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Saturday, February 12

One last weekend 

this is an audio post - click to play

HOUGHTON, Mich. -- Just a few minutes at the bar in Houghton. Olivia and I say hello and then Roger describes why he loves the Copper Country. It takes a minute to get to that part, but it's worth it.


Wednesday, February 9

Tying up loose ends 

Just packing some things around the house. I'm surprised about how much stuff I've accumulated over the past four years. I kinda wonder if I need all these books and DVDs, especially when I think about the cost. At the same time, I do get a lot of value out of them, but I shouldn't spend so much anymore (and I don't).

At the same time, I've had to go through my newspapers and magazines. Not the Gazettes, which I've already culled from four massively tall stacks to one manageable box. Unfortunately, I'm dumping nearly all the newspapers I've picked up in my travels over the past four years. I just don't have any space although I wish I could take pieces of Tuscaloosa, Toronto, Windsor, New York, DC, Syracuse, etc.

I'm also averse to throwing periodicals away, especially unread ones. I view them like books or videos -- I don't want to throw them away after buying them. Obviously I can't be such a pack rat in the future.

'Tis the season 

It's the first day of Lent. Although I'm not overly religious, I'm opting to exclude overeating at buffets for the next 40 days. There's a lot of other things I should give up and not spend so much money on, but this is the start.

Additionally, today is the all-nighter for Michigan Tech's Winter Carnival. I'm going to go out in a bit and see how everyone's doing building their snow statues and other activities. As an added bonus, there should be some free chili and burgers scattered through the campus.

I'm looking forward to some pretty impressive statues. I'll have some photos later. Although it was unseasonably warm last week, the cold returned in time for the festival. Although we haven't received a lot of snow recently, I think it's cold enough for some really good work.

So, a moment of fun before working on all the other stuff that I need to do in the next few days.


Tuesday, February 8

Super Bore 

HANCOCK, Mich. -- Safely esconced in Hancock for at least a little while longer, I've got a few thoughts about the recently passed Super Bowl.

- First of all, I watched the game at the Jitterbug Bar in downtown Saginaw. I had a totally awesome time with the free eats (the chili was very good). Although I got distracted by trivia and a Wheel of Fortune knock-off by the end of the game, I think everyone had a good time. Steve, by a stroke of luck and help from Erin, trashed the high score on the Wheel of Fortune knock-off.

- On to the pre-game, I'm so glad that I only was exposed to an hour of FOX's pre-game show. I'm afraid that I would've been knocked out by terminal boredom if I started watching the pre-game show at 10 a.m. (The game started at around 6:30 p.m.)

- Disconnect. The FOX pre-game was kind enough to have a reading of parts of the Declaration of Independence (although I'm still slightly baffled as to how that pertains to a sporting event). Good stuff to be sure, considering it's part of the foundation of our nation.

However, conspicuously absent were any representatives from the "left" while Jack Kemp and a representative of Focus on the Family got their fair share of the spotlight. Oh, and women didn't get to read part of the Declaration either. Sure, that's both "Fair _and_ Balanced." Oh I forgot, those "commie" lefties don't believe in freedom.

While this oversight isn't worth a "post-Janet Jackson outrage!" come on.

- Speaking of Janet Jackson, this year's halftime show featuring Paul McCartney was horrifically bland. However, considering the history of Super Bowl halftime shows, it wasn't all bad. (BTW, The Simpsons "Halftime D'oh!" was an utter embarrassment despite revealing the name of Comic Book Guy. Oh, and American Dad seemed like a pale knock-off of Family Guy. Considering that Family Guy is a pale knock-off of The Simpsons, that's not good.)

- The introductions. Will Smith and Michael Chiklis (sic?) were OK, but isn't the game about the players? Wouldn't it have been better to do a traditional player introduction ceremony instead of the semi-glossy tripe that FOX served up? The blue-screen line-up preening of the players slightly made up for this oversight (or lack thereof).

- America the Beautiful. I thought it was great that Alicia Keys and a deaf and blind school choir performed the song (which is a better "song of unity" and better song overall than God Bless America). At the same time, I was slightly spooked by seeing the ghostly visage of Ray Charles joining Keys in a duet. Still, if the late Rod Roddy of The Price is Right is doing public service announcements on the radio, I suppose it's not too bad.

- The national anthem. I was truly struck by seeing cadets from the American military academies singing The Star-Spangled Banner. Although I was curious how "The Greatest Generation" figured into the Super Bowl (which is not to say World War II veterans shouldn't be recognized), the ceremony was a emotional one.

- Commercials. Only a couple of them stood out in my mind. I liked the AmeriQuest "Don't Judge People Too Quickly" commercials because of the set-ups and I liked the Pepsi iTunes commercials out of loyalty. The Napster commercial bombed completely -- there was very little humor and it probably created more confusion among those who had no clue about downloading music.

- Last but hopefully not least. When it came to the game itself, I was pleasantly surprised by the defensive struggle on the field. It was a relatively close match despite the big lead the Pats developed toward the end of the game. I was in a bar full of mostly Eagle fans while I lukewarmly thought the Pats would pull it out. We all got along famously and we all had an awesome time.


Sunday, February 6

Another one bites the dust 

I confess -- I ego-search all the time. Ego-searching is the act of typing ones name into Google and seeing the results hoping that you'll be in there. Of course, this isn't new -- I've blogged on this before (because everyone loves it when I talk about myself! *). It's disappointing to report that I've fallen off the first page of results for "Ryan Olson." You can now find me on the second page with other has-been Ryan Olsons, including the Wisconsin state representative.

I don't know what the problem is, assuming that being on the second page of search results actually qualifies as a "problem." I think Google may be having some problems searching my site (and it doesn't seem to update my site date quickly). Additionally, the search box on this blog doesn't seem to be working at all. My month-by-month hits are down too, but that's to be expected when I only offer myself on my sites. ;-)

So, tip of the cap to the other Ryan Olsons for their tenacious fight to the first page. BTW, why do I feel like I'm competing with them?

Gone are the glory days of my having three of the top ten "Ryan Olson" spots -- for my pro site, my personal site (this blog) and something else like pepTunes. At least I'm still the number one Google hit for "midget bowling." (Sorry in advance to those people visiting in search of midget bowling.)

* - I realize that talking about myself isn't endearing to most, if not all, carbon-based lifeforms. The silicon-based people, on the other hand, just can't get enough! ;-)

Paris Hilton and Daleks 

I didn't laugh much during last night's episode of Saturday Night Live starring guest host Paris Hilton. I don't know if it was because I had only 4 hours of sleep or the fact that it just wasn't all that funny.

I don't know about that episode. There was some moments, but it just didn't ring out to me as being earth-shakingly funny. Some of the sketches and bits also fell a bit flat with myself and the live audience. A series of commercials dealing with self-obsessed parents trying to raise their kids on dollars a day while living the high life didn't get many laughs (child neglect=laugh riot). Additionally, the night ended with a Bear City short film where the gag is bears have taken over human roles in a town. The series of shorts only merited a bemused smirk and my desire to kill all bears.

I think part of the problem lies in the hosting duties by Paris Hilton. The hotel heiress has been living on the 15 minutes of fame her whole life. This phenomenon has been made fun of before by the SNL cast, but those gags were suspiciously silent last night. While they could've gone totally over the top in making fun of Hilton, they didn't do much at all and Hilton didn't really seem to a great host (which may be due to the fact that her claim to fame is being a celebrity). Her performances seemed fairly flat. While none the sketches really called on her to lampoon her success, they didn't seem too challenging either.

It was a frustrating night all in all, but a few things stood out. One of the early sketches dealt with a phone sex line for adolescent science-fiction geeks and featured the female cast dressed up as sci-fi characters (which was fun but totally unnecessary for a telephone-based calling service). I thought it was a slightly amusing bit, but it got old fast (like the Donald Trump family one).

Also, while I like Paris Hilton wearing the garb of Doctor Who (specifically, the fourth Doctor played by Tom Baker), who's going to get that gag when the show hasn't been seen outside of a handful of PBS stations in 15 years (and DVDs)? So, I thought that bit was playing to the die-hard geeks out there.

Finally, sci-fi geeks and their lack of a sex life aren't a hard group of people to take jabs at. Making fun of nerds -- why that's almost as easy as making fun of Paris Hilt... oh, wait. Never mind.

Highway of broken cars 

SAGINAW, Mich. -- So I'm still here. My car decided to breakdown before I could leave town.

To be honest, it could've been a whole lot worse. While I was on my way to the highway out of town past the woefully named TheDow Center (no, I didn't forget a space), my car starts making this crunching, screaming metal on metal sound. I obviously can't drive home with my car in that condition. Turns out that my right rear tire's bearings are going out and need to be replaced. The guy at the shop, Nevin, said the bearings could've failed completely with the tire popping off of the axel. So the car's in the shop until Monday morning at the earliest.

I do count my blessings in a lot of ways. I'm thankful the breakdown occurred while I was driving around town and not on the highway and not on the way out West. I'm glad I was able to get it into the shop before they closed (Thanks, Tuffy and Nevin!). Also, my car seems to be aging gracefully. Although repairs are necessary, the car is still a trooper after more than 10 years.

I'm also extremely thankful for the generosity shown by my friends Erin and Steve who've allowed me to stay at their apartment for an additional two nights. I don't want to impose on them in a negative way and I hope that I can repay their generosity (or at least show my gratitude in some way).

It's interesting that both my car and Garrett's car suffered breakdowns while traveling downstate. Garrett's car broke down when he visited a couple of months ago. It's almost spooky (but not).

But hey, the weather yesterday was spectacular with the blue skies and the gentle late Winter crisp that merely hints at the season instead of bludgeoning people over their heads with snow and freezing climes.


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