A few cool things lately.

The other night, the moon was near-full and I was with some friends, and we drove up Lakeshore, stopped at Montrose Harbor, and checked out the moon. There were tons of people out enjoying what may be among the last of the gorgeous summer nights.

Weird bit: We heard what sounded like waves moving out of the harbor and into the lake. It seemed clear that there was something dark in the water. At first I thought it was a rowboat or some other small boat with no lights, but when it passed into the moonlight, there was no boat. If we'd been in salt water, I would have said a dolphin or whale. They do call the August full moon the "Sturgeon Moon". Maybe a big ol' fish was catching some moon rays.

Great night.

Also, Sunday night Charley, his friend Brooks from Atlanta, and I went up to Alpine Valley to see the Dave Matthews Band. Go on. Make fun. It was a great show. They're great live. I hadn't seen them in years. We went up to Milwaukee first and had some food and some beers. It was my first time going to rather than through Milwaukee. Good town, it seems. I look forward to going back.

ALSO! This weekend App plays University of Michigan. We're meeting at Bowman's around noon to watch. Send me a note if you want details.





Man. These storms have been out of control. Floods. Downed trees.


I was downtown with Charley and his friend from Atlanta when we looked up and saw a curtain of rain approaching.



Downpour. 0-100 in seconds. We picked a door to the Nordstrom's mall downtown and darted in out of the rain, water pouring from our clothes, glasses fogged and streaked with rain.

We'd ducked into the street entrance of an upscale boutique.

We attempted to walk through the store as if we were shopping for a new cashmere scarf. Our shoes were filled with water.


Car Trouble

I had set aside a little money, and was tossing around a couple of options. Pay some things off. Maybe take a little trip. Update the ol' wardrobe.

My car was kind enough to decide for me. New starter and a new serpentine belt.


grumble grumble.

An afternoon trip to Rockford turned into two days, a rented Buick, reworn clothing, and a revamped week's schedule.

It would only have been more fun if it had been less expensive by hundreds and hundreds of dollars.



Last night, Cowlick had a show at the Playground. It was fun, but the aftermath was even more fun. We went to Guthrie's, which is a pretty great bar with a big cabinet filled with board games. People come and drink and play games. They allow (and encourage) you to order food from the takeout joint of your choice. It's a good place.

Cowlick has a tradition of playing Balderdash (shown above in a stock photo from holy_crap_that's_pixelated.org) and it gets.... I think.... pretty hilarious.

You know the game, right? You get an obscure word and everyone makes up a definition, writes it down, and hands it in. Then a reader reads all of the definitions without telling anyone whose is whose or which one is the correct one. Then everyone guesses. Funny, right?

I can't post most of the answers here. The later it got and the more beer we had, the more likely they were to contain euphemisms and not-so-euphemisms.

One cleaner example. I forget the word, but Martin's definition was: A method of curing bed-wetting during the Spanish Inquisition. Hint: It involved stakes. Sharp, sharp stakes.

Guess you had to be there?

ALSO!!!!!!!!!!! Saw the first pictures of BJ and Janelle's baby-to-be. He/She is around an inch long and looks suspiciously like a bean. BJ hopes its a boy because he'll be a wreck if it's a girl, wrapped firmly and securely around her tiny digit from the word 'go'.


In Defense of Leisure

I came upon this blog post this morning and find it really interesting. The blog is part of a site called 'Vagabonding', dedicated to long-term world travel, and this particular post references an article from the New York Times on the phenomenon of the vanishing summer vacation and whether or not it's a good thing.

I'll spare you the time of reading the NYT piece unless you feel so inclined; It's painfully 'yacht-club' and snarky and just the sort of article that causes people to eschew editorials by waspy Times contributors.

The underlying point of the NYT piece is that vacations are unnecessary in the States because our lives are filled with leisure, from strip-mall day spas to summer homes. (Whose lives? My life?) Furthermore, he indicates that mandated vacation time is a creation of the Nazis.

yawn. The 'Nazi' argument is tired. The Nazis didn't invent vacations. It's a red-herring, nonsense, inflammatory argument. The traditional US summer vacation is not tied to mandated time off anyway, since the US doesn't mandate paid leave. Summer vacations long predate WWII.

Besides, Volkswagens were invented by the Third Reich. Should they be junked too?

I suppose the thing that sticks in my craw about the NYT piece and a lot of other conversations about vacation has a lot to do with priorities. What are we doing here? What makes our time on Earth unique? What do we remember about our days and lives? I doubt any of us will say that "xeroxing" makes the cut. What ever happened to 'Work to live, don't live to work"? Is that not capitalist enough for the times in which we live?

I think we all need a vacation. Not 12 minutes in a tanning bed or a yoga session. A vacation. A hammock. A book. Or, if not relaxation, how about adventure? Travel? Excitement? A sense of place!

The NYT piece also mentions that we feel as if we can't take vacations or else some young ladder-climber will usurp our position back at the office and leave us jobless upon return. Good lord. If that's the sort of level of replacability we all enjoy then how can we ever relax. Let's just sleep in our offices, clutching our Blackberries and sobbing silently.

The value of the money we earn is limited by what it can buy. And what can it buy? Things we need? Sure. A lot of it does. Still, if you had to live poor and cut out a lot of your spending, I'd be willing to bet that you'd be surprised by how little we sometimes value the money that we spend so much of our time (a much more valuable commodity!) making.

Speaking of time, that most valued commodity, you've spent enough time reading this and I've spent enough time writing it. Go take a break. Even if there is a mailroom clerk eyeing your desk. Even if you can take a break next week at a shopping mall massage chair. Even if it's what Hitler would want you to do.



Speaking of other bloggers:

My friend Mac used to live in Chicago and do improv. He dabbled in photography here and there, but was, I think I can safely say, only moderately serious about it? It seemed to rank somewhere between Little Caesar's Pizza and Xbox on his priorities list.

High praise, when you think about it.

Since, he moved to Jacksonville and now out to Southern Oregon and is taking some really cool and very beautiful photos. He's been getting into portraits lately, and the level of work is pretty amazing. Visit his blog. http://www.macisaguy.blogspot.com/

And I promise my next post won't be about somebody else's blog....


Sayonara Bloggy-woggies.

So right over there -----> among the links are a couple of blogs that belong to Sarah and Arnie. Those two are pretty intense bloggers and have each finished year-long blog projects. It's sad to have them end at the same time like that. They're both great blogs. If you're ever feeling froggy, check both out.

Sarah's chronicled her move from Chicago, where she was born and raised, to Boston and back to Chicago.

Arnie's dealt with life in the working world and is a follow-up to his very excellent blog from the previous year, which dealt with the aftermath of a broken engagement and a cross-country move.

I hope they both start new blogs, though I can understand the fatigue maintaining a consistently updated blog must induce.

I guess I don't really know from experience, per se.

I think I went a couple months there with an average of 4 posts a month? And those posts were things like "I enjoy toast. That is all."

At any rate, we the readers of those blogs bid them a fond farewell.

Also, I stole the picture from Sarah.


And a meow morning to you.

My loud, awful, terrifying alarm clock can't wake me up, but my cat can.

She is such a jerk, dude.


KegPig 07

For those of you who have... never had a conversation with me, one of the highlights of my year is a reunion with my college friends known as KegPig. It dates back to the final day of exams my senior year of college when we decided to have a good old-fashioned blowout.

Kegs of beer. A whole pig. Why did we call it KegPig? "KegPigPalooza" didn't get the go-ahead from our copyright attorneys.

It has become an annual event that brings the old App State crew together from all over the place. What could besides a pig pickin'? It's worth the drive to North Carolina, and is an excuse to visit the mountains, play beer pong, and purchase FiberCon.

This year it was around a 140 lb pig. The tastiest yet. My friend Charley made the trip with me and we had a blast. I am, of course, looking forward to KegPig '08.

On the way back, we got stuck in traffic because a semi truck loaded with lemons crashed on I-40 and shut down traffic for miles and miles and miles.

Have the urge to make lemon puns? Don't bother resisting. The local paper didn't. (Looks like they don't keep stories for more than a couple of days. The headline was "I-40 Wreck Ends on a Sour Note", and the lead-in was the old chestnut about life handing you lemons....

Charley and I, after getting free of the wreck, serenaded the still-stuck eastbound traffic with shouts of "Don't Stop Believin'".

I'm sure that brightened up a day or two. It would have if anyone could hear our shouts as we flew down the opposing lane at 70mph. Suckers.

of lemons.


Dirge without music...

Yesterday I found out that an acquaintance from my hometown died by his own hand over the weekend.

I won't go into many details because who needs 'em.

It was a guy I always genuinely liked and respected, and who had gone through some rough times that, I guess, got a little too rough.

I was friendly with him, but my own loss isn't the most unsettling part of the ordeal for me. I have many friends who were very close to him and his family, and it will be a rough few days and weeks for all involved before the long-term effects even set in.

To the Fiennings, and to all others who are touched by this, my regards and my sympathies.

And Henry... the world will be a little dimmer for want of your talent, your wit, and your general presence.

Here's a bit from Edna St Vincent Millay's poem, from which I gracelessly cribbed the title of this post:

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay