headache and headed home for medicine and a :45 minute nap.  

But, wait, the weekend wasn't over yet.  I picked up some Chipotle and went to Ben's new place.  Sarah, Ben, and I managed to play two games of Arkham Horror in just three hours, both victories.  Just as we finished up, Kevin showed up with his friend Kat about then and we ate, set things on fire, but mostly played a game of companion cube volleyball.  Evidentially you get points when you knock over something or hit someone in an inappropriate place.  Eventually it was another late night, and I made my way home to too little sleep.  

I hope next week is more of the same.

Birthday Weekend Plans

Here is how my birthday plans work out. Call with questions.

1900 - Dinner at Harrah's Casino Buffet. Address: 1 Harrah's Blvd, Council Bluffs.
2100 - Gambling at Harrah's (same place) - 21 and over only, sorry.

0945 - Golfing at Tara Hills. Address: 1410 Western Hills Dr, Papillion. I made reservations for four, as if I have three friends who golf. Let me know if you can go.
1500 - Henry Doorly Zoo.
1830 - Dinner downtown at Jazz. Address: 1421 Farnam St, Omaha.
2030 - Swing dancing at Jitterbugs Night Out - $5. Address: 201 S 24th St, Omaha.

1100 - Walk - Standing Bear Lake in Omaha, park your car at the entrance off of 144th St north of Fort, we'll car pool over to the starting point. This will be about a three mile, one way walk. Call if you are going to be late, you may be able to meet up with us.
1330 - Lunch at Q'Doba. Address: 8540 S 71st Plaza, Papillion.
1500 - Mini-Golf at Papio Greens Golf Center. Address: 11050 S 66th Street, Papillion.
Saturday Night is still open, suggestions are appreciated, although an appearance at Happy's party may be in order.

1045 - Church at Mary Our Queen. Address: 3405 S 119th St, Omaha.
1300 - Picnic lunch at Wehrspan Lake. This is the far south parking lot from the Giles Road & 156th Street entrance. Bring your own food and blanket. Frisbee will be provided.
Sunday Night is still open.

11 July 2009

A Sure Sign of the Apocolypse?

My mom has e-mail, and the interwebs.

06 July 2009


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Pirate duck watches calmly as my car hits 70,000 miles.

03 July 2009

Independence Day Party (Fun Pictures)

No deep insights here, there was a party at Jenny and Becky's and we had fireworks.
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Jenny and Steve had a "Harry Potter" style magic contest.

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All the excitement had Jose turning in circles.

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Shouldn't I be watching where I am pointing that thing?

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You got to admire the way Ben shoots for the moon.

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AAAAH!! A multitenticled glowing creature is attacking ... oh, wait, is that Jenny's foot?

More tomfoolery here.