Monday, June 30, 2008

Observations from a Car Window

There's not a whole lot more humbling in life than, after driving for ten years, getting in a rental car and not being able to figure out how to start it. In Salt Lake, I rented a Prius. When I got in the car with my two friends, I sat there trying to figure out how to get the key out of the remote, since there was no key on the chain. To explain, I have a Volkswagen and the key for the ignition pops out the side of the remote. There was no key for the Prius. There also was no key hole on the steering wheel for the key to go into. Apparently that problem fixed itself.

I sat in the parking lot at the airport for almost a half hour trying to figure out how to start the car. That's right, just trying to start the car. There was a giant power button on the dashboard. It didn't do anything. In a final idiotic attempt, which I later found out was not so idiotic, I tried shoving the remote into any opening that would fit it on the dash. It locked in one spot. For a split second I panicked, thinking I put the remote somewhere stupid and wouldn't be able to get it out. Then I realized that was where it was supposed to go. I pushed the power button again and the car started. I did a happy dance in my seat.

I couldn't find the transmission either. I'm used to mine being between the front seats, or maybe even on the steering wheel. I finally found a small knob on the dashboard, right next to where the remote goes that I assumed was the transmission. 45 minutes after getting the keys, I've finally learned how to start and shift the transmission in the car. I know, you're all so impressed with my abilities (trust me, I was too).

When I backed the car up, it beeped. It was the most annoying thing ever. When I put it in drive, it still beeped. Wait, that's not right. I started looking around the dash to see what was wrong. The brake light was on, but I couldn't find the emergency brake release. I finally went and asked someone, and they showed me it was the pedal that I assumed was to pop the hood or used when the transmission was switched to manual. It still beeped when I had the car in reverse.

For how small the car was, I still couldn't see out of it. I couldn't see anything below the windshield wipers, and they may as well have skipped putting a rear window on the car. There was no way to adjust the seat higher. Or if there was, I didn't have the patience to find it at that point. I took pictures of what it's like to be me driving.
The battery gauge went anywhere from being fully charged to almost dead without reason throughout the whole trip. Of course it was almost dead while I was on the freeway to Park City, in the middle of nowhere. I tried not to let that one get to me.

I also didn't like driving in Utah. First of all, there are no signs indicating when two lanes are merging. I almost killed myself twice because I didn't realize lanes were merging. What's that about? The state can't invest in a few signs that let the driver know they should speed up or slow down if they don't want to crash into the car next to them? There are not sufficient signs on their highways to indicate where you're going. I got lost three times going to Park City because the freeways forked and I didn't know which way to go. And finally, people are rude there. For people that think Minnesota drivers are mean, you have yet to drive in Utah. They drive too slow and too close. They also feel it is fair game to steal your parallel parking spots when you're halfway backed into them with your blinker on. I'm from Minneapolis, where most of the parking is parallel, and that has never happened to me. Seriously, who does that?

When I got home, I ran to the garage and gave my Jetta a hug and a kiss. We missed each other.

Monday, June 23, 2008

LOL Cats

I wish I could say that my humor has moved beyond that of a 12 year old, but it hasn't. I find a good LOL cat hilarious. That may be because I hate cats, but that's beside the point.

This whole thing started one afternoon in class with Lisa. She was looking at a classmate's daughter's blog and her "LOL cat" pictures that she made herself. She was showing me them rather amused and I tried explaining to her that the pictures this girl had posted were not quite the same thing as a regular LOL cat. She didn't understand, and so in the middle of class, I was trying to explain that a LOL cat doesn't really have a point and makes fun of internet grammar, both things the girl's blog did not do. I Googled LOL cats then, as both of us had our laptops (a big mistake for the easily distracted), and showed her the following picture:

She stifled a laugh. Meaghan, overhearing our conversation, leaned over and whispered, "Do invisible bike! Do invisible bike!" Lisa put in a search for "invisible bike," and at that point, paying attention during the rest of class was hopeless.

The two of us spent the next hour Googling LOL cats. I'm pretty sure Nick shot us a look that said we should not be laughing at ridiculous pictures of cats in class. I sent my mom this one that afternoon (which she said was cute, but probably wasn't nearly as amused as Lisa, Meaghan and I were):

A little while back, I sent Arran this one. I'm not sure why. I thought it was funny at the time. It kind of reminded me of the cheeseburger one. I seem to like the LOL cats with food.

And you're all probably wondering why I am writing a post on something that happened months ago and that really isn't funny to anyone else except Lisa and I. Because I saw something today that was the ultimate in making me LOL thinking about that day in class:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Picasa: An Unhealthy Addiction

I made a video of some of the pictures I've played around with on Picasa. I wanted to do a slideshow directly through Picasa and import that to my blog. But apparently I'm not smart enough to know how to do that yet. It's okay if you don't like them.

Another thing that I found while scrounging around for pictures to play with was something that only Toni would appreciate. It's a video filmed by a few people in the British military some years back, imitating a show that I think is the equivalent to Letterman. The video became so popular it crashed the Ministry of Defense servers. Oddly enough, the Ministry of Defense thought the video was "brilliant." Here is the article on the BBC website. It's kind of cute. Toni and I watched it about the time her brother and a friend of mine were sent over. It made us both feel better in some ways I think. I still sing this song to her. She loves it.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I like summer weekends more than most things. What can I say, I'm easily amused. I have been to a BBQ every weekend since mid May. I love BBQs, even if I don't like the food much. I love the atmosphere and people that go to them. Summer weekends also seem to be packed with more fun things that require moving around. I found this weekend to be especially pleasant.

Sarah had a fish fry, which meant I couldn't eat. It was still a great time. Elizabeth and Cody grilled chicken and brats, and David and Annie brought good bread. I am still poor since I have yet to see my student loan check (and have therefore been living on bananas and wheat bread for the last week), and so I couldn't bring anything. There was a watermelon seed contest. I think David won. He hit my car with one. I thought it was impressive.

I had to leave early for Chuck's show at The Red Sea. Don't let the website fool you; it was really a frightening place. Chuck's band was awesome regardless. He met me at nine and we took a walk around the east and west bank campuses of the university. It was very reminiscent of when we had class together and would walk over the Washington Ave. bridge. We didn't talk about the crazy guy that was in our group this time though (don't worry Chuck, I still think Slaughterhouse Five is a good book). I haven't been to a live show in a long time. It was great to feel the music vibrating up through my feet, and even greater still that I didn't have to sit on anyone's shoulders to see the band.

I fell asleep in the sun for too long and am nicely burnt on my shoulders, cheeks and nose.

It was Father's Day and I went over to my parents'. I got my dad a card with Bush on the front and on the inside I wrote an apology, stating that there were no Obama cards. Deep down, I'm sure he loved it. My mom got him a GPS that he promptly hooked up to the car, so the three of us drove to BFE, Minnesota to test it. The GPS was christened Betty Lou, which if you ask me, sounds like a pin-up name. I'm not sure what kind of GPS my mom got my dad. My parents are looking at cabins in central Minnesota so I got to see a few of the ones they're looking at. No joke, my parents are looking at a cabin in the same city the largest ball of twine is in. That's right, the largest ball of twine. For some reason, I thought this was a made up landmark in movies and books to get a laugh. But no. It's a real thing, sheilded by glass. I wish I was making this up. Congratulations Darwin, Minnesota for having the most pointless point of interest on the whole planet. I'm not really much for small town Minnesota, if you haven't noticed. My parents seem to love it, although my mom did ask once where they were supposed to buy groceries.

Incidentally, I also found that things don't get to me as much they used to since becoming a teacher. It's not every day a friend of about ten years reaches out to communicate after not really speaking to me for a year or maybe more. It's also not every day someone like this tells me in detail that I'm hated (yet does not acknowledge to me, and quite possibly herself, why) in a poorly written passive-aggressive rant. I was told, if not on a daily basis, a weekly basis, that I was hated by my students. For some reason I can still feel good about myself at the end of the day. Kudos to me for being able to respectfully deal with someone whose emotions have the maturity of an adolescent.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

No, I really do have a crush on Obama.

Remember when I went to the Obama rally in February and how Nathan and I wanted to have his babies? Well that was NOTHING compared to last night!

Nathan, Elizabeth and I got to St. Paul at about five. And seeing as how Nathan and I were experts at Obama rallying, we felt it was our duty to reassure Elizabeth that walking for miles down crowded city streets to find the end of a line that really doesn't seem to have an end, is completely normal. This time, however, we came prepared with community snacks of carrots, peas and sandwiches, as well as an Us Weekly.

Nathan's friend and Elizabeth's friend joined us after a couple hours of waiting in Rice Park. Not only did this add to the political bonding, but the three of us came to find out that both friends received luxury box seats through work for the rally. Still not sure we were going to get in we amused ourselves for the time being by making an unruly amount of "that's what she said" jokes about which friend had the best box and making fun of the cops on horses.

It was also through waiting in line that I realized that Obama has the best name to pun. A girl near us was wearing a shirt that read "Barack the vote" and bumper stickers were being sold that said "Barack and roll."

As we approached the doors, we were told we could not bring any bags or umbrellas (it didn't rain, thank God) into the building. People threw their rain gear onto a couple of pine trees outside. We wondered if the umbrellas would be there after the rally.

We landed seats in the Fox Sports Net box which had soda and TVs running CNN and best of all, it was on the first level. Talk about awesome! I can't even begin to describe the energy in that place. While we waited for Obama to give his speech, we watched the CNN broadcast of the primaries and Clinton giving her speech. The few of us stood around the TV, watching in anticipation in a way that I can only relate to the Y2K New Year. It was this hushed excitment that made you pace. It made you ask stupid questions just to hear other people. It made you call your parents from the box to tell them where you are (which I did). During this waiting time, ads were being played for Obama. The "Yes We Can" music video was played. Nathan said he still gets the chills when he sees it. I cried.

After the rally we walked out and decided to check out the umbrella tree out of curiosity. Nathan and Elizabeth's friend decided that they were entitled to take one. We were the reason the umbrella was still not in the tree after the rally. Go figure.

Nathan trying to talk a stranger into taking an umbrella.
The speech: amazing. Michelle Obama: the next Jackie Kennedy. Barack Obama: well, I think everyone knows where I stand on this one. Nathan and I: still wanting to have Obama's children.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Guess who is getting to see Obama again?? Oh yeah, that would be me.