Yesterday, Kassie and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary.

What better way to celebrate than the Autumn Brew Review? With around 150 beers to choose from, we had to make some decisions. We had a dinner reservation at 9:00, so we kept it to around 15 samples each. I think we got to try nearly everything we really wanted to. Most of it was good, some of it was really bad. Kassie tasted a Gluek offering; I wasn't there to warn her about how that would go. She dumped it out after one sip.

  • The Dark Knight from Barley John's. A double-fermented porter, aged in bourbon barrels.
  • Coffee Bender from Surly. I couldn't drink much more than a few ounces of this, as coffee freaks me out.
  • Devil Made Me Do It! and High Class Broad from Tyranena. The former is a porter with coffee. The latter is a brown aged in brandy barrels.
Bonus fun: I ran into three people I haven't seen for a long time.

We came home and took a quick nap, then went to La Belle Vie for dinner. We got the five course tasting menu. It was really, really good. However, unless Kassie I both get huge raises, we'll have to make that a special-events place only. And frankly, I'm just as happy going to The Craftsman for a nice dinner. I realize that's an apples-to-oranges comparison, but for me, nice enough is nice enough. Food can only taste so good.

It was a fun, relaxing day.

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random things

I ran into a woman at the dog park who went to school with my brother. They may have attended elementary through high school together. I'm not sure. As usual, I would have probably seemed a lot less creepy if I'd just not said anything. But what fun is that? I remember people and I like to say hello.

Then I ran into Ranty and her husband at Tracy's tonight. We've never met in real life, but I think it was OK that I recognized them and said hello. Wyatt, T-Unit, Teresa and I were there for pub trivia. The Shock Monkeys (Trivia Division) got destroyed again.

I have a class of three who will take their CDL tests tomorrow. Here's one of them practicing the straight back. In three tries, I've been unable to do it. Bad instructor!

I went to Kowalski's for some groceries this evening and noticed an interesting sign. I took this picture from the next aisle over because a woman was working in that aisle. Perhaps she was stocking cat liter!

Kassie and I went to lovely Wausau, Wisconsin last weekend to celebrate my grandparents' 70th wedding anniversary. Yeah, you read that right. They've been married a long time.

We saw a polka band in the middle of downtown.

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ingredients, found


I'm still working with the Instruction Center, and will be for almost another month. I like it, but riding a bus, often sideways, for six or seven hours a day hurts my back. I have the day off so I went to the chiropractor today and I already feel much better.

I don't ordinarily post the horrible misspellings and grammar atrocities I see at the garages. For one thing, the signs people put up are often temporary. Another reason is that there are so many, it's all I'd write about.

But I'm making an exception today because I looked at this sign and I genuinely thought for a second that I might learn a new word. But it was not to be.

Kassie and I went to her parents' cabin for a long weekend. Jeff jumped on my lap.

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brontosaurus rock

I have a somewhat complicated relationship with Geddy Lee, Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson. You know, Rush.

It starts with the fact that I grew up in a blue-collar part of middle-class Bloomington. Musically speaking, I mainly listened to (post-) punk, but classic rock was an acceptable alternative. I knew a handful of Rush tunes from KQ's rotation.

As the '80s came to an end, I found myself at a musical loss. Many of my favorite bands were using way too much synthesizer, metal invaded hardcore, and tie-dyed pseudo-hippies started showing up in what had recently been dubbed "alternative" music.

So what did I do?

Influenced by my friend Eric, I listened to Windham Hill. And Rush.

Eric had a huge stack of Rush's albums and I taped nine or ten of them. (I hadn't learned about copyright at that point in my life.) And I listened to a lot of Rush for a couple years.

I found that I really liked everything up to 1982's Signals. I actually thought Signals was pretty good, but there was all that synthesizer again! So I wrote them off and stuck to listening to their old records.

In 1989, I heard that their new record, Presto, was a guitar-based return to their old sound. I bought it and liked it. But there came a day when I had a date and no money, so I sold it to a pawn shop, along with 1999, The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, some Ziggy Marley thing and a couple other, obviously forgettable, CDs.

I occasionally pull out one of those old cassettes I dubbed from Eric's records and play it, but I haven't really listened to Rush for quite a while.

I meet a guy named Erik for pizza every couple of months. He was a camper in my cabin when I was a camp counselor. I recognized him one time when he got on my bus and we've become reacquainted.

Erik is a big Rush fan and when he saw that they were coming to the Xcel, he asked me if I wanted to go with him.

Last night, I did.

Have you seen PCU? I don't remember much of it, but I love the part where our hero chews out a guy who is going to see a band:
You're wearing the shirt of the band you're going to see? Don't be that guy.
As we drove down West 7th, I noticed that there were going to be a lot of Those Guys attending the show with us. I parked close and as we walked to the Xcel, I was somewhat surprised to see quite a few younger people on their way in, many of them hipsterish. Of course, most of the crowd was my age or older. And I wasn't looking too hard, but I noticed one guy who was not Cauc.

We went inside and, after a long hike, found our seats. See, we got the cheap seats. They were $45 each, and neither of us felt that we could justify spending more than that. And, as the video introduction started, it was obvious that we had "skimped." There was a bank of lights between us and the giant screens. Ah, well. I think we were far enough away that we got a bit of a delay, but we could hear well enough. Added bonus: No earplugs necessary.

I have no idea how ticket sales work, but we were just about as far away from the stage as we could be (section 216, row 2) and our entire row was filled. However, rows 1 and 3-8 or so were completely empty. The top rows were draped off. We moved up into row 3 and got comfortable.

During the second song, I noticed something strange. People were leaving the section next to us. Then I saw that official-looking people were asking them to leave. A number of things crossed my mind. Then an Xcel worker was talking to Erik. He had tickets. And we were leaving, too. I thought we might be moving down a level, as the show had clearly not sold out.

Erik told me that we were not moving down a level, but in fact, we were going to move down next to the stage!


Here is a map showing our approximate original location (look for something-something Egypt) and our new seats (X marks the spot).

And here are two pictures (from my camera phone). The first is from our original seats, and I've zoomed in with my phone. The second is a non-zoomed shot from our new seats.

Much better.

If you look at the stack of amps on the near side of the stage, you can see a collection of toy dinosaurs. I assumed that was some self-deprecating humor. After all, they are getting older- they're in their mid-fifties- and their music isn't exactly the height of fashion. I thought Neil looked like my dad behind the drums. Anyway, if you look to the far side of the drum kit, you can see an orange glow. At first, I thought those were Geddy's amps, but when the camera was on him, we could see that they were two rotisserie ovens full of chickens. I noticed people dressed as chefs occasionally basting the birds.

And the show itself? It was really fun. Since I am only really familiar with their pre-1982 material, I was hoping to hear quite a bit of that. I knew "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" was most likely out of the question, but I was pretty excited to hear quite a few of my favorite songs. Apparently, they played a song they haven't played live for nearly 30 years. When I was in high school choir, I'd get sick to death of songs we'd sing for a year. I don't know how Rush can still crank out "Passage to Bangkok" year after year after year after year.

They played for 65 minutes, took a 30-minute intermission, then played another 90 minutes or so. When I saw REM's Monster tour, which might have been the last arena concert I went to, they played 50 minutes.

I assumed that Rush were playing a lot of their new songs, and, according to Mr. Raihala's review linked above, I was right. I liked the new songs; I might even buy their new CD.

Overall, I have to admit that I really enjoyed the show. As I sort of mentioned, I don't really get to a lot of big arena rock concerts. The smoke and lasers and videos and pyrotechnics were kind of fun. But I probably won't do it again for a long time.



here we go again

Even as my interest in the NFL wanes, I somehow got suckered into not one, but two fantasy football leagues this year. It's true that one league is the same as last year and there were keepers involved. One of my keepers was not such a good idea, but I take it all semi-seriously anyway. It takes too much time and energy to stay on top of everything I should. I missed both drafts, but I'm not saying I'd be smarter than the computer. Oh wait, yes I am. I did not need two defenses and three kickers for the Comic Stylings...

So here are my two teams, probable starters only:

The Comic Stylings of Condi Rice:
QB- Peyton Manning
RB- Deuce McAllister
RB- Laurence Maroney
RB/WR- Reuben Droughns
WR- Lee Evans
WR- Donte Stallworth
WR- Donald Driver
TE- Tony Gonzalez
TE- Todd Heap
K- Jason Elam
DEF- Eagles

It would have been nice if the computer had picked me up another starting RB, but I'm the genius who kept Deuce McAllister, so I can't be too critical. I certainly don't need five QBs, but I picked up a few extras while dumping kickers and defenses, figuring maybe one or two of them will have a good year and I'll be able to get a decent RB with a trade.

Jeff's Gift:
QB- Jay Cutler
WR- T.J. Houshmandzadeh
WR- Braylon Edwards
RB- Laurence Maroney
RB- Ronnie Brown
TE- Alge Crumpler
W/R- Deuce McAllister
K- Jeff Wilkins
DEF- San Diego

I have no idea how this one will go. I thought it was nice of the computer to choose the Maroney/McAllister combo for me in this league. It means I don't have to pay quite as much attention to what's going on every week. And coincidentally, Jay Cutler is my backup QB in the other league.



yes, more fair

Kassie and I went to the Great Minnesota Get-Together today.

If you go, be sure to see the marvel of modern technology in the Grandstand called the "computer." It is truly amazing! I think there just might be a future in these gizmos.

We looked at a bunch of Charolais bulls. As you can tell by the name, they are clearly among the most cowardly cattle breeds in the world. (The others are Abondance, Tarentaise, Villard de Lans, Montbeliarde and Limousin, of course.) Kassie and I avoided the french (freedom) fries the rest of the day because that much Frenchitude just might have had us voting something other than Republican!

The other night when I took the picture of the Carmel Apples sign, I did not notis the Hand Sanatizing Station.

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he isn't a chicken.