Sunday, July 09, 2006

Returned from travels

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

Deja Vu, by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

It's been quite a week of traveling. Over the Fourth of July holiday Mark and I drove up to Minnesota to the Twin Cities area to visit Erik D. We had a simply wonderful time. I absolutely loved Minneapolis. Some things about it seemed almost too good to be true, especially the profusion of bike and running trails surrounding several scenic lakes. Bloomington is certainly a bicycle-friendly town, but this was a step above, I must say. Many thanks to Erik D. and his parents for being lovely hosts! Highlights included visits to frozen custard and malt shops, a challenging 10-miler on some Minnesota trails, a bike ride to Lake Harriet for a swim, yummy meals and smoothies, walking along Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, seeing Minnehaha Falls, and watching the fireworks in downtown St. Paul from the 23rd floor of a building.

After two days more of work, we drove down to Clarksville for a family cookout. Thomas was just back from six weeks of adventures in Central America. His camera was stolen at gunpoint during an armed bus robbery in Belize, no joke. He didn't reveal this until he got home because he knew we would have freaked the fuck out. But he made it back okay, and the vast majority of his experiences were very positive. He has a travel blog here. We had a rousing game of Scrabble, in which the parents teamed up and won. Mark joined in, and, uncowed by my family's weirdness, narrowly came in second. Thomas and I tied for last at one point behind him. Scrabble gets pretty competitive in my family. Thomas kept saying he was going to leave for Austin early the next day, but he didn't leave until 5 p.m., which is actually pretty early for him. He made it to Arkansas somewhere and finished up the drive today.

My parents are taking a vacation to Sweden for two weeks, starting tomorrow, to visit Sverker, a friend of my dad's from high school. He was a foreign exchange student who lived with my dad and my grandparents, and he and Dad have kept in touch since then. Sverker has been inviting them to visit for many months, and finally they decided to take the plunge. You may think that 2.5 days in Minnesota pales in comparison to six weeks in Central America or two weeks in Sweden, but I had a damn good time. I just don't think you can do much better and stay in the Midwest.

In other news, I've jumped on the iTunes bandwagon at last, after months of resistance. I've had problems with Apple in the past, but they've improved quite a bit since my younger days, when I wanted to take an ax to the school's iMacs because they were so inferior to our PC at home. I downloaded iTunes and found myself impressed with the interface and usability, more so than with the software than came with my Rio Carbon. This does not mean I will replace the Rio; I will use it as long as possible. But when the time comes, I will likely get an iPod. But I have to say that having 20, 30, or even 60 gigs still seems like major overkill to me. I will probably go with the much more practical Nano. One gig is more than enough for me, thanks. =) I've never really needed more than a few hundred songs available at any given time, even on longish road trips. I was raised with computers with less space than the least of iPods now. The fact that the same thing is now in something not much larger than a business card is a bit mind-boggling.

Mark and I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean today. It was HILARIOUS. It was much like the first film: silly and loads of fun. That's really all that needs to be said about it. Now I will anticipate the DVD release with rum in hand. =)

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