Traffic Lights

Just a little forewarning: what you are about to read is extremely boring. You may just want to skim this article, especially if you aren’t familiar with Twin Cities roads.

8 for 29. 27%. Those are the numbers that indicate how often I hit a green light on my way to work Thursday morning. No matter what route I take to work—with the possible exceptions of going out of the way to get to 35W or 394—I will hit 25 to 35 stop lights after leaving our apartment. By taking the Excelsior/100/62/212 route, which I did this morning, I hit 29 stop lights. 8 were green. 21 were red.

As if hitting 73% red lights isn’t aggravating enough, it’s the places where I hit them that upset me. We travel mostly along the major roads, and when there’s a stop light, it’s usually intersecting with a residential street or lesser road. Statistically you would think the major roads would get the greater percentage of green lights, but that is hardly the case, especially along Excelsior Blvd. The worst is the light at Drew Ave. All-time, I’ve seen like 20 cars come out of that intersection, yet their green light lasts just as long as Excelsior’s, where traffic backs up for blocks.

Another aspect that upsets me, but is out of my control, is the lack of right-hand turns. At least on a red light, you can make a right-hand turn at your own discretion. But I figured that of the 29 lights on my route, only three were right-hand turns, and one of those indicated you’re not allowed to turn right on red. So that’s 27 of the 29 where I actually have to stop. And I’d estimate the average time I’m stopped is about a minute. So that’s 20 minutes where I’m just sitting at stop lights.

I think the reason stop lights upset me is because I’m not used to them. Did you know that in the county in South Dakota I grew up in, there are only one or two stop lights? I think there are a couple right in Clark, otherwise I can’t think of any others in all of Clark County. Another reason is because I hate being late, and stop lights slow me down.

Why am I telling you all such a ridiculously boring story? Because I think if I were in charge of the stop light intervals in the Minneapolis area, I could increase traffic flow significantly. I’m sure that some thought went into which lights need to turn which colors and when, but to me, they don’t make sense. So if anyone out there knows if there is such a job, I would like to have it.

Online Fighting

Getting in arguments with people online sucks.  You can’t see them or talk to them directly.  I have had a number of incidents over the years, as I’m sure most everyone has, with angry blog commenters or unruly eBay and Craigslist members, and it is difficult to reason with them.

For instance, I remember back on the old message boards there was a guy who wrote in every week under some sort of Yankees name and harassed me and others, especially Cooney.  I think that was probably a friend of mine but I never figured out who.

Over the past couple months I’ve really become addicted to the Sporcle website, which I’ve mentioned many times on here recently.  The other day I created a quiz asking users to name all the Chargers players in the decade to score five or more touchdowns.  Many people took this quiz and gave it high remarks, but one irate user left this comment.

Missing Legedu Naanee, Phil Rivers, and likely more. This is bullshit. Clarify in the title that passing touchdowns are not included as well as defensive players. The fact that current players are missing is troubling and upsetting if you claim to be a Chargers “fan.” Hopefully by the time others take this quiz, it will be corrected. If this quiz was made for your personal amusement, then have fun taking an incomplete quiz that claims to be accurate.  Bullshit.

Okay, simmer down now pal.  This is a fun, meaningless quiz.  The quiz clearly stated to name players who have scored five or more touchdowns.  Naanee and Rivers have not scored more than five, therefore their names shouldn’t be listed.  Thankfully, another user came to my rescue and called out this fool.  I will give this guy credit, however, for his excellent spelling and sentence structure compared to most other message board idiots.

I also had a heated exchange during our wedding planning with a man who went only by “Poopstain.”  I had posted an ad on Craigslist asking if anyone would be interested in bartending our wedding reception.  We would be willing to pay $100 per person plus tips for the night.  Poopstain replied and gave me hell, poor grammar and all.

Your an asshole if your going to pay less then minimum wage for your wedding, these guys are professionals and deserve to be fairly compansated you ignorant prick.  I hope your wedding is a total disaster.  You do not have karma on your side.  Offer more wages/pay or take this ad down immediately!!!!!  It is insulting!!!!

This e-mail came in after 15 people had already responded, begging for the job.  I wrote back and told Poopstain that with tips, each person would easily leave with over $200 that night for eight hours of work, over $20/hour.  And why would I go back and re-post this ad and offer more money after I already had fifteen qualified bartenders respond asking for the job?  Poopstain, who wasn’t even interested in the job and only wanted to start a fight, went back and forth with me a dozen times, and he never let up.

Arguing with people over e-mail that I know in person, however, works in my favor.  I am a non-confrontational person and would rarely yell at someone, and if I did get in a heated argument I’d likely get flustered and not make my point very well.  So e-mail gives me a chance to sit back and form out the perfect letter.  I’ll re-read it a dozen times before hitting send.  Many people, friends or enemies, have received some well-crafted e-mails by me that put me in the driver’s seat or ended an argument altogether.

So anyway, there’s no real point to this post other than to let off a little steam after dealing with that guy from Sporcle.  Do you have any stories like this to share?

Minnesota, Cooking, Work, Photos, Quizzes

Back to Normal January Things
We’ve been back from Jamaica for damn near a week now. The transition from 85 degrees and sunshine to 12 degrees and snow/ice/freezing rain has been relatively smooth. I was thrown right back into the fire by DJing a wedding dance my first day home. Since then, I’ve been able to see all the old gang that I had gone so long without seeing. I saw Jason and Andrew at Decoy’s last night for Free Beer Night. I had lunch with Jeff and Nick at Tian Jin yesterday. And we hung out with Walsh and Sarah during that sickening NFC Championship Game Sunday night at Buffalo Wild Wings.

My Wife Likes Cooking
Lauren has been on a cooking kick since we returned home, preparing relatively difficult meals each night this week, and each meal has been equally delicious! She’s even come up with a schedule of everything we’re going to eat a full week in advance, this in hopes of saving money on grocery shopping. One night a week, the cooking will be my responsibility, and it can’t be one of my usual dishes—burgers, stir fry, fajitas, or curry. Lauren wants me to expand my offerings by making something I’ve never tried making before. So if anyone has any good suggestions of something I might not screw up too badly, post a comment!

Work Day #1,000
Friday, I’ll be celebrating my 1,000th day of work at Microboards. This is counting days in which I either came in to the office or was working a trade show, not vacation days, sick days, or weekends. It has been 1,459 days since my first day of work, meaning I’ve had 459 days off in that time, which translates very roughly to 2:1 working days:non-working days. I told my manager earlier this week about the big milestone, thinking he may wish to run out and buy a cake or even champagne for the occasion, but he responded by telling me that if I were counting days in which I actually did some work while at work, the tally would be closer to 200. How true.

Season Opener
I discovered that the only way to get Twins tickets for the first series at Target Field is to enter your name into a random drawing, beginning Friday morning. If you have no interest in going to these games, I urge you to enter your name into the drawing and then turn your chance to buy tickets over to me should your name be selected!

Jamaica Photos
For those of you not on Facebook, here’s a direct link to the full Jamaica photo gallery.

Sporcle Quizzes
I also got bored the other night and created two quizzes on—one asks you to name every Twins player to hit a HR in the 2000-2009 decade, and the other asks you to name every Twins pitcher to record a win in the decade. No, Kirby Puckett and Frank Viola are not on these quizzes.


Our honeymoon to Sandals Dunn’s River in Jamaica has come to a close.  Lauren and I arrived back home last night after circling the Twin Cities time and time again in a holding pattern before being allowed to land safely.  After hopping off the plane in my shorts and killer tan, we were delivered to my car at the Park ‘n Fly and arrived back at our apartment.  But you probably aren’t interested in our arrival home.

Our flight to Montego Bay the morning of Friday the 15th couldn’t have been any smoother.  We arrived at Sangster International Airport and were taken to a Sandals waiting room of sorts until our luggage was carted off to a bus heading to our resort.  In Jamaica, they drive on the left side of the road and drive quite wildly.  You can pass another car whenever you want, even if a car from the opposite direction is hurtling right towards you.  It then becomes the other car’s problem to skid to the shoulder to avoid you, apparently!

On our bus ride, we were greeted by an elderly man and woman who turned out to be from Lake Preston, SD.  They go to Jamaica every year and know many people by name, but I’m guessing the locals want nothing to do with them.  “Hey, Chambers!” the woman yelled to our bus driver.  “Where’s that new Green Acres settlement going up, mon? Our old bartender Roy from Sandals is building a new settlement, mon! Point it out when we drive by, mon!”  I thought it would be weird for the tourists to try to speak like the locals and use words like “mon,” but this woman didn’t stop for the hour-and-a-half ride to our hotel.  “I don’t know,” Chambers replied, annoyed.  “I don’t work for Sandals.”  Questions and comments from this woman continued, and I looked over and saw Lauren on the verge of tears, claiming one more “mon” and she would go strangle that woman.

We arrived, and after a short orientation, were led to our room.  Rather than run straight for the beach, we laid down for a nap, having been up since 3:30 that morning.  Eventually we got up and took a look around.  The Sandals Dunn’s River all-inclusive resort looked remarkably different than what we’d seen in the photos.  The beach wasn’t nearly as long and expansive, and there were bees everywhere, but after the first ten drinks we tended to forget that part and enjoyed ourselves.

The Sandals experience felt a lot like a summer camp to me.  Since most couples traveled alone or in small groups, not many people knew each other.  There was that little period of awkwardness before we started socializing and meeting other couples and groups.  I don’t know if they had a special advertised on the Kelo-Land news or something, but I definitely met more South Dakotans than any other state.  Aside from the idiots from Lake Preston, there were at least a dozen others.  And the Canadians probably outnumbered the Americans.  I think we met people from every province but Nunavut.  But of all the people we met, we really connected with two couples from Ottawa traveling together.  They were on our bus ride to the resort, were staying just down the hall from us, and we constantly ran into them on the beach or at dinner.  By the end of the trip we were hanging out with them more often than not.

Many activities were offered, either included or for an additional charge.  Horseback riding, zip-lining, bobsled track, hiking at the famous Dunn’s River Falls, swimming with dolphins… but we did none of those things.  We were perfectly content waking up at 10, wandering down to the beach and laying out in the sun, reading or splashing around in the Atlantic Ocean.  We’d get up for a bite to eat, then go back to the room and take a nap, then lounge around some more.

But I couldn’t avoid activities altogether.  Another part of why this reminded me of summer camp was the “playmakers,” a group of high-energy leaders who attempted to engage lazy beach bums in games or lessons of some sort.  Every morning at 11 and every afternoon at 4, these playmaker girls would wander the beach, yelling “beeeeach voooooolleybaaaaaaall!  Beeeeeeach voooooolleybaaaaaall!”  Somehow, whether for my height or the fact that I kept making eye contact, I was always talked into playing.  The first game I played I think I broke my pinky toe on my right foot running into someone.  I began favoring my left leg and soon my right calf muscle was aching.  Injured or not, I was not getting out of beach volleyball.  I must have played eight games while we were there and my team usually was better off without me.

Okay, we weren’t completely lazy.  One day we went snorkeling for 45 minutes, which took me a while to get used to the breathing, but soon I was enjoying myself.  One night we took part in Casino Night, and another time we went dancing.  I was on the dance floor busting a move when I realized all eyes were on me, and everyone else had cleared the floor.  I did what anyone with 34 Coke & Rum drinks under his belt would do, and brought the roof down on that place!  For the rest of the trip the staff kept spotting me out, “Hey, there’s the dancing man!”  “I wish everyone would dance like you!” they’d say.  I also frequented the swim-up piano bar a time or two, and dazzled the crowd with my Back to the Future medley of “Earth Angel” and “Johnny B. Goode.”

Another day we went on a three-hour cruise, which was advertised as a quiet, romantic sunset escapade, but turned out to be a rocky ride through huge waves with music BLARING so loud we had to leave the cabin and stand on the top deck just to hear each other talk.  Plus I was hung over that day and the waves made me very seasick.  Wouldn’t recommend that particular cruise.

The food at the resort was good for the most part, but there were certainly some mediocre food as well.  There were six restaurants to choose from, my favorite of which was this Hibachi grill where ten people sit around a table while a cook makes the food in front of you.  Our chef, nicknamed The Butcher, put on a wild show for us.  While we could see the other rooms quietly eating their meals, he was leading us in song and throwing food into people’s mouths and posing for pictures.  That was one of our highlights of the trip right there, I’d say.  A couple of the nights they shut down most of the restaurants and just had a huge buffet on the beach.  I ignored the hard work that led me to lose 35 pounds last year and easily put ten pounds back on, thanks largely to those buffets… and long periods of inactivity.

On Sunday, we gathered around the only public TV at the resort and watched the Vikings playoff game with a crowd of other rowdy Vikings fans.  Possibly because of the cold weather in Minnesota making Jamaica an attractive January destination and the warm weather in Dallas, it was 95% Vikings fans cheering the team on to victory.  Lauren admitted this was one of her highlights of the trip.  The Chargers game followed, and aside from one fan from Toronto, I was all alone for that disappointing game.

Another night a bus loaded up anyone interested from the resort and carted us into Ocho Rios to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.  Everyone’s eyes about popped out of their heads when we saw the prices.  One girl from Texas paid $29 for a whiskey/diet.  So we didn’t do much drinking, what with free drinks back at the resort and all, and instead a bunch of us went down the Jimmy Buffett water slide.  No one came dressed for a water slide, of course.  I led the pack by agreeing to go down the slide in my boxers, and soon everyone else followed.

Late on Thursday night, we wandered the beach one last time, listening to the waves crashing down and looking up at the stars.  But it just wouldn’t have been complete without running into our Ottawa friends yet again at the end of our walk.  I think they’d fit right in with our group here in Minnesota!

I’m not sure if the review of my trip sounded favorable or not, but we loved the whole trip and would certainly recommend it to others.  I wouldn’t call this a 5-star resort, but it certainly has its charm and the staff definitely works their tails off for you.

I will post all the photos later on Facebook, but for now, here are a few highlights… Now if the Vikings can just avoid another heart-breaking OT loss in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, I’ll go back to work Monday feeling brand new!

Kimono's Sandals Dunn's River Jamaica

Enjoying our meal at the Hibachi grill, Kimono's.

Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville Ocho Rios

Us at Margaritaville Ocho Rios.

snorkeling in the Atlantic

After surviving our snorkeling trip.

us with the Ottawa gang

Dinner with the Ottawa crew

pitch and putt sandals dunn's river

Lining up the shot at Pitch 'n Putt.

Good Times in Vegas

As you know, I was recently shipped off to Las Vegas by the company for six days and five nights to exhibit at CES.  After the last trade show I attended in San Francisco in 2009, I never thought I’d want to do one ever again.  But this time around I had a great time!

Aside from me and my co-workers at the show, there were plenty of customers and vendors and resellers that I knew from before or met for the first time.  Also in town for the show was Brad Gausman.  Jeff LaPlant flew down for the week, and Patrick Lynch drove up from LA to hang out. And Dusty Hovde lives in Las Vegas.  So there was really no shortage of people I knew.

Our booth was positioned very near the Sharp booth at the Convention Center, and Sharp was running a big MLB promo and brought in a handful of players.  I managed to see Torii Hunter, Prince Fielder, and Joba Chamberlain, but the line was far too long to get an autograph or picture.  But Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello’s line was short, so I stopped over and chatted for a while about Game 163 which he started opposite Scott Baker. Despite me cheering against him, we agreed it was the best game either of us had seen.  Former Twins pitcher Doug Corbett stopped by our booth and I struck up a conversation as well.

One night when Jeff, Brad, and I were out wandering the Strip, some guy tried to hand us passes to get into the Smokin’ Aces bar to some super exclusive party.  We declined, but the guy was very persistent and finally told us to just go in and say hi to host Ron Jeremy, the world’s biggest porn star.  We agreed and went inside, where a small group of people were milling around.  Just then Ron took the stage and introduced the band, led by a former Aerosmith guitarist.  Also on hand was special guest Flava Flav, who just stood there on stage for a minute before taking off with his henchmen.  We followed him out, trying to get a picture with him to no avail.

The first three nights we had meals as a company with various partners or customers.  One night we ate at Gallagher’s steakhouse at New York New York, and I innocently ordered the Surf & Turf combo—a filet mignon and lobster.  The price was listed as “M.P.”  I assumed that meant the price just fluctuates and they can’t print it.  No, turns out that just means it’s really super expensive.  I was given the nickname M.P. for the remainder of the trip for ordering this meal that cost quadruple everyone else’s.

I think every day I was there, we went to Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill for a drink or two.  I can’t wait till the new Toby Keith location opens here in the Cities!  Live country music every night was pretty awesome.  In my opinion, it’s the best bar in Las Vegas.  I didn’t do much gambling, but I did sit down at a roulette wheel a time or two and blew through $40.  I have money down on the Chargers to win the Super Bowl, so it may not be an entire loss!

As for the Consumer Electronics Show, the big thing this year was clearly 3D TV.  Every big company there—Toshiba, Panasonic, Sony, Philips—all had 3D TVs.  Most of them required 3D glasses, but we saw one TV that automatically showed up in 3D.  To me the whole 3D craze seems so mid-1980s, but I must admit the technology was pretty cool.  Jeff and Patrick had lots of fun trying out some 3D video games when they visited the show.  Other big things included watching TV or movies on cell phones.  The booth right next to us was the most bizarre, however.  This bald dude and his parents showed up with a rummage sale-looking assortment of analog telephones and AM radios with built-in flashlights.  Why they were at that show is beyond me.

Aside from a Sunday night panic attack at dinner that was probably set in by extreme exhaustion, I had a great time on the trip and look forward to the next time I’m sent on the road!  Hopefully the company got enough leads at CES to make it worth our while.  I posted the full photo gallery on Facebook, but here are some of the highlights.

Shin, Ryan, John

Shinichi, John, and I enjoying dinner at Paris.

Brian poses with some lion statues.

Brian poses with some lion statues.

Panasonic's booth at CES

Panasonic's booth at CES

Best in Show CES 2010

Our neighbors went with the flea market approach.

Rick Porcello and Ryan Glanzer

Chatting with Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello

CES exhibitor badges

Some of my favorite fake name badges I created.

Free porno DVDs

Jeff and Brad caught some free DVDs at the Ron Jeremy bar.

Cotton candy at breakfast buffet

I couldn't get over the cotton candy at Harrah's breakfast buffet.

Ryan Glanzer and Dusty Hovde

Dusty and I met up at Toby Keith's

Patrick Lynch, Jeff LaPlant, Ryan Glanzer

This picture of Jeff and Patrick cracks me up.

Almost Finished in Vegas

Just a quick update from the road, as I don’t have much for internet access.  We close out the CES show today after 40 long hours of standing and telling people about our products time and time again.  When the show isn’t going on, we’ve taken in some nice restaurants and spent lots of time at Toby Keith’s.  With Patrick, Jeff, Brad, and Dusty all in town, there haven’t been many dull moments.

Despite heading back into sub-zero weather, I am excited to get home for a few days!  I’m sure I’ll have a full rundown on the events of my trip then.

Going Somewhere Above -20 Degrees

This is my last day in Minnesota until Monday as several co-workers and I embark on a journey to Las Vegas to the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show.  (Stop by and visit us at booth #11806!)  The plane takes off at 7am, and with heightened security I’ll need to allow myself extra time, so I’ll plan on leaving home no later than 4:45.  Those of you in South Dakota, if you look straight overheard around 8:00 tomorrow morning I’ll be waving to you from the plane.

The weather in Vegas is supposed to be in the upper 60s while we’re in town.  I figure however many degrees it is there, it will be at least that many degrees warmer than it is here.

It looks like our schedule is pretty tight with at least three company dinners planned, but I hope to have some free time so I can hang out with Dusty Hovde, who lives there, and Jeff LaPlant, who is vacationing there the same time as me.  I plan to put a few bucks down on a Super Bowl bet… I’m thinking $20 on Vikings vs. Chargers.

Unlike last year where I blogged live from the show floor at Macworld, I don’t expect to have much Internet access, so you may not hear a peep from me until I return home Monday.  After that, it’s three short days at work before Jamaica!

AM Radio

Sunday afternoon I spent five hours driving from Carpenter to Minneapolis, trying to find a radio station that would update me on the NFL scores. Naturally I tuned into AM radio, and while I was in South Dakota I was able to tune into ESPN Radio fairly clearly. But as soon as I hit Minnesota, I lost all signal.

For the next two or three hours, I continuously scanned through the AM dial, searching for a station with a football game or postgame show or even a news station that occasionally read the scores, but to no avail. I was able, however, to find two polka stations, at least five country stations, some sort of Money Talk station that I assume was a scam, several religious stations, a weather station, a rock station, and a station that wasn’t in English, Spanish, French, or any other language I recognized even a little. But no football stations on a Sunday?

As we got a little closer to Minneapolis, I was able to tune in WCCO. I never realized it before but that station is about 65% advertisements. KSTP eventually started to come in a little, and they were talking Minnesota sports, but the guy spent over an hour trying to crunch the numbers to justify a Vikings stadium… never gave me a score update.

As we approached Glencoe, which is just 29 miles from the outskirts of the metro area, I started to receive three very unusual radio stations between 670 and 780 AM, all football! One was The Score out of Chicago. One was a Denver station with the Broncos-Chiefs game. And one was from Cincinnati with the Bengals pregame. However, I still couldn’t tune in 1130 KFAN from right in the Twin Cities!

Finally, after getting all the way past the office in Chanhassen, KFAN started to tune in and I heard the Cowboys beat the Eagles, giving the Vikings a first-round bye.

This experience left me dissatisfied with my AM radio experience, and begged the following questions.

  • Why do AM stations play music? The sound quality is terrible. That’s what FM is for!
  • Why did we get stations from Denver, Cincinnati, and Chicago but not Minneapolis?
  • Why does 570 WNAX out of Yankton never stop tuning in no matter where I go?
  • How much longer until AM radio is done away with? It remind me of black-and-white TV.

There’s my first rant for 2010. What do you think?

Best of the Decade

It’s the last day of not only 2009, but the amazing decade that was the 2000s.  I think this decade should just be called the 2000s, not the zeros or aughts or some of the other names people suggest.  Don’t we refer to the years 1900-1909 as the 1900s?

This decade was full of highlights as I finished up school at good old Willow Lake High, started and finished college at the Dakota State University, relocated to the Twin Cities and got a full-time job, and finished out the 2000s with the big wedding.  A bunch of other stuff happened in between as well, like going to 150 Minnesota Twins games, making trips to Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York, Washington, Chicago, Toronto, St. Louis, Tucson, and western Nebraska, and operating carnival games for four years at Valleyfair.

Here is a light-hearted look back at some of the biggest moments of the decade as I remember them.

Biggest Regret: Not getting a photo of me with all my former Valleyfair co-workers when I had the chance at the wedding!  Seriously, that was something I really wanted to do and even thought about it several times that night but never did.  I doubt that exact group of people will ever be back together in the same place again.  Good thing I have some killer Photoshop skills and can make it look like we were all together!  I guess if that’s my biggest regret of the decade (that I can think of off the top of my head, anyway) I’m doing alright.

Worst I Had to Go to the Bathroom: Waiting to get into the Metrodome on my 23rd birthday, it got too painful and I had to abandon the group.

Most Embarrassing Athletic Moment: In a college intramural softball game, I thought I had hit a home run over the center field fence, so I trotted around the bases.  After rounding third, I realized the ball hadn’t left the park after all and the throw was coming home.  I tried to speed up but lost my balance and flailed wildly for a good ten steps before face-planting right into home plate, getting tagged out in the process.  Then I looked down and noticed I’d skinned my stomach area and it was oozing with blood and dirt.

Most Pointless Day of Work: During my brief employment at Madison Discount Liquor, they had me come in one afternoon for six hours and dust all the bottles of wine and liquor that had been on shelves for a very long time.  I believe I was paid $6.50/hr.  I felt very important that day.

Most Energy Ever Possessed at a Particular Moment: When the Twins beat the Athletics in Game 5 of the 2002 ALDS to advance to the League Championship Series, Nick Sandbulte and I did a victory lap around the DSU campus, hooting and hollering as I wore my Homer Hanky cape.  I could have jumped through a roof at that moment.

Worst Lack of Vision: Last night on the drive home from work I remarked to Lauren how I couldn’t see the road.  Literally, it was just blackness aside from headlights.  Lauren said she could see fine, so I guess I should get my eyes checked.

Best Lesson Learned: Don’t drink and drive!

Best $54 Spent: Personal handheld breathalyzer.

Second Biggest Regret: Jason LaPlant and I had an opportunity to shoot a 3-pointer on the court of the Target Center after a Timberwolves game on January 2, 2004.  We inexplicably got out of line and left right before it was our turn, then when we got outside asked ourselves what we were thinking… we’ll never get to take a shot on an NBA court again!

Most Heartbreaking Sports Moment: My high school basketball career ending after our team got eliminated from the Districts on a buzzer-beater by Waverly-South Shore in 2001.  Or was it Willow Lake’s girls’ basketball team losing two more state title games?  Or the Twins getting knocked out of the playoffs in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2009?  Or the Timberwolves losing to the Lakers in the 2004 Western Conference Finals?  Or the Chargers losing to the Patriots and Steelers seemingly every year in the playoffs?  I would mention the Vikings’ 41-0 loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship Game in 2001 but I think in order for it to be a heartbreaking loss it had to have been somewhat close.

Most Memorable Year: 2002.

Best Quote: “I like good soup.  Good soup is good.  But I don’t like bad soup.  Bad soup is bad.”

Favorite Article of Clothing: There was a pair of jeans I owned in the winter of 2004 that fit really, really nice.

Outstanding Achievement in Health: Losing 35 pounds in 2009… though I have gained a few back since Thanksgiving.

Most Horrifying Moment: Being woken up and screamed at by DSU’s football coach at 7am in the dorms one morning because of a big misunderstanding.  He later apologized, but wow…

Worst Company: Magazine City.  I tried to purchase an adult magazine subscription as a gift to my friend Jason for Christmas in 2008 and it never arrived.  They charged my credit card and I’ve never been refunded.

Most Shocking News: That I would become an uncle for the first time in 2003!

Least Shocking News: Brett Favre wasn’t really retiring after all.

Best Freebie: That big-screen TV Patrick and I found along the side of the road in 2004.  It worked fine for about three months then smoke started to come out of it.

Least Entertaining State Visited: If it weren’t for Rolla, I might have said North Dakota.  But that day I spent driving from Dallas to El Paso and looking at tumbleweeds and oil rigs for 16 hours gives Texas the honor.

Most Legendary Person: Valleyfair game-op Dustin Kooima.  Looked just like a small John Candy with the self-confidence of a much more attractive man.  Haven’t seen or heard a peep from him in years, but his name keeps getting brought up in discussion on a very regular basis.

Third Biggest Regret: Leaving behind two containers of leftover German food from Gasthofz at a hotel lobby.  I was so looking forward to eating that!

Best Knitter, Cook, and Wife: Lauren!

Well, I guess that sums up the decade.  Any other categories you’d like my opinions on?  Just leave a comment!

New Photos; Fantasy Champion

For those of you not on Facebook, be sure to check out my latest photo gallery featuring photos from Thanksgiving and Christmas!

My Christmas presents

Showing off my new Wild jersey, beagle boxers, and Twins hat... and beer.

Oh by the way, despite finishing out the regular season at 6-7, my fantasy football team, the Whorehouse Beagle, took home the title in our league.  Luke Katuin (Da Pit) and Alex Glanzer (Bitches B. Sosa) were runners-up.

2009 Fantasy Football Champion

2009 Fantasy Football Champion!

Holly Jolly Christmas Recap & More

Christmas Recap
The Great Christmas Blizzard of 2009 came and went, and left me a little disappointed.  Built up to be one of the worst winter storms in my lifetime, things fizzled a little as snow fell in only moderate amounts (about 9 inches in Minneapolis), then turned to rain on Christmas Day with temps in the upper 30s, which turned the snow to slush.  Probably still for the best that we took it easy and didn’t try to get to South Dakota, but both Lauren and I were excited for a monster storm.

On Christmas Eve, we visited Lauren’s parents’ in Bloomington.  As an annual tradition for the past ten years, the Poulter family re-gifts a fruitcake in unique ways.  This year I received the fruitcake from Steve in quite the unusual way.  I opened a present, which contained a remote control, which brought out a second box from under the tree which contained a remote control car fashioned by Steve to carry a fruitcake.  It was quite elaborate and I’m sure Steve spent many hours perfecting the fruitcake rover!  Anne prepared dinner and lots of merriment was had by all.

On Christmas morning, Lauren and I exchanged gifts.  I made Lauren a Blurb book showing our year in review using only pictures I took and excerpts from this blog to tell the story of our 2009.  Lauren got me a very awesome Wild jersey!  We spent the day lounging around.  Neither of us felt particularly well enough to make another trip back over to the Poulters’ for dinner that night.

The day after Christmas Lauren and I met up with the Berglund-Husebys and saw the movie “Up in the Air” in Uptown.  It was the first movie we’ve seen in months and everyone thought it was worthy of the hype.  Excellent performances from George Clooney and both of the little-known supporting actresses.

Sunday I hung out with Walsh and Roscoe and watched the NFL RedZone channel all afternoon while Lauren helped Sarah shop for boots at the MOA.

New Years
Since we couldn’t make it home last weekend, the plan is to make the trek to Carpenter this weekend.  The irony is I have really bad tires on my car, and if I can make it home Dad (a local tire dealer) has new tires waiting for me.  So the very thing I need to get home is what is there waiting!  We’ll have to check out Alex and Ann’s new house in Willow Lake and see if any of my old schoolyard chums are around for some pick-up basketball.

The Chargers are having quite the great season at 12-3 after winning their tenth in a row on Christmas vs. the Titans!  Maybe for the first time in my 16 years of cheering for the Chargers they’ll win it all.  If there’s any team that has had the Colts’ number it’s the Chargers.  As for the Vikings, I won’t get too excited about them just yet.  We’re watching their Monday game vs. the Bears right now and they look pretty miserable.

Las Vegas
A week from Wednesday I depart for sunny Las Vegas for CES!  Aside from my duties with MB at the show, I’ll have several friends in town.  Jeff LaPlant is making a one-way trip to Las Vegas to hang out for a couple days before heading to LA to hang out with Patrick.  From there it sounds like he’ll become a vagabond and see if he’s able to get back home.  I am also excited to see the people who will get stuck wearing the fake name badges I ordered as extras.  One of our close business partners has already gotten stuck with a name badge reading Hydro Bison.

I guess that’s all for this time.  If you’re interested in my Best Picture project, I just reviewed 1970 winner Patton.  I am getting progressively worse at writing these movie reviews.

Could It Be 1997 All Over Again?

Yesterday I asked Mom to dig up some photos from that dastardly record-setting winter of 1997 when snowbanks as high as Granny’s trailer house covered the plains of rural South Dakota.  I have recently mentioned that month-long blizzard that saw 31 days of school get canceled, but I don’t think words do it justice.  Take a look for yourself!

South Dakota blizzard 1997 huge snow drifts

Here we have my sister and brother posing next to Granny’s trailer house on the farm.  Her house was so buried she couldn’t get out for days.  We walked on top of her roof while walking across the yard!

South Dakota blizzard 1997 huge snow drifts
Granny needed her propane tank filled up so she could have some heat.  Dad and I spent an afternoon tunneling through this mammoth snowbank to find the propane tank so it could be filled up.

South Dakota blizzard 1997 huge snow drifts
The roads were so drifted over that new roads had to be plowed.  In some cases, the new roads probably weren’t even where the old roads were because no one had any way of knowing where the road was supposed to be.  And when you met someone on the road, as Mom did frequently on her mail route, you couldn’t get around each other.  One of the vehicles would have to back out all the way just to let the other one pass by.

South Dakota blizzard 1997 huge snow drifts
Leave it to Dad to plow us out of this mess.  Notice the drifts are actually much taller that even the tractor!

South Dakota blizzard 1997 huge snow drifts
And clearly the most shocking of the photos shows Jordan and Alex playing in a snow drift that’s taller than a telephone pole!

Will the supposed Great Christmas Blizzard of 2009 do this sort of damage?  We’re about to find out!

Very White Christmas Expected

Christmas White-Out
If the weather forecasts are accurate, it looks like Christmas 2009 will be spent snowed in and not heading back to the farm.  My mother has nearly decided to cancel any festivities due to the massive freezing rain, snow, and wind expected to hit the Dakotas and Minnesota over the next few days, the likes of which haven’t been seen since that historic 1997 blizzard, according to Kelo-Land’s own Shawn Cable. Barring a drastic change in the forecast, this would be the first time ever I’ll have not been back home on Christmas day.  The irony is that I need to get home in order to get new tires put on my car, but my current bad tires are part of the reason we can’t risk driving there to get them.  But we can always go over New Years weekend I suppose. Christmas Eve will be held at Lauren’s parents’ house in Bloomington, and more than likely Christmas day as well.

Sick Day
Yesterday I took a sick day as I went to bed and woke up with a stomach ache.  It turns out I had some carry-over sick hours from 2008 that went unused, so I spent the day off doing laundry and cleaning the apartment.  I ventured out a couple times for some minor shopping needs, but otherwise stayed inside.  I got to playing MLB The Show 09 again on PS3 (still the only game I own) and got very frustrated by how hard the game is.  I’ve had it for over a month and haven’t improved much.  Even on the easiest possible settings I am still lucky to score a run or two against the computer.  Others online have also remarked how unusually difficult the game is, especially hitting.  I have mastered pitching though, so at least I can win games by scores of 1-0 and 2-1.  I also had the TV on in the background most of the day, as Universal HD aired a Six Feet Under marathon, which was awesome despite the excessive profanities edited out.

Vegas Ahead
Hard to believe that two weeks from tomorrow I’ll be flying out to Las Vegas for the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show.  The MB gang and I will be staying at Harrah’s, home to Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, where I plan to spend some of my free time.  It also appears that Jeff will be making the trip down the same time as me.  I’ll certainly get him into the show under one of my extra funny name tags.  Maybe Jeff can be Orneri Feller or Jesus Cornelius Xyborg.  It will be nice to get out of the snow for a few days, but that leaves poor Lauren all alone to brave the roads to and from work!

A Very Unlikely Fantasy Title Game
Very briefly, a note about this year’s fantasy football championship game.  My team, the #7-seed Whorehouse Beagles, will take on the #4-seed, Luke Katuin’s Da Pit.  What makes this game so unlikely?  Luke hasn’t logged in to check his team since the draft, and my team finished 6-7 on the year, only to get hot in the playoffs!  I feel kinda bad for Cooney, Walsh, Lauren, Gillian, Alex, and Matt, who all had better teams than me but will be playing for consolation titles.

Also, happy belated 29th wedding anniversary to Ma and Pa!  I don’t think any celebrating took place this year, but Mom assures me they’ll be taking a trip for their 30th next year.

Best of ’09, Dexter Finale

Best of 2009
For the first time since 2002, I will not be giving out my yearly awards.  I will, however, be listing my favorites of the year in pop culture!

Best TV Show: Dexter (2 years in a row!)
Best Movie: Inglorious Basterds
Best Sports Moment: Twins beat Tigers in Game 163 to win AL Central
Best Music Artist: Darius Rucker (2 years in a row!)
Best Song: “Roll with Me” by Montgomery Gentry
Best Athlete: Joe Mauer
Best Blog: Jordan Krogman Photography
My 2009 Pop Culture Icon: Michael C. Hall (2 years in a row! As much for his role on Dexter as his role in Six Feet Under, which I hadn’t seen until this year.)  Other candidates up for consideration included Quentin Tarantino, Darius Rucker, Joe Mauer, Montgomery Gentry, Rainn Wilson, Tracy Morgan, Orlando Cabrera, Phillip Rivers, Jordan Krogman, Weezer, and Neil Patrick Harris.

Best Oldies of 2009
I also am traditionally behind the times a little, not catching on to trends until it’s way too late.  So here are my favorites of 2009 that weren’t necessarily new in 2009 but were new to me.

Best TV Show: Six Feet Under (now perhaps my favorite all-time show)
Best Movie: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946, from our Best Picture project)
Best Song: “Spaceman” by The Killers (came out in 2008)

Dexter Finale Leaves Me Shaken
Finales are always the best episodes of TV shows, whether it’s a season finale or series finale.  The Office (BBC) brought tears to my eyes when David Brent closed out the series by finally telling a joke that made his co-workers laugh.  What I thought at the time was the Scrubs finale featured a musical look into the future that was so well-done Lauren and I chose it as our first dance song.  Six Feet Under left me speechless after they fast-forwarded through the years to show how all the main characters die.  And Arrested Development really wrapped things up perfectly after three short-lived seasons.

But none of those gave me quite the same feeling as this season’s Dexter finale which aired last Sunday.  That was five days ago, and I’m still thinking about how it ended!  [SPOILER ALERT!]  In the final minute of the episode, the writers gruesomely killed off one of the main characters in shocking fashion.  E! ranked it as the single most shocking death in episodic TV history.  It’s certainly a shame that they got rid of my second favorite character on the show (and by far the most attractive), but it will certainly open up Season 5 to some crazy possibilities.  (As amazing as this season of Dexter was, I’d still say Season 2 was the best, by a hair.  Season 1 would be third and Season 3 with Jimmy Smits would be last.)

Snow, Vegas, PS3, Luke

After a very mild November, we finally got hit by some snow yesterday afternoon.  As has been the case the past two winters, the storm really picked up late afternoon, making the drive home miserably slow.  What normally takes 40 minutes took 2 hours last night.  To make matters worse, my windshield wipers kept getting frozen up, so I tried to stick my hand out the window and knock the ice off only to pull the wiper itself off.  I knew it was supposed to snow but I didn’t expect it to be that bad.

Despite the big storm that has swept 2/3 of the US, I doubt this was even in the top 100 all-time worst snow storms I’ve seen.  Who from Carpenter or Willow Lake could forget the winter of 1997 when we had 17 foot drifts, makeshift roads, and school cancellations damn near every day?

Lauren was hating our drive home yesterday even though it gave her plenty of time to knit.  But she remarked that she’d take a whole week of blizzard weather like this as long as the MSP runway is open the morning of Friday, January 15 when our flight to Jamaica takes off.  I agree.

In other news, I’ve mentioned my company is sending me to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas from January 6-11.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Brad Gausman is also going to be at the show. Patrick Lynch has also mentioned he might drive up to hang out with us that weekend from LA.  And of course good friend Dusty Hovde lives there.  So I should have plenty of fun hitting up the town with these guys and co-workers alike.

PS3: MLB The Show 09
I have been playing lots of MLB The Show 09 since we got our PS3 a month ago.  Before even playing a whole game, I sat down and created a bunch of players—myself, Lauren, Walsh, Colin, Jason, Tim Rosok, Josh Kleve… the list goes on and on.  The announcers on the game are programmed to pronounce a lot of names, but not all of them, especially girls.  Lauren Poulter is pronounced Lawrence Portillo.  Sarah Domenichetti is pronounced Sergio Donnelly.  A few of the names, like Patrick Lynch and Aaron Pratt, are pronounced perfectly.

You can also get really detailed when creating the looks of the players.  Most of the players still don’t resemble the real-life person much, with the exceptions of Nick Sandbulte and Andrew Kartak, who are very recognizable.

Our team is the Marlins and we’re closing in on the NL East title.  I have perfected the art of pitching on that game but still can’t hit worth a crap.

Christmas Carol
Those of you in the area who are interested in seeing a one-man production should check out Luke Katuin’s A Christmas Carol, which starts Friday night.  Liz and I have agreed to participate in an improv scene before the play begins while the crowd is filing in, assuming someone comes to the show.  We have rehearsal tomorrow evening before the show debuts.

Christmas Party Highlights Weekend

Friday night was the annual company Christmas party, and I was very excited to go. This year it was held at Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit in Minneapolis, which of course is the popular German restaurant and bar. We were treated to liter mugs of the finest German beers and a buffet of delicious foods covered in heavy gravy. Some of the highlights included the snuff springboard thingy where they shoot smokeless tobacco up your nose. Just about everyone tried that and most people’s responses were hilarious. One employee successfully completed the meterbrat challenge, which is of course eating a one-meter bratwurst and two sides. The party continued at a downtown hotel before calling it a night. Yes, this is the PG version of the night’s events. I don’t need to get in any trouble at work!

Shinichi Yamaguchi snuff German bar Minneapolis

Shin doesn't know what he's getting himself into...

Saturday, my sister and her photography partner were in town to do some Christmas shopping and wanted to meet up with me and Lauren for dinner. After some Mexican deliciousness at Don Pablo’s, we spent lots of time in Target which is still a big deal for some South Dakotans who don’t have 17 Targets within 20 minutes of home! The girls were of course a little intimidated by big city driving and apparently took the safe route and got a hotel in distant Medford.

Sunday we met Tim and Kate in the late afternoon at Green Mill and watched some football. At night we watched the Vikings game—by far their ugliest of the year—and then Dexter. I cannot wait for next Sunday’s night’s season finale! This might rival Season 2 as the best season so far. John Lithgow should be an Emmy candidate for his role as the creepy Arthur Miller. So anyway, after three straight days of eating out, we’ll be staying in this week and getting back to the gym.

We’ve been continuing on with the Best Picture project, so go visit that blog for the latest reviews from the late 60s! I also created a quiz on Sporcle that involves our Best Picture project… see how you stack up!

Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

Band Anyone?
Over the last few years, Walsh and I have often discussed how fun it would be to start up a jazz band of sorts.  I would like to break out the trumpet again someday.  Walsh is a trombone master.  Lauren can do some vocals (at least after working up the courage after a drink or two).  We just need a few more instruments and we can get a band going!  I’m kinda halfway serious about it… who’s interested?

This year’s Thanksgiving was spent with just me and the wife at the apartment.  With Lauren working Friday we couldn’t go far, but we had fun anyway.  Lauren slaved over a 22-pound turkey and all the other dishes all day.  I helped out a little with the potatoes!  We ate dinner around 6 and it was pretty damn delicious!  I don’t think I gained six pounds over the course of the meal like two years ago.  Wish we could have gone back to Carpenter, but we’ll be back soon enough for Christmas.

A Poulanzer Thanksgiving Feast

A Poulanzer Thanksgiving Feast


Rest of the Weekend
My Friday was pretty productive at home.  I spent two hours scrubbing the kitchen in the morning and played lots of MLB The Show 09 in the afternoon.  That night we watched another Best Picture, 1965’s The Sound of Music, which was reviewed on my Best Picture blog.
Saturday I got a little too couped up with my third straight day spent in the apartment and figured we should go out and do something at night, so Lauren and I met up with Walsh (but not an ill Sarah) for some bowling at Memory Lanes.  Despite my finger injury I managed three good scores ranging from 124-151.  Earlier that day I was so bored I started watching the first season of Family Ties on Netflix on PS3.  I also watched Pineapple Express which was even more hilarious than expected.  And today it was football all day.  Will be an interesting week at work now that colleague Josh has left for a new career in web development.  We’ll see if/how my role changes.

I suppose happy birthday wishes are in order for sister Jordan Nicole Krogman, who turned 25 today.  I understand she spent the day working a long shift at the hospital (or wherever it is she works).  Tomorrow is Grandma Bell’s birthday.  I understand she will be celebrating with lots of booze and illegal fireworks.  Tomorrow is also the two-year anniversary of the day I met Lauren for dinner at Chapati Indian Restaurant!  We can’t do much celebrating tomorrow though as I agreed to be in Luke’s play, with rehearsal starting tomorrow.

Luke, MVP, Best Pictures

I just received a text message from good friend Luke Katuin, asking me if I would be able to rehearse Monday night.  Of course my reaction was “This must have been sent to the wrong person.  I’m not in a play.”  But Luke confirmed the text was for me.  He has cast me in some sort of improvisational role, as well as stagehand manager for a play he’s producing.  I haven’t decided if I will go along with this or not.  What do you think?  Is it time to return to my acting roots for the first time since DSU’s productions of Meet Me in St. Louis and Fiddler on the Roof?

Joe Mauer won the American League MVP on Monday, which wasn’t surprising since he had by far the best year of any player in the AL, but it was still suspenseful as many were lobbying for Derek Jeter to win the MVP as some sort of lifetime achievement award.  Thankfully Mauer destroyed the competition and became the second Twin in four years to win MVP.  One Japanese writer from Seattle voted for Miguel Cabrera ahead of Mauer, keeping him from being a unanimous selection.  Could Minnesota have another MVP this year with Brett Favre?

Happy belated birthday to good friend and local music up-and-comer Travis Bolton, who turned 27 on Monday.  And happy birthday today to co-best man and Nebraska native Jason LaPlant, who turns 27 today.  Late November is by far the busiest birthday period of the year amongst people I know.  That and early February.

Back to Best Picture Project
For those of you who had some interest in the project, I recently posted my two latest Best Picture reviews over on my blog for that project.  Be sure to read up on 1960’s The Apartment starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, and 1964’s My Fair Lady starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.

In Memoriam
It’s been a somber week here at the office as we all mourn the very unexpected passing of our VP of Marketing and Sales, Mike Laven.  I reported indirectly to Mike for four years as he was my boss’s boss.  Last night was the “celebration of life” for Mike in Stillwater.  He was in a wheelchair for most of his life and was a star wheelchair athlete.  On occasion we would have lunch together at Na’s Thai Cafe.  He’ll certainly be missed around the office.

Jamaica, Couch, Turkey, MVP

Lauren and I decided we’d splurge and spend our wedding money on a real honeymoon vacation this winter. Sure, we took a mini three-day trip to the North Shore, but we wanted to do something a little more exotic. So, we worked with a travel agent and decided to go to Jamaica for a week in January! We’ll be staying at the all-inclusive Sandals Dunn’s River resort. We are very excited! (Except for the part where I use up 60% of my yearly vacation three weeks into the year.) The idea of visiting a country we’d never been to appealed to us, which is one reason we turned down Mexico. The Dominican Republics were another option we strongly considered. There are rumors (but nothing confirmed) that I will be attending the CES trade show in Las Vegas for work a week before that, so January could be a busy month away from home.

Home Improvement
This weekend was pretty low-key as Lauren and I made some changes to our apartment. We originally moved in a few days early and didn’t give the apartment management enough time to make some renovations, so we’re stuck with a filthy carpet and dirty walls. But Saturday we broke out the paint and got the living room looking nice. We also got rid of our monstrosity of a couch which I purchased on Craigslist for $50 two years ago. It was a decent couch, but was ungodly heavy as it had two metal recliners built in. It took 45 minutes to wedge it into our apartment in February, but Lauren and I managed to get it down to the trash in about 10 minutes on Saturday. Helped that we had gravity on our side this time.

I’m excited for our feast on Thursday! Lauren seems just as excited to prepare the hearty gravy-covered Thanksgiving feast as I am to eat it. We scoped out all the best Cub Foods deals yesterday and saved over $35 on our purchases. With Lauren’s office opening back up the day after Thanksgiving, we couldn’t make an out-of-state trip to see the Glanzers back on the farm or to Iowa to see Grandma Joyce. For anyone in town on Friday, we’re planning to have a little get-together at our place for some poker.

Mauer could be named MVP today! We’ll find out at 1:00 who wins the American League honor. If it’s Derek Jeter for some sort of lifetime achievement award I’ll be upset. Mark Teixeira also will surely get a few votes, but hopefully he and Jeter cancel each other out to some extent and Mauer runs away with it… Also, great weekend of football as the Vikings and Chargers both won very convincingly. If it weren’t for the Colts and Saints, I might be thinking Super Bowl… And the Timberwolves are on pace to go 8-74, which would make them the worst team in the history of the NBA. Luckily for them the Nets are 0-13 and on pace to go 0-82.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Darn you, Krogmans!  I held out all day hoping Jordan would put her children up to something clever to wish Grandma Marcie a happy birthday, and then I was going to copy it.  But the day’s nearly over and I haven’t seen a damn thing on Jordan’s blog.  Hmm… she must have mailed a birthday greeting.

Well, here’s wishing Mom a happy 48th birthday!  I feel like I can mention her actual age here because everyone is always so shocked to hear my parents are just 20 years older than me.

Mom probably celebrated her milestone birthday (rare age where the first digit doubled equals the second digit) by hauling the mail to residents of Carpenter, South Dakota.  I imagine she and Dad are spending the evening breaking into the booze.  Better call the substitute mail carrier now!

Trust me, the Christmas present I’m making will make up for the lack of birthday present.

The Collector

If there is one type of person I could very easily become but hope that I don’t, it’s the adult baseball memorabilia collector. I think these guys are the lamest, most pathetic people. I just hope I can avoid becoming one of them.

That day I tried to go to the Twins Metrodome moving sale, these guys were everywhere. I overheard a guy talking who had actually camped out and was among the first to make it through line at the sale. He was digging through a trash can near the light rail for a backpack he wasn’t allowed to bring inside. Among other novelties, he was carrying a giant white tarp that had been hanging in the visitor’s locker room that he bought for $50.

These 35-to-50-year old men, older than all the players and most coaches, camping out for autographs, pushing their way through lines, decked head to toe in a combination of very expensive new and vintage Twins clothing plastered with buttons and pins— these are the kind of guys that are using their kids as an excuse to pose for a picture with Kevin Slowey and Rick Anderson.

I know what you’re thinking—this sounds like something I would be doing! And I have. But I’m not like these guys. You never see them at actual games. I’m not sure they care about the results of the games. They are just maniacal collectors who will stop at nothing to ensure they have every publication, every bobblehead, every ballpark giveaway, every autograph. Probably for resale online, but could be for their own collections.

They are the ones staked outside of visiting teams’ hotels with fanny packs filled with Sharpie markers and backpacks with glossy 8×10 photos of every player and fresh baseballs. They have a few personal notes on each player in order to strike up a conversation, whether that be the player’s college, recent children, or best yet, stories of past autograph-seeking run-ins.

Otherwise, they lack basic social skills and often rely on public transit. The lucky ones have an accompanying spouse who is equally enthralled with the idea of getting Marco Scutaro to sign his rookie card, and can often help spot players in their street clothes and sunglasses, trying their best to go unnoticed. And the really diehard ones have children. No baseball player will turn down a kid’s request for an autograph.

Spring training is the hotbed for fans like this. Players are much more accessible and the crowds are much smaller. I should know—I was once mistaken for a White Sox player when I visited their training camp in 2003. I somehow was allowed entrance to their practice facility while other fans waited outside. Once I realized I was somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be, I left. But not before the autograph hounds bombarded me with pens, scrambling through their roster trying to figure out who I was. I still regret not pretending to be a player and screw with them.

So anyway, that’s my rant for the day. This was originally going to be about the fools who camped out in Big Lake so they could ride the very first Northstar Commuter Rail train yesterday, but it got me thinking, these are probably the same 47-year old men who have man crushes on Joe Mauer.

Finger, Caribbean, Birthdays

Good news, everyone. My pinky finger is going to be okay… in three months. You no doubt saw my gruesome photo from Saturday’s basketball mishap. I was in a splint for a couple days before going to the orthopedic surgeon Monday. He told me I was fortunate as the tendons in that finger were merely torn, not severed, so I should keep my pinky strapped to my ring finger and slowly exercise it. Maybe in three months I’ll have my full range of motion back. Anyway, the injury looked much worse than it is.

In more pleasant news, Lauren and I are in talks with a travel agent as we try to finalize our official honeymoon this winter. We are considering options all over the Caribbean as long as they’re all-inclusive. Some top choices include resorts in the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Jamaica, and Panama. Or we could go to Miami, but I hear there’s a trinity killer that highly resembles actor John Lithgow on the loose. If you have any advice or recommendations before we make a decision, let us know!

Finally, happy birthday wishes are in order today to father-in-law Steve Poulter, who turned the big 6-0 today. Also happy birthday to good friend, former DSU roommate, and aspiring math professor Chris Ahrendt who turns 27 today. And let’s not forget that tomorrow, the 19th, we should all wish my mother, Marcie Glanzer, a happy birthday! I’ll have to wait and see what the Krogman children come up with this time so I can copy their present.

Ow, My Finger Hurts!

I’ve already been milking this injury for the past 15 hours, but I want your pity as well.

dislocated, broken pinky finger

My poor hand at the ER.

I went to the gym Saturday afternoon to work out when I ran into Feeney and Kyle and joined them for basketball instead.  We were playing this game called 21 where it was basically 2-on-1, each man for himself.  I was shooting a free throw, but I decided to trick them and throw the ball hard off the backboard so I could go get my own rebound and get the ball back.  I threw the ball too hard, perhaps, as it resulted in my finger getting jammed… or so I thought.  I looked down, and my finger was slightly more than jammed.

The YWCA staff wrapped my hand up and Feeney took me to the hospital down the street.  I went into the ER and soon a doctor came in, grabbed my finger, and popped it back into place.  It was quite painful, as you can see it was dislocated in two separate places.  X-rays were taken as a precaution, and it turned out to be more serious than expected.  A bone was chipped and the tendons/ligaments appear to have snapped clean in half.  The pinky and ring fingers were splinted together, and I was told to make an appointment with a hand surgeon on Monday.

Thanks to Bradley Feeney for taking me to the hospital and hanging around the ER.  Kyle Dahl showed his support as well by joining us at the hospital.  Eventually Lauren was contacted and able to come over with my insurance info.

The pain isn’t terrible, but there’s clearly some discomfort.  Typing is a little tricky with two fingers incapable of contributing.

In other news, my kind wife Lauren agreed to let me cash in a good chunk of the Target gift cards from the wedding and get a PlayStation 3!  (This was on Friday before the injury, so it wasn’t out of pity.)  I’m not known to be an avid gamer, but the sports games are always fun, and the PS3 does much more than play games.  Walsh already came over and got a network set up so we can download shows on Lauren’s computer and watch them through the PS3.  We also are streaming Netflix, which works pretty slick!  If we had Blu-ray discs, we could play them too.

That’s all for this morning.  We have a busy day of watching the Vikings game before heading over to the Poulters’ to celebrate Steve’s 60th!

Lauren Picks Series

Very quick post, but I just wanted to congratulate my wife Lauren Poulter Glanzer for being the only participant in my annual baseball prediction game on to correctly predict the World Series would be Yankees over Phillies!  These picks were made before Spring Training even started.

Baseball experts Marcie Glanzer, Jeff Thompson, and Andrew Baker also correctly predicted the Yankees to win, but not against the Phillies.  And Calvin Krogman got the Yankees-Phillies matchup correct, but predicted the Phillies would win.

We won’t know who the official winner is until the MVP and Cy Young Awards are handed out, but Lauren is looking good to finish first out of 25 participants.

Sadly, I predicted just two playoff spots correctly (Twins and Phillies) and my World Series prediction of Indians over Cubs looks absurdly foolish.

Tri-State Boundary Expedition

Here’s a website I ran across that I found so compelling, I may want to try doing this myself over the course of the rest of my life. Just the adventure Lauren dreamed of!

These guys are attempting to visit every tri-state corner in the country—in addition to the Four Corners—which ends up being 62 different points. And there’s even more when you start including province/state borders. Did you know Canada has its own Four Corners? Crazy!

Many of the state boundaries are formed by rivers, so not all of them are easily reachable. And many of the boundaries are in remote rural areas which require some off-road hiking. The South Dakota-Minnesota-North Dakota area is apparently one such area that requires walking through a bean field near White Rock, SD.

So how do you know when you’ve actually reached these remote locations? Well, just about all of them reachable by land are marked by some sort of crude stone monument. As for the ones underwater, you just have to nail it down on the GPS.

And what do you do once you’ve reached the tri-state marker? You take lots of pictures of you running from one state to the next, hopping over the borders, or saying stupid things to your travel companions like “Oh my God, I’m in Nebraska right now and you’re in Kansas and you’re in Missouri… and now I’m in Kansas and you’re in Missouri and you’re in Nebraska! This is amazing!”

As lame as that probably sounds to most of you, I think this would be wildly entertaining. Who’s in?

Greeting Cards

What do you think the single most overpriced everyday item is?

For me, the answer is very clear: greeting cards.

How can people think $4.99 is an acceptable price to pay for a folded piece of paper with some words and pictures printed on it? Even for lesser priced greeting cards that go for $2.49, the markup still has to be at least 1000%. I guess you gotta hand it to the greeting card companies that worked hard to make that price seem reasonable.

Not that I didn’t enjoy opening all the wonderful cards we received for the wedding, but it’s possible I would have enjoyed them just as much if they were hand-made, or even just a piece of cardstock paper folded in half. After all, it’s the personalized hand-written message on the inside that is most meaningful.

I have been known to send weird greeting cards. Once I gave Lauren a Valentine’s card that was made of a bunch of my business cards taped together. I also recently used a folded piece of cardboard for a wedding card with a quick crude drawing on the front.

But the bottom line is I can’t think of any other item that people purchase every day that is more ridiculously priced. Can you?

Gallery, Vikings, Yankees

For those who I didn’t e-mail right away with the news, the last of our wedding fun is over with the release of the photographer’s photo gallery. There are 1,013 photos, enough for me to post a new photo each day until August 12, 2012. Lauren and I spent over 45 minutes taking a first run through the images on Thursday, and I’ve spent another hour or two going through them more times since. Excellent work, CM Photographics!

You are able to order prints through the gallery, but if you’re really nice to me I might send you a copy of our DVD with 4 GB of the originals in hi-res.

In other news, I was happy to see the Vikings beat the Packers yesterday. I have long been a Chargers fan first, Vikings fan second, but it’s difficult to root for a team that I get to see play two or three times a year on TV. Not to say I’m a fair-weather fan one way or the other, but the Chargers have really struggled to a 4-3 record in a weak division while the Vikings have been among the league’s best and most exciting teams. The Chargers are 2 back of the Broncos and still have to play the entire NFC East, while the Vikings schedule is very favorable after their bye week. I’m just saying, I am finding myself more interested in the outcome of the Vikings’ games than Chargers’.

In World Series news, I was upset to see the Yankees take a 3-1 lead over the Phillies last night. Whoever has played the Yankees this post-season looks foolish. The Twins and Angels were both humiliated, and now the Phillies are doing the same. Brad Lidge joins Joe Nathan and Brian Fuentes as closers unable to shut the Yankees down late in games.

I remember when the Yankees won the World Series in 1996 and I considerd it a respectable victory over Atlanta. And then they won it again in 1998, 1999, and 2000, which was maddeningly annoying, but in hindsight respectable as well considering the vast majority of their players were homegrown (Jeter, Posada, Williams, Rivera) or just great stories (Brosius).

But what’s the fun in seeing the team with by far the highest payroll and the best players winning? It’s one thing when they are able to woo the big-name free agents into coming to New York, but seeing a guy like Mark Teixeira pick the Yankees over his hometown Orioles in free agency just makes it worse. The great players want to play there to win, meaning the Yankees don’t even necessarily have to make the best offer to a free agent. Joe Girardi will probably win Manager of the Year for leading the Yanks to 103 wins, but I bet Ron Gardenhire could have won 110 games with that lineup.

Of course the downside to the Yankees losing the World Series is they’d be that much more active on the market this winter, likely feeling they need three or four more superstars in order to compete. They’ll probably land Matt Holliday and trade for Prince Fielder regardless and bat them seventh and eighth in the lineup.

Sorry, just a little bitter today.

Halloween Weekend

Quick post, just wanted to give a link to the latest Facebook photo gallery from a series of October parties.  1) The Halloween keg at Andrew and Amanda’s.  2) Our leftover wedding booze party.  3) Brian Gioielli’s Halloween party.  4) Eileen Gano’s Halloween party.  5) Walshichetti’s Halloween party.  All partied out for a while.

My costume was Timberwolves head coach Kurt Rambis, only in his mid-1980s Laker look.  Rambis of course was known as much for his unorthodox look as he was his gritty style of play.  Lauren went as “cat out of the bag” on Friday, but switched over to a Canadian Saturday.

My best Kurt Rambis costume

The real Kurt Rambis (circa 1987) and me posing as Kurt Rambis.

Halloween 028

The gang on Halloween night at the new Walshichetti house.

It’s my—

It has been a while since I’ve posted something unrelated to the goings on in my life. So here is a post with me going off on a topic that needs addressing: this type of commercial on TV or radio that goes like this.

Woman: “It’s my—”
Man: “It’s my—”
Asian Woman: “My—”
College Student: “It’s my online checking.”
African Man: “My—”
Old Man: “It’s my—”
Young Couple: “My—”
Group of Construction Workers: “My—”
Chinese Man: “It’s my online checking.”
Kid: “—online checking.”
Businessman: “—online checking.”

There are so many of them, and they’re all the same. A group of diverse people interrupting each other saying how something is theirs, and they’re really excited about it.

And there are many variations of this, like the 2004 Twins intro video that was played before games. More creative, but equally as painful.

Corey Koskie: “The future—”
Jacque Jones: “The future—”
Matthew LeCroy: “The future—”
Brad Radke: “The future is now.”
Eric Milton: “Is now.”
Luis Rivas: “Is now.”
Ron Gardenhire: “Now.”
Torii Hunter: “The future is now.”

What?! No it isn’t! The future is the future, not the summer of 2004. If the future of the Twins was a quick exit from the 2004 playoffs at the hands of the Yankees, then— oh wait, they were right about the future (see 2009 Twins).

Then they came out with those ones where people say…

Girl: “I am.”
Man: “I am.”
Boy: “I am.”
Man: “I am LeBron James.”
Woman: “I am LeBron James.”

No you aren’t! None of you are LeBron James.

And then even the big players got involved.

Girl: “I’m a PC.”
Man: “I’m a PC.”
Idiot: “I’m a PC.”
Jerk: “I’m a PC.”

This is no longer an original idea. It would be nice to not encounter these types of commercials anymore. Lauren knows how annoyed I am when I hear them. And then I try to reenact the commercials to emphasize just how bad they are which annoys her.

That is all.

Weekend Update; Comcast

Not a whole lot new from here.  Lauren and I are just wrapping up a fairly restful, enjoyable weekend.

Friday after work we used a gift card to Laredo’s in St. Louis Park.  We will have the review available soon on our food blog, but I will say that it was a very unique Tex-Mex dining experience.  That night we chilled at home and continued watching House on DVD, the next show up in our series of TV shows on DVD.  It is taking me a while to get into it because, unlike awesome shows like Six Feet Under and The Wire, there is no arc from episode to episode yet.

Saturday we spent much of the day in Edina at the Galleria where Lauren used up our Crate & Barrel gifts cards from the wedding and completed her wish list.  Let me tell you, that was a lot of fun for me.  I did run into old VF co-worker Jeff Gwost though and had a friendly chat.  At night Lauren was excited to break out her new kitchen gear and entertain some dinner guests.  Apologies to golden birthday boy Jesse Cooney for not being able to join in his celebrations!

Today we wandered over to the Walshichetti house to watch the Vikings/Steelers game, which ended disappointingly.  But the Chargers won easily over KC to improve to 3-3.

I also had my share of excitement with Comcast this weekend.  We have had problems with our HD service and they sent out a technician Saturday morning who swapped out our bad box for a brand new one.  After returning from our afternoon shopping spree, we were greeted by a strange repetitive clicking noise, which turned out to be the new cable box.  The hard drive wouldn’t start up, making our DVR feature useless.  I called Comcast back again at 12:30am and they assured us they’d come back Sunday to give us another new box.  To make it up to me, the support guy offered me six free months of the premium sports package!  Right now, there’s another Comcast technician in our apartment replacing the cable box, and he too is offering us some free programming for our run of bad luck.  I could pick whatever I wanted for free between HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and Starz, and I chose Showtime because of Dexter, though HBO with Curb and Flight of the Conchords was very tough to pass up.  Our failures with Comcast have actually been a good thing!

Happy Birthday Grandpa: The Response

Jordan put her three children up to this witty video wishing Grandpa a happy 49th birthday!

It’s not quite as entertaining in our household, especially when one of us had to run the camera, but I tried my best to one-up my sister’s birthday greeting!

Back and Refreshed

It was a glorious 11-day break from everything, but this morning it is back to reality as I head back to the office. At least I’m coming back refreshed and ready to get going on stuff. It will be a long week as Lauren is working 10 hours of OT, which means getting to work at 7 every day, but I’ve never been one to complain about being early for things. I was able to write this at work before the clock struck 8 this morning, in fact.

After we returned from the honeymoon Wednesday night, I still had Thursday and Friday off. I can’t remember what all I did but it wasn’t much. I started on the first batch of thank-you notes one afternoon and drank an entire Brewhouse growler another day. Saturday night a random group of friends over for a leftover wedding booze party, where Tripoli and Outburst were played and much booze was consumed. Even a sweater-clad Roscoe was in attendance. Sunday we watched lots of football during the day, and at night Lauren and I went to Eagan to catch up on this season of Dexter with Liz, Curt, Duane, and El Gato.

Well that’s probably all for the excitement from here for a while!

2 Days to Go

It’s Thursday morning and I am not at work!  Nor will I be for the next 12 days.  Instead, Lauren and I are busy with final preparations for the wedding.

My biggest area of concern is a very unresponsive limo company who has never confirmed our reservation or even charged my credit card.  I am trying to give them money but they won’t take it!  Maybe their low, low prices were too good to be true.

This morning we started the day with breakfast at French Meadow just down the street.  I had an odd moment with the waitress, who I was positive I recognized from TV… but where?  We have been watching so much Six Feet Under that I thought for sure she had to be on the show.  I was racking my brain trying to think of what character she was when it hit me.  She wasn’t from that show.  She is the woman on those really terrible Minneapolis Saturn commercials with the idiot husband who blows up the car and drives a car off a cliff!  I asked her and she said it was true, but seemed a little embarrassed.

Well, I am going to put together our slideshow now.