30 December 2011

Third Week in December 2011

My camera has finally reached the end of it's life, the back screen no longer works correctly, meaning not really at all. I can get by with it by looking through the viewfinder, but it's old and tired. The shutter count shows 35,050, but I'm not certain that is accurate, it's been reset a couple of times. It will be a few months before I am ready to get a new one, so there may be a bunch of not-as-good iPhone pictures until I upgrade.

Monday I had finally had it with the migraine that began the previous week, and I was suspecting that I had a nasal infection. I went to the doctor and my suspicion was confirmed and I was given antibiotics. The headache disappeared within 36 hours, so I'm guessing I know my body pretty well. After work, I came home and slept.

Tuesday after work I went to the grocery store and then slept more. Wednesday my RCIA classes were cancelled, so I was unexpectedly home all night, so it was even more rest.

Thursday I finally felt awesome, on my way home I finished up my Christmas shopping, apart from picking up some printed photos from Walgreen's. When I got home Merinda and I did our gift exchange...

I got a Bear bear pillow. I did not scream like the kid in the ad.

Friday afternoon I was released from work early, and did some errands on the way home, including picking up those pictures. I got home and wrapped up my wrapping (did you see what I did there?). I met Jenny, Lydia, Jon, and Rachel downtown at the Conagra Ice Rink for some ice skating. I didn't fall at all, and my skates were sized perfectly. I tried to take pictures on my iPhone...

...but only one came out good enough to post.

Matt showed up long enough to get a shot of Lydia and some joker. Photo credit: Matt

I'm a little confounded why there isn't a tool for 'silver' or 'yellow' eye like I get with my iPhone. It's so rare I ever see red eye, but there are plenty of ways to get rid of it. There is a tool on Picnik, but it's labeled as 'for animals'.

From the ice rink, I headed to the weekly dance. I exchanged gifts with Maggie and Jillian. I did some dancing, although it was a sparse crowd, and then headed home around 2300.

Saturday I played Santa and delivered presents to Beth and Joe. Then I went up to VK's house for dinner and present exchange. Dinner was fabulous, and her family is quite enjoyable to be around. I got slippers and a hat / scarf / glove combination. We played a card game that doesn't have a family name.

In only my second try, I won the rice pudding prize! If you're wondering what is up with Bente's head, it's hard to explain, kind of like the rice pudding prize.

By the time the party wound down, it was after midnight, AND I was pretty tired. I went home and went to sleep. I did not go to midnight Mass. Sunday morning I did go with Joe to Holy Family parish downtown by the ballpark. It was a very small Mass, only about 20 people total in the congregation. When I got home, I took a nap - I really blog a lot about napping.

When I woke up, I headed over to Matt, Vivian, and Hannah Marie's house for Christmas dinner #2. I did a lot of Hannah holding, a lot of eating, and a lot of suggesting for Matt while he was helping get a computer set up for Jack.

This was one of her best behaved moments.

Uncle Eric is confusing activities Zeke would like with
activities that are appropriate for an infant.
Photo credit: Matt

Matt is highly amused by this picture, I think it looks
too much like someone who would hiss "Baggins". Photo credit: Matt

That was my Christmas week, next week: surprise, New Years!

28 December 2011

Second Week in December 2011

Monday after work I went to the grocery store, gathered up some items, then came home and made dinner for VK. I cooked steak for the first time in a long time. The results were, different, not in a bad way, but more in an unexpected way.

Tuesday and Thursday I had nothing going on, but on Wednesday I had dinner with Tony, one of my best friends from my high school days. Tony is a pilot, and flies into Omaha several times a year. We ate at Vivace, and talked about things old and new. I really appreciated a look back, but I don't live much in the past, and I try not to live too far in the future. I like the now. Friday immediately after work, I went to my annual work party with VK.

I've been really wanting to cut back on my social interactions lately. It's kind of a double edged sword. I know people think that I'm a social creature because I do so much, but I'm really not, and there are plenty of times when people can wear me out, and I need a break. On the other hand it's not really very good for me to withdraw from all social interactions either. It probably means I need a reset (refocus), I'm not sure I've ever managed to do one on the fly, but I think I am ready to try one, goodbye 2011, hello 2012.

Saturday morning I was up early(ish) and out to a More Mass Chaos Mass at Holy Family Shrine. I love the shrine, but the highway and the view right there is so distracting. After Mass there was a pot luck for the Shrine volunteers, I've been to potlucks where no one could cook. This was not the case here, I ate well.

Ronny, Joe, and I went shopping at Shadow Lake on the way home, and I almost finished my Christmas shopping. I dropped Joe off at home and then I drove Ronny all the way north to her house (she rode down with Marilou). Upon finally getting home, I almost immediately took a nap.

In the evening I had a tough decision to make, Jenny's or Kaleb's party? I ended up going to Kaleb's for the very simple fact that it is 15 minutes closer to home. It was game night, I played two games of To Court the King, two games of Ultimate Werewolf, and a game of Betrayal at House on the Hill. It turned out that we played To Court the King incorrectly the first time, and regardless, I won neither game, although I like it. Both games of Werewolf were a little anticlimactic, especially after how epic they were the last time we played. Kevin was the betrayer on the house on the hill, the haunt started early, and went very quickly. The haunt was Werewolves, they seemed overpowering, and my character was probably one of the lucky ones, I died instead of being turned into a werewolf. The rest of the evening was spent with ping pong and Rock Band ... and I didn't leave until 0330.

Sunday morning I was up and out the door early for the final installment of the More Mass Chaos Advent mini-tour, this time at Saint Philip Neri. I made it through Mass awake, but then I immediately went home to nap. When I went to sleep, I was slightly ahead in all three of my fantasy football leagues ... when I woke up, I was very much beaten. I had a chance to win all three leagues, now just a chance in one. Oh, in case there was a doubt, the Bears season continued its downward trend, hope we get a good draft pick.

27 December 2011

First Week in December 2011

Monday right after work I met VK at DQ in Ralston LaVista. We visited for just a short while before I headed over to Ben and Jess's apartment to play Arkham Horror. Jess did not play, so it was me, Maeg, Ben, CJ, Mike, and Kaleb. We won the first game (kind of by accident, "oh, look we have all the gates closed"), so we played a second one, which we also won.

Tuesday night after work I got Chipotle. Wednesday night I went to RCIA. Thursday was a little more exciting, a snowy commute after work, the latest version of Mass Chaos at Saint Margaret Mary, dinner afterwards at Noodles and Company, and then running around in the snow with two of Marilou's kids.

Friday right after work I went straight up 144th Street to Red Robin for Teri's birthday dinner. Why do I ever drive 144th Street between Dodge and Maple? It's horrible. I got to Red Robin and it was fun, the food was good, and as usual, the service was just weird and wrong. After dinner I went to Sarah A.'s (apparently) yearly ugly sweater board game night. I got there late, so I didn't do much with the games, although I filled in for a game of Wits & Wagers.

Miss Duckybutt was quite popular, unfortunately,
I was not feeling well enough to help with holding her. Photo credit: Matt

Sheesh, look at the camera! Look at the camera! Photo credit: Matt

Can't tell if she won the game, or is rocking out. Photo credit: Matt

If you'd like to see my two pictures from this party, they are here and here. If you actually want to see a bunch of pictures from this event, you can check out Matt's, they are here.

Saturday during the day I processed pictures during the day. Later in the day I hung out with Maggie. We did some shopping, had dinner at Lansky's, and then watched Fellowship of the Ring. One does not simply watch a Sean Bean movie with Maggie, she quotes all the lines.

Sunday morning was the installment of Mass Chaos at Dowd Memorial Chapel of the Immaculate Conception on the Boys Town campus. It had been several years since I went to Mass there, I had forgotten what a zoo (I mean this in a good way) it is there.

Later in the day we met Terry at her choice in bars for her birthday football celebration, and watched as the Bears got Tebowed. I would not be surprised if I am done watching the Bears for the year, it's pretty obvious that without Cutler and Forte, we're done. It's bitter because I really thought we were close to having a very special team, and that team from that other town is good.

09 December 2011

Last Week in November 2011

Monday; work, and the end of on call. After work I met VK at China Buffet in Bellevue. I didn't make my food overly spicy, so that was different. We went to Target afterwards. I bought a onesie for Hannah Marie. It turns out great minds think a like, because Jenny bought her the same one. I had to get the one I bought (see previous link) because Matt loves dancing, but hates penguins. After shopping, I came home and went to sleep.

Tuesday after work, I went and picked up Anne and Merinda, and we went over to Matt & Vivian's for some more baby time. Jenny joined us a little later. I played some more with Matt's new camera.

Big Yawn. Photo credit: Matt

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Everybody gets a turn, no need to hog the baby.

Look how tiny her shoes are, and how good the quality is on the pictures
taken on Matt's new camera. Photo credit: Matt

Wednesday and Thursday were quiet days, with only RCIA on Wednesday to break up the monotony. Friday was my on call comp half day, so I combined it with a regular half day to get a whole day off ... see how that math works? I ran some errands, had lunch with Maggie at the UP cafe, visited Jillian and Lee (Zonda barked non-stop for :45), and slept. I ended up at the usual Friday dance. Probably the last one I'll be at this year due to holiday Friday busyness. After cleaning up at the dance, about a dozen of us went to Alvarado's in Council Bluffs.

Saturday I ran errands in the snow during the day, then ended up staying at home all night. Third Saturday in a row at home, it's starting to get a little old. I did shovel the drive twice, so that was exciting.

Sunday morning was the latest installment of More Mass Chaos, we went to Saint Bridget in South Omaha, the first one that the original Mass Chaos visited. It is a very pretty church.

We gathered up the group and headed to DJ's to watch the Bears game. So we lose our star quarterback, then we lose our star running back two games later, and lose a game on a Hail Mary pass and a missed Robby Gould field goal. Le Sigh. However, amazingly, we're still in playoff hunt, in fact, we still control our own destiny. Win and in.

I came home and got the house ready for the 4th Annual Ben and Eric's Chili Throwdown! People started arriving a little before 1800, and by 1900 we had eleven chili entries and six non-chili entries. If I counted correctly, we had 37 people came, so it was smaller than last year both in chilis and in attendees, but still quite a good turnout. Thank you to those who made suggestions on improving the contest from the year before.

Voting had all wrapped up by 2000, and we had our winners.

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IMG_1192 IMG_1191
1st - CJ's Ensign Jimmy's Red Shirt Chili
2nd - Julia's No Beans About It
3rd - Adri's Timelord Old Time Favorite
Spiciest - CJ's Ensign Jimmy's Red Shirt Chili
NonChili - Brianne's Potato Bacon Nom Nom Soup.
All photo credist: Matt

There was also some game playing...

...lots of eating Photo credit: Matt...

...inexplicable shenanigans Photo credit: Matt...

...the worlds best behaved baby Photo credit: Matt...

...and Joe. What more could anyone want?

The feedback I got immediately was that the entries were, on the whole, far better than in years past. People seemed to have a good time. The only downside was that my camera quit working in the middle of the party. I still got a few pictures, you can see them here, Matt (thank you) jumped in when my camera gave up and took a bunch of pictures too. Thank you to all who also helped clean up too.

Next week: Um, I'm all caught up, so I don't really have a preview.

07 December 2011

Thanksgiving Week 2011

Monday began another wonderful week of on call. However, this is a holiday week, so it's not really one that I approached with dread like the if it were the first week of the August. While at work, did my duties for the day, and I grabbed the on call phone and laptop. On the way home, I did some grocery shopping on the way home. Tuesday was a quiet day too, both personally and being on call. The only think I did was stop by Frank's house to borrow a pipe cutting tool.

Well Tuesday wasn't completely dull, during work the news came down that the long awaited arrival of Matt & Vivian's baby, Toobee Hannah Marie. You can read Matt's blog about it here.

Welcome to the world, Hannah Marie! Photo credit: Matt

Wednesday evening, after work, I went over to Jenny's house for a soup, supper, and game night. Jenny made some tasty creamy chicken rice soup, I made a salad, and other people brought rolls and desserts. We had plenty of discussion surrounding the new baby, all of it happy! We also played a game of Telestrations, which was new to some people there, it's hard to believe people haven't played it.

I only took one picture, but I thought I'd include it.
Jenny, if you're going to hit Ben, make sure he notices.

Thanksgiving Day I woke up early, well, early for a holiday day off, and after immediately checking to see if I had any work to do, I went back to sleep. I got up and started to getting ready for meeting VK out at her brother's house for dinner. While I was getting ready, I happened to notice, via Facebook, that Matt & Vivian were accepting visitors at the hospital. Change in plans, I finished getting ready in a hurry and went to the hospital to meet my "niece".

Proud "Uncle" Eric.

I eventually had to go, and I went out west to VK's brother's house. On my way I saw someone having a really bad day. We watched a football game, or was it a Ndamukong Suh dance routine? There was a spread featuring the world's largest cheese ball. There was dinner, snacking, more football, throwing around a football with her dad and brothers, and then playing a game of Telestrations. Fortunately, the on call phone stayed quiet.

Shadow looks like a certain other dog.

Our hostess smiles about the good job she did.

There was some cool sunlight through the front door window.

You can see all the rest of my Thanksgiving Day pictures here. VK and I left the gathering and went back up to the hospital to see the baby again.

(Photo credit: Matt)

Eventually I took VK home then got myself into bed before midnight. If you'd like to see all of my pictures on my first visit(s) to meet baby Hannah Marie here.

Friday was a work day, and I'm not sorry I missed all the shopping ridiculousness. Support sanity, don't get up in the middle of the night to shop. Also, all you geniuses who waited in line for questionable deals, please learn math. 40 hours in a line to 'save' $200 gets you about $5/hour for your 'work' and the derision of people like me. Wait until the first week in February and the electronics you had to have will be cheaper. Oh, yeah, and I went dancing and then out to donuts afterwards. When I got home I ended up staying up until 0300 working.

Sure enough, when I got up Saturday morning I had some on call work to do, but it wasn't any big deal. I did plan my day around possibly getting called, so I did nothing. All. Day. Long. It felt good to not be busy again.

Sunday started at 0345 with an work phone call. I ended up having to drive in to work at 0400, and didn't get back until 0615. The problem kind lingered until almost 2200, so it was an all day thing.

I did manage to get to church and the new Mass Chaos mini-tour. It was a very joyous church visit with an unexpected surprise, a new crucifix necklace. I had been wanting one for a couple of years, and decided that I would get one with Christmas money this year. It was one of those surprise moments that makes it impossible to wipe the smile off of your face. After this the group went to Culver's. Beth only got ice cream and gave the best explanation ever: "if you're going to have food at Culver's why waste the calories on something else?"

I did not watch the Bears play this week. I didn't figure it would be a good game, and I was right. I'm disappointed with the injury to Jay Cutler, it seems like our season is probably effectively over.

The final event of the weekend was Jess' birthday party and Rockabilly Night at Gator O'Malley's. I liked the music, The Willards Band, but Jess cracked me up when she said "I'd like the band to have a little more rock and a little less billy." I'm guessing she wouldn't like Jason and the Scorchers.

Next Week: More Bad News Bears, but not all the football news is bad.