Archive for the ‘Travel’ category

What? I’ve Been Busy

September 2, 2010

Really, I have been busy this summer.  “Doing what?” you ask?  Interesting question.  I have no idea.  It’s tough to explain, but I’ll try.  I at least owe you all that much.

So the last time I wrote was well over two months ago, just before I left for vacation with Wifey.  Beginning that week, and over the next four to six weeks, I was in all of the following places at some point in time, for some reason or another:

-Minneapolis, MN (four times)
-Spokane, WA (twice)
-Wenatchee, WA
-Leavenworth, WA
-Salt Lake City, UT
-Bemidji, MN (twice)
-Fargo, ND

See, I was really doing stuff for a while.  Did you really have visions of me camped out on the couch with a bag of Chili Cheese Fritos all summer?

Since my travels have ended, I have been working steady, and therein lies my problem.  My work schedule is not exactly conducive to allowing one’s productivity to be at its highest.  Allow myself to explain … myself.  Here’s a glimpse into an average day for me:

-I get up by around 9:30 (I know this is a late start by comparison, but more on that in a minute).

-I spend most of the morning/early afternoon doing all the random, mindless tasks that need to get done, but are barely worth mentioning.   By the end of the day, I look back and wonder what the hell I did the entire time.  Then I realize I didn’t do anything Earth-shattering, just a collection of 10-15 things that each take 5-15 minutes to do.  Before I know it, I blink and it’s 12:30.

-Around 12:30 I start my pre-work routine.  I eat some lunch, and put together a meal for my dinner that I will eat at work.  By 1:00 it’s time for me to shower and get dressed.  At 1:30 I’m out the door and on the way to work.

-I work until roughly 10:30 most nights, and I’m usually home by 10:45 or so.  When I get home, I kiss Wifey good night, as she is usually in bed when I arrive, then I do one of two things.  I either get cleaned up and go straight to bed, or I sit on my ass staring at either the TV or the computer for a couple of hours.  If I go straight to bed, it is inevitable that I will toss and turn, and sniffle and squirm for close to two hours.  It never fails.  It’s partially because I just got home from work 20 minutes ago and I haven’t had a chance to wind down, and it’s partially because for as long as I can remember, I’ve had what I like to refer to as low grade insomnia.  If I decide to try and wind down a little before hitting the sack, I usually try to do things that make my eyes tired.  Like I mentioned before, TV helps, as does the computer. Whatever I’m doing, I try to keep myself very lowly stimulated so I can try to get tired.  If I go on the computer, I’ll read newspaper articles, look at houses for sale, look at random things on eBay, yadda yadda yadda.  The whole idea is to make my eyes tired without keeping my brain too active.  When I write, I’m wide awake.

-I’m asleep by midnight on a good day, 1:30 on an average day.  Thus the reason I tend to sleep until 9:30.  The next morning, I wake up and do it all over again. So by starting my day at 9:30, and having to fall into my work routine by about 12:30, I am only allowed three hours per day to get everything done that I need to do.  Like I said, it’s usually nothing important.  Laundry, errands, chores around the house, feeding myself.  Mundane stuff.

In this sad, pathetic excuse for a schedule, I see Wifey a grand total of about 10 minutes a day.  We live in the same house and sleep in the same bed, and I feel lucky if I get more than 10 minutes of face time with her during the week.  I work different hours on Saturdays, (hours that are even worse than my 2-10:30 schedule. Basically, I’m unavailable from 4:15 am to 9:00 pm.  If you need anything from me between those hours, too bad, it has to wait).

So, taking into consideration that Wifey works a much more normal schedule, when it’s all said and done, the only day we have to spend together is Sunday.  We get up early together, and try to take advantage as much as possible.  We generally spend the entire day together, but the trouble is that since Sunday is a prime day for me, it’s also the day everyone else wants to see me.  My mom wants to see me, my dad wants me to come over, my grandma is cooking dinner and wants me to stop by, Wifey’s grandparents want to see us, we have errands to run … It gets exhausting trying to fit everyone and everything in. Especially when some days, all I want to do is put on pajama bottoms and an old t-shirt, and sit on a comfy chair watching the entire Back to the Future trilogy with my better half.

Not that I don’t enjoy seeing and spending time with family, it’s just difficult trying to cram it all into one day like I do.  Not to mention, this creates even less time that I have alone with Wifey.  All told, we probably spend about 12 hours a week together.  Sad huh?

All the little things you 9-to-5’ers take for granted are all the things I’d kill for.  I want to take my wife to dinner.  I want to go to the movies.  I want to sit at and watch the game on TV.  I want to see my family. I want to meet up with the guys for a beer and a game of pool.  I want to spend time with my friends.  Most of all, I want to spend time with my wife.

So, I’m sorry that I haven’t written anything since mid June.  I really wish I had more time for it.  I’ve had no less than a dozen posts that have practically written themselves in my head since the last time I posted, but when it comes down to making a decision between sitting on my computer and spending time with my wife, the computer is going to lose every single time.

For a while, I received a lot of text messages, Facebook messages, emails, phone calls, and even had a couple face-to-face encounters regarding my writing “habits.”  Mostly, it was people wondering when I was going to write again and why I hadn’t been writing at all.  Occasionally, it was a threat of physical harm, usually accompanied by an ultimatum; “Write something soon, or I am going to punch you in the face.”  That stuff is flattering.  So thank you all for continuing to read my stuff for the past two and a half years. I’m in a phase in life in which a lot of things are happening and changing, and it’s fun to be able to share it with my friends and family, and the random lurkers and creepers who leave anonymous comments, somehow find me on Facebook, and try to add me as a friend.  (You know who you are, don’t think I’ve forgotten).

I’m going to leave you with something I’ve said plenty of times before, and although it doesn’t necessarily guarantee results, I’ve meant it every time.  I really am going to try to find more time to write more often.  There are way too many things going on in this world that I have missed lately because of my time away from this blog.  For crying out loud, Lindsay Lohan got sentenced to jail time and I didn’t even get to publicly make fun of her for it.  That’s just not cool.

Anyway, come back occasionally to check on me.  Don’t come back everyday and then text me because I’m slacking, I know when I’m slacking.  My own wife tells me when I’m slacking.  Yeah, she’s on your side on this one.  She wishes I would write more, too.

Check in once a week or so, and if I really start slipping, feel free to call me out on it.  You at least owe me that much.

One love,

1o

Road Rockets

August 14, 2009

I’ll be the first to tell you that I haven’t been blogging much lately.  I directly attribute that to the fact that it’s summer, I’ve been busy, and well, I’m just lazy sometimes.  Nevertheless, I wish I had more time, energy, and motivation to write, it just doesn’t always work out that way. In my defense, it’s golf season, and there is a very small window in northern Minnesota during which the weather is decent enough to golf, so I like to take advantage during the four months I have.

Which brings me to today’s story, which is nearing in on two weeks old already, but whatever.  Deal with it.

Last week, five of us – myself, Eric, B-Weezy, Cristin, and Justin – took a little road trip for an out of town golf weekend in Park Rapids, MN.  There are a few great courses in the area, and Justin let us crash at his lake cabin, thus saving us money on a hotel and saving me from having to share a bed with another man; an activity I like to avoid if at all possible.

We left town Sunday evening with plans to golf two courses Monday and a third on Tuesday, after which we would head back home.  Sunday afternoon before we left, Eric decided to hit the ground running and played in a tournament in town.  Since the tournament was hosted by a bar, I wouldn’t be doing it justice to say that drinks were flowing throughout the day.  With that in mind, it’s reasonable to understand that Eric was working on a solid buzz. For those of us who know Eric, we know that he’s not a quitter.  He wanted to let the good times roll, and for good reason.  Who wants to sober up at 8:00 pm? So, that, plus the fact that we were going on a mini-vacation, plus the fact that Eric usually dictates the activity in these kinds of situations, all lead up to one idea: we need to get some road beers for the drive.

As soon as we could mention the idea of having a few drinks to-go, Cristin was shooting down the idea in its entirety.  Fun hater.  Everyone but her was on board with the idea, including Justin, who introduced us to the brilliant term for drinks in the car:  “road rockets.”  Long story short, we tortured Cristin all weekend with the threat of bringing road rockets into the car, which frustrated her endlessly because she probably felt like she was outnumbered four to one.

We made due without any in-car drinks for most of the weekend, although we may or may not have had to stop at a bar or two for a quick drink and a couple shots while we drove.  And we may or may not have started drinking at 4:00 pm on Monday and kept it rolling until we went to bed that night.  And Eric may or may not have grabbed the wheel while I was driving us home to force me into a liquor store parking lot.  And B-Weezy may or may not have run into said liquor store to purchase a bottle of Bacardi Limon and a 2-liter of Pepsi.  And Cristin may or may not have flipped out, stopped talking for two hours, stole the Limon when we stopped for gas, and thrown it away in the womens’ bathroom.

All things considered, though, the trip was a success.  We played three breathtaking courses in beautiful weather with pretty decent friends.  You can’t ask for much more.  We laughed, Cristin cried, and Justin threw his wedge farther than I’ve ever seen anyone throw a club in my entire life, so bonus nachos.

In other news you probably don’t care about, I have officially lost the battle with my wireless router.  I give up trying to figure it out. After a couple months of it being very spotty, I finally went and bought a new one last week.  The old one worked well for the five or six years I had it, but when I got my new laptop, it just wasn’t jiving with Vista.  So I bought the new one, and from the VERY MINUTE I walked into the door with it, the old router – almost as if it could sense the threat – started working better than it ever has.  The new one is still in the box with the receipt on top, but I know the minute I bring it back, the old one will go to hell again.  If this story ends up on Unsolved Mysteries, I’ll make sure to let you guys know so you can DVR it.  I can’t explain it.  It’s the same effect I used to have on my Playstation when it didn’t work.  After hitting reset a dozen times, I’d finally snap and yell, “Fuck it, I’ll play NFL Blitz on my N64 instead,” and BAM, the Playstation would fire right up.

Maybe I have that affect on electronics, who knows?  Why haven’t I tried this on an ATM yet? I’ll get back to you on that one.

One love,

10

Highs And Lows

July 27, 2009

I’ve had a lot going on in the past week, so I’ve got a lot to cover.  I’ve got a few high notes, and a couple things I’d like to gripe about, so I’m not going to bore you with any fluff today.  I’m getting right into it.

— Last Monday, I was in a golf tournament with Jess’ dad and his two friends.  Their fourth team member bailed and I was a last minute addition.  Aside from having a great time, we managed to card a 10-under 62 to win the tournament and I have a shiny new trophy in my living room to show for it.  The highlight of the day for me was driving the green on a 315 yard par 4 and sinking the 12 foot putt for an eagle.  That kinda stuff doesn’t happen everyday for a guy, and if Hammen is going to tell us about his eagles and aces, damn it, I am too.  All-in-all I played pretty well throughout the day minus four or five holes during which I couldn’t distinguish the difference between my ass and a hole in the ground, so I was pleased with that as well.

— Wednesday I made my fourth trip to Minneapolis in 6 weeks for the John Legend concert, for which Jess bought us front row tickets for my birthday.  The seats were fantastic, and by that I mean if John Legend had sneezed, we would have felt the mist.  I consider that to be a positive thing.  The show was incredible, as I expected it would be, and I now have a firm understanding of why Jess has seen him in concert three times.  I’ll go again if he comes back to the area fo’ sho’.

— When I got back to town on Thursday, I spent the rest of the week working.  Between my vacation a few weeks ago, the week I spent in Minneapolis for training (which is barely considered work at all), and the two days I had off for the concert, I  haven’t exactly been working my ass off lately, so it was tough getting back into the swing of things.  I like my job, don’t get me wrong, but I’d be a liar to say that I prefer it over sitting around all day, playing golf, and taking frequent cat naps.

— Yesterday, I celebrated my birthday, (and for those of you without a calendar, it was my golden birthday, so I expect gifts from all of you).  There’s something about turning 26, and I haven’t put my finger on it yet, but think it’s that I am suddenly very aware that I am closing in on being 30 years old.  I’m not ready to be 30 years old.  Hell, some would argue that I’m not ready to be 20 years old according to the way I act and think sometimes.  Nevertheless, I’m growing up.  I spent most of the day with my family, pretty low key stuff, and I rounded out the night hanging out with Jess and her fam, which was a blast.  This is the polar opposite of the way I spent my birthday a few years ago.  There was a lot more family and a lot less throwing up in my food at the restaurant after the bar, so that was nice.

Now that I’ve covered the pleasantries from the past week, onto the things that are currently grinding my gears.

— I’ve resisted the urge to write about Brett Favre for this long, but I can’t take it any longer.  Being from Minnesota, all I have heard about lately is the possibility of him coming to play for the Vikings.  (Reminder for those who forgot, I am NOT a Vikings fan).  For what seems like months, Favre has toyed with the idea of un-retiring and possibly suiting up for the Vikes.  Aside from the fact that I don’t think he’ll be very good, I am sick and tired of him being a douche about it.  He keeps saying, through his agent of course, that he’ll have a decision by such a date, and then on that day, he says – once again, through his agent – that he’s hopelessly torn and indecisive about making a return to pro football.

Listen up, Brett.  Either you want to play football next year, or you don’t. The fact that this decision wasn’t made eight weeks ago tells me that you probably don’t and you’re just having a hard time grasping the fact that you’re going to be 40 years old this fall and you literally have nothing to do for the next 40 years of your life.  Last week was supposed to be it, the last thoughts would be considered and you were going to have a decision by Thursday.  Then on Thursday you said you needed until the 30th.  Put us out of our misery for the love of God.  Just stay retired because frankly, I don’t think I can handle much more of you.  I was always impartial about you during your career.  I didn’t like or dislike you, but I respected your ability.  Now, you are tainting everything people were going to remember you for by dragging your feet in this decision.  You need to let sleeping dogs lie, Brett.  Sure, I can understand it’s going to be hard to walk away from the game you’ve spent your life with, the game you love.  But what’s the alternative?  Playing mediocre-at-best football in a city that once hated everything about you?  And besides that, who the hell are you going to throw to?  Bernard Berrian?  He has openly declared that he wants you to “shit or get off the pot.”  Yeah, he’s already sick of your shit, Brett.  Do you really think you’re going to be satisfied throwing 16 touchdowns and 24 interceptions this season and possibly re-injuring your shoulder?  You’re old, Brett, and your body just doesn’t heal the way it used to.  And since you probably don’t want to battle another addiction to pain medication, you may want to seriously consider just taking a step back.  Do it for all of us, Brett.

— And then we come to the Erin Andrews debacle.  I have been sitting on this post for over a week now, and I haven’t pulled the trigger yet.  I’m torn about the whole thing, really.  Let me preface this rant by pointing out that I have professed my love for Ms. Andrews on this very blog no less than a dozen times over the course of the past year and a half.  Those of you who have been reading for a while know that Erin is my number one celeb crush, so when I heard that there was a video floating around the internet in which she was naked, my first instinct was to hit Google and find it, pronto.  I didn’t know of the circumstances surrounding the video yet, and frankly, even if I had been told about them, the only words I would have deciphered would have been “Erin Andrews” and “naked.”  I searched high and low, but alas, found nothing.  I went on a tirade of texting and Hammen and I discussed it at length.  We talked about how you can’t even open an internet window without being offered a free download of the Paris Hilton video.  I thought about how we’re living in a country in which if you typed “Lindsay Lohan” into the Google Image search, you can undoubtedly see pictures of her boobs and vagina that were taken by various paparazzi while she was probably on her way to rehab for the third time.  A country in which Pam and Tommy Lee can make a sex tape on their honeymoon, have it stolen from their home, and it can be sold in stores.  With all that in mind, I was flabbergasted that footage of a nude Erin Andrews was completely pulled off the internet within hours of it leaking.  So, needless to say, I was bummed.  Until I heard that the video in question was taken via disgusting, perverse means.  Then, I was slightly upset.  Now, I am really hoping that the person responsible for that tape is found and prosecuted.  There is a world of difference between a person consenting to being taped during sex and a person whose hotel room was unknowingly bugged with hidden cameras, and I’m actually glad ESPN’s team of lawyers acted as quickly and efficient as they did to get this tape and all of its remnants pulled off the internet.  I was appalled that the New York Post printed pictures from the video on the front cover of their paper, even though they were censored.  That’s just tasteless.  Like I said, I can only hope that the person(s) responsible for this are punished because this  was a truly sick display of someone’s desperation to make themselves a buck at the expense of someone else’s privacy.

I planned to tackle the Michael Vick situation in this post, but it got a little longer than I expected (that’s what she said) so I think I’ll wait until next time.  Until then, I’ll be awaiting your belated birthday gifts.

One love,

10

The Road To Frustration

July 21, 2009

Well I’m back from hiatus after another full week of not blogging.  I spent last week in Minneapolis for work and to be quite honest, my days went by so fast I hardly remember it.  I had training from 8:30 to 4:30 or so everyday, and by the time I got back to the hotel, showered, and went out for dinner, it was almost time for bed.  The training was pretty much as useless as I expected it to be, but like I said before, I’m not complaining.  I basically had a week off from work and all I had to do was go through the motions at training, and once I finished up I was able to almost completely dismiss everything I learned.

But it’s not the training week I’m going to write about, but rather the precursor to it.

My week got off to a hell of a rocky start last Sunday when I was driving.  Before we get into details, it’s worth mentioning that the drive is always a personal challenge for me.  It’s 325 miles from Grand Forks to Minneapolis and it gets pretty boring, especially driving alone, so my aim is to be in the car for as little time as possible.  When I left, I did everything I was taught to do as a kid before a road trip.  I checked my suitcase to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, I packed a snack for the road, and I went to the little boys’ room to go potty.  I was gunning for a record time on this trip and I didn’t want anything to hamper my pursuit of the perfect road trip.  My target time from my parking lot to the hotel parking lot was four hours and40 minutes, aggressive, but not unattainable.

Chasing the perfect road trip means a lot of things have to go right.  I didn’t think traffic would be bad since I was leaving in the morning, I wouldn’t have to stop and eat, and I was only planning on one stop to get gas and use the bathroom.  Nothing could stop me.  Well, almost nothing.

Turns out, I was taking my victory lap a little too early.  About two hours into my trip I got word that traffic was at a dead stop about 20 miles north of Minneapolis.  At first I didn’t know what had happened, but I heard that I-94 was a parking lot and people were being rerouted slowly but surely because of an accident.

At the time I was first hearing of this stuff, I was still almost two hours away from where the backup was, so I didn’t pay it much mind.  I was getting updates from my buddy Tanner, who was also on the road at the time and was roughly 40 miles ahead of me, and I decided to play it by ear.  I didn’t want to get all worked up about something I figured wouldn’t even be there by the time I got there, so I pressed on.

After another hour, the news was still the same.  Now I was getting irritated.  This traffic mess was on the verge of impeding my quest for road trip perfection.  As I grew closer to the debacle, I called Jess and asked her to hit Google Maps for me and start looking at alternate routes.  Since I was going to stop in Clearwater, that was where I got off the interstate.  For those who aren’t familiar with the area, instead of driving in a straight line on I-94 right to my hotel, I was going to have to make a giant horseshoe-shaped detour just to avoid the impending doom ahead of me.

So I exit, fill up with gas, use the boys’ room, and start my trek.  Once I get onto the first part of the detour I encounter the thing I dreaded seeing, but figured was coming: gridlock.  I spent the next 45 minutes driving 10-20 mph – when I wasn’t at a dead stop – until I finally got back on the interstate.  Turns out I wasn’t the only person driving to Minneapolis that day, because there were only cars as far as the eyes could see in both directions.

It was a good thing I didn’t have any strict time constraints because my target time got destroyed.  Instead of getting there in less than five hours, I was on the road for almost seven.  When I got to the hotel, I was exhausted.  Turns out sitting on my ass for seven hours was akin to running half a marathon.  Who knew?

As it turns out, the reason the entire interstate was closed for a stretch of five or six miles was due to an elderly couple (who I affectionately referred to as “those old fuckers”) who missed their exit near Albertville, MN, and instead of driving one more mile down the road and taking the next exit, they slammed on the brakes in an effort to make an illegal u-turn.  This caused a tanker truck driver to slam on his brakes, jackknife, and subsequently roll over, spilling 8,000 gallons of fuel onto the interstate.  Well done, old fuckers.

Incredibly and thankfully, no one was seriously hurt, but according to the Monday night news, approximately ten thousand drivers were affected by the accident on Sunday. The busiest interstate in Minnesota was closed for nearly nine hours while the spill was cleaned up.  There were dozens of stories of people who missed flights home or weren’t able to pick up their kids from daycare, or the romantic tale of a wife who wasn’t able to visit her husband on their 25th anniversary because the visiting hours at the jail were over by the time she got there.  No, I’m not making that up.

In any case, that was without question the most interesting thing that happened to me last week, and all because a couple of senior citizens missed their exit to the outlet stores in Albertville and just couldn’t wait one more minute to buy knee socks and bingo dabbers at reduced prices.

Moving onto more pleasant thoughts, I go back to work today, and that’s followed by two days off Wednesday and Thursday for me to head back to … wait for it … Minneapolis, for the John Legend concert.  Jess scored us front row tickets for my birthday (which is Sunday; send gifts) so big ups to her for that.  I’ll report back later in the week because I’ve got a couple things stuck in my craw that I imagine I’ll need to vent about before I snap and swing a cat by its tail into a brick wall.

One love,

10

The Week Of Mike

July 6, 2009

Welcome back people.  Since it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I took the week off, I should at least justify it for the six or seven people who still actually read this.  I was on a wonderful thing called paid vacation last week, so I decided I should take advantage. I declared it The Week of Mike, and I set out to make sure it was a good one.

Sunday morning, Jess and I headed down to the twin cities for a few days.  The purpose of this trip was strictly to … well, actually, there was no purpose.  We just wanted to get out of town, we both like the Minneapolis – St. Paul area, and neither of us had anything else going on.  So it was a fit.  We stayed in a nice hotel in downtown St. Paul, hung out with a few friends, and just relaxed for four glorious days.  Jess made some amazing friends in her years of living in the twin cities, so it was fun to get together with them and shoot the breeze over some food and drinks in various places.

I always like going to new places when I’m down there, but I have always seemed to stay in Minneapolis in recent visits.  This time around, it was a “discover St. Paul” kind of trip, and I liked it.  We found a great place for sushi, which I only recently discovered that I love, had some drinks at a swanky tequila bar, saw a horrendous attempt at a Michael Jackson tribute in a park (more on that in a minute), and discovered a total dive bar with fantastic burgers.  Good times. If I could find a way to live in the twin cities without all that pesky driving, I’d do it.  I just hate driving down there.  More than likely it stems from my growing up driving in a city of 50,000 people, but everyone is in way too much of a damn hurry and I can’t stand it.

So, the MJ tribute story.  As we’re walking to meet a friend, we see something strange in the park.  Is it?  Could it be?  Why yes, it is indeed a black man dressed in full Michael Jackson garb, with his face painted white, doing dance routines to MJ’s hits.  We stop to investigate, and it’s a guy in his mid-20s dancing around like a fool, lip syncing, and choreographing the two 12 year olds he had with him, who, for some reason, were wearing Halloween masks of monsters.  Sure, the masks were definitely relevant during their rendition of “Thriller,” but how does it apply when they’re doing “The Way You Make Me Feel?”  The best part was that instead of maybe making a mix CD and bringing a stereo, homie brought his computer and hooked it up to some speakers.  And when I say “his computer,” I don’t mean he brought a laptop.  Nope, that would be too easy.  Instead, he brought his full desktop setup, ran extension cords all over hell and back, and kept having to go back and forth between Dj’ing and making a mockery of all of the hits from the King of Pop.  Good for you, sir.

When I got back to town on Wednesday, I had one thing on my mind: golf.  I spent a few days hanging out with the boys, playing multiple rounds of golf in the beautiful weather, and continuing my week of absolutely ZERO stress.  I mean it, the biggest decision I made all week was whether I should get four chili cheese burritos from Taco Bell or five.  I think you know which I chose.

The weekend came together quite hastily, but worked out better than I could have expected.  As of Thursday, I had absolutely no plans whatsoever, but by Friday afternoon I was booked solid.  Saturday morning, I was up with the sunrise and I hit the road with B-Weezy and our buddy Jon for an all-day, out of town, golf extravaganza.  We started out at Oak Knoll in Red Lake Falls.  It’s a cleverly-placed nine hole course that was surprisingly nice.  It was in good shape, well maintained, and a challenging layout.  It’s always nice to branch out and golf in different places, and I’m lucky enough to live in an area with a good amount of small towns who maintain decent courses.

After our 18 at Oak Knoll, we hit the road for Bemidji to play at Castle Highlands.  We met up with our friend Lon for this round, which was good because we were exhausted and he rejuvenated us with new life.  He’s possibly one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met, so we all had a blast on the course.  It made being in the sun for seven hours that day completely worthwhile.

After my day of golf with the boys, I met up with Jess and spent the rest of the weekend at her aunt and uncle’s lake cabin on Cass Lake.  It was just what the doctor ordered.  The weather couldn’t have been better, we spent all afternoon Sunday hanging out on the lake with Jess’ cousins, and it was just an overall relaxing weekend.  I really couldn’t have asked for anything more.   I’ve never met a more hospitable family than the one I spent the weekend with.  It was like staying in a bed & breakfast, only better.

The only negative thing that came out of all of this was the regret that I can’t live my entire life like I did the past nine days.  It’s too bad I’ve gotta wrap myself up with this thing people call “work.”  Oh well, I’ve got another week of vacation coming up in a few months. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

One love,

10

Quick Hits Before The Weekend

March 20, 2009

In my mind, when a hotel boasts free wireless internet, shouldn’t its guests expect that internet to work?  I certainly did, but thanks to some strategic placement, I was unable to connect all week.  Apparently, and this is according to the front desk staff, there are a handful of rooms in my wing that just don’t seem to get any wireless signal.  Mine was one of them.  Super.

Any chance of me being moved?  Nope.  Hotel was booked.

So I spent the week stripped of almost all internet connection aside from a few brief moments at training when I managed to sneak onto a computer.  At one point, I realized that I might not even be able to fill out a damn tournament bracket this year, and I determined myself to find a way.  So I straight up told my instructor that I needed 10 minutes of my own time to fill out a bracket or I wouldn’t be able to focus all day.  His response: “Now seems like a good time for a break anyway.”  God bless him.

So I had time to fill out only one bracket.  Which one should it be?  ESPN?  Facebook?   USA Today?  All of those boasted prizes for top brackets, but life isn’t about money, it’s about being in a CBS bracket group with some friends and ripping on them when they make shitty picks.  So, with that in mind, I gladly accepted an e-mail invite from Noles to join their group.  As of right now, I’m doing decent (only two wrong so far) but a female is atop the leaderboard in our group.  Can’t say I’m surprised.

Anyway, I don’t have a whole lot of time right now to chit chat.  I’m currently at the Orlando airport waiting for my flight, and this just isn’t the time nor the place to breakdown my week.  Besides, it’s Friday and that means no one is going to read it until Monday anyway.  It’s just the way it works, people.  So for the time being I wish you a good weekend, and by the time you come back I will more than likely have slapped together my thoughts in order to give you the rundown from my week in beautiful Florida. Now, I leave you with one final thought.  I have a proposed addendum to Webster’s dictionary.

depressing (adjective).  (1) serving to depress; (2) inducing a state of depression; (3) leaving Orlando, where it is currently 79 degrees and flying home, where it is currently 34 degrees.

One love,

10

Hungry, Why Wait?

March 9, 2009

So I finally got back into town yesterday and you know what?  It’s true what they say; senior citizens, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose.  Wait, that’s not the life lesson I was thinking of.  Oh yeah, it was this one: no matter how nice it is to have time away, it’s always great to come home again.  I was gone for a full week, and I realized that after about four or five days, you start to miss the little things. Things like sports in HD, your own bathroom, and your bedtime penguin pal that you somehow forgot to bring and therefore spent the week getting restless, sporadic sleep.

All things considered, though, the week went pretty well.  As I said before, how bad can things be when work is picking up the tab for virtually everything?  If only I could have squeezed a little extra out of them for entertainment (read: strip club) then we would have been talkin’ turkey.  Turns out the economy is kind of bad right now though, so apparently it wasn’t a good time to ask for extra money.  Who knew?

With that in mind, and added to the fact that our training was from 9-5 everyday, Andy and I didn’t go buck wild during the week.  We actually had to apply ourselves to the training in order to learn because the culmination was in the form of a test which we have to pass in order to do some of the specifics of our job.  I’m not sure if Andy reads this, but I know some people from work do, so I just want it to be known that Andy got a 99% on his test … and I got 100% on mine.  As of now, we are not going to let Andy live that down just because, hell, he’s Andy.

So, we didn’t go out and get squished every night, what the hell did we do?  Well, we spent a lot of time deciding which restaurant we wanted to give our free money to.  I’ve got some prior knowledge about the Minneapolis area, and the opinions of Minneapolis guru JK really helped.  We founds some spectacular places to eat, and I am going to give you the benefit of knowing which are the studs and which are the duds in case you ever find yourself in the Twin Cities with an empty belly.  Bergman, I’m looking at you right now.  You live there now, and no one should have to live on Easy Mac and Ramen.  Go treat yourself once in a while.

Let’s break this down in some kind of an organized fashion shall we?  By the way, my overall ratings mean next to nothing.  I didn’t take the time to crunch any kind of numbers or run any kind of survey, but if something stuck out in my mind that I didn’t particularly care for from a certain place, I started deducting.

Places You NEED To Go

1) The Nook (St. Paul) – I’m not gonna beat a dead horse here.  I know I’ve talked this place up several times.  Thing is, I can’t possibly do it justice with words.  You just have to experience this place for yourself. In case you haven’t seen it already or don’t remember, I wrote a nice little piece about this place within this post from about a year ago.  Peep that shit, yo.  My overall rating: 5 out of 5

2) The Monte Carlo Bar & Cafe (Warehouse District, Minneapolis) – This is a very trendy place with somewhat of an upscale feel, but they cater to every crowd so don’t worry about being under-dressed.  Just don’t go there in sweatpants and an old Abercrombie t-shirt okay, Bergman?  Andy and I paid this one a visit Wednesday night, and it didn’t disappoint.  Not a huge selection on the menu, but everything looked really good.  I highly recommend the steak or the pork chops.  Oh, another thing I recommend – going with someone of the opposite sex.  Andy and I were treated like we were on a date the entire time we were there.  We were asked by the hostess if we would prefer a quiet table for better conversation.  I replied that we didn’t care, but she still put us in this quiet, romantic little corner of the restaurant.  When I ordered dessert, the server asked if we would be sharing it, and subsequently brought two spoons even though we declined that one too.  And finally, the server looked really stunned when Andy told her that she would need to split up the check.  It was like someone just told the four year old version of her that Santa wasn’t real.  Her whole belief system looked like it came crashing down at that very moment.  Good stuff.  I got a decent laugh out of the whole thing.  Oh, another thing that puts this place above most others is that they offer free valet parking.  Finally someone realized that parking anywhere near downtown can be a nightmare.  Of course “free valet parking” doesn’t mean you can’t toss a few bucks at the guy parking your car, but that is still a thousand times better than parking six blocks away and praying no one steals your wheels and tires.  So to recap, great setting, excellent service (all gay assumptions aside), free valet parking, and most importantly, excellent food. My overall rating: 4.7 out of 5

3) Benihana (Maple Grove) – Okay, I’ll admit it, I had never been there before Thursday.  Of course I had always heard about it, but it was just one of those that always fell between the cracks when it came down to choosing a restaurant.  I don’t even know where to start with this one, but I can sum up everything by telling you this: JUST GO THERE. Phenomenal food prepared directly in front of your eyes with entertainment sprinkled in occasionally, what else do you need?  Sure the prices look a bit steep, but you’re getting a five course meal.  You get soup, salad, a shrimp appetizer, rice, and whatever entree you choose off the menu.  I would make a recommendation, but that would be doing a disservice to everything else on the menu.  You’re not going to have a bad meal here folks.  Hands down the best steak I’ve ever had in my entire life. Bonus points were originally awarded for this being the place I was taught how to use chopsticks, but then those points were taken away when I dropped a piece of steak on my shirt and got a lovely trail of meat juice all over myself (that’s what she said).  My overall rating: 5 out of 5

Places Worth Checking Out

1) Split Rock Grille (Bloomington) – Sometimes you drive right past a place a dozen times and it doesn’t even dawn on you that there might be some seriously good eats there.  This was the case for Andy and I.  This one was located right across the street from us, inside the Radisson, and we wouldn’t have given it two thoughts had it not been for a helpful hint from the front desk guy at our hotel.  For being a hotel restaurant, the prices here were really quite reasonable and the food was very, very good.  I was shocked to be quite honest.  The service was great, and it’s about five minutes away from the Mall of America.  So if you’re ever there shopping, do yourself a favor and skip the food court and spend the extra couple bucks to get a real meal that hasn’t been sitting under heat lamps for hours.  My overall rating: 4.3 out of 5

2) Broadway Pizza (Minneapolis) – Sometimes a brother just wants a good slice of pizza … or six.  Not only does Broadway have excellent pizza, but they also boast a great atmosphere for having a few beers and watching the game.  The service was a little sketchy, but I don’t want to make a generalization about that because it appeared that we just happened to get the only guy in the place who fucking hated people and his job.  Every other table seemed to be getting timely service, just not us.  Maybe they thought we were gay too, and maybe they’re the kind of people who don’t like that type, who knows?  The food came quick though, and the beer was cold, so I don’t have too much to complain about.  Lots of different and unique kinds of pizza to try and plenty of other things on the menu in case you’re not in the mood for a pie.  So, excellent, original food, very affordable places, good atmosphere, and (potentially) decent service.  Definitely worth a visit next time you’re in the area.  They have a handful of locations in the Twin Cities too, so odds are you’re never gonna be too far away.  My overall rating: 4 out of 5

3) Ming Garden (Plymouth) – Do you like Chinese food?  Me too.  Do you like buffets?  Me too.  Do you like paying $7 for a delicious all-you-can-eat Chinese feast?  I sure did.  Chinese food has, for me, always been one of those hit or miss things.  Either it’s really good, or it’s low grade dog food.  This was certainly not the latter of those two.  I really, really liked the food, plus by this time I really had my chopstick skills honed in, so that was fun.  Equally fun was their very large selection, so I was able to try a few things I had never had before.  I can’t pronounce half of them, but if I ever saw pictures, there’s a 60% chance I could identify what I had.  A small portion of points has been deducted due to the creepy server who took our plates and refilled our beverages.  He stood, staring at us for a solid two minutes when he knew we were almost done with our current plate or needed a refill.  I don’t like being watched while I eat sir, please go swallow a knife.  My overall rating: 3.9 out of 5

Places You Can Skip

1) Tony Roma’s (Mall of America, Bloomington) – Poor service, overpriced food, WAY overpriced drinks, and very mediocre flavor.  I blame this one solely on Andy, as I had another place all picked out, but he suckered me into this mess.  After we left, I threw a text at JK telling him I was disappointed in the place, and he said the word I was searching for but could not find: generic. Brilliant summation, JK.  The whole place felt generic.  I could just feel how much of a chain it was the whole time I was there.  I ordered chicken, but all I tasted was a big heaping portion of mass production.  If you’re in the Mall of America and you want something to eat, please refer yourself to the restaurant three paragraphs up.  Not saying there isn’t decent food in the mall, but there’s a hell of a lot better and it’s only a couple miles away.  My overall rating: 2.5 out of 5

2) Dave & Buster’s (Maple Grove) – Another lackluster chain with pretty mediocre food here.  Service was a step up from Roma’s, but that didn’t do enough to bring this place up.  One caveat: If you’re looking for a place to go have a few drinks and have some fun, this is a pretty solid choice.  Let’s face it, I will never get sick of kicking the shit out of people at skee-ball, PGA Tour Challenge, GoldenTee, and that racecar game where you sit in a car that shakes around while you drive.  Apparently Andy didn’t get the memo that I love shit like that, because he got run over like he wasn’t even there.  I was a ticket winning machine my friends.  I’m telling you, if games like that were parlayed into an Olympic decathlon, I’d be the guy everyone thinks is on steroids because I’m that much of a dominating force.

So there we have it.  Use this as a reference and you can thank me later.

I’ve got more from the week in Minneapolis, but it will have to wait for another day.  To be honest, I’m awfully tuckered out and my brain is starting to turn to mush. I guess that’s what happens when you pass out at Eric’s house at 4:00 am and wake up three hours later curled up on his loveseat with no clue where you are.  Seriously, for a good two minutes, I had NO idea where I was, and I still have no idea how I got from a bed to the loveseat.  I’m pretty sure Eric drugged me.

I need a nap.

One love,

10