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Top 5 places to experience roadside Americana

Jul. 25th, 2005 | 12:32 am

  • Mall of America
  • Wall Drug, SD
  • Pick any US highway and take it for a while instead of the Interstate.
  • Truck stops, new or grungy, doesn't matter.
  • 4th of July fireworks show, Idaho Falls, ID

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Top five albums NOT by Prince or any other name he's used

Jul. 25th, 2005 | 12:50 am

  • Graceland, Paul Simon
    My first favorite album, still a classic.
  • Live on the Floor of the Boutique, mixed by Fatboy Slim
    Fantastic collection of techno or pop or dance music or whatever.
  • Delirious, Eddie Murphy
    When this first came out, my friends and I used to listen to this without parental consent, which I'm sure wouldn't have been coming. I recently found a copy was pleasantly surprised at how funny it still was. "I got some ice cream, and you can't have none ..."
  • Presidents of the United States, Presidents of the United States
    A strong collection of catchy tunes with very smart lyrics. The played to death "Lump" isn't nearly the best song on the album.
  • Blade Runner, Vangelis

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Top 4 retirement dreams

Jul. 25th, 2005 | 01:33 am

This one was pretty tough, because I don't ever think about retirement. I come (much to my wife's dismay, in the context of this question :)) from the very small group of people who not only enjoy their job but love it. I also, as a general rule, think very little about the future, whether 3 years from now or 30.

But I'll give it a shot anyway, although I could only come up with 4.

  • Drive around the country spending at least a month everywhere we stop. This is the only "retirement dream" I actually think about, and I waffle between driving all the way, or flying from one big city to another and renting a car. That's probably how I'd handle a lot of the western states, which I'm pretty sick of driving through at this point.

    The idea is to stay somewhere long enough to pick up on the quirks of the place. To find the best bookstore, the best place to buy a bagel, the best Italian food, etc.

  • Live in a cabin on a lake. Sleep late. Read books. Take walks together. Swat mosquitoes.
  • All Grandkids, all the time.
  • I'd like to have the time and workshop to do some serious woodworking.

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Top five events in my life that most influence who I am today

Jul. 25th, 2005 | 01:49 am

  • Birth of my first child. This one is a gimme, but I couldn't leave it out. Sometimes I wonder if I should be jealous of our life before we had kids, but every time I try to reflect on what it was I can barely remember what things were like day in and day out. Some people grow tired of the "monotony" of going to work, coming home, having some dinner, giving some baths. But all of that, and the hugs and kisses and giggle and smiles, is exactly where I want to be.
  • My grandpa's quiet dignity. Not a specific event, but a series of them that are a part of me.
  • Speech. Speech is an odd generic name for kids getting up and (mostly) speaking. Humorous Interpretation, Drama, things like that. You prepare a speech and read it for a year. The category I was in was something called "Discussion", which was unlike most of the other categories.

    To prepare for the year you would do as much research as you could about the topic for the year. "Juvenline Crime" and "The Environment" were two that I recall.. A round of discussion would consist of an hour with 8 competitors who are presented with a task of some kind. The task was a hypothetical situation, then a few questions, and always closed with "reach a consensus". You did all this in front of 3 judges, who would decide on a winner. To do well you had to be prepared, well versed, a quick thinker, and a bit of a leader.

    I was in discussion for 4 years, and it absolutely laid a foundation for my job skills. It helped me think quickly, answer thouroughly, and listen well.

  • Finally logging on to LambdaMOO. As a sophomore in college I had learned about "MOOs" and "MUDs" somewhere, but I don't remember where. Probably through my exciting reading on Usenet and Gopher. Woohoo!

    All of the documentation I could find at the time was written for Unix systems though, and I was on VMS. I remember trying for weeks before it finally clicked, and I logged on to a system named "LambdaMOO". I still remember my first visit clearly, because I really had no clue what was going on. I started wandering around the mansion and was in the garden when I ran into someone. We chatted for a little bit and he was very helpful, and then I found out he was from Australia. "Holy shit", I thought, I'm talking some dude from Australia right now!

    I was instantly hooked, and the MOO was important for me both technically and socially. It was the source of a major awakening in me, an expanding of my horizons, and was literally the source for some major relationships in my life. It also gave me my first taste of OO programming, which became pretty valuable later on.

  • Breaking my arms.10ish years ago I broke both of my wrists and an elbow.. At the time I was a student worker, and it definately got the ball rolling on my becoming a full time staff member.

    To a smaller degree the event was also signficant for keeping me in Arizona. My freshman semester was completely miserable for me, and I strongly considered transferring to the University of Minnesota. Convinced I wouldn't even get in because my first semester was so bad, I stuck it out. At the time I broke my arms I was established here, but my mom kept hinting for me to come back closer to home at some point. I had good friends here but not a big network of them, and was mostly stalled, school wise. When I broke my arms my first reaction was to go home to my support network, to get the help I thought I needed. But I stuck it out here with the help of some good friends, and didn't look back home longingly very often after that.

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