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Typical?

I figure it's been a while since I wrote a detailed account of what could be described as a typical weekend in Kansas City, but my sister paid me a visit this weekend, and I had no choice but to go and enjoy what has for seven years now been my home. So I figured you might like to hear about it.

Julia arrived on Northwest, which is to say she arrived late. That's fine, because I was still pretty hung over from Thursday night when a bunch of ex-coworkers came to town to show me a good time. I decided that while Julia was here, we would not eat any barbecue or steak. I would make an allowance to the "huge chunk of meat" category with a trip to Chefburger, but for the most part, I wanted to show Julia things to do in Kansas City that wouldn't immediately come to mind when visiting.

She rolled up to my front door in her immense rental car(some kind of Chrysler megasedan), and I informed her that parking would be nonexistent near the house until later that night, because Death Cab for Cutie was playing a big outdoor show over at the nearby City Market. So we went to West 39th, and got dinner at Blue Koi. She had the Ants in a Tree dish, and claimed to have thoroughly enjoyed it. Neither of us was able to finish our gigantic dinners, and turned down to-go boxes, stating that in the city, the food will get eaten, even if it goes in the dumpster. We spent the rest of the short night sitting with Erp and Amber behind Erp's house in West Plaza, before heading back to my place to sack out hard.

Julia was still on Eastern time on Saturday morning(and so, apparently, was her filthy new Verizon phone) and stirred about an hour earlier than I would have wished. But by 11am or so, we were both all cleaned up and ready to go, so we spirited down to You Say Tomato for some breakfast. I had never been there before, and the biscuits and gravy were delicious. Julia has some kind of sandwich of melted cheese which she assured me was of the highest quality, and we headed home to take care of some paperwork before heading out for the bulk of the increasingly hot day.

At my suggestion, we drove up to Parkville and walked around the tree-covered sward at English Landing Park. The Missouri was running very high, a fact that hadn't escaped the notice of local anglers. Apparently high-running water makes for great fishing, as the biggest fish can then be found in almost any part of the river, and not just in the deep center channel. This was evidenced by the gargantuan catfish they had lying on the ground behind them, and the 12-13 inch drum they caught as we watched. They were just using worms, but it was a bonanza for them. High-running water. Good to know. I used to love fishing, too.

We walked over to the Power Plant for a quick beer. On the way we passed a point in the road where a tributary creek noisily flows under it through a couple of cement tubes, and runs on to the swollen Missouri. Sunning itself on the cement ramp from the roadside to the creek was a three-foot long rat snake, which Julia took to be a facsimile until I moved closer, to nudge it with my foot. It quickly slithered down to the creek and out of sight. Julia was surprised to have seen a live snake, and one of that size as well. My eyes on the prize, I prodded us along to the brewery. I tried an experimental beer called, "Hoppeweizen." The jury's still out on that for me, as it was for the brewer. Julia had a stout.

We continued up the road to Weston, where we first went to the surprisingly excellent Pirtle Winery. Like any Missouri winery Pirtle had its share of sweet sugary wines, but atypically they had a good selections of very dry reds, and even a dry white, all made from locally-grown grapes. We picked up a couple of bottles and availed ourselves of the free parking. We walked from there through a small vineyard, across a sunlit lawn, and past a bunch of Saturday bikers and their rumbling machines to the highly unassuming front door of O'Malley's Irish Pub. Located entirely in underground 166-year old beer cellars, it's another brewery that in my opinion has had some trouble getting their brewing operation off the ground since they started it back up in 2005. I've only visited at night once, because of its location almost thirty miles from home, but the people with whom I went agreed with me that it's the best Irish pub in existence.

From there we headed back into town. I didn't want to drink any more beer and drive. Two was plenty for one afternoon, and though it certainly wasn't enough to make me intoxicated, it was enough for me to enjoy the places we went. We parked, took care of some more paperwork, and walked over to the Flying Saucer, as is my custom. We arrived in time for a shift change and got to high-five the incoming staff just as well. After I'd finished my daily allotment, plus one, we merrily headed over to Chefburger for dinner. Despite the agitating contrarian opinions of some of my friends and acquaintances, the food at Chefburger was outstanding that day.

We crossed Walnut into the Power and Light District proper, and picked up some to-go drinks at Gordon Biersch. We wandered around the district amid a large and growing crowd, while I pointed out the places I knew to Julia. We exited through Raglan Road, where as we left, a young attractive woman danced on a table to the Irish music being played, her breasts bouncing around like pudding as she did so. Julia was less than pleased, but I overruled her. By twilight we walked to JP Wine Bar, where we revitalized with large cups of coffee before walking over to Nara. Julia ordered a small plate there, and made sure that I tried some of each of the items thereupon. I really enjoyed the Ahi Tuna sushi, especially when dipped in wasabi-infested soy-sauce, but I almost lost my dinner when I tried the shrimp tempura rolls.

Geoff joined us there, extending Katie's apologies for her fatigue-induced absence. We talked around the table, listening to what I regarded as good music until they chased us out at 1:30am. We ran into Gavin on the way back up Main, and made an attempt at a nightcap at the Flying Saucer. As we approached the door, a couple of employees having a smoke turned to tell us that we'd just missed last call. I recognized the woman as a bartender, made a plaintive face, and said, "oh, come on, Jen!" She saw who I was and said, "okay, just one?" And we were in business. The three of us stood around a tall table as the place was brought down around us. We drank our beers, thanked them, and said good night.

We went home, and somehow, I drunkenly beat some difficult bosses in Lord of the Rings Online that had been plagueing me sober for weeks. We fell heavily asleep, and woke up on Sunday morning with slight headaches. We got up, got cleaned up, and headed over to the K to catch the Royals-Indians game. It was my first game of the year and I was really excited to be there, but it was really hot out. I could feel beads of sweat rolling down my back as I sat. We sat watching the game for perhaps five innings before getting up to get something cool to eat/drink.

We stood in the shade until the 7th inning stretch, at which time the Royals were winning 6-0. We reasoned that if we stayed and something changed, we wouldn't like what we saw, so we made a beeline for the Plaza, arriving at the Palace Theater with ten minutes to spare before the 3:55pm showing of Indiana Jones. After the movie was over we walked around the Plaza a bit, and stopped at Houston's to get a drink. We picked up Matt and Amanda, and went down to Tacqueria El Taco Nazo in Armourdale for dinner, where they told us about their trip to what was probably the worst Mexican food they'd ever had on their trip to St. Joseph last weekend.

We went to bed and slept heavily until my alarm went off. Julia's working at a factory in North Kansas City all week, doing some kind of air quality audit. Her employer has put her up at a casino, which I find exceedingly humorous. Anyway, it was a great couple of days. I always enjoy Kansas City, and I like even more to show it to people that don't know it.

1:08 PM, Jun 3, 2008

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I Slept Through June

Oh, I forgot! I have a website! Welcome back to it!

Yeah, so I've kind of lapsed in my updates lately, and for this I offer my apologies, with such credibility as I can muster.

Let's just dive back in, shall we? The first game of the summer kickball season was last night. With weather moving in from the accursed west, many people on the team seemed unwilling to accept that we might have a game, as if the very possibility of rain would free them of some kind of obligation. As such, I received countless messages asking if the game was canceled, and incredulous replies to my simple negative answers, as if they were trying to justify having already made plans.

All told, five people showed up, compared to zero from the other team. The extremely light rain was almost completely over when the game was called for reschedule and those of us that remained when to Grinders. We were joined there by Erp, Amber, Nick, and Rosisella. Danielle helped us out and did the best job I can remember ever getting there. We had a great time. Such a great time in fact, that all were invited to Erp's house for "one more," and all accepted.

For the next two or three hours, Erp, Amber, Chris, Rosisella, Nick, Andrea, Liana, and I noisily capered around Erp's living room, carrying on conspicuously to some sort of music. I gave Andrea and Nick rides home, and I went to bed after tearily watching the scene from Return of the King when Gondor lit the beacons of Anorien to call for help from Rohan. I had never noticed how epic and excellent the music in that scene was before. Also, you can just shut the hell up. I know what I am, and I embrace it.

Geoff and I are throwing Erp and Amber a going-away party tomorrow, I filled a pitcher this morning before I left for work, and the keg failed to blow. I unhooked it and judging from the effort I expended in lugging it up the stairs and out to my car, I'd guess it was down to about 1/5 of its full capacity. It was the second time we'd had that beer(O'Fallon 5-Day IPA) on tap, but the first time, it had blown in three hours. This time, we couldn't kill it in nine months.

Anyway, now my car smells like beer. See you soon!

3:10 PM, Jun 20, 2008

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Deliverance through Technology: Really.

Election season is drumming up to fever pitch, and it's not even getting cold outside yet. This must be the earliest the presidential race has ever been relevant. I suppose after a presidency like the one that's set to end in about seven months, people can't help getting excited about who will occupy the Oval Office next.

So I suppose the crazy-looking one-uppedness and record-setting campaign finance numbers can be pardoned, or at least for the purposes of this particular editorial, as that is not the intended topic of my upcoming fluff.

No, what interests me is the widespread, generally agreed-upon hysteria about gas prices. Gas now costs about $3.90 where I live, making it one of the cheapest places in the western world to fill your tank. About once every two weeks, I pay about twenty dollars more to fill my tank than I did two years ago. That totals about $520 more, per year, that I pay for gasoline. That's almost twice what I paid two years ago, but here's the thing: I don't care. I hope that two years from now, I have another $520 to pay on top of it, if I'm still driving enough to need that much gas.

I think gas getting more expensive is a good thing, as it forces two things that make economies great: innovation and discussion. In the free, open internet-powered world, there is little standing in the way of solutions to our energy problems being found. Unfortunately, nobody that I've talked to seems to feel that way. Instead of using the completely unprecedented power we have in collaboration and communication, the current politically popular action falls on blaming someone, whether it's speculators, suburbanites, the party on the other side of the aisle, the oil companies, the current administration, the international community, or my favorite, the economy.

The only corrective action that I've seen has been flawed from the start. If we attack the speculators, we take away the underlying freedom that powers what's left of our economy. If we attack people's lifestyles, we take away the underlying freedom that powers what's left of our work ethic. If we attack a perceived shortage brought on by what alarmists are with little evidence calling, "peak oil," then the underlying problem is not addressed, and nothing is done in the immediate term.

The proposals I have heard from both sides of the 2008 presidential campaign can best be described as political bullshit. They are all based on blame, and on depriving America of something far greater and far more important than cheap energy. Though I don't know the answer, technology will account for its existence, and technology, combined with freedom will reveal it to us, if we can just get the god-damned campaigners out of the way.

4:16 PM, Jun 26, 2008

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