Homer's Travels: July 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Downtown Walkabout

I miss hiking.  Since it is a little too hot for hiking and I'm not ready to venture out on the Nebraska trails yet, I decided to start with an urban walkabout.  My first destination: Downtown Omaha and the Old Market district.

I parked near the Old Market and headed north.  I reached the main drag of the Old Market and turned away from it and made my way towards the Riverfront area of Omaha.  my walk took me through Heartland Of America park a pond/lake surrounded by parkland, military memorials, and gardens.  The water is showcased by an impressive fountain.

The park trails connect to a boardwalk that leads to the Lewis & Clark Landing.  Along here were memorials dedicated to Labor and unions.  The trail ended at the Midwest National Park Service headquarters.  The trail ends because of construction and I am looking forward to the completion of what they are building: the Missouri River Pedestrian Bridge.  The bridge is an 'S' shape suspension bridge that connect Omaha to a wooded parkland area of Council Bluffs.  As I stood there looking over at the woods on the other side of the river all I could think was I can't wait to walk through those trees.  Of course there's nothing stopping me from just driving over there but for some reason I want to save it until I can cross the bridge.  The park will have to wait for the bridge's completion this November.

I was getting hungry so I started looking for some food.  Nearby was Rick's Cafe Boatyard.  The place reminded me a lot of the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego.  The only difference was the building is square instead of round.  I headed that way but had second thoughts.  The place looked pretty snazzy and I looked down at my shirt which was drenched in sweat and decided I probably would feel uncomfortable walking in there like I was, so I turned around and followed a pedestrian bridge towards the Qwest center looking for something a little less formal.  I will return to Rick's with the Wife sometime, I'm sure.

The front of the Qwest center was covered in scaffolding where workers were repairing wind damage suffered during last month's freaky storm.  The workers took advantage of one of the statues in front to help hold up the scaffolding (not really but it looked that way).  The statues, spheres, and clock in front of the center are pretty cool.

I decided to have lunch at The Old Mattress Factory Bar & Grill.  I'd eaten there once before during the Olympic Swim Trials.  I'd planned on eating somewhere new in the Old Market but, since I wasn't in the Old Market and my stomach was insistent, I decided to eat there again.  The place is a typical sports bar in an old Mattress Factory.  They cater to the Qwest center attendees.  I went to the men's room and splashed some water on my face and dried some of the sweat off.  The food was pretty good and really gave me a boost.

The rest of the afternoon took me by Pioneer Memorials, buildings old and new, music venues, art house movie theaters, and more.  I'm not exactly sure how far I walked yesterday.  I was going to use the Wife's pedometer but I couldn't get it to work and walking with my GPS was just too Geeky, even for me.  So I looked at a map and I estimate that I walked somewhere between 4.5 and 5 miles.  During those miles, I'm guessing I sweated a couple gallons.  I looked at other people on the street and they all looked as fresh as daises.  My body just isn't used to this heat and humidity yet.

After walking along the water, the un-holy phosphorescent green water, of Gene Leahy Mall, I decided it was time for ice cream (I'm predictable, ain't I).  I headed into the old market area and spotted two ice cream places right across the street from each other.  One was Ted & Wally's Ice Cream (Voted best in Omaha).  The other was Maggie Moos (think Coldstone Creamery or Marble Slab).  I chose Maggie Moos mainly because it was on the same side of the street that I was on.  I had Better Batter ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough chunks.  Very good.  Extremely good.  Hit the spot multiple times.

After ice cream, I was done.  I had no more sweat to sweat.  I headed back to the car and cranked the AC on the way home.  I took some pictures which can be found here.

Despite the heat and sweat, I enjoyed my first foray downtown.  Omaha's downtown is walkable.  It has variety.  It will need several more trips down there to take it all in. Next time though I wait for cooler weather or make sure I carry a sweat rag.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

TV: The History Detectives ... And Mayan Artifacts

For all you history buffs out there, I would like to recommend PBS' History Detectives (Usually Monday nights, check your local listings). The show's been on since 2003. I can't remember where I heard about the show but I've been hooked from the first episode. Why? I strange coincidence.

The show consists of three stories. A team investigate historical mysteries sent by the viewers. Some of them are quite fascinating. I guess deep down there is a little history geek trying to get out.

Now for the strange coincidence. The first episode covered a story of a small stone face. The stone face was found on a Jersey beach that turned out to be an Aztec relic over 1,800 years old. This reminded me of something from my childhood. Back in the 70s my family moved to Guatemala where my Dad farmed Cotton, Corn, and Sorghum. The farm, name Esperancita or A Little Hope in Spanish, was located near the Pacific coast of the country. During my exploration of the farm pieces of pottery were found that we called artifacts. We believed that they were probably Mayan in origin but we really didn't have any way to confirm their origin or age. When I moved back to the States, I brought some of the best back with me.

After seeing the episode I dug through my stuff and found the artifacts. I'd forgotten exactly what I had so I was surprised when I found a small stone face. Below is my artifact and you can see it is similar to the one on the History Detectives.

My artifact is obviously not as high quality as the one found in New Jersey but it is similar. Makes me wonder if it's almost 2,000 years old like the one of the show.

I have posted pictures of my other artifacts here. Note that the faces are missing noses - statuary and paintings were often defaced by invaders to rid them of vengeful spirits. Another interesting one is the animal hind quarters. What interests me is the fact that Maya did not have any domesticated animals with curly fur or wool. The nearest such animal would have been a South American llama. It is possible that this is a sheep. If it is then it dates the artifact sometime after the arrival of the Spanish and thus less then 500 years old.

The wheel (I have several of these) is thought to be either a toy wheel or part of a loom. The Maya didn't use the wheel for transportation but there is some evidence of using them as toys. They could also be decorations of some sort.

All the artifacts that we found were pottery. A story went around the farm that a mirgrant worker had found a gold statuette on the farm once but we never found out if it was true or not.

Are my artifacts really Mayan? I have no idea. They could be ... well 30 - 40 years old but I like to think they really are old with some cool story attached to them. Maybe I should write a letter to the History Detectives.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Movie: Batman: The Dark Knight

I've had a few people ask what I thought of Batman: The Dark Knight.  I guess putting a review on Homer's Travels may be a quick way to answer everyone at once.

The Wife and I went to the IMAX version of the Dark Knight last Wednesday.  I really liked Batman Begins and, with all the hype around the late Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker, my expectations were pretty high.  The fact that the IMAX tickets cost $12.50 a piece made it more imperative that I would enjoy the movie.  Fortunately, all in all, I enjoyed the movie.

The Dark Knight is a great sequel to Batman Begins.  The main character is not Batman but the Joker.  I guess this is a given for Superhero movie sequels.  The hero always stays the same but the villain is always new.  The novelty of the enemy de jour often makes them more interesting.  Ledger's portrayal is near perfect.  The Joker is a dark, chaotic, insane, and devious genius.  A perfect opposite and opponent for the Batman.  I had thought that Jack Nicholson's portrayal in 1989 would never be topped.  After seeing the Dark Knight and reading other reviews, I have to agree with some that Nicholson's Joker was Jack Nicholson.  Ledger's Joker was the Joker.

Most of the superhero movies now a days have more than one villain.  The Dark Knight is no different with a brief cameo of Batman Begins' Scarecrow and Harvey "Two Face" Dent.  Two Face, like the Joker, is a much darker version in this movie.

The movie, like it's predecessor, is dark.  Much darker than the 1990's versions.  Light years beyond the comical television interpretations.  Makes me wonder about something.  Why are they becoming darker?  Is it a reflection of the world around us?  It's kind of strange how the dirtier and decrepit a movie setting is, the more 'real' it feels.  Is this a reflection of how we see the world around us or am I just reading way too much into this?  I'm probably reading too much into this.   

I enjoyed the movie except for one small detail.  At 152 minutes it's a little too long.  When you think it should be ending, the movie takes a turn and something else starts.  Not necessarily a bad thing but too much of a good thing ...

Was the IMAX experience worth it?  Good question.  The whole film was not filmed in IMAX, only portions.  Frankly I couldn't tell when it was IMAX and when it wasn't.  All I could tell was that it looks great on a large IMAX screen.  I'm glad I paid to see the IMAX but, if I'd seen it on a regular screen before seeing it on IMAX, I don't think I would have enjoyed the high price as much.

The Dark Knight was pretty good.  I'm not sure I would put it in any top 10 list but it's up there in the list of entertaining films.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Lump Is A Lump ... On The Couch

Early in the wee hours of the morning ... 4:00 AM to be exact ... I took the Wife to Eppley Airfield so she could catch her flight to New York.  She is attending an  Ellis Island workshop on immigration and health.  During the week attendees will be visiting parts of Ellis Island that are not open to the public.  She even gets to wear a hardhat.  Very cool.  She will be allowed to take pictures but they can not be made public - i.e. no pictures on for Homer's Travels and none for Flickr.

While the Wife is in New York, Homer and I are trying to figure out what to do with ourselves.  I've been imitating Homer most of the day.  By that I mean sitting on the couch like a lump.  Then again, a lump is a little more animated than I've been.  What I've been telling myself is that I need a day of sloth to get me motivated to actually get out and do something.  Yeah.  Right.

I do have a few household chores and minor home fixes that I need to do.  I hope to mix some exploration of Omaha in there as well.  I have a few fans who seem to think I don't post enough so I'll try to post some more (try being the operative word there).

Now, if I could only get Homer off the couch so I could stretch out ...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Little Pink Ponies ... For You And Me

That "J", she's so funny.  I received a birthday present from her yesterday.  A bag of Dark Chocolate (my favorite), a toilet shaped candy dispenser (Where my mind often goes, Heh), and the following card:

That card is so seriously twisted.  It is so twisted that it makes me smile.  That's the best gift a person could get.  To top it off, she packed it all in a box full of Ghost Turds (Styrofome peanuts).  Who could ask for anything more.  Thank you "J".

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Mysterious Mysteries of Jell-O

I like Jell-O.  There.  I said it.  I really like Jell-O.  The Wife makes fun of me but I still like Jell-O.  What's wrong with liking Jell-O?!?  I don't know.

Anyway, I have a mystery.  My favorite Jell-O is orange with mandarin oranges.  In my youth and on into my college years, I remember the mandarin oranges floating at the top of the Jell-O.  When Mom used to make it the oranges floated.  When the Mother-In-Law makes it, the oranges float.  When I used to make it in California, the mandarin oranges would sit, lifeless on the bottom of the bowl.  I had concluded the issue was the altitude.  Our Oxnard home was at 15 feet elevation.  Omaha is around 1,000 feet.  So, when it was time to make some Jell-O for the dinner we're having with Mom and "E" tonight, I was looking forward to lively mandarin oranges happily floating on the top of the Jell-O.  It was not to be.  To quote Bones: "They're dead, Jim."

If any of you know why my oranges don't float, let me know in the comments.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Thanks To Everyone For Everything

Thank you to everyone who sent me cards for my Birthday (Mom & E, Mom & Dad-in-law, the Wife, and my favorite Uncle & Aunt [Hope you're having fun in Alaska!]).  I will try to use my gifts wisely and not for evil.
I find it hard to believe that I'm 45.  I used to think that was old but, Hey! 45 is the new 35, right!?!  I sure hope so.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Avatar Vs. The Blues ... Music That Is

I originally had plans to go to the Lewis & Clark Landing, a park area along the Missouri River where Lewis & Clark landed in 1804, to attend a free concert tonight.  The concert, the first of a series of three call Playing With Fire, showcased Blues and Blues Rock artists.  I am not very familiar with the Blues genre and I thought this would be a good way to get my toes wet.  Then I looked at my new weather station.

This afternoon it began forecasting rain.  Now, the loal weather wonks said that the rain would stay to the north and east of us so I doubted that the event would be rained out.  A little rain would never kill me either. Even so, I now had doubts about the concert.

Then I turned on the TV and realized that there was an Avatar: The Last Airbender marathon that included many episodes that I'd never seen before including the never before aired grand finale.  So I sat there debating myself.  Avatar.  Free concert.  Cartoons.  Blues.  I was torn in so many ways.  I could always record Avatar.  But I didn't recognize any of the acts.  The house was comfortable.  Outside would be uncomfortable.  The concerts were a new experience.  There were two other Blues concerts that I could go to in August and September.

I got up off the couch and went into the Kitchen for a snack and checked the weather station again.  It still said rain was on it's way but that's not what caught my attention.  The Heat Index was approaching 100°F.  Heat.  Humidity.  Mugginess.  Bugs.  The cartoons were looking more and more attractive.  I made the decision there and then that I wasn't leaving the house.

About half way through the five and a half hours of the adventures of Aang, the last airbender, I checked the heat index again.  104°F.  I thought I made the right decision.

So that's how I spent my day, watching Aang defeat his own inner doubts and fulfilling his destiny of defeating the Fire Lord and bringing the world back into balance, ending the 100 year war, and bringing peace to all.

As I write this I wonder if I really did make the right decision.  I always complain about missing opportunities and the concert was an opportunity to experience something new.  Instead I found an excuse for not doing it.  I always have these doubts when I plant my a$$ on the couch instead of going out.  And I always wonder if watching cartoons is appropriate for someone turning 45.

I think it's time for me to sit down and make a plan ... and stick to it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The New Weather Station ... Bigger Than My Head

Now that we've moved back to the Midwest, the weather is a much more important topic. In Oxnard, there was very little variation in the weather and when it did change, it rarely resulted in a change in our activities. In Nebraska, watching the weather is a critical necessity when planning any outdoor activity.

While I have been interested in weather for awhile, mostly because it involves data, the Wife has a much deeper knowledge about the weather than I. I have been known, to her chagrin, to refer to the Wife as the Weather Wench. I'm sure this is a result of her growing up in the Midwest. My nine years out of the country and almost 21 years in California has dulled my weather sense.

To correct for that, and at the urging of the Wife, I bought a weather station. I got a pretty good deal on E-Bay. It arrived yesterday. I was planning to wait a while before putting it up but, as I sat on the couch watching junk on TV this afternoon, I realized that I might as well install it. (The Wife predicted that I couldn't resist putting it up and she was right.) It was either this or cleaning the house. The dirt won't go anywhere but the weather ... it's a changin'!

The Wife had called me last night and when I told here that the station had arrived, she asked how big the outdoor sensor was. I was having trouble describing it and she asked: "Is it bigger than your head?" Well, actually ... it is bigger than my head. As a matter of fact it was much larger than I expected. I went to Home Depot and bought some pipe and mounted it to our back fence. I ended up going to Lowes because I came up one pipe short - D'Oh. I decided to punish my carelessness by going through the Dairy Queen drive through and buying a large ice cream cone.

The weather station is a Davis Instruments Vantage Pro 2. The outdoor sensor measures temperature, humidity, wind direction & speed, and rain fall. The unit shows all that plus barometric pressure, dew point, heat index, wind chill, rain rate, and more. A data lovers dream. It has a small solar panel to keep the batteries charged and talks to the console using frequency hopping spread spectrum. What more could a gadget lover want.

The unit can be connected to a computer but the software costs over $180 which seems a little steep. Since I'm too cheap to buy the software, I won't be posting weather data on Homer's Travels anytime soon. (Sorry to disappoint.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Month In Our Home

It's hard to believe that we've been in this house for a month now.  Time flies ... and there are still boxes to unpack.

We've been pretty lucky with our house.  We like it very much.  It's perfect for us.  It's in a near perfect location.  And we made our offer after walking through for less than 15 minutes.  That is a big no-no when house hunting.

I like most of the house.  The only thing that's bothering me are the bathrooms.  Our house in Oxnard had tricked out bathrooms remodeled to our specifications.  The bathrooms in our new house are OK but they aren't ... ours yet.

The Wife's on her way to Minneapolis where she will visit with the Matron of Honor and Best Man.  The MoH and the Wife will be going to a Neil Diamond concert on Saturday.  I'm a little jealous but someone has to stay behind with Homer.  After all the moving - first to a hotel in Ventura, then hotels in Las Vegas and Rifle, then the Loon Whisper's home for two nights, then the new house, and finally the trip to Lake Cornelia - Homer needs some stability.  He's still a little freaked out and clingy.  The storms we had a couple nights ago (over 3 inches of rain in 2 - 3 hours and non-stop thunder for at least an hour), and the ones we're having right now, aren't helping.  Homer is currently hiding in the master bathroom.

I think my next step is to get the bike ready and start riding.  The movers removed both the front and the rear tires.  I've got them back on but the breaks seemed to be out of alignment.  When I finally get it in shape I'll check out the nearby bike trails and see if I can get myself in shape.  I have a lot of preparation before next summers Ragbrai.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I've Been Published ... Sort Of

One of my pictures has been published on a travel website.  I was contacted by the photo editor of Home & Abroad and asked if they could use it.  No money was discussed or exchanged but, who knows, a little free exposure doesn't hurt.  You can see the photo here.  It's one of the pictures I took at Malibu Creek State Park last year.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Food: Lisa's Radial Cafe

Lisa's Radial Cafe
817 N 40th St, Omaha, Nebraska

For the past few weeks, after the Wife and I have gone to mass on Sunday morning, we've been having brunch at Lisa's Radial Cafe. The Radial Cafe, the oldest cafe in Omaha according to the cover of their menu, is named after the nearby radial highway.

We've eaten there three times since we've moved here and I can say the food is not only delicious but affordable as well. I've had "the Works" twice and French Toast once.  (The Works consists of 2 Eggs, hash browns, a choice of meats [Great Ham], and toast.)  Wonderful. Good sized portions that don't make you feel like you're going to explode but instead sit there right where you want them. My only complaint about the food, only a minor complaint, is the orange juice. Tastes like it came out of a bottle, not fresh squeezed.

The place has a nice homey ambiance. Original art on the walls. Cool old stuff decorating the room. Very interesting and comfortable. Someone said it was a nice place to slow down and I would agree.  The clientele are surprisingly young in my opinion.  Most in their twenties or early thirties.  Also predominantly men.  (The Wife says we'll have to bring the "J" here when she visits.)

Service is pretty good. Our first two times we were seated immediately and had our food in a timely fashion. The third time (last Sunday) we had to wait for about 15 minutes to be seated and the food took about a half hour. The food was worth the wait. They have a waiting room in the back that's supposed to have free coffee and TV but I've never been back there opting to wait out front on the comfy benches to watch the people go by.

This family owned restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch. They only take cash so be prepared (there is an ATM in the place in case you forget).

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Music: The Good Life, Juana Molina, And Feist - Free Concert In The Park

On Saturday I decided to check out the free concert at Omaha's Memorial Park. The park get's its named after the World War II memorial built at the top of the park.

The concerts were going to start at 6:00 PM and, not being sure how crowded it would become, I showed up around 4:30. Turns out I was too early. There were a few people staking out spots on the grass but it turned out that most of the crowd didn't show up until after the concerts had started. I bought myself a hot dog and some lemonade and found a nice spot between the sound booth and the stage to set up my camp chair.

I was flying solo on this mission. The Wife decided not to go with me. She was not familiar with any of the acts and frankly just didn't feel like going. This was fine with me. You don't have to feel like doing everything that comes your way.
As I waited for the show to start I finished my dog and drink listening to the sound checks and stage preparation. I watched people come in. I wondered about a few who were wearing long pants and sweaters on this 80 degree day (Later that night I would understand all too well). There was little shade and, since the stage faced east, the audience faced the setting sun. The sun was really beating down and I cursed whoever set up the stage that way. Fortunately I had sunglasses and my Tilley hat. I think I was the only person there in a Tilley. Either I'm fashion forward or I looked like a dork - don't know which and I don't want to know.

Being Nebraska in the summer, I'd sprayed myself with bug spray before I came to the park. I needn't have bothered. The bugs didn't bother me all night because of all the clouds of bug spray being applied in the crowd ... upwind from where I was sitting ... cough cough. Between the bug spray and the cigarette smoke I'm amazed that I'm alive. I was really used to no bugs and no smoking in California.

The first act started playing at 6:15. They were a local Omaha band called The Good Life. They were OK but they didn't thrill me much. The lead singer, Tim Kasher, seemed to think that singing loudly was the equivalent to singing well. Note to self: Bring earplugs to next concert. The melodies were fine but there really wasn't anything really catchy there. Not enough to inspire me to buy a CD anyway. Ho-Hum. It didn't help that the Kasher reminded me of Keanu Reeves.
The second act was more interesting in my opinion. Juana Molina, an Argentine singer, mixed live sampling of her voice, acoustic guitar, and keyboard to create a complex musical experience. She sang in her native tongue, Spanish, and joked that she couldn't do anything about that but that the audience could imagine she was singing the best lyrics ever written ... and they would be right. Ha. While I found her music and style to be intriguing, the repetitive nature of the melodies, background vocals, and harmonies, a byproduct of her methodologies, turned me off.

After the second act the Sun dropped behind the trees and I immediately understood the jackets and long pants. It got amazingly cold amazingly fast. I'm sure it really wasn't all that cold but my body just isn't used to swings from the 80s to the 60s yet. As I was waiting for the third act I started getting goosebumps on my legs and I was becoming uncomfortable. Add on top of that there was a full hour between act two and three and I was starting to get irritated.

The third act, the feature of the night, was Feist. I have to admit that I've been intrigued by Feist. She has been suggested by friends, it was on several best of 2007 lists, and Amazon.com seemed to think that I might also like her. I'd listened to snippets of a few of her songs but I didn't hear anything that really grabbed me. When I saw that she was performing in Omaha and it was FREE I decided this would be the opportunity for me to satisfy my curiosity and to once and for all decide if I should buy her CD. I was underwhelmed. Again, like the other three acts, she was OK but there just wasn't any 'wow' there. The only good song was "1234" made famous by the Apple commercial.

I did find one thing interesting. Images were projected on the backdrop during Feist's performance. The images were created live. It was kind of like overhead projector art. The art performer is the person on the left of this picture. Leave it to me to go to a concert and be distracted by the special effects - heh.

Just before Feist's last song I decided I'd had enough. I folded up my chair and started heading up the hill to the exit. I checked out the shirts but didn't find anything of interest. Just before I left Feist was starting on the first song of her encore. By the time I got to the car she was on her second encore song. This was the first time I left a concert before it was over. Part of that might have been because it was free and I wasn't out anything if I left early. Another part was that I was a little uncomfortable and wanted to warm up. I guess the fact I did leave early says something about my interest in Feist - I ain't got any.

Pictures of Memorial Park and the concerts can be found here.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Squatter Update

I thought I would update everyone on the squatters under out deck.  Of the four blue Robin's eggs, three hatched.  Of the three little featherless babies, two appear to have survived long enough to leave the nest.  I went out to check on them this afternoon and the nest was empty.  One of the toddlers was sitting on the fence with Mama Robin nearby.  Another was near our hammock with Papa Robin.  Mama and Papa were none too happy with us being out on the Deck with Homer. 

The Wife took Homer outside and he sniffed one of the babies before deciding he was not impressed and walked away.  Fortunately, Homer came back in before Mama Robin decided to go all kamikaze on his butt.

Here are all the pictures I took of the noisy family.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy Anniversary!!!!

It's our wedding anniversary (#11) today. This year we managed to be in the same state, WOO HOO!!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Don't Look A Gift Boat In The Stern

Back in April, on our way to King Fongs, we passed an antique store.  In the window I saw an old, wooden, toy boat.  I thought it looked cool and mentioned that to the Wife.

Yesterday the Wife went to King Fongs with our friend the "H" (She visited with her friend, the "K", last summer).  I knew something was up when I asked if I could go and she said it was going to be "just us girls."  When she came back she had a box and told me not to look at it.  OK, I thought, she bought my boat.  She took the box to the bedroom, told me to close my eyes, and then put it on the fireplace mantel.  She then told me to look.  I turned and saw ... the wrong boat.
The boat that I'd seen was a motor boat.  On the mantel was a sail boat.  A very cool sail boat.  The Wife was very disappointed that she'd bought the wrong boat.  You can't blame her since I never really pointed out the actual boat to the Wife.  It was an honest and easy mistake.  I tried to tell her that I liked the sail boat too but I don't think she really believed me.

The boat is a Star Yacht, made by a british company.  This style of boat was built since 1945, though we think it's probably not that old.  It is guaranteed to float.  I don't think I'll try to prove that though.  It belongs in our den or maybe it will stay on the mantel - it looks good there.

 The boat is an early birthday present and I like it very much. Thank you to the Wife.  I'm a lucky man.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Lake Cornelia

Last weekend the Wife, Homer, and I got in the car and headed to Lake Cornelia to visit in in-law's lake house.  Homer was the star ... for about two seconds.  That is when we saw Sophie.  The Wife's brother TI and family had a new puppy named Sophie and, like all puppies, was the cutest thing in the world, yes she was.  Homer wasn't fazed by her cutitude and pretty much ignored her and took a liking to some of her toys instead.  He latched on to Tiger and just walked around aimlessly taking in all the new sights.  Eventually Sophie got brave and started bouncing at Homer.  Homer wasn't sure what to make of her.

The weather on the 5th was perfect.  The day was spent eating, drinking, enjoying the annual fourth of July boat parade (the Father-In-Law, with the help of the Wife, TE, the nieces, and the nephew, came in second place, winning the $20 prize and a new horseshoes set), and watched the fireworks.  While Homer handled the Omaha fireworks with ease, the more intimate (i.e. louder) venue was too much for him.  One loud boom inspired Homer to run out of the front gate and down the middle of the road.  Fortunately the Wife caught him and we put him in the house.  He walked fast, but did not run, from room to room looking for, but never finding, a safe place to hide.  He eventually found a bedroom to sit and pant loudly in.  CA, TI's wife, sat with Homer and Sophie and helped calm the poor guy down.  Thank you CA.

On Sunday things wound down.  People started to leave after finishing the leftovers.  We left a little early to see if we could beat the rain.  We managed to get home without encountering any rain.

This will certainly become an annual thing for us now that we are so close.  Another reason we moved to the Midwest.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Surrounded By Fireworks

From our deck we have sweeping views to the east. Tonight, the fourth of July, American Independence day, there were fireworks all around us. It was amazing. Starting at 9:30 PM, everywhere you looked on the horizon, flashes of colored lights burst in the air. It was fantastic. I even managed to get some pictures.

Happy 4th of July Everyone!!

P.S. Homer took the fireworks well. He's finally calming down and becoming a big brave dog.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Splash Of Breaking Records

A few of you may know that sports do not interest me much.  Oh, I'll watch a playoff game, super bowl, or world series every so often but that's pretty much it.  There has been one exception over the years - the Olympics.

Every two years (every four years when I was a kid) I would try to watch as much as possible.  As I've grown older, I have watched less.  Maybe this year it will be different.  The Olympics is dominated by individual sports.  I think the idea of an individual succeeding instead of a team is much more appealing to me.  I guess that doesn't make me much of a team player.  I do miss the days when the athletes were all amateurs.  Introducing professionals, in my opinion, weakened the appeal of the games.

What does this have to do with anything?  Some of you may know that the Olympic swimming trials are being held in Omaha.  Last night we went to one of the events.  We first heard about the trials from the Wife's brother TE.  TE volunteered at the Atlanta Games and, this year, he's volunteered for the Olympic swimming trials.  He is staying at our place, our first house guest, while he works at the trials.  (TE is not the first of the Wife's family to visit - The Wife's other brother, TI, stopped by a week and a half ago while he waited for his daughter to fly in from Phoenix.)  Here is TE, up on a catwalk high in the Qwest center signing that he's number one.

Before the event we went out to eat with TE.  We decided to try out a nearby brewpub in the old market district of Omaha.  The pub, the Upstream Brewing Company,  had some good food and a good variety of home brewed beers.  In a way, this was a trial run for when the beer nuts, the Best Man and Matron of Honor, come to visit.  I think they'll like it.

We picked up our tickets and found our seats.  We were at the turn-around end of the pool (I'm sure there's some technical name for that end of the pool but I don't know what it is).  We ended up seeing 10 races which included two new world record times (Natalie Coughlin and Aaron Peirsol - both in the 100m backstroke).  I took lots of pictures (over 130) but I discovered that I'm not a very good swimming action photographer.  I did get a few pictures worth posting including this one of Michael Phelps doing the Butterfly.

For the gadget freaks out there, and I know you're there, there was one at the trials.  We were seated right behind the award ceremony platform.  Above, and slightly behind, the platform was what I would describe as a water dot matrix printer.  The long bar of boxes dropped streams of water that were dyed green and illuminated.  The streams were controlled by computerized valves so that letters and graphics could be generated with the water.  Our vantage point, from the back, was not the best but I did get a closeup picture of the Digital Water.  It was cool to watch as the letters and Olympic symbols seemed to stretch as they left the 'printer'.

I look forward to watching the Beijing games later this summer.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I'm In The New Yorker?!?

The Best Man sent me this cartoon. His e-mail implied that it reminds him of the Wife and I. I don't get the resemblance*.

* - Just kidding!