Sunday, May 13, 2018

Dim Sum Quest

I have been wanting to go to a dim sum restaurant for a long time. There aren't any near where I live. To get some, I needed to go to Chicago so I got my friend and former co-worker, Gibran, and hopped on a train to the big city.

So this is where we ended up. MingHin has a location near Millennium Park and is an easy walk from the train station.

When we got in, Gibran shared that he was not a seafood person. I was a little frustrated because a lot of the dim sum that I wanted to try had some seafood in it. He played it safe and ordered a plate of General Tso's Chicken. I was there for the dim sum. Here is some of what we got:

Shrimp Dumplings with Peas

Tofu Wraps

Siu Mai (ground pork and shrimp)

We ended up getting six dishes, seven if you include the Gen. Tso's. The total bill ended up coming to $48 even which was substantially lower than what I was expecting. The food was fantastic and I would definitely like to do this again.

Walking in the park before are train departs.

Friday, February 09, 2018

It's the Season

When I leave work is when the place starts hopping with business but this evening, there was not one car in the parking lot. I thought to take a picture as I don't expect to see an empty lot any time soon--if ever. We are currently experiencing a winter storm with over a foot of snow accumulation expected. Good thing I can ride this out over the weekend.

Monday, October 02, 2017

I'd Travel More if I Were Paid More. *Hint, Hint*

“So, David, what do you like to do for fun?”

Man, all I wanted to do was pick dessert, and now I am being interviewed by the property manager again. I quit my job of almost 10 years for marginally better pay and more benefits. I’m into week three of my new job at an Indigenous American run casino and I still feel like I am on a withering trial run. Even going on a group lunch with the big bosses, I have to be on my toes for questions. 

What do I do for fun? I don’t know. My whole life feels like the cosmic example of mediocrity. I can’t think of anything that I excel at. I can’t think of anything that I have a passion for. I can’t think of anything noteworthy that I enjoy.

“I like to travel.” And there it was, my go-to answer. It true, I like to travel. I don’t get to do it very often but it is one thing that isn’t a half-lie.

So there were, were, the core admins and executives having lunch. It is supposed to be relaxing and fun but being the new guy has got me on edge. I’ve always been like that. Whether it being State Rep. Neal, CFO Mike, or now Asst. Gen. Manager Justin, I get tongue tied when I’m around people that have the power to fire me on their slightest whim.

Training is going slow. I feel like I should be paying more attention but listening and observing how something is done, is not how learn best. I suppose when I start doing work, I will find out how much knowledge I’ve actually retained.

Monday, August 21, 2017

In Casper, Wyoming to See the Eclipse

My first choice to see the eclipse was in Alliance, Nebraska. The weather forecast wasn't looking ideal so the second choice of Douglas, Wyoming became the number one choice and that's where I was heading when I broke camp at two in the morning.

I was heading out on unknown roads in the dark and I couldn't see much beyond the road markings. Aside for the fuck ton of deer, I was alone on the road which was fine with me. I did make a stop and looked out at this dome of stars. Gibran didn't seem to care but I took it in.

We stoped in Lusk, Wyoming to fill up on gas. By now, we had been joined with other people traveling on the road. As we headed out, we could see people now camped out on the road turnouts. When we got to I-25, they were all packed. Although Douglass was where I was headed, I decided to push on to Casper because I knew there was one place that I knew we had a good chance of getting a place to park.
We arrived in Casper just before sunrise and joined a line of cars waiting for the fair grounds to open. When everyone was in the gate and parked, there was plenty of room left.

Next to us was a gay couple and their adopted south asian boys. I was amused when this socially awkward man (who was alone) decided to join them. It was a good sense of comaraderie though. One guy was passing out extra solar eclipse glasses to those who needed them for free.

As we waited, high altitude clouds were moving in and I was worried that this trip was going to get screwed over.
And if wasn't the clouds it was going to be a balloon.
If you look at the lense flare at the bottom, you can see how far into the eclipse the picture was taken.

I knew that I was going to get shitty pictures if I tried to photograph the eclipse. Professionals could see to that. But what I could do was take video of the skies as it was happening. I could at least experience my surroundings when it happened.

As soon as the last bit of sun disappeared from my solar glasses, I took them off to see a hole in the sky surrounded by white corona. To me, it seemed unreal. Even with that last bit of sun, I knew it was the sun. Now it was replaced by this sky sun flower. I noted that it appeared like an upside down Star Trek com-badge. Remembering that I brought binoculars I wasted precious moments trying to find them in the car. But I eventually got them and was mesmerized by what I was seeing: fine lines in the corona. Flares at 12, 1 and 3 (you can hear that in the video). and I could start seeing bubbling magenta lava-like light peering from the mountains and valleys at the 1 o'clock position. I knew that in a split second, it would be over. I ripped the binoculars away and saw the diamond ring with my own eyes. But in another split second, the light was too much and I turned away.

I had almost two and half minutes of totality and it seemed like 10 seconds. It simply wasn't enough time to appreciate it all. I understood why people had said that it doesn't compare to a partial eclipse. I understood why people chased these events. I don't want to die without seeing another one.

With a mix of emotions, we started our journey back home.

Eventually we joined everyone out on the interstate and came to a standstill. After a few hours, I crossed the median and went back the opposite direction to head back into South Dakota. I wasn't the only one that had this thought and although there was heavy traffic and a another detour, we kept moving.

 We had one last dinner in Custer, South Dakota. On our travels, the previous day, we were amused by a restaurant that touted an American, Mexican, Italian, and Chinese buffet. As odd as it was. It was actually pretty good. Finally, we put gas in the tank and headed home.

The trip was a success.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Making Sure It Wasn't For Nothing

Our first real stop on this trip was going to be Wall Drug. Unfortunately, Gibran was asleep for the usual road signs leading up to it so he couldn't be hyped up as much as I hoped. As the sun came up we witnessed some beautiful scenery. Fields of sunflowers blanked stretches of visible land in yellow. We took an opportunity to use a turn out to view out over the land and stretch our legs.
Remember, you can always click on the pictures to enlarge.

Even though he actually bought stuff, I don't see him coming back here any time soon.
The next stop was the South Dakota Air and Space Museum just outside Ellsworth Air Force Base. Much to my surprise, I think Gibran liked it here. He spent a good amount of time looking over the exhibits. Meanwhile I was looking over the security gates, wondering at what could have been if I decided to make a different choice.

It was lunch time when we headed out to Rapid City. We ended up at Golden Corral. I'm not a huge fan of it but at least it filled me up for the rest of the day and I didn't have to worry about hunger.

Next stop was Mount Rushmore. The last time I was here was in the summer of 2001 while I was in AFROTC. I am impressed by the new improvements. I wasn't impressed with the crowds and the parking fee though. This was the stop that Gibran was looking forward to. I was going to make him pay dearly for it!

 We took the loop trail that went down into the ravine, back up to the base of the mountain and continued around back to the visitors' center. Gibran was motivated only to get it over with and to get an ice cold water.
After Mount Rushmore, we headed over to the nearby KOA to check in and setup my tent for the night. The day wasn't over though and soon we were off to another site:
This is the Crazy Horse Memorial. It's been worked on since the 1940's. Estimated completion date: Never, Probably.  I see this as a money pit and and refuse to give it $1. However, I am more than happy to take a free picture from the side of the road. If Gibran wanted to go in, I probably would have, though.

I didn't tell him where my final stop for the day was going to be. I was pretty sure he wasn't aware of Devil's Tower, and I was hoping to get a reaction from him when he finally saw it. Didn't get that but I think that he was impressed at seeing such an odd sight.

We headed back to Rapid City for some dinner. Since our parking pass at Mount Rushmore was good for an entire year and it was night, we decided to stop by there once more to see it lit up. Mount Rushmore at night is a sight to see. Pictures with our point and shoots cannot do it justice. Looking at the monument against a background of brilliant stars and the big dipper above the heads of the presidents is truly impressive.

We didn't stay long; I needed to get some sleep because we still had a three hour drive to get to Wyoming.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Eclipse Or Bust!

I wasn't able to get any sleep because I was excited about taking off on this trip out west to see the eclipse. I have been waiting many years for this and it is finally here! My mom was kind enough to give me a ride to the car rental place. I had to wait a while as they weren't expectying me until noon and my vehicle wasn't ready. While I was there waiting, about half the people there were also picking up for the eclipse. One guy was going to Tennessee, another was going to Kentucky. The lady at the counter asked where I was going for her records and I told her that it depends on the weather.

"Okay, from Indiana to the eclipse."

I went back home, loaded up the SUV with the equipment and left to pick up Gibran. Before leaving, Gibran and I went to Walmart for some more last minute supplies: snacks. There was one last stop at Kraig's so I could borrow his 5 gallon gas tank. (Always be prepared!)

Our trip took us to I-94 up to Chicago, Milwaukee, and then to Madison after which we switched to I-90 to La Crosse and Sioux Falls and into South Dakota.

It was getting dark when we crossed the Mississippi River in Minnesota. By the time we were getting to Sioux Falls, I was needed to start stopping to take naps. We were getting there, though, and the morning would bring a sight seeing adventure-especially for Gibran.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Gearing Up for the Eclipse

In less than a week, I am headed off out west to see the Great American Eclipse. I've got my fancy solar eclipse glasses. My car and camping reservations are done. My friend Kraig is lending me a five gallon gas tank-just in case.  The tent that I ordered will be delivered on Wednesday. Yup, I'm pretty much set. I just have to hope for good weather and a little bit of luck.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

You keep the car. I'll keep this one.

I picked up a rental from Enterprise. I am covered through my insurance for $30/day and the car that they have available is just over that. I have to pay about $2/day. They are renting me a Ford Fusion hybrid. Wow! What an upgrade from the Ford Fiesta that I am currently driving. It's got all the bells and whistles. It's roomy and comfortable and I did not wait long to take it on a drive. The thought of driving to Chicago for the hell of it crossed my mind.

The shop can take all the time they need to repair my car. Well... 30 days.  ...Because that's all I am covered for.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Little Old Lady from Michiana

My mom backed up into my car and did significant damage to my car. I was in my parents' house when I heard a bang. It sounded like someone had slammed a box of heavy plastic parts on the ground. Mom had pulled up a bit and was getting out of the car when I poked my head out the door to see what was up. She looked deeply embarrassed and distressed and could only manage to say, "sorry."

I called for a county mounty to come out and fill out a report. I thought I'd better cover myself for the insurance company. I also called Progressive to start the claims process. I wasn't too worried. The collision wasn't my fault and the agent I spoke to on the phone said that I would probably have the deductible waved as well as I had broad form coverage. Such coverage waves the the deductible when I am not at fault.

From what I could see, I knew that the front bumper, front right headlight, and passenger door would need to be worked on. My mom's car looked as if only her rear bumper was damaged. Since the wheel well was pushed back, I believed that it wouldn't be drivable as the wheel would rub up against the paneling.

My dad remarked about how easygoing I was with the whole thing. My only real irritation was having to spend time on getting this problem solved. It's the first time I've been in a collision (even if I wasn't really there.) I was actually concerned more for my mom. She got real quiet and when she said anything about it, it was over worries on how much repairs were going to cost and how her insurance rates were going to go up. I wish I could say that there wasn't anything to worry about but my anger isn't it one of them.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Watching By Myself

Today was a beautiful day to attend the Pride Parade in Chicago. It may be the last one I will attend. If all goes well, I will be living in Florida by this time next year. The plan was to get together with a friend who was already in the city. Apparently, he had quite the night and was still asleep by the time I pulled into the city on the South Shore. It wasn’t until I was at the Addison stop by Wrigley that I got a hold of him on the phone. He said that he and some others were just leaving the hotel and that they were getting a bite to eat first.

The parade started at noon and I managed to get a decent spot underneath a tree. I wasn’t on the curb but I was elevated enough to see well. I waited there but about 30 minutes, I accepted that in all likelihood, I would be experiencing this alone. I finally got a text at 1:53. They had just gotten off at Belmont. I told them to stay put-to enjoy what was coming their way; most of it already passed me.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Don't Be Cute

Panda Express at lunchtime had a nightmare of a line at the drive-thru and considering the parking lot was full, I was guessing the line inside was as well. I had a coupon for a free entree and wasn't in a hurry. As I made my way across the lot, I was on an intercept course with two white men who appeared to be college students. I beat them to the door but, since I'm usually a nice guy, held the door open to let them go in before I did.

As I looked up to make eye contact, the tallest looked me up and down. There is nothing that I can point to but a feeling that I had just been weighed and measured went down my spine as soon as my eyes locked onto his.

"Gracias," he said.

"Gracias," his companioned followed.

Oh hell no. I can play that game too. It seemed too long to spit it out but I said, "Bitte."

By then the two guys had their back to me but I saw them look at each other with a confused look, as if to ask, "What did he say?"

Now, I have said many things in plenty of languages, trying to be cute--but only to people I know. I have never done that to a complete stranger. Assuming a person's ethnicity or language on the basis of their appearance can blow up in your face.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Two Parties.

My cousin Kaylee was confirmed into the church today. I'm not much of a church person, but I went anyways. I still don't care for it but it was important to my family. Even my Uncle Jeff came and I suspect that he's about as religious as I am. After the service we had after-confirmation party for her. Food and family--always a fun time.

I had to leave early to make it Logan's birthday party. I'm friends with his parents and he calls me Uncle David. (Awww--I know!) His mom throws pretty cool birthday parties and I didn't want to miss it.

I noticed that with my invitation to Logan's birthday, there was a note that said a gift was not expected. There was a pile of gifts when I got there. I asked another person there, Emily, about it and she was puzzled; she didn't get it. It seems like no one else got it. I wonder if this may have been about that baseball bat that I gifted previously.  Hmmmm.....