Category Archives: Schmidt

The Grand Slam

This is a video of Jesse eating an onion. Why? Because he said that he could and Schmidt and I doubted him. Well perhaps doubt is the wrong term, because we wanted to see him do it.

But now we have devised a new goal for Jesse. We want him to complete the Grand Slam of onions. He has taken a white onion down. It is time for him to step up to a yellow onion. Then a red onion. Then finally a green onion.

If you see 3 more videos, you know he was up to the challenge.

Of course, if you subscribe to this blog via email or RSS Feed, you will actually have to go to the website to see the video.

Life, Partly

There is an old Oscar Wilde quote that goes, “True friends stab you in the front.” This has and always will be the friendship philosophy of Christopher D. Bennett. But there is a better quote by a different writer that best encapsulates what happened to me on a morning a few weeks back:

“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”

Tennessee Williams

I have a few rituals I perform every morning when I get to work. But the most important is when I walk past Corey Schmidt.

I stop and I say, “Good morning friend.”

He answers back, “Good morning friend.”

I have to admit that this simple act of acknowledging a friend has made some people confused, angered and jealous.

Steve for example is jealous that I do not stop by him every morning to say those 3 simple words. I have pointed out to him that I always stab him in the front, but that wasn’t enough for him. So now I make time during his lunch break to listen to him regale me with stories from the old country (Mason City).

For example, he told me the story of when his dad took him to visit his grandpa at work. Only it isn’t a heartwarming story. His grandpa worked on the kill line in a slaughterhouse. You can imagine what watching cattle get strung upside down and having their throat cut can do to a small child’s psyche. It is why Steve is the way that he is.

But this isn’t a tale of jealous or killing floors. This a tale of friendship.

One morning I came into work and stopped and said, “Good morning friend.”

Corey retorted back, “I have something for you.” Then he handed me a grocery bag.


It was no longer a good morning. It was a great morning!

Black Plague Pizza

In my quest to catch up, I’m going to just copy and paste an email about a recent experience I had a new local pizzeria. So if you were the one who received this email, you might want to skip reading this and go back to your normal job duties.

This experience took place on Friday the 13th. Apparently not just a bad day for Templar Knights.

Earlier in the week, Jay brought up wanting to try this new pizza joint in Ames. I had heard the story of how it opened because it was on CNN. I had heard two reviews of the place. One from Jon who loved it. One from Corey who hated it. Corey’s main hatred was generated from the fact that they claimed to serve the pizza with “sauce” on top of the pizza. In actuality the sauce was diced tomatoes. I told this to Jay because he does not like tomatoes as a warning.

Originally we started with 3 people. During the day I sent an invite out to Jen and Derrick to see if they were interested. Then I went home from work to meet the cable guy.

That afternoon, Monica called and wanted to see if she could join us for FNSC since she wasn’t doing her normal birthday dinner.

I called Jay and we worked out a time for when we would meet there. He told me that Willy was not coming because he had run 35 miles that day and felt he should take it easy. He also had big plans for Saturday night. He was going to a birthday party on Saturday night for his friends that he goes to the fights with.

So it was going to be me, Monica and Jay. About this time, my internet was turned on and I saw that Jen had sent me a message saying that she would be interested, but Derrick was out because he was running sound for Dennis’ surprise birthday party at Deano’s.

I called Jesse to tell him what time we were meeting because he had expressed some interest in trying the new pizza place, plus he had my new speakers in his car. Jesse said that he was in.

About 5 pm, my doorbell rang. I went to the door and was surprised to see Willy there. I told him that Jay said that he wasn’t coming.

He said that he had decided to “Man up.”

Then he gave me a partial bag of ice. The rest of the ice from the bag he was using to ice his legs.

Then Jay came over. He was insistent that we leave right at 5:30 to hold to some schedule that he had made in his head. Willy and I told him that wasn’t “the way things worked”.

We eventually left and met Jen and Monica at the pizza place. FNSC was supposed to consist of Me, Jay, Willy, Jesse, Jen and Monica. 6 people. On the way there, Willy started to get sick.

We ordered two large Chicago Style pizzas. Mr. Meaty and Louie’s Supreme. The price: $69. That is not a typo. That did not include drinks. They told us it would be 1 hour 15 minutes. We asked if we could change the order to delivery and we would eat at Jen’s place. They said that would add 30 minutes to the time we got our pizza.

There was no place to sit, so we ordered the pizza as Carry Out.

Order was placed at 6:20.

Jesse called to say that he had called home and found out that he couldn’t come out.

Jen went home.

Jay, Willy, Monica and I went to Wal-Mart. I needed to buy a toaster and some microwave popcorn. Monica (not making this up) bought a rake so that they could rake up all of the cigarette butts in their yard.

Jen called and said that Jill would be joining us. Willy continued to get worse.

We went inside. There were some tables available. I ordered some drinks and changed our order to Dine-In. They gave me a number after the lady stared at a computer screen for quite some time. I had no faith that the number she gave me was somehow connected to anything on her computer screen. Jay said that if the pizza wasn’t ready in 5 minutes, he was going to leave and take Willy home.

The pizza wasn’t ready in 5 minutes. Jay left.

Jen and Jill arrived. FNSC turned into Me, Jen, Jill and Monica. With two large Chicago Style Pizzas.

A little after 8 pm we were still sitting there (talking about hair) when one of the owners approached our table. He shook my hand and introduced himself to me. He asked how long we had been waiting. I said that we placed our order at 6:20. He asked what time it was. I didn’t not know. He looked at his cell phone and said “Is it really after 8?”

“If you say it is.”

He gathered some information and then went back and came back with a pizza. It wasn’t exactly hot. We told him we had two pizzas. He said, “I hope those dumbasses didn’t accidentally give it out.”

He came back with another pizza. It was not Chicago Style. Somebody pointed this out to him. He took it back and came back with the right pizza.

When he brought back the right pizza he said, “You must have thought we were running a special: 1 pizza for the price of 2!”

The Mr. Meaty pizza had next to no flavor. The Louie’s Supreme wasn’t bad. I like tomatoes, but I could have done without them on top of the pizza. Tomatoes are not a substitute for sauce, which the pizza had none.

At the end of the night, we had 9 slices of pizza left. I took 3 of them to Deano’s for Derrick. I later found out that he took 1 bite and threw the rest away.

Although this experience was very negative, I would be willing to give Black Market Pizza one more chance. I am not willing to give their Chicago style pizza a second chance though.

Plus Five

About a year ago I posted a comment on Shannon’s MySpace page where I was apologizing in advance for what Iowa State was going to do to her UNI Panthers IF Wesley Johnson played in the game.

Wesley Johnson did indeed play in the game and he played well, but UNI came into what was once the toughest building in the nation to play in and beat Iowa State rather soundly. Most disappointing about the game was the fact that ISU seemed to quit in the second half.

It was McDermott’s second team and for the second straight season he had to completely rebuild the roster in the offseason. It was a disappointment, but in retrospect it was to be expected.

Then in early January I was at the Jaycees Year End Banquet. I believe on that same night Michael Beasley was personally destroying the Cyclones.

I believe that it was at this point that Shannon made a rather snide remark about the Cyclones. I had to stand up for the Cyclones and we agreed to attend next season’s game with a friendly wager to boot.

It is a little known fact that I rarely lose wagers. In fact it has been about 5 years since I last lost a wager. I knew that I had, 11 months in advance, secured a victory for the Iowa State Cyclones. Don’t believe me?

Check the archives: I guarantee an ISU victory over UNI! (You will have to scroll past the pictures)

Or I can repost the pertinent part of the blog:

The first event occurred while I was talking to Shannon. Somebody came back from the bar side of the American Legion to announce that my beloved Cyclones were losing by 25 to Kansas State. Although it was sad news, it was to be expected. The simple fact of the matter is that they have Beasley and we do not. That fact alone will decide quite a number of games in Kansas State’s favor this season.

At this point Peggy (the 2008 Jaycees President with questionable taste in college sports teams) came over to point out that her Kansas Jayhawks also thumped Iowa State earlier in the week.

I responded that I wasn’t so sure that wasn’t to be expected. Right now Iowa State is held together by spit, baling wire and a walk-on point guard.

Shannon added that “He will defend Iowa State under any circumstances.”

What she said is undeniably true, but the way she said it indicated that she thinks that there was another way that it is acceptable to be.

Then she took it too far. She wandered down a road that is going to end poorly for her. Even though that road won’t officially end for several months.

She brought up that UNI had beaten ISU this season.

It is a fact. I can’t deny it, but I can make bold proclamations.

I made this bold proclamation:

“I guarantee that we beat UNI next year.”

There I said it. I got it out there. I might have went into some details about how next year’s Cyclone team would be essentially the first team in 3 years that wasn’t going to be built from scratch that offseason.

Then she made the mistake.

“That sounds like a wager.” Those words escaped her lips. I think she knew that she had a mistake as soon as the words had finished reverberating around the American Legion. Yet she gamely continued on and did not back down.

The terms of the wager have not been set, but I can hint at what I’m leaning towards. Let me just say that I think Shannon is going to look good in Cardinal and Gold.

Wednesday was indeed the night that we made our way up to Cedar Falls to witness the game.

I don’t think I need to go into details about the game. UNI fought their hearts out. They were able to force overtime, before the Cyclones were able to finally secure the victory by 5 points.

My impressions of the night are that McLeod Center is an impressive building. It gets surprisingly loud in there. UNI’s program is way better than Iowa State’s program, for the same price. It has pages. Iowa State’s program is a page. Their scoreboard is a little strange. It is split into two separate scoreboards, so it is a little difficult to find the score of the game. It was quite an experience.

I don’t want to go into the details of the wager, because I am not somebody that needs to gloat… but I would like to share that one of the outcomes of the wager was my acquisition of this sweet beanie that Shannon made.


On a related but unrelated note (that might have been the equivalent of using the nonword irregardless)a fellow miner by the name of Schmidt (I have too many friends with the first name Cory) has designed the ISU Basketball equivalent of an Advent Calendar. We figure that Iowa State needs 20 wins to make it to a tournament this year.

He has placed 20 post-it notes next to his desk in the Mine. Every time ISU wins we take down a post-it note and celebrate with some candy.

Shannon probably won’t be happy that I share this fact, but when we were looking around the UNI Book Store for a food item that would be Panther related for the Cyclone Advent Calendar we failed. Then she noticed that there was a purple package of M&Ms (dark chocolate) and a gold package of M&Ms (peanut) she suggested we use those. In fairness she also said it would be a moot point.

Well, it was not a moot point…

Panther Candy

… it was an excellent idea. Panther candy was tasty!

We are planning on celebrating our victory Saturday over the Oregon State Beavers with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Mmmmm…. I wonder what Jayhawk is going to taste like.

Friday with Kountertop

Friday night was another successful Ames on the Half Shell. The band was Kountertop and they were phenomenal. I even had a chance to catchup with an old chum named Todd Sawyer who is a Kountertop roadie. That was pretty sweet.

07-20-08 - Kountertop

07-20-08 - Kountertop

07-20-08 - Kountertop

07-20-08 - Kountertop

07-20-08 - Kountertop

07-20-08 - Kountertop

07-20-08 - Kountertop

07-20-08 - Kountertop

07-20-08 - Kountertop

07-20-08 - Kountertop

07-20-08 - Kountertop

07-20-08 - Kountertop

07-20-08 - Kountertop

07-20-08 - Kountertop

I haven’t loaded any images into the Snapshots Gallery yet, so don’t go running over there. That will happen in due time.

Friday may have been my Half Shell swan song. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to this Friday’s Half Shell. I’m going to spend Thursday and Friday in Cedar Rapids with a small group from my church getting covered in dry wall and black mold. I’m not sure I will make it back to Ames in time to work Half Shell. Even if I did, I’m not sure what I would smell like.

So that means at least a couple of you are going to have to go to Half Shell and drink my share of the Red Monkey Root Beer. This week’s band is the 3AM Band. As always the event runs from 5-8 at Bandshell Park near beautiful downtown Ames, Iowa.

Test Camera

A few months ago Nader gave me a camera to test for his trip to London. I put in a roll of film and took some test shots. Then I put the camera away and forgot about it. I finally finished off the roll and got it developed. I thought I would share some of the images, not because of any of them are particularly interesting, but because maybe they are interesting as a whole. A study of intermittent shots taking over time from a forgotten camera.

Computer Mine Basketball Hoop



Self Portrait

Fat Jake

Jay Snuggly

Fat Jake

Willy: Keeper of Fat Jake

Fat Jake




Party in Jesse’s Office



Deer through Windows of “The Quad”

Computer Mine Basketball Hoop

My Saturday

Most of my Saturday was devoted to Jaycee activities. It started out with the Super Shooters competition. This is only the second Jaycees activity that I have had a chance to work. I was planning on taking a few pictures there, but as it turns out, I left my memory card sitting at home in my memory card reader. I did have my film camera, so I took a few B&W photos. This wasn’t the ideal situation, but I made do.

It had been awhile since I have had REAL B&W film developed. I went to a local camera shop that I haven’t visited in some time to get prints made. I would like to say that I was impressed by their work, but the prints that came out are filled with a myriad of scratches and dust spots. I don’t know what to make of that, I surely don’t.

Here are some of the images from Super Shooters:

Ames has their own electric car?

I dig this dragon sculpture.

The Ames City Hall Gym

Same Gym, Different Angle

Keeping Score

More Keeping Score

Gym Window

Super Shooters

More Super Shooters

More Super Shooters

More Windows

The Youngest Super Shooter

Center Court


Year End Banquet

Before I discuss the Year End Banquet, I should point out that I have excellent news for Cyclone fans. I can pretty much guarantee a Cyclone victory over the UNI Panthers next basketball season. You will understand in a moment, but it is important for you to understand my reasoning for making this claim. You see lately I have been hotter than a firecracker when it comes to wagering. I have been so unstoppable that I have had to turn down my friends’ offers of wagers because I fear them going so deeply into debt with me at which time I will have to swear out a warrant for their arrest and they will rot away in debtors prison.

For example, just this Saturday I have won yet another wager with Russell. It was so obvious I was going to win this wager that I almost turned down his wager. He bet me that Hillary Clinton would defeat Barack Obama in the South Carolina Primary. Not only did he defeat her, it was something of a woodshed beating. His vote total more than doubled her vote total.

I could have won a second wager this weekend with Jason Baier. He wanted to bet me that Rambo would make more than 40 million at the box office this weekend. Even though he pursued this wager aggressively, I had to turn him down. I don’t like to make wagers with people when they can’t win. Even if they don’t know they can’t win. Well almost never as it turns out.

For the record, Rambo grossed 18.1 million at the box office this weekend.

I don’t really need to go into much detail about the banquet. I think that I can break the event down to the two core events that left the deepest impression on me. I can say that before I went to the banquet, I could place a name and a face together for about 6 or 7 Jaycees. After the banquet I think I can up that number to about 12 or 14, but sadly for me, that number should be much higher, but I think I’m starting to suffer from Jay Janson’s Disease. (The inability to put names with faces)

The first event occurred while I was talking to Shannon. Somebody came back from the bar side of the American Legion to announce that my beloved Cyclones were losing by 25 to Kansas State. Although it was sad news, it was to be expected. The simple fact of the matter is that they have Beasley and we do not. That fact alone will decide quite a number of games in Kansas State’s favor this season.

At this point Peggy (the 2008 Jaycees President with questionable taste in college sports teams) came over to point out that her Kansas Jayhawks also thumped Iowa State earlier in the week.

I responded that I wasn’t so sure that wasn’t to be expected. Right now Iowa State is held together by spit, baling wire and a walk-on point guard.

Shannon added that “He will defend Iowa State under any circumstances.”

What she said is undeniably true, but the way she said it indicated that she thinks that there was another way that it is acceptable to be.

Then she took it too far. She wandered down a road that is going to end poorly for her. Even though that road won’t officially end for several months.

She brought up that UNI had beaten ISU this season.

It is a fact. I can’t deny it, but I can make bold proclamations.

I made this bold proclamation:

“I guarantee that we beat UNI next year.”

There I said it. I got it out there. I might have went into some details about how next year’s Cyclone team would be essentially the first team in 3 years that wasn’t going to be built from scratch that offseason.

Then she made the mistake.

“That sounds like a wager.” Those words escaped her lips. I think she knew that she had a mistake as soon as the words had finished reverberating around the American Legion. Yet she gamely continued on and did not back down.

The terms of the wager have not been set, but I can hint at what I’m leaning towards. Let me just say that I think Shannon is going to look good in Cardinal and Gold.

The other event that left an impression on me at the banquet also involved Shannon. I think it was the previous weekend that Shannon won an award at a Jaycees convention known as All-State. She won a pretty major award. She was declared to be the Secretary of the Year in the entire state of Iowa.

Part of the banquet was devoted to handing out awards and re-presenting the awards that various chapter members had won the previous weekend.

Something interesting happened when Shannon got her award. Everybody else got a “clap”. Just one clap. It was confusing to me, but I learned this morning that “the clap” is known as “Rally Applause” or something like that. Everybody got that. However, when Shannon got her award, the room spontaneously broke out in the wave.

I’m not making that up. I’ve been in several crowds where the wave has broken out. Almost all of them have been at sporting events. A couple times it has been at political rally. Sometimes I’ve seen it forced upon a crowd at a corporate brainwashing seminar. I’ve never seen this happen at a formal banquet before. I can only say that this turn of events was very impressive to me. I still can’t quite get my head around it.

This isn’t to say that she doesn’t deserve it. From what I know, she is hyper-organized and put in tons of hard work at that position. The wave was an interesting way of showing admiration for her hard work and skills.

After the banquet, several Jaycees retired to a bar down the street. The name currently escapes me, but my best stab at it is DG’s Tap House. It is in a commercial space that was formally known as The Zone. This makes me wonder where all the women that have graduated from Club Element go now.

This was my first appearance at a bar in 2008. I made 3 bar appearances all of 2007. Cory, a co-worker from the Computer Mine, has made it one of his goals this year to get me to the bar 4 times this year. We’ll see how that turns out.

The most interesting thing to transpire at the bar was running into Julie. I haven’t seen or talked to Julie in several months and it was awesome getting a chance to talk to her and catch up with her. Although I think she was quite shocked to actually see me at a bar. In fact, I know that she was surprised. It took her a little while to actually convince herself that she was seeing me. Of course Julie also thinks that her house is haunted, so I’m not sure why seeing me at a bar would be so hard for her to believe.

I think I was at the bar listening to some band until about midnight. Then I took off to get some sleep. I had a big day ahead of me on Monday. Rambo and There Will Be Blood weren’t going to see themselves.

A Very Non Exciting Announcement

I was counting up the ways that a person could make contact with me and I decided that I needed one more way. So I actually took the time and energy and told the guy that hosts my website (Frank) to give me an address at my own domain. So now if you want yet another e-mail address to write to me at:

There might* be a prize for the first person that e-mails me at my new address.

I am excited that this weekend will be the peak of fall colors this year in Central Iowa. I hope you are able to spend some time outside this weekend to enjoy the beauty of nature. I think I might just celebrate by taking a train ride.

The Fausts are going to be joining FNSC this evening. They have been given the rare privilege of picking the location for FNSC. This is a very rare honor only given to the most highly regarded. They did not make a mistake with their choice. They have chosen the West Street Deli, which is home to the world’s best club sandwich. I’m not joking about it. If you haven’t had the club at The West Street Deli you are missing out.

Tomorrow is an exciting day as well. The Iowa State Cyclones will attempt to BBQ the Texas Longhorns. I have little doubt that the Cyclones will leave Jack Trice Stadium victors, but that isn’t why tomorrow is so exciting. Tomorrow is exciting because Jay and Derrick are attending their first Faust tailgate. They will get to witness first hand Faust doing his Johnny Cash impersonation (it involves standing on the cooler) and after the game, they might get to see him bust out the Humpty Dance. Although the real highlight of any Faust tailgate is watching him yell at Bret over the music selections. Nothing is better than Faust getting mad when Bret won’t play “Not as Good as I Once Was”. He points at his damaged foot and screams, “That’s my song. I’m not as good as I once was”. Priceless merrymaking.

I should make a confession. Almost a month ago, Stephanie gave me the Sufjan Stevens album Illinoise. She was really interested in me giving her feedback on my thoughts about the album. I think she was hoping for me to just agree with her that it is one of the greatest albums of all time. The problem is that she also gave me a copy of the Eric Lindell album Change in the Weather. I just can’t bring myself to listen to the Sufjan Stevens album because I LOVE the Eric Lindell album so much. In fact, I’ve taken to surrounding myself with a constant flow of music from the following albums: Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace** by the Foo Fighters, Change in the Weather by Eric Lindell, Once the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, and Every Second Counts by Plain White T’s. I hope to add Shannon Curfman’s album Fast Lane Addiction to the mix, but I have to find some place that is selling it first. Stupid Best Buy. Stupid Target. I’ll get to Sufjan, I swear it. Just not on anything important.

I received some exciting news this week. I’m not ready to share that information yet, but if you want a sneak peek, you can head over to the FUMC in Boone on Wednesday night at 7 pm. You will want to go to the parlor. There are a couple of strings attached. You have to be a woman, lady, female, or girl and you have to be interested in knitting, crocheting, quilting or something of that ilk. I’ll just leave this tease stand for now. Hopefully I will have a picture next to make you understand why I’m excited. Well I can’t make you understand anything. It will be an illustration of my excitement though.

I got another new toy for the “rig”*** a couple of weeks ago. I’m hoping to go out tonight and get some use out of it. If everything works out there might be some interesting night pictures in our future. Makes you wonder what toy would help with night photography, doesn’t it!

*By “might”, I mean there isn’t a prize.

** Even though Schmidt from work disagrees with my assessment, I think this album is pushing “The Colour and The Shape” for the title of the best Foo Fighters album.
*** Terminology used by the dude who annoyed me a couple of weeks ago.

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.”


“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.”


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?”


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


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”

Present from Rebecca – Photo by Corey Schmidt

One of my “secret birthday wishes” – Stained Glass Made by Jen