What's been going on for me lately, you ask? A lot, but that's always the case. Work is going well. I've finally started doing things that real lawyers do, instead of just typing documents. I'm keeping myself busy here, and enjoying the heck out of being a real live lawyer.
Baby Joey turned one month old on Christmas day. He's growing exponentially, and if this rate continues, he will tower over the buildings of Benson by next fall, and will cause a lot of damage around town just by crawling. Shudder, mortals, for the day of Joeyzilla draws night. In all seriousness, he's doing fantastic.
Christmas this year involved some travel, but not as much as usual. On Wednesday night we drove from Benson to Taylors Falls, MN (where my Grandparents reside). We made this trek in the midst of SNOWMAGEDDON 2009!, a much-hyped winter storm. The drive was pretty intense, but we made it without too much difficulty. We had a lovely Christmas dinner, where I successfully avoided eating any lutefisk (ish). We stayed until Christmas day, and made the trek back home.
The drive home was worse than the drive there. At first the roads were just wet, but by the time we were within 30 miles of home it was complete crap. Four-wheel drive and a speed of 30 mph got us home happily, and I discovered to my great joy that our neighbor across the street had cleared my driveway. I love my neighborhood.
It continued to snow, and I woke up the next day to the sound of a motor, and glanced out to see that once again, my neighbor had cleared my driveway. I didn't see which of my neighbors was the awesome one. I decided to pay it forward, and went over to my parents' house with a shovel in hand. This was Saturday, and they were returning later in the afternoon.
That was the worst time I've ever spent shoveling in recent memory. It took me close to 3 hours, and part of it involved cutting through a chunky wall of snow that was well higher than my waist, piled against the end of my parents' driveway by a series of snowplows. I seriously should have left that there, because it would have easily repelled looters or hordes of orcs. I feel that I singlehandedly destroyed my parents' fortifications, but such is life.
Yesterday, I once again heard the sound of blowing snow. I sprang from my bed like a wildman, intent on catching Mr. Awesome mid-snowblow. I was successful. I ran out the front door and found that it was my neighbor from across the street. I thanked him profusely for his kind act. I went inside and collected a large plate of Christmas cookies, and then brought it over to said neighbor's house as a thank-you gift. I love my neighborhood.
After that, Kerry's parents and some other relatives came to our house for Christmas Two: Electric Boogaloo. We had a great day, filled with food, beer, wine, mead, merriment, and more presents for a very excited three-year-old. I think that Gwen is now convinced that it's going to be Christmas every day.
At 4:10 am, Kerry said, "HONEY!" I've never woken up so quickly in my life. "WHAT????" I replied, bolting upright. "I think I'm having contractions," she replied. "How far apart are they?" I asked, not daring to hide the panic in my voice. "I don't know," she said.
Now, when Kerry says "I don't know" in the context that she did, it really means "you don't want to know." In this particular situation, it turned out to mean "ten minutes", but over the course of the next half hour, that number decreased to four. With a 30-minute drive to Willmar, MN in our future, that number was too close for comfort.
It was snowing outside. My parents rocketed over to our place, and we were out the door around 5:30. I can't really recall the time. There was some dilly-dallying in there. I was more than a little panicked.
We made it to Willmar somewhere around 6. Just like last time, I remember being really annoyed at how long the triage takes. Seriously folks, this lady is having a baby...can you move it along a bit?
Kerry's contractions were very painful by this time, and all she really wanted was an epidural. Unfortunately for her, this wasn't going to happen. She was too far along, and had to just power through it. I reassured her to the best of my ability, and off we went.
We were in our room at 6:30. The baby was born at 7:29. WOW! A little over 3 hours of labor sure beats the 22 hours for Gwen.
SO, welcome to the world, Joseph Dennis Wilcox! 7lbs, 12 oz. 22 inches long, cute as a button.
Kerry and I then went to the lovely Demarce theater and saw Couples Retreat. It was pretty much exactly what you'd expect from the trailer -- a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy. However, there was one scene in the movie that featured some rap-like cover of D'yer Mak'er. (Aside: By placing that link, I have found out a number of things. The pronunciation of the song's title is "Jamaica", a nod to its reggae feel. Huh. Didn't know that. Also, the person that "covered" it is Sean Kingston, and it's just a sample in a song called "Me Love", which was last night and still is lame. Ahh, Wikipedia...thanks for fillin' me in.) While that song played, a bunch of high school girls behind us (who had swooned heavily during the New Moon trailer) started singing along. I was like, "NO! No you little dweebs do NOT know this song! GRR!" Then I realized that I'm just old. Sigh.
Other than that, all is well around here. Just waitin' on the wifey to pop out child #2. Then I get to re-experience the thrill of not sleeping ever, and see what an effective lawyer I make.
It's not entirely true. Yes, there's a lot going on -- mostly stuff having to do with unpacking boxes and organizing furniture -- but there have also been plenty of TV watching nights. Those fill up fast when I'm watching all three CSI shows, a bit of V, a touch of Survivor (for whatever reason) and a bit of Biggest Loser (to feel good about m'self)...yeah. Sloth is the NEW homework!
So yeah. Time to haul that treadmill back downstairs and get back to exercising. Or maybe just wii fit, which almost counts as exercise. It'll be nice to actually do some of that without a GIGANTIC PICTURE WINDOW through which the neighbors get to watch me doing yoga poses and running in place.
I went for a rousing D&D session at T-Rav's place last Saturday. We finally got a chance to try out 4th Edition, and it exceeded every expectation. Absolutely awesome. Thanks to Lars for driving me down, and to T-Rav, Lundo and Amy for playing.
Lars drove me back to Benson on Saturday night. Then on Sunday, I woke up and drove back to the cities for my new nephew's baptism. Sunday night we drove back to Benson. Know what? That's four trips to or from the cities in two days. Know what else? It wasn't bad at all. So to all ye bold heroes with qualms about the drive to Benson, COME VISIT ME! IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL! ;^)
I signed up for NaNoWriMo again, but I think I'm giving up. I just don't have the motivation that I had last year, when I was completely insane. My new motivation is to hit level 80 in WoW before the baby comes. We'll see how that goes.
Lemme give you the rundown. It's in a very new development of our new town, and it was built in 2002. When we moved in, there were kids playing football in the yard, and one of our neighbors came over and brought us a plate of cookies. This neighborhood feels like Utopia to me. From my driveway, a sidewalk stretches to infinity. Apparently I'm supposed to stock up on candy, because ALL the kiddies are gonna be coming our way on All Hallow's Eve, and I should expect over 200 trick-or-treaters.
The house itself is huge, compared to our previous digs. It's got over 3,000 finished square feet, an attached 2-car garage, and much unlike our last house, a kitchen that's big enough to open both the dishwasher and the refrigerator at the same time. The basement is all finished, and there are two huge family rooms down there, both with fireplaces. The lot is also twice as big as our old lot, and there are swingsets as far as the eye can see.
For whatever reason, my wifey is bringing the hammer down on the basement decor, and not letting me "geek it up". Apparently she wants to hang out down there as well or something. Oh well, the term "man-cave" is stupid anyway. Sorry, Voltron III poster, I guess I have to hang you up in the kid room and pretend my 3-year-old is the one that digs your lion-combining awesomeness. I managed to sneak a sword onto the fireplace mantle, though. We'll see how long it lasts. Perhaps I'll just need to pull out all the goodies for D&D sessions.
Work is going great so far. I love it. I have never had a job where I actually enjoy going to work in the morning. It's amazing.
The first part of the final book of the Wheel of Time came out this week, and I picked it up off of audible.com, because I have too many other books to read and had credits available. During my commute (LOL less than 5 minutes now) I listened to the forward, where the new author, Brandon Sanderson (one of my new favorites, because of his incredible Mistborn series) talks about the Wheel of Time's influence on him, and especially its author, the amazing Robert Jordan. Sanderson talks about Jordan's death and the shock of it all, and of being chosen to complete the series. Honestly, that forward choked me up. I'm excited for the book. If anyone can pull it off, it's Brandon Sanderson.
I'm so thankful that Terry Goodkind wasn't chosen. He would have had Rand ranting about the evils of communism for entire chapters. I'm also thankful that George R. R. Martin wasn't chosen, because honestly he's not going to be around much longer and probably wouldn't have finished it. I want GRRM to keep working on his OWN series, which has a bazillion fans chomping at the bit.
We're also negotiating a purchase of a home here, but I'm going to play my cards close to the chest on that. This is a very small town, and everybody's business becomes public knowledge almost instantly.
Let's talk about that, shall we? This town, the town that I grew up in, hasn't really changed much. Sure, there are a couple of buildings where there weren't before, people have remodeled, and the traffic lights now actually have left-turn arrows and lanes, but other than that, things stay pretty constant around here. It's quiet, it's friendly, and it will be a nice place to raise the kids.
However, something's gotta be done about these @#$%@ trains. True, there's no rush hour around here. There are trains rolling through town every 15 minutes (it seems) though, and that has about the same effect. I'm going to start lobbying for a bridge. They're relatively simple in form and function, and despite the fact that some of our Minnesota bridges fall down tragically (OVER THE LINE!) the idea has still been around and functioning well since antiquity. Please, people. Build a bridge.
Other than that, life is good. For the first time in my LIFE, I can truly say that I love my job. Things are lookin' up.
I still can't believe that I passed the bar exam. My brain keeps telling me that I need to start studying for it again. I don't. WOOOHOOOO!
Although I'll be becoming even older, that doesn't stop me from acting like a kid. In fact, I'm having some friends over this evening to play some good ol' Dungeons and Dragons. It promises to be a swell night. We're gonna kick back and knock out some AD&D 2nd edition.
Because I'm a dork, I decided to do a little research in the ol' 2nd ed. DMG (which is for some reason not actually pictured on Wikipedia...perhaps some editing is in order) and I discovered a number of slight changes that I'm going to employ this evening. These changes won't last long, however. Brace yourselves, players -- your world is about to be shattered.
You see, I've been finding that although I absolutely adore the 2nd edition, I need something more. You know what that means. You can feel it in the back of your heads. You know where this is going.
2nd Edition, it's not you. It's me. I've loved all of the times that we've shared. Some of my fondest memories involved playing with you. Sure, we've had our ridiculous fights (there was even a time where I got up out of my chair and kicked Corey. Yep. True story. I actually physically kicked him.) and our ridiculous triumphs. But dearest 2nd edition, the fire is on the wane.
The hard truth is, I've found somebody new. No, not that tramp 3rd edition. Not even 3.5. Nay. I've spent some time in the arms of 4th edition, and you know what? It felt good. It felt good to get a fresh start. It felt good to lean in close, and what I really want to do is stick my nose in and smell the sweet perfume that is the pages of the book.
It's my birthday. And that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to get the books. The 4th edition books.
Where does that leave us, 2nd edition? I hope that this isn't goodbye. I just need to see other methods. I need to do some soul searching. I need to find myself.
OK back to the real world here. Yes, for my birthday I am really and truly going to purchase 4th edition D&D books. I plan on starting a 4th edition adventure. I hope that my players will accompany me on this journey. It will be fun. I assure you. It won't be painful. It will be fun. And if we hate it, I'm keeping my 2nd edition books and all of the character sheets that I've collected over the years. I know that once my soul searching time is through, if I need to go back to 2nd Edition, she'll welcome me back with open arms. I just might suffer 1d12 damage.
I say that as if it were a good thing, and in today's market it really is. I know so many people who are completely upside-down it's not even funny. Every day I see someone apply for a refinance only to find out that their home is worth half of what it was a few years ago. It still stings, though, because we put our hearts and souls into that house. We made a bunch of really nice improvements to the place. Granted, a lot of them are cosmetic and don't add to the actual value of the home -- tile floors, changing the yardwide garden into an actual yard, etc.
The thing is, it wasn't supposed to be this way. Purchasing a home is supposed to be the single best investment ever. Alas, that's not the case. On the plus side, we'll be buying again in the same market. On the minus side, we'll acquire another home to make improvements on.
Still, this is a huge relief and a large weight off of my back. To quote my father-in-law when talking to my wife, "Good. Now Ben can stop having migraines and you can stop crying into your cereal." So true. The headache is almost gone.
My employment here at the place I've been working at for nearly seven years officially ends on September 30th. It's been a long ride, full of ups and downs. I'll miss the place, and I'll miss the people, but it's fo' shizzy time to move on, and I'm super excited.
Now hopefully I passed the bar exam. If I didn't, it's really gonna suck to have to tell you all about that. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Now on to other things. So last night, I once again had a fever. That's twice in a week. Here's the standing theory as to how that went down. I came down with a mildish stomach flu last week on Monday. I started feeling like crap while I was brewing over at Ryan's place. That night I had a fever. I went to work last Tuesday, but was feeling very crappy when I got home that night. In the middle of the night, I puked a couple of times and proceeded to stay home from work for the next day and a half.
Gwen then got sent home sick with a fever, but she didn't have any of the upset stomach action that I did. She bounced back very quickly.
I think that Gwen had something other than what I had, and that last night I caught whatever Gwen had. I feel much better today. Nothing that's too big a deal. I think that Rhyno also mentioned feeling crappy when we saw him on Sunday. Perhaps he had the same mumbo jumbo. I think that it goes away quickly. Woot for NOT having Swine Flu. (Yet)
Other than that, not much is going on. We did some remodeling in the basement, which now looks much better than it did before thanks to wall paneling and floor tiles. We also dropped the price on the house yet again, and it's depressingly listed for less than it was listed for when we bought it. That's not how it's supposed to happen. Of course, that's how it's happening, everywhere. Stupid second great depression, I hate you so much.
Tonight Kerry and I going to dinner at Claddagh Irish Pub in Maple Grove, to celebrate her birthday. She'll have to shy away from the Guinness due to extreme knocked-uppedness, but I don't have to be shy at all. Woot.
My work informed me that my last day is going to be September 30th. This is something that I expected, and is a part of my plan. Still, having that official end date makes things suddenly crazy, because there's a ton that I have to do before the big move.
I'm starting with my dad on October 5th, and will probably find out about the bar exam right around then. (GULP). I'm nervous as all get out, but even if I didn't pass the bar there is still a lot of work I can do whilst studying for bar exam number two. (Ugh. I sincerely hope that I don't have to go through that again.)
I've had some opportunities lately to do the things I used to know and love. I played some D&D with friends last weekend, and it was a lot of fun. I went to the Reniassance Festival one day last weekend, and hope to go again this coming weekend with my in-laws. Last night, I brewed some beer (it had been MONTHS!) with Ryan. That was a ton of fun. I've played a couple of rounds of golf, and although my game is still fairly terrible, it's been a lot of fun to get out and play.
The house still hasn't sold, and that's a huge pain. We're going to drop the @#$%% price yet again, and make some improvements on the basement. Not much we can do at this point. We entertained the thought of putting in a bathroom, but it would be cost prohibitive. Therefore, we'll do what we can.
I'm sure that there was some sort of perfect storm of stress, fatigue, and other factors that combined together to smack me in the face. Or forehead, actuall. I was alone with Gwen that night, and she was being a difficult toddler for a while but an angel for the most part. I sat down on the couch and started reading a novel in kind of low light without my glasses on, and my mom called me and told me that my 90-year-old grandfather had had another mini-stroke.
Almost instantly after getting off the phone with her, my vision started to blur in my right eye. The blurring became a strobe-like flicker as Kerry came in, and pretty soon I lost the ability to form words correctly. I would say something, and something different would come out of my mouth.
The speech disturbance lasted about 10 minutes, and then the headache started in earnest. It's pretty much gone now (two days later) but I'm still feeling kind of wonky. So I went to the doctor yesterday. They confirmed that it was indeed a migraine headache, and that nothing further needs to be done at this time. So that's good. It's kind of a scary situation when migraine symptoms mirror those of a stroke.
Speaking of headaches, the second annual Jabbergathering took place this past weekend, and was awesome. Because of this awesomeness, I had a much differenty type of headache all day Saturday.
Another huge headache is this effing house. It's nice to hear all of the optimism from everyone everywhere, telling me, "Chin up, buckaroo! It will sell!" The only problem with the optimism is that the @#$%^ thing still hasn't sold. I can't convey how frustrating it is to spend four years of your life preparing for a large life change, only to have all of your hopes and plans completely fouled up by a stupid house that won't sell. I'm not supposed to be here anymore.
For example, CLUTCH. I went to another Clutch show (my sixth I think) last night with Kerry, Ryan, Corey, T-Rav, and CJ. It was awesome. We all met for a brew at the Hard Rock before the show, then headed over to First Ave.
Heck, there wasn't even a whimper. Just kind of a sigh. I walked out of the room and into the hallway, and I was done with law school. It still hasn't really hit me yet, I feel like I've still got studying to do this weekend. Perhaps that feeling comes from the fact that I have a bar review class starting immediately on Monday. But that's totally different, and doesn't even take place at William Mitchell.
Kristian and I went out to the bar afterward. It was a place called Dixie's on Grand Ave, and I'd never been there before. It was pretty nice, but now that I don't have any reason to be on Grand Ave anymore, I doubt I'll go back. I didn't stay very long, because I had a 7:00 AM meeting this morning (a meeting that I ended up not having to go to).
I walked back from Dixie's and realized that it was on the same block as the Grotto lot. This needs a bit of back story. The Grotto lot is a parking lot near (read: several blocks from) William Mitchell, where the first-year law students are allowed to park. I parked there for much of my first year, and walked from there to school.
Well, last night I decided to complete the circle. I walked through the Grotto lot as if I had parked there, and walked back down a dark Summit Avenue toward the bright lights of William Mitchell, where my car was waiting. I drank in the building with my eyes and breathed heavily. I know that a lot of Mitchell students hide their school pride, but to quote Kristian, "We've had to eat bucket after bucket of [poop]." I'm very proud of my time in law school -- I've got a massive sense of accomplishment to bolster my already obnoxious ego.
Now there's just a bar exam. Here I come, biznatches!
So I basically went ahead and lost everything that I'd been working on, but what can ya do. My machine was reimaged and I'm back on the attack, cuz inside out is wiggity wiggity wiggity whack.
Everything is coming to a head in the life of Ben. Tonight, I get to go pick up my cap and gown, because I freakin' graduate this weekend! Holy heck! Before that, of couse, I have one more final to tackle. It just happens to be the only in-class final of this semester, and also the lamest. The prof grades harshly, and I haven't had enough time to study. I wanted to take this afternoon off, but unfortunatly it appears that I'm fresh out of vacation, so that blows.
So, after the cap / gown pickup tonight, I've got to hit the books hard again. Blech. After the final, it's time to party down. WAIT. Aww crap. I've recently been informed that I have a 7:00 a.m. meeting on Friday. Seriously, that kind of thing is just lame. Ahh well. I'm counting down the months.
Eh, I guess I don't have a lot to talk about, but it feels like I've got a crapload going on. It's all been mentioned before, though.
Work has been crazy. If you look at things like mortgage rates, you'll note that they're very very low. This has caused an avalanche of people who think that now is a great time to refinance. For the most part, they're absolutely correct. However, there are things that they'll have to keep in mind: It's gonna take a while. Seriously, if you apply now, you probably won't get a call back for at least two weeks. Refinances are the mortgage world's bottom-of-the-barrell, and the fact of the matter is that everything else (namely purchase) comes first. Crappy customer service on the part of mortgage lenders? Probably. But it's the best we can do in this situation.
Everyone in my department is working overtime, and most are working Saturdays as well. I haven't yet come in on a Saturday -- it's just not something that I can do. Why? Because of the second reason for not blogging: School.
WOW! I had my LAST CLASS of law school EVER. I'm currently in the midst of my last finals week. EVER! It's a very surreal feeling. Every time I get back to the building, I feel the last four years of my life. Although it often seems like I'm one of the very few, I'm actually quite proud of my school and the trial-by-fire that I went through to walk its hallowed halls over almost half a decade. Stop calculating that. Four years of law school plus a bunch of orientation and school visits before that equates to almost a half of a decade.
My last final is next Thursday, and that's it...until the following Monday when I start my bar review course. That's gonna be a bear. Due to the work mess I've had to rearrange my schedule considerably, because this so-called "night" class meets during the day on nine separate occasions, including the entire first week. Therefore, I get to...drum roll...come in at 7:00 AM every day, work for one hour, come back to work after class at 3:30, and work until 6:15. That counts as a half day of work. Believe me, it's tempting to just not come in. 'Course, in the incredibly unlikely event that they fired me, I'd have to disclose that on my bar application, and yeah. I don't wanna.
Still trying to sell the house. Anyone want a house? I love my house, but it's time to leave it and move on to bigger and better things.
I'll try to be a better blogger. I'm sure life will be full of zaniness over the course of the next few months, and my diligent (all four of you) readers will be chomping at the bit to read all about it.
So last night, I went to the Triple Rock Social Club with my cohorts Ryan and Travis. We saw, among others, the band Valient Thorr. I probably blogged about them from the last time we saw them...we were introduced to them because they opened up for the Sword a while ago. I'll let you read all about it on Travis' Blog.
For some reason, I decided that it would be a good idea to spend some time in the mosh pit. As T-Rav mentioned, it was a very friendly and helpful pit. I still managed to get elbowed in the face twice, and I seriously thought I was going to have to come in to work and explain a shiner. Thankfully that wasn't the case -- my eyes are quite normal. Well, they're bloodshot, but other than that they're normal.
We had a ton of fun at the show. I have a couple of V.T. albums, but still can't recognize more than like one song. They were very energetic and fun to watch, though, and their music made me pump the ol' fist a time or two. You know, before being knocked to the ground and whatnot. I must say, I still don't know what he's talkin' abowwwwwwwwwwwt.
It was really good to get out to a show, as I haven't seen any live music in a long time. It was fun to hang out with the guys, too, because I don't spend enough time with my friends. I'm generally kind of a social butterfly, and being cooped up in a classroom has really hampered that. But hey, on this coming Monday I'll go to my
And that's something.
Speaking of kids, I'm going to be an uncle again. My sister and brother-in-law just found out that it's a boy, as well. That's pretty cute. Even cuter is Gwen's cousin Charlotte, another 2-year-old, talking about the little brother in mommy's tummy. Hee hee.
My week was pretty eventful, I guess. I spent some time in Juvenile Court for a class, observing things like CHIPS hearings and petty traffic misdemeanors. The traffic judge cracked me up when he brought the hammer down on a stupid kid. It was hard not to start laughing in the courtroom. I'll refrain from posting any details on the web, but let's just say that this kid was stupid and leave it at that. Kids often are. Heh heh.
I started playing a little Starcraft again over the last couple of nights. That's a game that I personally have been playing for 9 years, and has been out for 11. I'm flabbergasted by its staying power, and that Blizzard has kept the online play available. Great game, though. I love it. It has an easy spot in my top 3 favorite games of all time.
That's about all I've got. I have a busy weekend ahead of me, but my brain is still wanting some release. I've got a bunch of songs rattling around my head that need to be written. There's something very Jabberwocky about them, and yet not. Several crazy riffs in 7/8 and lyrics about pinkeye are parts of them. If I'm able to find some time, I'll record some demos. Fear this, and expect some very interesting rock that may or may not be filed in the Captain Beefheart bin.
Beyond that, school is school. And schooly. I had a presentation to give on monday, about dangerous children's products. It went well, and I'm glad it's over. Then, yesterday, I took the day off to do my second Land Use midterm. The awful thing took me 14 hours to complete.
See, I dispise take-home tests. A lot of people think they're better, more fun, easier...whatever. They're always more difficult. They're always more of a pain. The reason behind this is simple: When the whole class has the opportunity to take the thing home, the professor invariably makes it take a lot longer than a two-hour in-class exam. (See above 14-hour comment). Second, there are always uber lame gunners who will go completely overboard on a take-home exam, so the curve is hosed anyway. In the immortal words of my good friend Kristian, "D's get degrees". I'm sure he's never had a D in his whole life, but considering the apathy that's taken over our fourth-year-law-student brains, it seems like a good set of words to live by.
Speaking of Kristian, we (Kerry, Gwen and I, although Gwen was sleeping) went over to Kristian and Megan's house on Saturday night for the "Great American Light Beer Blind Taste Test". It was a lot of fun. We tasted and rated such wonderful beers as Mich Golden Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light, Bud Light, Stroh's Light, etc. There were 8 beers in all. I think that Kristian is secretly a salesman for Mich Golden Light. I like beer. I like them all. I'll just state once and for all, for the record, that Miller Lite is my Domestic Pilsner of choice, simply because it doesn't give me a headache or gas. A taste test revealed (unsurprisingly) that there were other beers that I liked the taste of better. It was a fun time, and something that we're going to repeat with some Domestic Heavies.
I started listening to the audio version of the first book of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy, because he's doing the last book (well, now 3 books) of the Wheel of Time. I gotta say, this guy can write. The premise, in a nutshell, is that 1000 years ago there was a prophesied hero that would rise up and conquer the dark lord, but unlike a billion other epic fantasies, this prophesied hero lost. The bad guy took control, and now the land is a place where ash falls from the sky and flowers don't bloom. So far, it's a heist book, and the main characters aren't the typical fantasy cut-outs...they're a gang of theives. There's no epic quest, there's an epic job. However, the real selling point for me is how effing cool the magic system is in this book. That's all I'll say on that. You'll have to read it to find out. ;)
Rhyno and Meghan are babysitting the Gwennerpants while Kerry gets her new artwork, because I'm stuck here in school. Oh well. I wish I could be hanging out with my wifey and taking some pictures or something, but what can ya do.
Speaking of Rhyno, it turns out that this weekend he ran off and got himself a tattoo as well. I gave him grief about "tattoo sniping", saying that he went in before Kerry and I and now people will think that we're just getting ours after being inspired by him. He countered with the fact that he's had this tattoo idea for 10 years, and that if he didn't go and get it now, people may be inclined to think that we were the ones that inspired him to get it.
Well, when you think about it, he chose now (after the clear and irrefutable inspiration of his peers) to actually get the work done, rather than some other time in the last ten years... Just kiddin' Rygar. There's clear evidence that you've been thinking about this one for a while. ;)
Well, I'm off to another ass-tastic class-tastic night. Until next we meet!
Here’s a fun moment from my day. I tried to fax one sheet of paper to a fax number. I entered said number onto the keypad, 9-1-800-xxx-xxxx, and hit start. Then I went to lunch.
When I returned from lunch, there was a ream of paper on my desk, and my coworker was laughing at me. It seems that I was on “copy” instead of “fax”, and inadvertently asked the computer to print approximately 918,000,000,000 copies of my one sheet of paper. Thankfully she got to the machine and hit cancel.
Work has been busy as all get out. That's a good thing, of course -- busy means that my job is still necessary, and job security is a good thing in today's market. I guess there's not really anything interesting to say about that. Busy is busy, and work is work.
I spent a grueling week after vacation completing my bar exam application. That was a huge chore. I had to track down every little bad thing I've ever done in my life and disclose them. That time that I pushed Jimmy Nelson down after kindergarten? Yep, that's on there. OK no it's not. There's no such thing as Jimmy Nelson. Well, I'm sure there is somewhere, but I don't know him and never pushed him. Whatever.
I had to remember every single place I've been employed in the last 10 years, and account for all periods of unemployment. That was lame, because 10 years stretches back into my college days. I actually called the Morris radio station and Subway and had 'em look up employment dates for me.
I had to get some notarized documents written by people that were willing to actually say that I'm a good guy.
[Wow...I just stood up from my desk and obliterated a box elder bug...they're all over the place. They're currently down one.]
This week I had my "senior summation" at school. I ordered my cap and gown, checked to be sure that I'm ready to graduate, and made sure that all of the loose ends are tied up. It was the first moment that it really started to sink in that I'm really going to graduate. Holy carp. Yes, carp. Bottom feeding fish. Holy carp. That's some craziness right there.
Other than that, life's been really good. Last weekend was the triumphantly awesome debut of A Flock Of Kobolds' Fantastic St. Patty's Day Revue, and I don't have to tell you all how awesome that was -- most likely you were all there, if you're reading this.
We flew out way too early in the morning, but the flight went well and was fairly uneventful. Eventually we reached our destination, the one-runway airport in George Town, Grand Cayman. The process of going through customs was long, because there were three airplaines that had landed in close proximity. Still, the weather was amazing and our tired spirits were high.
After customs, we hopped in a taxi to our hotel. The driving is on the left side of the road, which threw us all for a loop. Guaranteed, if we were to have tried driving, we'd all be dead by now. As it stands, we're all just almost dead, due to automatically looking the wrong direction for oncoming traffic when crossing the street.
Our hotel was awesome. The rooms were beautiful, the service was excellent, and the beach was spectacular. I've been in a lot of very nice hotels in my life, and this ranks right up there. Not the best I've been in, but very very nice. (Lah de dah, right? Don't get me wrong there, this hotel was fantastic).
We spent most of our days at the beach drinking, but there were a couple of days that were too windy for beach-sitting, which made perfect days for exploring George Town and the aforementioned trek down the Mastic Trail.
On day two, we went to a bar down the beach for supper. (There aren't all-inclusive places in G.C., which makes for a lot of expense, but also lets you really get to know the town and check out a bunch of cool and different things). This is the bar mentione a bit ago in my post during the vacation. A funny exchange here involved Kristian, who was fairly soused on Bushmill's.
Kristian: Do you like Irish Whiskey?
Irish Guy: Faugh! No way!
Kristian: What?? Seriously?
Irish Guy: Well, do you like Budweiser?
Irish Guy: There you go. *lifts high his bottle of Budweiser*
We took a cruise on a pirate ship, and it was amazing. I had too much to drink. This is not surprising, since it was open bar all night and georgeous. I channelled my inner pirate, and although it made the morning less than ideal, due to ample amounts of vitamin B-12 I was able to avoid too terrible a hangover.
The sun takes a lot out of you, and we ended up going to bed (falling asleep usually, not passing out) around 10:30 (9:30 Central). Too funny. Of course we'd wake up around 7:00 am every day (6:00 Central) so it all evens out.
The flight back also went smoothly, although we cut it a little close in Atlanta. We made the final boarding call, however. I was a little self-conscious about reading a Forgotten Realms genre novel on the plane, until I noticed that the row ahead of me went, in order, Guy reading a Star Wars book, Girl reading Twilight, Girl reading Fellowship of the Ring. I felt right at home, and hoisted Waterdeep with pride.
So now we're home. We missed our girl, and she missed us. It was super fun to see her squeal with delight when we walked through the door.
Now my agendas (other than school, of course) are a) finding somewhere to buy Caybrew and Tortuga Rum in the U.S., and b) gearing up for the Flock of Kobolds party on Saturday.
We've just begun our second day in Grand Cayman. So far our stay has been awesome. The hotel is beautiful, and the ocean and weather are even more beautiful.
There are items that need to be taken care of, of course. First off we have to make a journey to Benson this evening. We're dropping Gwen off with my parents, and putting her to bed. Hopefully that goes smoothly. After that, we're driving back. The flight leaves tomorrow morning at 6:30 (UGH), so I don't expect an overwhelming amount of sleep tonight. Still, all should be well. Yeah, we may be tired, but it will be well worth it.
I think (hope) that we'll have wireless intarwebbs down in G.C. If so, I'll try my darndest to get some pics up, as well as some words of wisdom about the trip.
I was skippin' school to go to the show, but this is a band that I really wanted to see live, and it was totally worth it. Ryan showed up at my house around 6:30, and we drank some beer and chatted while Gwennerpants showed off for Unky Ryan. It was adorable.
We left, and took the way-too-long drive to the middle of nowhere that is Myth. We drove through the parking lot to see if there might be one secret spot hiding somewhere. There wasn't, but the line going into the club was huge -- that was odd, since doors had opened like an hour before that.
We had to park in the Kohl's parking lot next door, of course, because there's never ever enough parking near a venue, no matter how far out in the middle of freaking nowhere it is. Then we had to sit in the blistering cold for a while while the line crept slowly toward the show. Thankfully it was cool enough in the club that I was comfortable wearing my coat for the whole show. The idiots that were standing in line wearing T-shirts are probably now suffering frostbite or something.
We saw one of the opening bands, the Aggrolites. Ryan gave 'em a 6 out of 10, and I agree with that statement. They were a kind of reggae / ska type band (no horns, thankfully) that kind of sounded like Smashmouth. It was meh.
Flogging Molly took the stage and rocked, even though they played a lot of their tunes at accidentally faster tempos. (That happens with live music, I forgive 'em). I was happy to see that they didn't just play stuff off of the new album, but threw in a bunch of oldies-but-goodies. I don't have a setlist or anything, but let's see how many songs I can remember. These are in no order:
The Son Never Shines (On Closed Doors)
What's Left Of The Flag
If I Ever Leave This World Alive
Kilburn High Road
Rebels of the Sacred Heart
Requiem for a Dying Song
You Won't Make A Fool Out Of Me
Us Of Lesser Gods
The Story So Far
The Worst Day Since Yesterday
The Likes Of You Again
Grace Of God Go I
Devil's Dance Floor
Seven Deadly Sins
Like I said, that's not the order they played 'em, but that's pretty much everything. It was a freakin' good time.
As I've mentioned before, Kerry and I are going to Grand Cayman for a week. This vacation will commence in one week and two days. There will be sand. There will be surf. There will be freaking pirate ships. It doesn't get better that that. Woot.
So, in sweet anticipation of the forthcoming event, I've been doing all sorts of things like looking at pictures, things to do, etc. Kerry's been doing things like taking me to target for last minute items like sunscreen and insulated mugs (more on that later). We're going with two friends, Megan and Kristian. I know that Megan thinks very much like me in terms of vacationing (and she's probably looking at pictures and thinking of fun things to do). Kristian, however, is likely still fretting about the hotel, trying to scheme ways to ship himself a 24 pack of coke or booze or something, and generally getting neurotic. Oh well.
Let's talk about Grand Cayman a bit. Shizzle is expensive. Therefore, there are some money-saving ideas that we are incorporating, based on the advice of the world wide web. One of these, of couse, is to buy booze and use insulated mugs to drink said booze. For this feat, Kerry and I purchased a couple of monuments to the gluttanous american way: The Bubba Keg. We each got a 32 oz mug with a freakin' bottle opener in the handle. It makes me giddy.
The downside to this trip is that both Kerry and I will be away from our daughter for an entire week. This is really a long time -- the longest either of us has been away from the lil' tyke. It's interesting, because although I've been gone almost nightly ever since she was born, I've still never been away from her longer than overnight. Kerry's got that record beat, but only by a day or two. It's going to be tough, but a) we need the vacation, b) she'll be in very good hands with my 'rents, and having a blast, and c) who am I kidding, we'll talk to her over skype every day.
Nervous? Yes I am. Excited? Oh hellz yeah.
Tonight's the last night of week four of my last semester. That means that there are 11 weeks left of school, ever. But really, who's counting, right? As per the previous post, there's a lot of crap that I have to do yet, but it's all coming together.
So yesterday I made the mistake of following a link to the Dr. Who page of wikipedia. I've seen a decent amount of old Dr. Who stuff, as well as a couple of episodes of the '05 season, but reading that made me really want to watch some more Dr. Who. So I am. Well, I watched the first episode of the 2005 season, thanks to my friend Brian who has provided me with lots of Dr. Who. I now have an awful lot of TV to watch. Oh well, that's been my predicament for quite a while.
Speaking of TV, people are apparently still watching Lost. I have yet to see beyond the first episode of season 3, and honestly don't even know what season they're on now. I have a lot of catching up to do there. I think that when I'm out of law school and the bar exam is done, I'm going to have to just sit and watch TV for a couple of years.
On to other things. I'm super excited, because my newest muse, A Flock of Kobolds, will be rocking it's first "gig" in the basement of Rygar's place near St. Patty's Day. That's gonna effing rule, provided we can get our shizzle together. Heh.
I'm under a bunch of stress lately, but that's nothing new at all. Work sucks, but that's nothing new, either. I just keep my head down and do what I have to do, and the rest will sort itself out in five months or so. :^O
Speaking of five months or so, I've got a bar exam application to fill out, and it's quite daunting. I need to have the names of every employer I've ever had for the last ten years. That doesn't sound like such a long time, but it is. I've had a few. Not nearly as many as some other people I know, but still enough to be an annoyance.
Furthermore, I need to supply a record of every time I've been caught on the wrong side o' the law: Yes folks, this means speeding tickets. The time frame on this one is ever. So yeah, I have speeding tickets out there that I can't even remember getting. I have no idea where to even begin looking for that information, and I'm kind of hoping that it will miraculously fall into my lap in a fate sort of situation.
I'm still (of course) trying to sell my dumb house. (It's not a dumb house in actuality. It's a very nice place, and I've loved it for like 6 years now. Still, I want to move. It's all part of my life plan, you see, which first and foremost involves graduating from law school and NOT working for the place I currently work.) To add insult to injury, there were spray paint marks in the yard of our vacant next door house. The guy that lived there died last year. OK so looking at that link I can see that it was actually the end of 2007. So a little over a year ago. Yeah, well it looks like that house has finally gone through probate and whatnot, been foreclosed upon, and will be going up for sale soon. For sale by some buttwad bank that only wants like three cold chickens and a nickle for it or something. I hate the world right now. I hate the market. Buy my house.
There's weird banging going on at work right now. It sounds almost as if someone is crawling around in the heating ducts. That would be kind of awesome, in a Die Hard way.
I've been watching the X-Files again lately, which rules. However, the only season that I own is season 4. It's very cool, but I now really want to start the entire season from the very beginning and watch it all again. Seriously, I love that show.
My weekend was awesome as well. I played some D&D, went skiing with some friend types, watched the Superbowl with some friend types, ate some cheese balls, drank some beer, drank some mead, drank some fine wine. All in all, it was a good and revitalizing weekend.
I'm going on vacation later, and I've learned in the past that taking giant bomber 1000 page epic books isn't the best idea. Gripping, yes, but when I'm on vacation, soaking up the rays of Grand Cayman, I actually want to read something that's completely mindless. Therefore, I'm getting some cheezy 300 page paperbacks, and it's going to be freaking awesome.
I just started the third book of the Emberverse series (also known as the Dies the Fire series) by S. M. Stirling. These books are so freaking full of win. I know that the idea of all modern technology suddenly stopping and everyone having to revert to medieval processes is a little far fetched, but you have to admit that it's a belief at the very core of every D&D player. Admit it: You'd like to see what would happen if suddenly everyone had to use bows and swords and horses and the like. This book series properly displays the absolute chaos that would occur. I recommend it highly, and will lend the novels on a first-come, first serve basis.
I'm playing some D&D on Friday night. WOOHOO Here comes super-nerd, flying into the sunset! Hooray! I can't wait.
Last but not least, after successfully beating both Mega Man and Castlevania 2 last week, I downloaded Castlevania 3 (a game that I remember from my youth but have never completed). It's not nearly as good as Castlevania 2, because it reverts back to the style of Castlevania 1 (level, boss, level, boss, etc. instead of the free form of CV2.) I'm a sucker for things Castlevania, though, and I'm enjoying it. It's also the debut of Alucard in a video game, and he goes on to pwn in Symphony of the Night, another fantastic installment of the series.
The next day we went to Fergus for Kerry’s extended family belated Christmas. Gwen was the absolute star of the show, and everybody was just completely enamored with her. She’s such a cutie when she wants to be. Other times she’s not so cute.
Kerry and I have been watching True Blood, and I’m less than impressed. I have a bunch of mental hang-ups with the show, which stem from having read a couple of the books. This could get long.
My first problem is that people are so quick to trash Twilight and praise True Blood (or the Sookie Stackhouse books, take your pick). Here’s the thing, though: The movie version of Twilight was very faithful to the book, and it’s a good story. The film version of the Stackhouse novels is not nearly as true to the books, which you’d think would be fine since the books are just gorified (vampire version of glorified, © 2009 b33n3rcorp) trashy romance novels. The books are good reads, but nowhere near as engaging as Twilight. The problem with True Blood is that the changes that they make leave gaping holes and inconsistencies larger than the huge gap between Anna Paquin’s hideous teeth.
First off, there’s the whole “V-Juice” crap. Yes, in the books vampires are drained and their blood is sold as a drug. But it’s not this huge Lucy in the Sky trip-out fest that’s going on in the series between Jason Stackhouse and the crazy girl from Weeds (a character who, in the books, is only mentioned over the course of like a paragraph because she’s found dead...whoops that might be a spoiler). Even in the series, Sookie has had vampire blood straight from a vampire two times thus far. It’s shown evidence of how it’s affecting her (when she sniffs out that half cracker under the couch way back in episode 2) but she’s never had the crazy hallucination thing happen. Why? Because it doesn’t. In the books Jason doesn’t even do any vampire blood.
Second, there’s the addition of Main Characters that aren’t even a part of the story. This isn’t nearly as big a deal, because these characters and their weird tangents actually add to what is otherwise a fairly dull series made interesting with occasional vampire sex. Tara, for example. She doesn’t enter the books until the last couple of chapters of book 2, and she’s a very minor character. None of that with the voodoo lady in the forest. Crazy girl from weeds, as mentioned before. Lafayette’s part is considerably bigger in the series as well. There’s no such thing as the character played by Milton from Office Space, either.
Oh well. I’m still entertained. I just wanted to rant a bit. And darnit, I’m not afraid to admit that I really enjoyed Twilight.
In other news, I downloaded Mega Man 1 and Simon's Quest (Castlevania 2) for the Wii, and have been playing them with much glee. As mentioned before, I love old video games. They make me feel...eleven. Also, they're just plain fun. This subject has been detailed before, but it's worth mention.
This semester is a definite problem for my motivation. (How's that for a subject change with no warning?) Last semester was also a severe problem for my motivation. However, somehow (according to my grades, anyway) I still managed to do well. I think that the professors of high-level classses generally don't like to fail students, but dang, I really thought that I would have done worse on my Creditor/Debtor class. Pleasant surprises are good.
Kerry and I have decided that we need new tattoos. We've discovered (after much recommendation) a place called Electric Dragonland. Kerry's going there today to check some stuff out and schedule either consultations or appointments. The place is by appointment only, no walk-ins, because they're insanely busy and have to operate by a schedule. I know what I'm gettin', but I'm not tellin'.
As a segue from that thought, we started watching the first season of Miami Ink last night, and it's freaking awesome. Tattoo parlors are interesting places. I don't usually get into reality TV shows, but this one is fun. Buncha punks.
The stall doors were some sort of weird measurement when they were in stalled in my office bathroom, and the result is that there's a 1/2 inch gap in the door through which one can see the sinks whilst sitting on the toilet. Through this window to the world, I saw my company's CEO as he strode from the urinal to the sink.
He then proceeded to grab one of the cans of spray air freshener from the counter top, after which he unleashed a huge stream of the aerosol into the air, over the stall wall, which in turn rained down upon me like a cold, fresh-scent-of-vanilla rain.
At that point he realized that there was someone in the stall, and that he had just doused that person (me) with air freshener. He got completely flustered, and said, "OH! OH NO!" Then he actually peeked in through the crack and saw that it was me in there. He realized right after that that it was the wrong thing to do, which increased his fluster by about a thousandfold.
"OH! Ben! OH! I'm so sorry!" he cried, his voice echoing through the men's' room. "I'm so embarrassed! Oh no! I didn't know anyone was in there!"
This continued, as I saw the CEO in the hallway about a half hour later. He continued to profess his embarrassment. The retelling of this story to my wife caused a near-tears experience, so I figured I'd go ahead and share it with the world. Dearest CEO, you have no need to be embarrassed. I'm pooping on your dime.
Class started last night, and I had perhaps the worst two drives of my law school careers. The drive there wasn't all that bad except for driving 5 mph the entire way to St. Paul. Miraculously, I was actually on time to class. Wonder of wonders.
The drive home was full of suck, though. I actually watched an idiot in a volvo come screaming down an entrance ramp onto 94, lose control, spin and fishtail for a while, then plow into the snow bank on the side of the road. Other cars stopped for him, and I could see that he was ok (if shaken) before I drove away. Perhaps he'll think twice about driving like a dillhole from now on.
The accidents and spinouts continued all morning, and roads were sucky. They're better now, though, so that's good. We won't be getting more snow until...aw crap! Tonight!
So my wife called me at work today, and left a message on my voice mail. It said, "Call me right away. It's an emergency." Of course, I panicked. Then I called her and listened to her sad tale. She had gone out to my car to start it and make sure it was ok for my drive tonight. Then she somehow locked her keys inside it, while it was running.
The problem with this scenario is that she had dropped me off this morning. Therefore, I didn't have a car at work with which to bring her a key. I actually borrowed my boss' car and drove home to play the role of the knight in shining armor. Or, at least, the knight in shining Civic. Either way, the crisis was averted. Sorry I laughed so hard at you, honey.
We had a Kobolds practice on Sunday night. (OK, the actual band name is "A Flock Of Kobolds", but that's a lot to type. Perhaps we should have a discussion on that tip, gentlemen? ;D) It was super cool. I must admit, we sound hella awesome together. We've got this Irish thing down. The Irish thing and some other strangeness. We've even worked one original tune, and I've written some more so there is more coolness on the horizon. I'm already chomping at the bit for more, and my fingers haven't stopped hurting from Sunday.
Actually, we had been talking over lunch about exercising and whatnot, and I brought up the subject of Wii Fit. Then I said, "It doesn't much matter anyway, because no one has it." Well, Kerry proved me wrong by going to Target and finding that they had three copies in stock. So, woot.
I then proceeded to make a profile for myself and...played Magic and drank beer with Ryan. Baby steps here, people. In my defense, they were really big mugs of beer, and could have constituted exercise because of all of the heavy lifting. Right?
My road to weight loss is also unfortunately paved with cheeseburgers. Yesterday I found out that Wendy's had something called "The Baconator", and its 830-calorie siren song was irresistable. Again, baby steps.
One really funny thing about Wii Fit was that it initially told me that I was perfectly normal. I checked my weight and it told me I weighed something ridiculous like 137. I then realized that the thick shag rug upon which I had placed the balance board was lightening the load by about 30 pounds. So yeah, after some recalculation (read: putting the thing on the wood floor) I went from being normal zipping on up to the line right beneath overweight.
Tonight, I plan to...I dunno, actually play the thing or something. Baby steps, people.
I rolled up a character and everything. It's neat. I'm a rogue with aspirations of being an assassin, and I should be pretty cool.
Then Gwenner got some sort of a stomach bug. She puked a few times yesterday. Not cool. I opted to stay home with her. Because of this, the DM canceled the D&D session. Yep, that's right. Because of me, and my character's absence.
OK wow. So, let's see here...this is a very very type-A personality group that I'm getting into. They know that I'm in law school. The DM's wife is a lawyer, so they know how this is. I think that they're expecting a commitment that I am in no way ready to dive into. Therefore, perhaps it's in my best interests to just stick with my own group. We'll see. Maybe in an opening sequence of derring-do, I'll leap to my (character's) death or something. That would be interesting. Or maybe someone should get some 4th ed. books and I can play as a player with a different DM. If you're reading this, you should think about being that guy or girl. :D
Gwen is feeling much much better today. It wasn't the flu after all, just some sort of upset tummy bug. It breaks my heart whenever she's sick, though. Puking is so difficult for a lil' punkin to understand. She was a trooper, though, and today she makes little silly puking noises and talks about not feeling good. It's super cute. She woke up singing this morning, which is also adorable and has honestly brought tears to my eyes on a couple of occasions. I don't want to be an overbearing dad that forces her to go one direction or another with her life, but she's seriously very very musical for her age, and that makes me beam with pride and puff up like a peacock. She doesn't just toddler-sing, she actually carrys a tune. That's impressive to me. I know I'm biased as all get out.
SHE'S A GENIUS! AN ABSOLUTE GENIUS! I HAVE A WUNDERKIND! OK maybe I'm jumping to conclusions there, but I love her tons and I'm very proud of her. :)