Wednesday, December 27, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Faithful readers may remember this photo from December 2005...

The Colonel puts a considerable amount of effort into the sidewalk "Luminairas" each year. The process usually involves freezing buckets and buckets of water, along with various body parts, in order to achieve a delightful, dare I say, almost Currier & Ives type of Christmas setting in front of the house.

Here is an actual photo of our best efforts to freeze the luminairas in 2006. The pathetic little ice chunks before you are all that survived our unseasonably warm weather. But the Colonel is a Moron. He persisted anyway...

I actually kept the strings of bare light bulbs strung out along the garden blocks, waiting and hoping for the beautiful frozen globes that would never come. We tried, we really tried to make more, but the water just sat there in the buckets...mocking us with their liquidity.

Dogs would stop by for a quick drink, and passing neighbors were heard to whisper, "Now that's just sad."

Darn you, Al Gore...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

From the Walleye Inn

The Colonel has a new habit.

It seems the only time I post anymore is when I'm sitting in lonely hotel rooms, down the hall from over-priced vending machines.

Tonight, I am in "The Walleye Inn" in Baudette, MN

I love this Hotel. It has a hand-written sign in the lobby which I will quote without making anything up...

"For your safety and the safety of our guests, Please do not bring Ice Augers into your rooms."

So I was supposed to be putting together a PowerPoint presentation, but realized I was running short of what little brain power I had. I needed soda pop and something salty.

Unfortunatley, I had exactly $2 in my wallet.

Cautious but still hopeful, I made my way down to the vending machines.

Wow...$1.50 for Diet Pepsi...

That left me with 50 cents. I peered through the glass of the snack machine.

Arrrrgh. EVERTHING was 75 cents.

I stuffed my hands into my pockets in despair and turned back toward my room.

jingle jingle...

...four pennies and an EXTRA QUARTER.

I was so happy.

So I wrote this post instead of working, but that's OK, because I probably won't sleep much tonight anyway.

Some guy in the next room just started up an Ice Auger.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sweet Home (from) Chicago

Finally heading home...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

My Kind of Town

With Final Exams taking place tommorow, I'm going to take Reinman's advice and do a quick picture post. (and not feel cheap about it...)

The "Incredible Misses" are into coloring.
They bring coloring books to class.
They color during lectures.
They color while they are participating in class discussions.
They color pictures of cute little dogs.
They give these pictures to other people in the class.
They are Bubbles.

Here is the one they gave me.

This is the Bridge that spans Lake Fred to link the Lodge with the Training Center.
In the Winter, they call it the Fridge, or the Freezeway. I've been explaining to people that I'm from Minnesoata as I walk accross the Fridge without my coat.

I am an Idiot.

One final note: The Fire Alarm went off for the second time at 11pm last night.

My roomate had just returned to the vending machine when it happened.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Great Chicago Fire

Supplemental Installment:

As I was typing the previous post, the fire alarms suddenly went off.

It was just a false alarm, but Chicago's Finest had to come and give us the All Clear.

When the alarms began, of course I grabbed the laptop and camera. This was, after all, a Bloggable(tm) Moment.

Nothing really noteworthy happened, except that in the moments before the incident, my roommate had finally located a very elusive snack machine, three floors above our room.

This is true. We had been trying to find this machine for three days. We had heard rumors of it, but due to the unique layout of this facility, we had not been able to actually locate it, or even confirm it's existence. After hearing yet another report that it was "somewhere on the 3rd floor", my roomate had set off in search of the mythological device and its siren song late-night snacks.

Again, this is true. He had found the machine, and had joyfully inserted a dollar into its slot at the EXACT moment the real sirens went off.

Strobe Lights began to flash in the halls and EVERY fireproof door between him and the ground floor prompty slammed shut.

It took him quite a while to meet us in the lobby.

Take Me Back to Chicago

Installment #4

Today, I was traded.

At classes like the one I'm attending, we are often placed in teams around tables. As a team, we study scenarios, solve challenges, and generally compete against the other tables.

This morning, as we took our customary places, the instructor informed us that they were going to make a few "Changes".

As soon as she said that, I began to gather up my stuff.

You see, I have been to 3 different classes in the past three months. At each one of them, they have asked just a couple of people to change tables halfway through the week.

Out of Three classes, I have been the one "traded" Three times. This would make it four for four.

Sure enough, she called my name. I grabbed my gear and headed to another table.

Why me?

I'd like to think that the authorities constantly trade me so that I might share my incredible knowledge and charm with as many people in the class as possible.

I'd also like to think I can still sing Karaoke.

In February, 1987, the Minnesota Twins backed a truck up to Olympic Stadium in Montreal, dumped a load of compost on the Expo's lawn, and walked away with relief Pitcher Jeff Reardon. The Twins went on to win the world series.

It was a trade specifically designed to make the Twins better.

8 Years later, the Minnesota Vikings Traded Randy Moss to the Oakland Raiders for compost of slightly lesser value.

It was regarded by many as a trade specifically designed to get rid of a jerk.

My new team is made up entirely of women. They are VERY proud of this. They had even named themselves "The Empowered Misses".

But they made an accommodation for me...

In case you can't read it, their team sign now reads, "Empowered Him".

Just call me number 84...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Night Chicago Died

Installment 3: Karaoke Superstars...

Quick...Name two things that when mixed together, can become highly toxic, and present a grave danger to all life within the immediate vicinity.

If the first things that came to your mind were Bleach and Ammonia, you obviously have never witnessed the combination of aging, slightly overweight food service professionals and a Karaoke Machine.

A Few of The Colonel's Friends Practice Their DDR Moves Sans-Pads

It was Brutal.

I'm not talking about the Off-Key, Out-of-Synch Butcherings of Islands in the Stream, I Got You Babe, or (shudder) The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia. Those were bad enough to sterilize cattle.

No. That's not the worst part.

I am talking about the Horror of The Colonel being finally talked into taking the stage, getting two notes into his song, and discovering that somewhere in the last six months he has completely lost the ability to sing.

We're talking a crash & burn that makes the
Stone's Super Bowl Appearance sound like The Three Tenors.

Within seconds of starting the song, I knew it had been a HUGE mistake, and so did the audience. But I pressed on like a guy who didn't know where the exit was. (I didn't)

When I finished, the crickets weren't even chirping.

The Bleach & Ammonia are starting to look pretty good.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Waylaid in the Windy City

Installment #2

We got the word that a shuttle bus was leaving for a great shopping mall at 6 pm.

"Hooray!", I thought, "Here's my chance to find The Ultimate Duffel Bag!"

That's how my traveling companions and I found ourselves at The Dumbest Mall in the World.

How dumb? We are in Chicago. It's 5 degrees below zero here. Lake Fred (Don't ask...) has already frozen over...

And this Mall is OUTSIDE.

It's not a strip mall, mind you. It's a full sized, "We've got a Macy's, a Nordstrom's, We've got escalators and everything" kind of mall. But it is also a "We've got no roof on our hallways," kind of mall.

You come walking out of The Disney Store and the wind just sort of whips you down to The Gap.

Here's an actual excerpt from their
web site...

Oak Brook Center:
Located just 30 minutes from downtown Chicago, Oakbrook Center is one of the most prestigious and striking(1) outdoor shopping destinations in the Chicago area. In fact, it's the largest open-air premier shopping center in the country (2)! Always on the cutting edge of fashion(3), Oakbrook Center was voted the #1 shopping destination by Illinois shoppers(4). And no wonder. With six major department stores and over 160 upscale shops and restaurants set amidst lush gardens and flowing fountains(5) it's a spectacular(6) outdoor shopping experience.

(1.) Cold and Depressing
(2.) Think "Mall of America" conceived by Idiots.
(3.) Parkas & Steeger Mukluks
(4.) Bears Fans...See #2
(5.) Nope...Never seen 'em...covered in snow
(6.) Skull-Crunchingly Cold

Wasn't there someone, somewhere in the design phase of this thing who had the intelligence or courage to say, "Hey, wait a minute...This is Stupid!"?

On top of that, we simply couldn't find a Duffel Bag under $50.

We looked everywhere. We braved snow drifts, frozen earlobes and all those snotty AE teen workers who regard you like a special kind of toe fungus whenever you enter their store.

We finally found a nice "Land's End" model at Sears for $49. I justified the purchase by telling myself I could use it for Paintball Gear. (Or the Kids could take it on a choir trip, Dear...really.) Besides, I used my Sears card, so as long as I keep changing my address, I'll never have to pay for it.

After a while, the "Upscale" sales clerks began to grow weary of us running into their fancy stores just to stamp feeling back into our toes and shake icicles out of our noses. "Can I help you?" "No, just shivering..." Clearly, it was time to leave.

So we ate a Horrible Meal at Michael Scott's Favorite Pizza Place and grabbed the Shuttle back to the Lodge.

The 1st thing I did when we returned was cancel my Wednesday Night excursion to Downtown Chicago.

Rumor has it it's all outdoors.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Fear & Loathing in Chicago

We were somewhere over Wisconsin, on the edge LaCrosse, when the Dramamine began to take hold...

No, unfortunately, I haven't read enough Hunter S. Thompson to do a proper send-up piece. So let's just scrap that idea right here and now.

Instead, I will attempt (yes, attempt) a feat never before conceived on the Band Blog. I will give a good old Hamburger University try at BLOGGING EACH DAY a little about the Colonel's trip to the windy city.

Installment #1:
It was somewhere around 3 am when The Blond woke me up...

"Do you want to take the minivan to the airport tomorrow? I don't think you can fit all your luggage and everyone else's into that little Vibe."

She was right, of course. I am a notorious Over-Packer. I think it has to do with the fact that I hate to leave home. To compensate, I try to bring as much "home" with me as I can whenever I travel.

Because of this, the Blond had watched me pack (I am not making this up) 15 shirts, 9 pairs of pants, too many socks to mention, my laptop, IPOD, IPOD docking station, Three pairs of shoes, camera, swimsuit, sandals, and one pair of underwear for a 5 day trip.

As a final act of lunacy, I tossed in a passport, just in case the plane veered into Soviet Airspace.

It was just too much for the limited luggage space of a hatchback.

So instead of doing the intelligent thing, (packing less) my Inner-Moron tm once again took over and decided everything would be resolved if I simply crammed all those contents into ONE GINORMOUS SUITCASE.

I had to enlist help from a couple of teamsters just to get it in the car. Upon arriving at the airport, I dutifully lugged it over to the baggage check-in. The guy behind the counter looked me over...

"Uh, sir...You have a bit of a weight problem there..."

"Hey! I work out almost once a week!"

"No sir, your bag. It's 10 pounds over the weight limit. Would you like to re-distribute it?"

"Redistribute it? Where?"

At this point, I had to weigh (npi) my options.
1. Take one of my sandals out of the suitcase and cram it in my laptop case. Yeah, that would help.
2. Ask someone on the same flight if they would "share" their luggage with me.
3. Bribe the Baggage Guy.

Actually, it wasn't a bribe. For an extra Jackson, he stuck an embarrassing tag on my monstrosity and let me slide through.

As I was leaving the counter, he let me know that I wouldn't have been overweight if I had just used two bags.

That had been my intention in the 1st place.

So now I have a quest. To prevent this hassle on the return trip, I will spend Wednesday evening in downtown Chicago in search of The Perfect Duffel Bag.

Hopefully, I will have a humorous post later in the week chronicling this upcoming quest.

That way I get my $20 worth.