31 December 2012

Christmas Week 2012

Monday, although it was Christmas Eve, was not just a regular work day, but a busy one because I had to do all of my usual Monday and Tuesday work on just Monday, and as quickly as possible, since I could not leave until it was done. No problem, I got my work done, shortly thereafter I took my 'don't come back' lunch. I went shopping and errand running after work, and then took a nap because I knew I would be up late with midnight Mass.

After my nap I baked some oatmeal cookies that came out pretty well, then Frank and I headed over to Saint Cecilia's Cathedral for midnight mass. We were met there by Marilou, her son Luke, Sarah W., and her friend. It was a very high Mass, and more than half of the singing was in Latin. After Mass Marilou had to wait to talk to the Archbishop, and she made sure I did too. He wished me a Merry Christmas.

We headed down to Frank's house, he made us pancakes and bacon. We had some good fellowship while "Christmas Story" was on the TV. The party broke up after 0300, and even the cold walk home couldn't keep awake for long, I fell right to sleep.

I'm so proud of my son, he's so ... hey!

The altar at the Cathedral.

Quite the Advent wreath.

Syrup is sticky.

Frank must be happy, he's smiling even though he is in lockdown.

Christmas morning Zeke woke me up at 0700ish, what was up with that? He's never done that before, and suddenly he is standing on me meowing? We negotiated a truce, he left the bed and made a new friend with Mr. Floor, and I went back to sleep ... finally getting up at the crack of noon.

I had Christmas dinner over at Matt and Vivian's. We had a very nice dinner, a super cute baby, Christmas 'stockings', and Matt and I setting up the new Wii. This is my sixth Christmas with Vivian's family and I'm so grateful for them and their friendship.

I tried so hard to get this picture on my iPhone, there are times you just need a real camera. Oh, and it's not staged, she got up there herself. Photo credit: Matt

Who's the cutest Santa ever? Photo credit: Matt

Mommy, you got something in your hair. Photo credit: Matt

I noticed something hanging out with Vivian, her parenting style reminds me so much of my mother. I told her this in admiration, but she thought I was making fun of her. Her mother, Donna, told her I was being serious and it was a compliment, and it was. I was home at a decent hour, and slept up for work the next day.

Thursday was a nice quiet day at work. After work I met Heather at Chick-Fil-A, we had dinner and hung out for a while.

Friday after work I went to the dance and had a good time. I got up and talked about
Heartland Swing Fest in front of the crowd to try and organize the jitterbugs for the trip ... it's like herding cats, but that can be fun sometimes. After the dance we went out to Donut Stop, I got a lemon cake donut, a raspberry cake donut, and some milk.

Saturday I had nothing planned, so I improvised. I went and got Maggie and we went to Amsterdam to get those curry fries we had been talking about since Wednesday. We had some more time, so I decided to take Maggie somewhere she'd never been before, the Henry Doorly Zoo Aquarium. I decided to be tricky and and go the back streets so she wouldn't suspect the surprise. I did pretty well, we got all the way to 14th and C Streets before she got it figured out.

Octopi Wall Street!

In the evening I went to eat at China Buffet with Frank. For some reason, he did not realize that I take 'all you can eat' not just as a challenge, but a personal insult. I did manage to walk, not waddle, out the door with a funny fortune.

Sunday morning I was up and driving up to Creighton and St John's for Mass. It was not as packed as it regularly is because the students were on Christmas break. The music was very nice.

After Mass we went up to DJs dugout for the last Bears game of the year, a two point win over the Lions that didn't seem that close for most of the game. We cheered on the Bears, ate rib tips, and didn't do a whole lot with keno.

I headed home immediately following and listened to the radio as the Packers win would put the Bears in the playoffs ... of course being the Packers, they couldn't do that right either, the Bears were on the outside looking in and they fired their coach the next day. I fear it will be a few years before we will be good again.

In the evening I hung out with Heather, and I secured third place in my work fantasy football league.

Next Week: 2013

24 December 2012

Third Week in December 2012

Monday morning I had a motivational deprivation moment, and couldn't quite get out of bed, so I didn't. I called in, slept until 1030, and then ran a whole bunch of errands. In the evening I went and saw a movie at Kaleb's house, a documentary called
Rabbit Fever. Kaleb is in this movie, not as an actor, but himself, and I enjoyed the movie because it is about real people. I almost always think reality is more interesting than fiction. We played some Rock Band too.

Tuesday after work I made fish that was really, really tasty. After I finished dinner and cleaned up, I hung out with Heather.

Wednesday was the first snowmeggedon of the season. In the morning they were predicting four to eight inches of snow, by 1500 it started raining and it was seven to twelve inches predicted.

The thing that made this snowmeggedon annoying was four weeks ago I planned a night out for Katie at a sushi bar with the members of JIVE. People who were going to attend were dropping like flies all day, and finally around 1630, I called the restaurant, and they said they were closing ... sigh. I came home instead in just a couple inches of snow (really people) and spent the night shoveling, cooking, and playing video games.

Does this look like any reason to not go out?

Thursday morning and it was the big test for my new car, and about 75% of the reason that I got it, so I could get around in the snow. Maeg had a two hour delay for work, so she was still in the driveway, and I was in the garage. First test for the new car, swap spots in the driveway. Maeg backed her car up, I scooted mine right out and to the left, and then had to push Maeg into the garage ... success! I finished getting ready and headed out towards work. Before I got to 370, I got a call from my coworker Curt, who was stuck in his subdivision, and he wanted a ride. I drove over to his house, and as I pulled into his (steep) subdivision I thought to myself "this will be fun." and worried if I was going to be able to get out with the amount of snow and the grade. No problem, I got out of there will not even so much as a wheel slip, including going over a pile of plowed snow (18" or so) that would have stopped the Saturn dead in it's tracks. New car 1, stupid snow 0. Pretty much all my doubts about buying it dissipated like this snow in a Nebraska August. After a day of work, I took Curt to his house and then headed home.

After a nice dinner I sat down on the comfy chair and napped, I woke up after about 15 minutes suddenly very dizzy. I ended up heading to bed pretty early. It was weird, fine before, fine in the morning, but really disoriented in between.

Friday was work and dance. Finally got to see Katie at the dance. There was a dance contest, regular readers of this column already know how I did if it is a dance contest, as in, not well at all. Katie had the camera during the contest.

If we have enough dance contests, I have to reach the finals at some point, right?

"...actually, I have two left feet"

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The distance from 'awesome!' to 'what?' is 30 clicks of the shutter.

You can see all the pictures from the dance here.

After the dance a small group of us went out to Village Inn with Katie so we could visit with her a little while. Which unfortunately, was just a few minutes before she had to go off to one of her many crammed in social engagements. I ended up staying up until about 0300, sheesh.

Saturday morning I woke up too late to do my usual errands, although perhaps got up might be better phrasing than woke up. In the afternoon Kaleb was having a game 'night', I went by Amsterdam and got a couple order of curry fries and took them over to Kaleb's. I think Tzeyu and I ate most of them, but I started the game playing early and kept going all night.

The first game we played was a new game to me, Fleet. It went pretty well, but all the rules were not understood until we played. Kaleb won. It is a game about running a fishing fleet.

The second game was also a game with boats in it, Cargo Noir. I really like this game, from it's colorful graphics, to it's simple game play, to it's cutthroat nature, I like it. I didn't win, but I did have fun.

The next game was Cthulhu Fluxx, Ben got it for Christmas. Yeah ... I learned to play Fluxx on Stoner Fluxx and the original ... I don't like the newer versions. We played twice and well, if I don't play it again, okay.

Troy said for me to go grab a game for five, I thought about Dicetown, but ended up with Ra. Ra is one of my favorite games, I was not a winner, but I did enjoy the game.

The fifth game played was Bang! I was on the winning team for this game, but posthumously, I was a deputy and tried to kill others to protect the sheriff, and in process, I got offed, but the sheriff lived and the bad guys didn't.

An eight player game of Liar's Dice at a table built for four was next. I did much better than I usually do, down to the last three, I made a desperate bid then, but I was eliminated and Ben won the game.

We then played two games of Werewolf, only it wasn't Werewolf, it was 'grinches' with Christmas themed characters instead of the usual villagers and werewolves. The cards were hand drawn by the guests. In the first game I was 'Clarice', the cupid character, and I made Tom and Troy the lovers. It didn't come into play, but Troy did make it funny by sitting in Tom's lap. The villagers ... er, the elves, won the game.

The second game I moderated. I did make one mistake, Tzeyu was the witch ... er, Mrs Claus, and I called her by her real name, oops. The villagers ... yeah, yeah, elves won again. It's such an interesting game because it is so easy to see what should happen when you are on the outside for the entire game. Big props to Maggie for being the cupid character and making Adam and Jacob (real life brothers) into the lovers ... grossly awesome, or awesomely gross

There was one final game I played, 7 Wonders. I had the expansion Manneken Pis card, and I did not like it at all, too dependent on what your neighbors were doing. I ended up finishing up in the middle, fourth out of seven. I got home at at a reasonable hour ... oh, who am I kidding, I didn't get to bed until after 0300.

However, Sunday morning I was up and out at church at Saint Bernadette with Frank at 1100. After Mass we went out to lunch and then I came home to 'watch' fantasy football. Actually I was only watching CJ's league, where I was in the final game and won. The only thing that tempered my trash talking was my last place finish in Kaleb's league ... okay, not really tempered at all, I'm a winner baby!

Later in the evening I hung out at home and didn't do much.

Next Week: Christmas!

17 December 2012

Second Week in December 2012

Monday was a typical day, but with one important difference, no headache! First time in months, except for vacation week.

Tuesday after work I went down to Frank's house and had dinner. He made ham and scalloped potatoes. It was very tasty. I provided a salad, and he provided leftovers. I came home afterwards and tried to make press cookies ... I wouldn't call it a total failure, but it was close.

Wednesday after work I went out to dinner with Merinda at Sgt Peffer's. We visited for about an hour and a half, then I went grocery shopping at Hy-Vee on the way home.

Thursday was a quiet day at home.

Friday after coming home and taking a nap, I headed out to the dance. I had gotten a text from Hannah that she would be there and wanted to dance with me. Only 13 months and already texting ... seems pretty quick to me.

Saturday morning I was up and rushing like mad to get some money and go to meet people at the theater in Bellevue to see The Hobbit. We saw it in 3D at 48fps. I was a little nervous, thinking that I might get nauseous with the higher frame rate and 3D. I even took my dramamine. It turned out to be nothing to worry about, I was fine. As far as the movie went, the 48fps made the special effects obvious, so some of the wonder was not there. However the movie itself was good, and not like the reviews had warned. I did not think it dragged on like I read online.

I headed from there to Amanda's going away party way out in west Omaha. I didn't bring my camera, and only Chris took pictures, but they aren't up yet, and frankly, I don't know where to find them. Amanda got her doctorate and is moving to Maryland, and this was the big send off, with good food, of course.

I left there and went to Jenny's annual Christmas party.

"It's a Fraser Fir and we're calling it Tommy, get it?" Photo credit: Matt

Not quite as spacious as previous apartments. Photo credit: Matt

I can't quite decide if this is horrible or awesome. Photo credit: Matt

Best white (blue) elephant gift ever! Photo credit: Matt

A sure sign we are all getting older, the party broke up before midnight, if even that late. You can see all of Matt's pictures here.

Sunday morning I went to Mass with Teri at Holy Ghost. I came right home afterwards and did not go to the bar to watch the Bears, too many Packer fans at the bar. The Bears lost another game, and another one that was not decided until the last minute. I'm not exactly blind, but I'm not hitting the panic button either, win our final two games, one against a bad Arizona team and the final against a Detroit team that looks like it has quit.

In the evening I had dinner with Heather. We went to Lansky's for dinner, and I found a new 'quick' way to get to her house, other than the old slow way I used to get there. It turns out when you go the quick way you can see that Heather lives right by my coworker Pat ... who knew?

Next week: the last full week before the new year.

13 December 2012

First Week in December 2012

Monday morning, and another migraine. After work I ran some errands, but I ended up tired and in bed pretty early.

Tuesday after work I cooked. I made breaded chicken and pasta with a bleu cheese sauce, yes, it sounds weird, but it was good. I tried making orange chicken too, it looked fabulous, but it didn't taste very good, basically it was not sweet at all.

I've had a lot of subpar cooking and baking experiences lately, but it looks good.

Wednesday after work I met Troy's new girlfriend, Dorina at the house. She was surprisingly tall. She seemed friendly.

Thursday I took my lunch and went to the doctor's office. I felt like I was getting a nasal infection. PA Laura wasn't so sure, so it's back to waiting to see what develops. After work I went and got Alvarado's, then went and ate it at Frank's house. We visited while Frank baked cookies.

I don't think Ginger is technically photobombing.

Friday right after work I met Teri at Saint Matthew's in Bellevue. Saturday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and we went to the vigil. After Mass we went and ate at Lil' Burro in Bellevue. I came home, changed, and went to the dance. It's been several weeks since anything happened after dance.

Saturday was an exercise in juggling errands, clean up for the chili party, and cooking my entry. I decided to not be exciting and try a new chili entry, so I made the same chili I have been making for years. I did manage to get appropriately colored tablecloths.

Sunday morning I was up and at Mass with Frank and Teri at Holy Ghost. Lacey was there in the choir loft. I like going there, but the congregation is not involved musically.

I left there, came home, met Maggie, and then headed over to DJ's Dugout to watch the Bears with Frank Ortiz, Maggie, and Ben. The Bears are not getting positioned well, again in the back corner, and there was no reasonable spot to watch the game from, so we sat right in front of a 40 inch TV and enjoyed our lunch ... but not the game, we lost, but it wasn't really over until the last minute.

I came home and finished up with the set up for the fifth annual Ben and Eric's Chili Throwdown. OMG, that was an awesome party. I expected 40-45 people, and we got closer to 70. There were 14 chili entries, about a dozen desserts, and half dozen sides.

The new voting method (with beads) worked out fairly well with one unexpected consequence, several people had counted them up before the official tally took place, but everyone was excited for the announcements.

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Joe won best side dish with his hard salami and took an awesome picture.
Sarah won best dessert with her cherry cheesecake dip.

Adri place third with her Slytherin Colon entry.

Julia's Goldilocks (Just Right) entry placed second. Photo credit: Matt

CJ is now a three time in a row winner with his Phoenix Down entry.

If you are thinking all this sounds familiar, yes it is the same 3-2-1 finishers from last year. We finished up the rewards and opened the party up to ... whatever. About a dozen people went upstairs and played some board games, about a 1/3 that was left was dancing, and the rest talked and 'filled up the corners'. As far as events that I (mostly) put together, this one was the best by far, thank you all for coming and making it so.

Party set up is going exactly as I planned.

The expert in bartending.

Hannah has a spoon! Photo credit: Matt

Great pies. Bad puns. What's not to love, thanks Lee. Photo credit: Matt

Is this thing working? Sound check 1-2-1-2-1-2. Photo credit: Matt

Dancing... Photo credit: Matt

...dancing... Photo credit: Matt

...and a Shim Sham! Photo credit: Matt

Next week: an inbetween week.

05 December 2012

Last Week in November 2012

Monday morning I had another migraine. I am really open to suggestions about what is going on. Mondays bad and Tuesdays mild every week since August. I went into work, got my reports worked on and then went home. After I woke up felt fine, I went back into work and finished the day off. I was home and I slept.

Tuesday was the end of the old car title saga, I took the title down to Woodhouse, signed it and completed the process so I could get my new car taxed and titled. After work I came home and hung out with Maeg. She had the Wii hooked up and was playing Legend of Zelda. I made ice cream and offered excellent advice about the best way to play.

As you can see, I'm not paying attention to the right thing here.

The evening took a change in direction when Troy came home and couldn't walk. I helped him find the crutches, then I took him up to the hospital and waited with him there until 0200ish.

It didn't look like much at the hospital, but it developed nicely later.

Wednesday at lunch I went to the Sarpy County Courthouse to get the new car taxed and titled. The lady there asked me if I wanted the same plates, I said no, and took chance on the plate roulette, I liked the results. After work I did some chores.

Thursday about 1500 Darren asked me if I was still taking Friday off ... um, um sure. So surprise, I quickly made some plans. After work I went home and hung out with Maeg while she played Zelda.

Friday morning I went and picked up Lee and after getting the car filled up and washed, we went to the Henry Doorly Zoo. It was a nice day, and I actually planned ahead and had bread. We walked pretty much all the way around the zoo. I set a new record for myself, I got thrown out of the goat area before I actually got all the way in, not just anyone can do that. In other news, the baby giraffe was so cute.

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I like to pretend I'm a penguin sometimes, Lee likes to pretend she's a shark.

I have no one to blame for this, I took the picture.

I couldn't
bear to have a post without a bad pun.

After the zoo, we went up and had dinner at Phil's Five Buck Lunch Truck. The special was Buffalo Chicken Alfredo, and both Lee and I belonged to the clean styrofoam container club. Lee insisted all day that we would run into someone we know (because that happens to me), and we did, Cameron from Funk Trek was at the truck. We drove around a little bit, and then went out to TJ Maxx in Council Bluffs, but we didn't see Merinda's car, so we didn't stop in.

In the evening, I went to the dance. There was live music, the student big band from UNOmaha. They were pretty good, nothing too fast, with a couple of slow songs. After the dance, Dena took Lee home, so I was left with nothing to do. No problem, I went home and went to sleep.

Saturday morning I ran errands. I didn't do much in the afternoon, but in the evening I went over to Kaleb's to watch the Big Ten Championship as a Husker fan. I picked up Amsterdam fries on the way for Kaleb and I. Troy stopped by on the way to his concert and we enjoyed the fries. As far as the game went, yeah, well there wasn't much to cheer about unless you were a Bucky Badger fan.

Maeg was there, then Ben, and neither of them thought much of the football game. So we played a game of Arkham Horror, Kaleb's game, not Ben's, so no expansions, set up in ten minutes, and I couldn't believe how few cards there were. We won the game, in typical "Oh, hey, we won!" fashion. Kaleb has an earlier version of the game, and I suspect some of the cards are different. Clean up was likewise unexpectedly easy.

We played Quarriors. It began because I saw expansion cards on the counter, and proceeded to embark on a wild goose chase for the game in Kaleb's game room. Ben and I asked Kaleb where the game was and we both heard "In a 'Q' shaped tin container in the game room." After several minutes of searching together, we asked Kaleb again ... oh, he said "In a cube shaped tin container..." Tada! We found it right way. It might be a better game with five players than three.

Sunday morning I woke up at 1015 and managed to make it to Mass at 1030 at Saints Peter and Paul.

Then headed over to DJ's Dugout to watch the Bears lose in overtime to
Seattle. That's three out of four, we may have peaked at the wrong time of year. On a positive note, I did win $24 at keno. After football I went to Menard's with Maggie to help her pick out a tree stand. It was pretty easy to find, but we did look at everything Christmassy.

I came home and went on 2012 run #49, 5k in 30:21 at a 9:43 min/mi pace. I felt good when I finished.

I made a late grocery run, nothing exciting there. However when I tried to give myself a late haircut, I had an issue. The issue was that I forgot to put the guard on the clippers when I started, so I accidentally 'shaved' the sides. Oops. I tried to fix it unsuccessfully, so I ended up with this. I had to fix that too, so it ended up a mohawk, but not a super visible one.

Next week: ends with the 5th annual chili party.