Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm currently suffering through my traditional finals cold. Seemingly without fail, when finals roll around, I get sick. It must be the lack of sleep and additional stress of finals themselves. Three fifths done though! How about that!

I'm soooo ready to be back home with nothing to do but eat, drink and be merry. Holidays Ho!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Well, my mom has finally succumbed to the impending empty nest. She's done got herself a new puppy. The email introduced the dog as "Robbie Ritz" which always throws me for a little loop, as last names are generally reserved for humans.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Kelly was visiting and she took it upon herself to cut the onions, , fortunately for her, we had a dust mask handy to filter out all the fumes. No tears guaranteed! My nifty bicycle stand is in the background. Posted by Picasa
Here's the real deal. The good ol' fashioned artificially plumped Butterball turkey. It's still hanging out in our fridge, though it's been nicely sliced and partitioned by my super-sharp Japanese sushi knife. Posted by Picasa
This is what a Tofurkey looks like. THey don't taste too bad either. Granted, it's no substitute for the real thing but, hey, it's made of grains and stuff. We cooked ourselves a feast last week. Delightful and slightly ridiculous in its scope. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 20, 2006

Sunday Ian and I "did" New York, at least we trekked all around the lovely island of Manhattan. The Chinatown Bus is amazingly cheap, $20 gets you from Philadelphia to NY and back. We saw a sword swallower, ate some less-than-stellar pizza, rode the subway, gawked and in general, touristed it up. Though I can't honestly imagine myself living in New York, I really liked the city. There is some of everything there. Ian kept a language count, and the informal numbers were 2 English speakers for every 1 Non-english speaker. Quite the world city.
Ian and I had a superb weekend of touristing. He arrived in Philly late Thursday night, and we hit it hard Friday through Saturday. We did some of the Philly sights on Friday: Rocky Steps, Italian Market, Liberty Bell, Philly Steaks, Canoli, then we hit up Happy Hour at UPenn before we went to see Borat. Saturday involved some climbing on rocks, a beer tour of the Yards Brewery and some bitchin chili and some friends coming over. Jennifer stayed home the whole time and worked on the house, the fruits of which you can see here as she and Ian take it easy after the party.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

One of the interesting things about living in our neighborhood is the fabulous array of smells. Walk into our back yard and there's the smell of cat pee. Wake up in the morning and you can get a whiff of frying breakfast at the local seafood joint. As I head to school, I usually get a pungent whiff from the de-facto latrine next to our house where the drunk guys pee. And then there are days like today when Old Guy and his wife Sourpuss decide to cook up a SE Asian specialty such as, and I'm only guessing based on the smell here, Fried durian stuffed with cat bowels, aged fish and onions. Thank god that this seems to be just a sometimes food because somehow the aroma has the ability to penetrate brick walls.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I don't know why I waste my time exercising while riding my bicycle. What I should really be doing is making a STEAM BIKE!!

Though absolutely crazy, it looks soooo cool.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I had a lovely weekend, particularly because I spent very little of it in study mode. While I feel that I'm complaining a lot, I would be remiss if I din't mention that this has been a helluva semester so far. Tests and papers are over for a while, but it's not long before they kick in again.

On better news, the house is coming along pretty well, Meghan came up for a weekend visit. Wheras last time she was in Philly, we stayed in almost the whole time due to a blizzard, this weekend we were out and about for much of it. We stopped by Valley Forge National Park, not super awesome fun, but it was nice to get out of Philly for a while. Sunday marked my second foray into Cyclocross racing, and it was a bit less successful than the first round. I entered into the B category, thinking that it'd probably be more fun if I was racing a little stiffer competition. It started off pretty well, and though I began at the back of the pack, I was moving up pretty steadily through the pack and then as I was cruising through a nice corner, I found the the only rock on the course, which washed out my front wheel, crashed, and broke my cool carbon fiber handlebars. Sure they were taken off of a crashed bike before, but they'd held up admirably since then. Fortunately there was a beer tent and all was not lost.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I'm now roaring into the first set of midterms that I've got. I must be learning something because I'm studing and reading and writing all the damn time. Its weird though, wheras in college I was constantly procrastinating and feeling a sort of reluctant guilt about not doing my work, I now find myself driven to do work, pretty much constantly. I often go to sleep thinking about school and then wake up the next morning thinking about the same. Yikes. I just wish I could ride my bike more often. I guess that my mental hypertrophy is accompanied by a reciprocal hypotrophy of my legs.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The nice thing about bike races is that you can enter different classes and you actually have a chance to do well, not just time-wise as in running, but you could conceivably cross the line first. This is a picture of me (no joke, those are really leg muscles you see there, if you look hard enough) at the inaugural Hillbilly Hustle Cyclocross Race. Cyclocross, to those of you who do not know, is my new favorite discipline as it combines the sights of cross country running with smallish steeplechase barriers and is conducted on a bicycle. PERFECT! And, it just so happens, I'm not too shabby at it. By virtue of a modicum of training, naturally long inseam and having entered the lowest class available, I won my race and am now the proud owner of an extra water bottle and some spiffy blue socks. God I love the Fall (aside from my occasional aneurism-inducing studythons).

Sunday, October 01, 2006

In the joyous rush of schoolwork that has surrounded me these past few days, I've conspired to blow my mental circuits with long stints in the computer lab. It's a frickin' riot I assure you. I remember thinking while at Macalester that I liked the finals period in a certain sense because it afforded me a chance to commune with my fellow students, all of whom were stressed to a similar degree as me. Well, graduate school is affording the same communal feelings of stress, impending doom and hopefully catharsis, only here it's hitting pretty hard about 4 weeks in. I'm prepping for 3 tests, 2 papers, 1 mapping project and an undiminished reading load. Yikes. Thank god my department gives out free beer every Friday in its attempt to reduce the dropout rate and forge community bonds. I only have to drink approximately $350 worth of alchohol every Friday for my education to virtually pay for itself. My liver can't thank me enough.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I guess I'm happy (?) that school is pretty hard. For the most part I find my classes stimulating, with the notable, if expected exception of Statistics. In general I would like to find challenge in my readings and classes, but at the same time, I haven't had my ass kicked by acadaemia in a while. It's refreshing, maybe, I think. Oddly enough the most difficult class is one that I had no notion of before showing up for the first class. Turns out that Structure of Cities and Regions is a heavily theoretical class on why the world is shaped as it is, spanning the spectrum from Childe's thesis on stone aged agricultural revolutions to Neo-Marxist thought on the capitalization of urban space. And this is only month one!! Anyway, the reading load is approximately 2500 pages this semester, plus 3 exams and 3 projects. Lovely! Maybe I'll publish some of my work and you can read the kind of crap that they expect over-educated youth to produce these days.

Incidentally, there are 3 Iowans in one of my classes and at least 4 that I know of in the program. Aditionally, of the 15 people I know by name in my program, 2 others are named Aaron (or Aron) and 3 are named Paul. That simplifies my life a bit.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

This is the before picture. This is where we've been for the past few weeks. It isn't really conducive to cooking or healthy dining. Look, all we've got on our shelves is a couple of DeWalt power drills!
Here's the kitchen in the more-or-less "After" picture. Note the sweetness of the appliances and the awesomeness of the cork floors and custom cement countertop.
My life boils down to three things: School, work, home repair. It's not spectacular, but it certainly occupies my time. I'll say this though, now that we've gotten the kitchen appliances in, the house seems a whole lot more livable. The pictures should show that though.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My first week of classes is over. The first involuntary naps of my graduate career have been taken. Think about it though, if you were stuck in basement classrooms for 8 hours in a single day, wouldn't you doze off? Only one of my five classes is in a room with windows. The others tend to be located in subterranean vaults from the 70's. It's odd that the School of Design is located in one of the shittiest buildings on campus. Myerson hall is kind of like the Humanities building at macalester, but uglier and bigger. On the positive side, they do have bike parking in the basement. I would almost feel safe locking my nice bikes down there.

I've still gotta figure out how much time I'll really need to devote to study. I'm still planning on working some at the bike shop, but can't quite figure out how much to do. Jennifer and I have a fair amout to do on the house, I've got something like 10,000 pages to read this semester and a good number of tests thrown in there as well.

Anyway, less bitching, more working. That's how it should be right?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ok, the plan is to get more regular posting up now that I'm going to be a student again. I'm currently waiting anxiously for my first day of class. My lineup is as follows: Monday's I'll be taking one half of my Techniques of Urban Analysis, and that's all. Tuesday will be my Intro to Environmental Planning and also my Structure of Cities and Regions. Wednesday, I'll have Cities Past and Present, a historical overview and my week finishes with a bang on Thursday with the second half of each of my Monday and Tuesday classes as well as Statistics for the Social Sciences. Fridays will hopefully be free, either to work (probably) or screw off (wishfully). I'm looking forward to the classes for the most part, with a little worry about my ability to maintain consciousness in these longer 3 hour sessions that some of the classes use. Lord knows I had a great deal of trouble staying awake in my undergraduate 1.5 hour classes. I guess I've just got to be dilligent about getting sleep.

In other news, I almost blew up the house last night. We've been moving the old stove around a fair amount in the kitchen and have consequently been turning off the gas after we're done using it. This necessitates re-lighting the burners after each use. Normally, I use the blowtorch to do this each time but the other day I found a lighter in my tool box and decided that it would be great to leave that on top of the stove so that I could light the burners more quickly. After using the stove, I just took the lighter and stuck it between the grates of a grill on the back of the stove, not thinking about the fact that those vents were from the oven. This wasn't a problem for a while since we rarely bake, but while shopping at Aldi the other day we decided to purchase some of the "pop" biscuits and baked those yummy guys up. Well, the oven heated up and as I was upstairs in the bathroom I heart this loud CRACK, this was of course the lighter exploding from the heat. Luckily, there were no burners lit on top of the stove or I could have probably made a huge fireball. Anyway, lesson learned. Don't do like Donnie Don't does.

Monday, August 28, 2006

This just in!!! My doppelganger is up to no good on the other side of the pond. Though we share similar ideology, he's always been the crazier, somewhat more muscular one. That leftist bastard has sullied our name one too many times.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Nothing hits the spot after many hours travelling like a little campfire and some sake. The campfire has always been a steadfast item on my "Big List of Good Things" and Sake is a relatively new addition, but the result, when the two are combined in one evening means wicked-sweet. Fortunately for the partiers out there, Jude and Michelle's wedding was not entirely about the wedding. Honestly I feel bad for Jude because though he invited all kinds of great people, myself included, he had but tiny slivers of time to spend with each one. From my vantage point, Jude did a fair share of enduring along with the celebrating. Remind me not to have a wedding. Sorry Mom, it looked like a lot of work.
Timmy kept us enrapt with his mad Johnny Cash impression and super-strumming capabilities. Too bad that it rained during the reception or I'm sure we'd have been singing Kum-ba-ya near the campfire a second night in a row.
Pete Dillon and his "Brother from Another Mother" Per Henningsgaard. Oddly enough, both are enrolled in PhD programs in paridaise-like settings. Pete for his PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry in Berkely, CA and Per for his PhD in English in Perth, Australia
Fun times in the North Woods. Jude and Michelle's wedding was indeed the highlight of the trip, aside from all the boozing and partying, that is. I guess this means that the pressure is on for all of us unmarried long-term daters. That means Jennifer and Me, Paul and Mary and all of you other people, you know who you are.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Two weekends, two kinds of fun.

Last weekend was my first shot at the lovely Team Time Trial event. I kind of got wrangled into this thing when a couple of my teammates decided that they were going to do it, and needed a 3rd guy. My reputation of being game for anything made me the lucky duck in this case. The team time trial is run when the team, consisting in this case of four members heads out on a set course with a bazillion dollars worth of disk wheels and aero bars and then we all take turns pedaling till we puke around a 40 kilometer course. It was all going well, I had borrowed an extra 1000 dollars worth of bike shit, had changed my bike all around into some sort of freakazoid TT rig and then soon enough it was race day. My teammate Ted Slack picked me up at the house, about 5:30 in the morning and we were on our way. We registered, met up with the other two guys and started to get ready. What was this!?! I had utterly forgotten my cycling shoes! If you've ever tried to race your bike on clipless pedals while wearing running shoes, you know that this isn't a recipe for success.

So, I did what any self respecting cyclist would do, and I followed the lead of the greats who came before me, namely, Dave Stoller from Breaking Away, and taped my feet to the pedals. As it turned out, it wasn't such a bad idea. We simply rolled to the starting line, and then Ted held me upright while one of the other guys strapped my feet to the pedals with athletic tape. Now that I was trapped on the bike, there was nowhere for me to go but forward, so on we went. As it turned out I was the fastest guy on the course with his feet taped to the pedals, which won me accolades from the Tough Guy department. Additionally, thanks to my burly teammates, we ended up winning the New Jersey Cat 4. Team Time Trial Championships, complete with a great big trophy, some medals and also some schwag.

This weekend Jennifer and I are packing up. We have in our bags 1 tent, 2 sleeping bags, 1 gallon of sake, one hatchet, 4 sets of undies (two each) one small Japanese trinket, and 1 bottle each of sunblock and bug spray.
We fly out of Philadelphia tomorrow at 7:00 AM. Any guesses as to where we'ere headed? I'll fill you in with more details as they materialize.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Jennifer and I are quite pleased with ourselves. As you can see, we're happily standing in our mostly complete bathroom. It's awesome because it is fully functional, though no door yet. One can complete any and every major bodily hygene operation, including bathing, defacating and flossing. It ROCKS.
Its the lovely bath tub and shower unit, tiled by Jennifer, plumbed and grouted by yours truly. It's an awesome place to bathe, certainly better than the sink or the previous incarnation which had only cement walls. It rocks.
Behold the mostly finished bathroom. Jennifer and I busted our humps for the past couple of days and I think we have a winner. I'll level with you, it was mostly Jennifer busting her hump. I was mostly sitting on my rump.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Yeeee Hawww!

Internet is back and I'm in business!! After three weeks with Jennifer as my personal secretary, checking my email, alerting me to important notes and writing responses for me, I'm finally able to stand on my own legs and check emails, bike news and blog.

More later, I'll take some pictures and show the progress of the house.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Jennifer and I are sitting happily in the car at the corner of 12th and McKean streets in South Philly. We charged up the ol' laptop and headed out, trolling for internet reception. God bless free wireless internet. We get our DSL wireless service next Friday, so after that, I'll have more things to procrastinate with than I could have hoped for. I still haven't busted out the guitar, but I was thinking about it this morning. Cheers to all.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Moving day oh moving day. Jennifer's off to get the van and we're set to move all of our posessions into the house. I as yet have no idea of where we'll put everything, but at least we'll be done with it by 10 tomorrow, the van is due back at Uhaul by that time. I wonder how my motivation to work on the house will be after we're living there full time. On one hand the pressure to meet a deadline will be off, and on the other, the fact that I'm living in a hovel might make me work even harder. Only time will tell. I'll also have to start frequenting internet hotspots, as the new neighbors in South Philly don't have wireless connections.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Le Tour is underway and the only bar in Philadelphia to show the coverage every day is 3 blocks from the new house. The South Philly Taproom will soon become my new hangout, assuming that I am able to spare the time to go. I was initially pissed off to hear that the doping scandals of Operacion Puerto would ban two of the main protagonists, Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, but now I am totally psyched! It's a tour for the next geration. Superstars like Lance squishing his competition have become kind of boring. I'm hoping that someone like Floyd Landis or Levi Leipheimer, or someone we've never heard of, hell even someone French will pull off some great riding and carry it in to Paris. In my free time I dream of Yellow Jerseys, in reality Jennifer and I have been working non-stop on the house where it's becoming a struggle to keep up the pace. However, due to our travails, we now have a shower that spurts water, though no sink or toilet in the upstairs bath. We're waiting to see if the leak in the ceiling has finally stopped or if I have to do some more patching. The front room is also drywalled, electrified and will soon be painted. We finally move out of the apartment on Saturday, which should be fun to the point of hilarity, and then we sleep on the stack of drywall until the flooring in the front bedroom is done.

Long live home repair!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Drywall is soooo much better than plaster and lath, but it's still a bitch to put up on ceilings. It's especially sucky when the ceilings are a 8'9" and you've only got two short-ish ladders and arms like toothpicks.
Behold, underneath the cardboard lies a NEW BATHTUB. It graces our newly framed and re-floored bathroom. Yesterday was spent quite productively, putting insulation up, drilling a hole through 8 inches of brick for the vent fan, and drywalling the ceiling of the main bedroom.
We've nearly filled our tiny little back yard with debris from the house. Since there's no room for a dumpster on our street, it's gonna be interesting to get rid of this stuff little-by-little over the course of a hundred garbage days.
Aaaaaand post-dirt. Demolition is filthy work anyway, and when your house is pushing 80 years old, it can get really nasty. We've been stopping by after work each day to get a bit extra done, then riding home to the apartment to clean up and sleep. Repeat as necessary, i.e. every day.
A little picture of Jennifer pre-dirt.
Behind the vanity were the accumulated razors of what seemed like 10,000 shaves over the course of decades. They had been crammed through the little holes in the back of the steel and were seemingly suspended in midair as they had cut into the lath on the back sided of the opposite wall. Tetanus anyone?
Our first week in the house involved a fair amount of smashing. As you can see, the bathtub proved a worthy adversary.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Week one of homeownership is down. So is about 2 tons of plaster, drywall, lath and the like. While the initial phases of destruction are great, it gets to be kind of a drag when you actually have to take the stuff and put it somewhere. Our miniscule back yard is now brimming with debris. At some point in the frenzy of work, I'll be able to post some pictures, though not today. I'm now off to the house to try to replace the sewer pipe.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Jennifer and I have our hobby all squared away for the next indefinite amount of time. Guess what it is! Give up? It's called HOMEOWNERSHIP! We took posession of the house last Friday, all went according to plan, and started pulling up the carpet soon after we had congratulated ourselves with a dinner of mediocre Ethiopian food. Saturday involved a fair amount of smashing, pulling down plaster, demolishing the bathroom, and the highlight, moving a 350 pound tub down the stairs. Just call me "Crusher". I'll post some lovely pictures this evening after I return from the house. I had an inkling that it would be this crazy to actually own a house, but the full weight of it doesn't hit until the first water pipe starts leaking, this first time due to my poor soldering skills.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

It's been a long time since I've posted, mostly because I've been lazy, but also because life has been busy. I'm now working at a bike shop here in Philly, Trophy Bikes. THis has been a good move because I am able to get more hours than at EMS and also am having a lot more fun working there. Bikes are good. My main problem with the shop is that it is rediculously tiny, about a third of my dad's shop size and about a half of what Grand Performance had. The customer turnover is tremendous though, and we sell a preposterous number of folding bicycles. I guess it makes sense given the size of the store.

We've spent the past few weekends goofing off in preferation for the upcoming rennovate-athon when we take posession of our new house on FRIDAY JUNE 9TH!!! We do the walk through, check stuff out one last time, then head to the realtor's office and do the dirty deed. It's gonna be awesome not to be dealing with the whole real-estate sales aspect of it and to finally get into the place. It seems like we've been making plans on the house for ever and now we're finally going to be doing something about it. Friday night we'll just poke around in the house, and see how everything goes, then begin the smashing in earnest sometime saturday. The bathroom is the first to go, we'll chop and cut and such, expose the plumbing and try to figure out how to replace the leaky sewer stack, a barrel of laughs for sure. We've got the main goal of getting a workable bathroom by the time that we actually have to move in completely, July 1st. I'll certainly have to post more on the world of home-ownership this weekend. Wish us luck.

Friday, May 26, 2006

As a person who at times fancies himself to be a "funny guy" I rely on peoples reactions to tell me exactly how funny I am. While Jennifer will surely tell you that I quite often find myself to be irresistably funny, I think that from time to time, I really come up with some hilarious stuff. I know it's good if people laugh. I know that I'm dealing with a looney when people laugh like this! The laughing Yogi

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Holy shit, my brother graduated from college. I am shocked, not by the fact that he graduated, that was to be expected, but only that it seems that only recently that I was in school there. Crap-ola, I feel old. Just wait until I've graduated from "gradual" school, then we'll see who's ancient! I'm posting some pictures, just so they're preserved for all to see on the internet.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

While looking for live Giro d'Italia footage this morning, I stumbled upon the municipal trampoline champianships for girls in the Milan area. Funny funny shit on Italian TV, that's for sure! I would hope that we in the US could emulate such terrific TV.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Ok, another bicycle note, and then some real life details!

Cycling is great. Except for the crashes. I should really not be posting this anywhere that my mom reads, but knock-on-wood, no crashes for me yet. I keep hearing about these spectacular pileups happening to guys all over the place. Last Saturday, one of my teammates was taken out by a crash in a beginner's race, mangling his front wheel and the guy in front of him at the same time. Then, last night on the local training ride/race there was a pileup big enough to make it onto the local news. My teammates all made it out ok, though one broke his nice carbon Fuji. Shit luck man, that's 1000 bucks down the tubes.

In other news: We're headed home for the weekend, well actually headed up to the Twin Cities. Ian and Kelly are both graduating Macalester. Apparently Ian is super relaxed and is looking forward to the road ahead, whatever that means. Kelly is thinking of chilling a bit, ignoring her debt and forging on with Med school. Good luck on that. It'll be great to see the whole family again, not to mention feel awkward hanging around at Macalester with my family. It still seems like the recent past when I myself graduated from that illustrious institution. "Dear old macalester, ever the same..."

To all of you involved in the whole whirlwind trip of the twin cities, thanks for putting us up, too bad we couldn't have stayed another day or so. Anyway, more catching up will undoubtably be had at Jude and Michelle's wedding in August. I shall certainly drink and debauch at any convenient opportunity.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A fun, exhausting weekend of bicycle racing is behind me. I love riding my bicycle but sometimes it kicks me in the ass. This past weekend's race was the Tour de Ephrata (pronounced "Eff-ruh-tuh") in Ephrata, PA
home of an early religious settlement, quaint stores and a host of restored hot-rod cars. The race was divided into three stages, the road race on Saturday, then an uphill time trial Sunday morning and a criterium Sunday afternoon. The road race was good, especially exciting was dodging the Amish in their horse buggies and then on subsequent laps, dodging the horse-puckey on the road. I've got a picture from the lovely "Mount Pain Time Trial" an event which indeed lived up to it's name.

The criterium saw a fair amount of skin rubbed off on the pavement, fortunately none of mine did so. I did my normal thing of working too hard early in the race and then sprinting from about twice as far out as I should have. Oh well, I guess that's life. I've just got to manage the "learn" part of the "Love and learn" adage.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Here is the virtual tour of the lovely new home. We have plans to rennovate the upstairs first, primarily enlarging the bathroom, currently when you sit on the toilet, which wiggles back and forth, you can also wash your hands in the sink, which is conveniently located in your lap, over your legs. Next, we're hoping to mess up the kitchen real good like and put in some new flooring, new cabinetry and a little island to eat and cook at. It'll be sooo cute!

When I'm feeling pissed at the world I'm going to go down into the basement and dig it deeper. That's the plan at least.

Oh yeah, and I wanna build a rooftop deck!!
From the entryway to the front door, facing out. The floors are totally sweet, though poorly redone. Two tone wood border, very chic.
The kitchen, obviously. There will definitely be a refrigerator in this room. There isn't one now, however
The back "yard" to use the term loosely.
the front bedroom, not much YET!!!
Crappy view of the middle bedroom
The miniature bathroom. To be biggerized

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Damn folks, it's official. Jennifer and I (mainly Jennifer) bought a house the other day. We bought it on my birthday, in fact. We'll be moving to the mole hole sometime in June when everything finally closes. The place is a little two floor row house with a yard about the same size as my parents living room, but it's got cool hardwood floors, a kitchen big enough for two people to work in and it was the right price, cheap. The asking price was 89,000 dollars, and when all the fees and closing costs roll in, we'll have paid something like 92,000 for it. Considering that we were looking at crappier places for twice as much, it's really a bargain. The process of dreaming, revising, destructing and constructing will soon begin in earnest. My main backbreaker will be to see how feasable it'll be to dig the basement down 8 inches so that I can stand up. Let the labor begin.

If anyone with a strong back is thinking about visiting Philly this summer, let me know.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hey Everybody! I've just discovered another career that I'm absolutely not interested in: Construction work!

I spent the last week at Jennifer's uncle's house working on his roof. The project is actually to double the size of his existing house by puttting a substantial addition on the back as well as a de-facto third story on his little house in Bethesda, MD. It was a learning experience. I learned something about putting on a roof, I learned how to effectively use a pneumatic nailer, I learned that safety is a relative term when dealing with construction work and re-learned a fair bit of Spanish. Dave has been using the help of two day laborers, Luis and Noel, great guys who speak nary a word of English. Dave has mastered about 20 Spanish words and uses them in varying combinations to communicate his intentions. An example sentence indicating that a board should be moved, "Luis, esta madera adios!" translates directly as "Luis, this wood bye bye." Fortunately for Dave, the guys don't make fun and they work really hard. I, with my vocabulary closer to 100 words was a substantially better communicator, but had the unfortunate disadvantage of not knowing what the hell I was doing. I did figure it out somewhat over the course of the week, but by that time I was pretty much pooped and my productivity level had already peaked and ebbed. I will not say that I was worthless, but I definitely would have been more help had I actually had some experience. Oh well, next time anyone needs a roof put on, I can help you with some moral support. You may convince me to even pitch in some manual labor, assuming that I've forgotten how much I didn't like this past week.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

While riding through the ever-lovely streets of Philadelphia the other day, my mind played an interesting trick on me. Cruising along, my nose caught a whiff of the often-unpleasant aroma of rotten eggs, or maybe sewer gas. To me, this formerly repugnant smell signified something totally different, ONSENS!!! I was instantly jonesing for the lovely relaxation of sitting in a geothermal bath, nude, with 10 to 30 perfect strangers somewhere in the mountains of Japan. Shane, my man, if you're reading this now and it's raining and shitty in Montreal like it is here in Philly today, you know exactly what I'm talking about. What I wouldn't give to be in the lovely tide pools under the Yakushima stars cavorting with the mudskippers and Mr. Goshi-Goshi telling me to scrub my nuts with more vigor.

On a different front, bike racing is going pretty well. Last week I ended up 5th in my category 3/4 race in Mullica NJ. This weekend was slightly less good, with temps starting at 52 and ending up somewhere in the 45 degree range on a rainy course through Farimont park. In the category 4 race I was only 9th, somewhat worse than I was hoping. My big problem was that while last week I was able to get away in a breakaway early on in the race, today was not quite so conducive to such attempts. The rain and the wind were de-motivating factors for a lot of other riders. My legs were also pretty frozen by the time the sprint finish rolled around, and one thing that we all know, is that Aaron can't sprint. I'm hoping to avenge myself tomorrow and work my way up in the rankings a little bit. I'd really love to win back my entry fee if nothing else.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ok, time for a little tour of Philadelphia. Well, since we only know a bit about the place, it'll be a tour of my limited knowledge of Philadelphia. But, I'll be you'll all be wowed by my post anyway. Here is a map of philadelphia

If you squint really hard you can make out the numbers on the map. Jennifer and I currently live in section 18, or University City. We're right on the border of University city and the neighborhoods further west which have not had so much rennovation. Several of the houses on our block are in a state I would have to call decrepit.

Click on the neighborhood name for demographic info.

We've been looking for housing in the area marked 8, often called Point Breeze or south of south street. This area suffered a lot of blight in the past decades and is currently on the upswing, due to it's proximity to center city. For those of you who don't know Philly, center city is encompasses the areas marked by numbers 1-6 approximately. Here's a link to a nice PDF map with some bicycling avenues on it. Don't be fooled, just because a street has a bike lane, don't mean shit, it's still a pothole-ridden adventure in motorland. Since we've become disenchanted with our prospects of a nice life in Point Breeze, we've moved our focus a little farther away, more towards the near northeast of the city to areas labelled 39, 46 and 48. These areas are called Fishtown (west Kensington), Kensington and Port Richmond. Though both areas are poor, they tend to be more working class and suffered less depopulation over the past 50 years than other areas of the city. There still exist some cool little shops, restarurants and hipster-friendly hangouts and lofts. Additionally, there is the prospect for a house with a yard in this area, something which tickles my fancy as we're keen on the idea of a little victory garden in the back. I hope this gives a better picture of what we're jabbering on about the housing market here in Philly. Gambattemasho!

Monday, March 27, 2006

So, new favorite epic movie. "The Best of Youth" is an Italian film, 6 hours of it, chronicles the lifves of a family in Rome but focuses primarily on two brothers Nicola and Matteo. You can read all about it for yourself but listen here. Set aside six hours of your life with someone you like and watch the movie. It's a binge and the best thing about it is that it doesn't end for 6 glorious hours! The characters are all just awesome, they take you through a personal account of pretty much every major event in the last half century of Italy. The scenery is great, the story is super, and it just makes you want to move right in to that crazy half-backwards country because it seems so great and so tragic and so vibrant. Here's the link for the movie trailer. THough the trailer sucks, the movie itself does not.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Good weekend I tell you, good weekend. Well, aside from the ceiling attempting to form stalactites in our hallway. Karl's kitchen sink tends to clog up. Apparently the plumbing wasn't done correctly. Surprised? No. Anyway, the drip used to be an infrequent trickle down some of the moulding in the hall, but this week it's decided to pool in the light fixture, dripping down in fits and spurts. Now, I seem to remember Louie the Lightning Bug telling me in one of his public service announcements that water and electricity don't mix. Oh well, I guess we'll just avoid that switch and hope for the best. Aside from watching our home take on the hydrology of Mammoth cave, the week has been spiffy. I've had the luxury of a light work week and took advantage of my free time to do some tidying the house and also to do a fair bit of cycling. Friday was the best day though. In an effort to ingratiate myself to a local non-profit in the hopes of a summer internship, ended up walking through downtown Philly putting up some posters and flyers for their local Run for Clean Air. As I was walking with my partner, a young doofus from Ignoramus, MD, I spotted what looked to be a couple of bills on the sidewalk. Seeing noone ahead who had apparently dropped the bills, I picked up the money, $110 worth of it. Damn it all that I was walking with this obnoxious Drexel University student, and damn it even more that I felt obliged to split it with him. I guess my soul will more easily ascend to the lofty firmament without the weight of sinful money holding me down. As it happened, I ended up with 60 dollars of found money, not bad pay for an hour and a half of work.

After my do-gooding, I met up with Jennifer and Dennis (realtor) for a continuing tour of places not to live. Jennifer and I have pretty much given up the ghost on the "short commute, miserable neighborhood" scenario and have phased into the "longer commute, mediocre neigborhood" mode of thinking. If you want a picture of the neighborhoods we were looking at, check out the info available at (website to be put in when computer stops freaking out) Anyway, the place we're considering right now is called "Fishtown" whereas before we were looking in the Point Breeze and South Grad Hospital zones. Fishtown is where it's at, due not only to the proximity to the Yards Brewing Company and their free tours on Saturdays, but also because it does not currently look like Sarajevo circa 1997. Thirdly, we can actually afford housing here.

Friday night we went out for fish tacos with our new best friends (since Lara and Shane no longer live in the same country as us and no longer return our emails, hint hint) Rick and Cully. They're cool. They have a house that's connected to a warehouse and they've got a terra cotta warrior along with a dog that bites people. Sweet. Additionally, they have intimate knowledge of some of the best damn food in the city, as well as the locations of all the good bars. Double Sweet. While walking from Pura Vida, the fish-taco place to some bar, Jennifer spots what appears to be a dollar bill on the street. No, not a dollar bill. A $100 bill!!! Goddam, what a night for money!!! So, as you do when you find a total of TWO HUNDRED AND TEN DOLLARS ON THE STREET we bought beer for our companions and retreated home for a lovely rest.

Honestly, if the weekends keep on like this, we're soooo gonna be living large.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Damn, I realy gotta get some perspective. Last week was like the first honest-to-god busy week I've had in a long time and as such, came as quite a shock. First, the laundry list.

Last Friday we met up with our friends, Cully and Rick. I believe that it is safe to call them friends now that we've hung out on three occasions. We went out to eat some of the best damn burgers I've had in a while. A nice juicy hamburger has been seriously lacking in my diet.

Saturday was stupid nice weather, 70 something with minimal wind. Jennifer and I went for a glorious bike ride. We rode through some of the richest suburbs I've ever been to. Palaces, all of them. We could fit whole city blocks on the estates out in Lower Merion. Funny enough, while riding through the rich-ass suburbs Jennifer and I were jeered at by passing cars and buzzed by harley davidson riders, but while cruising down 52nd street in the heart of West Philly, not a single taunt. Dumbasses don't come from any particular background, they just suck.

Sunday turned out to be about 60 and rainy, perfect weather for my first bicycle race. As I left the house, Jennifer commented that the rain and slippery surfaces would give me incentive to be in the front to avoid crashes. She was right. Though it was a little dicey for a couple of turns, I ended up breaking away with one other guy and eventually won the event. Yay me. The Quaker City Wheelmen list was all a-buzz with congratulations, though honestly, it was a smallish field of Category 5 racers. I was the top of the bottom really.

This week proved long and drawn out, evenings filled with either my new job at the UPenn climbing wall (free access, shitty pay) seeing off my former manager Seth at various going away parties and organizing socks and backpacs for many hours a day at work. Oh, I really hate merchadising things!

Jennifer and I went out for our most recent round of disappointment on Friday with Dennis. We found a sweet house right by the train line with a view of downtown, immaculate floors, 12 foot ceilings and no kitchen. We also found shit-holes in various stages of decrepitude and depressing remodeled grossness. As it stands, we may just suck it up and buy this one house that we like really well that is unfortunately in a neighborhood with a little less charm. C'est la vie.

Who is the patron saint of homebuyers anyway? I'd like to make an offering at the appropriate grotto.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Coming off of a good week here in Philly. Saturday was spent joyfully riding my bicycle around the city in a bitchin' headwind. I met up with some reasonably cool chaps with the Quaker City Wheelmen cycling squad and have decided to join their little entourage. First blood came last night as I shaved my legs in preparation for the first race of the season which will be this Sunday. I'll be flying the Skunk River Cycles colors for the first few races as the kit for QCW will not be in for a while. I suppose that I really owe my dad a lot more for his support of my cycling "habit" than any team I may ever join. Too bad that the Ames market doesn't have any overlap with the Philadelphia one. You never know though.

Sunday was also a great day. I went out to a local park called Haycock Mountain about an hour from here to go bouldering. It was a blast. The rocks are like giant dinosaur eggs scattered willy-nilly through the forest. It's kooky, cool to look at and a hell of a lot of fun to climb.

The early part of the week was as to be expected until last night when I got an email from the University of Pennsylvania saying that I have been accepted into the Master of City Planning program. Sweeeeeet! I drank some cheap wine and some cheaper tequila to celebrate as I waited for Jennifer to get home from her field visit in Atlanta, GA.

I'm about to head out for our third installment of, "Cheap-ass homes, Philly STYLE!" with Jennifer and Dennis, our realtor. More pictures to come, especially if we really like one.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Trench warfare, Philadelphia style.
Two topics for my next post.

First. Philadelphia must be the home of graft. The second biggest tax on our income taxes is the city of Philadelphia. It follows right after the federal government. What do they do with this money, they sure as hell don't put it into the streets. A month ago a large pothole opened up in front of our house. By large, I mean 1.5 x 2 feet and about 3 feet deep. I'm not kidding, 3 feet deep. This remained for approximately a month, during which time, cars would cruise by, smacking their mufflers as they jolted in and out of the pit. A temporary fix was instituted when the neighbors stuffed a set of tires and a large stuffed bear into the hole. This did not last, however. Then, last week, the public works guys came out to dig a bigger hole. Apparently the water main had some issues and they needed to dig a big-ass trench. They worked from about 6 in the morning to 8 pm, then left after shoving some dirt and asphalt on top. This was not tamped down, nor filled with gravel, just some dirt and tarry sludge on top. They may have been waiting for the work-site to mellow, as you do with a fine wine. Or they may have just buggered off and left it. Either way, the pit was still there last Thursday when it began to rain rather heavily, turning the pothole into a Verdun-like morass. I counted 3 cars that got stuck before I had to go to work. The best was the fuel truck that was in up to its axles. Yay, public works.


Jennifer and I hit up the next wave of the house hunt. While we did meet an anxious pit bull, invade a squatter camp and find the place where dracula must live while vacationing in Philly, we also saw at least 2 promising places. One was nicely redone and in move-in condition, though it was right across from two vacant warehouses. The other was across from a park, had sweet green paint, and some really cool features that make us want to check it out again. I'll post some pictures shortly. At this point, we're thinking about the prospect of a fixer-up-er and exactly how much fix-er-up-ing we can do before our lease runs out here.
Our realtor, Dennis, busting into the first place we looked yesterday. One has to look at it from a more archaeological perspective, but then you can really see some nice features, including some nice detailing on the door as well a slate-floored entryway. The only problem is that I can't stand up straight in the basement.
Jennifer checking out the inside of the previous not-too-bad house that we found in South Philly. Oh yeah, it has a mural on the side. Mr. Something Lomax, founder of some magazines and stores and an example of a leader in the African American community. The mural is mostly purple. I dig it.
Squatter Camp. Note to self, always lock doors. Second note to self, if selling a house, do not allow squatters to live in it while it's on the market.
Inside of the rather nice one. It can be yours for the low low price of $144,000.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

This one's got potential huh?
This decor was intended for the blind, presumably.
House number one, the funky church. This is the living room?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Jennifer and I had the super-duper experience of shopping for houses. As it turns out, we can afford dumps. I guess you could also call them crap-holes or shanties, but dump is probably as good a word as any. The first place we looked at, listed for $115K was a storefront church, complete with drumset and 15 seats as well as a resident homeless man and some serious mildew. The next house was furnished with nothing save some blankets, a few boxes of Sugar Pops and two TVs being watched by the current residents, a mother and her two 10-year-old boys. The next house had some possibility, primarily because no one was living there, though it was about 10 dumpster loads away from being refurbishable. The next two houses we went to were liveable, albeit decorated by either Herman Munster or speed-freaks alternately. At last, our shining hope in a more-or-less desirable neighborhood turned out to have a 15 degree slant to the kitchen floor. Oh well, you can't have everything you want.

As it stands, we're planning on continuing the search, finding a nicer crap-hole, fixing it up and moving into it sometime over the summer. I guess I should brush up on my carpentry skills. We'll need them if we want to live in an actual house rather than a rat-hole.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

For the first time in about 3 years I rode a criterium. The circuit is run around a large oval of roads in Fairmount park here in Philly. Overall, about 30 riders showed up, then we divided into two groups, faster and slower. Everyone was supposed to have a blinking light as the ride didn't start until 6:30. Surprisingly few of the riders had headlights though, I was one of two in my group. Being rather out of shape and not having done much real cycling in a while, I took up with the slow group. Sprints were held every 5 laps and I expected some competition from the bigger guys, maybe even from one of the 3 women in my group. As it tuns out, I KICKED ASS! Oh yeah, I was like, totally faster than anyone else in the slow group. I totally laid the smack down on all of those beginniers and weekend-warrior racers. I got special satisfaction out of blasting past the spaz who bumped me as we went around the second lap. Actually, I felt a lot like Andy Kaufman wrestling women to the ground. I, however, didn't taunt anyone.

After 2 years of participating primarily in sports and activities that I suck at: downhill skiing, rock climbing, speaking Japanese, I really enjoyed not coming in at the bottom of my chosen activity. It's refreshing to know that I have some modest skill in a form of athletics. I'm really looking forward to joining up with a club here and getting my wheels back, as it were. Viva Philly! May the good times roll!!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

It finally snowed enough to go skiing on. At last, at long last, I was able to go cross country skiing. With luck I'll be able to go at least once more before the snow melts into a giant slushy heap. It was unfortunate that the snow prevented Meghan and Brendan from experiencing the joy that is a Philly Cheese steak. I guess we'll have to save it for next time. B and Meghan arrived yesterday morning, we toured a brewery, chilled out, and then had ourselves some delicious home-made goodies courtesy of Jennifer. Plus, I've figured out this recipe for some damn fine soup, soup of the gods, in fact.
Anyway, just rambling a bit, but the winter olympics are nice to have on TV for a change, though it made me realize, again, that there are no snowy mountain peaks anywhere near here. Dammit.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Jennifer and I contacted a realtor the other day. We're thinking of the "next big thing". Marriage you ask? Heck no! Why, we're just waiting for the common-law statutes to kick in and then we'll be set I think. We're planning on being here for the next 5 years, give or take. Jennifer's job is really working out well, she was just asked if she wanted to be published, if so, one of her co-workers could put something her way if she wanted. Now that all my materials are in, I do the waiting game for grad school. I'm psyched about the idea of working on something more meaningful than selling clothes at an "Outdoor-chic" store like EMS. Work is going well though, I'm figuring out the perks and making friends.

Anyway, back to this house thing, Jennifer and I want to buy one. It's like the biggest toy you can get, aside from a yacht or a child. I like the idea of fixing up a place and making it work for me. I really want a workshop where I can put all my bicycles, tools, gear etc. It would also be sweet to build my own little rock climbing gym. These things are simply right out for a renter, however. Additionally, I'm getting tired of fixing stuff in this apartment. I'd rather do it for myself, and be able to reap the benefit, rather than turing it over to my landlord at the end of our stay. It's just not worth it to fix your own apartment. Lastly, Jennifer's saved up a heap of cash from Japan and work elsewhere, and I'm totally out of debt, at least until grad school kicks in. Now that I'm working part time, and the "spending moratorium" has been in place for a while, we can work on getting pre-approved for a loan and then checking out some places. The key variable is sketchy neighborhood vs. cost and standard of living. There are some damn cheap houses in Philly. Like 3 bedroom places for $20,000. Of course they're right in the "Little Beirut" neighborhood, so you get what you pay for. Or, you can get a condo close to downtown, 400 square feet for something like $250,000. Take your pick.

Oh yeah, homeowners out there, gimme all your inside advice. I want to come to this hunt armed to the teeth, if you know what I mean. Jesse Ventura in Predator style. Knowledge will be my machine gun! Viva Cuba! Viva mortgage de quatro percento!!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Good news all around.
Jennifer and I passed an enjoyable weekend in DC. Emi was out visiting and Brendan made his usual appearance, hung over as he tends to be whenever we're in town. Friday night was the best as he passed out on the couch, muttering things like, "But...who's gonna put him into the car-seat?" Ahh, good times.

Next, I got some good news from home, Asa is actually going to be able to skip the impending surgery, he's healed up quite nicely. The freaky part was, apparently, pulling out the various tubes that had been embedded in his body to aid his recovery. There was a PICC line from his upper arm into one of his coronary arteries and also a drain for the pus in his side. The doctors yanked those out and the boy is on his way to recovering from a week and a half out of school.

As for me, Jennifer managed to get me a bottle of Sake from the liquor store downtown, and let me tell you what... I am in flavor country! I've been missing my rice-wine something fierce. Not only that, but I made a flippin' awesome fish chowder. Probably the best soup I've ever made, and one of the best soups I've ever eaten. Now, if only I can duplicate it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I've been busting my head for the past few days writing this damn personal statement for my grad-school application. For those of you who may be out of the loop, the plan is that I'm hoping to planning school next fall. I gotta get me some real skills. Maybe by the time i'm thirty I'll be able to get a "real" job. Not that I mind selling technical apparel at Eastern Mountain Sports, it's just that I'll go crazy if I stay there too long.

To think that this is the 5th draft is heartbreaking.

“Couldn’t believe it, good 200-bushel-an-acre land under a dang Home Depot parking lot,” my uncle lamented over dinner at the farm. He was relating the story of his trip from Sioux City, Iowa to the Chicago suburbs where my cousin lives. My uncle and I have often differed on matters of politics and public policy, but on this topic we were on the same page. I see the natural landscape frivolously turned into lawns and subdivisions without a sidewalk in sight, he complains of the fertile farmland lost forever. We both agree that urban sprawl is out of hand.

While I have strong sympathies with New Urbanist design ideas, I have some reservations about high-density, transit-oriented developments. There must be some sort of sea-change for New Urbanism to catch on. Though the cost of our sprawling landscape is high, for many, those costs are less tangible than the benefits of the status quo. Without a clear comparison, we are likely to trade the nebulous problem: “less farmland” for the visible benefit: “abundant parking.” Finding ways to compare such disparate variables is an essential part of communicating the need to change our environmentally questionable development style to the public.

I am applying for the Master of City Planning degree at the University of Pennsylvania where I hope to contribute in two main ways. First, I hope to do research on the topic of incentives: specifically, the ways in which planners and policy makers can influence people into making transportation and housing decisions that appropriately weigh the benefits and negative externalities of their actions. I am particularly interested in Professor Keene’s studies on “walkable communities” and farmland preservation. Second, I realize that in order to implement change in a community, one needs the specific skills and know-how to take a project from paper to reality. While my undergraduate education gave me a conceptual understanding of urban landscapes, I realize that I need technical abilities to succeed. I am looking forward to improving my skills with GIS in order to use this powerful tool to communicate my ideas to others. Additionally, I believe that the opportunity to work directly with a client organization in one of the studio sessions will give me an experience unique among the graduate programs I’ve investigated.

After Penn, I intend to take my skills and experience to the workplace. As a firm believer in the necessity of regional planning, my aim is to work for a private firm or regional organization that will allow me to focus on the preservation of natural resources through sound planning. The need for mobility, independence and space are deeply ingrained in the American mind. I respect these needs, but understand that the long-term viability of our cities and country depends on us making better use of our resources. In our country, where space is not infinite, mobility depends on having a car and independence requires gas money, finding an alternative to urban sprawl is not just a good idea, it is imperative.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The flaming house across the street.
It's been an eventful week or so. I guess that I'll start off with last Sunday. Sunday morning was pretty average, Jennifer and I ran some errands to pick up the remaining supplies for the closet I'm refinishing. We also drove around some areas where we were looking at housing. The housing market here is schizophrenic. I've never been anywhere with such a driven redevelopment sector. Houses are being re-habbed everywhere you look. At the same time, this is a rather recent development and therefore the boundaries are often very distinct between the zones of refurbishment and the blighted zones. For example, in the area we're considering, Brewerytown, any house south of Girard street, a major thouroughfare, is cute, clean, rennovated and $150k and up. North of that street, depending on how far you go, you can find housing in gutted areas for $20k. Schizophrenic.

Coming back home, we spent an afternoon dinking around the house. Then, while sitting in the living room, I noticed some flames licking the inside of windows in the house across the street. Within minutes the fire had begun billowing around and out the second and third story windows. Those two floors were gutted by the time the fire department arrived 5 minutes later. Talk about excitement, the whole neighborhood was out on the street. I quickly got my camera and was about to run outside when Jennifer stopped what was about to be a really insensitive move on my part.

We had also been invited to the upstairs neighbor's apartment in the evening for a housewarming party. It was a nice time, though we were the only people in the room who couldn't speak any German. Karl is a supreme Deutchophile and is a regular participant in the Stamptish meetings of German speakers in Philly. I don't know what Stamptish means, but what the hell, Karl had good weisswurst.

Things were pretty chill until yesterday evening when I got a call from my parents. They were in the Des Moines children's hospital with my youngest brother Asa. For the past month and a half he's been having a lot of trouble with stomach pain. Over the past few weeks he's been in to the gastrointerologist a few times, gotten to chug liters of radioactive liquids and had a probe put where the sun don't shine. The diagnosis is Crohn's disease, and autoimmune disorder affecting the intestine. Imagine arthritis of the bowels. The call last night was because he's been admitted to the hospital due to intense inflammation in his abdomen. Apparently the abscess or abscesses caused by the disease became infected and he had some pretty severe and painful swelling that had to be treated in the hospital. They're pumping him full of fluids, antibiotics and the like and also draining the fluids from the region.

While I'll not say I'm devastated by the news of Asa's illness, I am concerned for him. Crohn's is not fatal, but could potentially degrade his quality of life to a severe degree. For example, he'll have to keep treating his disease throughout his life and it's likely that at some point he'll have to have surgery to remove affected portions of his intestine. Shit man. He's already had to miss a number of days of school and missed finals on Tuesday. That sort of stuff takes a while to recover from. Anyway, my thoughts are with him. Ganbatte Asa.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ok, I'm gonna post sometime soon, swear to god, but I just made the big jump from 100 percent free time to something like 59 percent free time. It's a shocker I tell you, a shocker!!!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Ok, It's been a while since posting, but hey, I'm a busy man. No, honestly, I've been busy. I suppose that I owe an apology to something in the neighborhood of half of the people who read this for stiffing them last weekend on my excursion to the midwest. Here's the deal: My parent's neighbor Chad recently bought a truck on ebay. The truck, conveniently enough, was located about an hour's drive from here, near Valley Forge. The plan was that Jennifer and I could drive the vehicle back to Ames in time to get to the wedding of a highschool friend who lives in Minneapolis. We picked up the truck just fine, headed out towards the midwest last Wednesday, and we were fortunate enough that no one was shot on our block, so we were able to get out of Philly on time. A guy was shot by the police on the next block over, thank God we're not on the 51 block of Cedar!

Anyway, we drove our asses off and then ended up back home in Ames all exhausted and such and were considering the proposition of blasting off for the twin cities the next day, and I have to say, we quailed at the thought of driving up to Saint Paul so soon after returning to the comfort of our families. Anyway, it would have involved some serious car shuffling and making my parents go up to get a car was not really what I had hoped to do. Basically a logistics jam. We were all settled to send our apologies to Katherine, Ben and Marye as well, but then Jennifer got a personal email from Katherine saying how pleased she would be if we showed up. So, due to the autimotive restraints, we couldn't spend any real time in the twin cities, but we borrowed Jennifer's mom's car, drove up Friday night and drove back Friday night. It kind of sucked. The wedding reception was nice, I got to see a couple of highschool friends who had gotten larger over the years and we chatted about life. As we exited the freeway to Ames that night, Jennifer plowed into a skunk with the car. It was a long evening.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Whoa, where to start dudes?
Well, for starters, it's like, 2006. Second, I like have a part-time job at an EMS store in Philly. Thirdly, well, New Years was sweet, hung out with Meghan, Brendan and a gang of former Peace Corps volunteers at Meghan's place in DC. The weird thing about newyears is that I met this guy there from Iowa, and I KNEW WHO HE WAS. Those of you who are from smaller or more obscure places know that people always ask you, "Youre from There? Hey, I know someone from There, His name is ____. Do you know him?" To which you always have to respond, "No, no I don't." Even though you're from an out of the way place, it's not like the world is THAT small. Except when it is. This guy walked into the party and introduced himself and instantly I remembered going on a bike ride with him and the make and features of the bike he was riding, all from 8 years ago. Freaked him out, that did. Hah. My bike-remembering skills are second only to my dad's.

Oh yeah, now I'm employed part time at EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports) a chain of stores out East here. The pay is decent, part time will keep me just busy enough to be happy, but not too busy as I look for other "career" work and get ready for grad school, in theory. However, we all know that Communism worked in theory, but ask an Albanian what they think of Communism today.

Lastly, my GRE's are finally over. Thank God for that. Even though I'd rather pluck my head bald than take the test again, a small part of me wants to take the test over to see if I can get a better score. Dammit, I know I can! Fortunately, I won't be doing that again, primarily due to the fact that there's no way in hell that I'm going to pay $115 AGAIN to take a stupid test.