Thursday thoughts

Holy flying-by week, Batman. Hmm, Batman…that’s a good place to start.

Kerry, Gwen and I went to the lake last weekend. It was awesome. We spent a lot of time with my parents and did a lot of hanging out. I went waterskiing, which is always a blast. Unfortunately for me it involves the use of muscles that I don’t normally use, so I pooped out rather quickly. Still tons of fun.

On Saturday night Kerry and I left the punk with the grandparents and headed to Alexandria to see The Dark Knight. Holy crap what an awesome movie. It was a perfect comic book movie. Eight-and-a-half out of five stars. We’ll call it an even nine for the disappearing pencil trick.

Of course, that led me to want to see more comic book movies that I haven’t seen, so last night Kerry and I watched Spider Man 3. Wow…that movie really sucked. There were some slightly cool parts, but basically it was the same plot as the previous two with a lot more unnecessary crap added. As a whole, it was just a bad movie. Negative six out of five stars.

Rewind a bit. Chronology is not my strong suit this morning. Ryan, Kristian and I went golfing on Tuesday, and we all shot really well compared to a couple years ago. Ryan sunk an astounding birdie put from about 30 feet. Kristian chipped and hit the pin twice. I had three birdie chances (all of which resulted in an unfortunate, choke-under-the-pressure three-putt). We all had fun. Afterward we went out for drinks at Ol’ Mexico. It was a very good night just hanging out with the guys.

Kerry and I have seen Creepyguy in his window a few times this week, but there’s a wonderful turn of events there. See, if he sees us in our yard or whatever, he bolts away from his window faster than you can say “sketchy stalker”. This is a victory for us. See, he’s afraid that we’ll call the cops on him. He’s scared in his own home. Turnabout is fair play. He’s not gone yet, but I’m hoping that this is his last day (as it’s July 31st today) and that we can go back to Defcon 5 after tonight.

My I.P.A. is ready for bottling, so I’ll be trying to motivate myself to get that done tonight.

But wait, there's more.

I'm sure that most of you have already read a lot of this on the Jabberboard, but I'll save it here for posterity:

Wow. So the story totally did not end. [Tuesday] night was fine. There was not a word spoken, not a wave given...I didn't see the guy at all. Then [Wednesday] he showed up at my house. At my front door. He asked if I had found anything out [about a supposed legal problem that I had previously told him I would not research]. I told him to go see a lawyer. That part was just fine, of course. The weird part was that he said, "Yeah, I saw you guys through my binoculars." I laughed at his joke. Then he said, "No I just like to watch the birds and stuff outside my window."


He then said that he was now staying in the apartment until september.


He said that he wanted to be friends, and that if we're having any parties or anything that he wants to come down and hang out.


So yeah. The conversation ended aaaaaaaaaaand...

Kerry called the cops. Who showed up. And went and talked to him.

The cop called me after talking to him, and told me that his name is J@mes J0seph G@rcia, not the name that he had given us, he is indeed moving but is most assuredly not moving to Plymouth but rather moving to some other apartments about a block away...basically the whole thing is a pack of lies and my initial gut reaction of creep-outitude was spot-on.

The police officer said that she doesn't think he's violent and doesn't think that he'll retaliate -- she thinks that he'll try to apologize (which we also do not want).

So I chatted with my 'rents about it. Dad's opinion was that the action we took was the exact right thing to do. Mom's insight was that for the first two years that my family lived in Benson, there was (unbeknownst to them or the rest of the area) a murderer living across the street who was likable, talkative, and eventually carried away by a S.W.A.T. team. So, there are Creepyguys everywhere.

Last night Kerry was gone for a work-related overnight, so it was just me and the Gwennerpants. Ryan came over and we played magic and swilled homebrew for several hours, and it was awesome. I would have been decidedly less comfortable if I were home alone. I'm not physically afraid of Creepyguy himself. I really don't fear violence. I just don't want to talk to him at all. I know that he's probably hurt by the situation. Whatever. I have a lot of anxiety that I'll have to tell him to get off my property or to stop talking to me or something. He needs to learn that those actions make people uncomfortable. I have a wife and daughter to think about.

Thankfully he hasn't come by. Kerry and I are headed out to the lake this evening, so we won't have to deal with him. What a tool.

Stuff and random things

I got a new coworker this week, which is both good and bad. Good because I finally get another person to help me to do the work of two people. Bad, because I no longer get to blast obnoxious music at any time of the day. That could still turn out ok, though, because it turns out that she’s got good taste in music. In fact, she was at one of the Clutch shows that I attended (the one at the Quest). She was there to see Fu Manchu, though…oh well. Nobody’s perfect.

There has been no recent sign of Creepyguy. I’m starting to breathe a little bit easier. Soon he will be on his merry way. My wife had a very interesting take on the whole situation. “Honey,” she said, “There are unsavory people everywhere you go,” (ok I’m paraphrasing). “You’re going to be a lawyer, and you’re going to have to talk to lots of them, and you’re not going to want to.” That’s true, I suppose. I wanted to counter with the fact that I’ll be getting paid, but that’s not necessarily true at all. There are probably going to be plenty of people that just need to have a conversation with a lawyer but don’t have any means of payment. I expect that there will be a great many times in my life that I’ll talk with people that I don’t want to talk to, and I won’t be expecting any type of payment for it anyway. Then there is the simple fact that the practice of law is adversarial, so a lot of the people on the opposing side will be people that I just don’t want to talk to. I’m totally rambling now, but the point of this section is that this guy is not a big deal.

I’ve got beer a’brewing, and tomorrow night it shall be bottled. I’m excited about that. I still have a good bit of hefeweizen left, because I kind of held off on drinking it until it can mature a little bit more. Yum. I’m excited for my IPA. Mmm…hoppy.

Well, I’m off to work on my freeze ray.

The Legend of Creepyguy

There are some craphole apartments across our alley in the back of our house. A well-place fence has, for the most part, allowed us to completely ignore these apartments and the alley in general. It’s been nice. However, we’ve recently seen this dude that just…stands in his window for the majority of the day.

One day I was taking the trash out. He said something to me, from his second story window in craphole apartment 2-b (or whatever). Even at that distance I could tell that he was drunk, so I did what the next scared citizen would do – totally ignored him. From that point on, he had a name: Creepyguy. Kerry and I have lovingly referred to him that way henceforth.

I didn’t want to live in fear of my alley. That’s just silly. Fearing the general population is a silly way to live. One day I saw Creepyguy out in the alley (drinking some Natty Ice and sitting on a curb, incidentally) as I was driving somewhere, so I waved. He waved back amiably. All was well.

This weekend, my parents came over. It was my Dad’s birthday, and the next day my ‘rents were helping us with a ton of yard work. Well, wouldn’t you know it, there was a ton of mutant weeds out in the alley behind our shed that needed taking care of. Some of them had actually grown higher than the shed. So, I went out back with my father, some shovels, a rake, a saw, and several other implements of weed destruction.

Not five minutes after we started, I heard a voice from the apartment window behind me. @#$%, I thought. “That’s starting to look real nice!” the man said. I said, “Thanks!” and continued working. “I’m Joseph!” he yelled. “I’m Ben, “ I replied. I wanted the conversation to end. It kind of seemed to.

Then Joseph (a.k.a. Creepyguy) came walking across the alley, wearing a pair of work gloves and holding two cans of Natty Ice. He started helping my Dad and I as we cleared the back alley area. Eventually he yelled up to his friend Mark, who was up in the apartment. Mark came down and helped us as well. They seriously saved us hours, and didn’t ask for anything in return. In fact, they gave us beers.

Joseph is a burned out Vietnam vet. He’s incredibly lonely, and just lives off of a pension and therefore has nothing to do during the day. You could tell that he just wanted someone to talk to.

It didn’t end there, though. Through a series of events and excessive friendliness on our part, Joseph was invited via window conversation to come have a beer with us that evening as we chilled out on the patio. I felt that I owed the guy some hospitality after all of the hard work he had done. When he came over, he was smashed. After about ½ hour, I escorted him back out the alley door with a handshake and a goodnight.

Here’s the problem, and I acknowledge that a lot of the problem is within me: I do not want to talk to this guy. He’s lonely, yes, but he creeps me the funk out. I don’t like him watching my back yard. He makes me uncomfortable on my own property. I don’t know how I could possibly get him to stop that either way, but now he (sort of) knows me.

Thankfully, (hopefully) there’s a happy ending. According to Joseph, he’s moving out at the end of this week. He’s going to move to Plymouth to be closer to his daughter. Either way, he’s lived in the back alley apartment a year as of this August, and therefore his lease will be up. Time to move on. I’ve never actually seen a light on in his apartment – I’m not sure if the electricity has been cut off or what’s going on there.

Still, I’m creeped out and feel bad about it. After all, the salt of the earth have their tale to tell as well.

Time to get writing again

I’ve been missing playing music lately, in a really big way. Being in a “gigging band” is a thing of the past, I fear, with law school, kids, responsibilities, and the fact that all of us have really gotten older. I know I’ve ranted about this sort of thing before, so I’ll skip this mopey section and get on with the conversation.

At the first annual Jabbergathering, there was a several man acoustic jam that yielded some fun recordings. Feel free to check out the masterpieces

Ryan is a D**k

I warn you, this is pure alcohol-driven tomfoolery with a dash of smooth saxophone.

Jamming with my friends inspired me to start writing some real music again. I haven’t yet, though, because…well, because I’m lazy.

Kerry went over to a friend’s house the other night, and they watched the movie “Once”. She was inspired by it, so she purchased it used from Blockbuster and brought it home to me. What a sweetheart. I really enjoyed the movie. It’s about this guitarist/singer with a bunch of songs who meets this girl that plays piano. They record some music. The portrayal of pouring emotions into songs and going through the process of recording it really inspired me to (you guessed it) write some more music.

The thing about it is that the music that I want to write doesn’t really have a place in a band. It’s more personal than that. SO we’ll see if I can actually get something down. I’ve already got songs and lyrics written that I had originally intended for Jabberwocky but withheld for whatever reason. Some, I guess, would fall into the genre of “love song” (a category that I try my damndest to avoid with Jabberwocky), others were just rejected because they wouldn’t work with a crowd of drunks at 12:00 am at the Fineline on a Tuesday – there are several reasons. Don't get me wrong, I love playing to a crowd of drunks at 12:00 am on Tuesday night. I think of it this way, though: Some music is like a scrapbook, displayed for the world. Other music is more like a diary, written for yourself and shared very occasionally. This stuff will be the latter.

So here’s the plan: I’m going to record at least three songs over the course of…let’s say three weeks. I think I can meet that goal. It might be as simple as just a bare-bones recording of myself with an acoustic guitar. From there, I’ll go to a friend’s house with more recording capabilities than the attached pinhole microphone on my laptop. I’ll get a good recording of some stuff.

Then I’ll listen to it. I’ll nod my head in satisfaction, and be on my merry way.

Golf and Gatherings

Garglefargle. The most recent weekend was absolutely fantastic. I know it’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything, so I’ve got to do some catching up.

Friday night was spent at home, just me and Gwen. Kerry was out that evening, but Gwennerpants went to bed at 7:00, so it was a fairly relaxing evening. I decided to brew a batch of beer. I got everything ready and was all set to go. Then the storm hit.

I was watching TV and they switched to coverage of the weather. So, I decided to hold off on the brewing until the storm had passed, because I didn’t want to be stuck brewing in the dark. It would have been ok, because we have a gas stove and a lantern and stuff, but it would have sucked, because I wouldn’t have had a timer or anything. The storm was windy and stuff, but really wasn’t anything to get all that excited about, and was over in short order. I then proceeded to brew some “Hop Scare IPA”, which I look forward to drinking in all its hoppy glory.

Saturday morning, my cousin had a bridal shower, which my girls attended. I went golfing with my dad, uncle, and cousins. It was a blast. We golfed on this course that had been recently converted from pasture to golf course, and still has a way to go. It was really fun, though, although extremely long grass on a couple of greens caused some severe additions to my score.

Saturday evening my girls and I headed over to Ryan’s house for the first annual Jabbergathering. I’ve developed a new anxiety related to parties, apparently. I was extremely nervous about the party for a couple of days prior. I think that it’s something to do with my “Morris friends” and my “Cities friends” and my “Bemidji Friends” all gathering in the same place…I fear culture shock. Heck, it wasn’t even my party. I’m such a tool. My toolness was proven tenfold by how much of a freakishly good time was had by all. I’m quickly losing my ability to claim that I’m the only person on the Jabberboard who knows everyone in person, because now a whole bunch of people know a whole bunch more people. This is a very good thing. It’s amazing how well everyone gets along when this equation is followed:

Jabberboard – politics – anonymity + alcohol = awesome^1,000,000,000

Meatless, but full of doodles

On a whim, I decided to go a week without meat. Actually, it’s kind of an experiment to see if the lack of meat (processed meat, especially) makes me feel any better. So far, no change, and I really look forward to the Great Jabbergathering on Saturday night, so that I can get my meat on. That sounds dirty.

In furtherance of this goal, Kerry and I grilled a cheese pizza on the charcoal grill last night. It turned out…OK. One side was rather burned. The charcoal flavor added a definite bit of awesome to the pizza, but that taste didn’t leave, and toward the end of the night it got a bit sickening.

I’m super stoked for the above-referenced Jabbergathering. Essentially, everyone involved with the Jabberboard is going to gather at Ryan’s place for meat, beer, and camaraderie. I get to see a bunch of dudes I haven’t seen in a long time, and life will be good. The prospect of acoustic jams is always awesome as well.

Today, I had an uber-lame training at work. It’s incredibly difficult to focus on such things when they have absolutely nothing to do with my job. However, all of these trainings have a common theme: Powerpoint presentations. Ugh. I hate powerpoint. Seriously. What I hate more than watching someone read off their own stupid slides for an hour is that they invariably PRINT OUT the slides themselves, and give them to everybody as a handout.

I’m positive that anyone in a corporate setting has seen similar handouts. They include barely-readable miniatures of the slides on the screen, and have a space for taking notes next to the picture. Yeah, right. I’m going to go ahead and take notes on this worthless presentation. I’ll get right on that.

This time, I actually did use the space for notes, in a sense. I doodled thorough the entire training. I came up with some fairly creative stuff, actually. (In my opinion). I’m not an artist in any sense of the word, but I was cracking myself up. I have to take the pages home to get decent photos of my doodles, as my ability to text message myself pictures from my cell phone has blown up, apparently.

Vacation Recap

Actually, there’s not too much to tell about the vacation. It was super fun, though. We left for Bemidji at Gwen’s bedtime on Friday night, and arrived around 11:00 PM. On Saturday morning, my father-in-law and I enjoyed Bloody Maries (nothing like drinking at 8:30 am…hey, it’s VACATION, right? Also, is that really how you pluralize Mary? I just stopped caring) and fixed Gwen’s stroller, which had previously been run over by Kerry (it was totally my fault for leaving it behind the car). Anyway, it’s once again in perfect condition.

That afternoon we attended my father-in-law’s retirement party. It was pretty uneventful, but there was an abundance of bratwurst and delicious BBQ Brisket. I left shortly after 7:00 to take Gwennerpants to bed.

Sunday we left on a “camping” trip to Big Bog State Rec. Area. We stayed in some camper cabins, which were essentially wooden tents. The presence of a screen porch, however, made the mosquitoes and horseflies bearable. This is my speed of camping. I like having a door to shut. I like having a porch to sit on and watch BSG on my iPod. I’ve been tenting a gazillion times, and really, I prefer the cabins. I’m fine either way, but camper cabins are a fun way to camp.

We came back on Monday after a 2-mile hike on the boardwalk. This was the most active vacation I’ve had in quite a while, and this walk was only the beginning.

Tuesday afternoon we went home, but left the next day for my parents’ lake cabin. My grandparents, parents, sister’s family, etc. were there, and it was really fun. Kerry and I decided to try our hand at fishing lake Linka, and I ended up hosing no fewer than 3 fishing rods. Oh well. Kerry caught two perch the size of my thumb, and I caught a big weed. It was fun and relaxing and very cabiny.

We did a bunch more stuff, but that’s the gist of it. It was a really good trip.

Sadly, vacation is over...

Wow.  I'm tired.  It's Sunday night, and just about midnight, and my vacation is officially just about over.

My girls and I had a great week.  We started with four nights in Bemidji, and followed that with four nights at my parents' cabin near Benson.  It was pretty much a Grandparents' Tour, which was cool for the little Gwenster.  Nonetheless, it was still stressful.

I'm not really going to go into details about the vacation tonight, because I'm really beat and just kinda want to go and sleep in my own bed.  I'll follow up with vacation details in a day or two.  I just wanted to pop on and let anyone concerned know that I am indeed still alive and kickin'.

Alas, although I was gone, work was not.  I fear that I will go back to my place of occupation tomorrow and find that pretty much everything has exploded and is in need of some good old fashioned fixing.  Hooray for Mondays.