Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Introductions are in order

Someday I'll I have to actually WRITE more. Until then, I'm on my
lunch time walk and realized I've never introduced you to the two men
that started everything here at my day job.

This is Charlie & William Mayo. A real fascinating story these two men.

Well, back to my walk. Typing these posts is tad tricky while walking
the sidewalks of a city just north of 100,000 people.

Hope you are enjoying this beautiful fall like weather!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Only you can prevent forest fires

This birthday cupcake was for me and had 40 candles. Got all but one
on this first puff. I still got it it baby!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

It's like 60 degrees in July?

I guess we'll go bowling!

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's only a number

When I play poker, numbers are important. I like to calculate the odds and use that to determine the risks and rewards of taking certain actions. Numbers are cool.

But I've watched people obsess about certain numbers. Numbers like 7, 13 are very important to some people because they believe that they carry some sort of magic. There are numbers with religious meaning, but in western society and base 10 numerical system, we seem to be fascinated with with any number where N mod 10 = 0.

After you pass the age 21, landmark birthdays all seem to hover around the tens. I've always thought 36 was cool because you could finally date someone half your age and not go to prison. Must be a guy thing. Although, 42 means you can finally take her to a bar and have a beer and 52 she might be mature enough to finally not annoy the shit out of you.

I've witnessed people collapse with emotion on their 30th birthday. Worried that their youth was gone and there was no turning back. Like somehow, in the passing of a number on the calendar, they life was changed.

Numbers are really cool! Like the name of this blog, I am, without a doubt, a geek, but for all of my love of numbers, I have rarely put stock in the calendar. It's a bizarre system created in 1582 to measure time. We have chosen to mark time by the number of trips we've made around the sun. A day is the time it takes for the earth to spin once relative to it's axis. But does this really mean anything?

I've set a couple of goals for myself that were time related. When I was in 5th grade, I wanted to be a rich engineer by age 35. Yes, in 5th grade, I wanted to be an engineer. Of course, at 17 I wanted to be an engineer too. And at 23 I wanted to be a rock god. At 26, I wanted to be an engineer again. Well, at 40, I'm thinking rock god again...but I digress. I wanted to have my first child AFTER the age of 30. Check. But that's pretty much it.

I don't really understand people who 'feel' a certain age. What the hell does that mean? I feel pretty much like I did yesterday and I can't really remember feeling any different. I got more sleep years ago but the hangovers in your early 20's pretty much insure that each day will feel better then you did then. Nausea is no way to wake up in the morning...just sayin'.

Today, I feel great. I still love life, family and adventure as much as I ever have. My priorities are different. I know what it means to love a child more then my own life. I've discovered that beyond the quest for cuddle time with girls, there's a deep love for my wife that will never fade and can't be replaced.

Putting a time limits on living life is stupid. I have goals. Many of them are dreams whose time limit is what ever time I have left here. I gotta feeling that when I'm dead, I ain't gonna be taking a cruise with my wife in Greece the following summer. But I guess you never know.

Today is my birthday. Today I turn 40. Do I feel any different then yesterday? Nope. Am I just as excited for the next adventure? Yep. Any regrets? Nope...well, there are things I still need to get done.
  • I'd like to see Pearl Jam one more time, preferably at the The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.
  • I'd like to play in the World Series of Poker. Hell, I'd like to play in Bobby's Room with Phil Ivey.
  • I'd like to go to every blogger gathering.
  • I love watching my kids grow up and learn about the world around them.
  • I'd like to have the first dance at my daughters' weddings, because that's Dad's dance damn it.
  • I'd like to play with my grandkids and take them to Twins games and fill them so full of sugar they can't sleep that night.
  • I can't wait to make fun of everyone that's got a wrinkled tattoo at the old folks home or their nipple piercings keep falling out.
  • I can't wait to get really grey and look at my wife and know that she's still the most beautiful woman in the world.
I turned 40 today. Bring it world. We have lots to do and I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Green Day in Concert: My Review and Recap

I had a feeling that those posts I did a couple of weeks ago about the best concerts I'd ever seen were unfinished. This past weekend, OhCountess and I embarked on the "Weekend of Rock Tour". No complaints, it was well worth it, going back to work sucks.

On Saturday, July 11th, 2009 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, we witnessed what could only be described as the best non-Pink Floyd rock concert I have ever seen. Big words from me.

This concert capped off an amazing weekend of music for my wife and me. As I posted earlier, the Basilica Block party started it off. I realized I was hanging out in the Twin Cities area for the weekend, so I tried to contact Terri of TerriTerri fame. I'm always up for the idea of a blogger meet up but nope, her daughter was playing in a softball tournament. This did spawn an idea, though. With a little planning, anyone interested in meeting at the Block Party next year? Kind of a Midwest blogger gathering??? Just an idea...back to Green Day!

Green Day is a band that's hard to pigeon hole. They're mostly punk, with a bit of pop and a lot of rock. Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer and lead guitarist, is very much into liberal politics and ain't afraid to share that with you. They can be loud, raucous and everything I think of in a rebellious rock band.

The concert began with the band playing their latest album, 21st Century Breakdown, in order. This is pretty much as you'd expect. It's a rock opera after all. The order of the songs has a lot to do with the meaning of the songs. It's the story of a young couple trying to navigate this crazy world we live in.

I should apologize for the quality of the pictures. I had heard cameras weren't really welcome here. No way I'm sneaking my good camera in without drawing attention to some bulging body part. We shot all of these with either our iPhone cameras or my wife's point and shoot. Strangely, I really think that capture the event well.

If you've ever listened to Green Day, you'll recognize that they are a pretty high energy band and from the beginning, you knew, this was a no holds barred, high energy with no moments rest concert. Billie Joe has energy like no other performer I've ever seen, but best of all, he can work a crowd. On no less then 4 different occasions, he had members of the audience helping out on stage.

At one point, he running around the corners of the stage, sounding like an Evangelist. Singing praises. He stops over on the left side of the stage and asks if there is a child that can be saved. Um, Ya think there's anyone that wants to go on stage? One dad volunteers his 12(? could have been 13) year old to go on stage. I don't remember the exact words but it was something like "You're gonna let you 12 year old on stage with a punk band?" Billie Joe starts talking to the kid up close, whisper style and the kid just starts swaying with his hands in the air.

He had a little chat with the kid and then they broke into East Jesus Nowhere. The kids just standing there swaying side to side with his arms in the air...all of us following in step. During the song, there is a big "saving" moment. The beat changes and BOOM! He places his hands on the kids head, he falls backwards "saved style" and LOUD explosions from pyrotechnics fill our ears and eyes. The kid gets a hug from Billie Joe and goes back to his dad. Of course the crowd loves it.

Dad Stuff over at Stuff In My Brain was apparently at this same concert, sitting a few rows behind us. Yikes, had we known. He noticed the same thing I did. What a cross section of people were here. Next to us was a mom with her 7 and half year old. He was wearing ear plugs. Behind me was a lady in her late 50's or early 60's - rockin' and looking like she was having a great time.

The two girls sitting next to me were talking about how their parents hadn't let them get the Dookie album. That didn't make me feel any younger...That was 1994. But that's a pretty awesome if you think about it. 15 years.

Through out the show, he was making constant references to Minnesota. His wife is a native of Mankato. As the story goes, in the early years, the tours used to come through here all the time. You know, so he could hook up with her. Boys.

I've read somewhere that he's always like it here, not just because of the hot babes, but in general. He made lots of comments that gave you the impression that this was like home to him. The band started playing riffs from well known classic rock songs, you know, like Black Sabbath's Iron Man. They'd only play a little bit of the song, but it was fun, but then, he played the opening riff from Let's Go Crazy, by Prince.

I don't know how punk rock concerts work in other parts of the world, but here in Minnesota, Prince is in a protected class. Sure, he's arrogant, a bit over the top and his music is funk not punk, but he's deep down well known as a hardcore Minnesotan...We'll sing a Prince song with anyone. It's what we do. Normally, I hate covers, but Green Day made that song theirs and it rocked.

This was followed up the band playing Shout! from the Animal House soundtrack. I know, a Green Day concert. Sure, it was a punk/rock version, but it was fun. During the "lay on the floor" portion of the song, they did a montage of other classic songs. Gawd this was fun and the crowd was just eating it up. Looks like we got a picture of Billie Joe singing on the floor (above).

The picture on the left, just above here is how I'll remember this. He's standing on the monitor, being the rock god he's becoming.

The band left the stage and the arena went dark. You knew it wasn't over, there were so many good songs to go.

This picture on the right is Billie Joe returning for a little acoustic set. He started by playing a song I don't think I've heard..."My Minnesota Girl" a song about his wife. Very cool...and this would be the crowd to appreciate it. This was followed by Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) off of Nimrod. Yeah! I was hoping for this!

Something you don't see at most rock concerts is a crowd that is fully engaged. Sure, they go nuts for their favorite songs, but at no point did the crowd ever disengage. Billie Joe ran off stage for what I thought was a guitar change, but returned with an enormous Super Soaker and proceeds to spray it at the crowd. Cool, nothing new if you ever been to a festival in August, but he pulled another 13 year old out of the crowd and gave him the gun. In the mean time, he's run off stage again and returned with the leaf blower/toilet paper spewer. Yeah, shlocky, but very fun. Those new rolls don't last long so off he goes again and grabs a different gun. This time he screams..."Who wants a t-shirt?" Yep, one of those t-shirt guns. So much fun.

All the while, the band just sounded great. The band played the opening of Boulevard of Broken Dreams, one of their more popular singles. Billie Joe steps to the mic and out of his mouth, he started on the WRONG verse! Apparently, he's got a sense of humor because he just laughed and turned around. The band kept playing and when the time to start singing came around again he steps to the mic and realized something, the crowd was singing it for him. Word for word. He just let it go. No one complained and we got the entire first verse out + chorus before he stepped back in. I have to think, it must be pretty cool to be on stage and hear a stadium full of people singing a song you wrote.

I've always wondered how bands like Green Day play the first hits for so many years and not just get completely sick of them. Dookie had so many remarkable songs on it, but they've been playing them for 15 years. This band didn't skip them. They just let the crowd do the work. During Longview (still one of my favorite songs), for each verse, a different member of the audience did the singing. There's three verses so three lucky fans got their shot. The first girl was pretty good, the second, well, she kinda sucked, and last, this guy gets up and rocked the house. At the end, after singing the best lyric in rock history ("when masterb***'s lost it's fun, you know your f'n lazy"), Billie gets on a mic cheering him on and says, "For that, you HAVE to stage dive!" Every fans dream. Lucky bastard.

The show wraps up. The band had played for two and half hours. One of the longest concerts I've ever been to and every minute of it was just fantastic.

OhCountess, who tends to lean to the pop song side of the music dial, looks over at me and said, "that's the best concert I've ever seen." Better then Rob Thomas? Yep. (I would have been looking for early exits from that...just sayin').

The house lights came up. We were in Section 104, row M seats 13 and 14. Dead center of our row. No rush, we stayed in the hotel across the street so we were really in no hurry. We took a few pictures and said good bye to our neighbors. Our throats were sore and our ears were ringing, but in the end it was all worth it.

This was, without a doubt, the very best rock concert I've ever seen that didn't have Pink Floyd on the ticket. It was very, very close to that good too. You may or may not realize just what that means coming from me...but it's huge.

After the show...cocktails with my bride cause there was no way we just gonna fall asleep after that.

Rock on!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sorry about the quality but

It friggin Green Day!!!!!!

The weekend of rock continues

Heading in to the show!!! It's time for Green Day!!!

For the record

Time for a quick update. Last night, we went to the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis. It takes place at the Basilica of St. Mary.

Terri, yes, you need to go! Next year for sure. Maybe this could be a blogger meet up??? It could happen.

OhCountess won the tickets to the VIP section. WOW! All of these pictures were taken from our seats. I like the lack of obstruction and the private bartender handing out free beer. beer.

The Black Crowes were the headline act of the day. Man, did they rock! Those guys put on a fantastic demonstration of the proper way to do a southern blues/rock jam. The only disappoint of the night came as they didn't play "She Talks to Angels," one of our favorite songs.

Erin McCarley was the first act of the night. We weren't sure if we had ever heard of her, but she did sound great. She set the mood for a great night of music.

Next up, Mat Kearney, as far as bands for an out door show go, this guy was amazing. Great voice and just fun music. His guitarist happens to be from Minnesota. He talked several times about how excited they were to be here (of course, don't they all do this?). One really funny comment had to do with how much he loves Minnesota and Minneapolis. He' love it more without some of the winter, but of course, our homeboy had to chime it that putting up with those winter days is still worth it. I couldn't agree more.

Even with a little rain, the concert was a great time. The sights, the sounds and even the smells of the food vendors are hard to put into words.

I was dubbing this weekend "The Weekend of Rock Tour." Tonight, we are off to see Green Day! I looked EVERYWHERE but I can't find my skinny tie. Damn! But we might just have to change that. We are making a stop at the Mall of America today to see Buzz Aldrin. He's a geek rock star of a different...this is the second man to set foot on the moon.

I'm quite sure, there will be plenty more Tweets and blog posts from my phone, as long as the battery holds up. I really need to get an iPhone 3GS. Wait! There's an Apple store at the

Friday, July 10, 2009

The man that looks like Jesus...#BBP09

The Black Crowes have taken the stage. Enjoy your lived while we are
in rock heaven...

This is more like it...

Mat Kearney on the stage, a cold beer, a cocktail for my wife and

Rock on!

VIP seating?

OhCountess seems to have gotten us VIP seating at the Minneapolis
Basilica Block party...oh boi!!!!!

Warm up act Erin McCarley is playing now. Sounds awesome!!!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Weekend in St. Louis: Getting there...

So, how ya been? Had any surprises lately? Been busy?

My life has been nothing but busy and surprises. I don't think I'll bore you with the day to day joys like being the only member of a team of 3 to be working last week. Or the craziness that are the "weekends" of my life...or wait, maybe I will.

Not this past weekend, the pig roast is another post coming soon, the weekend before. You may recall I put up some short posts, a medium size one and a few pictures. To recap, my wife hid a plan to put me in a car and drive to St. Louis Missouri and watch my beloved Minnesota Twins win one of two games vs. the St. Louis Cardinals. Oh, how I love away Twins games...hehe

In this and the next post, I'm gonna share the adventure that was the road trip to St. Louis.

When we left, I was still pretty much in shock by the whole thing. I mean, I went to bed thinking, "how am I gonna keep TheBiggTree (TBT) occupied all day?" As we made our way south to Iowa, we knew breakfast was going to happen....but where.

Thankfully, we love to eat at mom and pop places when we road trip. You know, you can have fast food any day, but on a road trip, live for the moment, take your life in your hands and order "the house special".

This photo on the left, it's the house special at Dave's Restaurant in Charles City Iowa. It's called the Big Daddy and works like this...take a plate full of hash browns, place an easy over egg on them and cover the whole damn plate in sausage gravy.

They had a little daddy at a reduced price but for some reason, we were hungry. The picture, that's what I left behind. It kicked our ass but MAN, was it tasty.

While I was eating, TBT kept reminding me not to over do it cause we had a stop to make soon and we wouldn't want a gut why did we order the big daddy? Can this possibly just sit nicely in my tummy while, as he said, do a little hoofin'?

I was officially "navigating" on our little adventure. I've done this before when planning a trip on Google Maps, add a sort of fake stop to make sure it routes me a certain way, so I improvised and by passed what looked like a fake stop in the travel plans. Oops. No, TBT wanted to stop there. It was our next destination.

No worries, we got ourselves righted and made our way out of town. We drove and drove and found finally found 240th St. It was a gravel road. Um. Okay. We drove down the road looking for a certain house number. I remember asking him, "you planning on whacking me and know a guy that will help you bury me?" We were in the middle of absolutely no where.

Another thought I had was maybe he was taking me to the Field of Dreams. My trivia on this sucked but I knew it was in Iowa, we were going to a baseball game, it could happen, but none of the farms on this road looked anything like the movie.

I'm not sure how I missed this the first time we passed it, but here it is, The All Iowa Lawn Tennis Club.
TBT is a fantastic tennis player. He has taught it at some of the private clubs in the area. He'd remembered reading about this place in Tennis magazine. I lettered in tennis in high school. That was 22 years ago.
When you make a reservation, they go all out. It's hard to see, but in front of each chair was a lawn sign, with our names on them! Now don't we feel special.
It really is a grass tennis court in the middle of the corn fields and the wind mills. It was absolutely amazing. Neither on of us had ever played tennis on grass. We both have some very limited experience on clay, the other major court surface, but here in the US, asphalt is mack daddy of tennis courts. This was really cool! Again, a complete and total surprise.

Our next stop wasn't a total surprise. One of the things we planned on doing while he had come to visit me was do a little geo caching. In his travel folder he had several geo caches that were on the way. One seemed to be just ripe for the pickin'. It was called JBird's Nest.

I'd never really done geo caching before but had always been very interested in it. Father of Five had written about it and I know others who have and it always sounds so fun.

TBT had the handheld GPS and a little experience. By the clues, we guessed this church was the right spot and sure enough, there it was under the tree!

OK, it really wasn't that brain dead easy. We walked around the back for a while and looked behind all the ventilation systems.

We didn't want to stay too long. We still needed to complete our primary mission. Busch Stadium and a baseball game. We left New London and got back on the highway making a bee line to the hotel to drop off our crap and catch the train into the city. Like we had any idea how to do that...

Until tomorrow...

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Indpendence Day!

Mmmm...looks like we are having roast pig for dinner.