28 June 2011

Third Week in June 2011

Monday I went to work, but about halfway through the day I gave up fighting my migraine and went home and went to bed. After a two hour nap, I felt much better and drove up to DQ and then down to look at flooding. I met up with VK, and we had dinner at Q'Doba. As we were leaving the tornado sirens went off in Papillion. They made a change to the tornado warning system where they sound them for straight line winds too ... um, this is kind of dumb.

Monday Storm

Regardless, we went directly to my house and watched the first half of Swordfish, then when the weather cleared, VK went home and I went to bed early. However, early in the morning I had a nightmare that woke me up, the whole thing wasn't a nightmare, but the last 15 seconds really sucked. It was easier to get back to sleep, in retrospect, than I think it should have been.

On the way into work I had a strange experience. I pulled up to Highway 370 from 36th Street, and there was a lady stopped in the westbound lanes just past the stoplights, traffic was stopped westbound, northbound, and southbound. I thought that there had just been an accident, because she was out of her car looking around. Then I saw a tiny kitten under her car. So I got out to help, so did another guy. So I'm laying on the ground in the middle of 370 trying to coax a tiny little kitten out from under a car. The kitten made things worse by crawling up the wheel well. After about five minutes of trying, and soaked jeans, I had to get off to work. She was still working on it the last I saw in my rear view mirror.

After determining the grass was too wet to cut, Tuesday night I cooked and blogged, Wednesday I couldn't even come up with the blogging to make me sound unlazy, I just cooked.

Thursday was a little more exciting. After work I went to Brazenhead for the latest edition of Rome and Coke. The subject for the night was humor, and unironically, the discussion was lively and funny. After it ended, we went and had dinner at Old Chicago. It's starting to seem very traditional for Thursday, although I've only done it three times.

Friday I forgot my phone on the way to work, so at lunch I went to get it. After work I actually went to McDonald's for dinner, yeah, that was enough of that for a while. I then met Marilou and Sarah in the parking lot of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton parish and we drove out to a Saint John the Baptist bonfire at the Pro Sanctity retreat center north of Elkhorn. I was concerned when I went that it would be a little dull, but silly me, it was not. I got to know some new people and see the retreat center. There was music and frisbee and night prayer. Although it officially ended at 2215, I don't think we left until after 2330.

Saturday was a hodgepodge of activities. I did household chores all day and broke out the game I am designing again. I tried to simplify it, we'll see how it plays. I didn't really want to go to Shakespeare on the Green on Saturday night, but I got talked into it. On occasion you should just do what your friends tell you to do, they are pretty smart. The weather was lovely, the play was Midsummer Nights Dream, and there was a ton of food.

Yes, this looks normal for Shakespeare on the Green. Photo credit: Matt

This is what I looked like before I came out and had fun. Photo credit: Matt

Me thinks I've made an ass of myself. I want to have Puck's haircut. Photo credit: Matt

We stayed around and chatted for about 45 minutes after the play, then went back to the car where I saw how Jenny parked ... nice.

I managed to sleep in both Saturday and Sunday. Sunday until after 0900. I went and picked up Teri and we went to church. Frank, Julia, Patrick, Jen, and Beth met us there, and then we went out to eat at Gandalfo's after church.

After this VK and I had planned a walk in the afternoon, but would the weather cooperate? The answer is no, the weather did not cooperate, however we went for our walk anyway. It turned into a magical day. First stop was Schramm State Park Recreational Area in a misting rain.

We visited with nine of the cutest little ones ever.
They were very friendly, they walked right up to us.

We then headed over to the Platte River Pedestrian Bridge. The rain got a little heavier, and we could hear thunder, but no lightening. So we stuck with the plan and walked down to the river, umbrellas in hand.


We made our way across the bridge and were greeted by not the cutest birds ever. We continued on, the rain got a little heavier. Eventually we reached the other end of the walk way, and there we spied berries.

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We probably picked four pounds of mulberries,
and then carried them in an upside down blue umbrella.

The rain let up, and we walked back to the car, and then drove back to VK's house. After we dried out, we decided to go over to the festival at her church. We got near and there was a cop who was blocking entry, so we went around ... and the heavens opened up with rain. Plan B, we headed over to Red Mango, but got slight detour across the parking lot to Trader Joe's (my first visit). We met Bente and her friend Tara and shopped for 30 minutes or so until we were just ready to go ... when the rain really started pouring, I mean harder than in my shower. I got the car, and VK and I drove across the parking lot to Red Mango for some noms. We sat outside of the store, ice cream in hand, and watched the rain pour down. We ran to the car (25 feet) and started to drive back to her house through inch and a half deep water on the streets at 20mph. A very strange thing happened on the way home however, the rain stopped, and the sun came out as it set, and we had some amazing views of clouds and the back side of the storm.


Yes there are pictures for the whole day, you can find them here. Have a great week!

21 June 2011

Second Week in June 2011

Monday it was back to the grind at work, and also I was 90% free of the soreness that came with the sandbagging over the weekend. During the day, I received an e-mail forwarded from VK, from her father, who saw the Yahoo news article on the sandbagging efforts on Saturday. It was kind of a nice moment to be recognized, even though it wasn't the point of it.

After work, VK and I met up and went to out to eat at That's Amore in Olde Towne Bellevue. Dinner was delicious and then we got a dessert pizza. We drove down to Haworth Park, which is crazy flooded, parking is restricted all the way down, they don't want anyone sightseeing. While I understand the need for safety, I think it's important for people to be able to see what is going on. After gawking, we went back to my place and walked around the neighborhood.

Early Tuesday morning I had an another epically cool dream. It was a murder mystery dream, the people in the dream existed today, but the murder mystery was a prohibition gangster setting. My father owned a bakery, and he was now dead. During the course of the dream, I found out that his bakery was a front for a distillery. There was a lot of role playing and investigating, and during the course of the dream, I decided that I didn't want to deal with doing something illegal, so I arranged through a trusted friend to sell the remaining liquor and was going to get rid of the equipment. My trusted friend and I packed up the remaining cases of booze in a truck, and we drove to meet with the bartender who was buying it. The money was exchanged ... AND my trusted friend pulled a gun and shot us both, taking the money and the booze. Sweet deal for him. Sweetly detailed dream, and the moral of the story is don't trust gangsters.

Tuesday after work Troy fired up the grill for the first time this year, and we had grilled sausages. I made sure I ate my veggies first, and then made sure I didn't eat too much because I did lawn work right after eating. Our string trimmer is stringless, it makes it hard to trim anything, that's for sure. I also helped Jenny with the plan for the camping trip weekend.

Wednesday after work I went shopping for the weekend camping trip. When I got home I was surprised to see Maggie pulling up behind me. It turns out that she was there for a dance lesson. I did some cooking and some cleaning. After the lesson was done and I'd finished with my chores, Maggie and I watched the first half of Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark. It all started when I quoted the nazi about "what shall we talk about". I confused myself by mixing up Gandolf saying "Mellon" and Indy saying "Belloch".

Thursday after work, I decided to go to Kaleb's and play Dominant Species. It's a very strategic game, so I didn't win, although I think I did better than I expected.

Friday morning was the start of the annual camping trip. I had an early start (okay, 1000) planned and I was driving, and Anne was riding along. We planned on going to Yankton, SD, meeting Matt and Vivian at Gavins Point Dam, and then continuing on another 60 miles (25 of it flood detour) to Niobrara, NE and Niobrara State Park. I ended up being a few minutes late picking up Anne, but we hit the road and headed out of town. We made a stop at a Hy-Vee in Norfolk to pick up some ice and some raspberries, then drove up to Yankton. Yankton was very pretty, the streets were wide, and there were lots of outdoorsy things to do. We got our lunch at a Subway, filled the tank, and then received a well timed call from Matt and Vivian that they were already at the dam. We headed over to the dam where the road over the dam was closed. There was some confusion as to whether we were both on the on the South Dakota side or the Nebraska side. Finally we found each other. The amount of water coming out of the dam was awesome, according to some internet research (*cough cough*) the amount of water going over Niagra Falls is 64,500 cfs, the amount coming out of Gavins Point Dam while we were there was 150,000 cfs ... no wonder it was amazing.

Yep, that's a lot of water.

If we all look wet, it is because, well, we are.

I was surprised by the 'party' atmosphere there, I thought it would be more somber.
There were dozens of kids (and adults) playing chicken
with the water crashing up over the barrier.

After we left there Anne and I did a three stop excursion on our way out of South Dakota. We checked out the Ridgeline Drive west of town (my stop), pulled into Dam Fireworks (Anne's stop), and finally we stopped at my new favorite ice cream place in the whole world, The Dairy Dock. My medium sized, vanilla, butterscotch dipped cone was so big, that I could not finish it. Let me repeat, I could not finish my medium sized, vanilla, butterscotch dipped cone ... and the taste was fabulous. As it turned out, Matt and Vivian had just pulled out of the Dairy Dock as we pulled in, so they had about a 20 minute start on us as we headed to the state park. As it worked out, I had almost caught up to Matt and was about five minutes behind, the group that Jenny left got in about five minutes ahead of Matt, so we all arrived at about the same time.

The place was deserted, or at least there was no one there yet. The rules were first come, first served on the tent only camping areas, and we were first served. We drove around until we saw this ...

...yeah, that kind of view will do just fine. Photo credit: Matt

Jenny wasn't too sure still, and we all said "Look at the view!", we didn't convince her so we all said "It has a shelter!", it still didn't work, so we said "The bathroom is right there" pointing across the road. She still drove around the park to look at the other spots, but we had decided.

I went for a short sight seeing walk before ...

...I was called back for dinner. You don't have to tell me twice.

As the sun set, this was the view to the northeast.

The evening wore on, we sat around the fire, spotted a nearby deer (my camera balked at the idea of getting a picture), and talked into the late evening around the fire. Then bedtime in my 'camper'. Saturday morning I was up at 0700 and off in search of the shower. It seemed as though it was closer to Kansas City than our campsite, and it took quarters, but what are you going to do? I arrived back at the campsite in time for breakfast, it was going to be a busy day.

Jon and Jenny supervised Chris' pancake making skills. Photo credit: Matt

First up on the activities for the day, horseback riding. My horse was Woodrow.
It turned out I was a pretty experienced rider for our group. Photo credit: Vivian

After lunch we hiked over to the the Niobrara State Park Lewis and Clark Interpretive Dance Center.

Then down to the swollen river, this bridge was closed...

...HEY! I said the bridge was closed!

I walked in the other direction about a half mile until the trail succumbed to the river.
Yes, I walked out on the log.

In the afternoon, we went over to the pool.
Don't adjust your monitor, that's my skin. Photo credit: Matt

After the pool Anne, Stacy, and I drove in to Niobrara. We saw the house Stacy's mom grew up in, got ice, and saw the flooding in town.

At 1700, I was at Saint William for Mass. Yeah, that's a view.

I arrived back just in time for dinner. I could eat potatoes like this every day.

After dinner we went for a walk (about three miles), of course we didn't get lost ...
hey guys, where are we anyways?

We sat around the campfire, but it was probably only 2230 when I headed off to bed. I was so worn out by the entire day. Sunday morning I got up about 0700 again, only this time ...

... the sun was up.

I coughed really loudly, and Stacy and Anne appeared ready to get get a ride to the shower, it was like it was all prearranged or something. I finished up my shower long before they did, so I organized and repacked the car for heading home. We took one more photo op before we left.



Good bye Niobrara State Park.

We headed off and drove through Verdigre, the kolochi capital of the world. I had to sample some, of course. All of us, with the exception of Matt and Vivian met up in West Point to eat at Nebraska's only Pizza Ranch. We headed home from there and that was the trip. I dropped Anne off. I came home to discover no bedroom door. I started laundry and unpacking, and eventually took a short nap. It was another great adventure put together by Jenny. If you'd like to see all of my pictures, you can find them here, all of Matt's can be found here. I'm still waiting for Jenny, Anne, and Stacy to put their's up, hopefully that won't be too long.

13 June 2011

First Full Week in June 2011

Monday during the day was really difficult. I don't know what the story really was, but I had no energy, to the point that during lunch I fell asleep in the car, in the parking lot, in the sun, on a 100°F day. Around 1600 my energy level crept up. I did some grocery shopping on the way home, processed the weekend's pictures, then lawn work once the sun was out of view, and was still so full of energy I walked around the block three times.

Tuesday on my way into work I had no traffic and caught no lights. I made it in 12 minutes. I give myself 35 minutes everyday to get to work, but that includes ten to get caffeine and prepare for the day. If I could rely on that kind of commute both ways, every day, I would save a half hour per day!

After work I headed over to Jillian's house and had dinner and kolachi. She made us vegan tacos, they were super tasty. The kolachi were non-traditional, but very good. We played a very extended game of Apples to Apples, of course, we didn't keep score, but we did have fun!

Wednesday night after work I met VK and we went for a walk through the Quail Creek neighborhood and woods. VK found out during the walk that mosquitoes don't like me. It's true, I only get bitten a couple times a year. I believe it is technically feasible to shoot mosquitoes out of the sky with lasers, why aren't there balloons floating around with microlasers and targeting systems to kill them all? Technology is not what it should be.

After our walk, we went out to eat at China Buffet on 370. I didn't eat too much, but I did make it too spicy ... twice. We then took a drive down to the riverfront in Bellevue, to see what the flooding currently looked like. I don't quite understand where the additional 3.5 to 5.5 feet of water is supposed to go.

Early Thursday morning I had an epically odd dream. Troy, Merinda, and I moved to a place downtown that was all marble and columns. We basically rented bed space in a communal room, bed and shelves for $25/month. The room was large, maybe 30x30 feet, with marble walls and floors with a fountain in the middle. The bedding was some sort of black fur and there were twelve beds. We didn't know anyone else renting in the room, it was kind of a college dorm environment. Since there was no way to secure your valuables in the room, I was really worried about them, so I was considering commuting from the house (the one we actually live in now). We wandered around the building, where I eventually ran in VK, and she showed me the room she was renting for just $10/month more ... it had a locking door. Now I wanted one of those. The rest of the dream was wandering around in building looking for the management, interrupted by trips back to the room to check on my things. This dream was impossibly long. It really seemed like hours.

Thursday my state tax refund finally made an appearance, and at lunch I was off to purchase my new phone. Surprisingly it only took about an hour once I got home to set up the new phone and decommission the old one. I had so much time left over after I got it all set up that I went up to VK's house for a visit.

iPhone 4
Here it is, iPhone4 with an attractive Otterbox case.

Friday I made the comic!

iPhone 4

...I mean worked, then headed up to the dance. As it has been for the last few weeks, I am just not so interested in the dancing part. I am interested in the social aspect of dancing, but not as energized by the dancing part as I have been at other times in the past few years. Billy and Lindsay were there, and it was nice to visit with them. I left early so I could get up and...

This time I was determined! I got up at 0715 and headed over to the MidAmerica Center in Council Bluffs to pack sandbags. They were way better organized this week in comparison to last. It was a short wait in line, and I signed in at 0808 and got to work. A reporter from Reuters came over and interviewed myself and the young lady I was working with, you can see the article here, the story was picked up by Canada Yahoo News too here (it's the same story). Those tricky Canadians are reading about me! The Reuters guy was super nice, but he didn't let what I really said get in the way of a well written story, it's okay I'm down with that.

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I talked one person into coming with me to help!

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, physically. I did about 2 1/4 hours actual work, with a couple breaks. Near the end of it I was having trouble picking up the filled sandbags, but I could have shoveled for quite a while longer. I left there at 1113 (it's easy to remember when they make you sign in and out), and came home.

In the afternoon I went down to the Summer Arts Festival. We walked from parking to downtown to the BK Pedestrian Bridge and back, about five miles. The highlight of the walk was Maggie trying to play with one of the fountains at the base of the bridge, she was standing under the stream, and took a step just as the fountain lost pressure, resulting in much wetness.

Face painting is very serious business.

That's a lot of river, and maybe as much as five more feet to go.

Be careful, those are dangerous.

After the morning workout, five miles walking was a little much. I came home and sat around until 2115 and got ready for bed. It was quite easy to go to sleep early.

Sunday we had planned a noon Mass at Saint Columbkille, and then a trip to the Santa Lucia festival. Joe was driving, so we headed down to Mass where we met up with Teri, (surprise) Frank, and Julia. Teri and wore red. In my case it wasn't because I remembered that Sunday was Pentecost. After Mass, they left us and we went down to the Santa Lucia Festival to meet Marilou and Beth. Joe and Beth got me to go on one ride and Marilou to go on two. I knew my limit. We should have ridden first, before we ate, but we weren't that smart.

Marilou and I could hear Joe laughing even over our own screams.
It made me nauseous, but it was worth it to see Joe (and Beth) all giddy.

Yeah, there was NO way I was going on a second ride
and manage to keep all that delicious food down.

Do you remember where you were during the great Missouri flood of 2011?
Of course I do, I have a picture right here.

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For a little perspective on the river levels, on the left is a picture taken during last year's Santa Lucia festival, on the right is a photo of the same area where we were standing. The railing is entirely underwater.

We walked up on to the bridge, talking and laughing the whole way. You can see all my pictures from the Summer Arts Festival, Santa Lucia Festival, and the Missouri River flooding from this weekend here. That was pretty much it for the week other than picture processing Sunday night.

10 June 2011

May / June Bridge Week 2011

Memorial day was the last day of vacation, so I was determined to enjoy the whole day ... sslloowwllyy. After enjoying the complimentary breakfast, I packed up and hit the road. First stop, driving through the Amana Colonies. I stopped in Homestead at a cider place, but silly me, apples are out of season. I then drove up to Amana ... guess what, they have flooding there too. They all so have...

...dear quaint little touristy shop, you had me at wine,
but thanks for going to cheese and jelly.

This was on the ground outside of my car, I think a unicorn threw up.

I had lunch at the same outlet mall I hit on the way to Chicago, and then drove the rest of the way home pretty much in one stretch. I used to think my dad was kind of crazy for taking two days when he drove from Chicago to Omaha, but it was 55mph then, and took 10 hours. After trying a two day drive home, I kind of liked it. 400 miles / 6:30 driving is really not that bad, but that last 75 miles is not very enjoyable. This trip home I took my time, and I thought it was very pleasant and unhurried.

Tuesday was the day to relax ... I mean head back to work. Amazingly I was calm all day long. When I got home I unpacked and enjoyed a nice night sleep in my own bed. Wednesday I did lawn work and laundry and picture processing and blogging ... and somehow I ended up feeling like I didn't accomplish a thing.

Thursday I dinner with VK at Whole Foods. I think I could eat every meal there, and probably be healthier ... if I could avoid the desserts. I left there and went down to the end of Rome and Coke. We headed down there to Old Chicago, where I ran into Marcus, fresh back in Omaha from seminary. He'll be at Saint John's at Creighton over the summer, and it sounds like we'll have a good opportunity to visit during that time.

Friday evening I went to the dance, and while it was fun to visit with people, I really wasn't into the dancing. I left a little earlier than I normally would have, planned on playing video games, but came home and almost at once was asleep.

Saturday began badly, or at least unsatisfyingly. I woke up and drove down to the Mid America Center in Council Bluffs to help pack sandbags. I got there about 0845, and there was a line, a long line, like 400 people waiting, and from the looks of it, about 75 people were working. After about 15 minutes of waiting, the people in front of me said that they would be packing sandbags in Bellevue at Haworth Park at 1000. I decided to leave where I was and go down there. There was nothing going on in Bellevue. I got on my phone and looked, and there wasn't anything in Bellevue until Monday. I was a little frustrated, and not really thinking that the thought actually counted at all. My camera was in the car, so I took a few pictures.

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This is at the mouth of the Papio Creek.
Yes, those people in the bottom right should not be there .

I ran some errands on the way home, and looky what happened on the way...

The original plan was to sell it immediately, now I'm holding on for a long time.

After my errands I came home and took a nap and got ready for seeing The Sound of Music at The Rose. I didn't know much about the performance until I got to the show and found out that Maria was being played by a good friend of Merinda, Jodi Vaccaro. It made the show more fun, and she was terrific, and so was the show, but I did think it was a little long for a kids show, it ran 2:45. After the show we went eat at M's pub and walking around downtown.

Sunday was the first Mass of Kevin Vogel, and Joe and I took a road trip to Howells, Nebraska to attend. We actually went the wrong way, but made the most of it by visiting Saint Charles in North Bend. We then made a stop in Snyder to see Saint Leos there, but it was locked. Finally we arrived in Howells, actually it wasn't really a 'finally' situation, we were still 30 minutes early. Kevin's first Mass was a good experience, and I got to see Saints Peter and Paul while we were there. After Mass we attended the reception at the Ballroom in Howells. Of course, the person who sat next to us was 'the talkative lady'. So we got an earful while we ate mystery meat BBQ sandwiches.

On the way back home we agreed about a lot of things, got lost on Military Highway, and stopped by VK's house to eat more food. Talk about your bloated feeling. We finally left before we fell asleep from food comas.