2.23.2010

Insomia/Chicago

So I can't sleep, and the camera happened to be right next to me, so I decided to undertake my first real blog post. The subject of this illustrious first-ever blog post: the evolution of the common-law doctrine of promissory estoppel.




Haha! I bet you believed me, right? I didn't think so. Chicago was the real answer. Both Belle and I are the type of people that naturally hate fake holidays like Valentine's Day, which is fine when you are single, but doesn't work so well when you are married and have a built-in Valentine. So instead of chocolate or hearts, we decided to give each other what we really wanted: a vacation. We went to Chicago for the weekend! Belle really likes cities, and I really like excuses to spend money, so this had success written all over it.



I've always wanted to take the train to Chicago for no apparent reason, so we did it! We got on the train Friday after work, and took it to Chicago where we spent the night and then saw everything we could see in a day.



We started out day at this little bakery, and this was the view from where we ate.


After that we went to the Chicago Art Institute, which to our great delight had free admission for the month of February. I'm not really into art things, but we all know Georbes Seurat’s famous pointillism painting, “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” Or as I know it, the cool painting that is just little dots. For those of you that care, we took a close-up picture of it so you can see the detail.



After the museum, we went the Chicago bean. Which I just found out is really called Cloud Gate. We thought it was really fun, and I ran into this handsome man in the reflection...





Back to spending money... I love oysters. The fresh ones, on the half-shell. I went through all of the trouble of finding a place that had half-priced oysters only to find out once we had sat down that the deal didn't start for another hour. Oh well. When we got married, I made Belle promise me that she would eat at least one oyster in her lifetime. She is off the hook for the next 60 years because she did it this weekend!



video


They really aren't that bad, and even my fish-phobic wife said that the taste was good, but the texture was weird. Great job babe! It only takes once to get hooked!

We also went the Shedd Aquarium. In case you hadn't guessed yet, it is an aquarium.



There is a great view of the skyline just outside of it, but we asked a stranger to take a picture of us, and this is what we got...


I think together we make up a whole head. Now just mentally photoshop a beautiful skyline behind us. Yep, that's it... perfect!

It was a great weekend. Love ya babe.

And finally, a tribute to my mother.


video

(forgot to take it off of video...)


2.22.2010

Grumpy

A snow storm hit last night for no other reason than to irritate me.

Come find me in Spring. Until then, I'll be busy cursing the heavens.

2.19.2010

Book Reviews

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: This epistolary novel was most excellent. The quirky characters, witty prose, and extraordinary plot were wonderfully enrapturing. The last chapter/letter wrapped things up a little too neatly for me- it seemed out of place with the rest of the novel. The characters seemed to have a few too many personality traits in common with each other, if I'm being honest. But for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s hard to find a light-hearted novel that isn’t written in a light-handed way. This book, however, was delicious from its inception to its conclusion; From its defense of humanity in postwar Europe to the quiet love story it reveals. It felt very human (read: not contrived.) Very well written. It was a welcome reprieve from the more heavy books I’ve read lately. A-



Stalin's Children by Owen Matthews: Speaking of heavy, I now bring you to Russia. This family memoir traces the lives and stories of three generations: How they were liberated, betrayed, freed, inspired, broken, and ultimately survived. Owen Matthews is a wonderful storyteller. Really magnificent prose. He does a good job of painting the various shades of Russia, depending on which decade/social class/ethnicity you happen to belong to. He gives a remarkable account of Russia's political history in the 20th century, and clearly shows how those politics affected the people, a remarkable feat considering the vast decades the novel covers. Matthews captures these changes, and shows the heart of Russia with insight and intelligence, all while portraying the resilience and instinct for survival that Russians have garnered through their experiences. Now for the less than stellar aspects: His family certainly has impressive stories, but I couldn't shake the feeling of sadness I felt while reading, even when reading of undying faith, fortitude, and determination. This novel was just as much about loneliness and loss as it was about courage- which is not necessarily a bad thing. Russia certainly has seen dark days. I just thought the tone was a little too heavy. Matthews tells an extraordinary story, and then seems to wonder if it was worth it. I finished the novel glad that I had read it, but equally glad that it was over. B


Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner: I'm a little late on reading this one. It was "the book" about 5 years ago, and I only read it now because it happened to be in Mike's backpack while we were traveling and I wanted something to read. So this is probably not new to you, but here goes anyway. With only cold logic, Levitt turns economics into something illuminating and interesting, and invites his readers to dare to ask questions and look for connections in the world around us. I appreciate his goal- I generally like books that urge people to think more. I didn't agree with everything he said, but I still enjoyed reading his insights on tough subjects (abortion, crime, cheating, racism, and parenting, to name some.) It's not often that an author will take these difficult subjects and compare them to say, sumo wrestling. But Levitt does, and manages to do so without coming across as a complete idiot, so I guess that deserves praise. Applaudable and interesting, despite being a little pretentious. B+

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: This book broke my heart. Narrated by Death in World War II, this novel tells the story of a young girl named Liesel. I won't get into specifics because if I do I'll start bawling my bloody eyes out (which would be awkward since I'm at work right now.) Incredibly touching, poignant and painful, mesmerizing and compassionate. This novel reminds us of the power of words- the good they can do, as well as the evil they're capable of. What would Hitler have been, after all, without words? As this book reminds us, what would any of us be? This novel is about as close to perfection as it gets. A+





Next on my list:
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Beloved by Toni Morrison

2.12.2010

Meet Jake.

This is Jake. He is my studly brother. Yesterday he got a letter from this guy:
Asking him to go here (Dallas, to be specific):
And become one of these for a couple of years: And I am very excited for him. (And very happy that he doesn't leave for a few more months so that I will hopefully get to gnarl him in ping pong one more time before he goes.)


To learn more about what Jake will be doing click here.

2.11.2010

Icy Parking Lots Are Awesome

Father John Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame, drives a royal blue Toyota Avalon.

I know this because he almost ran me over with it today.

Okay, I confess: To say that Father Jenkins almost hit me is being a little melodramatic. Truth be told, one could make an equally sound case arguing that I almost hit Father Jenkins car. Regardless, there was an incident involving me, Father Jenkins, his car, and an icy parking lot earlier this afternoon.

I shall refrain from further elaboration.