Why do I torture myself year after year? I willingly go to a place where I get to hang out with 150,000 of my closest friends. I spend a hot summer day outside in the sun. I tolerate waiting in long lines for the ladies room. I eat battered, deep-fried, junky food. What is this torture? Why, the Great Minnesota Get-Together, of course!

Any self-respecting Minnesotan will trek to the Minnesota State Fair at least once each year. I have friends who go multiple times. Take my friend Jen A, for example, whose husband is in the Army. They got stationed in Guam for three years. A year ago he left a month before Jen. Jen waited until after the Fair. And when has she come back for a visit? To coincide with the Fair. She has been there just about every day. I don’t know how she does it. I go for a few hours and I’m done in. Think I’m joking about attendance of 150,000? Look at this. And I went on the last Sunday. The last Sunday usually goes over 200,000.

These just in:

Quotes from Jen (which I include because I truly am impressed by your desire, determination, and stamina, and I know you were doing what you love to do): 1) “After a 15.5 hour day yesterday, I’ve logged 67 hours at the fair this year. A record for me. One day to go. (Sunday).” 2) “My last day at the fair. 16 hours for a total of 83 hours over 6 days. That’ll do.”

2014 State Fair breaks all-time attendance record. Thank goodness I didn’t go on Saturday, attendance 252,092.

So this is the fun I had at the fair.

photo of overheated Kelly

When I bike to the fair, I am hot and miserable before I even pass through the gate.

Biking to the fair.

Just like going to the fair at all, biking to it always seems like a good idea before I do it. It’s a four-and-a-half-mile ride, most of which is on a dedicated bike- and busway. Easy route, but even if the temperature isn’t too hot, I get overheated. So I’m at a disadvantage before I even get through the gate.

I should also mention that the fair encourages you to not take your car. As could benefit me, there are three bike corrals. Unfortunately they are at the three corners of the grounds other than the one where the transitway spits me out. Getting to a bike corral adds a half-mile onto my ride. But I’m glad they have them because it takes a lot of the thinking out of arriving at the Fair.

Anyway, I had a couple of personal connections at the fair.

Personal connections and vegetables in general.

My coworker’s grandmother enters vegetables every year. And she wins every year. Look at those Yukon gold potatoes! Jen (a different Jen) helped harvest those winners. And since I love vegetables, you get a photo of the west wall of the Horticulture Building. And who wouldn’t be impressed by giant pumpkins, Charlie Brown?

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Blue ribbon Yukon Gold potatoes dug up and sorted by my coworker, grown by her grandmother.

photo of giant pumpkin

It’s the Great Pumpkin!

panoramic photo of vegetables

These are a few of my favorite vegetables.

photo of Larry's painting

A little purple goes a long way.

I also managed to find my nextdoor neighbor Larry’s painting in the Fine Arts building. As my mentor Chris Gargan always said, a little purple goes a long way. Or was that John Ribble? It was twenty+ years ago.

photo of mini-donut beer

Mini-donuts! In beer form!

Beer.

Natch, it didn’t take me long to acquire beer. Unlike last year, Lift Bridge Brewery made PLENTY of their Mini-Donut Brown Ale. It sounds so wrong, but it works. This year there was also a s’mores beer replete with a floating marshmallow, and a lager that came with blueberry frozen foam.

photo of Kelly with beer

Kelly visits a beer exhibit. Yes, a beer exhibit.

A great thing about the Minnesota State Fair is that it keeps up with the times. Whether it’s an evening of Minnesota bands, sponsored by The Current, or craft beer, the fair is all over it. Back by popular demand for the third year, was the Land of 10,000 Brews exhibit, also in the Horticulture Building. This is where there are six options for four-beer flight from Minnesota breweries. The selections vary daily. Sometimes there’s fancy stuff, but mostly it’s a way to support our burgeoning craft beer industry.

[Update from the interim between writing and posting: Some asshole robbed the exhibit at gunpoint a couple hours after the Fair closed for the year. Armed robbery of over $10,000.]

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Does she look like she’s actually having fun?

Major annoyances.

I’m pretty sure I ranted about this last year, too, and every year before that. If it’s not old enough to walk under its own power, it’s most likely not old enough to really comprehend, and therefore actually enjoy, what is going on at the fair, and should therefore be left at home. Your doublewide stroller isn’t doing anybody, and I mean anybody, least of all you, any favors. Tell the truth. Do you actually enjoy pushing that thing through the throng, having to constantly apologize to the crowd around you for needing non-standard space accommodation, the crowd which is already annoyed by the rest of the crowd? Are you having fun when the tot is screaming because it wants cotton candy, or is over-stimulated, or is over-tired? And when it falls asleep, well, what was the point anyway?

photo of parade float

It’s a parade. Yay.

While we’re on the subject of hindrances to the already crowd-hindering crowd, what about the daily parade? I guess some people watch it, but it seems like it’s mostly meaderers scattering to the curbs to make way. I find it particularly purturbing because on either side of the street it goes down are some of the things I’m most interested in, such as the aforementioned Horticulture Building and the abeermentioned Ballpark Cafe, from whence the Mini-Donut Brown Ale (and many other fine, Minnesota brews) is served, and because I always manage to encounter it. I just want to cross the damned street. Call me a chicken if you must, apropos to the fair.

photo of Kelly with a Pronto Pup

It’s a Pronto Pup. Or is it a corndog. Huh?

Fair food.

Unless you live in a cave, you’ve likely heard of all the any-state’s fair food you can get on a stick. Minnesota’s fair does food on a stick like no other. However, I mostly avoid it. Battered, deep-fried delights are so far from how I typically eat that it doesn’t take much of it to do me in. But I’ll always get a corndog. I don’t like weiners but I love me a corndog. I am a poor Minnesotan because I’m still not sure exactly what the difference is between a corndog and a Pronto Pup. What I do know is that this year I got a Pronto Pup rather than a corndog and I didn’t like it as well. I think a Pronto Pup is more of a batter batter while a corndog is more of a cornbread batter. Next year I shall go back to the corndog.

photo of Kelly eating corn on the cob

Corn!

What never disappoints is the roasted corn on the cob. Minnesota sweetcorn, grilled in the husk. ’Nuff said. Oh, except for that they compost all the discarded cobs.

 

photo of weather radar progression

How much time do I have?

Weather, more beer, more food.

All afternoon I felt like I had blown it with regard to the weather. The day before, Saturday, was a little less warm, a little less humid, less unsettled. Sunday started out overcast and not-warm, but of course by the time I got pedaling the sun came out and the dewpoint started creeping up. The forecast was for a clear afternoon with rain and thunder likely in the evening. It approached more quickly.

photo of Kelly and cutout of Mark Stutrud

Hanging out with Summit Brewing founder, Mark Stutrud. Well, a reasonable facsimile of him, anyway.

I made my move in the direction of the exit when I figured, based on radar panel number three, that I had about forty-five minutes before the heavens would open. I need about twenty-five for the bike ride. Fortunately, the main Summit Brewing counter, in the International Bazaar, is right on the way to the entrance I use next to the bike corral. Summit had a fair-only brew this year, but it was not on offer on Sunday (unless it was at an auxiliary location). Nevertheless, I ordered one of the beers that was available and participated in what was their genius marketing ploy for the fair, taking a selfie with the life-sized cutout of founder Mark Stutrud. I have actually hung out with Mark several times in person, so this was a little weird, and yet, necessary.

photo of tacos

Tacos al pastore y asada.

I had just about decided that I was out of weather-time and had every intention of heading out, when I was dazzled again by what had caught my attention on the way in, tacos from Los Ocampo. I wasn’t exactly hungry, but wanted to eat, and figured that if I ate a little more at the fair, that would be enough for the day. I went for one each of the al pastore and the asada. The nice people sitting on the bench next to me approved of my choice (having vast, it seemed, experience at one of Los Ocampos’ restaurant locations) and gave me a piece of their fried plantains. It was all very good.

photo of approaching weather

Hopefully I’ll beat this home.

I finally, finally, uncorraled my bike and headed home, a little later than I meant to. On the other hand, it wasn’t already raining so I knew whatever happened, I wouldn’t get it too bad. As it was, I only got spritzed on during the second half of the ride. I got home and took my second full shower of the day. I tied my hair up in a different way that proved to be a beneficial way, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with the fair.

And now for something lighter: I can’t believe I’ve never shared a list of pet peeves before! Roughly in order, then, from most annoying.

Fingernail clipping. I don’t shave my legs at the office, please have the courtesy to at least go into another room if you must spontaneously groom in the middle of the workday.

Open-mouth chewing. I get that you’re enthusiastic about your baby carrots. But I have started leaving for my lunch break when you make your lunch because I can’t take another half hour of your open- mouthed chomping. Crunches carry. To twenty feet way.

Smokers in front of building entryways. This one particularly gets my goat when I get to work in the morning. I am all freshly showered and optimistic about how much ass I’m going to kick today. I get immediately cranky when I have to walk through your cloud of fumes and smell it in my hair for the next hour. Thanks for ruining my day before it gets started, chump. Move your stinky habit a few feet away from the door.

People in front of me walking more slowly but not in a straight line so I am unable to pass. I know I’ve ranted about this before. Walking in public throughways would go ever so smoothly if only people observed the same conventions when walking as they do driving. Stay on your side of the road, slower traffic to the side.

People in front of me walking three or four abreast so that I am unable to pass. Please have some awareness of yourselves in the wide world. You are not the only bodies in motion and some of those other bodies would like to get around you.

People walking toward me two, three, four abreast who don’t break rank and expect me to give way. I don’t. I’ve bumped into people. Why should I flatten my solo self against the wall because you’re too self-important to have common courtesy?

Fellow bicyclists who blow through red lights and stops signs. You are breaking the law. You are a safety hazard.

SUVs on the road. We live in Minnesota and we have snowy winters and you want to feel secure on the road. I get that, especially since I have a little gnat of a car and often feel very insecure in winter driving conditions. But so often it seems like you drive with an air of entitlement and complete lack of consideration toward your fellow road warrior. It is not all about you. We’re all rushed and trying to get somewhere.

Not saying please or thank you. I might have told this story before, too. One night at closing time in my youth, I barked a command at the night manager. He completely stopped what he was doing, turned to me with his full attention, and say, “You know, I would like my job so much better if you guys just said ’please’ and ’thank you.’” That has stuck with me for these last thirty years and I try very, very hard to abide by it every time. Every time. It’s not hard and it does make things so much nicer for the party on the receiving end.

Litterers. Show some respect for the neighborhood at small and the world at large.

Other people’s toddlers and small children, usually. It most often happens at the farmer’s market or other crowded gatherings such as the State Fair. Your child is not the most precious thing to the rest of the world and nobody wants to hear it badgering you until you give in because parents these days are afraid to say no and mean it. If it is so young that can’t self-locomote, leave it and your double-wide stroller at home.

Please, was that eleven things? Thank you.

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I will soon be at 1,000 photos on Instagram. I’m pretty sure that will happen a few days before January 16th, when the world will end and we all have to quit our accounts.

 

You’d have to have been in a cave for the last 24 hours to have not been aware of the furor over Instagram’s proposed new terms of service. I admit that I enthusiastically joined in the hysteria, but I also actually read the document in question. That doesn’t make me better than anybody else for sure, and I also have three and a half weeks to wait and see how it all pans out.

 

Instagram and social media have come up in a few of my last several posts. I’m not going to get up on some soapbox about this. Anybody who ignores the fact that these “services” that we freely join and freely (both literally and figuratively) give our lives away to are actually businesses that want to turn a profit, is living in a delusional dream world. These sites do not exist as a public service. It is our responsibility to actually read the terms of service that we blindly agree to. That we did not read them is not a legitimate reason for outrage when these terms change. And the changes will likely be to our personal detriment, because businesses are out for themselves, not us. They don’t owe us anything.

 

I don’t even remember what my main reason was for starting this post. I think I wanted to say that I will continue to enjoy Instagram, at least until January 16 when the proposed changes (in whatever form they end up) take effect. As with the various changes that Facebook has tried to implement and then quite often had to back peddle on, I’m figuring that the same will likely occur with these updates to Instagram’s policies.

 

Perhaps the most interesting thing I’ve heard on the subject came from CNN this morning. Whoever they were interviewing said that like Facebook had previously, Instagram threw, say, five changes out there. Now they’ve seen which one thing users reacted most strongly to (in this case, the perception that Instagram is saying that they will henceforth sell users’ photos with no notification or compensation to the user) and will modify that one, and the other four will kind of fly under the radar.

 

I guess what I wish is that fine print wasn’t written in legalize. Rather than saying “Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service…,” why can’t they (or anybody else) just say, “We’ll pretend that you own your content, but we’re still going to retain the right to do whatever the hell we want to with it.”?

 

Like I said, I don’t know why I was fired up to write anything tonight. I don’t care that Instagram might start showing me ads, or that they might put my face on self-promotion within the app, just like Facebook tries to do with suggestions or promoted content. We users forget that profitability is the end goal. Regarding Instagram in particular, I’d gladly pay a number of dollars to buy an ad-free version of the app, and I’d most likely also gladly pay a nominal monthly subscription. “Photographers” and “purists” may scoff at one-tap filter apps for the masses, but you know what? It’s fun! And Instagram, unlike other photo-editing apps (such as Camera+ and Snapseed, both of which I also adore, particularly Snapseed (never got into Hipstamatic, I confess to a certain amount of hypocritical snobbery on that front)) has a fantastic social aspect, even prior to their acquisition by Facebook. I have some lovely new friends in London, Munich, and Toowoomba, Australia. Where? Exactly.

 

I hope that I won’t have to quit the amazingly friendly and creative community that is Instagram. I’m confident that willn’t be the case. Please.
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I’ve been in a lather lately about how much that I want to see, Facebook fails to actually show me. This afternoon that morphed into a nostalgic lament about the way social media used to be back in the good old days. I was going to write about both aspects tonight, but the lament has taken longer than I planned, and it’s really the more important part anyway.

The Lament

Twitter. In January 2007, California Rob invited me to sign up on a new website called Twitter. I had no idea what it was but I always enjoyed learning about the new internet stuff sooner than most, thanks to him and his circle of Silicon Valley friends. At first I had no idea what to do with it (just as the entire world didn’t) and didn’t see what the big deal was about writing periodic statements about what I was doing or feeling. But because the cool kids (Rob and his friends) were doing it, I hung in there and contributed my apprisals of the situation.

And then a funny thing began to happen. I got to know these people in California (and one in Philadelphia). Through our unfocused updates about meals and bedtime and clock-watching at work, we who had never met in person were nevertheless able to develop a picture of each other. And then another funny new thing happened. I got to know more people in California because they were friends with the first bunch of people.

This was back before the term “tweet” had been coined or @ mentions had been coded. This was when you saw all the updates posted by all of your friends, regardless of whether they were directed @ you or not. This was when Twitter was like a cocktail party where you could drift in and out of conversations with people you did and didn’t know all around the room and, like after any good mixer, you’d come away with a few new people who you wanted to hang out with. 

Twitter was this way for a two or three years (I’m not researching exactly how long), which gave me the time to make two tiers of new friends. Then the powers that be decided that your side of the room didn’t need to know what the other side was talking about, even if you were with someone who knew people on both sides.

Facebook. I held out on joining Facebook for a long time. Five years ago, it seemed redundant to belong to two social networks, and at that time anyway, almost all of my online friends still focused their attention on Twitter (and if I think about it, most of those original people still do, even though there is a lot of pushing of identical updates from one service to the other).

I gave in in June 2008 (based on my registration email), but it wasn’t until almost a year later that I began using it with gusto (three and a half years ago, as of this post). And I can tell you exactly why I started. At the time, posting photos to Twitter wasn’t as easy as it is now. I found Facebook to be a convenient one-stop shop for posting status updates, photos, and links to important pages I thought you should visit. There wasn’t yet the raft of third-party services that make such things a breeze nowadays. And Facebook held the allure of allowing more than 140 characters (though I admit to feeling a great deal of satisfaction in adhering artfully to the 140-character rule, and I hope Twitter never changes it).

It didn’t take long before I thought of Facebook as my primary outlet. Almost all of my Twitter friends were also on Facebook so I didn’t feel like anybody was missing out on any of my Very Important Posts (in the beginning I was a purist in that I made a conscious effort to not post the same content to both services. Now, not so much so, though, unlike a lot of people, when I post the same content in both places, I manually do the posting rather than have some script or app push it to both places. So I’m still a purist in that small way. But I digress). I also imagine that, indirectly, I have my iPhone to thank as well, with its always present camera and on-board apps for ease of posting. I got in the habit of using Facebook for photos and thus has it remained.

The actual lament. Oh, how times have changed for both services. These days, Facebook and Twitter seem to have evolved into vehicles for promotion. And I don’t have a problem with that. Heaven knows, I follow a bazillion beer breweries and local bars and liquor stores, and TV shows, and news outlets. Who doesn’t like to be informed? 

What’s gone is the personal feel. My friends no longer share the mundane things about their lives. I like it when you say what you ate for breakfast, or that you’d really like a cup of coffee now, or any of ten thousand other trivial things. I miss seeing photos of your mismatched striped socks. There can never be too many photos of your furry sweeties. Are you enjoying a nice meal? Great! Let’s see it and hear about whether the service was great or crappy. Foursquare posts are a pale imitation of the first-person thing, but at least they’re something.

It has probably been three years since I came home with somebody’s phone number from the Twitter cocktail party. That makes me sad. As we have become more focused on the public entities we follow, we have forgotten about the personal connections.

WE HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT THE PERSONAL CONNECTIONS.

Maybe we’re just too busy keeping up with all the third-party information that we let gush into our eyeballs to curate and maintain the personal connections. Maybe we’re too busy trying to project a clever, ironic public persona to actually be genuine anymore. My friend Tori said, “As it gets noisier, people get fewer responses to the things they post in their own voice, so there is a lot less return on the investment of putting yourself out there.” 

Would my life be radically different, or even different, if I didn’t let those third parties clog up my feed? Would yours? Not really. (Well, yes, actually it would be. I’d have more time.) Is my life enhanced, even slightly and therefore quite importantly, by you putting yourself out there? Absolutely. 

I’m afraid this is going to end rather abruptly, because all of sudden I’m very tired. But I’ll leave you with this request: start telling the world about your lunch again, friends!

Going to bed.

Make this soup, I command you

November 27, 2012

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I’ve been eyeing up this recipe of Andrew Zimmern’s, ever since he posted it a day or two before Thanksgiving last week. And I thought, wouldn’t that be delicious as soup? Wild rice soup, in fact. Tonight I finally had time, well, took time because it was 7:30pm when I got started, due to working late. I thought, I’ll whip up the soup in no time (because it’s chopped and sautéed vegetables, white sauce, and meat), have a beer while I’m cooking, then have more beer while I’m eating and watching the last performance show for this season, 14, of Dancing with the Stars*. It will be a perfect evening. And it has been (other than the fact that none of the three different beers I enjoyed managed to get above 5.5% ABV, but at least I drank the tastiest one last). Okay, so the soup took an hour and fifteen minutes from the time I started boiling water for the wild rice until the time I was ladling the finished product into my maw but all in all, that was pretty quick, as cooking from complete scratch goes.

So here’s the link to AZ’s recipe on which I based my creation, and my version is below. I used what I used because that’s what I had lying around. Bon appétit!

Turkey Ham Wild Rice a la King Soup

4 Tbsp butter
1 cup each, chopped: red bell pepper, celery, zucchini, onion
1Tbsp dry tarragon
1Tbsp dry thyme
3 Tbsp flour
3 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup half and half
1 cup cooked turkey, diced
1/2 cup cooked ham, diced
1/2 cup dry wild rice, cooked
salt and pepper to taste
3 dashes of cayenne pepper

In a medium Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the chopped vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Stir in the herbs and flour. Stir to mix well, then stir constantly and cook, for 2 minutes or until the flour starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add the chicken broth, stir to mix well, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, stirring constantly, until starting to thicken, about 2 minutes. Add the half and half and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Add the remaining ingredients and cook until heated. Serve and be amazed!

Makes 6 cups.

*DWTS performance finale thoughts (no spoilers):
1) Is Derek Hough the secret sixth member of the US Olympic gymnastics team? Splits, flips, drops into summersaults, crazy! And with a nagging neck injury.
2) Of course we all want to know if Kelly and Val are doing it. And I hope they are, because she’s about my age** and twice his, and that gives me hope!
3) But when it comes down to it, I want Melissa and Tony to win, because I want Tony to FFFFIIINNNNALLLLYYYYYY win.

**I stand corrected. Kelly is thirteen years younger than I. Oh well.

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It’s not that I’m into Black Friday shopping, or even shopping, but I needed a new sleeping bag winter coat and today was the day I had the time and cash flow to take care of it. So I set off.

Workout

The first stop was at my new workout place. A couple of years ago I wrote about how I loved going to Curves and how I was feeling the most fit I ever have. But that location closed so I transferred to the next closest one which no longer was conveniently on the way home from work, so I didn’t go much. But then that one closed as well, and for the last seven months I’ve been clubless which didn’t really matter since I wasn’t going regularly anyway.

A month ago, I got off my sorry backside and signed up at a different brand of gym that once again is convenient to on the way home from work. I don’t like it  nearly as well as Curves except for the part where something is better than nothing, so I like a lot because I’m working out again and that feels good. Because I’m just easing into it again, I haven’t initially been diligent about pacing myself to get my health insurance-reimbursable twelve workouts in for the month.

But I find myself close enough that I can still make it if I’m diligent for the next seven days, so I stopped there first this noon, even though my hair was still wet from my refreshing morning shower at home. It’s cold so I was wearing a hat anyway today so the wet ponytail part didn’t really matter, and I set myself up with some positive energy for the ugh part of the day, shopping.

I did a little shopping practice run by popping into the bike-slash-coffee shop a couple doors down from the gym to get coffee, and decided to support Small Business Saturday and purchase one of those under-the-helmet hood/face mask things as well. I’ll go back there for lunch pretty soon, too, because the Foursquare tips all say this place has the best soup and sandwich in the neighborhood. But I digress.

Shopping

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MicroCenter. Lucky for me, MicroCenter and Burlington Coat Factory are in the same strip mall. I popped into MicroCenter to get an HDMI iPad cable. Last weekend I discovered (belatedly) the joy of Netflix online. Happy day! Unfortunately though, the G4ness of my old PowerMac that I have hooked up to my TV isn’t acceptable to Netflix. Then I thought, well, I can hook up my iPad.

I found the cable, then found the iPad external keyboards and was dazzled by instant gratification. Had I been paying better attention, I would have comprehended the ramifications of the one I got (Kensington) being just the stand version, not the case version. But I am sitting here at the bar typing this and the keyboard feels great! I am incredibly faster than I have been with the on-screen keyboard, and because a) half the screen is no longer taken up by keyboard and b) I can turn the iPad vertical, c) I can see about four times as much of my pithy prose with the external keyboard, and that also speeds me up and makes it all easier in general. But I think I will trade for the case version of the keyboard. Must look into this online.

Though I didn’t pay attention to stand versus case, I did realize that I was cutting into my coat budget by buying the keyboard in addition to the HDMI cable. But I did it anyway because I was excited to finally get a keyboard for the iPad because (as I think I’ve mentioned here, but maybe not) now that my ancient laptop is on the fritz I’ve been hoping that iPad+keyboard would be an adequate replacement and it looks like it will be.

So I merrily skipped up to the front of the store where I was greeted by reality—the checkout line. But to MicroCenter’s credit, they were ready. All of the regular registers were in operation, and they had three additional, temporary ones going as well. The line that looked like it would take half an hour only took five or six minutes. I stashed my bag in my trunk/boot and walked over to my main objective.

Burlington Coat Factory. A few years ago, I got the best winter supply I’ve ever acquired—my sleeping bag coat. For those of you unfamiliar with “sleeping bag coat” because you live in tropical Silicon Valley or dreary-but-not-frigid England, this is a coat that is puffy and down-filled and which reaches to your knees or below, and has the shape of a potato sack. It is perfect for one such as myself who walks in the winter. My torso is warm enough because I wear multiple shirt layers, and my calves are warm enough because they’re lean, mean, muscle machines. But my thighs, where the flab is thick and the jeans tight, need extra protection.

My existing big coat gave out at the end of last season when the zipper broke. The tailor said it would cost more to repair than to buy a new one, so today, my goal was a new one.

When I was shopping for the old coat fiveish years ago, I was utterly mortified that the one that had the best combination of fit and unsacklikeness was “by” Jennifer Lopez. Well, whatever. There was a little bit of form with the function. It took me an hour to find that one.

Today, I walked in, found my size, and found a coat in a matter of minutes. There were two coats. One was longer and by some “designer” that I’d never heard of, not that that means anything. One was not as long and by Calvin Klein, not that that means anything. The first one, though longer and probably somewhat more preferable in that regard, looked like fat-drapery. The Calvin Klein coat, though only just to my knees, actually had some tailoring, and I figured it was probably made in China a little bit better than the other one was. It was cut well and had comfortable room for my currently expanded torso regions (beer belly and beer boobs, sad but true). I chose it.

Unfortunately, due to my iPad keyboard transgression at MicroCenter, I had to settle with putting the coat on layaway until next weekend after I’ve received another paycheck. But at least I don’t have to think about shopping anymore. And, as at MicroCenter, Burlington Coat Factory was geared up for business with competent employees and it was all-in-all also an alright experience.

The Four Firkins. If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you know that I love beer. If you’re a local friend, you will be horrified to learn that today was the first time that I have been to the new Four Firkins. By “new,” I mean they’ve been open at their different, larger store for over a year. Their former location was kitty-corner from one of my bowling alleys so it was less inconvenient to my usual activities to go there. Anyway, MicroCenter and Burlington Coat Factory are across the street, so today, finally, I stopped in to see Alvey and his awesome crew in their awesome store. Just fantastic. I mixed and matched a six-pack of beers I haven’t had, except for the Fuller’s ESB. I’ve had that. I love Fuller’s.

Eating

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This is what the day boiled down to, besides getting (putting on layaway) my coat. I learned last night that the new restaurant of one of my favorite food trucks, World Street Kitchen, was soft-opening this weekend, so stopping there on my way home from horrible shopping was to be my reward. Only the shopping wasn’t so horrible, so really, it was just the frosting on the cake. The menu is expanded from the truck plus they have adult beverages.

I was tickled that both brothers Wadi, Saed and Sameh, excitedly greeted me. I had the shrimp po’ boy, which is new to the truck menu, and crispy chick peas and a Summit Säga, and then a second Summit Säga. Bonus, 25% off for opening weekend. I felt loved.

Drinking/Blogging

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So here I am, testing my new iPad keyboard at the bar. I can confidently say that it has allowed me to write with more pace and accuracy than the on-screen keyboard did, despite the beers I’ve been trying (and I’ve tried all new ones here at Acadia). The external keyboard is definitely the way to go with an iPad, and once I get the case version I think the set-up will take over nicely from a small laptop such as my (once again) G4 iBook, as I had hoped, and that’s a good thing.

Conclusion

It is not lost on me that any one of these sections is long enough to have been an entry in its own right. Thanks for hanging with me if you did. Now I shall try out the iPad HDMI on a movie called “The Christmas Bunny.” You read that right.
Watertower_weather

I feel like I might have mentioned this before in my blogging life, but I’m really glad that the desk I sit at for eight hours a day affords me a window view. And I’ve been having lots of fun with that view via my #watertowerweather series on Instagram.

This I know I’ve mentioned, that at one point in college, I was a meteorology major until the actual science got in the way. But my fascination with the weather has never waned. My work window faces the direction from which the weather comes and Instagram has been providing an outlet for the ever changing views that I’m privy to. In addition, a building in that view has a throwback watertower on the roof, and that has become the framing device for my Instagram photos.

Media_httpspydersdenf_wgghw

As I am writing this, I have going on the television Part 1 of the new Ken Burns documentary, “The Dust Bowl.” I was going to turn it off because, though the photos are dramatic, I haven’t heard anything in the narration that isn’t depressing or despairing, and that’s depressing and despairing. But then I decided that I should leave it on (even if it is uncomfortable) and perhaps add a crumb to my woefully lacking knowledge of American history, particularly from the last one hundred years. I learn a little about the World Wars from the shows on Masterpiece Theatre, but that’s not from an American perspective.

One of the women interviewed for the program, who was a child at the time, related that they knew that “we were being visited by Oklahoma today or we were being visited by New Mexico today” because the dirt from each place was a different color. (1)

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There was also a “plague of rabbits” when their natural coyote predators were wiped out, The landowners would round up the jackrabbits and cull them, pretty much by grabbing them and clubbing their heads. I perked up when I heard the rabbits part but was rather repulsed by the footage of what happened subsequently. (2)

The Dust Bowl program put in perspective my recreational and harmless views out my office window. The approaching weather is certainly dramatic sometimes, particularly in the summer (especially that one time when a nascent tornado passed across our building), but it will never be the horror of an approaching “black blizzard.”

(1) Dust storm photo is from spydersden’s blog article, which provides a good, short overview of the crisis.

(2) Jackrabbit images are screen captures from the Ken Burns PBS documentary “The Dust Bowl.” I suspect it’s all public domain footage, but I’ll cite it anyway.