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2:44 PM, Dec 1, 2007 toot this
Friday Cold
During work hours yesterday, Chris and I decided that we wanted to give KC's least-known brewery a try. Inside the Ameristar Casino there's a brewery called Amerisports. I'd been there once before, and was entirely unimpressed. However, that was before I'd developed my affinity for hoppy beer, so I was willing to give it another shot. Chris had never been. Actually, he'd never been to a casino either, but we didn't have gambling in mind last night. The idea of waiting in line to sign up to join the casino, so we could enter it, so we could lose money, did not appeal to us.

I intentionally directed him through less known routes to get there, following Front Street through the East Bottoms and coming up Chouteau Trafficway to route 210, and then down the backroads with the comically low speed limits(20 mph) that just brand them a ridiculous speed trap for the singularly-minded Randolph Police Department. We followed roads overgrown with shrubs and bushes, among grasping wretched grey trees, and we agreed that it would be a good place to leave a body. The contrast was unreal when we turned into the casino's massive complex. There was parking for tens of thousands, and there already were thousands there, spending their paychecks on a Friday night.

We approached the brewery on one of the casino's indoor "streets," and saw a line of pear-shaped middle-aged people waiting for a table. Amazed, we stood at the end of the line and saw over all the short people that there were plenty of seats up at the bar. We helped ourselves to two of them, and promptly had a couple of "Face-off" Pale Ales in front of us. As Pale Ales go, it was very mild- not much flavor, and was very light on hops. We both agreed that it was fine, but not something for which we'd come back.

We made our lengthy exit of the casino's multiple square miles of property, and headed into North Kansas City. We were close enough, and Chris had never been, so we went to Paci's. As usual, the beer was cheap and delicious, and I'm pretty sure the bartender remembered me. Chris had to make a phone call before we walked in. I wasn't so keen on standing out in the cold, so I went in and got a beer and a table. Unfortunately, the tables were wreathed in smoke, burning the use out my eyes and nose. When Chris came in, I insisted that we sit up at the bar.

After Paci's, we went to Grinders so he could eat something. I ate dinner before going out, so I was fine. Within a couple of minutes of sitting down, Phil arrived on his lunch from work at the Star and joined us. We sat and had a nice conversation before Phil had to pack up and head back to work, but soon afterward, Chris started to feel rumblings and sourness in his innards. He patiently and painfully waited for me to finish my beer(and his), because he intended to give me a ride home. I was half-expecting Erp to join us, so I told Chris to just go, and I'd be fine. He made his queasy way out and went home.

About four minutes later, I got word from Erp that he would not be joining me. So I settled the tab, zipped up my jacket, and headed out into the blustery cold. I reached the bus stop at 19th and Main at 11:27pm, and the scrolling readout said the next bus would be along at 11:40pm. The front door of Bar Natasha is literally right next to the bus stop, so I figured I had enough time to get out of the cold for a couple minutes and have a beer. Unfortunately, when I walked in, I was informed that doing so would cost me five dollars on top of the overpriced beer. I did an about-face and went back outside.

11:28pm. I remembered that the 57 usually comes a couple minutes before the MAX, but since I was on 19th, I realized that the 57 would be on Walnut, one block to the east. So I walked over to Walnut and waited for the bus. By 11:36pm, the bus still hadn't come, and there was no sign of it. I decided that I didn't mind at that point waiting three and a half minutes for 11:40pm, over at 19th and Main. So I walked back, and was standing under the red readout that read 11:38pm. After flashing a bunch of times, it displayed that the next MAX bus would come in a half an hour. Angry, I hailed a cab.

The driver was on the phone for the whole ride, jabbering away in whatever African variant of French it was, so I wasn't too keen to tip him, even though he didn't screw around getting me where I was going. The meter read $5.50, so i took out my wallet. I had five ones and four twenties. I handed the driver a twenty, and he told me he couldn't break it. I explained my cash situation to him, and he settled for the five ones. Justice was served.

12:17 PM, Dec 5, 2007 toot this
Lunch at my Desk
In between getting a little work done at work, and working on the future of this website, I've been getting the occasional lunch in. When I want to have a short day at work, I'll bypass the lengthy trips to sitdown restaurants for lunch, and instead I'll just pick up something quick and cheap and bring it back to my office to eat at my desk while catching up on my friends. This seems logical to me, since when I'm at home I'll almost always eat at my desk while watching the latest episode of something. But many people raise an eyebrow when they find that I'm content to eat in front of a computer. Sure, it inexorably adds mung to the already disgusting innards of the keyboard, but such things don't concern me.

I enjoy catching up on Ars, /., various local and not-so-local blogs, and the inimitable Xkcd while I reach for fries and build up fuel for my afternoon reading break in the men's room. Otherwise, lunch alone would be an extremely boring time for me. There is a beautiful area downstairs of tables and chairs, clearly intended for lunch use, and which gets a lot of use at lunch times, but to sit there with nothing to do but eat seems to defeat the purpose of having time off work for lunch.

12:25 PM, Dec 5, 2007 toot this
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Trip Tomorrow
I'm leaving tomorrow for a long weekend in San Francisco. It's going to be electrifying. At least on paper.

I'm flying nonstop into Oakland from KC, so barring unliklely weather problems, the trip should go without a hitch. The big problem, as I see it, is getting out of here in time to catch the 3:30pm flight. My boss assured me that it'd be okay, provided that I put in enough time in the morning. I plan on getting to the office a full hour earlier than usual. To prepare for this, I've had a wretched night of sleep, intentionally postponed by two loads of laundry that went into the small hours, ensuring that I'll be sleepy at an earlier hour tonight.

By this time tomorrow, I'll be packing! I can't wait!

I have to make myself scarce right now though, as my weekly meeting with the boss is imminent.

8:09 AM, Dec 6, 2007 toot this
Print Boarding Pass
I'm leaving later today for San Francisco, and so last night at about 7pm I remembered that since I was within 24 hours of my 3:30pm departure, I could check in online. I went to Southwest's website, and pulled up my ticketless confirmation from my "Plane Tickets" label in Gmail to get my confirmation number, and plugged it all in. I was under the impression that I could simply check in online, and retrieve my A-group boarding pass when I get to the airport the next day. However, when I attempted to check in, it just gave me a form to print.

Well, since I wasn't at work, there was no way to print it out. Jeff assured me that the fact that I'd checked in online would guarantee that I could just go to a kiosk tomorrow and get my A-group boarding pass, but I have never been lucky with the kiosks since 9/11. I share a first name with at least ten million people, and a last name with another ten million, so it invariably thinks I'm a terrorist, and tells me that I have to go and talk to a real person. I've filled out the TSA's, "I'm not a terrorist," action coloring book about five times, and the system still doesn't give a damn.

I didn't give a damn either. I had a boarding pass right in front of me, basically guaranteeing me safe, hassle-free passage aboard the plane, and I was going to print it. So, I got an idea. Firefox(like most browsers) has an option to save what the browser is currently viewing as a local file. So I did that, and copied it to my linux machine's web-accessible directory, and loaded it in Opera, and then in Internet Explorer. It worked fine, and I let out a whoop.

I set a reminder on my Google Calendar to tell me to print the boarding pass when I got to work. I got in earlier than I ever have before: 7:30am. I know. I have a hard life. There was one other car in the parking lot, and I suspect it had probably been left there overnight. I went inside and set about print my pass. There are two yellow bits on the page, so logically I determined that I had to print it in color.

So I set it to print on the color printer, locked my screen, and ambled over to the big white Lanier. Another guy with a cup of coffee in one hand was reading cryptic instructions for clearing paper jams on one of the "user-friendly" fold-out panels. With my help, he cleared perhaps four jams from various corners of the voluminous printer, closed it all up, and set eyes on the display. It read "WARMING UP," for some minutes before it changed to "CALIBRATING," and started making a whistling sound.

The other guy had given up by this point and had gone back to his desk, but I wanted my damned boarding pass. Finally it started printing page after page of things that had been left in its queue. My guess is that at about 2pm yesterday someone jammed it and didn't bother to tell anyone. It kept printing until I started to think it'd run out of paper. But before that happened, it jammed again. I went back to my desk and cleared my print job, and sent it instead to the black and white HP.

Anyway, I have my boarding pass now.

2:21 PM, Dec 6, 2007 toot this
Almost Gone
With no warning(to me), Kansas City got hit with its first real snow today. It started some eight minutes after I completed entering my previous post. To celebrate, all the idiots in town decided to go outside and drive around, comically running into things for the sake of humor.

As was previously arranged, I left the office at 11:30am, and found the world swathed in a half-inch deep layer of freshly fallen snow. It took about 45 minutes to get home, even though with my mostly brilliant route I never really encountered any traffic.

I got home, ate, packed, and found to my amazement that my 3:30pm flight was still predicted to depart on time, despite all the people whose heads were exploding. I went to the airport at a crawling speed, but in little to no traffic, I arrived with enough time to drink a really large beer before leisurely strolling over to the no-line security gate.

Jeff texted me with the news that my flight actually arrived early, and I took a seat in front of the ridiculously large flatscreen television that was marqueeing all the evening's cancellations.

It looks like they'll be boarding soon, so I'd better wrap this up before it drains my phone's battery. Next time you hear from me, it'll be from San Francisco!

1:16 PM, Dec 13, 2007 toot this
I'm Back
I got back from San Francisco yesterday afternoon, and I've since been arranging my thoughts on the trip. I have a mess of pictures for you, but I still need to process and upload the pictures from the wedding over a month ago first. And I need to get ready for a big maintenance window this weekend. And I need to do all my Christmas shopping. And I need to do laundry.

But regarding the trip, I think it will suffice to say that I had a fantastic time, and to gloss over the whole thing with a brief summary, as a full description would just take too long to write, and too much of your patience to read. So:

I still love San Francisco. It's a model for cities everywhere. There is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of things to do, for people of every temperament. Josh and Callie, for whom I officially made the trip, live in the Tenderloin among countless dive bars, strip clubs, porn shops, dirty corner markets, homeless people, hookers, quantities of garbage and excrement on the sidewalks and streets, and not surprisingly, the city's only reasonably-priced housing. Every day began, ended, and sometimes prominently featured walks in and around the Tenderloin.

I got to visit Toronado as I'd hoped, and found a few more real gems in SF beer culture, topped off with a visit to a fantastic beer bar that's also a great dive, called Zeitgeist, down in the Mission District. At these and other places, I happily imbued plenty of beer from Anchor, Sierra Nevada, North Coast, and Rogue. But on top of these breweries whose offerings can be readily found in Kansas City, I also drank some beers from Marin, Lompoc, Lost Coast, Russian River, Bear Republic, Lagunitas, Magnolia, Stone, Speakeasy, Karl Strauss, Gordon Biersch, Sin City, SF Brewing, and others I can't remember. There were certainly more places from which I could have consumed some beer, but I had more than my fill, and went home happy.

We spent Saturday afternoon and evening on an impromptu trip up to Muir Woods and Stinson Beach, the ride back from which Josh could not tolerate, and subsequently heaved the contents of his stomach all over the side of the road. This caused him to go catatonic because of low blood sugar. It was a fun, yet harrowing experience. We rented a car for this short trip and managed in the overnight not to get it stolen, vandalized, or broken into, all without having to pay for parking. Win-win.

I got to eat my favorite West Coast burgers, with a surprise trip to my second favorite. "But John, where would you have found a Fatburger? Aren't their California locations only in the Southern portion?"

Indeed they are. But due to the weather and cold that began as I was leaving Kansas City on Thursday, I was unable to return to Kansas City as promptly as one would hope. My return nonstop flight from Oakland left at 1:40pm on Monday, getting me home by about 7pm or so. Unfortunately, Kansas City's weather conditions actually deteriorated after I left, and by Monday, the authorities saw fit to close the airport. I told the ticket agent in Oakland to send me to St. Louis instead, where I could just rent a car and brave the three-hour drive to KC. They quickly complied, and set me up on a flight that would be leaving within an hour for Lambert, via Las Vegas.

I landed in Vegas and found out from the ticket agent that St. Louis was a hair away from closing, themselves. I volunteered to give up my seat, and keep track of the weather from a hotel, rather than sit around unshowered at the airport waiting on their word. The rest of the long story short: I spent the next two nights in Vegas, visiting and enjoying Sin City for the first time. I'm looking forward to getting the pictures to you.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE 4:57pm: I have completed the wedding pictures.

2:09 PM, Dec 14, 2007 toot this
Pictures From California
I've uploaded the California pictures, though they still need some touching up. My camera is hosed at the moment, and Jeff generously donated the use of his camera for the trip, but for some reason, it takes much darker pictures than the viewfinder/screen lets on in the previews. Also, I need to get descriptions written up. But anyway, all the pictures are there. Here are a couple choice selections:

The full set can be viewed at your leisure.

003sf.jpg 005sf.jpg 006sf.jpg 015sf.jpg 022sf.jpg 030sf.jpg 039sf.jpg 046vegas.jpg 052vegas.jpg

It's already Friday. I'll be attending a going-away/housewarming/white elephant/sweater party tonight. I'm not really feeling the humor of the whole thing right now, though I can't really put my finger on why that is. I've had music from the World of Ruin part of Final Fantasy 3/6 stuck in my head all morning and afternoon, but still have no real interest in playing the game again. Intent on eliminating this strange music-stuckness, I've taken the liberty of putting Nick Drake on my player. That probably accounts for my currently lackadaisical temperament.

2:13 PM, Dec 17, 2007 toot this
Elephants and Maintenance
I went to Erp's house on Friday night for a going-away party for Erik that was being combined with a sweater party and white elephant party. We didn't have time to also make it a housewarming party, as Erp had wished.

Nevertheless, it was a great party. In the white elephant exchange, I received a set of shower caps. I had intended to regift whatever I received in the gift exchange at another white elephant party that I'm attending on Tuesday, but due to the overall crumminess of the gift, everyone else just helped themselves to the shower caps while I was in the bathroom.

As we enjoyed the evening, the snow began to fall. By the time a patient Brad led me out to give me a ride home, the snow had accumulated to about an inch, turning the ride into a lively one. I stayed up until 4am watching the latest episode of Heroes, and slept until well after one in the afternoon. It was quite intentional, since I would be working maintenance that night.

I went into the office at about 8pm, and through better-than-average planning, and a bit of luck, was able to get out by 2:30am. I slept on Sunday until only about 11:30am, and enjoyed a full day of lounging around the apartment in my underpants before the sun began to set, and Jeff suggested a dinner out. I happily agreed, and a half hour later we were sitting across a table from each other at Jazz, staring into glasses of Pale Ale and Abita Turbodog. A delicious dinner followed, a portion of which is still in the refrigerator for tonight, and I was in bed by 11pm.

I had a lovely weekend.

9:40 AM, Dec 18, 2007 toot this
The Girl from Wallasey
I woke up this morning refreshed from a full night's sleep. When I was in San Francisco, my snoring problem prompted my friend Callie to prompt me to invest in some Breathe Right strips, which I had never tried before. I met with limited success using them there, though Callie assured me that it quieted my log-sawing significantly. Presumably in an attempt to preserve their business, the package instructs the user to keep wearing the strips for six or seven nights straight.

Well last night I wore them again, for the second night in a row, and let me say it was fantastic. For the first time since I can remember, I slept the whole night with my mouth closed the whole time, except to curse at a drunken text message at 3:30am. I remember my childhood dentist, Dr. Hillemeyer, telling me that keeping your mouth closed when you sleep is good for your teeth, because of some kind of bacterial battle or something I can't rememeber now. But I also remember sitting in that dentist's chair and thinking, "Sleep with my mouth closed? Fat chance! How will I breathe?"

I went to work this morning with the sun in my eyes, and any good mood I had was quickly forgotten as I dealt with both the piercing light of the sun and the fact that the other people on the highway only went slow when they were in front, and would angrily whip around me when I'd pass them with the six-over-the-limit cruise control on.

I got to the office, got a little work done, and proceeded to manifest my bad mood through pessimistic forum posts. The unknown semi-distant network guy that laughs like the Crypt Keeper drove me to my headphones, and I put on Push Barman to Old Wounds by Belle and Sebastian. Almost immediately, I felt relaxed and good-natured again. The moral of the story: Listen to Belle and Sebastian when you're feeling pissy.

10:24 AM, Dec 21, 2007 toot this
Free Thursday
I was bitten by the urge to get out and about last night. At around 2pm I sent out a email to a couple friends, proposing an informal get-together at the Zoo Bar for happy hour(and beyond). By quittin' time, I had received lukewarm commitments from Matt, Brad, and Jeff. That was good enough for me.

Jeff and I left the house at about 5:30pm and met Matt at Cupini's at 12th and Walnut, for some pre-beverage nourishment. Cupini's is wonderful. I have never had a bad experience there. The food is delicious, the hours are reasonable, and the staff is polite and responsive. I got a cheese manicotti, and a couple of breadtangles of cheese bread for the road, before we packed ourselves up and headed over.

The Zoo Bar was packed. They were holding their annual Christmas party, and everyone was in a very festive mood. The only problem for us was that we couldn't find anywhere to sit, and the only place to stand was in everyone's way. We each had one bottle of Pale Ale, said thank-you, and moved on. None of us had ever been to Vinino, the second large theme bar to open over in the nearby Power & Light District, right across from the Sprint Center, so we hobbled on over.

We were met by a seating coordinator/host/maitre d' at the door, which is always an uncomfortable experience for me when all I want to do is have a drink. We bellied up and each ordered various reds, after given generous samples of each. I had a sweetish California zinfandel of which I can't remember the name, while Jeff and Matt helped themselves to some complementary bread, hummus, olive tapenade, and some other item I can't remember. They seemed to enjoy the bread very much. I was still quite full from Cupini's only an hour or so earlier, so I sat back and watched them eat the bread with relish.

Matt had a cup of soup that didn't appear on our check, so we left a generous tip and exited through the back door that opens out onto the huge covered common area for the 30-40 bars and restaurants that are currently under construction, that is lamely named the "Kansas City Live!" block. They couldn't have sited the place better. The skyline view is of buildings that are seemingly right on top of you as you gaze vertically at them. It's going to be spectacular.

We walked in the back door of McFadden's, and received a surreptitious nod from the crowd control giant as we skulked in. We found a table, and padded our number to five people, as Brad and Amanda joined us. We all agreed that we loved the fact that such a big, noisy, clearly popular(probably the most popular in KC) bar should be smoke-free, and remarked that it was, as far as we knew, the first smoke-free 3am bar in Kansas City, possibly in Missouri. That fact certainly didn't appear to hurt business. Even on a Thursday at 8pm there must have been 150 people there.

After enough making fun of the music and $5 beers, we made such haste as we could make to Harry's Country Club. There, as if it was the old days again, we were waited on by Rose, and joined at our table by Fiona, coming off her shift. Ryan joined us there too, and when the beers had lost their appeal for the night, gave us a ride home. It was an expensive but really excellent night in Kansas City.

2:19 PM, Dec 26, 2007 toot this
A Slow Christmas
I had a quiet Christmas, during which I unfortunately discovered my first MMORPG, World of Warcraft. So, I have little else to report from the last five days, besides the following bits:

I went to Harrah's with Jeff and the other Jeff on Christmas Eve, where I(in order) had a mediocre steak at Toby Keith's White Trash bar, lost $115 at the coldest blackjack table in the history of bad, met(along with Jeff squared) with Eric and Michelle, and watched Jeff win $143 on a slot machine, not knowing exactly how it happened. He hit the spin button, or whatever it was, and about 40 little boxes on the LCD started "spinning," and the thing took about four minutes to draw arbitrary lines across it, connecting apparently related objects and symbols.

I spent the actual day of Christmas at home drifting from one video game or TV show to the next. It was pretty depressing. I'm back at work now, with little more to do than when I was at home. I'm just looking forward to the holiday season ending, so we can get everything back to normal. I like it when it's normal. Everyone's home and can hang out.

12:33 PM, Dec 28, 2007 toot this
Economic Indicators
I got off the phone with my brother yesterday afternoon, secure in the knowledge that I'd be heading right home after work, with a brief stop at the leasing office to pick up a package or two. These thoughts were ripe in my mind when, while celebrating the light workload this time of year I was watching some youtube videos at my desk, I received an IM from Matt inviting me to have a beverage after work. Immediately all my light plans fell through.

I was informed that the meeting time was 5:40pm at JP Wine Bar, and left the office at about ten after five. On the way it occurred to me that I could never make it home and then to the bar in thirty minutes. The walk from my place to the bar takes twenty minutes, and that's with no snow on the ground. So around 55th and Swope I made an administrative decision to drive straight to JP.

Since all the Arena/P&L-related road construction, it is an absolute breeze to get to that area from highway 71. I lucked out and found a beautiful parking spot right in front of the bar's front door. I suspect it had only been available for a matter of seconds, because even at 5:35pm, the place was very busy. I grabbed the last stool up at the bar and got a beer while I waited for Matt and Jackie to arrive. I busied myself with taunting text messages to Matt, as to why he hadn't arrived yet. It was humorous.

I watched Matt and Jackie approach the bar's door from different directions at the same time. I suspect that Jackie was waiting in a car for Matt to get there, and saw him tying up his horse. I didn't have any cash, so I covered the first round on my card. We grabbed a table and set about having a refreshingly frank conversation about relationships and other assorted inappropriate things.

Jackie left after a couple of beers for free sushi in Overland Park. She urged us to come with her, but we were not interested in a forty mile round trip for free sushi, especially in falling snow. We said good-night to Jackie, and hello to Chris who arrived within four minutes of Jackie's departure, as if ordained by fate. Our conversation degenerated from refreshingly frank to just plain gross.

In the time that we sat at that table at JP Wine Bar, we watched scores of well-dressed beautiful women come in, until the ratio of not just women to men, but beautiful women to men reached critical mass. It was ridiculous. It's all part of a trend I've noticed lately, and assures me that downtown is going to make it. I will use this opportunity to announce my grand unified theory of economics. Since I haven't yet heard or read of any other theories of this sort, I will name it, pending dispute, the Bahuic Effect.

I assert that a neighborhood's value and prospects are directly proportional to the number of visible beautiful, apparently single women. In the last year or so, the concentrations of Kansas City's beautiful woman population has shifted from more traditional beautiful places like the Plaza, Brookside, and Johnson County(where such women are too often laden with cumbersome and age-hastening husbands and children) to more urban, less car-centric places like Southmoreland, Midtown, Union/Dutch/Hospital/Quality Hill, and the two new motherlodes: the River Market and the Crossroads. This change has become apparent from the beginning to the end of 2007.

Anyway, Matt and I said good-night to Chris as he went to join Nick and Josh at Jilly's, and we went down to the Peanut to split a pitcher of Fat Tire and eat some oh-so-healthy Peanut BLTs. We walked shivering back to our respective homes, our coats absolutely useless against the driving icy wind. With a full night, we were still home before 11pm.

12:43 PM, Dec 28, 2007 toot this
Work Boat
I got to work a bit late today, as apprehension about the inch-deep layer of the previous night's snow drove any desire for haste out of my head. After I'd been here for about an hour and a half(about 10:30am), my boss walked into my cube and invited me to have lunch at the buffet at the Ameristar Casino. Not one to turn down an all-you-can-eat cornucopia of tastiness, I greedily accepted. About an hour later, I was finishing my lunch, composed of a chicken parmesan patty, a piece of pizza, fried rice, peanut chicken, two loaded tacos, and a slice of lemon meringue pie. I was stuffed.

Then, in what I thought was initially a joke, people started suggesting a jaunt to the tables. But it was no joke. Within another hour, I was up ten dollars, halfway through a beer, and safely cashed out. Most of the other fifteen or so people that came were either up or down. Wayne, Phil, John and I were, I'm pretty sure, the first ones to leave, and that was a full two and a half hours after we left to get there. It was a very entertaining and enjoyable lunch. Now I will spend the afternoon digesting my lunch and not getting any work done.

11:04 AM, Dec 31, 2007 toot this
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Northland Brewtrip
In the middle of last week, I sent out an invitation to a bunch of friends to please please attend an informal tour of the beer-related destinations of the stark northern suburbs of Kansas City. I called it the "Northland Brewtrip." After a couple of days, and an adjustment to the scheduling from doing it in the afternoon to doing it at night, Brad and Kelly agreed to go, and a bunch of maybes fizzled out within 24 hours of the event. No matter. We still had a great time.

Since it was my show, I agreed to drive and let the others enjoy themselves. I picked up Brad, then Kelly, and we started off at the Dish in Liberty. I had heard emotional claims from several people that are normally reasonable people, that the Dish makes the best Chicago-style outside Chicago. So I was pretty excited for it. Brad got an apple Ephemere, Kelly got a Turbodog, and I got a Dead Guy Ale, and we ordered a simple sausage-and-pepperoni deep-dish pizza.

It came, and while it certainly was delicious, it still wasn't as good, in my opinion, as the sausage pizza at Tarantino's, four blocks from my door downtown, and it still wasn't even half as thick as the great deep-dishes of Chicago. That's fine though. The pizza was still outstanding, and I'd rather the best Chicago-style in KC be right next to my house than all the way out in Liberty anyway.

We settled our tab and made a run back to Kelly's house so she could get her wallet. We then made the surprisingly long trip to Weston, MO. It was surprising to me because I'd been there several times before, and it was still longer than I'd expected. To my intense amazement, not only had neither Kelly or Brad ever been to O'Malley's before, but they had barely even heard of it. Despite its frustratingly remote location, it's a must-see when visiting Kansas City. Located entirely within 165-year old limestone cellars, I didn't even flinch when the man at the door informed us of the five dollar cover charge. If they'd require that we all take a punch in the groin, I'd have taken it.

To the surprise of Brad and Kelly, we just kept going down more stairs, until the heating of the deceptively small above-ground portion had worn away, and the air was filled with the musty odor of cave and the sound of the merriment of at least a hundred people somewhere below. We emerged in the orange light of the main hall, and reveled in the warm fellowship of a band playing Finnegan's Wake to cheers, applause, laughter, and white-man style rhythmic clapping. By luck, we snagged a booth table and had no problem enjoying the music, the surroundings, and the hand-crafted beer while fingering through some local Irish news publication that you only ever see in a place like O'Malley's.

It made me ache to know that we'd have to leave, because O'Malley's really is the best Irish pub I can think of anywhere, including Ireland(my current top 5 list is O'Malley's, Temple Bar in Dublin, the Busted Lift in Dubuque, IA, O'Dowd's on the Plaza in Kansas City, and Kelleher's Pub in Peoria, IL). I had one beer, the delicious Festival Ale, while Kelly and Brad each had two. We reluctantly got up and made our way out as someone quickly snatched up our table, and plodded back out in the snow to the car.

We next made for Leavenworth, where the High Noon Saloon awaited us with baited breath. We drove the seven or eight miles completely enclosed in fog, so that oncoming vehicles completely blinded us. We crossed the spectrally illuminated bridge into Kansas, turned left onto 4th Street, and sat behind two waiting taxicabs that blocked any parking. We finally got inside, and saw that there was a sub-excellent cover band playing, for which we would have to pay an additional five dollars. We coughed it up and made our way to the part of the bar farthest from the band. Luckily, that was where the beer was.

I asked the bartender if they had anything hoppy, and he responded by asking me if I was from the West Coast. Brad and Kelly played a rousing game of air hockey before we finished our beers and took our leave. It would have been much nicer if there hadn't been a noisy band playing, but as it was, we had to go. On the way out of town, I pointed out Marfield's, where one may find the best hamburgers in existence anywhere.

Our plan was to hit the Power Plant in Parkville next, but by the time we got there(about 12:30am), the cars were gone and the lights were off. So we made a beeline for another bar that neither Kelly nor Brad had ever visited: Paci's(sorry. no link) in North Kansas City. They have roughly 100 American bottles, very few of which are grey(BudMillCoors). I was told a few months ago that for a long while they didn't even carry any grey beer. Paci's sells their bottles for $3 a piece, with two exceptions. The Chimay red is slightly more, and the grey beer is slightly less.

It's also a cigar bar, with the biggest humidor I've seen in any bar in KC besides the Cigar Box. Kelly and Brad helped themselves to some robust Macanudos when we sat down. In addition to this, the bar is owned and patroned by some of the most devoted Elvis enthusiasts I have ever seen. It took me a couple visits to notice the Elvis memorabilia papering the walls all around the bar, because frankly, Elvis is everywhere and I don't really notice it anymore. But this place is crazy about Elvis. When we walked in, we had enough time to watch the last forty minutes or so of a DVD of a fantastic live performance by the King from 1970. It was excellent.

Lastly, Paci's sells more Cabo Wabo Tequila than any other place in town, though I've only ever seen two people there drinking it, and I was one of them, shortly before I vomited, hard, on my birthday. I had no sickness on this night however, besides perhaps some burning eyes and nostrils from cigars being smoked at my table. By about 1:30am, we all agreed that the night had been exemplary, and that it was time to throw in the towel. I dropped Kelly and Brad off, went home, and fell heavily, happily asleep.

11:59 AM, Dec 31, 2007 toot this
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2007 In Review
A number of things happened to me in 2007.

  • I resolved to lose fifty pounds. I lost three. Better luck next year.
  • I resolved to take steps toward opening my own brewery/beer bar. I did this, and found that the more I learned about what it would take the less appealing it became. In the end I decided that I'd rather shoot myself in the head than open a bar in Kansas City.
  • I resolved to take steps toward home ownership. So in January I looked at condominiums around downtown, and it all culminated in the purchase of my current apartment in March.
  • I resolved to get my finances under control. To do this, I took out a loan from my bank to pay off my credit cards, and a couple other things. Without these things burning a hole in my bank account, I've been able to pay down my car payment, my mortgage, and the loan itself, all while actually saving some money too. Also, for the first time in ten years, I stand to get a refund for my income taxes, because of the nine thousand dollars I blew in mortgage interest in 2007. Finances: much, much better.
  • I began working on call again. It's been rough, especially with some people jumping ship, but it's prompted me to start writing way to make things easier. As such, I've been commended a number of times on tools I've written around here to save time. The job is going well, and I still like it after almost a year and a half.
  • I visited twelve states, two countries, and two Canadian Provinces. I added four airports(Quebec, Toronto, Detroit, and Oakland) to bring my airport total to 46. I went to the Extreme Beer Fest in Boston in February with Julia, Iowa several times for various reasons, Chicago for a wedding, Ontario and Quebec for the Great Canadian Brewtrip with Alex, Minneapolis for Labor Day with Jeff and Matt, Minnesota again for a wedding, San Francisco to visit Josh and Callie in December, and a subsequent unplanned two-day layover in Las Vegas on the way back. I love traveling, and 2007 did not disappoint.
  • I planned and executed the Second Annual KCATA Pubcrawl. Our numbers were greater, and the time had was great. The Third Annual KCATA Pubcrawl will take place on April 26th, 2008.
  • I invented and executed the first and second iterations of the downtown Splutschnik Pubcrawl. I got the idea, along with some vital logistic support from Jeff, for a free downtown pubcrawl that combines a scavenger hunt with plain old great times, first in February, and then in July, for both ends of the thermometer. Splutschnik III will take place on January 26th, 2008.
  • I made a number of great new friends. Before 2007, I had only met Amber and Liana a couple of times, but never really knew them that well. I didn't know Becky or Heather at all. Now, they're on all my email lists. Cheers!
2007 was a great year, but 2008 already promises a lot of good times.

  • I will reacquaint myself with skiing, when I travel to Steamboat Springs with Brad, Chris, Kelly, Brooks, and a smattering of other people I don't know.
  • I will travel to the American Southeast for the third annual Great Brewtrip. Some people have expressed interest in joining me for at least part of the trip, but even if I go alone, I can't wait. I will travel from Jacksonville, FL up to either Roanoke, VA or Baltimore, MD in March.
  • I will attend a Georgist Conference. The conference at which my father spoke last summer in Scranton, PA will be in Kansas City in July of 2008. I anxiously await full details.
  • I will turn 30 on 08/08/08. It will be a Friday too. I will have to plan something.
Everything else will be left open, provided that I can find time to accomplish it all with my paltry allotment of vacation days. Stay tuned for what I do.

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