The Windy City: Day 1B

I need to start out by thanking everyone that wished me a happy birthday. I believe this is a comprehensive list of everybody that wished me a happy birthday.

+ Kim and also thank you for buying me birthday Buffalo Chicken tots and the card.
+ Ron, Clevenger, Jordan, and Aaron. Although I may have bought those birthday wishes with donuts.
+ Elizabeth and also thanks for buying me candy bars I know you don’t like but the real thanks goes for looking for my favorite candy bars the Whatchamacallit and the Take 5! You are the real hero! Also, glad you are digging SHRINKING! Such a great show!
+ Steph. My birthday buddy, I hope FAST X was everything you wanted to be and I’m trying not to lose just a smidge of respect that you went to it.
+ Jesse – Sorry I was so aggressive in accusing you of eating all the mystery cheese.
+ Nader – Thanks for the frog statue!
+ Shannon- half credit for including a picture of a gross cat with your birthday wishes.
+ Michelle – good job taking a three day weekend to celebrate my birth.
+ Jay – doesn’t look like you got any rhubarb. It isn’t going to pick itself.
+ Kelly – thanks for the kind words. Not necessary, but thanks.
+ Angie – hope the postcard arrives soon.
+ Monica – thanks for sending me the picture of me in my Hulkster phase.
+ Suzie – thanks for knowing the proper animal to include in a happy birthday wish!
+ Jason – glad you are feeling better!
+ Bill – thanks for replying “no problem” when I said “thanks”. Don’t know why, but that amused me.
+ Sara Lockner – thanks for almost using enough exclamation marks in your birthday wishes!
+ Shawn – I’m sorry your wife used up all the world’s supply of punctuation in her birthday wishes and there wasn’t any punctuation left for yours.
+ Faust – thanks for pretending that banking sounds fun.
+ Teresa – thanks but I have my doubts you know who Dwight Schrute is.
+ Anders – I don’t know if it was a great one, but I’m sure May Movie Night will be.
+ Sarah Toot – Thanks for thinking I have the slightest clue what emoticons mean. Don’t feel pressure to do better next year.
+ Alexis – thanks for letting me think today was my day.
+ Baier and Dre – We didn’t have much interaction, but thanks for thinking of me.
+ Micky – thanks for multiple birthday wishes. It isn’t a contest, but if it was I think Elizabeth won. At least I think that is what she yelled at me as I walked out the door. But your message was the closest I came to having cake today. So that is something.
+ Lori – thanks, no need to apologize for transferring me my favorite kind of call, even if I really shouldn’t have been first in queue. Hope things went well today.
+ Mark – thanks. I suppose I should learn when your birthday is. Also stop using your desk for storage. Nah!
+ Lowell – thanks for the gift card. I like to think you would get me one even if the company didn’t require it.
+ Carla – thanks for getting your birthday wishes in right before the buzzer.
+ Nathanial – thanks for the final birthday wishes of my day.

I think that is the list. I think that is everybody that wished me a happy birthday! Thanks everyone!

If you are wondering what I did for my birthday, it was nothing super spectacular. It was mostly an average day.

I woke up about 5:54 AM. A little late for me. I was up late last night watching the NBA Playoffs. Then trying to watch the season finale of THE CURSE OF OAK ISLAND. Dang it! This wasn’t the season they actually found treasure. And I was so sure! I also ate fried food the night before. I’m trying to eat healthier, so it is fairly rare I eat fried food these days, he said hoping that there were people that believed him. Point is I slept in. It was my birthday. Cut me some slack!

I’m not sure what I did when I first got out of bed. I think I moved to the couch and watched the news for a little bit. Then I went outside and watered the flowers. I also took apart the trunk in the Camry. I had a slight gas spill in the trunk the night before and it was creating a pretty strong smell in the rest of the car. Then I took a shower. Brushed my teeth. Got dressed. But on cologne option #2. Said goodbye to Naima. Got in the Camry. Headed out.

There is an old birthday tradition at the Computer Mine where on your birthday you bring in food for the other employees. On a good day, there are about 10 employees in the building. (On a great day there is less.) On this day, half those people were gone for various reasons. On my way to work I stopped at the Dutch Oven Bakery and picked up a dozen donuts for my co-workers.

This is a small detail of what transpired on my birthday, but perhaps one of my favorite things that happened.

I left the donuts in the breakroom and then sent an email out to the people I knew would be in the building. Here is the backstory.

About 2 weeks, Elizabeth brought in a dozen donuts from a bakery in Nevada. (For the record, and I might get rode out of Boone on a rail for saying this, these donuts buried the ones from Dutch Oven.) She cut all the donuts in half. Now I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain why, but I will. She cut them in half so that people could try multiple donuts and multiple people could try the same donut.

Back to my birthday. Based on my current work schedule, Ron gets to the building about 30 minutes before I do. Elizabeth gets to the office about 15-30 minutes after me. She is in Special Forces so she can come and go as she pleases. I guess that is really more backstory, for what I’m promising you isn’t much payoff.

So back to that email. I explained in the email that there were donuts in the breakroom for my birthday. I didn’t cut them in half (cause I’m lazy – I didn’t write that, but it was in the subtext) but maybe when Elizabeth got here she would cut the donuts in half. I added that this wasn’t sexist on my part, just she is very passionate about the donut cutting thing.

Here is the “payoff”. I’m telling you that the ink wasn’t dry on that email before Ron was standing next to my cubicle. He wished me a happy birthday and then said that he was going to go get a donut quick before Elizabeth got here and cut them in half.

I said it wasn’t much of a payoff, but I thought it was hilarious.

I think it was somewhere in here I went to take a Snap of the donuts to keep my Streaks going with Logan (501), Brandon (257), Nathanial (89), Fran (37), and Alexis (23).

Somewhere after this, Elizabeth did come in. She did not cut all the donuts in half, but she did cut the donuts she tried in half. Take that Ron! She also brought me candy! So the day was off to a great start.

After that I put in a good solid 8 hours for The Man. I was a problem solving machine. Well to be honest, in the morning I mostly did a lot of rando stuff. I think the highlight of my morning (besides the other stuff I’ve highlighted) was being on hold with a customer for about 30 minutes as they repeatedly rebooted their computer before announcing, I’ll have to call you back.

Then came my lunchbreak. I did point out that I am trying to eat healthier. That means (amongst other things) that I only drink pop once a week. I’m pretty much completely off fast food. I rarely eat fried foods. This means that one of my favorite haunts, B-Bop’s has been off the table. But I figured it was my birthday, I could treat myself to B-Bop’s.

I drove halfway across Ames and got the #2 with Cheese with a Large Pepsi.

Sidebar: A great birthday present would have been the B-Bops across the street from the Computer Mine opening back up so I don’t have to drive completely across tarnation to get B-Bops goodness. They have been remodeling for months now! How long does it take to remodel a restaurant that doesn’t have a dining room?!?!?

It was just as good as I remembered. Although, I could feel the salad place next door judging me a little bit. But I literally ate there the day before. Asian Crunch Salad, no protein. So I think we’re square. Stop looking at me lettuce!

After I got back to the work I was a machine. Updating Server Managers. Modifying hosts files. Attaching SQL databases. All a beauty of motion, while sitting in a desk chair staring at 3 monitors. Barely taking a break to try to solve the mystery of what happened to the missing (I failed).

I called it a day, leaving many a satisfied customer in my wake. (Which means next time I work I won’t be able to solve anybody’s problems.) I drove home. I like to take a route home (sometimes called Old 30) where I drive by a bunch of railroad cars just parked along the highway to see if there is any interesting graffiti to photograph. There wasn’t anything transcendent like a painting of a dog or a clown or characters from The Simpsons, but there was one I found photo worthy. I pulled over and snapped a photo. I’m collecting these images and when I hit about 20 or so I will share them. This is what passes for an art scene in Boone.

Got home. Said hello to Naima. Then mowed my back yard. Which needed to be done before it became a 3 man job… again. I was supposed to have a meeting with my friend Kelli. She is opening a wine bar and wants to use my photography on her walls. I was supposed to look at the space and kind of figure out what we wanted to put there, but that meeting got postponed cause, from what I’m gathering, one of her kids did something dumb. Like go to Grand Junction.

The cancellation opened up a hole in my schedule and I was able to take Naima to Dickcissel for a walk and some wading for her. It was also a good time for me to take the theme reveal image for next week’s THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE theme.

There was a decent rain coming down on us when we completed the loop. Which meant Naima was soaked all over. I consider this to be a positive though, because the smell of wet dog masked the smell of gas. Not much of a trade up, but small victories.

I decided to go to Dairy Queen for ice cream on our way home since I’m eating healthier. Unfortunately, the line in the DQ drive-thru was crazy long, so instead I drove across town to Big Kahuna’s. This is a considerable upgrade in the quality of the ice cream for me, but it meant Naima didn’t get a pup cup. Sorry, Naima. Don’t feel too bad for her. She did get a full pork chop for supper. Me? I had a cherry amaretto ice cream waffle cone for supper. The supper of champions!

I came home and started watching the Lakers-Nuggets game to finish off my night. While sitting there I got a snap from Nathanial asking for my opinion on his options for the Iowa State Fair Photography Salon. He is the second person to ask for my opinion. Meanwhile, humble narrator, hasn’t even given any consideration to what he will enter. Usually at this point I at least know at least 2 of the pictures I will enter. This year I have absolutely no clue. I mean that could be a weekend project, but I don’t know I’ll have much time this weekend either. I guess we’ll see what happens.

After the Nuggets won, I watched a little bit of “90s Nation” on MTV Classic and called it a night. Nodding off into a golden slumber listening to the “Morbid” podcast on H.H. Holmes. Part 4. All in all, a pretty good birthday.


We begin where we left off last Friday. Lowell, Tony, and I were walking around Chicago waiting for Kim to get done getting good union employees fired for smoking a joint while putting up our booth. Kim has no chill. We were going to checkout a place called Zombie Taco as a potential place for supper. Kim had told us that we were to pick the place for supper. Tacos are always a good choice. That is free advice that I’m giving you, that I wish I had listened to on Day 3 of this trip. Unfortunately when we found Zombie Taco it seemed to be only a walk-up window and on top of that, it seemed to be closed.

But back to the walkabout.

Chicago, Illinois
A play on “This American Life”. My favorite radio show. But I’m not sure what it means.

Chicago, Illinois
I think this place was abandoned.

Chicago, Illinois
Never let anybody tell you, wearing Skechers is not cool. I wear them. Snoop wears them. Tony wears them. Elizabeth’s Grandma used to wear them.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
My greatest regret from the trip to Chicago is not taking a river cruise.

Chicago, Illinois
I wonder if this was the boat that the Dave Matthews Band dumped their poop on. As awful as that must have been, still better than listening to their music.

Chicago, Illinois
Chicago has a fair collection of interesting bridges.

Chicago, Illinois
More street art.

Chicago, Illinois
Down to the River Walk.

Chicago, Illinois
Another interesting bridge.

Chicago, Illinois
It was around here I met a lady that was walking a golden retriever. Such a good dog. Also, more street art.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
I’m guessing this is to protect you from Dave Matthews dumping his poop on your head. Now if they could devise a way to protect you from his awful music.

Chicago, Illinois
I assume Dave Matthews put that there.

Chicago, Illinois
I’d tell you what I think of Salesforce, but enough work talk.

Chicago, Illinois
There is also a Dick’s Last Resort on the San Antonio River Walk. This parking garage is an excellent example of why I would never want to live in a city.

Chicago, Illinois
But it is pretty to look at.

Chicago, Illinois
My #1 goal of the Chicago Trip was to see The Bean. Crossed it off the list Day 1.

Chicago, Illinois
After telling us to pick the restaurant, Kim picked the restaurant. Which fortunately, was 1 block from The Bean.

Chicago, Illinois
The WPC theme this week was FRIENDS. Nathanial told me I could take a picture of my reflection and I could be my own FRIEND(S). I have FRIENDS Nathanial. Still a cool shot.

Chicago, Illinois
The sculptor (Anish Kapoor) of The Bean at first hated that people called it that. It’s official name is Cloud Gate.

Chicago, Illinois
It is made out of 168 stainless steel plates welded together.

Chicago, Illinois
It’s highly polished exterior has no visible seams.

Chicago, Illinois
It measures 33 x 66 x 42 feet.

Chicago, Illinois
The design was inspired by liquid mercury.

Chicago, Illinois

I still have one more collection of images to share from Day 1 of the trip to Chicago.


This is your reminder that this week’s THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE theme is HAPPY!


HAPPY! What a great theme for Year 10 of THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE!

But what in the Dave Rauker is a HAPPY photo? Simply put, it is a picture of somebody that is HAPPY or a picture of something that makes you HAPPY. HAPPY is, well it is a feeling of pleasure or contentment. In case you aren’t sure you know what it means to be HAPPY.

HAPPY has been a theme one other time. Here are a few of the submissions from that time to provide you with some inspiration:

Suzie Brannen – Week 71

Kim Barker – Week 71

Stephanie Kim – Week 71

Angie DeWaard – Week 71

Christopher D. Bennett – Week 71

In fact, that was pretty much every submission I received for HAPPY. I bet there will be more submissions this time.

Happy photo harvesting!