28 December 2009

Christmas Week 2009

Welcome to Christmas week 2009.

Not much happened on Monday, VK and I met up for pie late, otherwise it was work and chores. On Tuesday I almost finished my Christmas shopping. The weather prediction of icemeggedon on Wednesday didn't come to pass, but now one for snowmeggon II, predicted for Christmas Eve and Day was all that.

And yes, it was every bit of snowmeggedon that the first one was. I got off work at 1800 on Christmas Eve. Naturally the car wouldn't start. I waited it out, and it fired up after about ten minutes and I headed over through the drifts to VK's house. Within a few seconds of me showing up Bente pulled up, then their brother Isaac and his roommate, Matt. We got everything indoors and were just about ready to eat when Ben A. showed up.

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VK prepared the spread, not shown is the asparagus on the counter, I did the eating.

After dinner, we sat down and played a game of Taboo waiting for VK's other brother, Caleb to show up.

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This is exactly what VK looks like playing this game, every time.

Despite the snow, eventually Caleb showed up, he ate a late dinner, and the gift frenzy began.

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OMG! He got me a new laptop! ... Actually I warned her beforehand it was just a box.

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It appears that this gift was appreciated...

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...and this one too...

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...um, well, you probably had to be there.

Caleb, Isaac, and Matt took off shortly after this. Lisa showed back up, and Ben and I waited around and chitchatted for an hour or so, and that hour sealed our fate for the weekend.

I made it out of the driveway, but couldn't make it out of the neighborhood, trying three different times two different ways. Every path out of the neighborhood is uphill. When it became apparent that I couldn't make it out of the neighborhood, I put the car on the next street down, in as sheltered of a spot as I could find and walked back to VK's house. I wasn't alone, Ben got his car stuck too, in front of the neighbors house

It was just after this that VK asked me "Is the furnace working?". I looked at the thermostat and said yeah, went into the basement, it seemed like it was firing up, said so, went to bed and forgot about it ... until I woke up and could see my breath. Turns out I wasn't the only one in the house a little cold. After investigation it turned out that the furnace vent had been covered in a snow drift. No exhaust, no heat. Ben went out and uncovered it, I power cycled the furnace, and tada! Heat!

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With that emergency averted, it was time for breakfast.

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I got dressed and went out to shovel some snow. Maybe my scarf is a little tighter than I meant to have it.

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These pictures are only meant for people outside of Omaha. Those in the Omaha metro, you've seen plenty of this in December.

I calculated Ben and I shoveled or snowblew (?) 1500 cubic feet of snow, when it was all said and done, we got Ben and Bente's cars off the street (which didn't get plowed until Sunday).

The snowblower was out of gas (takes 40:1 gas/oil mixture), and I was almost out of caffeine. So VK and I went to walk up to the corner gas station. However when we got out the 129th street, it had been plowed by the city (who knew). So we walked down to my car, shoveled it out, got it fired up, and drove to the corner store. They were out of two cycle oil, so we ended up going down to the next C-store. We got what we needed there. I briefly entertained the notion of driving home, but VK talked me out of it, correctly pointing out that the road conditions were bad, and not going to get any better now that it was dark. I drove back to the spot where my car was before, and parked. We walked back to the house and settled in for the night with chili, the game Sequence, Bente's yoga class, and hey look, a Mythbusters Christmas day marathon.

Saturday dawned to much warmer conditions ... in the house. I had a breakfast of a banana and cookies (does anyone have a problem with this?). About 1100 I walked down to my car and shoveled myself out yet again.

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It sure seemed like about 50% of my waking hours over the holiday weekend were dealing with snow, cars, or both.

When I got home, I shoveled the snow out the front of my garage. Went in, shaved (alleluia!) and showered, and then went over to Troy & Merinda's to hang out. I gave them the gift from the group of us, and I got a nice boxed party game, Things. The oddest creature showed up while I was there...

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It's more than just a little creepy.

Finally I was home and asleep early.

After much sleep Sunday morning. I got up early ... in the afternoon ... and went to run some errands. As I left the house, VK called, she got stuck at the end of her driveway. I headed over to her house. By the time I got there she was unstuck. I parked a block over, walked down, and we went out to the mall in her car. In the future I will let her drive her . It was her first time out of the house since the proceeding Sunday ... I did the boyfriend thing, someone has to carry bags after all. We had dinner, then headed back to the house for more shoveling and car rearranging.

Finally, the holiday weekend was over, and with everything I had done, I headed home and off to sleep.

Next week: Happy New Year!

21 December 2009

Third Week in December 2009

Edited to add video!

Monday started with bad news, little sleep and an unexpected continuation of on call from the previous week. Then when I got on the roads and drove to work, it was very slow going. However the work day went well, and it wasn't too bad at all. I finally got some sleep Monday night ... about ten hours worth. Aaah!

Tuesday after work I went and hung out with Troy for most of the night. We mostly talked and he taught me to play Magic the Gathering ... on line ... I'm about 20 years too late to be relevant.

Wednesday morning I had a dentist appointment to start the day and two cavities filled. It really messed up my whole day constitution wise, I don't know if it was the eating late, the up early, the novocaine, or a combination, but my alertness was up and down all day long.

I also noticed on Wednesday that I have a Facebook friend request from a childhood friend who I haven't had a conversation in thirty years. I am just letting it sit there, not really wanting to refuse the connection, but not really too excited about it either. I still think my friends list should be around 200 or less, but I keep getting more and more. P.S. I ended up on ignore.

After work I went to VK's and helped her move furniture for Friday's carpet cleaning frenzy. After the hard work, we went off to Village Inn for Free Pie Wednesday.

Thursday was dull, but Friday was very busy. I went into work on time, but I had a half day because of the on call from last week. After work I went to my doctors office, then over to Shadow Lake for some Christmas shopping. I finished it up and then met VK there for some shopping of hers. We ended up having dinner at our favorite restaurant, the Hy-Vee cafe. From there we went over to Borders to catch some of Becky's show, after that it was the annual Jitterbugs Holiday swing dance, I have pictures of both.
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Becky makes her Borders world premier.

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Ben graduated, and got his own jam circle, what better way to celebrate than with Cap'n Epp?

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Ben tells Merinda to get down, and boogie!

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Normally, at least one of these people is super responsible, if not both of them.

Okay, so here are the rest of my photos of Kristin and Becky singing at Borders. Here are the rest of my JNO Holiday party pictures, and Matt's pictures of the same event start here.

Saturday during the day wasn't much. But in the evening it was time for the annual Christmas part at Jenny & Becky's. This evening could be broken up into three different parts. Gingerbread house building, white elephant gift exchange, and finally, mayhem.

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Here is my gingerbread 'house'.

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It's not a three headed Christmas monster, but it is a likable picture.

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I cannot believe this wasn't the most coveted of the white elephant gifts.

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Trust me, anyone who was there knows this was destruction in progress.

It's a little dark, but you should be able to make out the basic dance.

I have more pictures of this party here.

After the destruction was complete, I went over to Kaleb's house for the end of game night. We played a game of Elfenland. I liked it. I finished tied for second out of six. Later on we played Lego Rock Band, I sang and didn't fail.

Sunday seemed to be all about recovery from Saturday (just tired, thanks). I had already had two naps in when I went over to Troy's in the afternoon. I was watching him play a video game sometime shortly after four, and the next thing I know, Merinda is waking me up. Huh? I fell asleep pretty hard. I celebrated my new found consciousness by kicking some booty in 1 vs 100 ... I probably only proved I am more trivial than most.

Not really related to any day in particular, I made Matt's comic ... I don't have any idea what this is referencing. I look happy, so it all must be good. Matt's comic updates every Monday and Wednesday and is usually spot on.

Next week: Merry Christmas!

14 December 2009

Second week in December 2009

Monday began with another commute in the snow. I left about ten minutes earlier than normal, and made it to work on time. Monday also began my week of being on call. It is my turn about every ten weeks, so about five times a year. It can be a bear, but usually is not. I used to try to do things while I was on call, but I don't so much now.

The other odd thing about Monday was my roommates ... I didn't have any. I finally called Robin about 2230 to make sure they were okay. Robin answered and said they were going to stay at work for the next few days so they could be there for the snow.

Tuesday was "snowmageddon". The Omaha metro received about nine to eleven inches of snow. I was reminded again of how snow is different in the heartland than where I grew up. When I was a child, it was "common knowledge" that once the temperature dropped below 20°F it was "too cold to snow". I don't know if this has any scientific backing or not, but it sure seemed to hold true. I was first reminded this year of this when I was at my mother's house and saw this snow storm. Ten inches of wet, heavy snow at 30°F, it doesn't blow around. This snow was at 20°F and dropping. The consistency was very light, the kind that blows around in a 2 mph breeze. The only time I remember this kind of snow consistently as a kid was in the winter of 1978-1979.

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Doesn't look like much from this angle.

The drive home wasn't too bad until I reached my apartment complex. For some reason, they didn't plow ... I think it was because I was bragging to someone about how well my apartment complex takes care of things. I got the car high-centered. It took me about 45 minutes to unstick the car and get it into the garage. I was quite sweaty by the end of it.

After everything had settled down and I had eaten, Ben, Maeg, and I continued our game of Arkham Horror via Google Wave. Naturally, my contribution to the game was interrupted by a work call, but when I got back, I found that we were in the finishing stages of beating Eihort. Yay!

Wednesday I woke and looked out the window and saw there had been no plowing by the garages in my apartment complex. So I called in a snow day, and then went back to sleep. When I woke up, the plowing had been done. I got up, shoveled out the front of the garage, and went to work. I ended up with six hours instead of eight, but I feel that the spirit of my streak of not missing a snow day while I have worked here is still intact.

In other news, I've fallen off of the exercise bandwagon. I need to get back on, and soon. It's not the end, but it's a set back for certain.

Thursday continued on call and cold weather, Friday was similar in nature (except for a haircut), as was most of Saturday. During the afternoon however, I took off with the on call laptop and visited VK and helped her decorate for Christmas. Amazingly enough, we were barely interrupted with work issues. Dinner was great, she's quite creative.

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VK made all the decorating decisions on her own.

Sunday I witnessed something I hadn't seen all year, the Bears team I expected to see all year, well, at least for 1 1/2 quarters. Starting about halfway through the 2nd quarter, the offense scored two touchdowns on three drives of 13, six, and eight plays. The defense forced two fumbles and two punts. We looked sharp and energetic. Too bad it's been so inconsistent. I like coach Lovie Smith, but something has not been clicking, and watching the performance of the team all year, coaching seems to be the missing element.

That was my week, not very interesting at all.

08 December 2009

First Week in December 2009

Monday started with work and I just wanted to sleep, more sleep, and even more sleep. My lack of sleep has been frustrating, because I've been struggling during the day, and then waking up around 1700. Since I was awake by then, I went and had dinner at VK's house with the stipulation I was going to be home by 2030. It was close, I left at 2030. I got home and did some busy work cleaning and laundry until I went to bed.

Due to time restrictions, we'll be skipping ahead to Wednesday. Ben, Sarah, (of all people) Brianne, and I made plans to play Arkham Horror at 2030 after Ben and Brianne got out of a dance class at 2000. So in the meantime I asked VK to meet me at our favorite dining establishment, the Hy-Vee cafeteria at Shadow Lake. I finally headed home around 2000 so I could be at Ben's place at 2030, and while I was in the car, I found out it was a two hour class. So Arkham Horror was a fail. I stayed home instead.

Thursday I finally got my sleep meds prescription filled, and it was blessed sleep.

Friday was my annual work Christmas party, and yes, it is called a Christmas party. Last year if you remember, I won four pounds of chocolate as a door prize. Jenny really appreciated it. This year I won a printer! An awesome prize considering I haven't had a working printer in about a year.

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Dinner was at Champions Run, not too far from VK's house. Photo courtesy of Regan.

I took a few pictures, they probably won't matter to you until you know the people involved, you can find them here.

Saturday was time for the second annual Ben and Eric's Chili Throwdown. First off, much thanks to Troy and Merinda for allowing us to host the party at their place. Secondly, I will not have it over the Big 12 Championship game again, maybe the first Sunday afternoon in December. Thank you to all the participants. The odd part was that there wasn't any chili that was really spicy. I tried one jalapeno, but it didn't do much at all.

The winners were:
  • First place: VK
  • Second place: Lisa (the latecomer)
  • Third place: Me
  • Spiciest: Kevin
  • Most unique: Jessica
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Chili wasn't the only thing that was made. Ladies, if you want attention from men, carry one of these.

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Mandi saw Herbie Husker do a cartwheel on TV, so I decided to do one too, it wasn't a pretty sight. Photo courtesy of Lisa.

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Jenny doesn't even like beans. Photo courtesy of Matt.

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Not really sure what's happening here. Photo courtesy of Matt.

People took lots of pictures, here are 12 from me, 28 from Matt, and 19 from Lisa (on Facebook).

Sunday I got going and made it to church at 1100 in hopes of meeting Frank and Joe to watch the last certain Bears victory of the season. The Bears won, but I never did connect with Frank and Joe. So after church I went over to VK's, and was going to pick up lunch on the way...

...hey, how about some KFC, I haven't had that in while, so I stopped in at the KFC on 108th and Maple and ordered some original recipe, and was told that they were out. Excuse me, but KFC and you're out of chicken? Okay, I went to Hy-Vee on 108th and Fort and got chicken there.

After lunch we hung out and then went to Home Depot and Cold Stone. We bought light bulbs and frozen treats, respectively. I finally left with just a few more inches of snow on the ground than I wanted to drive in, but made it home after a 40mph trip.

Later on in the evening Ben, Sarah, and I attemped to play a game of Arkham Horror via Google Wave. It was surprisingly easy, although game play took a little longer, so the game didn't get finished. Ben had the board to keep track of play, I kept track via a doc and the Arkham Horror Wiki, and Sarah used paper and the same wiki. I look forward to playing this way again.

01 December 2009

Thanksgiving Week 2009

Monday of Thanksgiving week was not much to write home about. I worked, then went home, cleaned a few things, and went to sleep.

Tuesday had a very unusual (for me) activity planned. I went to movie night at Kaleb's. He had the newest (rebooted) Star Trek. Any movie with time travel is going to be full of inconsistencies, and it was. I enjoyed the movie however, and I look forward to seeing any future reboots. I have not liked the TV shows for a while, I did like this ... the gag reel was hilarious.

VK met me for lunch on Wednesday, we ate at Cracker Barrel. I remember eating there as a small boy, too bad it didn't exist then. Maybe I am thinking of Win Schuler's. After work found me running around doing all sorts of errands to collect what I needed for the Thursday feast. I finally got home and went to bed, early because I hadn't slept well the night before. Fortunately, I had Thursday morning to sleep in...

...or not. Look out for the bus! My roommates were having people over for Thanksgiving, and they decided to run the vacuum cleaner at 0900. Are you kidding me? I hope you recover from being thrown under the bus here by me, but that could have waited.

So I was up. The next thing that happened was I heard from VK that the power was out at her house. She got up early, put the turkeys in the oven, and then after about 90 minutes, the power died. Grrr. I really appreciate VK's non-panicky personality, I occasionally get into "end of the world" mode, and for no reason, there were lots of options.

I grabbed my meal contribution (a green salad), and headed over to VK's. I called mom and talked to her on the way over. When I got to the neighborhood, I drove around and looked for the OPPD workers.

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These guys saved the day.

They were not hard to find, just about a block and a half away. I went back to the house, brought my stuff in and we talked. Eventually it was decided that the turkey and stuffing would go over to VK's brothers, and they would cook it there and bring it back. We loaded it into the back of her father's jeep, and he and Bente sped off. Naturally about five minutes later, the electricity came back on.

So we settled in to watch football, for a while at least. VK's dad, brothers, and I went out into the back yard to play some hackysack. It's hard to believe I was ever good at that game. I just stink now. After about half hour, VK threw open the back deck door and the scent of the turkey was overwhelming. Mmmm.

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VK's dad brought this epicute fruit bouquet.

Dinner was fabulous. Thank you VK & Bente.

After dinner we went out and threw a football around in the street. Now I know that just a few paragraphs back I said that I appreciated VK's non-panicky personality, well evidently that doesn't apply when there is a football flying at her, she makes the cutest "eek" noises and runs away. I came down hard on my ankle making a spectacular catch, it swelled up for a little bit, but then healed up.

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Does anyone actually think I can throw that far left handed? Well yes, I can, but not very accurately.

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I'm not quite sure what is happening here.

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Throw ... catch!

You can click somewhere in this sentence and see all my Thanksgiving pictures, I'll let you figure out where.

After all this we played another game of "The Office". I really enjoy the game play, but I don't know enough about the show to win. It is not a serious game, but it does make it enjoyable time, even if you are just watching. After this, four of us played a game of Wii bowling. Then another party game, Taboo. I like this game, but I don't think I am particularly good at it, I think it shows where I am creative and where I am not, well, more like just where I am not. Just so everyone knows, there are games I don't like ... at all.

Friday is the most boring day at work for the year. I have not taken it off while I have been at Werner, but I may try to next year. It isn't just that it is slow, this is Nebraska, and there is the traditional Nebraska vs. Colorado football game. People in the building seem to evaporate in the early afternoon, very strange.

Friday night started out dancing. It was UNO night at JNO, predictably there were a ton of college age people there. I didn't really get into it until almost 2300, then I danced my butt off for 45 minutes.

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This was a perfectly horrible picture, after much fiddling I somehow made Ben look something akin to Bruce Springsteen.

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Just in case you had any doubt.

Here are the rest of my JNO pictures from last Friday.

What I was into all night was good conversation, something that has been missing for me there for a while. Between the lack of sleep, the conversation, and the hard dancing, I was exhausted, so I ... went to Village Inn with Kevin. The waitress was in an overtly bad mood, not that Kevin cared or noticed. I had waffles, no ketchup. So finally sleep, right? No, still not that smart. We went over to Troy & Merinda's (CJ was there too) and played a game of Citadels, which I think I liked, but I was too tired to really tell.

Finally sleep.

Saturday I stayed in bed for as long as I could, but I was up and running errands by 11:30 or so. Later on in the afternoon, I met up with VK and we went to the zoo.

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VK wanted to take this little guy home with her.

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When I saw this, I nearly dropped my camera in excitement to get this picture.

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The bear in the back was awake, trust me.

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This cute little guy needed a hug.

The rest of the photographic evidence from this zoo adventure can be found here.

I had kind of panic moment as we left the zoo. As I pulled my camera off from around my neck, it accidentally fell to the ground. It would not power up after I picked it up. I was quite sad about it, however it had a happy ending, I swapped the batteries, and it came back on.

After this we went to Ted & Wally's, and lo and behold, what is that but plenty of tasty flavors. Although they had Guinness, there was no Mayonnaise Pomegranate Tea or such stupid flavor. I had two scoops of Bailey's Irish Creme and one of Kaluha.

As we left I became so tired, more like exhausted. I was almost afraid to drive home, but I did and went to bed on a Saturday night just after 1930. I slept for about 90 minutes and someone texted me. Silly me for not turning off the ringer. I was then awake until 0215, slept fitfully until 0530/0600 or so, and awake at 0900. In any case, it wasn't enough.

On Sunday, the usual football watching plans were off, so I decided to go to late church, and then hang out with Troy. I helped him put up his outdoor Christmas decorations, it's a tradition. I then actually PLAYED a video game, Left 4 Dead 2. This only lasted about ten minutes before I realized how uncoordinated I am. So I watched for a while longer. Where did all these zombies come from? The story starts in Savannah, GA, which only has a population of around 135,000, yet there are a couple hundred zombies on each level of a hotel. It makes no sense, and all games must make perfect sense 100% of the time, just like real life. Zombies, can't live with 'em, can't find an axe when you need one.

Eventually we became hungry and went out to eat at Carlos O'Kelly's. VK met us there, and after dinner we went shopping at Target. It was a fun end to the week.

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