Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One More Day!

That's right, the big move-in day is tomorrow! We have our final walkthrough this afternoon and Denise and I are beyond excited!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Puppy Adventure, Pt. 2

A couple days, a successful surgery and a healthy chunk of change later, our little patient is home and doing fine! She gets her bandages taken off on Friday. Then her sutures get removed in 10-14 days and she'll be good to go. She's supposed to have "restricted activity" for 8 weeks but if today is any indication, she may have other ideas. Oh well, at the very least we're keeping her from doing any jumping.

Oh, and she also successfully went #1 and #2 outside today!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Puppy Adventure

Apparently discontent with the already high number of changes in our lives recently, Denise and I took the plunge and decided to get a puppy that we both fell in love with yesterday. She's a 10-week-old American Eskimo/Papillon mix named (Captain) Morgan.

Oh, but that's just the start of the adventure! After only owning her for a mere 2 or 3 hours, Denise came back downstairs with her after showing her to her parents. As she was bending over to put Morgan down, she suddenly kicked away and fell awkwardly onto the berber carpet downstairs. She immediately started to yelp loudly and her front paw seemed to dangle oddly.

So... off to the vet we went. We learned that she had a clean break of the two bones in her lower limb and she'll need to have surgery tomorrow. As you can probably imagine, that won't be cheap!

It's now 11:30pm and we're home... puppy-less. She's staying overnight at the vet and probably tomorrow as well. Denise is obviously a little broken up over the whole matter and she feels a little guilty for "breaking our puppy". But hopefully in a week or so, she'll be good as new. Both of them. :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Building in Blaine

For those that didn't know yet, Denise and I are building a house up in Blaine. We were fortunate enough to stumble into a really good situation and we're really excited about it! We have a tentative closing date of November 26th or sooner (obviously we're really keeping our fingers crossed for the "sooner"). They should be able to give us a firmer date in a couple weeks when it all gets framed in.

So far, we have the beginnings of a foundation complete with basement walls. They just backfilled it a few days ago.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Officially Homeless

After a series of delays for various paperwork-related reasons on the buyer's end, we finally closed on the condo and moved out yesterday. We've now officially taken up residence (temporarily) with the in-laws in Cottage Grove. We expect to get some good news from the bank within the next couple days on the short sale we're pursuing up in Blaine. So hopefully we'll be living here a month at the most!

For some post-move pictures of the condo, click here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Goodbye Condo

About a week and a half ago, we completed a task that we began over a year ago when we undertook a whole series of home improvements... we finally put our condo on the market. Quite shockingly, we got an awesome offer on it a mere 3 days later! And just like that, a 12-year chapter of my life will come to an overdue close when we move next Thursday, 7/10.

Making the transition somewhat difficult is the fact that we may not be able to move into the house we fell in love with last week up in Blaine until the middle of August, although that could possibly change (knock on wood). So the tentative plan is to have the movers store our stuff while we shack up with Denise's parents which is, unfortunately, way down in Cottage Grove!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Chocolate Rain!

I experienced a definite highpoint in my life tonight. The wedding? Not even close. I actually got to meet Chocolate Rain guy (Tay Zonday), perpetrator of one of the most viral videos of the last couple years! We were at Leeann Chin and he just happened to walk in. So, much to the embarrassment of Denise and my mom, I went and asked if I could get a picture with him...

For the uninitiated...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Back Home

It's good to be back but at the same time, it kinda sucks that it's over. Here are some stats from the road:
  • Total distance driven: 4,365 miles.
  • Number of states driven through: 17, not including the District of Columbia (MN, IA, MO, IL, KY, TN, GA, FL, SC, NC, VA, MD, PA, NJ, OH, IN and WI).
  • State capitols driven through: 7, once again not including D.C. (Des Moines, IA; Nashville, TN; Atlanta, GA; Richmond, VA; Harrisburg, PA; Madison, WI and St. Paul, MN).
  • Most expensive gas seen: $4.19 somewhere in PA.
  • Number of Wal-Mart trucks seen: 51.
  • State with most dangerously conservative drivers: Iowa.
  • State with most dangerously insane drivers: Florida.
  • Money spent on tolls: somewhere in the $30-40 range... stupid northeast.
  • Philly cheesesteaks consumed by yours truly: 2.
  • Number of viscious sea gull attacks resulting in loss of pizza: 1.

Our full approximate route can be seen here.

Pictures can be seen here.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 14

We had a blast at Six Flags Great America today! Although Denise hated the very first ride we went on, the Superman Ultimate Flight ride. Don't get me wrong, Denise is no wuss when it comes to rides, she pretty much goes on them all. But she hates the ones where it's only the harness that lowers when you get on that's keeping you from a painful, messy death. And the Superman ride is the epitome of that.

Similar to the Batman ride (which we rode on twice and loved), where you're hanging from the track, the Superman ride throws in an extra twist. Just before it starts, the chairs spin you forward 90 degrees so you're facing the ground which, as the name would indicate, gives the illusion that you're flying like Superman. I thought it was a blast but Denise, not so much.

And as long as I'm apparently reviewing rides, the Raging Bull has to be the freakiest roller coaster I've been on so far! The only disappointment of the day is that the new Dark Knight coaster was just days from opening! We'll have to come back for that one. ;)

Anyway, we left around 5:30pm and drove a few hours up to Baraboo, WI, near the Wisconsin Dells.

Day 14 Route

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 13

Today was a travelling day. We drove from Cleveland to just past Chicago in Gurnee, IL, so we can go to Six Flags Great America tomorrow!

The big highlight of the day is that I got to cross another fast food joint off my list of chains that I had never been to, Fatburger. All in all, quite tasty.

Day 13 Route

Friday, May 16, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 12

We spent the afternoon today touring the Gettysburg battle site. The overcast, rainy weather matched the eerie feeling I got. The entire battlefield area seems virtually untouched since 1865 except for the monuments littered everywhere. It looks exactly like every picture/painting/movie I've ever seen of it. It sounds very corny and cliché but walking around out there you can almost see everything happening before your eyes and imagine what it must've sounded like.

After spending a few hours there, we headed west on a very picturesque drive through the mountains of western Pennsylvania. A few hundred miles later and we're in Cleveland, OH.

Day 12 Route

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 11

We spent the day and afternoon hanging around Atlantic City. Among the highlights, Denise getting attacked by seagulls! Turns out the seagulls on the Boardwalk are fairly aggressive, to say the least. This is mostly because the little old ladies (which AC is FULL of!) insist on feeding them, despite the signs posted everywhere that explicitly instruct you not to!

Anyway, I unfortunately missed this whole episode but here's how it was described to me. She was bringing her slice of pizza down the Boardwalk to meet up with me for lunch when she felt a tapping on her shoulder. She thought it was either somebody or something bumping into her shoulder but she turned only to find a very gutsy seagull sitting on her shoulder! Before she could react he had made a grab for, and got, a pepperoni off her slice. When she got to where I was, she was almost in tears. Don't worry, she and I can laugh about it now. Well, I do anyway... :)

When we'd had enough of AC, we took a long leisurely drive (partly to avoid tolls) up to Philadelphia and across half of Pennsylvania to Gettysburg.

Day 11 Route

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 10

After walking what had to have been at least 5 miles yesterday, we got kind of a late start today. Once we got going, we headed towards Independence Hall. Since we were in Philadelphia and in need of sustenance, I just had to have a real authentic Philly cheesesteak. And there just happened to be a famous place right across from the parking meter we found called Sonny's Famous Steaks. I ordered up a "Classic"... a cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz and fried onions. It was absolutely delicious!

After lunch we walked a few blocks to check out Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. This kind of stuff has been especially interesting to me since I finished watching (and really enjoyed) the HBO John Adams mini-series right before the wedding. Before heading out of Philly, we just had to check out the Rocky statue. Ok, that was totally my idea but I dragged Denise along. We got our pictures with it too but I can't really upload it yet since we're once again without highspeed internet access. What is this? The 90s?! :)

Tonight we're once again looking out on the ocean from a top-floor room. This time we're at the Showboat Resort & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ.

Day 10 Route

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 9

We had an exhausting day today. After grabbing some food, we took the Metro down to the Mall. Our first stop was the Museum of Natural History. But we were very disappointed to find out that the Museum of American History was closed. I had been telling Denise about it--and had gotten her plenty excited about it--since it's the museum that has a whole bunch of pop culture artifacts. But fortunately the site told us that some select exhibits were currently on display at the Air and Space Museum, which we were planning on going to anyway. However, our hopes were once again crushed when we found out that, in preparation for the Museum of American History's reopening this fall, they had taken back all of their exhibits so we were completely out of luck. Oh well, we'll have to come back.

Afterwards, we walked to the U.S. Holocaust Museum, we walked past the Washington Monument to the new World War II Memorial, alongside the reflecting pool to the Lincoln Memorial and then past the White House (we also walked past the Treasury building and Ford's Theatre).

After having a free drink and appetizer (thanks to horrible service at the hotel sports bar), we embarked on what proved to be the longest, most annoying 120-mile drive before we FINALLY arrived at our hotel in Philadelphia at close to 1am. We got stuck in what had to have been the worst traffic jam either of us has ever been in thanks to some construction in Maryland. And that includes the traffic we had to deal with back home when the 35W bridge fell!! It had to have taken close to two hours to finally get through! Not only that, we hit another one (although not as bad) in Delaware. Does the northeast not know how to do road construction without completely shutting down interstates?! Between that and $4-5 tolls, driving up here is proving to be a pain in the a**!!

Day 9 Route

Monday, May 12, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 8

We started off the day in Myrtle Beach with a leisurely game of mini-golf at one of the more ridiculous courses I've played at called Mt. Atlanticus. Then we had some breakfast/lunch at a local greasy diner, did a little souvenir shopping and we were on our way north.

7 hours or so later, we were pulling into the Grand Hyatt Washington in the Capitol Hill area of Washington, D.C. I gotta say, this is the second night in a row that we've lucked out in the hotel room department. Last night, we somehow managed to get an awesome 10th floor suite with a balcony with a private ocean view at the Caribbean Resort & Villas. Tonight, we ended up with a very nice penthouse room at a 4-star hotel with direct, underground access to the Metro and located a mere 5 blocks from The Mall!

Day 8 Route

Good way to start the day

Not to rub it in or anything, but here's what I woke up to this morning...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 4-7

Just a quick update since the internet access has been unpredictable down here. We spent day 4 relaxing in Orlando. I finally got to play some mini-golf! :)

On day 5 we checked into our room at the Caribbean Beach Resort at Walt Disney World. That night we went to Mickey's Pirate and Princess Party (Denise is forcing me to put all of that) at the Magic Kingdom. It actually worked out really well. We got our passes for like half off and we got there at about 5pm and stayed until close at midnight. That meant we spent most of the time there after the sun had gone down so we avoided the oppressive mid-90s and 90% humidity. Plus the park was less crowded so we got to ride whatever we wanted whenever we wanted (we rode Space Mountain three times!).

On day 6, we spent the morning at Disney's Animal Kingdom. It was really fun and the Expedition Everest ride was awesome! But it got really hot and our feet were tired (and blistered in Denise's case) so we were headed out by like 2 or 3.

Today's day 7 and we've stopped at a little Mexican restaurant in Savannah, GA, called Carlito's Mexican Grill. On the way here we went through St. Augustine, FL, the oldest permanent settlement in North America. It was pretty awesome! After this, we'll heading north and spending the night in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Day 4-7 Route

Update: Lucky us. We just happened to arrive in Myrtle Beach in time for bike week! I can't tell you how thrilled we are!

Oh well, it's hard to complain. We once again played the honeymoon card and got an awesome 10th floor suite with a balcony overlooking the ocean! Pictures to follow...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 3

Today was mainly spent driving so we could get to Florida easily tomorrow. That being said, we drove through some gorgeous terrain in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Other than that, it was all about Denise. We woke up to a free continental breakfast in the hotel, a favorite vacation activity for her. For lunch, we stopped for a quick bite at a Sonic drive-in, a place which I've been promising to take her for a year and a half now but it's fairly difficult to follow through on since there aren't any in Minnesota... for now. For dinner, she'd always wanted to try Cici's Pizza, which we see commercials for but have never actually seen back home. They seem to be way more common in the southeastern US. Although now that I look at their site, their appears to be one a mere 15 miles from where we live. Go figure.

While passing through Atlanta, we tried to check out the Georgia Aquarium but unfortunately they were closed. We stopped for the night in Valdosta, GA.

Day 3 Route

Honeymoon: Day 2

We've decided that Iowa drivers are by far the worst we've seen so far at observing highway etiquette. After proceeding across Iowa, which was about as exciting as it sounds, we headed south to Missouri. Highlights included driving through Hannibal, MO, birthplace of Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) where Denise got her picture taken with a gigantic statue of him. It's also the hometown of Colonel Sherman T. Potter.

The plan was to continue on US-61 along the western edge of the Mississippi but thanks to a flooded roadway, we were diverted into western Illinois for about 40 miles. After that, we crossed back over into Missouri so we could see St. Louis, which neither Denise or I had ever seen before.

First, we ate at a delicious little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant called El Paisano where Denise discovered how delicious Sangria is and got a little... incapacitated. After that, we went to a little ice cream place called Ted Drewes that we read about in a book that Adam and Mandy got us called Roadfood (thanks guys!). It was totally worth it from a cultural standpoint. It was just a tiny little shack but despite being a Tuesday night, there were literally hundreds of people gathered around outside it. A security guard we made friends with told us it's like that every night.

After that, we cut through southern Illinois where we stayed for the night right on the Kentucky border in Metropolis, the hometown of Superman! What entitles them to call it that (other than the gigantic statue of Superman), I have no idea.

Day 2 Route

Monday, May 5, 2008

Honeymoon: Day 1

As Denise and I kept saying, it's a good thing we weren't flying anywhere. What with packing, returning pianos, bringing unopened booze back to the liquor store and dropping my parents off at the airport, today was busy enough without having to worry about departure times and airport security. Not surprisingly, we didn't end up officially leaving until about 4:30 so we had to deal with a little rush hour heading out of the Twin Cities.

We were very excited to officially receive our first "honeymoon upgrade" at Avis. We had a full-size reserved but the dude at the counter upgraded us to a "premium"... namely a black Dodge Charger.

For those not familiar with our plans, we're trying not to plan out more than a day or two in advance. And since we had absolutely no time between the wedding and this afternoon to think anything over, we just jumped on 35 and headed south. So we spent the afternoon taking a very uneventful drive through Iowa to West Des Moines.

Day 1 Route

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Wedding

Well after like 10 months of planning and preparing, the wedding is finally over. Denise and I really want to thank everyone who helped us pull it off! I'm sure there are a few people that we never got a chance to talk to or that we wanted to talk to more but there was just so much going on. But we really appreciate everyone who came more than we could possibly say!

I've already uploaded the pictures from my camera here. We have to wait (very impatiently) about 3-4 weeks before we get our pictures back from our photographer. If anyone has some good pictures they took, please shoot me an email!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Great Wall of Booze

You gotta admit, 480 bottles of beer and 72 bottles of wine are pretty damn impressive looking!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

MIX08 First Impressions

Silverlight, Silverlight and more Silverlight. We've only been to the keynote so far (which had lots of good stuff from Scott Guthrie as well as some good demos and an introduction by Microsoft Chief Architect, Ray Ozzie) but it's already very clear that Microsoft really wants to emphasize Silverlight. It'll be interesting to see if they can get any kind of market penetration to reasonably compete with Flash. But if the large corporate partners demo'd during the keynote are any indication, it could maybe get interesting.

And it's not just Flash. Microsoft seems to have Adobe squarely in their sights. Their new Expression Studio tools are tailored for designers and even look like comparable Adobe tools.

One fairly significant annoyance: no wireless internet in my room?! Shame on you, Venetian! I'm paying (ok, Dow Jones is paying) $300/night for a room and you can't even provide a basic service that I would expect from a Motel 6?!?!

One other thing conspicuously missing: caffeine. I haven't seen a drop of soda yet! I can't recall ever going to a Microsoft event and not seeing tables full of complimentary cans of soda. And Lou has been complaining bitterly about how difficult it is to flag someone down to get a simple cup of coffee during the meals they provide.

Caffeine Update: Ahh, I knew Microsoft wouldn't let us down. We hadn't made our way down to the 4th floor yet, where all the breakout sessions are being held. Once there, we were pleasantly greeted by numerous tables of soda, coffee, snacks, cookies, candy bars, etc. Huzzah!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

T Is For Tonsillectomy

I was lucky enough to spend the last week+ laid up with a charmingly painful and lingering sore throat. What's really annoying is that it was a total rerun. Yep, I had the exact same thing last for a couple weeks just a few short months ago. Needless to say, I was getting a little sick of it (no pun intended).

So on Monday, I paid a visit to my friendly, neighborhood otolaryngologist. It took him all of about two seconds to take a glance down my throat and tell me that my tonsils need to come out ASAP. So two weeks from today, on Wednesday, March 12th, I'll have the pleasure of getting my very own tonsillectomy. According to Wikipedia, "The number of tonsillectomies in the United States has dropped significantly from several million in the 1970s to approximately 600,000 in the late 1990s". Ya hear that? I'm retro!

And yes, 30 years old is a little late to be having one but obviously I didn't have a lot of choice in the matter. From what I've been told, they'll just keep getting infected until they yank the little suckers. But let me tell ya, what I really love is how it seems to inspire everyone to tell me lovely horror stories about some adult they know that had a tonsillectomy and what an unpleasant recovery they had. Like I need to hear that!

But I'm staying optimistic. I've done really well with surgeries in the past. And I have heard some positive things, too. Like how much better overall people have felt after healing up since you don't realize how much chronic conditions like this take out of you when your body is constantly fighting infection.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Long Weekend in SoDak

1,407.4 miles on our little Ford Focus rental car and Denise and I are back home. We spent an enjoyable long weekend taking a road trip to the western edge of South Dakota and back.

Last Thursday, day one, we picked up the rental car at the airport and we were off. Much to my dad's disappointment, we didn't take the 20-something mile detour to his hometown of Pipestone, MN. We stopped for the night in Sioux Falls, a city with some historical significance for me considering it's where my parents met.

The next day we headed west, bound for Rapid City. Our first little detour was to stop off at the somewhat disappointing corn palace in Mitchell, SD. Who would've guessed it's actually just a basketball arena inside? Ever since I was a kid, I had pictured a building entirely made of corn. Hmm...

Upon reaching the Badlands scenic bypass, we turned off I-90 since I'm ashamed to admit I've never really seen the Badlands. Coming from the relatively flat state of Minnesota, it's pretty amazing to see that much topographical diversity just one state away!

The bypass joined back up with I-90 at the always amusing tourist trap, Wall Drug. Of course we HAD to stop and do some shopping. We also had some surprisingly amazing calzones at Stone Willy's Pizzahouse. We then proceeded on to Rapid City where we crashed for the night.

On day three, we woke up and after some breakfast, headed 25 miles or so southwest to Mount Rushmore. A lot had changed with the monument in the 15 years or so since I last saw it but the mountain itself was still as awesome as I remember. It was Denise's first time ever seeing it.

After that, we took the long winding US-385 through the Black Hills northwest to Deadwood, SD. I figured Denise would enjoy Deadwood since I knew it had plenty of casinos and I must confess to being curious myself, having been a religious viewer of HBO's far-too-short-lived series of the same name.

Thanks to trolleys that cost a mere $1 per ride, we were able to spend the entire afternoon and night carefree, taking advantage of free alcohol and attentive waitresses. Needless to say, we had a blast!

All in all, Denise and I summed up Deadwood as about halfway in-between downtown Vegas and the Strip. It's thankfully no where near as flashy (read: gaudy) and expensive as the Strip, which gets annoying to me after about, oh, 15 minutes. It's much more laid back like downtown Vegas but not quite as (for lack of a better word) dumpy.

After snowing most of the evening, we awoke Sunday morning to find that it had never stopped. A little concerned, we headed out relatively early. Road conditions on US-14A leading up to Sturgis, where we joined up with I-90, where at times treacherous. It wasn't until about halfway across South Dakota that we finally outran the snow and road conditions improved.

We didn't really plan ahead of time where we were going to stop, we just wanted to get most of the way back home so we had a fairly short drive for Monday since we had a rental car to return. But we were in the zone and just powered through the 648 miles (according to Google Maps) all the way back to Minneapolis.

For a full outline of our route, click here. For pictures, click here.