Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Canadians are Scary

This Canadian PSA is downright frightening. Don't watch it if you're feeling particularly vulnerable or fragile or squeamish or about to eat any fried foods. Seriously, don't. (Found via Deadspin).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Turkey Day

We went up to Portland for Thanksgiving this year. We stayed with my wife's brother, his wife, and their new baby (4 months old). Man, is that kid cute. You may think I say that only because I am biased. But, no, he's actually very cute. Despite the fact our laptop is in what I fear to be its final death throes, here is a pic of the little dude, so you can see for yourself that he is, indeed, very cute.

We flew up to Portland Wednesday afternoon and came back Sunday afternoon. I know, I know, the two busiest travel days of the year, we're asking for it, etc. Well, ya know what? Nothing happened. Nothing. Smooth as silk. I've had far worse travel experiences on random days in the year. Wednesday and Sunday? No biggie.

One complaint about the trip: no turkey. Well, we had turkey, but not A turkey. It was just some turkey-ish loaf-like thing instead. Everything else was good (mashies, yams, stuffing, pie, etc) but to not have the bird...well...I dunno. There's just something very traditional about the bird coming out of the oven and everyone oohing and ahhing over it. It doesn't seem like a big thing to be missing, but try it sometime and see if you don't end up feeling empty and forlorn.

I managed to avoid over-consumption on Thursday, partly due to the fact that, due to late-arriving family, we didn't start eating until 5:30 (Thanksgiving dinner should start at 1 to allow proper grazing and napping the rest of the day. Everyone knows this.) Saturday, however, I nearly killed myself with food. At the Laurelwood Public House and Brewery I really did myself in. I showed up so hungry I ate part of my Nephew's car seat on the way over, even though the recent recall notice warned against doing this due to the choking hazard (I'm serious!). We got a beer sampler (6 oz of 9 or 10 different beers) and I could not resist the lunch special. Penne with chicken, prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes and asparagus in a smoked Gouda cream sauce with little garlic bread toasts. Oh god yes. And a 16 oz stout. I ingested so many calories my distended belly lasted for hours and I didn't get my appetite back until after my workout this (Monday) morning.

The most exciting thing to happen (besides LSU losing to the Razorbacks) was my bro-in-law taking me for a spin on his new motorcycle. It's a Suzuki 650 something-or-other. I'm not really a motorcycle guy, per se ("per se" meaning "I've ridden a motorcycle, by myself, exactly one time") so I'm not sure of all of the details. It's blue. And has aftermarket fairings on it.

Before we set out he told me that, on a particularly remote and straight section of the road around the lake, he would tap my leg which meant "hold on, I'm going to open 'er up." Uh, ok. Perched on the back, during the mere motions of such daredevil stunts as starting from a stop sign or shifting gears, I felt as if only my death grip on the "sissy bar" prevented me from flying off the back. I grew convinced that I would feel the tap on my leg followed shortly by the pavement on the back of my helmet.

Turns out I survived. This, despite the fact that, after the tap, the front tire lifted off the ground for a bit, a happening I was not aware of until it touched back down on the pavement. My brother-in-law is fortunate I was late in noticing it, as he would still be dealing with the hearing loss caused by my screams of terror had I been aware of it as it was happening.

Indeed, I survived and now I am back at work, dealing with the fact that my product is in the final phases of spinning off from the mothership company and becoming it's own little startup. Um, hello, what do you mean I can't use the main office's sink anymore? I have to wash my dishes in the restroom now? But, does this mean I can no longer use the private, one seater bathroom downstairs in the main office? Stock, schmock. I want my private pooper.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Perspective. Get some.

I can't help but think...what if something horribly tragic happens at these Olympics and this dude is walking around for the rest of his life with the Chinese equivalent of "September 11th, 2001" on his forehead?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Burning Man

So, as I mentioned in my last post (over four freakin' months ago), we went to Burning Man over Labor Day weekend (and the week prior, too. 8 days in all). It was our fourth year going to "the event" as Burners sometimes call it. This year differed from the others, though, as we were part of an entirely new camp and went with a new group of people. Half of us were veterans of the previous years' Yum Camp, the other half were Burning Man virgins (10 people total in camp). Our camp this year was called The Society. Our overall theme was Steampunk, with the centerpiece being our artcar, The Perambulator. We chronicled the events, discussions, and overall effort of creating our camp's Burning Man experience here. Many photos of our experiences can be found there, so feel free to poke around, look at the photos, take it all in.

There were some phenomenal art pieces there, two of the larger and more impressive being Big Rig Jig, and Crude Awakenings. Crude Awakenings' visual display was just stunning, and when they burned it, well, let's just say it's not often in life one gets to witness a mushroom cloud in person. The heat nearly singed my eyebrows from 250 yards away.

But, as usual, it's the smaller things making up everyday life on the playa that make the event something I return to over and over again: People standing in the middle of the street in 100 degree weather giving away slices of cold fruit to passers by. The Hardware Camp guys helping us rebuild The Perambulator's 5th wheel in the middle of a ferocious dust storm. And just the overwhelming awe that comes over me when I think that, for three quarters of the year, there is nothing there but wind and a bunch of dust. When I stop to look around on Friday night and see all of the individual contributions put together to make the whole of the Burning Man community, it truly amazes me.

Every year, it seems there is one small experience that sticks out for me. Our first year we were coming back from a night out on the playa to our woefully inexperienced and disorganized camp. We're tired, hungry, and really not looking forward to scrounging through the piles and boxes of food in the truck looking for something to eat. I really did not want to eat another Clif Bar. We're nearly back to our camp when Christen grabs my arm, points across the street and says, "Does that say 'Fish and Chips' "? I look to where she is pointing and lo and behold, there is a banner over a rather nondescript camp saying "Jonah's Fish and Chips". Could it be? We wander over and find a couple cutting sweet potatoes with a potato cutter (like they use in In N Out) and dropping them into a generator-powered deep fryer. Are you kidding me? They smile at us, wrap some fries in a sheet of newspaper, sprinkle some seasoning salt on, squirt in some ketchup, and hand the whole glorious thing over. Those fries, still, to this day, are the best I've ever had, and will probably remain the best I ever eat. Salty, soft on the outside but still slightly crunchy in the middle...just, and I mean EXACTLY JUST what the doctor ordered. I learned then and there what is meant by "The Playa Provides".

And the girl who handed me the fries was topless.

This year's stick-out experience is not as exciting, but still resonated with me none-the-less. About a year or so ago my friend, let's call him "Jason", turned me on to the band System of a Down. They are very very good and I enjoy their music greatly. They have a song called "B.Y.O.B." One of the lines is:

Everybody's going to the party have a real good time
Dancing in the desert blowing up the sunshine

I thought that resonated pretty well with Burning Man, and as we were installing the sound system in The Perambulator I imagined playing that song. But, its metaliness is strong and maybe would not be enjoyed by my campmates. Well, Christen and I are out riding our bikes around the playa one day and we end up riding by one of the Burning Man radio stations (yes, people set up radio stations for the event). What song do they happen to be blasting out of their speakers at us as we ride by? You got it, "B.Y.O.B." I made Christen ride around in circles in front of the radio station until the song was over. I mean, really, what are the chances? The VERY song I wanted to hear at Burning Man more than any other and it just so happens to be playing as we ride by? Just fantastic.

It's those types of experiences (and they happen the entire time) that keep me from saying "I will never go back." It is a crapload of work, both in preparation and while there, but there is no vacation I have ever been on that makes me feel further away from my everyday life than Burning Man.