Friday, January 30, 2009

They have Olive Gardens there too!

About halfway through my holiday vacation, Marathon Man flew in and joined me. Yes he was subjected to an awkward church service where both of us vowed to sing loudly (note both of us would totally make the American Idol show…the part when they show all the hideously off key singers). I attempted to show him all my religious murals I painted on the Sunday School classroom walls, but they painted over all my masterpieces except the friggin rainbow and list of Ten Commandments. Yes, back in the day, I was an above average painter and the Church asked me to decorate all the walls with scenes from the bible like David & Goliath, Adam & Eve, baby Moses in the reeds, Johan & the whale, Noah, etc. Don’t mistake my enjoyment in painting church frescos with real religion since I am a submarine Lutheran (only surface during major religious holidays).

We drove off up to Minnesota to visit his extended family. I guess there are still charted areas in the Iowa wilderness because the Garman GPS device (love it!) would suddenly go bonkers on us and say we were driving in the middle of a corn field. We NEVER left the highway but this happened three times in Iowa alone.

While in Minneapolis, we did various tourist things to pass the time. We spent a few hours walking the Mall of America deciding on whether to shop, ride the Camp Snoopy roller coaster, or go to the basement Aquarium. In the end we did nothing and ate lunch at Olive Garden (for real, we are the lamest people ever….lame but delicious).

Later we took in the Science museum and had a blast. It is one of those hands on children’s museum which would explain why there were so many obnoxious kids running around there. Here are pictures of M-Man having fun with a ball and a blowing fan.

Me with a shark…or teenager in a shark costume (I wonder if he is really smiling under the mask).

One night we hit up the casino and played nickel slots. Did I mention we are lame? Anyway we played keno, some weird matching game, and hit pay dirt in video poker. You would think we were playing with larger sums of money because at one point M-Man gasped and said “wait, don’t touch anything, I accidently hit bet max” which of course was 20 credits or a whole dollar! Luckily we got a three of a kind and cashed out a whole $2.50 richer after 2 hours and twelve diet Pepsis later. Actually we were elated and I wanted to run up to the Indian pit boss and shout out I TOOK THE HOUSE DOWN…BOYEEE!

To celebrate our $2.50 win, we went on a hunt for ice cream. I typed in Dairy Queen on the Garman GPS and it took us to some guy’s house in the middle of a neighborhood. I wonder if it was some guy who decided to mess with ice cream hungry people and throw them off track some. Actually it would be really funny to list your enemies or nosey neighbors in Garman under some adult themed shop. Imagine answering that door. Nice.

We finished up our Minnesota visit with a Viking game. We left for the game about five hours before kickoff in hopes of finding some cheap parking and having some fun at the tailgate. After getting off the highway, we spotted an open street parking spot on a side street. M-Man quickly swerved into it and we were all excited at our extraordinary luck (the meter was free on Sunday). Now all we had to do was walk to the stadium which was (according to M-Man) just a few blocks down that street. Few blocks my ass! It turned out to be just over a mile. Did I mention it was about -5 degrees outside? We were not wholly prepared for subzero conditions because the stadium has a dome and is essentially quite temperate during the dead of Minnesota winter. I was shuffling so fast that I was one notch down from actually jogging.

After about 10 minutes I lost all feeling in my face, fingertips, and toes. As we approached a bar (granted the first business that seemed to be open downtown on a Sunday) M-Man suggested we go inside and warm up (or in my case get an IV of hot liquids). This bar was nutzoid Viking fan central. EVERYONE in the establishment was wearing a Viking jersey, marti gras beads, face paint, etc. I tried to blend in by wearing my only purple sweatshirt which clearly said K-STATE boldly across the chest. Whatever, it was effort!

After warming up briefly, we headed back on the Oregon Trail towards the stadium (we lost poor Billy in a bad ferry crossing). We passed a few tailgates in parking lots where the participants were obviously freezing and drunk. Forgoing the tailgate games and festivities in lieu of warmth, we headed directly into the stadium and tried to amuse ourselves for 90 minutes. I don’t know terribly much about real Vikings except the whole ship, explorer, giant baby stuff. I guess they have a battle horn that they blow after the introduction of the team, after a touchdown, after a first down, hell after someone takes a piss. I wouldn’t be so irked about constantly hearing this mythical deafening horn reverberate in the dome if it didn’t sound so much like fisting a cow. In the end, Viking won with an end of the game field goal (directed towards our section) and clinched their spot in the playoffs. Yaaaaay!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

For my biggest (only) fan

My Christmas visit back home might as well be dubbed ‘Return of the Baby’ because it was jammed packed full of rolling newborns. I don’t return for a whole year and everyone is sprouting babies. Granted the kiddies were all cute and entertaining in itself, and it made me wholly aware of how I felt about what I was wearing (my affection for a certain white sweater limited my time holding or being in projectile proximity of babies).

Here are some pictures of Tina’s little girl Leah who was about 3 months old at the time. I am tempted to say more…but I know she reads this and yummy cheesecake is on the line. Instead I will write the inner monolog for the baby.

"are you talking about meeeee"

"just trying to learn a party trick to impress college frat guys"

"I wonder if it is possible to simultaneously puke and shit"

Friday, January 23, 2009

Brand new Uterus - never been used.

I flew back to Nebraska for Christmas and finally got to meet my niece in person. Here is what I know about her: her ears stick straight out, she vomits approximately every ten minutes (they call it spit up, but if food goes into a person and then comes back out the mouth, I call it vomiting), she knows how to roll from her stomach onto her back, and is constantly sticking out her tongue. One time she performed a combination of her “tricks” all in one instance, she stuck out her tongue, burped then projectile vomited which propelled her to roll on to her back. Everyone cheered and clapped while I was the only one to find it disgusting.

Now I am hesitant to publish photos of the kid and me together because people will take one look and automatically assume she is mine. Oh no Billie Jean, I am not the one. I wanted to get my niece a jumper or sign that said “not my mommy” or maybe I would wear a shirt saying “ain’t no baby momma”. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti baby. I just don’t want to fan wild rumors or anything. Eventually I’d like to have children because frankly the crack me up (and then I could finally cancel my cable). Case in point, the children of my best friend from high school, Shannon. While I was in my hometown over Christmas, I met up with a group of high school friends for a progressive dinner party. Essentially each course was served at a different house. When we reached the final house (dessert), Shannon’s 4 and 5 year old girls greeted us at the door and excitedly proclaimed they had a CHOCOLATE fountain! Well the girls didn’t need to tell us anything because their faces said it all. They had not just a chocolate mustache, but also a goatee (like they had been dipping their faces in and drinking directly from the fountain). Later all the adults were relaxing with beer and wine (God I love being an adult), and the girls decided to dress up in various princess dresses and perform ballet routines for us. Of course the adults had been enjoying booze all night, so we encouraged the girls, “ Spin around! Now do a cartwheel!” I think the girls made three costume changes (they have a lot of princess dresses) before the adults started to take part in the recital. Brandon successfully did a cartwheel and at one point Dru was going to score $50 for getting into the splits.

Earlier in the night, Rollie said my life exhausts him. Maybe that explains why I take so many naps.

My niece Ava

This is exactly how she looks 90% of the time

She has a bald spot on her head (ha!)

My sister and brother-in-law with their kid (notice the spit up on his shirt)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Taking the plunge

This weather in Chicago this past week has really chapped my hide...litterally. Today's high temp I believe is -2 degrees. Yep, the high temp is BELOW ZERO! The forcasters say we will get back inot positive numbers on Friday when the high temp is predicted to be 5 deg. Pardon me if I don't jump for joy.

I have modified my wardrobe accordingly. Currently I am wearing:
1 - insulated wool ski hat (with ear flaps)
1 - 180 deg ear warmers (under the hat of course)
1 - pair of skiing issue down mittens that extend up to my elbow
1 - neck warmer fleece tube thingy
1- hand crocheted scarf over neck fleece thingy (the scarf is hideous and yes I did crochet it myself back when I had idle time and was all crafty)
1 - industrial ski jacket with shell and bad ass warm liner
1- ichy wool sweater
1 - thermal long sleeve shirt (I thought about wearing a turtle neck but then realized I was lame enough to pull it off)
1 - pair of thermal pantyhose tights
1 - pair of fleece running tights
1 - pair of jeans (that are bulging from all the under garments and is giving me sausage legs)
1 - pair of the largest underwear I could find (the more material means the more coverage right)
1 - pair of knee high wool socks
1 - pair of dry fit socks
1 - pair of std white athletic socks
1- pair of industrial snow boots.

I basically waddle to and from the train station and huddle in bitter cold agony while waiting on the elevated outdoor platform (damn you CTA). This morning, my breath turned to ice crystals on my scarf.

The newscaster this morning did science tricks out in the weather to show how freacking cold it is outside (the air temp when I woke up this morning was -17 with temps in the burbs near -27...that is WITHOUT WIND CHILL which drops the temps another 20 or so degrees). Anyway, he took a cup full of boiling water and threw it in the air. The water froze instantly and created a fine ice crystal/powder in the air. He then blowed bubbles which also froze in mid-air and shattered like glass balls when they hit the ground.

In other news, I am flying to New York tomorrow. I fly back about every other weekend to booty call my ho's there. My airport of choice is LaGuardia since it is only a $2 city bus ride back into Manhattan. Well, this afternoon, a plane decided to go swimming and plunged into the Hudson River. From what I have read, it took off from LaGuardia (great), hit a flock of birds and then had to emergency land in the freezing river. First of all - scary! Second - what the hell is a flock of birds doing in New York in January? Shouldn't they have flown to Florida or something already? Maybe they decided to stay because they wore 3 pairs of socks and giant underwear too.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Spoiled pumpkins

If you look into my playlist, there is a wide range of music choices. Anything from classical scores to indie punk. Although my taste varies greatly, I tend to always find myself drifting towards 90’s alternative. Yeah, it brings back high school memories where at one point I found myself wearing a thermal shirt under a flannel shirt with another flannel shirt tied around my waist.

On December 8th, I was treated to a rare concert from the Smashing Pumpkins. Well, it was called Smashing Pumpkins but really it was just Billy Corgan and four other non-original people. Okay I heard about Billy being odd, but I had no idea. He wore a black shredded skirt the entire concert…wait not the entire concert..he came out in a big white dress with a giant headdress that would make drag queens proud.

The first half of the show was all late 90’s alternative rock with songs the crowd knew, loved, and sang along to. The second half was spent showcasing their “new music/sound”. Sadly, their new sound is psychedelic music. You could tell how disappointed the crowd was because five minutes into it, everyone took their seats and remained there the rest of the show.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Bedtime stories

I'll need to remember this when my niece hits elementary school age...

originally posted on 'overheard in NY' website:
Wait-- Didn't You Give Your Mom Hoop Earrings for Christmas?

A seven-year-old daughter said to her mother: "Today in school I learned where babies come from."
Mother: Oh, really?
Daughter: Yea, a mommy and daddy take off all their clothes, the mommy makes the dad happy and his thingy stands up a little. Then the mommy puts the thingy in her mouth and the thingy stands up all the way and explodes, and that's where babies come from.
Mother: No, honey, that's where jewelry comes from.
Guy listening, with horrified face: Wait a second, my mom has a shitload of jewelry. Oh, goddammit, eewwwwwwwwwwwww!
Girl: I'm never going to look at your mom the same way ever again.

--Arthur Avenue

Overheard by: Reza Daneshvar

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Asia Adventures - Post 7 (Ayuthaya, Thailand)

The reoccurring theme of Thailand is “avoid the scam”. I’ve said it before, but practically EVERYONE in Bangkok tried to rip us off…even the official legit train worker behind the ticket counter. Olga, Dana and I wanted to explore the ancient ruins of Ayuthaya located about an hour outside of Bangkok. I really wanted to see the temples of Ankor Wat in Siem Reap Cambodia, but that would have cost us another $500 and at least two days which we couldn’t budget for.

Anyway, the travel book guide says the best way to get to Ayuthaya is by train which should cost you about a dollar. Well the ticket counter person looked at us and said the ticket price was 615bht (about $20 US). What! I then showed her the travel book and mentioned they list the price much much lower. She then said “oh that for 3rd class ticket, you no want, you want 2nd class ticket, I book you 2nd class ticket, no ride with animals and have seat”. She tried to convince us that the difference between 2nd class and 3rd class was that 2nd class had A) air conditioning, B) seats, and C) no animals. Yeah, we got the feeling like the 3rd class car was one big box car full of straw, but for only 25bht (about 75 cents US) can you blame it. Since we were on a budget and in the mood for some adventure (come on when else can you spend an hour in close quarters with a goat), we bought the 3rd class tickets. Well we get to the train car and it has A) tons of cushy built in seats, B) tons of windows that you can open to let the breeze flow through the car, and C) NO ANIMALS. Everyone in the car was regular people looking like they were visiting a relative or friend in the suburbs.

On our hour long train ride, I looked at the scenery and tried to take picture of rice paddy fields (I really wanted to see rice fields for some reason). We passed through a few shanty towns were houses consisted of corrugated metal scraps and strategically placed sheets. Downer! Anyway, we met Adam from San Francisco who had been traveling for the last three months. He bought a round the world package and had visited practically all of Europe, India, and SE Asia. I guess this round the world package is offered through various airlines and allows you to pay one set price (like $2000) and purchase up to 20 or so one-way plane tickets. The stipulation is that you can only travel in one direction (no backtracking) and eventually circumference the globe. Neat huh, except it really only works for those travelling for a long ass time.

Once we arrived, we rented bicycles to ride around the island and to the various temple ruins. It was close to 100 degrees and 80% humidity, so we lasted about five minutes before swimming in sweat. Although I don’t recommend heavy activity in the sweltering tropics, the bikes were a great idea. Riding provided a nice breeze (if you peddled hard enough) and let us see practically everything there in a few hours. Granted we had to burn our clothes later because they were beyond nasty. Half way through the sweaty day, Dana said “guys…I don’t know why I’m single…I’m so hot”

Here is a pictorial tour.
Wat Chetharam (with a giant stone reclining Buddha)

Wat Phra Mahathat (home of the Buddha head in the tree roots…we couldn’t find it though, damn)

Wat Phra Ram (situated on the lake)

Wat Ratburana (you descend into the tomb and can view some fresco paintings that they have uncovered)

Wat Phra Si Samphet (formally royal temple situated right next to the royal palace, the city’s largest and most important temple). We were later chased out by an old woman yelling "NO did you get in here!!!"

Whaan Phra Mongkhon Bophit (royal palace and home to a giant bronze Buddha, the building once was a crumbling pile of stones and the Buddha was exposed but then in the last 10 years have rebuilt the building and restored the Buddha statue’s finish)

Elephant Taxis