Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sarah-Sota Special
I'm writing about SARAH in minneSOTA...and Sarasota is a place...get it???

As we all know, Sarah definitely has her "special" moments. Luckily for us all, some of these moments have been captured on film (or memory cards, be as they may). I have included some of them here so we can all marvel at the "special-ness" of our dear friend, Sarah.

Sometimes she just doesn't understand what appropriate dress is. I told her it was a bit much, but she insisted upon wearing it.
Sometimes Sarah gets a little too excited.

Sarah wearing her protective hood...big bridges can be dangerous!

Hey, man. Accidents happen.

Sarah told me that when she grows up she wants to be an astronaut or an olde tyme deep-sea diver. While in the library one day, she decided to practice after seeing a "helmet" just laying around. I didn't have the heart to tell her it was only a stool.

I'm a bit downtrod as I recall 2 other pictures that capture her "special-ness" quite well, but I can't seem to find them on my computer. It could be that for whatever reason I haven't scanned them yet. I'll have to find them and do so, however, as they are classic "Special Sarah" pictures. You may recall them: One is of her laying on the floor in our dorm room with pants and a shirt draped across her body. The other is her standing in our dorm room wearing the detatched hood of a coat. Classic. Simply classic. Oh, Sarah. I salute you.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sarah, Sarah...
Storms are brewing in your eyes

Since Sarah so much loves to be the center of attention, I will dedicate posts to her this week. The name Sarah means "Princess." Which is fitting, since she acts like one much of the time. I was going to write that verse that's about your name (from that mug you have), but I can't remember it. Oh well.

Did you know that Sarah likes cake?
Did you know that Sarah likes brownie batter?
Did you know that Sarah likes Cookies?
Did you know that Sarah is a lush?

Did you know that Sarah collects trash?

Sunday, November 19, 2006


That's what my old dentist used to call me. Then I changed to the adult dentist. That's not supposed to sound pornish. And now I don't have a dentist because I don't have insurance. I'm trying to get it, but the insurance people are dumb and my form got sent back to me and I have to fix something then send it back. Plus, I swear I have some sort of throat ailment. Let's just hope it's a virus and not strep throat. Otherwise, I'm spreading it around. But that has nothing to do with the dentist because my health insurance does not include dental.

My life isn't exciting anymore. But here's what's been going on:

Ummm, I've been going to a lot of sporting events lately. In one week I went to 2 Gopher bkb games, a Badger hockey game, a Badger bkb game, and a Gopher football game. We won them all except the hockey game. The Badgers got beat by Denver with 20 seconds left in OT (3-4). Bummer.

I visited Sarah in Madison last weekend. It wasn't fun driving there...because of the snow and all. It took 4.5 hours to get there instead of the usual 3.25. The first hour was really rough going, let me tell you. Anyway, while at Sarah's we went to a hockey game Saturday night. I had only been to one other hockey game in my life. I think I was in 6th grade and I went to a high school hockey game. I wasn't sure if I was going to like it or not since I don't know anything about hockey. Aside from the blatently obvious. Like, I don't even know what icing is. I didn't know what a zamboni was until a few years ago. That said, I actually really enjoyed the game. It was fun to watch. Them boys is good with the puck and stick.

The next day Sarah's parents gave us their tickets to the Badger basketball game due to boiler issues in the house. That was very nice. Apparently, Kirk's dad (Paul) has season tickets right behind her dad. But he wasn't at the game. :(

On Sunday, Sarah, Nikki, and I went to see Borat. It was funny enough, I guess, but I was disappointed in it. I just kept thinking that it seemed to be mocking people from Khazakstan and implying that they were ridiculously stupid and backward. Yes, I know that wasn't the point, but I kept thinking it anyway.

Then I drove home on Monday after eating lunch with Sarah, her mom, and her nephew Owen. He is cute. I can't get over the babies using sign language thing. Adorable.

Right after getting home I drove up the the Twin Cities with my dad to go to a Gopher basketball game. It was pretty pathetic, let me tell you. They were playing NDSU (North Dakota brother's alma mater). Guess what the score was 10 minutes into the game? 5-8. Seriously. Gophers had 5 points, NDSU 8. TEN MINUTES into the game!!! The second half was markedly improved, but crikey.

Then on Friday we drove up and saw them again. We had to buy tickets outside the arena, because a whole gaggle of us were going (me, my mom and dad, Brian and Shannon and Riley, and Shannon's parents). My dad was holding Riley who, btw, was wearing this gigantically poofy down (aka feather) snowsuit. He was haggling with this scalper, and when he refused to buy the ticket at the price he was offering (I just remembered...they were playing Long Island...not exactly a big-ticket event)...where was I? Oh yeah, when my dad refused to buy the ticket from him the guy yelled to him, "I hope your baby freezes and dies!" Wtf??? What a psycho! Yeah.

The next day we went to the Gopher football game where they beat Iowa and thus became Bowl eligible. Yay.

Oh, on Wednesday I went to the Cities with my mom and we went shopping, then we picked Liz up at the airport. Then we ate dinner at the Green Mill. Then we drove Liz home and then we drove home.

Thursday's Thanksgiving. I like to eat on Thanksgiving. Well, I always like to eat, but I like Thanksgiving food. We always host Thanksgiving at our house, but I don't think many people are coming this year. More food for me, I say.

I think that's all. I feel bad for not having any pictures, but I didn't take any pictures at any of the aforementioned events. So now I will peruse my photo archive and post a random picture for all to enjoy:I don't think Sarah will be happy with me for postng this picture, even thought I think she looks fine in it. I just think it's funny that she's holding a ukulele. Does anyone else think it's funny that both Sarah and Brighton own a ukulele? I don't think Sarah reads my blog. I think she just looks at the pictures.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Holy Snow!

So I woke up this morning around 7 and saw a nice coating of snow on the ground. I went back to sleep. I woke up again at 8:30 and it was snowing very hard. It was actually a "thundersnow." Yes, that is apparently a word...and it's when there's thunder and lightning when it's snowing. Apparently it's pretty rare. [I TOLD you it was thunder, Sarah!] Around 11:30 I stuck a ruler through the snow on our deck and it's now just over 11 inches!! The local news just said Rochester has about 9 I don't know if the wind blew extra on our deck or if it's just snowing more in this area of Rochester. Anyway, the roads are supposedly horrid and I'm supposed to leave in a few hours to visit Sarah in Madison. :( They're advising no travel. Man. Now I have to decide what to do. What should I do???

I shoveled our driveway this morning when there was about 8 inches of snow on the ground. My God, was that a chore. I enviously watched other people in the neighborhood snowblowing away while I was toiling with a shovel. My arms are sore.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What have I been up to post-Korea?
I'll start a series of posts regaling my activities post-Korea. Fourth up:


Early October I flew to California to visit my sister Joleen in Yountville, CA. We had an interesting experience at the airport in San Francisco. We were waiting for my luggage to arrive in baggage claim along with the rest of the people on my flight (it was about midnight at the time, so other than us the airport was pretty empty). Some old lady who had been on our flight suddenly collapsed and had (what I presume to be) a heart attack. People on our flight who must have some sort of medical training ran over to her. One person yelled, "Call 911!" They start doing CPR on the lady, then one person yelled out, "Is there a defibrillator nearby?!?" Someone ran over with one (so they do get used...those things that are hanging on walls in public places). They got out the paddle things and are yelling, "Clear!" and shocking her back to life. Crikey. I don't know if she ended up dying or living, but I do know it took a hell of a long time for any sort of response team to arrive.

We didn't do too much in Yountville...because it's Yountville (near Napa). Wine sucks. In their backyard they have a garden and fruit trees (apple, fig, pear). They have a couple gnomes, and one gnome who was sitting under a fig tree had a big glop of fig on his face. I thought it was he'd been chowing down on figs.

Joleen and I went camping in Yosemite National Park for 4 days. It was really beautiful. Here are some pictures with accompanying text:

I took the above pictures...somewhere in Yosemite at a look-out point on our first day. I think it was kind of near Lake Tenaya. Or something.

This picture is of Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite Valley. Since we were there in October, the waterfalls were all really low on water. Upper Yosemite Falls was barely a trickle. But for the most part, they were still pretty...just not as impressive as they'd be in spring.

Here's the token picture of Yosemite Valley, taken from another look-out point off the road. The big moutain thing on the left is called El Capitan (which we saw a few people rock-climbing). In the middle in the distance is Half Dome (used to be a normal dome, and then...half fell off). On the right is what I think is referred to as The Three Brothers (according to some dude I overheard while taking this picture).

The above 2 pictures are taken at Glacier Point. The top one is me (obviously) with Half Dome in the background. The bottom one is not a picture I'm particularly proud of or anything, it just shows 2 waterfalls we hiked to one morning. The one on the bottom left is Vernal Falls and the bigger one is called Nevada Falls.

The above three are on the hike to the top of Vernal Falls. Man, this hike was killer. The last however hundred feet were on this stone stairway that I swear to God was straight up. The top one is of Joleen striking an uber-Korean cheesy pose while on the path. The middle one is just a pic of the waterfall. The bottom one is of my standing at the top of the waterfall. There was actually a fence/railing around the area, but as no one was around at the time we just climbed over it to get a picture of us standing at the top. During the spring and summer I'd guess that area would be all filled with water (as the waterfall is much bigger). How rebellious are we??

We then continued our hike to see another waterfall--Nevada Falls (pictured above). We walked to the base of this one (and maybe up a little higher) but we didn't want to hike to the top if it'd be a repeat of the hike to the top of Vernal Falls. So we enjoyed it from below then hiked back down.

One day we hiked to Taft Point. Taft Point is not where you want to bring children or people scared of heights. It's...well, a point...and it has a lot of fissures in the rock that plummet way down to the Valley floor. Unlike many places in Yosemite, there aren't really any guardrails around to prevent you from falling to your death. I took a lot of pictures here as it was really cool looking. But pictures just don't get across how dizzying it is to be there. You need 3D pictures or something. The first picture is a picture I took of some moss-covered trees on the hike there. I'm obsessed with taking pictures of trees. The second picture is a big rock. The third picture shows how Joleen is, in fact, scared of heights. As she approached a cliff edge she had to get down and crawl. The cliff out-cropping in the background of that picture is the one I am standing on in the next picture. And the last one is me and a tree.

We also went to Mariposa Grove, which has a lot of really old giant sequoias. The first picture is of me standing in front of the Fallen Monarch. The below picture demonstrates how huge the tree is. It's a picture taken of the Fallen Monarch in 1899 with U.S. Cavalry officers standing on and in front of the tree. Crikey! The next picture is of the Grizzly Giant. It's one of the largest trees in Mariposa Grove and is thought to be 2,700 years old (one of the oldest living sequoias). The picture below that is Teddy Roosevelt and his posse standing in front of the base of the Grizzly Giant. Yes, he happened to be there while I was there. :)

Because Yosemite Valley is "Bear Country," you have to store all your food and anything else scented (like toiletry items) in a bear box. Each campsite has a bear box. You can't even keep things in your cars, because bears will smash through your car to get at anything they think might be food. And besides having it suck that your car is ruined, you'll be fined $5,000 for not following the rules. Bummer. So here's a picture of the bear box at our campsite.

Joleen and I had an exciting bear encounter. Our bear box happened to be right next to our fire pit (maybe 5-10 ft away from where we sit). One night a park ranger was walking around telling everyone to close their bear boxes because "there are bears in the area." So we shut it and sit down around our fire. At about 9:30, Joleen suddenly whispers to me, "Bear!" and points to our bear box. There was a friggin' bear pawing at our bear box right next to us! It then got scared and ran away. Plus, it realized it couldn't get into our food. Anyway, a few minutes later we hear a bunch of clanging at the campsite across from us and we hear a guy yell out, "Get out of there!!!" The bear had got into their bear box! Hahaha! The rest of the night we could hear it wreaking havoc upon various campsites. The funny thing is, every single person yelled, "Get out of there!!!" I guess that's what you yell to bears. :)

So the next night at about the same time, we're again sitting around our fire. We can't see anything past the fire because it's too dark. Plus, we didn't have a flashlight, only this electric lantern thing that emitted minimal amounts of light (I fully blame that on Joleen who "just assumed" that their flashlight was in the trunk of their car). Suddenly, the girls at a campsite near us yell, "Bear!" and flash their flashlight near us. I see the bear running right past us. The bear again! Woo-hoo! It went over to a different campsite near us, and suddenly, "Get out of there!" It had started rummaging in their bear box. Then, this truck pulls up to our campsite and 2 rangers jump out with tranquilizer guns. About 5 rangers then proceed to search this little area around our campsite for the bear. I guess it was getting too bold and they needed to tranq it and stick it somewhere deeper in the woods because it was becoming too much of a nuisance. However, they were never able to find it. Tricky bear. I couldn't figure out where it would have gone. I kept thinking it had climbed a tree and suddenly this bear would fall from the sky right onto our tent or something. But it was never seen again. By us, anyway.

At the beginning of a path in Mariposa Grove, there was this sign that said, "Beware: A puma has been seen on this path recently." Then it went on to explain what you should do if you're attacked by a puma. NEVER run away. Make yourself look bigger than normal by spreading your coat out like wings, or something. Yell at it and throw things at it. Fight back. So I was kind of hoping to see a puma, but we never did. But we did see some mule deer. Joy. Actually, my ideal situation would have been to see a puma run out of the woods and chase down and kill a deer. But alas, I had to do without that.

So remember the lady we almost saw die at the airport? Well, we may have seen another person die. We were driving down a road in Yosemite. On the roads there are a lot of scenic pull-off areas. While driving we see this car coming towards us that was kind of in our lane. As we get closer we see that he's waving his arms at us like he wants us to stop or something. So we slow down and around the next curve there was a car accident that must have just happened. It seems like a car was taking a left turn into one of the scenic pull-off areas and didn't see that there was a motorcyclist in the oncoming lane. So the motorcyclist ran straight into the side of the car. The motorcycle was totalled. I looked over and saw the guy lying on the ground and there was blood all over the place. It didn't look good. In fact, it really creeped me out and I kept saying, "Why did I look? Why did I look? Why did I look?" So we thought that maybe we were the Angels of Death or something. Although we don't really know if any of them died or not (don't worry, plenty of people had already stopped and were around to help this dude out).

Um...yeah. I guess that's about all. If you've anything to add, Joleen, feel free to comment away.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What have I been up to post-Korea?
I'll start a series of posts regaling my activities post-Korea. Third up:

St. Louis
Towards the latter half of September, Liz and I visited Brighton in St. Louis, Missouri. Our original flight there was canceled due to weather, so we had to take an early flight the next day. I'm peeved off at Northwest Airlines because they apparently gave passengers vouchers for $35 off another flight (for the inconvenience), but they never gave me one (Liz got one, which is how I know this). Which really irked me as I'm a member of their stupid frequent flyer program...great to know that being a member of their program makes them treat you worse than other people. Jeepers. Anyway.

While in St. Louis, we went to the science museum and saw 2 omnitheater shows: one on Greece that was kind of stupid, and one about climbing Kilamanjaro, which was pretty good. We then went to the Missouri Botanical Garden.

There was a special exhibit there of a bunch of Chihuly sculptures interspersed amongst the botanical stuff. It was pretty even thought it was a cloudy day. While in the rose garden we saw a fox sitting around. We got right up to it and it didn't run away. It was kind of cool. We think they put it there to kill rabbits.

We also went to a Sufjan Stevens concert one night. I didn't know too much about him, but Liz really liked him. I hated the opening act (parts of it made my ears want to bleed), but I really enjoyed Sufjan.

One day we visited the St. Louis Arch. I never knew you could go inside of it and ride to the top of it, but you can...and we did. You had to get in this tiny little pod thing that took you to the top where you could then look out tiny windows. We watched a movie on the making of the arch. It was pretty interesting, albeit cheesy at times. Apparently the arch was a fulfillment of Jefferson's dream. Which was never really explained. It's also the gateway to the West. Fyi. It was really cool looking and provides for many interesting pictures.

We explored a nearby cave (Onondaga Cave). It was big. And pretty neat. Apparently back in the day 2 presidential candidates met in the middle of the cave and had a debate. Huh. Interesting location for a debate.

We also went to the St. Louis Zoo, which was a pretty nice zoo. We saw a baby elephant. Kind of. It was far away and hiding behind its mom. We also saw a 2-headed giraffe and a 2-headed zebra. I like the picture of the polar bear blissfully missing the fish being thrown at it. They had a cool penguin area where you share the habitat with the penguins. You walk into a room that's friggin' freezing (like 40 degrees or something). The penguins are in their little areas, but there's not really many walls around them. If you wanted to you could reach out and touch them. Except you're not supposed to and there was a lady therewatching over things. The picture of Liz is outside the area of which I'm referring.

Liz left before I did (I left a few days after her). I went to this place called Grant's Farm with Brighton and her mom. It was weird. It was like a wildlife preserve/zoo/beer tasting. It's owned by the Anheuser-Busch people or something. You drive through this wooded area and see all kinds of four-legged animals like buffalo, deer, antelope, and zebras. Then you go to this other area where there's animal shows (parrots and elephants) and a goat petting area. Also, there was a pen that had these huge rodents in them. I don't remember their name, but it totally reminded me of the ROUSs (Rodents of Unusual Size) from The Princess Bride. Then you go on to another area where you get 2 free glasses of beer to try out. I thought the entire thing very bizarre. Oh, it's Grant's Farm because it's where President Grant used to have his farm. We got to see his old house. Where we were told it's the only house a president both helped build and lived in. Which seemed weird to me.