3.27.2015

Awesome Spring Break week

So the university's spring break was this week. Typically, that means the students are gone, but staff continue working and all is mostly quiet around the campus. But this week, for the first time in my six years of work there, I took the entire week as vacation. ... I was in desperate need of some me time, and -- as challenging as it was for me to ignore my university work for the week -- I took advantage of it. I had a glorious week.

Like I told Kates at the beginning of the week when she asked if still would take Faye to daycare each morning: I'm still going to work at 8. I'm just having a different kind of work day.

I spent almost all of Monday working in the yard, clearing brush and preparing the yard for spring. The weather was sunny with temperatures in the 70s. It was awesome.

Tuesday was quite the opposite. We had a wonderful thunderstorm roll in that produced some loud crashes at times, but the temperature also dipped considerably. The weather change reduced my mojo for work considerably and forced me to take on a lot of indoor work. But I was still productive, patching some cracks left in the walls from our foundation work last summer and continuing prep work on our new kitchen cabinets.

I took off Wednesday for a day of shopping. In all our years since moving from K-Town to The 'Ville, I have not set foot in a Menards store because the nearest one is nearly an hour's drive away -- until Wednesday. I made the drive in conjunction with some other stops I wanted to make and was overtaken with such excitement when I arrived that I could hardly stop smiling from the time I walked through the big sliding front doors. The store clerk who passed in front of me in the greeting area probably wondered if I was baked. (... That actually happened once. Years ago, my friend Jeff and I visited an electronics store in Madison, as part of a tour of the city during a day off from work. We were having a great time and, admittedly, were acting silly when a long-haired male store clerk pulled me aside, leaned in, looked me in the eyes and asked, “Dude, are you baked?” I laughed and answered, “No.” The embarrassed clerk apologized and I went on my way.) 

Unfortunately, the temps have stayed cooler since Monday, and I've stayed in the rest of the week, continuing to take care of projects inside. Which is a good thing because they're are plenty of things to do -- that I can't focus on under normal conditions with two little girls running around the house.

Yep, it's been a glorious week. I need to take advantage more often -- like this commercial says.

Here are some of the awesome things I came across on the Internet during the last couple weeks ...

“The Office” premiered 10 years ago this week. To celebrate, Mashable posted 50 best moments from the show. Many of these made me laugh out loud as I read them. You were a good one, Office.

The Ridiculously Sweet Story Behind Mister Rogers' Cardigans ... This is awesome. I had no idea. God bless Mr. Rogers for the impact he had on mine and so many childhoods.

Amazing but true: America is only four presidents’ lives old ... Fascinating.

I've never gotten in to watching “South Park.” But, boy, do ever I remember the craze as ‘The Spirit of Christmas” made its way the floor of my freshman dorm -- and laughing until my side hurt. Here's a good read about how it came to be

Here are clips from the “Harry Potter" movies cut as the opening of "Friends."



While I missed the video of the “crying 'piccolo girl,” I did catch her appearance on Monday's “Tonight Show.” Jimmy Fallon's a swell guy for inviting her on the show, and the girl was a great sport about it. Plus, she's going to see Taylor Swift!



Here's a good read from Rolling Stone about “Glee,” which apparently put a wrap on its show Friday night. I learned that only when I noticed the tweets start to come in late Friday night with links to recap stories. ... Kates and I bowed out early in Season 2 -- another casualty of the infamous exploding TV and our chaotic lives that year -- but as the Rolling Stone article fairly points out, the series was starting to losing its direction at that point. All the reviews I read about what we were missing did nothing to pull me back in, nor did the insistence on themed shows. In the end, I had no idea it had moved to Friday nights.
It began eating its own tail, trying too hard to keep up with pop culture references and hit songs in an attempt to stay on top of the charts. Between Gaga-centric episodes and a lesson devoted entirely to twerking (no, really), most of these attempts to soak in the mainstream were ill-conceived. Worse, as Glee began to stray from its satirical roots, it found itself delving more and more into After-School Special territory.

3.24.2015

Summerfest 2015

Here's one more sign that summer is coming ...

An email landed in my inbox this morning with a video trailer announcing the headliners for this year's Summerfest.

Watching on my iPhone, I tapped the play button with high anticipation.

There's a lot of recognizable names -- some pretty big, including Sheryl Crow, who we saw there in 2010 -- during the first minute-in-a-half. But I was underwhelmed.

Then The New Pornographers popped up. Whoah. 

Toad the Wet Sprocket, too! Yes!

And Mates of State. Boom!

I screamed out loud when that last one flashed on the screen. With some luck I've been fortunate to see all of them once -- The New Pornographers last fall in Omaha, Mates of State in 2011 in Kansas City, and Toad the Wet Sprocket in 1997 in Kansas City on the heels of their Coil album. But the prospect of seeing just one of those three bands -- all of whom are among my all-time favorites -- at Summerfest is enough to make my musical brain explode.

Now I'll be eagerly anticipating the dates of their performances and strategizing about how I can fit them into our summer vacation schedule. 

Here's the epic video ...

2.08.2015

Weekend wrap

Random reflections and reads on this bright and sunny Sunday afternoon. ...

Almost all of the snow the covered our yard earlier this week is gone, and spring can never come soon enough for me. ...

Yesterday, Phoebe was begging to go outside. Given a choice of things to do, she wanted to ride her scooter. So she rode while I walked briskly behind her and we headed to the university campus -- where I realized there were several activities taking place that we could enjoy further. Given another choice of going to the basketball games or the show choir festival, she opted for the show choir festival. ...

It was like an episode of "Glee" exploded inside the performing arts center with girls overloaded with makeup and glittery costumes, guys in colorful tuxedos and duffel bags lining every wall of the building. Phoebe and I watched two schools perform -- they were several hours into the competition with a couple more to go -- before she said she was hungry and we headed to the student union for a snack; she had a bowl of ice cream, while I grabbed a slice of pizza and made a salad.

What started out as a simple walk in our neighborhood turned into a fun, quality afternoon with Phoebe. ...

* * *

So Brian Williams has announced he's taking a leave from the anchor desk at NBC News after the stunning revelation last week that he had "conflated" a story of him riding a helicopter that was shot down in Iraq.

It's no small thing, for sure, for a journalist of his stature. But, geez, it's been a rough year for some of the public figures I most admire. Here's a good read from The New York Times' Maureen Dowd ...
Although there was much chatter about the “revered” anchor and the “moral authority” of the networks, does anyone really feel that way anymore? Frothy morning shows long ago became the more important anchoring real estate, garnering more revenue and subsidizing the news division.
Here's hoping Mr. Williams survives ... 

* * *

Oh, Grey's Anatomy, I do miss you.

Kates and I have no idea what's happened on the show since our old TV blew up and our series of moves messed up our TV-watching routine. ... So I remember the good times and fond memories of when it was the darling of ABC and a Sunday night staple that jumpstarted our weeks. Which is why this story caught my eye during my morning reading: "I'm Still Not Over... George O'Malley's death on Grey's Anatomy."

* * *

This video of a train plowing through snow is pretty amazing. ... 



* * *

And finally, Jimmy Fallon pulled off a pretty awesome reunion this past week by getting together the "Saved by the Bell" cast. Watch below ... Plus, there's this about a lost pilot I didn't know existed.