June 20th, 2005

Word Freak

Some of you might know I love to play Scrabble. My chances to do so are few and far between these days, but I enjoy it when I get the chance. Lately I’ve been embroiled in a match with an Internet friend (Charley) that’s been fun, except for the fact that I’ve slacked on getting my latest turn back to him. We’re using this program here, which makes it easy to play games via email. If you buy it, let me know and we’ll get a game going. It’s lots of fun. It also allows for live Internet games, so if that’s more your thing, let me know.

I like words. I like learning new words, especially if they’re useful. I appreciate a well-turned phrase and wish I was better at turning them myself. I think it’s why I started with an English major in college. Games like Scrabble and Boggle (but, oddly enough, not UpWords) are my favorite types. You can keep your games of chance and your fast-paced, all-cards-flying-at-the-same-time games, thank you very much. I just can’t keep up with those very well. My little brain can’t deal with them.

I’ve recently rediscovered that I like crossword puzzles. And by “recently” I mean “last week.” I was doing server upgrades last week, and there are points in the process where files copy for a long time and not much else can get done. There was a local paper handy, so I started doing the crossword puzzle. I like the local paper puzzles because I can usually get 90-100% of them. I’d be no good at the New York Times puzzle, but I do all right with the local paper ones.

Unfortunately this new soon-to-be-an-addiction means that I have to buy a paper every morning so I have a puzzle to do at lunchtime. Nevermind the fact that it costs me fifty cents, there also isn’t a good place along my route to work for me to get a paper. I have to go blocks out of my way to get one at the Burger King or the McDonald’s, and if I’m there, I’m tempted to get something to eat, and that’s just no good.

I’m seriously thinking about getting a subscription to the paper, but I think I’m going to wait and see if the addiction takes hold. It might just be a passing fancy. I used to do the local paper crossword when I was as ecurity guard back in college, but that was because the workplace had an available paper every night.

You might be thinking “Why don’t you go out and buy a book of crossword puzzles and do those?” I’ve tried that, and it’s not as fun. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s that the newspaper crossword doesn’t have the answers in the back. Maybe it’s the idea of finishing one of the day’s tasks, even if that task isn’t crucial. For whatever reason, I’m enjoying the daily crossword puzzle.

One more plug to buy Scrabble Online. It’s only $15 at Amazon, and if you’re even a passing fan of Scrabble, it’s a good investment. you can play against Maven, the computer player, and sharpen your skills with all sorts of mini-games. The real fun comes from playing face-to-face with someone, but the computer version is a pretty good warm-up.

May 10th, 2005

Weekend Report

The older you get, the less important it is to confine birthday-related activities to the specific day of your birthday. This also works with holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, I’ve found. This year my birthday got spread out over several days, and I thought I’d give you a report. Even if it doesn’t interest you, it’ll be a good reminder for me when I look back at it.

It actually started in April this year, with the Sega shirt sent to me by Angie. Unexpected and way cool!

On the actual day of my birthday, I started out with what has come to be my birthday breakfast: a lemon-filled glazed Krispy Kreme donut. I don’t eat them very often, so a birthday seems a perfect time to indulge.

Lunch was spent with my two friends named Beth. (Say “both Beths” out loud – it’s fun to do!) Beth 1 couldn’t make it to the birthday dinner later on, so she treated me to lunch. It was very nice, though I had hoped the best waitress in the world would be at the restaurant – it must have been her day off. Oh, well. (I’m not so sure I’ve mentioned TBWitW before, but I mean to. She’s worth a whole entry on her own.)

Throughout the day I received emails, phone calls, blog comments, and text messages from friends. No one at my job said anything to me, as I’m too new for people to know about my birthday here, I guess. It’s possible they just don’t like me, but I’ll assume the former since I’m still in a good mood from my birthday.

Birthday dinner was at Puccini’s Smiling Teeth, a local Italian eatery. In attendance (alphabetically by first name): Beth 2, Jenn, Kat, Matt, Skip, Steve, & Tammy. These are all people that I’ve met either through improv, or through people I’ve known through improv. The theme: Batman, complete with table covering, balloon tied to my chair, napkins, and foam rubber batarang party favors. While they were setting up for it, the waiter came up and asked, “So how old is the birthday boy?” When they answered, “33” he apparently got a funny look in his eye. The list of presents that follows would only further that look in his eye, I think:

  • A framed Batman Begins movie poster, the really cool one where he’s standing in silhouette. (I’ll try to get pictures of some of these things later.)
  • A cheese shaker that was used on the actual set of Seinfeld. (This actually hasn’t arrived yet, but I received the printout of the screen showing the winning auction.)
  • Flowers. Actual flowers!
  • A tricked-out Hot Wheels dairy delivery truck
  • A knick-knack of two carved kitties sitting on a little couch
  • A picture done using wires and tacks on black velvet of a Model T. This one is the most difficult to describe and needs to be seen.
  • A Yoda Pez dispenser

Looking at that list you can make one of a couple of assumptions: either people don’t know what to get me so they err on the side of giving something they might think is funny or they know me exactly and got me things they knew I would love. (I’ll give you a hint: it’s the second thing.)

Saturday was spent with my family. My mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew all had come down the night before, but got in pretty late, so I didn’t see them until Saturday. We went to Historic Prophetstown (“Historic Prophetstown is a 300-acre site incorporated in Prophetstown State Park. It is dedicated to the preservation of agricultural, environmental, and Native American heritage. A 1920s farmstead, a restored prairie, and a developing Native American village help to interpret the stories. Learn Native American stories and lore… walk or enjoy a horse drawn ride through the prairie… visit the 1920s farmhouse… participate in the special programs and events… all at Historic Prophetstown!”), Wolf Park (this was the coolest thing – all sorts of wolves, and we got to hear them howl!), and the Tippecanoe Battlefield, with a stop at McDonald’s for lunch.

Dinner was hosted at Kat’s, with Matt in attendance. This was meant to introduce my two families to each other, and it went very well. Afterwards, my sister-in-law said, “Your friends are very funny.” I replied, “Well, we are in an improv group together…”

A few games of Scrabble later (I won two of them) and I said goodbye to the family for the night and went to Wal-Mart with Matt and Beth 2. We might have been after some last-minute Mother’s Day things, but you’ll never get me to confess to it. We did, however, follow it up with some Jell-O Oreo pudding. Mmmm.

List of gifts received on Saturday:

  • Money. (A gift that never goes out of style.)
  • A T-shirt with the caption “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye” wherein two characters are playing keepaway with a third character’s eye.
  • Superman lounge pants
  • A suckao kit – basically a way to prepare super-rich hot chocolate. It’s Ecuadorian and was sent to me by an Australian friend. I feel so international!
  • Lego Star Wars PC game. Technically this wasn’t a gift, it’s for review, but it came during my birthday weekend and looks like fun, so I’m counting it.
  • A card from my grandma. She’s finally stopped sending money, and I’m glad. Any time she did, I always felt guilty.
  • A limited edition print of the last Batman drawing Bob Kane (creator of Batman, don’t ya know) did before he died. Wow with the awesome.

Mother’s Day lunch was at Texas Roadhouse with the family before they headed back to Wisconsin. The end of the day was spent with friends with the weekly viewing of Desperate Housewives (yay, Susan & Mike!).

On Monday, I received a birthday card from the staff at one of my old schools. Tonight I’m going out to eat with a friend from one of my old schools. That’ll just about wrap up a solid several days of birthdaying.

I’m surrounded by good people. Thank you, everyone who had a part in my birthday. You all have a place in my heart.

I close with the lyrics to Older, by They Might Be Giants:

You’re older than you’ve ever been.
And now you’re even older.
And now you’re even older.
And now you’re even older.
You’re older than you’ve ever been.
And now you’re even older.
And now you’re older still.

TIME! Is marching on.
And time.. is still marching on.

This day will soon be at an end
And now it’s even sooner.
And now it’s even sooner.
And now it’s even sooner.
This day will soon be at an end
And now it’s even sooner.
And now it’s even sooner.
And now it’s sooner still.

You’re older than you’ve ever been.
And now you’re even older.
And now you’re even older.
And now you’re even older.
You’re older than you’ve ever been.
And now you’re even older.
And now you’re older still.

June 19th, 2004

Junkyard Mup

Well, my trip went almost without incident.


Somewhere slightly north of Chicago, I was talking to my friend Josh on my cell phone, and I said to him, “Why am I seeing a sign that says ‘Freeway ends, traffic light ahead’?” He gets on Mapquest or something similar and tells me that 41 and 94 split, and I got on the wrong one.

I’ve made this trip dozens of times and never done this. Kids, let this be a warning to you: talking on the cell phone while driving is a bad idea.

Josh proceeded to help me get back to the Interstate, and a half hour later, I was headed north on 94. In the process, though, I had to pay two tolls – one to get off the interstate because I could only go south, and then one to get back on the interstate headed north. Problem is, I didn’t have any change at all. The little sign said “If you don’t have correct change, call this number within four days.” So I’ve got to call that number and I’ll probably have to mail them a quarter, which will cost 37 cents to mail…

So with that half hour lost and the two traffic jams in Chicago (on a Thursday night!!!), I got to my parents’ house at 1:00 a.m. Not too bad.

I woke up at 9:00, got ready, then headed to Madison with my dad to go to the junkyard to get parts for my van and my brother’s car.

Those of you who are unfamiliar with junkyards might need some explanation here. A junkyard is basically a cemetary for cars, but a cemetary where people are able to come and pick the parts they like off the bodies. There are rows and rows of cars in various states of disrepair. Most of them have ended up there because they were in accidents or abandoned by the side of the road. If you need a mirror, a tire, a fan, or a front seat, a junkyard is a good place to get one – if you don’t mind the work involved in getting it.

See, you’ve got to get the part(s) off the car yourself, so you have to haul tools around. Then you have to haul the parts around. And did I mention this is all outside? A Mup outside is a Mup not in his natural habitat – a Mup outside amongst cars doubly so.

I actually have a bit of a sunburn now, even though it rained off and on for the (approximately) five hours we were there.

Then we went to Dad’s place of work to put the new-to-us tires on the rims, and then came home to have Mom’s birthday dinner.

Afterwards we played a game of Scrabble, and now I’m typing. Pretty exciting, yes?

Tomorrow there’s a wedding to go to, and then a baseball game.

I suspect there will be more sunburn.