28 October 2010

Second Week in October 2010

Monday I felt like crap, so I stayed home and played video games. Tuesday I also stayed home, but I already had a doctor's appointment. The appointment was for a yearly checkup, so I can tell you my prostate is in good health (sorry, no pictures), but that wasn't the only think that happened, it was a busy appointment. I had a mole frozen off, I hate that. My foot got x-rayed, I hurt it in Chicago and it has been painful since. I got a 'steroid' shot for my allergies too. I thought I'd put on weight, but it was 173.

So back to my foot. I think I stepped on a dog toy or a dog bone on Tuesday night in Chicago, then walked all those miles downtown the next day. I don't know which was the cause. Doctor Laurie wanted me to stay off my feet as best I can ... so I sat in the room on Tuesday night during blues dance practice and watched and tried to learn. Wednesday night was more of the same, I watched 'Thriller' practice, it was the best that I'd seen it performed.

Thursday was the latest installment of our Pathfinder game. We definitely are getting smarter, I mean I had actually had a shovel when we needed to dig something.

Friday I went to the dance, but I worked the front desk until Merinda's birthday jam. I jumped in, and although I hurt my foot, I decided it wasn't so bad that I couldn't dance the rest of the night, so I did!

Saturday during the day I worked to finish my costume before Jenny's Birthday Costume Bash. If you haven't see my costume already, I am not going to include it in these pictures so you can be surprised if you see me Halloween week Friday or Saturday. I did about three hours of sewing and configuring to get it right. I won second place!

Rick won for the the second year in a row, he beat me by one. Jenny said she was a 'candy' monster.

Several of us did the 'Thrill the World' dance in the driveway.

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There were many good costumes.

I thought the lighting for this was going to be horrible, but it turned it great.

Stupid o'clock generated some pretty amazingly funny conversation ... 'cause it was stupid o'clock, not because it was actually funny. Photo credit: Matt

Yes, you can cheat and see what I wore by clicking here on all my photos from the party, Matt's are here. Lots of people put pictures up on Facebook.

Sunday was the latest installment of Mass Chaos. Afterwards we went to DJ's Dugout to watch the Bears play, yeah. I firmly believe my team is the hardest playing defense, the most fun special teams, and the most stupendously annoying offense. Two out of three ain't bad, but it won't get you to the playoffs. Sunday wrapped up with another installment of Pathfinder game. We managed to complete our first big challenge, time to level up, queue the training montage.

27 October 2010

First Week in October 2010

October! The end of the busy season that starts at my birthday and runs seeminly nonstop through Merinda's Halloween party. The weather changes, the air smells different, and I gotta start thinking about figuring out how to work Troy's snow blower.

Monday after work I went over to Shannon's house and had dinner and hung out for a bit.

As some of you may know, I meditate or nap in my car during my lunch hour at work, well I did so on Tuesday and I had the most disturbing dream about shoveling VK's driveway last winter ... ugh. After work we had another installment of dance practice for "Thrill the World", i.e. the simplified MJ's Thriller dance. This is my second year of doing it, I'm hoping I am getting better.

Wednesday I had to get on the phone with the medical insurance company, and I was all ready for a fight that I didn't get. The person on the phone was helpful and got everything working. A far cry from my last interaction with them, or my mother's recent experiences. After work I paid a very short visit to Shannon's before they scurried off to church.

Thursday was a Husker football party at Stacy's. The Huskers won and the company was a lot of fun.

Friday I went shopping at Penney's at lunch. I ended up waiting in line three times as long as it took me to pick out what I wanted, and then I was through line in about :45 seconds. I'd like to see a company with *cough cough* to get people through line at a reasonable rate. Penney's isn't in the business of chatting, they are in the retail business. Later in the evening I went to the dance, but it was pretty dead.

Saturday I went thrifting with Merinda to get items for my Halloween costume. In the afternoon I went to Becky and Kevin's wedding.

The current couple and the next couple.

Stacy and Holly were dressed in their impressionistic best.

Jenny and I doing the Cha-Cha slide, this got 80 views on my Flickr account, someone liked it.

You can see the rest of my wedding pictures here. After Becky's wedding, it was Kaleb's big event, his annual murder mystery party, with a Blade Runner theme. It was on top of the Old Market Lofts downtown which made for a picturesque backdrop. I thought I was doing well to figure out what was going on, but all my hard work and analysis did not payoff with victory, Merinda did well, so that made it better. There are a bunch of funny stories, but they probably only are funny in the context of ... well, you had to be there. The setting made for some easy, good shots.

Lisa and I before the actual mystery began.

Um, yeah.

The host explains the set up.

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Like I said, good shots were easy to find.

You can see all of my Murder Mystery party pictures here, and Matt took a couple pictures which can be found here. After the thing was over, Ben and I stood on the 10th Street Overpass outside the Durham Museum and talked for about an hour and a half.

Sunday was the latest episode of Mass Chaos. We went to a 1000 Mass on 10/10/10. Well, we thought we were clever. Afterwards we went to the usual, DJ's Dugout to watch football, i.e. the Bears. They won! The only other exciting news was that Frank and Lindsay got engaged, congratulations!

26 October 2010

Fourth Week in September 2010

Monday was soda cut down day. It's obvious that I like soda a little more than is good for me. The plan is this, cut down to a soda in the morning (for caffeine) and one at lunch. I was a cranky pants that first day, okay first four days. I'll try cutting down more (smaller portions) on November 1. My new best friend is Sobe Lifewater Blackberry Grape.

Work went well, except for my cranky pants. A long vacation was just what I needed to improve my work attitude. After work I went to Vivian's birthday party. I knew that I would be late, but no one there had ordered by the time I got there. It was at an Italian place called Malaras on 23rd and Pierce. I had Angel Hair in a white sauce. The white sauce was amazing, but the salad was obviously of 'the open a bag and over pour Wishbone Italian dressing on it' variety. It seemed to me that the salad must be customer driven because the white sauce was so well made. Eventually we went back to Matt and Viv's and had some martinis.

The birthday girl's shirt says "I'm Vivian, and you're lucky to have me." Yes we are!

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We had a little fun with Vivian's leftovers. Photo credit: Matt

Which one of us is me and which one is Jenny?

I just want to point out how much I respect Vivian, I went to her party rather than watch the Bears on Monday night Football. You can see the rest of my pictures here, and all of Matt's here.

Tuesday night was another installment of blues dance practice, it's quite the challenge for me because the dance is not structured. Wednesday I played catch up with chores. Thursday night was the latest installment of our Pathfinder saga, we're starting to be less stupid. Friday I went to JNO and did some dancing.

Saturday evening we took a trip out to Fort Calhoun and Saint John the Baptist and Mass Chaos. After Mass we went to the Surfside Club for some artery clogging goodness.

The river was pretty high.

Considering this little guy was hanging out in front of the Surfside begging for food, he was awfully skinny.

It's so loud in there you can hardly spell.

You can see the rest of my Surfside pictures here. After the Surfside I went up to the Dundee Dell and met some friends to celebrate Courtney's birthday. I had fish and chips, so yes, I ate badly.

Sunday several of us gathered in the basement of our house to watch Blade Runner in preparation for Kaleb's Murder Mystery Party. I hadn't see the movie in years, so I had forgotten what a masterful performance it was by Rutger Hauer in that movie. Later in the evening, we had our second Pathfinder session of the week. I know that funny role playing stories do not translate into real life, so I'll spare you the stories. I think I'll manage to get caught up with the blog backlog fairly quickly this week.

21 October 2010

Third Week in September 2010

The Monday after Cowtown ... ugh. I had hoped to get on the road to Chicago by 1000, and make it in to mom's house by 1800. I was in no particular hurry. Omaha was cloudy, but as I hit the road, the further east I went the sunnier it became, no it's not a metaphor. I had lunch in Des Moines, got gas in Walcott, and was making good time, when, as I approached the Quad Cities, there was a sign that said "I-80 traffic, take detour". I was a little confused, but I got on I-280 and drove right through the middle of the Quads. The I-280 bridge over the Mississippi is quite impressive. Finally I get around to meet back up where I would have crossed the Mississippi on I-80, and there was traffic coming over the bridge. What exactly was a detoured for?

The drive is about an hour too long to begin with, and the extra 30 minutes did not help any. I finally got sick of the highway, and got off at Illinois 72, drove through Genoa, got on Illinois 23, and then took very familiar roads to mom's house getting there at about 1900. There was a beautiful sunset as I turned north on Illinois 23. I spent an uneventful evening at the house.

Tuesday mom and I went out to lunch at Chipotle. She hadn't been there before and ordered a burrito. I warned her that the thing would be as big as her head, but she insisted. The Chipotle is in a section of McHenry that was not developed when I was a kid, so it's kind of strange to see it developed halfway to Richmond. I suppose anyone driving out West Maple Road in Omaha thinks the same thing. Later in the afternoon it was repair time around the house. In the evening mom told me about ... well, this. The story is about people in the McCollum Lake area dying of a rare form of cancer that is being tied to a manufacturer in the area. If you read the story and click on the 'She's Still Here' link, you can see the story of one of my high school friend's mom, Julianna Mass, who has since died. If you look at the map, it's #15, and at least two of my fondest high school memories took place at that house. It's a sad tale.

Wednesday was the trip into Chicago day. I overslept, and then drove myself over to the train station to get on a later train. I took a book on the train, and read most of the way. The train ride hasn't changed much in thirty years. Once I got downtown, I did a little sightseeing.

This is the high rise I lived in when I moved to Chicago, my apartment was on the level of the "My..." on the sign and the fifth window from the right. This building is 49 stories high.

I walked from there down to the Art Institute...

...then over to Buckingham Fountain...

...then to Millennium Park, I'm in this picture, somewhere...

...I meandered my way north towards the Water Tower...

...where I met Shannon. We got ice cream at Ghirardelli, and then walked to...

...Oak Street Beach. I tragically dropped my ice cream cone on the way.

Shannon suggested I check out the Cathedral, which was nearby. I did, but Mass was starting soon, and I had a tough time getting good pictures in the light of the Cathedral. I left there about 1700 and went and met Jen. We went to the subway and rode north. I guess I've completely forgotten my subway etiquette, she had to tell me to take my backpack off, oops. We rode up to Belmont, and then walked back to my see my old stomping grounds.

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My apartment was the first door to the right, the first floor apartment on the left side.

Jen and I then walked over to Binney's, then to Ann Sather's, which was sadly closed. So we got some food at the mediterranean place next door, because really, you can never have enough hummus or shwarmas. We then walked up Halsted to her place, and sat and ate upstairs on the roof of her place with Adam, her boyfriend.

The view from the top of her building was amazing.

Finally I got my butt back to the train station and back home.

The theme of Thursday was food. I had lunch with Michele at a local Mexican food establishment. In the evening, my mother taught me to make Chicken Pauperkash, a traditional meal that was my favorite growing up. I have already made it ... with about 1/3 of the butter she used, but even then, it's pretty darn good.

Friday I went to church for a noon Mass, I kind of wished that I could get my mother to join me, but she wasn't interested. The church, Holy Apostles, was not there when I was growing up, so it's fairly new. In the afternoon, mom and I had leftovers and (finally after four days home) played some dice. Friday evening I met up with a few of my classmates from high school! We went to the bar in downtown McHenry that my mom used to hang out in, so I knew right where to go.

Harry Carey didn't actually go to school with us.

You can see the all of my Chicago trip pictures here.

Saturday I started driving home, and turned on some sports radio, and figured out that Iowa had a home football game in the early afternoon, and would probably be letting out right about the time that I passed through Iowa City. This coupled with my plan of meeting Rae and Larry in Des Moines for dinner in the after noon caused me to pull into a rest stop in eastern Iowa, and take about an hour nap. Eventually I made my way into Des Moines, met up with Rae and Larry at a TGIFriday's and had a nice dinner with them and their grandchildren.

I pulled into town, worn out, sick of driving, and ready to stay in ... what? What's that you say? Karaoke? I'll be right there. I cleaned up and joined Jenny and Sarah at Mic's. Takashi was there. He did an awesome version of Smoke on the Water, and by that I mean with an inflatable guitar and a standing on tables solo.

A piece of advice ladies, if you go karaokeing, and you sing an angry girl song, don't expect to meet a man that night.

Sunday was a slow moving day. First up was the last Lindy in the Park or the year.

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I took some pictures that I am super happy with...

...and this one too.

You can see all of my last 2010 Lindy in the Park pictures here. Matt also took pictures, they start here (go right).

Later in the afternoon I headed over to Saint Margaret Mary for their festival and Mass Chaos. I had a long talk with Brianne on the curb by the tower, I may end up considering it a big corner turner conversation for me. I have enough separation from VK to tell how messed up I became during the five years (on and off) I chased her, but not so much separation that I don't still adore her. Relearning to trust people is a process, it was a big step.

14 October 2010

Second Week in September 2010

Oops, looks like I have a little catching up to do! Not only is this not really a big deal, it's pretty much expected that it would be this way. With Cowtown and the usual vacation after, it's been a while since I wasn't doing something else. So if this seems so four weeks ago, it's because it was. My apologies in advance if something important gets missed.

Monday was pretty slow, Tuesday started badly, I was told that because of a possible emergency that my vacation the following week might be canceled. I took the news like a trooper and team player, and said to let me know before I left work on Wednesday (it turned out to be a non-issue). When I got home from work I hurriedly cut the lawn and went to the first Blues dance lesson that Frank and Merinda were teaching.

Funny thing, yeah, I don't so much do my triples in swing, but when I try to take them out to do Blues, I end up doing them. Still it was interesting to try something new in dance forms. Swing moves are applicable, but the focus is on moving with the instruments, not the beat. This might be tough for me to learn, but I think worth it.

Wednesday was the start of vacation! Work did not mention anything about it being canceled, so I relaxed after work ... by grabbing Troy and the basketball, and headed out to the court. We played against some neighborhood kids. We played to eleven, and the score was tied at 6-6 until we ran out of steam. I wasn't aware at the time, but Troy got elbowed in the ribs pretty hard, so he was hurting.

Thursday was the start of Cowtown, and I messed around all day until I had to pick Steve Hwan up at the airport. We had already preplanned a photo safari. I thought Steve might want to get some pictures of something that would not be available in Los Angeles (Glendale). My two thoughts were the Platte River Pedestrian Bridge (a favorite of mine) and Boyer Chute. I think the views are more interesting from the Platte River Pedestrian Bridge, but there is always the chance of a Bald Eagle at Boyer Chute. After I picked up Steve, I described both and let him choose ... off to the Platte we went.

I swear I will jump off this cliff into the ocean way down there. I might sprain an ankle, or possibly get wet.

Steve is so gregarious, of course he made new friends right away.

There were certainly plenty of good shots available.

I'm not quite sure how these little sand piles were formed.

You can see all the pictures that I took there here. Steve and I went straight from there to the my house, then to the Cowtown Opening dance at Elmwood Park Pavilion featuring Big Sandy and His Fly Right Boys. The lighting was as bad as you might expect in the location, but the music and dancing were good.

It turns out there is no one actually named Big Sandy, who knew?

I believe I am trying to do the robot here.

Corinn did eventually come in.

You can see the rest of my welcome dance pictures here.

Friday morning came and I was up mostly early to get down to the Eagles Lodge to help Carol unload and set up the Mobile Carol's Closet. Of course, by the time I got there (3 minutes late) her, her mother, and Ben Peet had the van mostly unloaded. That's okay, there was still plenty to do. Most of the classes that I wanted to do were Friday, and what do I remember? Peter telling me "I didn't teach you to do that..." and also fixing my hand when I Balboa. We all went to lunch at the International Cafe, I had a lamb plate. I think it's funny how normally confident people occasionally get nervous when immersed in another culture. In the afternoon there were more classes, including a BalSwing class, I think I'm really going to work on getting the footwork into my muscle memory.

Something about a girl eating an apple is a picture I can't resist ... stupid snake.

Really, no caption is needed.

You can see the rest of the pictures I took from Friday classes here. I volunteered to 'work' dinner for the Jitterbugs. This consisted of driving Peter and Mia to Christy and Ryan's house for dinner.

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I took garden pictures and people pictures.

You can see the rest of my dinner pictures here. After dinner Peter had me stop by a C-store so he could pick up some smokes. Of course, it's not cool that Peter or anyone smokes, but it was definitely cool to drive Peter around and pick his brain about art and dance. Eventually I ended up at the dance.

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One of the hard part of having a camera hobby, taking pictures of my beautiful friends modeling vintage clothes.

I competed in the dance contest, with the usual results.

At least one person ... um ... creature liked my dancing.

I was fortunate enough to have Sarah nearby to take my pictures during the contest. Also thank you the organizers to put up good lighting.

You can see the rest of my pictures from the Friday dance here. After the JIVE volunteers cleaned up the upstairs, we all headed downstairs to the late night breakfast feed and dance.

This might be my favorite picture of Ben, he looks so happy.

Nothing says swing dance quite like a disco ball.

You can see the rest of my late night pictures here. Eventually, I slept. Saturday dawned, and I headed back to the Eagles for morning classes, or considering how long I slept in, morning class. After the class, we went to eat at Flavor's Indian restaurant, which no one where it was. It turned into a cluster, we got directions from someone who will remain nameless, it wasn't there. It turned out to be a couple blocks from the Eagle's lodge, but it took us :45 minutes to get there. I had goat. The rest of the afternoon passed without unexpected events.

How to put a little style into your dance.

Jillian had a little trouble with egress from Cecily's car.

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Some dance class headshots.

If you're going to style, do it big!

You can see the rest of my Saturday day pictures here. After the classes, it was time for our latest installment of Mass Chaos. We chose a church that we could walk to from the Eagle's club, so Joe and I did just that. In between classes and the dance Frank, Joe, Steve, and I went out to dinner at Upstream. Steve bought, thank you. Then got ready for the Saturday night dance.

Omaha Ballet put on a demonstration from their October 3 "Swing, Swing, Swing" show.

Typical Steve, making funny faces and in the finals.

I'm still not sure what is going on here.

Mama's don't let your babies grow up to leave their cameras sitting around so just anyone can grab them and snap random photos.

Coach Bob Devaney and his star quarterback.

Isabel was cold, so I lent her my hoodie ... we might be different sizes.

You see the other 57 photos from the Saturday dance here. After the dance, I and the other JIVE members cleaned up, Maggie and I unsucessfully tried to get donuts from the Donut Stop, and then we headed over to the late night.

No doubt this is the thrill of Jillian's lifetime.

After all that dancing, you start to see things.

Probably a once in a lifetime photo, probably that's not such a bad thing.

I enjoyed this guys company, but frankly his dancing was a little stiff.

Lee is an antlerhead.

Kelley says "You're going to put Steve in this section twice, but me only once?

This was the latest I ever gotten home on a Cowtown Saturday night, 3:15am. I crawled into the sack and was out quickly, only to wake up and face more dancing ... Praise the Lord for that, unless you're a Southern Baptist. I actually did go to the classes, I actually thought about participating too. We went to lunch across the river at Alvarado's, good times, good times.

Megan's hair is really five feet long, okay, well maybe four. Really!

If these two are both smiling at the same time, something inappropriate is going on.

Ah yes, preparation for the annual corn eating contest.

I processed this one while on vacation, so I had lots of time to mess around

You can see the rest of my Sunday class pictures, including some that came out of discussion with Steve that was probably worth the price of Cowtown admission just to get picture tips from him, here. I went home and took another quick nap, then grabbed a footlong Subway sandwich, and headed to the venue, the Old Mattress Factory. In case you weren't keeping score, that was lamb, vegetarian lasagna, goat, fish, pollo asado, and a sub for my Cowtown meals, what does it mean? Probably nothing. First up, the corn eating contest. The corn eating contest, being what it is, kind of offends my sensibilities, so I can only imagine how someone like Cecily feels about it. I'm sure some people find it too objectionable to watch, it's kind of gluttonous ... and since we're already into one deadly sin, it's a matter of pride to me that I finished my first ear before Matt did.

This year, for the first time ever, there was a junior division.

Joe ate exactly one kernel.

Our mothers are just so proud of us boys.

You can see the rest of my pictures from the Corn Eating Contest here. Once again an instructor, Andrew, finished first, Matt second, and Vivian third. The weirdest part of the corn eating contest is that three minutes after the finish of the contest, you are hungry again.

Sarah and her new haircut are going to rule the air.

Steve almost cooperated with the pink hat ... almost.

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I took this very nice sequence of Maggie.

The Grand Marquis was the band, dang they're good.

I don't think anything was going on here, but it sure looks suspicious.

Why, it's a (dancing) reenactment of Katie's Facebook profile picture.

Too cool for my camera!

...and the last picture of the weekend, at least it was a good one.

You can see the rest of my Cowtown Sunday dance pictures here. All my Cowtown photos can be found here, I believe there are 538 of them. Jillian's Cowtown photos are here, Matt's can be found here. Lisa and many, many others have posted pictures to Facebook.

And thus wraps up another Cowtown Jamborama, I think I'm getting good at these things. There sure are a lot of super nice swing dancers in the world, even the ones that I disagree with I really like.

P.S.: I'm only four weekly postings behind. This one was started on 9/14, and posted on 10/14 ... good job.