the rest of chicago

After gorging ourselves silly on Bird Day, we decided it would be a good idea to get out, walk some, and see some of the things that Chicago has to offer. Whenever I head to a big city, I always feel like I should make it a point to do something cultural, since there's not a ton of that in my small town. To scratch my itch, T and E agreed to go visit the Museum of Contemporary Art since none of us were feeling up to tackling the Art Institute.

The thing I always love about contemporary art museums is you never really know whether you're gonna be crushed by the most disappointing, idiotic exhibits you've ever seen in your life, or shocked and amazed by the genius that some people are able to express through myriad art mediums. Thankfully, we got some of both at the Chicago MCA. There was one room full of duct taped walls that was amazingly dumb and I didn't really care for the main exhibit that used enlarged autopsy reports from the Iraq war silkscreened on canvas to make some comment about the atrocity of violence (I guess). But thankfully, there were plenty of good exhibits to make up for the few bad ones. One guy, who was born deaf, kept the scraps of paper that he used to communicate with people and arranged them in displays that became more and more interesting as you read the notes. Another woman used cut paper silhouettes to explore the history of race in America and yet another woman built a pretty awesome sculpture out of string and other regular household items, like measuring tapes and styrofoam cups.

On Saturday, after a delicious b-fast in Andersonville, we spent the day on a wander, which was a perfect way to end the trip. We hit a comic book store where I spent way too much money, a record store where I spent a shocking not-one-single-cent, and tried to find a hipster t-shirt store, but didn't really succeed. One of my favorite local landmarks was landing at Schuba's for a late lunch. If you're at all even interested in the indie music scene, you've likely heard of Schuba's. It's a pretty famous Chicago venue where they record a lot of pretty great live shows. Sadly, T and I did not get to see anyone play because we were there too early, but it did look like a nice place to witness history in the making.

The travel gods were not as kind to me on the return trip as they were on the one out, but the plane didn't crash and I got home the same day I left so I guess I should count myself fortunate.

Now that Bird Day is over, it's time to hunker down and try to survive winter. Hopefully becoming a Nordic Ranger will help me not hate it so much. If anyone has any other ideas how to make it to spring, feel free to holler.

If you're on the list and you want to see my other pics, they're here. If you're not, and you want to, send me your handle and I'll get you added.


bird is the word

This year, C got a brand new carving set that was 100 times better than the hacksaw and table fork I used to carve last year's bird. This bird was just as delicious. As was the stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed Japanese sweet potatoes and zwiebach rolls that accompanied. Oh. And let's not forget the shortbread apple tart a la mode with homemade caramel topping that finished Gorgefest '08 off on the right note. Pair all of that with really good company and you have a Thanksgiving celebration worthy of American kings.

Usually, I absolutely refuse to celebrate Black Friday and its unabashed endorsement of Consumerism, but this year, I wouldn't mind acquiring a new digital camera. As you can see from the above that my current one takes really shitty indoor shots. And, I am in one of the largest cities in the country. Surely I can find a pretty good deal on one, right?

Hope everyone is surviving their Carb Comas.


the gods are smiling on me

The shuttle to the airport left 5 minutes early.

There was no one getting on at the third stop, so we left there ten minutes early.

We arrived at my terminal on time.

There was no one in the security line and I got through in ten minutes. Only getting stopped because I hadn't used the proper size of baggie for my liquids.

I always, always get stuck in a middle seat. It doesn't matter when I buy my ticket. It doesn't matter if I try to reserve an aisle seat online, they always switch me to a middle seat. They must know I'm kinda skinny and won't bitch too much about it. On a whim, I decided to see if they had any aisle seats available once I got to the gate. I'm sure you can guess what happened. And in an exit row no less. Ah. Extra leg room.

Here's hoping all this good luck doesn't cause the plane to explode half way to Chicago.

Happy Bird Day everyone.


urban sketchers

I recently ran across a pretty cool blog called Urban Sketchers where contributors sketch locations in the cities they live in and then post them. It has inspired me to do the same here in good ol' northern Colorado. Today, while out doing errands I stopped and had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, La Luz, which is conveniently located right across the street from one of my favorite buildings in town, The Northern Hotel.

This is as far as I got before my food came. It's almost impossible for me to draw and eat at the same time. Even a burrito.

As you can see, I have a long way to go before I get good at sketching urbanly. Hopefully it's just a matter of practice. So, I'm gonna set the goal of once a week, heading out on my bike, picking a spot and sketching it.


my new theme song

If Neutral Milk Hotel and The Avett Brothers got really drunk one night and had sloppy, unforgettable sex, The Rural Alberta Advantage would be the result of that holy union.

The lead singer, Nils Edenloff sounds uncannily like Jeff Magnum and there're plenty of trumpets and violins to give TRAA at least a seat at the table of bands like NMH. But there's also a bluegrass-y, country-esque vibe that can only have come from the windswept prairies of the much forgotten Canadian Great Plains. You know that space between The Rockies and the Great Lakes that is rural no man's land.

After listening to this album roughly 2,000 times over the past week or so, I've decided that this song pretty much sums up my life. I mean, what if I am more satisfied when I'm alone? As an added bonus, it's got a pretty good beat.

Edmonton - The Rural Alberta Advantage

and i thought MY house was small

This month it's the International Space Station's 10th birthday. And, it's still not completely built. It's got two more years to go. Why is this important, you might ask? If we're ever gonna leave our solar system, this is where we're gonna learn how to do it. And, if we keep treating the Earth like we have been, we'll probably need to do that sooner than we thought. Happy birthday ISS. Don't explode.


some stuff happened this weekend. i guess.

1) A and I went to see 'The Changeling' on Friday night. All I have to say about it is the story was really interesting. Ok. That's not all. I also have to say—this movie totally sucked it. The writing was terrible. The acting was even worse. And the direction sucked it most of all. This was not the Eastwood of 'Million Dollar Baby'. I don't know what this was, but it was truly awful and an utter waste of time.

2) Saturday, A and I took a hike up Grey Rock. Every year since I moved to Colorado, I've gone up this mountain frequently. At least 4 times a year. Then, this year, for some reason that I still can't fathom, I didn't hike it once. So, it seemed like it was time. Sadly, I forgot to bring my camera with, so here's a picture I took last year on a trip that Ann and I took up old baldy. On weirdly almost the same date. It was cold and foggy then, but this weekend's trip was cool and sunny. A nice change.

Looking at all of my pictures from last year, I realized that back then R-dog was still hiking with. Now, she can barely make it through our daily treks through the open space near my house. That's sad-making y'all. At any rate, it was nice to see that Grey Rock hasn't changed any, even though I've neglected it this year.

3) Today I drove down to Westminster to attend Leadership 101, a course given by the Sierra Club that gets potential leaders ready to start leading hikes. It was pretty interesting and I got a free binder full of very detailed info on the matter that I should probably read at some point. Now I just need a mentor to follow me on a couple of hikes and then I'll be able to lead people to their deaths in Colorado's back country all by myself. You've been warned.

Now I'm doing laundry, surfing the web and trying really hard not to fall asleep. For I am exhausted.


the duke spirits

I know absolutely nothing about these guys, but doing a Google image search netted this really great photo of the lead singer really belting one out. I love how much emotion is apparent on her face. Not sure, yet, though if I should send this to Daytrotter. What do you think? Send it or redo it with one that's a little more friendly?


the nordic rangers

Last night, I went to an informational meeting on what it takes to be a volunteer Larimer County Nordic Ranger. Besides the fact that it took them an hour and a half to really tell us nothing more than what's on their website, it sounds like it's a pretty easy gig. Plus, you get to wear a really dorky armband. And maybe save someone's life.

hippie chick

Hippie Chick, 40 x 30

I finally finished one more painting for the gallery show that's coming up in two weeks. Yikes. I'm not sure how I feel about it though, so I may not give it to her.

Oh. And if you're interested, the gallery owner has a website up finally. You know, to show it's all for real. The actual design of the site is kinda terrible, but look! My stuff is on there!


fat meet spare tire

I just had a full-sized Twix® bar and It. Was. Awesome.



KU barely defeated UMKC on Sunday in their season opener. UMKC. UMF$#@KC, people. Maybe our low ranking in the AP polls is warranted. You will be hearing the words, 'It's a rebuilding year, kids, it's ok' coming out of my mouth a lot this season. I may just ignore this year altogether and watch videos of last year's games instead.


a couple of observations

1) It is impossible for me to work while shoveling peanut butter slathered crackers into my gaping maw.

2) Most of you won't care about this, but I have finally, finally returned to the climbing wall to boulder. Most of my scrapes and bruises from my bike accident finally healed about a week ago—now the only evidence of former bodily injury is pink, new baby skin.

I am mostly surprised that after a month's long absence from the Wall, I haven't lost many of the hard earned skills I've developed over the past year. I figured they'd just all evaporate with that long of an absence, but no. I worked on three fairly hard problems today and eventually made it up all of them. The only thing that has evaporated, from what I can tell, is my endurance—before my accident, I pretty much always lasted for about an hour and a half, but today I only lasted about 45 minutes. Hopefully my staying power will return in due time.


it's 1980!

I drove by a gas station today on my way home from the gym and prices were posted at $1.91 a gallon. 'Holy crap!' I thought. 'That's low.' Then my next thought was that if this continues, alternative energy is dead on the vine.


stats and stuff

I feel really discombobulated now that the election is over and I don't need to obsess about politics any longer. Luckily, the start of college basketball season is right around the corner, so I've been filling up all that lost time with a lot of start-of-the-year stats and worrying about who's gonna win the Big 12 Championship.

One thing I have to say is, there is NO WAY that KU deserves the 31 rank that the AP poll just gave us yesterday. 31!? We're the defending champs you a-holes. Sure, all of our starters are gone and the new line-up includes more freshmen than is probably advisable for a winning season, but c'mon. Not even in the top 25? Bah. We still have the same most awesomest coach in all the land that is Bill Self.

Oh, and I never really thought I'd see the day when Lute Olsen retired. I figured he'd find some way to coach from the grave. I hope it's not because he's sick with some terminal disease and more just that he's really sick of dealing with sweaty, obnoxious, punk-ass college kids.


a new dawn

I woke up this morning and as I lay there thinking about what happened last night, not unwelcome tears sprang into my eyes as I thought about what this means. Will everything immediately change for the better? No. As is evidenced by all of the anti-gay measures that passed in California, Florida, Arkansas and Arizona, we still have a long way to go before we as a nation start treating every citizen as equal human beings. But last night was a large step in the right direction. W's Reign of Idiocy is almost at an end. It's the hope that we can change that shines a blinding light on everything from now on. It's the faith in the American people that we can learn from our mistakes and correct our path that makes everything we struggle for worthwhile. It's the knowledge that as a country we aren't so stubborn and ignorant to recognize the best person for the job despite their unusual name and color of their skin that makes me truly believe that we are still a great nation and it's a blessing to live here, now.

And I'm thoroughly relieved that I don't have to move to New Zealand and become a shepherd.


my favorite things that happened tonight

10) Kay Hagan defeated Elizabeth Dole for one of North Carolina's Senate seats. That means that Jesse Helm's former seat is now owned by a Democrat. Eat it, Jesse Helms, you bigoted a-hole.

9) Coloradoans said no to Amendment 48. Handily.

8) Young people showed up in droves. Finally.

7) Women proved that they're smarter than John McCain gave them credit for. May we never hear from Sarah Palin again.

6) Obama won Montana. Thanks to my friend Laura Quirk who singlehandedly called every single person in the state to encourage them to vote. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but seriously, on Election Night, two hours before the polls were to close there, she was driving people to the voting booth.

5) The record number of people who showed up at the polls this year. Our votes affect not only our country but the rest of the world. It's great when we show the world that we care.

4) Markey defeated Musgrave!

3) I live in a blue state!

2) This story from The Daily Dish:

I voted here in San Francisco's Noe Valley neighborhood about two hours ago. It took about an hour to get through the line, and while standing there I was chatting with the 75-year-old retired cop in front of me, and the young 30-something gay couple in front of him, who had their two little girls in tow.

Everyone was in good spirits as the conversation moved from the Obama-McCain contest to the farce that is Sarah Palin, and then on to non-political matters, like the road work being done on the next block. The conversation between the cop and the couple started to get animated toward the end of our hour in line as the three men began to discuss the current football season, wagering bets for this weekend's games and making predictions for the Super Bowl.

And then, as we entered the firehouse that doubled as our polling place, as the couple and their daughters stepped out of line and up to the table to receive their ballots, I observed the cop in front of me. He opened his sample ballot, took out his pen, scribbled out his "yes" vote on Proposition 8, and filled in the ballot line for "no."

I don't think he knew that I observed him. And since it was such a private moment I held back my tears of joy and my overwhelming desire to pat him on the back and say "thank you, sir." Instead, I left the polling place muttering to myself those two words you have repeated over and over during this election cycle, Andrew:



1) We just voted an African-American man into office, people. This changes everything. It changes how the world views us. It changes race relations in this country forever. It doesn't erase our tarnished past, but it sets us on the right path for a brilliant future. We just screamed at the top of our lungs to the universe that we're sick of fear and hate and tyranny. This changes the war on terror. This changes our economic woes. This changes our environmental policies. This changes our foreign policy. This. Changes. Ev.Ery.Thing.

I am speechless. Heart very full. In love with America.

an historic day

It's here. Finally. And, not surprisingly, I'm anxious. Will we take the path less traveled and fight for change and newly found hope? Or will we settle once again for the status quo—for fear and hate and anger? Will we, as Americans, finally let it be known that there is more to a person than the texture of their hair, the shape of their eyes or the color of their skin? Will we say, 'Yes we can,' or let the straight talk express grind our bones into the gritty, hot asphalt of conservative theocracy?

I love this country and I love everything we stand for. As much as I am ready for this election year to be finally done, I most definitely enjoyed the crazy ride along the way. Get out there and vote people. Let your voice be heard. Nothing else is as important today as deciding the future of our country.

Another awesome beginning happens today as well—KU faces the Washburn Ichabods in their first game of the 08-09 season. If you thought you were sick of me talking about politics, just wait until about February when you'll be really sick of me talking about basketball. You'll look back on this time with fondness. Happy Election Day everyone.


an observation

Daylight Savings Time is rough on the four-legged set. Meal times do not come when expected.

not politics

Another rock show poster for Daytrotter. This one for The Subjects. A Brooklyn band made up of two high school teachers and two of their students. Oddly for such young kids, they have an 80's pop sound to them.

if the republicans win

The Republicans are running the same kind of campaign that put W in office. One based on fear and secrecy and lies. Do we really want to continue four more years with the politics of Karl Rove? Can we really put into office a woman who has withheld her medical records and has yet to hold a press conference? Do we want a hate monger in office who flip flops on all of his positions depending on who he's talking to and what he thinks people want to hear? Aren't we all tired of this? Don't we want something new? A different era in politics is needed. If McCain wins, it means that we'll see the same negative campaign tactics in play for a long time to come. If Obama wins it means that every person who runs for office from here on out will have to play in a different, more positive way. Wouldn't that be nice?

Ok. I promise. No more talk of politics today. Just promise me that you'll get out and vote.

38 hours to go

And I really can't wait for this to be over. It's really encouraging to see that the number of people who took advantage of early voting outstrips the total number of votes in 2004 already. That means that people are fired up. And they care. So, if nothing else, this election got people out there to exercise their rights. I'm really hoping that this means that I won't have to move to New Zealand and become a shepherd.

I talked with a friend last night whose parents won't vote for Obama because they think he's a socialist. Really? And why would that be a bad thing even if he were? I think we might need some socialism in this country. But the older set is really afraid of the specter of communism and they equate socialism with communism. A socialist approach to our health care system is probably going to be necessary at some point, at least.

I have another friend whose boyfriend won't vote for Obama because he thinks that Obama doesn't support the 2nd Amendment. Which isn't true. Obama just doesn't think that automatic and semi-automatic weapons should be legal.

But people vote with their hearts much more than their brains and there's nothing you can really do to persuade people once they've made up their minds. And emotions are running high this year. It's just great to see that so many people are getting out there to vote. Can you imagine what it would be like if every single person who was eligible showed up at the polls tomorrow?

Just keep this in mind, at Obama rallies there are a lot of cheers and at the McCain rallies there are a lot of boos and name calling, which I think says a lot about the campaigns each candidate is running and what kind of administration they will run.

Tomorrow is going to be crazy.