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Monday, February 28

On beginnings and endings 

I went to see the movie Sideways tonight at the soon-to-be closed El Rey theater in downtown Chico. The theater is due to be closed on Thursday to make way for its transformation into an office-retail complex with perhaps more importantly public parking in the rear of the building.

Being my first, and probably last, time in this theater, I've naturally got a few mixed feelings. I've grown up in an era with multiplexes. The one or two one-screen theaters I saw films in quickly fell by the wayside. Although seeing movies like Harry Potter at The Pic in Hancock was a joy, it was a rare occasion that brought me there.

In Chico, the old theater's glory seems to be as faded as some of its interior murals and montages. Some portions of the mural seemed to have been ravaged by the intrusion of water. Still, there's no denying the grandeur of the large bowl that constitutes the house. The walls are surrounded by what appears to be dancing water nymphs across a pale blue forest. I imagine such lurid depictions would be passe in these times of "outrage."

There was some stadium-style seating that apparently was there before it became vogue in movie theaters. The seats in the center aisles were replaced with newer models that don't seem to replicate the big, springy goodness of the older seats that still haunt the fringes. I noticed that most people tended to stay in the newer seats.

So what role does a gigantic, one-screen theater play in a world that has endless entertainment options available 24/7 without even the discomfort of leaving your own rocker-recliner? I'm not sure, but it would've been nice to see at least one more film in the old Majestic (its former name).

The thing that these old, one-screen theaters provided is a sense of community on a large scale. As we slowly lose that sensation to evolution and destruction, I hope there's something that define who we are in the modern era.

Color me surprised 

I guess you can't trust everything you read on the Internet. In yesterday's post, I lamented the fact that Comcast apparently didn't offer high-speed cable Internet in the middle of a college town. All of that changed when I phoned Comcast's Chico office earlier today.

To cut a not-so-long story short, the customer service woman informed me that cable Internet services _are_ available for my apartment.

That does complicate the situation a bit because I don't know if Comcast offers everything I need. Looking at the other services available, I don't know if SBC, Dish Networks, whoever offers everything I need.

The hunt continues.


Sunday, February 27

Fun with numbers 

Just looking up some possible phone numbers on the SBC Web site (BTW, SBC, what was wrong with names like PacTel or Ameritech (or Pacific Bell or Michigan Bell, for that matter)? And why do you have to hide your former name "Southwestern Bell Company" with a silly acronym?)

Anywho, they've presented me with several interesting options. A quick check to presents some funny names by using the letters matched with each number on the keypad.

For 345-3285, it comes back such great "FILE-AT-5" (perhaps a newspaper reference?), "DIKE-AT-5" (if only I was a lesbian... oh wait, "dike" means levee.) "345-FAT-5" (perhaps reminding me to diet), "FILE-CULL" (definitely a newspaper reference), "FILE-BULK" (definitely a reference to my tendency to be a packrat).

Since that's the most interesting number (in terms of spellings), that'll probably be the one I'll choose. Although "TWIN-HULL" does sound intriguing...

A darn shame 

CHICO, Calif. -- Finally getting settled into an apartment after hotel hopping for a week. It's amazing, but the constantly deflating air mattress I slept on last night seems more comfortable than the hotel beds I've been in.

My apartment is very much a blank canvas seeing as it's completely unfurnished and having more rooms than I know what to deal with (two of them remain vacant to be leased out later). Hopefully I can fill the empty space in the heart of my apartment over the next few months (and an Ikea run or two). It's almost like getting married, without the whole pesky bride. I'll need something borrowed, something new, something ... something and something blue.

I'm slightly disappointed reading on the Comcast Web site that it doesn't offer cable Internet services in my neighborhood. It's especially sad because of the fact that nearly all of the rooms in this apartment have cable hook-ups.

For more than six years, I've used cable Internet services (Cox and Charter) and I've had an extremely positive experience. So much so that I've never thought to stray to other services such as DSL (for Internet access) and digital satellite (for TV).

So after calling the local Comcast office on Monday, I'll officially be in the hunt for services elsewhere. I just need to keep reminding myself that I don't own a TV right now.

While I'm thinking about it, why is it so hard finding the local phone packages on the SBC Web site? No, I don't want Caller ID, voice messaging or acupuncture. I just want an affordable package offering just local phone service (and maybe DSL). Is that so hard? It shouldn't be.

My new address, by the way, is:

717 Hazel St.
Apt. 4
Chico, CA 95928

Go wild with the snail mail.


Saturday, February 19

Home, sort of 

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- I'm just about to leave SLC after spending the night at my Uyeda grandparents' place. It's been four years since I've visited my family in Utah and I'm just amazed about how much has changed while some stuff remains the same.

These changes include family, as well as other landmarks. Grandma and Grandpa look pretty good although we're all older than when we were last together. At the same time, the family is growing up and times change. People are getting married, having children or passing on. Still, talking with my grandparents for an extended period was interesting. Yes, we talked about politics for a spell, but I liked talking about the family, the family's history and Utah sports (and the 2002 Olympics) a lot more.

I'm at th Kinko's at the corner of 700 East and 2300 South, which is just a few blocks from my grandparents' old home. The traffic seems a lot crazier than I remember it and everything is just so built up. Many of the old landmarks are gone or merely tranfigured into something new. Old stores and buildings are gone or surrounded by new buildings. Some of the landmarks looks the same -- there's an old mansion-style building across from the Nibley Park Golf Course that looks the same.

Driving along 2100 South, I noticed the old, bunker-esque Mountain Bell building (the beige, window-less monolith that it is) has been transformed into a Qwest building. I guess it makes sense -- there's only so much they could do with a switching station.

Anywho, I wish I could spend a lot more time in SLC, but I've got to press on towards California.


Wednesday, February 16

Closing the door 

this is an audio post - click to play

HANCOCK, Mich. -- One last spin around my old apartment before checking out for good. The audio post deals with my "closing the door" on that wonderful, eclectic apartment.

I'll miss my apartment, my home for the past four years. It was a steal at $200 per month, and it had a lot of what I would describe as character (Olivia and others would just point at the clashing green living room carpet and the garish red, orange and grey striped kitchen carpet and laugh). The apartment, set in the back of a converted market, had massive dining room, smaller living room and upstairs bedroom and a bath. Just a bath. I'm actually looking forward to showers again.

It's been an emotional past couple of days. Seeing Olivia and my friends one last time before heading out West was a lot of fun. The weather alternated back and forth over the last few days. Today encapsulated the best of Copper Country winters with blue, sunny skies during the day before clouding over and giving the whole region a frosting of powdery snow.

I have to admit to tearing up a couple of times during the past two days during my last rounds at the bar, my last visit with my friends and just in the middle of packing.

So, I'm finishing up this post at the new library at MTU. In a minute, I'll get back into my seriously overpacked car. I'll be passing the bridge, The Daily Mining Gazette and the bright lights of downtown Houghton, all freshly decked with a dusting of lake-effect snow.

Sometimes the winters are tough in the Copper Country, but no one ever said they weren't pretty.

As I leave one home for a new one, I hope I never forget my experiences in the region. Thanks to everyone who made it such a terrific experience. Farewell.


Sunday, February 13

Happiness is... 

... enjoying the sunshine and warmth during a warm snap.
... having a final snowfall greet you. One last kiss of winter before saying farewell.
... when the sno-go finally comes by and cuts down the snowdrift in front of your house. The dumptruck carries away much of the winter's accumulation.
... having your best friend visit while getting ready to move.
... socializing with friends and colleagues at the old watering holes ranging from the crowded snowmobiler habitats of The Downtowner in Houghton and the Upper Deck in Hancock, the sports bar of The Bleachers and the laid back lounge at Nutini's Supper Club. Of course, there's the Doghouse and The Library and the Keweenaw Brewing Company. There's just too many bars in this area.
... singing karaoke. Last Saturday, Garrett and I were pretty much the only singers at The Bleachers' V-Day party. I didn't do very well, but I hope everyone had a good time.
... and, of course, saying "See you later" is happy, yet bittersweet.

Fitting tribute 

Ray Charles is the big winner at last night's Grammy Awards winning 8 awards. I think it's a great memorial to the man who brought so much music and joy into the world. It would've been nice to have him here to see it.

I saw Ray Charles perform at San Diego's Street Scene a few years ago. Although he was definitely older, he still had a lot of energy and the audience certainly enjoyed his performance.


Friday, February 11

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.


Monday, February 7

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.


Saturday, February 5

The Final Frontier 

It's been a couple of days, so the reality of the ending of Star Trek: Enterprise has settled in. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be more of a blip on the radar except for some of the Web sites I frequent (and help out on). While for the past 18 years, the Star Trek franchise has encouraged millions to "boldly go," perhaps it is time for the long-lived series to do the same.

After a disappointing experience with Star Trek: Voyager, I was never fully on board with a new series set before the original missions of Capt. Kirk, et. al. After four season, the show never truly won me over. I liked a lot of things about the Xindi arc from season three, but starting off the fourth season with space Nazis was bordering on ridiculous.

I'm sure there's a lot of other sites lamenting the series' passing and I feel for those who are losing their jobs. At the same time, I think the science fiction and TV worlds have moved passed Trek. Hopefully, with a little time off, Star Trek will come roaring back into a dominant place in the media universe.


Friday, February 4

Voices on the street 

this is an audio post - click to play

SAGINAW, Mich. -- I'm on the verge of my swan song in the Copper Country. So, after a stop in Ann Arbor, I visited my friends Erin and Steve at the "New Amadore Apartments." Their voices can be heard herein.

I hope that I can work with them on a blog collaboration in the future. We'll see.


Thursday, February 3

Walking on sunshine ... 


Anyway, I've been in a pretty good mood. I don't know if it's the gloriously sunny weather or some things happening in my real life (more later). After a few dark months things are starting to look pretty bright. So bright, I've got to wear shades.

Hey, is it against the law to reference more than one cheezy song in a post. I hope not. ;)



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