Sunday, April 23, 2006

Heading for the Windy City

I'm off for a week long trip to Chicago tomorrow (after a one night stop over at my father-in-law's which is on the way.) Heidi's going to the Chicago North RWA Spring Fling Writers' Conference next weekend, and we decided, what the heck, let's make a week out of it since we didn't make it to Europe like we'd originally wanted to this year. I'm excited to go even though it's one hell of a long drive from here. I'm most excited to take my daughter to all the museums because she's old enough now to appreciate them. We're also going to go to the John Hancock observatory -- I asked Anna if she wanted to go to the top of a tall building and she said "But Daddy, I don't want to climb that building like King Kong!!" Kids.

I'm also excited because we're going to go see Jennifer Crusie at the book signing for Don't Look Down on Thursday night. I can't wait to tell her how great her book is.

I'll probably blog some from Chicago this week as the hotel has free wireless, so I might as well take advantage of it.

Nuclear nightmares

No, I'm not having dreams of nuclear war again, but I found an absolutely amazing set of photos via Metafilter. It's called Nuclear Nightmares: 20 Years Since Chernobyl and words can't really describe how the photos made me feel. They are incredible photos, but they are also disturbing photos. Chernoby occurred during a time that I wasn't really conscious of a lot of the news going on in the world (I was an early teenager and just wasn't paying attention.) But this makes you sit up and take notice.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Dolly and her leg

I know, laziest blog post ever. But does Dolly even have control of that leg of hers?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Worst. Winter. Ever.

For being sick, that is. I'm on the tail end of yet another plague of unknown origin -- and I can't even pin this one on my daughter! It all started on Saturday morning when I woke up and was sneezing and coughing. I figured it was my allergies because we were in Washington and when you go just that much farther south, there's just that much more in blood vs. here in Ames. So I resigned myself to a little bit of misery until we went back home that night. Trouble was, I didn't get any better by the time we got back. And what was worse, it had been raining all evening, which usually takes all the pollen out of the air so I started to wonder.

Sunday we ended up going down to Petsmart in Ankeny, and I tell ya, that about wiped me out. And by the time the afternoon got here, I had all the classic flu signs -- coughing, low grade temp, myalgias, shivers. It really wasn't fair because I've already done the flu once this winter and I really didn't think I needed a second helping. I started watching Jarhead later that night, but had to go to bed when there was only half an hour left because I was just feeling that crappy.

So I had Monday off because I'd taken a vacation day, but it was the worst sick I've been in a long time. When I first woke up, I thought I was feeling better -- so much so that I got up and took Anna to preschool, but after that, I came back and crashed. Watched the last little bit of Jarhead and then watch War of the Worlds. Seriously, sitting on the couch was all I could do. I was alternately cold and hot, my eyes burned, I was seriously uncomfortable. Midafternoon I took my temperature and it was almost 103! I can't tell you the last time I ran a fever like that. I knew even then that there was no way I'd be able to work today.

And sure enough, I woke up this morning around 5 AM and called in because all the myalgias and coughing and crap were still there. But as of now, I'm starting to feel a little better, but I'm still trying to take it easy. We're off to Chicago next week, and like I want to be sick for that!!

But after all this, you'd think I'd be immune to avian flu. Oh and mumps too. Definitely don't want that either.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Tornado Flickr photo set

I've uploaded my photos that I took of the tornado destruction in Iowa City. They're certainly not as good as the ones that you can get from the media outlets here in Iowa, but let's just say it was something to be in it.

Dan's Flickr Photo Set of the tornado.

Friday, April 14, 2006

More tornado pictures

Heidi and I went up to Iowa City this afternoon -- mostly because we'd been planning on it, but also, admittedly, to gawk.

My brother-in-law has put up some tornado stuff. Click here to access it. In the meantime, here's some pictures of storm damage and other storm related stuff (none of it, unfortunately, was taken by me, I gakked it from around the web, especially the Iowa City Press-Citizen, KCRG and University of Iowa's web site.)


This is the sight over Iowa City last night. And apparently, the downtown looks like a war zone. We were traveling from Ames to Washington last night and had to go by Iowa City to get there, and it's a good thing we left late or we'd have driven right into that.

More stuff here.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Las Vegas, here were come

Well, we booked our flight to Las Vegas to see the Confessions Tour last night. Despite what many people at work told me, I could find neither outrageously inexpensive airfare to Las Vegas nor a direct flight from Des Moines. So we ended up paying about $300 a piece for airfare. We're leaving Des Moines at 7:22 AM on Saturday morning, May 27th with a connecting flight in Chicago. We'll get to Vegas around noon on Saturday. The concert isn't until 8PM, so we'll have plenty of time to take in the Vegas strip, and since the MGM Grand is on the strip, we'll be right there so no worries. And rather than book a hotel, Jeff and I will be hopping a 12:40 AM flight from Las Vegas to Dallas-Ft. Worth early Sunday morning -- getting back to Des Moines around 8:30AM on Sunday. So we'll spend a grand total of 12 hours or so in Vegas, but I'm not really a gambler so who really cares. We're going to see the concert, not gamble.

I'm not sure how my nearly 34 year old body will take that kind of abuse, but I think it's better than spending the night in a hotel -- certainly cheaper and plus as I've looked around for hotels, there really aren't any available that weekend that are anywhere remotely close to the strip. Plus, with it being a holiday weekend, price gouging is definitely the rule -- although I was surprised to find that on non-holiday weekdays, the MGM Grand is actually reasonably priced! However, for Memorial Day weekend, it's 400+ dollars a night, and there aren't any rooms anyhow, so there ya go.

Only six weeks away! And I figured it out, if Madonna performs for 2 hours, we'll be paying roughly $4.50 a minute for the privilege of seeing her live. While I have mixed feelings about that -- I mean, does she really need the money at this point in her career? (and if she does, shame on her for not investing more wisely) -- I'm mostly just happy to be going. I know there's not one single artist besides her that I'd shell out that kind of cash to see, and consequently, I shook off the nearly immediate buyer's remorse that hit me yesterday.

Oh well, it's not like someone held a gun to my head and made me buy the tickets. I guess she charges that much for tickets because she can. Although Jeff and I were laughing last night because $265 seats at Drowned World Tour probably would have been front row seats!


I stumbled across this quick and easy Enneagram test online, and I'm posting it because I'm a four through and through, and whenever I refer to my inner four, this is what I'm referring to, for those readers (the few that I actually have) that may not know.


How to Get Along with Me

  • Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.
  • Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.

  • Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision.

  • Though I don't always want to be cheered up when I'm feeling melancholy,
    I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.

  • Don't tell me I'm too sensitive or that I'm overreacting!

What I Like About Being a Four

  • my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level

  • my ability to establish warm connections with people

  • admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life

  • my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor

  • being unique and being seen as unique by others

  • having aesthetic sensibilities

  • being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me
What's Hard About Being a Four
  • experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair

  • feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don't deserve to be loved

  • feeling guilty when I disappoint people

  • feeling hurt or attacked when someone misundertands me

  • expecting too much from myself and life

  • fearing being abandoned

  • obsessing over resentments

  • longing for what I don't have

Fours as Children Often

  • have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games

  • are very sensitive

  • feel that they don't fit in

  • believe they are missing something that other people have

  • attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.

  • become antiauthoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood

  • feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents' divorce)

Fours as Parents

  • help their children become who they really are

  • support their children's creativity and originality

  • are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings

  • are sometimes overly critical or overly protective

  • are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed

Saturday, April 08, 2006

We're going!!!

Oh. My. God. I can't believe it. I actually got tickets to Madonna's Confessions Tour in Las Vegas for Memorial Day weekend. They were ungodly expensive -- 265 dollars a seat, but you know what? I don't do anything else -- I don't go out for beers every other night with the guys, we don't have cable, we own one car, I walk to work. I deserve it -- most definitely. And I have a back up plan if Memorial Day weekend ends up being my weekend to work, so there!

Now it's time to find airfare and hotel. Jeff's going to pay the airfare -- will likely be comparable to the ticket price. And then trying to find a hotel.

I'm so excited!!! The seats aren't spectacular -- better than our Drowned World Tour seats (nothing above us but ceiling) and not quite as good as our Re-Invention Tour seats, but we're in the arena!!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Confessions Tour

It's that time again. Madonna's hitting the road and even though I told myself that I probably wouldn't be able to go, I got one look at the rumoured set list and now I want to go like nothing else. Ticket prices are, as expected, astronomical. And any hope I had of going to see her in Phoenix and stay at my brother's is history as it doesn't work for Jeff and I can't get the day off work anyway. Chicago, the closest she's coming around here is out as well as I can't get the day off work and, truth be told, I wasn't that crazy about the United Center anyway.

So I talked to Jeff tonight and we're thinking about trying to get tickets to her show in Las Vegas on Memorial Day weekend. However, I looked for flights and hotel combos and they're all rather pricey, which doesn't surprise me too much because all those hotels on the Vegas strip are going to be expensive. It stinks because I don't want to stay so far out that I have to rely on a cab to get back after the show (we learned our lesson at the DWT when my very pregnant wife came and picked us up in a cab she got from the hotel as there wasn't a cab to be found after the show was over.) However, I also don't want to spend a fortune because tickets are probably going to be around 200 bucks by the time it's all said and done. Besides, Memorial Day may end up being my weekend to work -- a baby has to be born a bit early for it to happen, but theoretically it could happen.

I've been looking into the Philadephia show which is July 12th. Airfare isn't too bad and the hotels are a little more reasonable. Only trouble is I don't know Philadelphia at all so I don't know where a good place to stay is -- as in, I don't want to stay in the ghetto (cue Dolly's back up singers -- sorry, inside joke) or have to risk life and limb to get to the concert. Sorry Madonna, you're not worth that.

In the end, I have to say that I'm a bit torked that she thinks she has to charge so dang much money for her concerts. But that's another post entirely.

But in talking to Jeff tonight, we're both on the same page. We've seen her twice, which is more than a lot of my Madonna fan friends I know have seen her, and if we have to wait for the DVD on this one, well, I guess it'll have to be that way. Truth be told, I wish the tour started in Europe and finished in the States as August is a much better month for me to get time off work!!

Oh well, if it's meant to be, it'll happen. Never in a million years would I have dreamt that we would be going to Washington, D.C. to see the Re-Invention Tour a couple years ago. Time will tell.

Is it too late to hope for a last minute add of the Wells Fargo Arena? :)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Get the point? Good, now wash.

This was taken in the men's room of a family restaurant that we were at last weekend for my grandparents' 65th wedding anniversary. (whoa! 65 years!) If I hadn't already been planning to wash my hands after using the bathroom, I don't think I could have withstood the guilt I would have felt thanks to that sign.

I guess in a few years it'll say "Dirty hands spread H5N1. WASH HANDS!"

Sunday, April 02, 2006


I've been (rather inadvertantly) reading quite a few books about death these days. I finished Stephen King's Cell a while back (his take on the zombie genre) and quite unwittingly followed it up with Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man -- although actually it's the fact that Reaper Man is a de facto zombie book as well, but more about that later. And finally, as if on cue, I run across Christopher Moore's latest novel A Dirty Job at Borders this weekend when we were out looking for the new Jennifer Crusie novel Don't Look Down (hits stores April 4th but Heidi's been hearing that it's been available early in some places.)

In A Dirty Job, a nice Beta-male finds out that he's basically, well, Death. With a capital D.

I've only read one of Moore's novels -- and that was The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror. I mean, how could I refuse it? It was Christmas AND zombies!!! And it was a really good book, even though it got off to a slow start, it ended up being well worth the read. I've never gotten around to reading Lamb, but it's on my to-be-read pile.

The unfortunate thing is that I'm having to resort to the library in order to read A Dirty Job, which means there are 7 people in front of me waiting to read it. I guess as soon as I'm done with Reaper Man (and what a hoot it is!) I'm going to read that James Frey's A Million Little Pieces just to see what all the commotion is about. Someone at work loaned it to me so it's not like I went out and bought it or anything.

Radioactive dreams

Another in my recent slew of intensely vivid dreams occurred the other night. I'm not sure what brought it about, but I dreamt that there was a nuclear war. The plot of my dream played very closely to that of the 1980s TV movie The Day After -- which I remember watching as a kid and being alternately petrified of and fascinated by (something that I think pretty much sums up a key component of my personality.) Anyway, I remember that we were at Heidi's grandparents' house and I distinctly remember the mushroom clouds -- they looked just like they did in The Day After. Windows broke, the blast wave came across the town and then it was over. After that, the sun was shining and cars were driving and it looked just fine, but I knew that the radiation level was too high -- it was all a ruse.

I looked up what it meant to dream of a nuclear bomb and according to the dream interpretations site that I frequently go to in cases like this. This is what it said:

  • To dream of a nuclear bomb, suggests feelings of helplessness, being threatened and loss of control. You may be experiencing great hostility and rage to the point of being destructive.
  • Alternatively, you may be expressing a desire to wipe out some aspect of yourself.
  • It may also be an indication that something crucial and precious to you has ended and important changes are about to occur.

I'm not sure what to make of that -- I'd like to chalk it up to my deeply embedded fear of nuclear war. It's one I don't consciously think of much anymore, but the thought of nuclear war just petrified me as a kid. During the 80s, before the Cold War started to thaw a little bit, I lived in fear that I'd wake up in the middle of the night with the air raid sirens going off, ICBMs inbound from the Soviet Union. Saying that makes it sound like I thought of nothing else, which isn't true, of course, but it was a very real fear that I had. I remember being in college and waking up in the middle of the night to the sounds of the civil defense sirens and all that same 10 year old boy fear welled right back up, even though by then, the Berlin Wall had fallen and the Cold War was pretty much over. I didn't even think of tornadoes, which would be a really common reason for civil defense sirens to be going off in Iowa, I thought of nuclear annihalation.

When I was in the 8th grade, I did a research paper on the effects of an atomic blast. There was a book that I got from the library from which I did a lot of my research called Nuclear War in the 1980s? Of course, completely dated now, but how I'd like to get my hands on a copy of that book for my late 20th century history library that I've managed to accrue.

(image courtesy Wikipedia)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

An evening with Anne Murray

Well, I got back from the Anne Murray concert about an hour ago, and it was a really fun show! It was at C.Y. Stephens Auditorium here in Ames which is the mid-sized venue at the Iowa State Center. It's where a lot of the touring Broadway musicals end up playing, Anna has her dance recital there. It probably seats around 2500 people, so it's not like a big arena where major draws are going to play. Consequently, it's really a fun place to see concerts because there isn't a bad seat in the house. The performers don't look like tiny bugs running around on a stage and it's a pretty intimate setting.

Anne was pretty much sold out -- there were only isolated seats empty. As I suspected, she played a lot of her late 70s-early 80s crossover hits. "Shadows In The Moonlight," "I Just Fall In Love Again," "You Needed Me," & "Could I Have This Dance" (complete with audience sing-a-long) were all featured rather prominently. She also played a lot of standards as that's apparently what she's been recording these days. Her latest album is all songs written before 1940 and she sang a lot of those songs.

She pretty much knew that she was a nostalgia act, and played it for all it was worth. Her self-depracating humor was great -- that's one of the things I love about going to these shows where the artists are a little bit past their prime. They aren't afraid to make fun of themselves because they have absolutely nothing to lose. She's not exactly a spring chicken anymore (she's 60 years old) so there were a lot of age jokes. She talked about how she had glasses in every room in her house and still can't find a pair when she needs one. And she looked pretty good for being my mom's age. I mean, she reminded me a lot of Katherine Chancellor from "The Young & The Restless" only without all the bangles and baubles. But that frosted hair! What was that all about?

The crowd was very much a geriatric crowd. I'd say that the average age was probably 55 or so, putting me well in the tail end of the bell curve. But having said that, it seemed appropriate that I was seeing her perform, and in Ames, the place where I walked around the Iowa State campus listening to her music on my Walkman 16 years ago.

And for those of you who may not have ever heard Anne Murray, here's an MP3, available for a limited time. It's her cover of the Monkees' "Daydream Believer."

Anne Murray -- Daydream Believer

Buy Anne Murray CDs.

Guiltiest of guilty

Pleasures, that is. Tonight I'm going to see Anne Murray here in Ames with my folks. And that's no April Fools joke either. My wife wasn't interested and my daughter's just a little bit too young to take to something like that, although I have no doubt that she'd like the music. I have no idea what Anne Murray is going to sing in concert -- whether it'll be a collection of her hits from the 70s and 80s or if it'll be all standards or what. Hopefully, she'll do just like Olivia Newton-John did at her concert that we saw last fall -- know she's a nostalgia act and play it for every penny it's worth.

I have a rather odd history with Anne Murray. It all started when we were on vacation one summer and my mom and dad played Anne Murray's Greatest Hits in the van over and over again. I remember liking the song "Broken Hearted Me' -- most likely because it was a bit on the dramatic side and appealed to the four in me. So anyway, I was away at college, my freshman year at Iowa State right here in Ames, and I venture to say that I was the only 18 year old male on the campus listening to Anne Murray on my Walkman. I would dare anyone to out-geek that. I do remember how my friend Kelly always used to ask me if "A Little Good News" was on that tape, which sadly, it was not.

I'll be sure to write a full report of the concert here later tonight.

Now I'm off to see if any of Madonna's tour dates are leaking this weekend -- they're set to be announced on Monday!!