Category Archives: Bethany

Vacation Day 5 – The Juicy Lucy

On Wednesday morning I woke up and most of my anger about the Fred Hoiberg hire had dissipated. I had come to accept the fact that while this was mostly a public relations move, there is a chance that it could work. I’m not saying that this is an uncontested breakaway slam dunk. This is more like a turnaround fadeaway with a 7 footer in your face from the baseline.

While it is scary that he will be learning on the job, there is a potential huge upside. He should be able to recruit and he should be able to evaluate talent. 95% of basketball games are won by the team with the more talented players.

I also assume that since Hoiberg has years of NBA experience he will be able to relate to the younger, more talented players and the great exodus of talent from Ames will finally come to an end. Any Biblical scholar can tell you that after the exodus ends it is only a matter of time before the years of wandering in the desert comes to an end.

Even though we will only return 5 scholarship players from last year, I still feel that we will have a better record next year. I’m not sure why I have this optimism, but I have come to peace with the Hoiberg hiring. On Wednesday morning I accepted that it might just work. After all, Hoiberg is a graduate of the nation’s premier land grant university. That fact alone qualifies him for about any job that I can name!

After coming to that conclusion, I got out of bed and took a shower. After Nate woke up we went to Puffy Cream for breakfast. It was excellent, again.

I wasn’t sure how long I was going to stick around, so I contacted Jill about getting supper. She wasn’t sure when she would get off work because her company was enforcing mandatory overtime, even though it wasn’t even Georgia-Texas week.

Eventually it worked out and we agreed to meet at The 5-8 Club at 6:30.

I don’t watch lots of television. I’m always leery of saying that because I don’t want to come off as one of those snobby people who don’t own a television and feel that this gives them a degree of superiority to other people. I can’t stand those people. I’m better than those people.

That being written, I really don’t watch much television. Of the shows that are currently being broadcast on network television, I’ve probably seen a single episode of maybe 10 shows. But on this day, I spent a good portion of the day sitting on the couch watching tv with Nate.

We watched two episodes of The West Wing. Then we watched the show Parenthood. Then we watched the movie Parenthood. Then at about 3 o’clock when Nate was leaving for work, Becca woke up and I watched television with her. We watched local news and she lectured me on why I should watch BBC news because it wasn’t “biased”. I thought this was funny because I once wrote a paper on media bias when I was in college.

At 6:30 I met Jill at The 5-8 Club in Minneapolis. When I was in Minnesota in February I ate at Matt’s Bar with Jim and Bethany. Matt’s Bar and The 5-8 Club both claim to have invented the Juicy Lucy. I was happy that I was going to be able to have both sandwiches so I could determine which one I consider to be the superior burger.



The 5-8 Club

The 5-8 Club was set up a little bit weird. It wasn’t a huge restaurant, but it was of a decent size, but the weird part about it was that you sat yourself. I don’t think that I’ve been in a restaurant this large where you sat yourself.

The place was packed, but there wasn’t a line and a couple of people left as we entered the building, so we were able to get a seat immediately.

I was pretty hungry since all I had eaten on the day was a couple of donuts and some leftover walleye from Houlihan’s. Well, I guess that wasn’t exactly true. Becca fed me some food that she had bought at Trader Joe’s. A place that Becca is very passionate about. Regardless, I was still hungry.

We ordered mushrooms for an appetizer and I’m not sure if this was a mistake or how they do things, but rather than ranch dressing it came with bleu cheese dressing. I’m not a fan of bleu cheese dressing and this has lead to many a discordant evening with me and Jesse at our favorite wings eating places across central Iowa. However, their bleu cheese dressing was fairly good. It didn’t make me instantly want to vomit like most bleu cheese dressing.

I orderd The Juicy Luicy:

By far our most popular menu item, the Juicy Lucy is a mouth-watering half pound burger stuffed with American cheese. The cheese is HOT – be careful and take your time. Bleu, pepper or Swiss cheese is also available. The wait’s a little bit longer; but we promise it’ll be worth it!

Jill ordered The Saucy Sally:

Lucy’s little sister. Born on May 8, 2005. She making her public debut! A half pound burger stuffed with our secret sauce, and topped with American cheese, shredded lettuce, raw onions, and a smear of Thousand Island Dressing. Make sure you have plenty of napkins.

While Jill was explaining to me her theory on why she is an evolved being, the people sitting in the booth next to ours stopped her. They apologized for eavesdropping on our conversation and then made commentary on why they agreed with Jill’s theory on highly evolved human being.

Really!

Have your own conversation people! I understand that we are probably more fascinating and interesting than you are and it must be hard not to eavesdrop on us, but at least try to have your own conversation.

After we had ate as much food as we could, we waited patiently for our bill. This was the type of joint where you pay the waitress, but our waitress had disappeared. In fact, I didn’t see any waitress. We probably waited for a good 20 minutes before the waitress showed up and said:

“You guys probably want to go home.”

Then a few minutes later she showed up with the bill.

I gave her my Bank of the Bear card. She took it and when she came back to give me the bill she handed me somebody else’s credit card. After hopefully getting the finances of the evening squared away I’m ready to make this proclamation:

Matt’s Bar serves the superior Ju(i)cy Lucy. The 5-8 Club wasn’t bad and I would certainly go back, but Matt’s is superior. At some point I might have to go back to try the Saucy Sally.

After the meal I bid Jill a fond adieu and hit the open road back to the Cyclone State. It was a pretty great 3 days in Minnesota.

Vacation Day 4 – Cotton Candy

I was set on going back to the Cyclone State on Tuesday night after visiting Faust on his day off, but Bethany and Becca requested that I stay one more night. I had no plans for Wednesday (Sara’s attempt to convince me to go to Iowa City failed since she couldn’t produce a single credible theory on why it would be fun for me to sit around while she put stitches in a pig’s foot), so I agreed to come back to Eagan after my visit to Mankato.

Nate, Becca and Bethany live a couple blocks from a donut store by the name of Puffy Cream Donuts. After I woke up and showered, I hit the open road to Mankato after picking up some cream filled goodness at Puffy Cream.

When I got to Mankato I stopped at Target so I could buy some extra clothes for the extra day in Minnesota.

I arrived at the Faust home and we discussed potential new coaches for the Cyclones.

My dream has always been that Iowa State rights the wrong it made several years ago and brings back Eustachy. I know this was a pipedream, but there are several great options out there. It was exciting to think about what guy Pollard would bring to Ames to return the Cyclones to glory.

We went to Mr. Goodcents for lunch. I hadn’t eaten at Mr. Goodcents since the one in Ames closed down while I was still in college. The sandwiches are no longer as epic in scope as they were all those years ago, but it was definitely still very tasty and I wasn’t disappointed. Not like how disappointed I am with the horrible joke that is masquerading as Panchero’s across the street from the Computer Mine.

At 2:30 we walked over to Jackson’s school to pick him up. I got to admire some of his artwork and look around his school.

As we returned to the Faust abode, I checked my email on my phone. I wasn’t expecting any messages of great consequence, I was just trying to hammer out lunch plans for Thursday with Shannon, but then I got an email message from The Swell Season updating their Summer tour schedule. They are coming to 1st Ave in July! Hallelujah!

After further discussion about who Iowa State could get as a coach, Nicole came and picked us up to get cotton candy!

The residence hall where she works was trying to get the students to leave their dorm rooms by serving cotton candy, popcorn and playing approved music. I don’t know how well it worked on the students, but it worked on Jackson, Faust and I.

On the way over to Minnesota State’s campus, Jackson flexed the golden pipes and wowed me by singing along word for word with the Justin Bieber CD playing on the stereo.



A portion of the day was following Jackson while he ran through the hallways of the dormitory.


Jackson has yet to develop his dad’s patented “Leaning Weiner” shot.


Now I’ve been able to school two generations of Fausts on the court. Plus Faust and I did relive some old Saturday Morning Basketball memories. Including how he felt that he owned The Salmon on the court. Hmmm… two friends that think they own The Salmon.


Jackson nailed somewhere between 3-5 shots depending on how he retells the story.


Faust manning the popcorn machine.


Jackson and his Mr. Freeze


Fronting for the Cyclones in Maverick Country


Faust Knocking Down Cotton Candy Goodness

Shortly after we got back to the Faust Estate my phone rang. It was Jesse.

“We just hired a new coach. Fred Hoiberg.”

I was instantly pissed. Are you kidding me? We just hired some guy because he is super popular with the fan base even though he has NO coaching experience on any level. Was this the cheapest publicity stunt ever?

Full disclosure: I’m not and never was a ravenous Fred Hoiberg fan. He was a solid player and a nice story. His teams were okay and they went to the tournament, but they were not my teams and I could not stand their style of play. They were soft. I was and always will be a Dedric Willoughby fan. He actually won a championship. I’m sure if Pollard would have announced that Willoughby was the new coach and he was filling out his staff with Jacy Holloway, Kenny Pratt and Shawn Bankhead I would have jumped for joy. Hoiberg doesn’t do it for me like he does it for the grand majority of Cyclone nation.

Jesse and I vented our anger. Then Faust and I vented our anger.

I sent text messages to Baier, Bill, Russell, Andree, Derrick and Schmidt.

Bill wrote back:

“Fred? As head coach?”

“Yep.”

“Does he have any coaching experience?”

“None. Not at all.”

“Not good at all”

Andree wrote back:

“I guess he didn’t even entertain the idea of hiring Larry back. Well, here’s hoping Hoiberg’s NBA connections can help with recruiting. Was Pollard expecting another Paul Rhoads or something? He’ll be fired next year. This is a cheap move by hiring Ames favorite son to get fans off his back. Idiot!”

“It might be a popular move. I guess we can hope this works out.”

“Popular or not Hoiberg has some cache in Ames. Maybe he can sell to future recruits: “I got all the GMs phone numbers. If you got the chops, they’ll take my call.”

Then I got a call from Baier. We vented. Then I got a call from Russell. We vented.

Then I got a text from Schmidt.

“They are reporting The Mayor as our next coach.”

“I feel that we are worse off now than we were on Sunday with McDermott as our coach.”

“Typical Chris response that I expected!”

“Maybe he is a quick study.”

“We won’t know for three years. Its the Hall of Fame coaching staff!”

Then Derrick called. Of everybody I talked to he seemed the most optimistic that this might work. Although he had just got off the phone with Shawn and Shawn was extremely negative about this hire. But we didn’t get a full conversation because some customer came into the store and he had to “work”.

Faust and I discussed this move for quite a bit longer. Then I headed backup to Eagan.

Nate and I went to Houlihan’s for supper and then we came back to the house. I watched Weeds with Becca until about 2 in the morning and then I went to bed.

Much of my anger over the Hoiberg hiring had subsided and I was able to go to sleep rather quickly

Day 4 of vacation was still pretty great, despite the surprise Hoiberg hiring!

Vacation Day 3 – Guinea Pig Denial

I woke up early on Monday morning. I’m not sure if it was the excitement of the forthcoming trip or if the rumors of Greg McDermott’s departure were so exciting to me that I was like a little kid on Christmas anxiously awaiting the chance to rip the wrapping paper off of his new Omega Supreme!

As I prepared for the trip (as much as I always wish that I was a night before packer – I am definitely a 15 minutes before leaving packer) I listened to the local sports talking heads Deace and Miller discuss McDermott’s departure to Creighton. Only they weren’t using words like “potential” or “possible”.  They were talking about his departure as being a done deal.

I always liked McDermott.  I hoped that he was going to get it done. While almost all of my other Cyclone friends had left the McDermott sinking ship, I was certain that this past year was going to be his season. He had two future NBA players on his roster. A capable veteran point guard. A pair of sharpshooters. A serviceable center. A bench full of athletic underclassmen.

However, it all went downhill very fast. I remember the moment that I knew that McDermott wasn’t going to get it done. 

Jill and I had went over to Derrick and Jen’s to watch a movie.  Derrick had called me earlier in the day to make sure that we were a “unified front” on being able to watch the Cyclones demolish Northwestern before we watched a movie. Of course we were a unified front!

The only problem was that Iowa State didn’t demolish Northwestern.  In fact, they lost to a Northwestern team that was missing one of its best players.

This was a bad sign.

True many Floyd and Eustachy teams were terrible in the early part of the season, only to cohese and become a dominant force down the stretch.  After all, the Elite Eight team lost to a bad Drake team.

Only one of the warning signs that McDermott was in over his head at ISU was the disturbing fact that his teams did not become better as the season went along. In fact, they seemed to get worse.

Even though my head knew that this highly touted team was going nowhere fast, I think my heart forced my mouth to utter the phrase “wake-up call”.  Only this wasn’t a “wake-up call” for them. It was a wake-up call for me. 

The season went downhill fast. A loss at home to UNI. Barely beating Iowa’s intramural team. Barely beating Houston. Lucca leaving in the middle of the season. 4 conference wins.

Then moments after the season was over, Brackins goes pro. Buckley and Hamilton transfer. The NCAA punish Iowa State for being Iowa State and doesn’t grant Gilstrap another year of eligibility.

It seemed like there was blood in the water. The only question was how would Pollard come up with 2.5 million dollars to payoff McDermott?

Only instead of dropping the axe on McDermott like he did on Wayne Morgan (despite Wayne Morgan having 3 straight winning seasons) Pollard gave McDermott a vote of confidence.

Then a month went by and it got weird. Two assistant coaches left. Colvin left. Pollard sent out two enigmatic letters. One to a kid telling him that he understood his concerns about the direction of the ISU basketball team, but his records indicated that the kid didn’t donate money to the athletic department, so bugger off.  Then another letter where he blamed McDermott’s inability to keep players (including a finalist for Player of the Year honors that played for Syracuse this year – yeah that hurt to watch) not on McDermott, but on this generation of worthless kids. He started the letter by throwing Fennelly under the bus and ended it with some very fuzzy math.  He tried to make the argument that kids transferring is an epidemic, but if you actually do the math with the numbers he provides, the average Division 1 school lost .5 kids to transfer in the last two years. Iowa State has lost 6. Now 7 with the transfer of Boozer.

Then Christmas came. Oregon hired Dana Altman. Creighton wanted Greg McDermott to replace him!

Not only was Iowa State not going to continue its long descent into irrelevance, it wasn’t going to cost us 2.5 million to go in a new direction. In fact, Creighton is going to have to pay us $800,000 for the right to take our problem off of our hands.

The only problem was that I wasn’t going to be in the state to hear the news. I was going to be in Minnesota.

However, I’m a problem solver. After I gassed up the car and picked up some needed supplies for the trip (two bottles of water, a bag of beef jerky and two Whatchamacallits) I texted Baier, Jesse and Schmidt and asked them to let me know when it had become official that McDermott was heading to Nebraska! Then I hit the open road.

I arrived in Eagan at about 11:30. Nate was the only one home and awake.

I had assigned Nate the task of finding us interesting places to eat at during my two day stay in Minnesota.  He handed me a magazine with reviews of numerous Twin City restaurants. However, he noted that Bethany strongly favored eating at Chino Latino.

I found the review of Chino Latino. The review stated that Chino Latino served guinea pig!  I was in.

After deciding on the dining option for that evening we piled into the car and head to Five Guys for lunch.  We had a little bit of difficulty finding it, but when we did finally locate it, it was worth it.

Five Guys is a burger joint.  The menu is simple and the food is tasty. I will definitely be going back.



They serve fresh cut potato fries. They put them in a cup, but they also fill the bottom of your bag with more fries.


A “hot mess” but in a good way, not in the Edie Sedgwick way.


It is usually busy enough that they serve you free peanuts while you wait in line.


They also let you know where your potatoes came from.


Simple menu and you get to add whatever toppings that you want!


Bags of Potatoes


Even though we were stuffed, Nate suggested that we visit a White Castle. I’ve always heard that their food is nasty, but I’ve never eaten at a White Castle and I’ve always wanted to try it.

To give our stomach time to process the goodness of Five Guys we headed from Edina to Apple Valley so that Nate could pickup and deposit his paycheck.

Nate banks where Bethany works, so I got to speak with her briefly. When her co-worker wasn’t butting in to tell me about his brother-in-law that used to play football for Iowa State. Only he can’t remember his name, but he rushed for 438 yards in one game. Some people you just have to let speak.

Next stop White Castle!



White Castle

Our sojourn to White Castle wasn’t adventurous and nobody would make a movie about it. We each ordered two sliders.

The hype about White Castle was dead-on! The food is absolutely dreadful. I can’t believe this place stays in business.

We took the rest of the day to rest before Chino Latino.

Jesse called and gave me the fantastic news that it was official. Creighton had given our basketball program the gift of a fresh, new beginning!

Nate called Chino Latino and made a reservation, but found out the sad news that in order to get the guinea pig, Cuy, you had to order it 48 hours in advance.

DENIED!

Luckily Jill was sort of able to provide some recommendations to me. Sort of.

Later in the night Bethany came home and we went over to her significant other’s house to meet up before going to Uptown.

While we were waiting for some people to get ready, Bill called to ask if Creighton had really hired McDermott.

“Yes.”

“Do they know that he had 4 straight losing seasons at Iowa State despite having the greatest homecourt advantage in the nation?”

“They don’t make them very smart in Nebraska.”

“True that.”

7 of us met up at Chino Latino. Beth, John, Becca, Nate, John’s friend Ben and Bethany’s co-worker “V”.

Chino Latino serves equatorial food. That means that the food comes from countries that are on the equator.




Nate really wants to order Fidel’s Capitalist Pig Roast at some point. Which is a teenage pig, if you are the type of person that needs labels.

The food was excellent. Once I saw the $45 price tag, I didn’t feel so bad about the guinea pig denial.

I rode back to Eagan with Becca so that I could see her new car and the cowboy joint where she currently works.



Near Chino Latino


Becca’s Favorite Store


This is kind of how it feels to be riding around with Becca.


Day 3 of vacation was an excellent day by almost all tangible measurement.

Amazing Weekend

Daily Reminder

Don’t forget to update your links, bookmarks and RSS Feeds to the new URL: http://www.photography139.com/notebook/

I did have a couple of late submissions for RWPE. Here are a couple of bonus FRAMING pictures.



Julie Johnson


Michael Vest

I had an amazing weekend. I would just like to share a few of the highlights. In no particular order, besides chronological:

  • I ate supper on Friday night at Jeff’s Pizza with Teresa and Jesse. I love their pepperoni rolls.
  • I got to watch Jesus Christ Superstar at Stephens with Mom, Jesse and Teresa. It was an awesome production, with the exception of the geriatric Ted Neeley, who has continued to suck it up into his 60s. I firmly believe that the only acceptable definition of Hell is “separation from God”. But if I were to believe in a personal punishment vision of Hell, it might be that I get up to what I think is Heaven because Jesus is there. But then he opens his mouth and sounds like Ted Neeley. I would have to pump my fist and scream, “You win this round vengeful God! You win this round!” Sorry Shannon, but that is the way it is.
  • I got to chauffeur Jim out of the Cyclone State for only the 2nd time since 1987. It was the first time he has left the state for an “extended” period of time since 1987 when he took Nate to see a St. Louis Cardinals game. I think he might have enjoyed it as he is considering leaving the state again this Summer to see the Twins play the Braves on June 12 & 13.
  • I got to see Bethany’s new house. It is pretty sweet. They have managed to put down a new wood floor, new tile in the kitchen and new carpet in the rest of the house. Her new fridge is the coolest fridge I’ve ever seen. They painted all the rooms and they got the paint for free because they bought it on Christmas Eve and the Sherwin Williams employee just gave it to them as a Christmas Present because they were the only customers he had that day.
  • I got to try my first (and won’t be the last) Jucy Lucy. Yes, there is no “i” in Jucy. There are two restaurants that lay claim to having invented the Twin City curiosity. We went to Matt’s Bar based on the recommendation of Becca’s boyfriend Gelli. He insisted that they have the superior Jucy Lucy. A Jucy Lucy is a cheeseburger that has the cheese inside the meat patty rather than on top. A piece of cheese is surrounded by raw meat and cooked until it melts. The end result is a hamburger with a molten core of cheese. The sandwich is both incredibly tasty and slightly dangerous. You have to be careful with the first bite because if you bite into it too aggressively you are rewarded with an explosion of boiling cheese. This cheese explosion is both tasty and painful. A rare combination. The two restaurants that claim to have invented the burger are only a few blocks apart. Matt’s Bar does not use the “i” in juicy. The 5-8 Club does use the “i”. They both have used this spelling in their marketing. Matt’s Bar boasts “if it’s spelled correctly, you’re at the wrong place.” The 5-8 club boasts “if it’s spelled right, it’s done right”. In a future trip to Minnesota, I will give the 5-8 Club a try. I might also venture into St. Paul to try the Cajun Lucy served at the Groveland Tap.
  • Stopped at a quaint little store called Tom’s Popcorn Shop. I picked up 4 types of popcorn. A chocolate popcorn that ended up being terrible. Jill compared it to Cocoa Puffs and that was a very accurate assessment. A double caramel and mixed nuts variety ended up being very tasty. A caramel and peanuts variety was tasty. The banana popcorn I am munching on right now isn’t too bad.
  • I got to see the bank where Bethany works and pick up two new pairs of shoes at a nearby Burlington Coat Factory. My injured foot is already starting to feel better since I switched shoes.
  • I made Sara’s dream come true by wandering around IKEA with Bethany and Jim. Okay, mostly with Bethany. I think Jim was ready to go 5 minutes after stepping in the door. I didn’t get to see all of IKEA, but I did get to see a group of girls acting out the scene from (500) Days of Summer (have I told you lately how much I love that movie!) that is set in IKEA. That warmed my heart a bit. I also fell in love with their collection of butcher block tables and I have decided to get rid of my kitchen table and replace it with a small butcher block table. To create both some space and so I have a food prep area if I ever decide to cook. Or the more likely scenario, for the next time somebody comes over and cooks for me.
  • I got to see Jill’s apartment. It was disgustingly clean. Meaning if I spent now until my birthday party cleaning my house it still wouldn’t be half as clean as Jill’s apartment. But it is a well-known fact that the Gorshes are cleaners. Anybody that ever worked a closing shift at the Boone outpost of the Evil Clown Empire with Derrick can tell you stories about the cleanliness of the grill area when he was done. They can also tell you other stories, but I’m concentrating on how much that guy liked to clean for now. I got to meet her cat. I don’t think it is a major surprise that her can’t didn’t like me, but the theory is that this was just laying the groundwork. The next time I visit, the cat will think I’m swell. It is similar to my theory that the next time Jupiter gets together with Jackson and Bailey they will get along swell because of the groundwork I did on Dog Playdate when I was borrowing Jupiter for Sara’s trip to Florida. I also got to ride in Indy for the first time since I got to drive her several months back. We ate at this sweet restaurant called Jade 88 Chinese Cuisine. We were the only people in the restaurant. Literally. My favorite aspects of this restaurant were that they called crab rangoons – cream cheese powder puffs, they had a chair sitting in the women’s bathroom stall (Jill reported this fact, I did not go into the women’s bathroom) and they had the largest collection of cleaning supplies I’ve ever seen sitting on top of the toilet in the men’s room. That isn’t to say the food wasn’t good, because it was great, but to know me is to know what type of weird things tickle my fancy. After the meal, Jill returned my copy of the 2 Disc Special Edition of A Clockwork Orange that she had borrowed a few weeks back. My Stanley Kubrick boxed set is complete once again! I was also able to loan her The Departed and give her the final piece of Halloween candy. A piece of candy that almost ended up in Willy’s stomach.
  • I had lunch with Jim, Becca and Nate at one of Becca’s favorite restaurants Quang. It is a Vietnamese restaurant that reminds me of one of Sara’s favorite restaurants, A Dong. (Yes, immature people, that is really the name of the restaurant. Stop giggling. I know who you are.) While we waited for a table, Becca and I checked out an Asian grocery store across the street. Now just going to a normal grocery store is kind of an adventure for me. (If you don’t believe me, ask Jay) But going to this grocery store was a special kind of adventure for me. I actually didn’t take my camera out of my backpack on the whole trip. Even though I thought about doing my FRAMING picture for RWPE up there, but in the end I admittedly just kind of phoned that project in. However, at the bottom of this list, you might just find a few low quality images I captured with my phone in this market. The food at Quang lived up to Becca’s hype. We had some kind of fried yam things called Banh Tom Chien. They called crab rangoons cream cheese wontons. Tasty, but not as cute as cream cheese powder puffs.
  • After Quang, I allowed Becca to drive my car (without a small amount of consternation on my part) to give us a tour of Uptown Minneapolis. I really liked Uptown. We got to drive by Gelli’s parents’ restaurant “It’s All Greek to Me…” (a place I will no doubt try in the future) and hear Becca’s sermonizing on how much she doesn’t like hipsters. Nate liked to point out that Becca is a borderline hipster, but she doesn’t see the similarities. Even though she does want to drive a Prius, she is not a hipster she insists. Mostly because she doesn’t ride a bike. But perhaps the most exciting part of the Uptown tour was driving by the Uptown Theater. Although I had missed it, they clearly proclaimed on their marquee that they had a midnight showing of A Clockwork Orange. Jill is going to look into this phenomenon and hopefully a midnight showing of A Clockwork Orange is in our future.
  • After the Uptown tour we stopped at a grocery store so Nate could buy the ingredients for gumbo. On the surface that doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but in fact it is like watching Van Gogh buy paintbrushes or Eric Clapton buy a guitar.
  • Becca made a Coastal Seafood Salad that included shrimp, squid and roughie. It was incredible. Nate made gumbo (no need to point out how phenomenal the gumbo was) and we settled down to watch the Super Bowl. I would have to say that my favorite Super Bowl commercial this year was the monster.com commercial with the beaver playing the violin. Like Jen, I’m partial to beavers. The team I was rooting for also won. That was a surprising bonus. Nate also tried to convince me that Metallica had redeemed themselves with their most recent album. I’ve never been much of a Metallica fan, but at some point I will be giving their new album a listen in order to make my own assessment.
  • I pulled into my driveway at 1:30 in the morning. It had been a successful weekend on many levels.

Here are a few low quality pictures from my phone:



Mmmm… Pork brains. But you can’t prepare that without edible beef blood!


Fresh clams!


Lobster. I wanted a picture of the crabs, but the water in their tank wasn’t clear enough to get a good picture.


Of course I also wanted to share today’s love letter from The Writer’s Almanac:

Franz Kafka wrote stories about human beings transformed into vermin; unsettling legal battles over unspecified crimes; and a father who sentences his son to death by drowning. Kafka is often thought of as neurotic, and rarely as romantic, but he wrote a great many love letters — many of the anguished, helpless variety — to a Berlin woman to whom he was engaged for five years. Their relationship was carried out almost entirely by letters.

In the autumn of 1912, he wrote to Felice Bauer about how much she had become inseparable from his composition process, and also how anticipation of her writing kept him awake at night. He wrote:

“Lately I have found to my amazement how intimately you have now become associated with my writing, although until recently I believe that the only time I did not think about you at all was while I was writing.

In one short paragraph I had written, there were, among others, the following references to you and your letters: someone was give a bar of chocolate. There was talk of small diversions someone had during working hours. Then there was a telephone call. And finally somebody urged someone to go to bed, and threatened to take him straight to his room if he did not obey, which was certainly prompted by the recollection of your mother’s annoyance when you stayed so late at the office. — Such passages are especially dear to me; in them I take hold of you, without your feeling it, and therefore without your having to resist.

… [It takes] every imaginable effort to get to sleep — i.e., to achieve the impossible, for one cannot sleep and at the same time be thinking about one’s work and trying to solve with certainty the one question that certainly is insoluble, namely, whether there will be a letter from you the next day, and at what time. The night consists of two parts: one wakeful, the other sleepless, and if I were to tell you about it at length and you were prepared to listen, I should never finish.

Eleven days later, Kafka wrote to her:
“Fraulein Felice!
I am now going to ask you a favour which sounds quite crazy, and which I should regard as such, were I the one to receive the letter. It is also the very greatest test that even the kindest person could be put to. Well this is it:
Write to me only once a week, so that your letter arrives on Sunday — for I cannot endure your daily letters, I am incapable of enduring them.
For instance, I answer one of your letters, then lie in bed in apparent calm, but my heart beats through my entire body and is conscious only of you.
I belong to you; there is really no other way of expressing it, and that is not strong enough. But for this very reason I don’t want to know what you are wearing; it confuses me so much that I cannot deal with life; and that’s why I don’t want to know that you are fond of me. If I did, how could I, fool that I am, go on sitting in my office, or here at home, instead of leaping onto a train with my eyes shut and opening them only when I am with you?”

And a week after that, he wrote to her:

“Dearest, what have I done that makes you torment me so? No letter again today, neither by the first mail nor the second. You do make me suffer! While one written word from you could make me happy! … If I am to go on living at all, I cannot go on vainly waiting for news of you, as I have done these last few interminable days …

I think the thing I’ve liked about these letters is their common theme of thinking constantly about the woman they love and how that gets in the way of their work.

Bad Photos

I got all of the old pictures off of my phone. There aren’t a terribly large amount of pictures on there because the old phone is about 4 years old and didn’t have much memory on it.

It turns out almost every picture on that phone ranges from bad to horrible. Although some are amusing.














































One major plus of the new phone is the memory card. I can use pictures taken by a real camera for the Caller ID Photo. As you can tell by these images, that will make a big difference.

Minutia – Chapter 6: An Adequate Birthday

Chapter 6: An Adequate Birthday

I woke up on a Friday morning. It had been 32 years since I was born. If I know the story correctly, my parents had to leave the Hillbilly Auction for my birth. That sentence didn’t sound correct. Let me try again. If I know the tale, my Ma and Pa had to leave the Hillbilly Auction for my birthin’.

Perhaps it is tales like this that prompted my cousin Allan to once give my kin (sisters) the backhanded compliment that he was impressed with how well we turned out considering the White Trash we came from. I’ve always considered this to be a bold and clueless statement considering that we are related by blood. If I came from White Trash, he came from the same white trash bin. Believe me, I don’t want to compare sides of the family, but he comes from the side of my family that is considerably less sophisticated.

I had realized long ago that family is family and it doesn’t matter so much where you came from as where you are going. But where you came from always remains part of who you are. I embrace that fact.

Yet, where I was 32 years ago on this day mattered little for where I was going on this day. I got out of bed, showered, and went to work.

The drive for me to work is almost always the same. On this day though I was going to add the complication of trying to change my voice mail message. This really goes against my core belief that people shouldn’t talk on the cell phone while they are driving, but I really didn’t want to be bothered with a ton of phone calls wishing me a happy birthday. It was my birthday, but I didn’t want that to control my entire day. I was going to change my voicemail to say something to the effect that I “wasn’t taking calls on this day, but if you leave a message I’ll return your call tomorrow.”

It turned out that I pushed a wrong button along the way and changed my message to that message that just tells people what number they have just dialed. Then the battery on my phone died. I considered this to be good enough.

Work was more or less uneventful. More than half of our employees were in Seattle for the big convention. To placate (the people who care that they weren’t in Seattle, which doesn’t include me) the people left behind, the Company grilled out. This meant some kind of pork. It was tasty and prevented me from having to leave to find food.

The only other eventful thing to happen during the workday was a call from Jesse. Apparently he wasn’t to be denied. He actually called my work phone. This is a good thing, because if you take out him calling my work phone, it has rang on only a handful of other occasions. If it wasn’t for Jesse, my phone could break and I would never know it.

When he called I was not at my desk. I was talking to a co-worker about 70s science fiction movies. The Shipping Manager approached me and said, “I have Jesse parked in 4.”

“I don’t know what to do about that.”

She explained what to do and I was successful. I had Jesse on the line.

“You not answering your phone?” It was both an accusation and a question at the same time.

“The battery is dead.” It didn’t dawn on me that he was talking about my work phone because nobody ever calls it.

“I mean your work phone.”

“It hasn’t rang all day.”

“I just called you.”

“I didn’t hear it ring, but I was over talking to Co-Worker X about ‘Zardoz’.”

“Well, I just wanted to talk to you on your birthday.”

“Thanks.”

“You got anything big planned?”

“Just going over to Colleen’s for supper.” I had enough of this birthday talk. I changed the subject. “How is Seattle?”

“It is awesome. It is the greatest and cleanest big city ever.”

“Are you going to do anything cool?” This was a legitimate question. I’m always disappointed when I here stories about people that travel to exotic and interesting locales and all they can tell me when they got back was how drunk they got. I’ve never been much of a drinker, which people tell me clouds my judgment on such issues, but I’ve never been to Seattle or Hawaii or Los Angeles. I wouldn’t want to go some place that has so much to offer and only come back with a basket full of “I got so wasted” memories. I can make those memories in Boone for a quarter of the price.

The other side of this question was because I worry about Jesse. Our big convention is just like every other convention. It involves lots of drinking. Jesse is not supposed to mix alcohol with his medication. This is exacerbated by his well documented lightweight status. It only takes a few drinks to get him going, but there are theories that it isn’t possible for human to get drunk on as little alcohol as it takes to get him loopy.

A friend of ours by the name of Corey is a leader in the field of alcohol research. He is a man that is so passionate about the field that he has even suffered broken bones in the pursuit of new knowledge. He has purported the theory that none of us have ever actually seen Jesse drunk. We have only seen him pretend to be drunk.

That might be the case, but I do know that despite his doctors warning and being surrounded by alleged friends at the convention in Las Vegas last year, he had too much to drink. As I have stated, due to his medication, too much to drink is anything to drink.

I say this because while a few of them were walking down a Las Vegas sidewalk, Jesse decided to drop trou and have a whiz. This actually is not a completely rare sight. It is not uncommon for a group of men out and about to stop short and take care of business out in public. Men don’t even have to be drunk to engage in such an activity.

You don’t have to be drunk to take a leak facing a building. You have to be drunk to do it facing the street. I was hoping not to hear a repeat of the Las Vegas story come back from Seattle.

“We are going on an underground city tour and we are going to a Mariners game.”

I was jealous of these two activities. The Mariners were playing the Padres on this evening. The Padres have been my favorite team for over twenty years now. I have never seen them play. In fact I have never seen a real baseball game. I have been to the Metrodome and to Kauffman Stadium on numerous occasions, but that doesn’t count as real baseball. They use the Designated Hitter. Then I reminded myself that an interleague game at an American League stadium did not qualify as real baseball either. They would be using the great abomination as well. Still, I would like to see the Padres play some time, even if it is under such conditions.

The underground tour would be fascinating as well. If I ever do make it to Seattle, it is the one thing I would have to do. Seattle has a fascinating history in this respect. I’m a sucker for almost all kinds of history.

“Chris Young is pitching tonight. You’ll have to watch his control early in the game. If he throws strikes early in the game he will dominate. If he his is going deep in the count in the early innings, he will have a short night. There is no middle ground for him. He either has control or he doesn’t.”

“I’ll have to watch for that.”

“The underground tour, that would be the number one thing that I would want to see if I went to Seattle.”

“Why is that?”

“Seattle has a unique history and their underground is unlike any other in the world. Their city started to sink, so they just changed what was considered ground level and what was ground level is still there, but now it is underground.”

“That does sound pretty cool.”

“It sounds fascinating. You’ll have to let me know how it was.”

“I’ll let you get back to work.”

“Later.”

I left work at about 6 pm. I was supposed to be at Colleen’s for supper around 7 pm. We were having a giant birthday supper for all of the May birthdays. Rebecca, Nate, Colleen, and I all had the great pleasure of being born in May. Nate and Bethany were coming back from Minnesota for Rebecca’s graduation and this was really the only time that we would all be available to sup together.

It was my birthday, but it was really just like any other day. There were times in the past when I would take my birthday off and do whatever I wanted. I would make my birthday my own 24 hours of hedonism. I would only do the things that I enjoyed. I would even have grand birthday bashes where I would send out birthday invitations that glorified me. Those days were behind me now. I was perfectly content to let my birthday pass by just like it was any other day on the calendar. I didn’t want or need birthday presents. Today was an adequate birthday. It was a day like any other. That was all I wanted.

(Secretly though I did covet a couple of birthday presents and I have gotten one of those presents and I have an IOU for the other.) I have found though that whether or not you want presents or not, people some times insist on giving them to you. Which is alright, I guess.

I arrived at Colleen’s at about 7:15. She greeted me at the door. Rebecca and Kirk were there, but Bethany and Nate were not there. For the tenth straight time that I have been to Colleen’s, Kirk was watching some form of auto racing. It seemed like a waste of such a nice television.

“Where are Nate and Bethany?” I asked. It had been a while since I had seen either of them. I don’t think I had seen Bethany since we went to the Sculpture Garden and I don’t think I had seen Nate since the Jordis Unga concert.

“They are still on the road.” Colleen answered. “Apparently they had to stop somewhere because Bethany wanted to buy a camera.”

I took a seat and waited. I looked at the television. There were trucks driving around in a circle. I don’t know much about racing, but I hope this wasn’t the big race of the week for truck racers. There must have been maybe 100-200 people in the stands. I did not make any comments deriding auto racing though. I have quietly come to accept the fact that auto racing has invaded all of my families on some levels. Although I have accepted the fact with a defeated dignity, I figured that I would take a few jabs at the “sport” when Nate was present. He had the ability to do it in a good natured way where feelings were only bruised and not injured. If I started in with Rebecca as my backup, things might get personal.

So I turned to Rebecca. “Are your hands clean?”

“Why?”

“I got that book that is going into Kelly’s Salon, if you would like to check it out.”

“Sure.”

I handed the box in the book with it over to her.

“Good news,” I said, “Your picture came yesterday, so I just need to get it matted and then it will be ready for Sunday. Are you going to be around tomorrow?”

“I will be in the morning. I’m going to a Slaughterhouse 6 show at Vaudeville Mews tomorrow night and I have some graduation parties to go to.”

“What time are you getting up in the morning?”

“Pretty early. Probably about 9.”

I knew that meant 11.

“Did you like that Van Gogh book that I got you?”

“Yeah. It is pretty neat. I think it will come in real useful when I go to college.”

“I hope it does.”

It was then that the door opened and Nate walked in with Bethany. Nate looked at the television and saw that racing was on the television. Nate had been admiring the television for quite some time. He held his tongue, but the look on his face clearly indicated that he thought that this was a waste of a perfectly good television.

Bethany looked at me and said, “Hey Chris!”

Whenever Bethany is going to ask me for a favor or for my help she always starts the request with these two words and an identical inflection. This is the type of inflection that makes the two word “hey” and “Chris” a question more than a declarative statement.

I already knew that a request was about to be made and I already knew that the request was going to be granted. What I didn’t know was what the request was going to be.

“Yes Bethany.”

“What are you doing tomorrow?”

“I don’t have anything scheduled per se.” I still didn’t have much information. “Except that I’m going to be delivering Rebecca’s picture signature board thing.”

“Can you help me buy a camera?”

Wow! This was something I was actually, sort of qualified to do. In fact, people had sought my advice about buying a camera quite frequently lately. Only every single time I had given my advice and backed it up with reasons, the advisees had bought something completely different.

“Yeah, I can do that. I’m actually pretty excited about it. Perhaps you might listen to my advice.” I said and thought “rather than completely wasting my time”. Why don’t people listen to me? They come to me for a reason, but then they just wander off into the wilderness. Fools and knaves! All of them!

I stroked my goatee knowingly and then I asked, “What time were you thinking?”

Bethany sat there for a second.

Nate chimed in, “Why don’t you ask her what time she is going to get up.” Brothers are always there to help.

I acted on Nate’s advice, “What time are you going to get up?”

“I can get up and be ready by noon.”

“Then we’ll go at noon.”

Racing trucks roared in the background.

Moments later we were sitting around the kitchen table eating supper. Colleen had fixed a wondrous spread. It included turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and asparagus. There were also various salads but I’m not going to try to describe them. I’m sure they were varying forms of pasta salad, but that is all I can say about them for sure, besides that they were delicious. This is a gap in my schooling that I have looked to close in recent weeks. I have yet to be successful.

After dinner I sat down in the chair where I couldn’t get a clear look at the screen. Trucks were still driving around in a circle. It boggles my mind that at this point they had been doing this for over 2 hours.

Nate, Bethany, and Rebecca all sat down around the television. We were all miserable from eating too much food. It was a good kind of miserable though.

In the kitchen Colleen and Kirk did the dishes and cut up the birthday cake. Even though it seemed that I couldn’t eat any more food, I managed to eat a piece of cake. It was a good cake, but it wasn’t the caliber of cake made by Nate. I think I would have added a third thing to my secret birthday list, but in retrospect what Nate did give me was almost as good as a Nate cake. Besides, he certainly didn’t have the time to make a cake while he was down this weekend. Nate makes such good cakes. Perhaps if he asks me for a birthday list next year, I’ll just point to my belly and tell him to make if full and happy. Happy with cake.

Even though I did not desire anything, I was given a couple of birthday presents afterwards. It not being just my birthday, I was not the only one. Rebecca had brought bag purses for Bethany and Colleen from the Senior Trip to New York City. One was a “Prada” and the other was a “Coach”. I received a pretty sweet stocking cap that says New York City on it. It makes me look even tougher than I normally do. When I wear it I will no doubt scare small children.

From Colleen and Kirk I got a copy of the first season of “The Office”. Always an excellent choice.

Shortly after the cake had been eaten, Sara H. showed. Sara had just graduated from college. She told me how she was going to work for Habitat for Humanity for a year in North Carolina to be near her boyfriend who goes to Davidson.

The thought crossed my mind about her working on a construction crew. It might be possible that her mastery over profanity could be taken to the next level. Habitat might be a non-profit organization, but I refuse to believe that anybody can frame a house and put up dry wall with out the occasional f bomb flying out of their mouth. Well, perhaps the Amish.

She ruined this dream. She is going to be doing office work. How boring.

After a few more minutes of polite conversation, Bethany and Sara H. left for a bar in the west end of town.

A little after they left, Colleen and Kirk left for the bar. That left the television remote unguarded and up for grabs. Rebecca and Nate both made a move for the remote, but Rebecca is younger and was quicker.

She turned the television to TBS and just like that truck racing was replaced by “Sex and the City”. Nate grumbled at this development.

“This is only marginally better than watching auto racing.” Nate declared.

I moved to the couch so that I could actually see the television screen. Nate grumbled some more. Then he watched in silence for about five minutes.

“Well, I’ve seen all of this I can take.” Then Nate got up off the couch and left to go to the bar.

This left just me and Rebecca. Watching “Sex and the City” reruns on a Friday night.

“Do you hate ‘Sex and the City’?” Rebecca asked.

“I’ve been more or less conditioned to watch this show.”

Then we more or less sat in silence watching the remainder of the episode where one character hooked up with the guy from “Office Space”, one character decided that she really did love her baby’s father, one character realized her relationship could only go so far because her boyfriend was Jewish, and I can’t remember the problems of the fourth character. The show ended and we watched another episode. Same problems.

“Sex and the City” was followed by an episode of “Scrubs”. About half way through this show I got up and said, “Well, I better call it a night. I have to get up early tomorrow to do some matting.”

Rebecca wished me a good night. As I walked down the stairs, through the door, and out to my car I had one thought cross my mind:

“This was a perfectly adequate birthday and there was nothing wrong with that.”


Bennett's Run
Former Birthday Party Invitation – Parody of “Logan’s Run”

06-03-07
Present from Rebecca – Photo by Corey Schmidt

06-28-07
One of my “secret birthday wishes” – Stained Glass Made by Jen

Minutia – Chapter 4: Failure

Chapter 4: Failure

Thomas Edison failed on his first 100 attempts to invent the light bulb. When asked if he was upset with all of his failures he responded that they weren’t failures. He had learned 100 different ways not to invent the light bulb. I think of that story at times when I need motivation and I can’t seem to make the picture in my head and the picture on the screen the same. Then I also remember that Thomas Edison used to publicly electrocute cats and dogs to show the dangers of Tesla’s competing style of electricity. That reminds that the distance between genius and insanity is measured by success.

I had just got home from Ames. I had a belly full of Club sandwich. I had invites to not one but two swinging parties burning in the back of my mind. One party was in Des Moines. This party was to celebrate Nate and Ryan’s birthdays. If I attended this party I would get to see Ryan. He is the recognized master of the high five. This was a strong selling point.

The second party was for Sara H.’s graduation. She had recently graduated college and was having one last shindig before she left for North Carolina for a stint with Habitat for Humanity. While Ryan is an acknowledged master of the high five, Sara is an acknowledged master of profanity. Perhaps the only one I know.

Sara H.’s party was in Ogden. Nate’s party was in Des Moines. I considered my options. Then I considered that the sun was quickly fading in the sky. It had been a while since I had felt the Maxxum 5D in my hands, if you hadn’t counted the pictures of Bethany and her new camera I had taken an hour or so ago.

I was feeling restless. I grabbed the camera and loaded the car up with fake flowers. I hit the road. I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, but I just didn’t know where I wanted to go. Plus, I was going to need an assistant.

There was really only one man for the job of assistant. With apologies to Baier, if I were an artistic genius like Van Gogh, Jay would be my Gauguin. This is for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that Jay would look great with a mustache. The second reason is that Jay is always riding me for being lazy.

Any time that I say that I should put up a tripod, but that I won’t do it because it is too time consuming, he is right on my back calling me lazy.

I dream that someday Jay and I can have a confrontation where he tells me that the only thing he can tell by looking at my work is that I work too fast. So I can get right back in his grill and tell him that he “looks too fast”. If this happens I would prefer that Jay was wearing red pants.

I had drove around aimlessly for awhile before deciding on giving Jay a call. He answered his phone and sounded a bit like a man that had been beaten down. I’m sure he had. He had probably spent 10 hours at work.

Without trying to sound pushy I asked Jay if he might be interested in helping me with a little photo project that I was working on.

“When?”

“The sooner the better.” In reality I had some disposable time, but I wasn’t in the patient mood.

“I’ll need to take a shower first.”

“It would be better if you didn’t.”

That sentence kind of hung there for awhile.

“What do you want me to do?”

“It might involve you getting wet.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I want to go down to a stream and then you are going to throw these fake flowers into the stream. It might involve you actually getting into the stream, plus we might have to cross the stream, and you might have to help me find the flowers if they get lost. Plus there is always the chance of mud.”

“I can’t take a shower?”

“I wouldn’t see the point. You are just going to have to take a shower after we are done.”

“I really stink.”

“We both are probably going to stink before this little exercise (in futility) is over.”

“Why me?”

“Because you are my Gauguin!”

“Wasn’t he kind of a prick?”

“It would be better than being my Signac?”

“Yeah, that pointillism joker with his ‘scientific method’.”

“Yeah, screw that guy.”

“Screw pointillism too.”

“So you’re in?”

“The deal is that you can’t complain that I stink.”

“I wouldn’t think of it.”

I swung by Jay’s pad and picked him up. I had a basic idea of what I wanted to do. Although I knew this was going to be entirely a test run for a later photo, I needed to make the test run as soon as possible. The deadline for State Fair Photography Salon was quickly approaching and I wanted to be able to place my order with Adorama with plenty of time to spare. That way I would get the pictures back with plenty of time to discuss my matting options with Monica. After all, Monica is my matting expert because of her vast knowledge of the color wheel. Plus she can put a picture on different colored mattes and say “that looks good, it really brings out color X.”

I’m not at liberty to discuss what I am trying to do with this picture. Only Monica gets to see the four pictures I enter to the State Fair Photography Salon before the reception the Tuesday before the State Fair opens. At that point, Sara J. gets to see the pictures. Then, I might post them on my website. That is if I do well. If I don’t do well, I just pretend like I’ve never heard of the State Fair Photography Salon.

Jay got in the car. I didn’t smell any stench on the man. Which means he was either grousing for no reason or he had made haste to take the White Trash Shower. I didn’t smell an excess of cologne on him, so I think that he was really just trying to buy time until he could think of a good reason not to wade through a stream with me. His plan failed.

I turned the radio up and we headed towards McHose Park.

I had chosen the stream that ran behind McHose Park. Perhaps it isn’t the most sanitary stream in the world, but it had three things that I prized above all else.

The thing I wanted the most was solitude. I knew that if I was hanging around this stream, I would most likely be able to do my work in peace. As opposed to Ledges, where there would be people crawling all over the place. McHose Park is always busy on the front side, but not many people hang around the backside, unless they are engaging in an illegal narcotic based activity. If I ran into such people, we would leave each other alone.

The second thing that I liked about the stream behind McHose Park is that while it isn’t deep, there are sections of it that are fairly deep. The water can get as deep as 3 to almost 4 feet deep. Finding one of these deep spots would be key to my artistic pursuit on this day.

The final thing that appealed to me was clear water. Unlike portions of the stream at Ledges or Squaw Creek, the water that runs through this stream is very clear. At least in the parts of the creek that have a sandy bottom.

One of the sad truths about McHose Park is that despite being one of the largest and most beautiful City Parks in the state, it has come into disrepair lately. The main paved road that cuts through the park has huge sections where the term pothole seems to hardly even be appropriate. The gravel back roads are eroding away and the city does not seem to be interested in grading them. A couple of the bridges on the backside of the park are well past being called safe.

I drove down the one gravel road that is still passable for somebody in a sedan. I stopped and parked a few hundred feet past Turtle Pond. I parked right in front of the Water Treatment Facility.

There are no words that adequately describe the smell that first attacks your nostrils when you smell the air outside of the Water Treatment Facility. If Jay was worried about any body odor, this smell should have put him at ease. I don’t know the person that can produce an odor that can compete with this smell. For purposes of intellectual honesty, I should admit that I do know a couple, but nobody that I would ever allow in my car.

Years ago McHose Park had a road on its very backside that you could drive through. It was a gravel road that allowed you to drive through the stream on a couple of occasions. For some reason, the City closed down this road. Although you can’t drive on it any longer, it is still there. Slowly eroding away and being reclaimed by the forest. We walked down what is left of this road.

When I originally envisioned this project, I thought about a part of the stream that is on the very south edge of McHose Park. A part of the stream that was almost all the way to US30. There was a small waterfall at this part of the stream and a stretch of the stream that was a decent depth. However, we were quite a ways away from that part of the stream, so I decided to just make do with the first decent part of the stream I came across. After all, these were just test shots. It didn’t need to be perfect.

Those were the thoughts that crossed my mind as walked down the road, past a crane and a Bobcat that blocked part of the road. Those were the thoughts that crossed my mind as we approached a section of the road where the stream crossed the road.

Jay looked at me and said, “Now what?”

My plan wasn’t terribly thought out. I told him what I knew.

“You are going to stand down here. I am going to walk down there.” I said while pointing in the general direction of downstream. “When I give you the signal, I want you to throw the fake flowers in the stream.”

“That is it? You drug me out here to throw fake flowers into a stream?”

I saw that he had brought with him his particular brand of insolence.

“Yeah, that is pretty much it.” I conceded.

I decided to take on the stream barefooted. I loathe sandals and do not own a pair or their bastard offspring the flip flop. I can’t even bring myself to say flip flop. Last time I bought a pair, I made Olivia refer to them as “water related footwear.” Those “shoes” ended up in the bottom of the channel that separates Lower Cullen Lake and Middle Cullen Lake. It was either lose the “shoes” or go underwater with the Maxxum 5. Today I chose to go barefoot.

I do not know if Jay thought what I was doing was stupid, but he didn’t ask me any questions. If Jay knew what I was about to do was stupid, he has been conditioned in past encounters to let me make my own mistakes.

The other theory that I can operate under is that Jay might have noticed that I was wearing hiking boots. He may have considered the possibility that I didn’t want to get my hiking boots wet or muddy. They might have been my dress shoes. After all, we did have a friend that was vacationing in Spain that tried to pass hiking boots off as dress shoes on more than one occasion.

Whatever Jay’s motivation for not pointing out my stupidity, what I was about to do was a very stupid thing. I was going to try to make my way through a series of concrete blocks and rocks to a part of the stream that was just sand. These concrete blocks and rocks stuck out of the stream at weird angles. These concrete blocks and rocks were intermittently covered with algae.

I took off my boots and socks. I waded into the stream. The cool temperature of the water gave me an initial shock, but that gave way to a sensation of pleasure. The water was rather refreshing.

I inched my way off the road and onto a concrete block. My first step was decisive. Then I stood there and realized I didn’t really have a good second step. The rocks and the blocks were at funky angles. While I would have no problem handling this situation with two hands free, one hand was clutching the Maxxum 5D. True I could have left the camera dangling from its strap around my neck, but quite frankly I don’t believe in the camera strap. I believe in my right hand.

I was standing on a concrete block. On all sides of me was rushing water. About a foot a way was the bank. I could have stepped to the bank and walked about 20 feet and hopped into the stream in a place that wasn’t occupied by a mishmash of rocks and blocks.

It is possible that what crossed my mind was that taking the bank would have been a wimp’s way out. I would say the way of the pansy, but I have since learned that the pansy is actually a very hardy flower and does not deserve to be compared with people that are feeble or cowardly. The iris on the other hand . . .

In actuality I don’t think I ever considered the bank. I made a few more tentative steps. It seemed like I was going to make it. I made a few more steps. It seemed like this plan was going to work.

Then I tried to step up on to a concrete block. I placed my foot on top of a rock and began to push off. The rock was covered in algae. My foot slipped right off. I lost my balance and started to fall face first towards the concrete block.

I had an option though. I could put a couple of hands in front of me and stop my fall or at least push myself off to the side of the concrete block. The only problem was that I held the Maxxum 5D in one hand. If I tried to use it to help stop my fall it would surely be smashed into several no longer functioning pieces or it would have ended up in the stream. Then it would have been in one no longer function piece.

Out of my peripheral vision I realized that I still was only a few short feet from the bank. I tossed the Maxxum 5D in to a growth of grass and continued to let gravity take its course.

I put my hands out and pushed against the concrete block. My face was saved. My body shot upwards, but I was still not in equilibrium. I fell to the side and landed in the water.

“You alright?”

Jay’s concern was heart warming. I pulled myself and what was left of my dignity out of the water. I walked over to the bank to find the Maxxum 5D. It was sitting on top of the grass, looking as if it had not been flying through the air a few moments earlier. I picked it up. I looked it over. I tested it. It was fine.

I sat down on the concrete block and looked myself over. The camera was still in one piece. My face was still intact. There was a throbbing pain in my left foot though.

This term is not used with any kind of medical training. I believe that I hyperextended my left foot. When I was falling on the rock, all my weight went on the front of my foot and my toes bent upwards well past where they are supposed to stop bending. The result was a dull throbbing pain on the bottom side of my foot that felt like a bruise, but there wasn’t a bruise to be found. Further examination of my foot revealed a decent sized gash along the side of my big toe.

“I’m fine,” I answered. “Just a little cut.”

“We calling it a day?” He asked, but he already knew the answer.

I just gave him the look. The look that indicated that I wasn’t an iris, I was a pansy.

“Want your boots then?”

“Yeah, that suddenly sounds like a real good idea.”

Jay threw me my boots and I made the rest of the journey without incident. I stopped at a bend in the stream that was about 100 feet from Jay. It seemed like a good spot because on the west side of the stream there was a clearing on the bank. Plus on the outside part of the stream’s bend, the water was at least 2.5 to 3 feet deep. I gave Jay the signal.

He began dropping the fake flowers into the stream. I waited. He kept throwing them in. I waited. He had thrown them all in. I waited. I waited. I waited.

“This isn’t going to work.” He yelled downstream at me.

“Why not?”

“They’re sinking.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“Doesn’t matter what it makes, they all sank.”

I began to walk upstream. Sure enough, not even 20 feet from Jay I found all of the fake flowers. They had all sunk. Fake flowers don’t float. This didn’t make sense. The flowers were made out of plastic, which floats, and silk which I would assume isn’t heavy enough to sink. I had reckoned wrong. I reckoned that maybe that the part of the stream where Jay had thrown the flowers in was too turbulent for proper floating. I grabbed all the flowers and headed back to my bend.

I dropped the flowers into the calmer area of the stream. They floated for a second and then they dropped to the stream bottom.

This sucked. I looked up to call out to Jay. I wanted to tell him that this sucked, but he was gone. It was like that moment in the horror movie where two people are in the woods and one of them disappears. Either the person that disappears shows up moments later for a “fake scare” or their body shows up in the third act all distorted and mutilated.

This wasn’t a horror movie though. Jay showed up moments later. He had wandered off and collected some small real flowers.

“This sucks.” I was finally able to verbalize, but I had lost some of the venom.

He ignored me and threw the flowers into the stream.

“Real flowers float.”

Which was great, but not real helpful. If I was going to use real flowers for my picture, I would need a flower with a much larger bloom than what Jay was finding. I saw a grouping of the type of flowers that Jay was throwing into the stream and I took a few pictures of them so that I could identify them later.

I came back to the stream and tried to get what I could out of the sinking flowers. I figured it was good enough for a test run.

I walked back to Jay, got out of the steam and walked the uncomfortable walk of somebody with wet boots. While I was walking in these wet boots to the car I decided that I didn’t really feel much like going to a party. I felt like getting out of these shoes, taking a shower, and playing with Photoshop. This would be my Saturday night. Not exciting, but I would get plenty of sleep and be able to start up my church streak again. Plus I would be plenty rested for the next day’s graduation festivities.

When we got back to the car I came to the sad realization that even though this was a test run, I hadn’t learned how to take the picture that I wanted. I had learned a way not to take the picture that I wanted.



Broken Bridge of McHose Park

05-19-07
Back of the Crane

05-19-07
The Deceptively Tricky Rapids


“You should have worn your shoes and I would look smashing wit a mustache.”


The Small Flowers on the Bank


Coming Back from the Bend

05-19-07

Rectification

I got lots of information to get out there, so I’m going to dispense with the niceties and just jump in and get this “blog” on!!!

Well the response to my anti-Dasher Management rant and artwork has been universally negative. Just some of my favorite e-mail responses:

“What you don’t want my kid to be happy when eating his Happy Meal? Then you are a jerk. I hope you can’t sleep at night.”
“You call Andres Serrano a hack. In my dictionary I pasted your picture next to the term “hack” because Mister, that is what you are.”
“Mountain Dew and water? Clearly your bladder lacks the courage of your convictions and that makes you a coward.”
“You’re attempt at a kinetic sculpture is weak. It doesn’t even compare favorably to the writings of Nicholas Sparks.”
“‘Piss Kroc’. Crock of #!%@# that is what you are sir.”

Despite this unified public front I move forward with my plans. Ahh . . . but what are those plans. I was all set to tell you about my plans to open an online store, but then “it” happened. I had just concluded lunch with a couple of compatriots when the waitress laid the fortune cookies on the table. I smashed my fortune cookie open and hoped for a good fortune. What I got was solid advice.

“Keep your plans secret for now.”

So you see, I can’t possibly tell you about my online store plans for now. The fortune cookie has advised me to keep my plans a secret. Fortune cookies have never steered me wrong in the past. Including the following nuggets:

“You will find an outlet for your creative genius and accomplish a great deal.”
“You have many personal talents that are attractive to others, so be sure to use them.”
“You are interested in public service and would make an outstanding statesman.”
“Time is right to make new friends.”
“You will do well to expand your business.”
“You have an unusually magnetic personality.”
“You will soon meet a dark stranger.”

They are all true, except I have yet to meet a dark stranger. I suppose I need to work on that one. Although a co-worker recently referenced a website to me called “Savage Love” and the URL for said site has something to do with the stranger. When I heard that I instantly thought about the Albert Camus novel “The Stranger” which both the President and I enjoy in a very similar manner.  (Meaning we both like to pretend that we read it to sound intellectual at parties.)

Instead of having to do anything remotely with literature, this “Savage Love” website is some kind of dating/sex advice website. Now I have not visited this website because I’m a little bit leery of visiting such a site on my work computer because I don’t want to be the guy that triggers the “porn surfing at work is to be done only during lunch” memo. You know how porn eats up the company bandwidth. However, yet another unnamed co-worker did visit the site and indicated to me that the following subject was a topic for “Savage Love” – “Openly Skank”.

The fact that there was a topic entitled “Openly Skank” reminded me of two facts and created a new question for me.

Fact #1: I used to hang out with people that used the term skank quite frequently, but now I don’t know anybody that uses the term skank any longer. This term must have fallen out of the popular vernacular. How sad.
Fact#2: I am a big fan of a local ska band named “Slaughterhouse 6”. They rip it up.  If you ever have a chance to check them out: Do it! I bring this up because there is a well-known ska dance called “The Skank”. That reminds me of the fact that Derrick has a theory that ska dancing is regional. Derrick and I are ready to travel the country to research his theory and write a paper entitled “Regionalism and Ska Dancing” just as soon as somebody is ready to hand us over a big fat grant check. We’re waiting America. Hands open. Fill them with cash please!

Question #1: If there is a person that is “Openly Skank” then by definition that means that there are people that are “Closeted Skank”. It is a tautology. Look it up. Why would anybody want to concede to themselves that they are on the lowest rung of “The Social Ladder of Promiscuous Women”? Do these women aspire to the next step?

All of that though is neither here nor there. This little tidbit is also quite a bit off subject. I hit a few Chinese restaurants with quite the assortment of people. Some people that sit across the table from me while I consume edibles insist on always saying the “in bed” thing. Annoying? Indubitably! Not the strangest thing that comes into my field of vision though. I eat with 2 people that refuse to eat the fortune cookie or look at the fortune?!?!? They don’t even like to touch it. I swear I’m not making this up. They feel like it is voodoo or black magic. They think that to engage the fortune cookie is to play with dark forces. It is the same as playing Ouija, by Parker Brothers to them. Those warlock bastards!!*

For the record, fortune cookies have no religious affiliation. Fortune cookies (just like nachos) are a completely American invention. They were invented as a marketing ploy. There is nothing dark or sinister about them. They are the equivalent of the toy in the bottom of the Cracker Jack box. The only dark force at work at the buffet is the inability to get a refill after the bill hits the table.
In reality, I should get back to the subject matter at hand. My future plans for my online store. However, to know the future you need to examine the past. I really only want to go back a few days.
On Sunday I loaded up the iPod with some quality music and hit the open road with Jesse. Turns out we hit the open road just a little too hard. To the tune of a 102 dollar speeding ticket. The cop was a swell guy; he knocked it down 1 mile for me.

“I saved you 30 bucks.”

Since you are so concerned about my financial state, officer, I know a way you can save me another 102 dollars. It involves that ticket, an orifice, and the word “sideways”.

We made the rest of the trip to Mendota Heights unscathed by incredibly stupid arbitrary traffic laws. We picked up Nate and headed to some town that I won’t even try to remember to imbibe the goodness that is Buffalo Wild Wings. We knocked down some Jerk wings and watched the stupid Bears stumble their way to a playoff victory. WooHoo! They are still losing this weekend to the Saints. So party it up while you can Bears fans.

After a stuffing meal we hit Excelsior to see Bethany’s school and teach her how to make “legal backups” of DVDs. We then headed back to the St. Paul area. We made a quick stop to replenish my diminished supply of Faygo and buy a 4 pack of Boylan Root Beer (it is sweetened with pure cane sugar) and we were back at Nate’s to pick up our bounty. 3 cakes exquisitely crafted by the master for my 1 year work anniversary. A Peanut Butter Cake, Chocolate Mousse, and some kind of Lemon Cake, each one greater than its predecessor. That statement isn’t entirely true. Man, I love me some Peanut Butter Cake.

We loaded the bounty into the back of the Taurus and bid Nate a fond adieu.  Then we headed out for the open road. The only hiccup being that the open road was now covered with snow and Minnesota drivers. Regardless of the obstacles created by nature and Minnesota’s public education system we made it to Iowa where miraculously the roads were mostly clear because there were actually snowplows out?!?!

We kicked it up a notch to make up for lost time in Minnesota, and then we hit a wolf pack of people doing about 55. I was manning the driver’s seat for this part of the sojourn. I thought about that earlier speeding ticket still burning a hole in my pocket and then thought, whatever! I eased into the passing lane and gave the Taurus a healthy dose of gas. When I got to the front of the pack I realized that a state patrolman was the lead dog.

FUDGE!!!!

Only the word that came out of my mouth was decidedly less Christian. So I had to make a decision. Fall to the back of the pack like a victim of castration. Or put “them” figuratively on the dashboard and pass the patrolman in the middle of a blizzard.

I gave the Taurus a little more gas, passed the patrolman and slowly pulled away. I waited to be pulled over and given the inevitable ticket. It didn’t happen. Victory was mine.
The rest of the trip was just spent rocking out, basking in the glory of victory.

Monday night I managed to be late for bowling yet again. I was matched up with the worst bowler in the league. He beat me like a red headed stepchild. I guess that makes me officially the worst bowler in the league.
Tuesday was my 1 year work anniversary. I brought in Nate’s cake. I believe that they were a smashing success. So much so I was nominated for being a “nice guy” at the company meeting. Nice guy. I got them all fooled. (strokes cat that sits on the arm of his chair knowingly)

On Wednesday Monica joined Jesse and I for lunch. We drove 1 block to King Buffet. Besides the fortune that started this whole mess of a blog, the only thing of consequence that transpired was Jesse determining that I would have made an “awesome stoner”. Now I know what some of you with limited English skills (such as myself) just had a word pop into your head: Onomatopoeia!! No that is not it! Oxymoron!! Awesome and stoner are concepts that deny one another. A person can not be both awesome and a stoner. I asked, nay, demanded clarification.

I’m paraphrasing and elaborating at the same time, but this is what came out of his mouth. “You usually go all the way into things. You would blow glass so that you could make your own hookah. You would make bongs out of ordinary household items and they would work as both a bong and whatever it was that they were originally supposed to be. You would listen to Dave Matthews, Phish, and the Grateful Dead and pretend like it was deeply moving music. As if it existed on a higher plane. You would have walls covered with black light posters of hemp, mushrooms, and Pink Floyd. You would subscribe to High Times magazine and carry pictures of the Bud of the Month around with you like it was the “coolest thing ever”. You would wear hemp jewelry. You would give passionate diatribes about the difference between decriminalizing marijuana and legalizing marijuana. You would fly into a rage any time anybody used the term “gateway drug”. Then finally when you decided to enter the adult world and get a job you would listen to whining Nancy Boy music like Jack Johnson and John Mayer.”
For the record I would never listen to John Mayer. “Waiting on the World to Change”! How about getting off your duff and help start changing it instead of whining that “there’s nothing we can do”. That song has less social meaning than “Fergalicious”.

Thursday meant supper with a friend, and a new episode of The Office, and Papa Bear on The Colbert Report.

So I guess that brings us to the present. I can begin my plans for the future. What does the future hold for me? What does the future hold for us? I can’t tell you all about the future but I will tell you that I am currently working on a plan for my future online store. I just can’t tell you about it. I have to heed the cookie you know!

I can make some vague allusions to it though. It is a style that in some circles is known as “The Bennett Style”. The people in those circles need a hobby. Perhaps they could take up crafts.

Speak of the devil and the devil will appear. Tomorrow night I am very excited to be going as far south as Maryland Pike for craft night. I’m not all that crafty, but it will give me a chance to admire the works of an acknowledged master: Sara Junck. Also, I haven’t spent much time painting frames and I need to get a frame painted if I am ever going to get a picture proudly displayed in Salon 908. So part of the future involves craft night.

Speaking of acknowledged masters, I think I have finally determined a time and a date for my much ballyhooed trip to Brunnier to see the sculptures of Rodin. This coming Thursday they are having a reception with appetizers, music, and a speaker. The good news is that there are still plenty of openings for the trip. A couple of people have already fallen out.

Jay just can’t commit because he doesn’t know when he will get off work. Maybe he will come back into focus when the day draws nigh.

Monica hates Rodin. Her exact words were, “Screw Rodin, if he was any good they would have named one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles after him. Plus sculptures suck as a general rule.”

If the  Brunnier trip falls apart, I at least have a few movies to fall back on. A few movies that I have had my on my radar for months have finally found their way to the theaters of Ames and I am pumped up.
“The Last King of Scotland” is playing at the Varsity. “Running with Scissors” has graced the Dollar Theatre. “Dreamgirls” is holding it down at the Movies 12. There are plenty of high quality movies in town for once. Although I do regret missing “Candy” which left Ames last night. I also eagerly anticipate the arrival of “Pan’s Labyrinth”. I beg you Cinemark don’t make me wait much longer for the latest film by Guillermo del Toro. I can’t wait for the latest film from the master filmmaker that brought us “Hellboy” and “Blade II”??? Whatever, I still want to see it.

January 30th is also a pretty exciting date. That is the date that the new Norah Jones CD is released.

Then on February 5th there is going to be a pretty sweet concert at the Maintenance Shop. Not as incredible as a Lesser Known Saint show, but I’m still pretty stoked about going to see Matt Werz in concert.
But all these events are in the hazy future and none of them have anything to do with the online store. That is really concerned with the website. Avid followers of the Photography 139 website will have noticed a small change in the website.

You see it was Christmas recently. To mark the birth of the savior of mankind people like to give friends, family, and social obligations gifts. I rolled such a gift into a CSS manual. Okay, half of you just fell asleep. WAKE UP!! So, I have slowly been converting the website into CSS. Outwardly you will not notice much of a difference, but in the future it will be a billion-gazillion times easier to update the look and fell of the website.

This new knowledge also enabled me to move the navigation bar from the side of the website to the top of the website. This move makes the main body of the page quite a bit larger. The immediate consequence of that is that I can make the pictures much larger. The immediate consequence for you is that it will take longer for you to download the pictures. But did I mention that they will be larger??

I’ve went ahead and started designing the site to be best seen at a screen resolution of 1024×768 as that is more or less the standard now. It will still look fine at larger screen resolutions, but you might find it slightly annoying if your screen resolution is 800×600. I will not apologize for this because I am trying to help your boat rise with the tide. Just the way that the “No Child Left Behind Act” did.

So now you know that the site looks slightly different. Still no information about that online store to be had around these parts, is there? I did promise broad allusions. I am a man of my word, but you may want to turn back now. My kinetic sculpture plays a small part in the future and we all know that nobody likes that sculpture. The hatred is so intense that I have decided to change the name to “Anti-McDonald’s Book Deterioration Thing”.

Let’s go back to the past. A few weeks hence I ate lunch at The Great Plains Sauce and Dough Company with Sara. This is back when she used to eat food, but that is now a part of her past and a subject I will not dwell on. The subject of conversation was reached about the 4 people in the world I hate. She thought that it was bad to hate these people, but then I named the 4 people that I hate and she said it was okay to hate “those” people. However, I think it is more than past time to let that hate go. The man whose birthday we celebrated on Monday said the following thing:

“He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is devoid of the power to love.”

It is likely that he was right about such things. The “Anti-McDonald’s Book Deterioration Thing” is a symptom of that hate. If art is meant to glorify God, all this glorifies is me.

However, it is part of the plan for the online store. To open this online store I figure I need  to raise about 160 American dollars. True I could dig into my own wallet or use some of my recently attained “phat” bonus check. However, I choose to run my “business” is the same manner as PBS.

In the near future I will put some items in the store. If anybody buys enough of them to put 160 American dollars in my possession I will move on with the opening of a legitimate online store that people will be able to use their credit cards and such to purchase high quality Photography 139 merchandise.

The first thing to go into the “fundraising” store will be “The Anti-McDonald’s Book Deterioration Thing”. It will have an initial price tag of 10 bucks. When it does not sell, it will be thrown into the Des Moines River where it will descend to the muddy bottom. It is where it deserves to be.

I’ll let you know when the fundraising begins. I am certain that you are whet with anticipation.

*In all sincerity, I don’t recall if it was Parker Brothers or Milton Bradley that mass marketed the “witchboard” to America’s youth. I don’t know if they were wiccans or warlocks or spawns of Satan or smoking lots of dope. I just know that it the single strangest toy in the history of mankind.