Biker Ben, who I must note for the purposes of this entry is one of my oldest and dearest friends, called this evening without warning. We talked about miscellaneous stuff for a while, starting with the strange election year in Minnesota and the incredibly muddy race going on for governor in Wisconsin. He went on to complain about cities that hold trick-or-treating on the wrong days, and I started to babble about the conference I'm going to next week.
Then he told me he's engaged.
That's the thing about Biker Ben. When he calls, he usually has a pretty specific reason for doing so. And that's one heck of a reason.
Ben and Beth, congratulations.
) ) )
Ben said they haven't set a date yet, but he expects they'll buy a house before it happens.
"Marriage by mortgage?"
"Yeah, that's about it."
) ) )
Munching on candy, the four of us stood between the cubes talking politics.
"You heard that Coleman left on his campaign swing yesterday from the same airport and in a similar plane and weather as Wellstone did?"
"Yeah, I think they mentioned that on 'CCO last night."
"Some are saying he was trying to get his party equal time to the Wellstone rally."
) ) )
We both got the manicotti and bolted for the checkouts, she taking the long line and I taking the short one. It was four against 10, but while she quickly disappeared into the seating area I remained languishing in queue. In front of me a petty conversation stumbled from one insipid topic to another.
Customer: "Ooooh, I see you have a witch working next to you today."
Checkout Person: "I know. Scary!"
Customer: "Seems kind of appropriate, though..."
Checkout Person: "We were saying this morning her costume fits her personality well."
Mark's Mouth: "Yeah, well the witch is about three times as fast as you."
Mark's Brain: "What the hell did you just say?"
The Bottom Of The Sea. Have your headphones on.
If I were a Minnesota Republican I'd be pretty ticked off right now. I have a definite liberal bent, but I still think much of the last third of this evening's Wellstone memorial was way out of line. The vote rallying by Rick Kahn seemed particularly egregious; a program that had started as a courteous and loving remembrance of the individuals who lost their lives last week was completely overrun Kahn's unstated but obvious position that it would be an insult to the legacy of Paul Wellstone for attendees to even consider voting for anyone other than the DFL candidate in the U.S. Senate race. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.
) ) )
"You don't like the Wizard of Oz?"
"There are a lot of good movies you don't like."
"I dunno, something about that movie always bugged me."
"But didn't you like Toto?"
"He was such a cute little doggie."
"I hate dogs."
"Oh come on..."
"I have to agree with Salman Rushdie on that one. I think it was an interview on MPR where he said if there ever was a small dog that deserved to have a house dropped on it, it was Toto."
"He did not say that."
"Yes he did."
With the exception of a trip to St. Paul to visit Paul Wellstone's campaign headquarters and brief forays to Marshall's and Nordstrom Rack in search of some winter clothing, I spent my entire weekend at home in front of the computer working. That's kinda sad. It's going to be a busy week, but depending how things pan out, I may take off a day later in the week.
) ) )
As said, I visited Paul Wellstone's campaign headquarters in St. Paul yesterday. I stayed for about an hour and a half reading the messages left on the side of the building, watching the news crews, talking to other visitors and taking photographs. Despite the cold and blustery weather, people took their time walking up and down the wall, many seemingly intent on reading every note and message taped to it. Cars on University slowed to a crawl as they passed, and for the entire time I was there I only heard one impatient driver resort to his horn. All in all, it was quite moving.
I'll get some photos up in the album when I get a chance, but for now I offer a somewhat sloppy 4MB stitched photo that pretty much shows everything people had left there before I passed by.
) ) )
They're talking Mondale now. While I'll be around to vote next month, I'm going to be out of the state as the election results roll in, and for that I'm sort of sad. Regardless of who gets elected, it definitely is going to be an interesting and historical evening.
) ) )
Daylight Savings Ends
And Mark stays up way too late
Cat seems quite annoyed
"I'm sort of surprised you made it in today."
"Yeah, well, I have too much going on to stay home."
"You look like shit."
"No, really. Your face is all pale and your eyes are baggy..."
I went home sick this afternoon. It's a little after 10:30 now, and while it's the first time today I've really been awake, I still feel like shit. Fever, sore throat, this, that and the other thing.
) ) )
Not that anyone ever does, but I really don't have time to be sick. This week has been hectic and I'm sure next week will be as well, but to be prepared for next week there's a lot of stuff I have to be getting done, uh, now. (I sense a work-related weekend in my future.) Early november will be busy, too, but in a notably different way. I'll be going on two different business trips, one out to New York for a conference, and another out to California to meet with coworkers. While I'll be busy in both cases, at least there'll be a change of scenery.
You know, that reminds me. I still haven't finished my photos from last year's trip to New York.
) ) )
Sort of a weak day for the local news media. There are 600 hostages are being held in a Moscow theater and what does just about every broadcast outlet do? That's right, they focus on that damn Washington sniper story. Most online news sources seem to be doing the same, with the notable exception of Google News, which runs under the direction of computer algorithms, not a human editor.
) ) )
And with that, I'm back to bed.
Ignoring the fact the temperature was hovering in the low 30s, I ran downstairs in my flannels this morning to grab the Sunday paper. Before heading out the door, I stopped to chat with a neighbor who was coming back from the store. A bit tired, I leaned against the radiator in the front hallway, but only for a moment. "I wish my radiators did that."
It's almost 10:00 in the evening now, and outside the temperature has dropped to 36 degrees. I'm not sure what it is inside. The speed of repairs and maintenance in this building has always proved to be glacial, but if they don't get the boiler working properly soon, that description will take on a much more literal meaning.
) ) )
"What do you think about us having an all-California series?"
"Eh, I never cared for California much."
"No preferences, then."
"I guess if I had to choose I'd go with San Francisco, for no reason other than they're not owned by Disney."
) ) )
Early last week I got an email from an old friend I hadn't heard from for a while. I just spent 20 minutes writing a reply to her, and instead of sending the email accidentally deleted it. Probably time for me to go to bed.
Another morning starts with a bang. Literally. I think today was the sixth clear-weather power outage I've experienced since moving to Minneapolis. Sort of makes me wonder what exactly those folks at Xcel Energy are up to. Other than falsifying outage reports, of course.
) ) )
"Tan is the new black?"
"No, tan is the new white."
) ) )
"Hey, have you looked outside lately?"
"What do you mean, 'ugh?'"
"Oh, yeah, I forgot. You like this weather."
So, anyway, the report on Turkey Party 2002:
For an event organized around the gimmick of deep-frying a year-old Thanksgiving turkey in order to free up space in a freezer for a new one, things sure didn't start well. The night before the party, about 22 hours before the first guests were expected to arrive, I finally finished cleaning the apartment and started to prepare the deep-fryer. Among other things, this required an estimation of how much vegetable oil would be needed to cook the bird, an amount arrived at by placing the turkey in the frying kettle and filling it with water until the bird had at least two inches of water covering it. Unfortunately, it quickly became evident that such a feat would be impossible, as the turkey was about two inches taller than the kettle itself.
Options for dealing with the problem were fairly limited. I briefly toyed with the idea of buying another turkey, although that plan fell apart as soon as I considered the thawing issue. Besides, I thought, getting a new turkey would violate the spirit of the party, and so off to Wal Mart I went. About an hour later and roughly $50 poorer, I was back at the apartment with a new turkey fryer. There turned out to be a silver lining to this unexpected detour: While taller, the new frying kettle was also significantly narrower than the old one, meaning I could fry a turkey with about half the oil the old fryer required. (Hypothetically, the new fryer should pay for itself within four or five uses. Granted, that obviously assumes I'll actually use it four or five more times. Considering we've deep-fried turkeys at only 66% of the turkey partiesin other words, twiceand that I have little to no interest in the deep-fried steak recipe on the side of the fryer box, that's not really a safe assumption.)
Preparations continued throughout the day on Saturday. Heather and Rich had said they'd show up later in the afternoon to help, but for a number of reasons they couldn't, so by the time the first guest arrived I was running around like a madman. That guest was Kyle, a fine, charitable fellow I happen to work with, and he accepted my panicked pleas for help and went about manning the fryer. I felt bad about putting a guest in such a position and so checked with him numerous times to see how he was doing. "Can I get you a soda or anything?"
"No, but you could mention me on your website."
"I'll do that."
Anyway, the plan went something like this: Guests had been told that if they wanted to be present for the dropping of the bird they had to show up before 7:15. Last year it took the fryer almost an hour and a half to get to the necessary 320 degrees, so when Kyle and I lit it at 6:45, the party seemed to be a good hour behind schedule. (Usually party schedules aren't all that important, of course, but would you want to show up at a dinner party hungry, only to find the meal delayed by 45 minutes?) As it turned out, heating the oil would be a problem, but not in the way I expected. When I checked the temperature a little after 7:00 I was dismayed to find it pushing 410 degrees, which presented the new challenge of cooling the oil before dropping the bird. We turned off the burner and let the kettle sit open for 15 minutes, but it didn't help any. The temperature hardly budged. When we finally dunked the turkey at 7:30, the oil was still 400 degrees. Although the bird turned out fairly well, the fact it went in at such a high temperature probably was one of the main reasons it wasn't as good as last year's turkey.
As the turkey cooked behind the building more people began to drop by. I tackled a few of my closer friends for help, but by 8:00 things were going fairly well. Sarah took care of the vegetarian dish and Heather, Rich and Jason resolved some other minor food issues. The bird was served a little after 8:30, and everything pretty much took care of itself after that. People brought a lot of good food, and the wine selection turned out to be quite good as well. (Even though we emptied four bottles of wine, the apartment still had a net gain of one bottle for the evening.) There were mashed potatoes, two kinds of beans, a vegan salad, stuffing (Heather's recipe, making its third turkey party appearance), brownies, zucchini bread, fruit salad, and a bunch of other tasty stuff. The official vegetarian dish was spicy vegetable stew with cous cous, although it was sort of redundant considering the only non-vegetarian item on the menu was the turkey itself. All in all, dang spiffy.
Conversation was varied, interesting, and, depending on the person, mildly buzzed. Dave quietly conversed as he wandered around putting Turkey Party stickers on everything (including at least one guest), Sarah kept asking people if they knew Peter Gabriel had a new CD coming out, Meg raved about the turkey (she's a vegetarian), Rich hypothesized as how to explain the concept of camel toe ("It's an inside joke. Kind of."), John recounted his trip to Europe, Phil explained how he almost got knocked off during a National Guard exercise, and just about everyone mentioned how sociable a cat Putter was. Becky, Ted and their little one dropped by for a few minutes as well. For whatever reason I didn't take many photos, so in the end over half the attendees escaped with their souls intact.
Things closed down kind of early, well earlier than either of the previous turkey parties. Almost everyone left before 11:30, although Heather and Rich played the role of welcome stragglers. (Heather was especially welcome as she helped with dishes.) It was sort of late and at least two of us were burning alcohol, so our conversation was a bit whacked. Even though I'd made a point earlier in the evening to try to not talk about my apartment or furnishings, it did come up a number of times without my prompting. While part of me was curiously proud of this, in another way I was uncomfortable about it as well. Later on, as we jumped from one topic to another, Rich took pause as he looked at some of my new furniture. "You look like you're ready for a girl, Mark."
I thought about it for a moment. "Or Fight Club."
We continued on similarly irrelevant themes until sometime after 1:00 in the morning, when Heather and Rich finally decided to call it a night. I stayed up for another 45 minutes cleaning and putting away dishes and such, and somehow managed to retire before 2:00. Sleep came easily, and I stayed buried in my bed until Putter woke me with his demands for food late the next morning.
So I'm sitting here at 11:30 in the evening finishing up lengthy entries on the Turkey Party and the trip to Ohio when the lights flicker and the computer restarts. I spend the next minute praying to the computer gods that my work was saved, only to find that Mr. Dell, Mr. Gates and Mr. Allaire are indeed false idols. For whatever reason I just can't get myself to rewrite those entries right now, so I'll have to get to them tomorrow.
) ) )
"So when are we going to get the new windows installed?"
"On our side of the building?"
"Not until the spring now."
"Uh, you know two of my windows don't have storms on them, and one is in such bad shape that if I tried opening it the glass would probably fall out."
"Well you better not open it then."
"It may get a little drafty, but you'll be fine."
This has turned out to be one of those insufferably busy weeks where I barely I have time to think, much less write. Hence, no updates 'till the weekend, a theoretically placid time when I should be able to kick back and babble to my heart's content.
) ) )
"So working as a camp counselor taught you patience?"
"No, it taught me to pretend to be patient. I was always quietly seething inside."
"I'll remember that."
"You haven't updated your site a while."
"Yeah, I've been pretty busy."
"But how am I supposed to know what you're up to?"
"Other than talking to me?"
) ) )
Sitting on the floor of my living room last night, a glass of wine in my hand, my apartment full of friends, coworkers and neighbors, I came to the sudden realization it was the first time in a number of weeks I'd actually stopped and relaxed. Turkey Party 2002 went well, but I'll have to get to the details later. For this evening, this cold and rainy Sunday, the only things on my agenda are the newspaper and hours of silence.