After a near-miss with a brick-wall-type issue last night, things are back on track for the condo. Our closing date is September 23rd.
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And tomorrow, we're off to Toronto.
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Also, I've wanted to talk about Lisa and my visit to the State Fair last weekend, but I feel kind of guilty doing so when there's such a tragedy unfolding in New Orleans. Maybe later.
Items Noted Elsewhere: Searching For Katrina's Missing
The inspection today went fairly well. The boiler will need some servicing (but not replacement), some of the windows may need some work, and, five to ten years from now, there may have to be some patching and sealing done to the foundation. The only area of any real concern is the electrical system: While the current system is solid and sufficient for the current building, it's a bit underpowered and may be difficult (read: expensive) to add to due to the way the system is configured.
In all, the inspector said he didn't see anything unusual for an 80-year-old building, and generally thought it was in good shape. He also commented that the new deck on the back of the building was significantly overbuilt and should last, uh, indefinitely.
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That's not to say everything is going well.
"So," I said, apparently thinking like a guy, "if we paint the bathroom blue, we can reuse all of our current stuff, as it'll match, and we can save ourselves some money."
"Ugh, that dark blue?"
"Well, only up to the side molding. It could be white above that..."
"How about a light blue or green, or some other pastel?"
"Uh, no pastels."
"I can't stand pastels."
"But I love pastels," she said, apparently thinking like an art history major. "We could use colors Monet used."
"Uh, dear? I have to admit something."
"I don't like Monet."
"You don't like Monet!?"
"How can you not like Monet?"
"I'm a guy, I like my art a little more solid and defined."
"But you like impressionism! What about that print at the back of the apartment?"
"Uh, I got that for free when I joined the MIA. I wouldn't have bought that on my own..."
"You don't like impressionism?"
"Argh, I can't believe you." She took a long pause, and I could practically see her voice dropping to a growl. "So, what do you think about Turner!?" If J. M. W. Turner were still alive today, Lisa would likely be following him around like a Deadhead.
"Well... He's not really my thing..." My voice got kind of quiet. "Fuzzy boats and stuff."
The conversation went downhill after that.
Items Noted Elsewhere, Northwest Airlines Edition
With a trip to Toronto planned for the end of this month, Lisa and I have been watching the Northwest Airlines strike fairly carefully. I've traditionally been a supporter of unions, but, considering the state of the airline industry, have to come down on Northwest's side in this case. (Also, it's hard to feel much sympathy for striking mechanics who could get almost $60,000 a year by simply crossing the picket line.) Yes, NWA could've handled their labor relations (and many other things) much better than they have, but, really, any airline that has managed to get to this point without declaring bankruptcy deserves at least a little bit of recognition, if not respect.
A few news articles worthy of note regarding the Northwest strike:
We've settled on the offer for the condo. The inspection will be on Friday.
We put down and offer on a condo last night, and currently are in the process of going back and forth with the owner and Realtor.
If everything goes through, and we get the condo, not only will we remain Minneapolis residents, we'll be Minneapolis residents living on Lyndale Avenue.
10:56 a.m. It's our last weekend at Lisa's old place in Madison, AKA our summer home in Madison, AKA the lease that will not die. Well, not quite: The lease expires at the end of the month, so from this point on visits to the city will probably involve a stay at her parents' place or a hotel. (We have a free night at the Red Roof, but that's a different story.)
The wedding last night was nice, and was so in a very Wisconsin way: There were Unitarians, a lot of talk about farming and Wisconsin values, and a huge back yard surrounded by flowers, bees and hummingbirds. It also had a reception with a bluegrass band, something I don't think I've ever seen before, and probably won't ever see again.
Earlier in the day we hit the farmers' market on the capitol square, followed by breakfast at Marigold Kitchen, which, incidentally, produced one of the best breakfasts I've had in years. We also made a quick visit to a Home Depot and a local kitchen place to get some ideas on the cost of kitchen renovations. (On a related note, we may be putting down an offer on a condo tonight. More on that if we actually go ahead with it.)
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The drive down to Madison on Friday took a bit longer than usual, as we elected to take the scenic route along Wisconsin 35 instead of I-94. Aside from Lisa nearly killing a wild turkey just south of Prescott, and then causing something small and furry to go thump-thump under the Toyota south of Pepin, it was scenic and a lot of fun. It's a great drive, and we'll probably have to make a weekend out of it sometime.
I opened a Flickr account last night. I'm no big fan of the service—I don't like the quality of the resized images, and the level of cheerleading for it has become downright annoying—but I haven't found the right programs for me to effectively manage the photo album section of this site, and hence have felt the need to find an alternative. I'm starting by posting photos from last weekend's trip to Duluth to get a feel for how Flickr works, and will get the photos from my brother's wedding up sometime next week.
Ultimately, I hope this will be a temporary change, and that eventually I'll be able to make the album section into what I want it to be, but for now it looks like Flickr will be my photography's home for the foreseeable future.
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Tomorrow, it's off to Madison for another wedding. And maybe some corn.
So, Duluth. I'm a bit hesitant to broach this subject, as many we've talked to in the Twin Cities seem quite fond of the fair city up on Lake Superior, but Lisa and I were a bit... Underwhelmed. Sure, the lake was awesome and the dinner cruise was a lot of fun, but as soon as we turned our eyes away from the water, boats and bridge, well, there didn't seem to be much there. The downtown was kind of dead, and the much-hyped Canal Park turned out to be little more a bunch of landscaped parking lots surrounded by chain restaurants, junk stores and about fifteen different establishments apparently belonging to someone's grandma. (There was Grandma's Sports Garden, Grandma's Ice Cream Boxcar, Grandma's Marketplace, Grandma's Saloon & Grill, Grandma's Butt-Fuck Emporium, and Grandma's Old-Time Goiter Removal Shoppe. Most looked to have been built in the 1970's and not cleaned since.)
I guess we should've taken it as an omen when a local recommended Canal Park, saying "there's a nice little Dairy Queen down there."
There were other things. The downtown Radisson was far and away the worst Radisson I've ever visited. The supposedly scenic drive up on the hills turned out to be more of a tour of the ass-ugly side of a bunch of houses. Lisa's search for a coffee or tea shop ended with an iced chai that was 50% milk, 49% ice, and 1% other ingredients. And the search for sunscreen was ridiculous.
Since the trip was mostly a surprise for Lisa's birthday—I hadn't even told her we were staying overnight—basics like sunscreen were left at home. I didn't think sunscreen would be a problem, as it's usually a common item at convenience stores and the like, but our search for it turned into an ordeal of epic proportions. We first struck out at a couple of gas stations, and then a bunch of tourist stores1. Then there was the outdoors store in which we were told that they only carry sunscreen in April and May. Just to make sure that sinks in, this was an outdoors store that did not carry sunscreen in the MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING SUMMER. Argh.
In the end, we ended up having to go get our car and drive to a fucking Walgreen's to make sure our pasty German and Polish skins wouldn't get toasted over the course of the afternoon.
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That said, the city wasn't all bad. In the right spots, the city felt like a gigantic machine, and I mean that as a complete complement. It was cool to watch the boats and the bridge, and our detour to take a look at UMD and St. Scholastica was fun as well. To be fair, we didn't have time to hit any museums, nor sample any bars or restaurants, nor look into the city's fabled music scene. And after driving through Superior on the way out, I can kind of understand, who wouldn't want to visit Duluth?
As Lisa said, "If we didn't go, we wouldn't know." I guess I have to agree with her.
9:33 p.m. We're at the Radisson in downtown Duluth, taking a brief break from the partial-surprise trip I decided to give Lisa for her birthday. The drive up was kind of boring, but the evening has been fun so far, with a walk along the waterfront and a dinner cruise around the harbor and onto Lake Superior.
As soon as we get dressed in some slightly warmer clothing, we're planning on wandering around some of the more touristy areas tonight. As far as tomorrow goes, that's kind of unplanned, so we'll just see how it goes.
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For what it's worth, this is the first journal entry written on my new Dell Axim X50v. I've been able to get an Internet connection on it, but so far no luck posting anything.
Interesting news in the email today. It turns out my brother now has a blog, as does his wife.
The Danielsons: All blogs, all the time.
Well, I guess I wasn't as far out of my writing funk as I thought I was. That's kind of okay, though, as there wasn't much to talk about from the past week other than the Uptown Art Fair and a morning commute that was interrupted by a police shooting.
So, in the meantime, here are some overdue movie reviews to fill some space.
We were standing in line for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and I was acting kind of squirmy. "You still thinking about The Island?" she asked.
"What's it about?"
"Identical clones being raised so they can be harvested for their parts."
"Oh, it's science fiction."
"We can see that."
"You sure you don't want to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?"
"I'm not really feeling it."
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Tickets in hand, we were walking around, passing time before the show. "From what I've read, the first half is a decent science fiction film, and the second half is kind of a standard action film."
"Really. That sounds good."
"Yeah. And I figure if you're going to watch an action film, you might as well see one that's big and stupid by a director like..." My voice trailed off. Suddenly I found myself thinking that maybe, just maybe, I should've told her who directed the movie before we purchased the tickets. "Um, oh."
"The movie has Ewan McGregor in it. You like Ewan McGregor, don't you?"
"And Scarlett Johansson..."
"Scarlett Johansson is a whore."
"I hated her in that movie you liked."
"'Lost In Translation?'"
"I loved that movie. Bill Murray..."
"Who directed The Island?"
"Uh, Michael Bay."
"I don't know who that is."
"Well, he's directed such fine films as Armageddon and The Rock."
"Oh, hell no."
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When the final credits began to roll, she punched me. 6/10.
Movie Log (Abbreviated): War of the Worlds
From a pure-popcorn perspective, War of the Worlds was pretty good. Tripods: Loud, scary, and generally awesome. Family bonding: Freakin' annoying. 7/10.
Movie Log (Abbreviated): The Cooler
The Cooler had an odd premise, good acting, and a decent soundtrack. Overall, it was better than expected. 7/10.