Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer's goin by fast...

Well, July is pretty much over now but the blogging bug has bit me again so let's see what's been going on in my world.

Rachel's parents came down this weekend to spend some time with us. We managed to celebrate Dave's birthday by going to Natt Spil, an eclectic fusion restaurant just off the Square that has what is, in my humble opinion, the best damn pork sandwich EVER. On crispy home made french bread, with spicy mayo and plenty of cilantro and jalapenos. Mmm-mmm good.

We managed to get quite a bit of theater in this weekend as well. On Friday after attending a bbq at Joseph and Leah's we headed out to go see You've Ruined A Perfectly Good Mystery, a play written and performed by Madisonians that is headed off to the New York Fringe. The play was about a Sherlock Holmes rip off set in a completely irreverent choose-your-own-adventure and narrated by someone with a hilarious love of overworked simile and heavy handed puns, much to our main characters' dismay. Probably the best part about this play was the scenery, which was carried and acted out by the rotating portion of the cast. Particularly awesome whenever there was travel involved. Plus, at the end, dirigible battle!

Next up was Captain America. I liked it, maybe not as much as I liked Thor (THOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRR!!!) but it was a fine addition to the Marvel line up. Hugo Weaving had an amazing clipped German accent as the Red Skull and, as Rachel put it, "Everyone hates Nazis, and when you have people that even the Nazis hate then you just don't care how many get blown up!" Hat tip to Marvel for including Nick Fury's Howling Commandos as part of the storyline and making Bucky into a badass. Also, the Avengers trailer at the end? YES.

Finally we traveled an hour out of town to Spring Green, WI to watch a play at the American Players Theatre. This place was very cool as it's an outdoor theater, and we have been blessed all weekend with absolutely perfect weather. Unfortunately we were a bit confused as to exactly how seating was going to work and brought a picnic dinner, only to find that there were actual theater seats and outside food wasn't allowed in the theater. Nonetheless we quietly broke out our peanut butter and raspberry & hot pepper jelly sandwiches and served ourselves slices of gourmet sheep and goat cheese on crackers while the play was going on.

The play that we saw was Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, a comedy about a man who accidentally brings the spirit of his first wife back from the grave with terrible results. It was very witty and the actors performed quite admirably and, for being an outdoor production, the special effects were good. I do have to say that it did drag on a bit especially towards the beginning, but overall it was a great way to finish out the evening. Plus I think I saw more bats during the play than I have at any other point, which is awesome.

And that's mostly what's been going on. Deb, as I know you're reading this, if you could send me some of the pics from the weekend I'd love to post them up.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I is Alive!

Hey all, and happy Memorial Day! I swear that I am still alive despite my silence these past... 6 weeks now? Yeesh. Well, at least there's been a good reason for it as work has been cra-zy. Both of my customers had huge events occurring on the exact same day and the build up to it devoured all of my time. Then I jumped on a plane and flew to Florida to spend the next 15 days pulling 11-14 hour shifts every day (except for one Sunday... yay!), and now I am finally back home in Madison.

Still, even though it's been crazy and super busy and likely will continue to be so for the next couple of weeks I've definitely learned a lot. The go live was lots of fun and went a lot smoother than I was expecting, which was a welcome relief. There were lots of high-fives being thrown around the first couple of days as we blasted through issues right left and center. We also got to eat really well while there- macadamia encrusted trout served in a witbier beurre blanc sauce on top of steamed seasonal vegetables anyone?

I also want to give a shout out to my backups for my other customer (who upgraded on the same day Florida went live) for dealing with their issues while I was out of town. I owe them a cake I think...

But, now that I am back in Wisconsin's loving arms life is good. Yesterday I spent at the Terrace enjoying the company of my friends, good quality beer and the much milder weather. Granted, I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a straw hat at the time in the hopes that the sun would peek its head out, but all in all it was good. I have three more days on my four day weekend to rest, rejuvenate, catch up on e-mail and in general get my life back in order. Hopefully I'll be posting more regularly now that things are (hopefully) calming back down, as I've missed this blog and letting you all know how thing are going.

Apologies for no pics- I'll try to rectify that this weekend. Again, happy Memorial Day everyone and I'll be chatting at you again soon!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mid-April Update

Hey all, long time no post. Sorry about that. Work has been pretty crazy this past... jeez, month or so now? So I haven't had a lot of time or energy to do any posting, either here or on my 40k blog.

Anyway, my customers are upgrading/going live on the 14th of May which will be... interesting. Right now it means a lot of work getting them prepped for the big day, and then it will mean 10 days pretty much straight of 12 hour days on site, including one ridiculous day of flying back and forth from Madison for Home Day while providing command center support the entire time. So, basically if I can survive through June I'll be good to go, but I still have 6 weeks to look forward to.

But not everything is all doom and gloom. My first performance review ended up well- apparently I'm doing better than average for my time at the job! I also go to teach my first class which was a lot of fun and turned out really well. I also got to go to Chicago to briefly see Des in between attending Adepticon, a big Warhammer 40k tournament/convention. I also went on a go live to Minneapolis and got to see people up there for a day, which was great if not the best timing. Plus, Spring is finally here and it feels GREAT.

So, that's about it. Wanted to let you all know that I'm alive but busy. Posting might be rather infrequent until June, but I'll try to keep this updated somewhat regularly, if for nothing else than to get steam out.

All right... back to work!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Protest Pictures Album

For those of you who are interested, here are my pics from the protests, including a lot of pics I haven't posted yet that were shot by Rachel Carroll, Girl Reporter, from inside the Capitol. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Last Couple of Weeks

So I've been a bad little blogger and haven't updated nearly often enough in the past couple of weeks. Lots of stuff has been going on too, so let's get started!

First of all, there was an Old Tymey Drinking Party on the Saturday before the Super Bowl. I happened to find, of all things, a Steampunk store in Madison where I managed to pick up the above white-tie attire. Let me tell you, that the fact that I have a cot with tails, a top hat and a monocle makes me an insanely happy man.

Second, it was unseasonably warm in Madison last week, reaching the 50s towards the end of the week. Every one was out of doors and in the sunshine.

It also gave me a great opportunity to get Rachel a brand new hat! Don't she look awesome?
This made it GREAT protest weather and we had lots of people show up. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, start watching the news! Our dear Governor is trying to take away the collective bargaining rights of most public unions in a very deliberate union-busting measure, made all the more obvious because the unions have accepted any financial burdens that they might be proposed to take.

This weekend there was even more protesting despite the chillier temperatures... we managed to get over 100,000 people gathered at the capitol to protest Walker's power grabbing. Check out the pics below- a lot of the protest signs were particularly inventive!

Ban the Imperial Walker!

Finally, Rachel's parents were in town to check out her speech at a UW conference. We went to a restaurant called Bluefies which is a heart attack waiting to happen. For reference, appetizers were Mac-n-Cheese-n-Bacon-Bites, and the deserts are pictured below.

These are Butterfinger wontons and chocolate chip cookie dough egg rolls. Mmmmmmm...

Well, that's what I have for now. Talk to you all soon!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Twitter feed!

I don't have access to my computer right so I won't get into the awesomeness that was this weekend... well, one hint: 1850s chic.

What I wanted to say is I am on Twitter now! You can find my feed by following @MaxterMynd after you get a Twitter account. Ill also add a Twitter feed to this blog for some more regular (but much more random in content!) posts.

So join my followers! I'm currently stuck in an airport in Madison but I should be down in sunny Florida for most of this week. Talk to you all soon!

All right, one pic:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Oma: Memories and a Slideshow

As mentioned in my last post, my Oma (German for grandmother) passed away two weekends ago. She was much loved and will be remembered always by all. The services over the past weekend were tough but cathartic, and really helped us all remember what an amazing life she lived and the full extent of her impact on those around her. At the funeral many came up to us afterwards to say that it was the most celebratory service that they had been to, which makes sense. Oma lived a full life, and tended to make others part of her family simply through her innate kindness and willingness to give her all to others. As my brother Siegi quoted in his wonderful eulogy, Oma claimed that "I don't have much to give, but I'll give you all that I've got."

I didn't get around to writing a eulogy for her, but I thought that I'd like to share my experiences with her here. My memory of her consists mostly of her understated sense of humor. When I was growing up I would try to scare her all the time, leaping out of closets, sitting silently in her chair as she was about to enter the room, and occasionally accidentally when I just walked in while she was watching one of her TV shows. Every time she'd get a wry smile on her face, shake a fist at me and say "You know what this smells like? Doctor!"

She had a dark sense of humor, which understandably played well with my own strange comedy. We would joke about her getting old, me teasing her for losing her perfection that she attained at age 80 and she returning by threatening to beat me up. Of course her almost contained smile managed to give away that she didn't mind that much. Her stubborn streak also earned some teasing from me, as she insisted on doing things that I gladly offered to help with. But no, it had to be done her way... and to be fair, it was often the best way to do it. But I couldn't just let her get away with everything, now could I?

She was also extremely proud of the work she did. Right up to the end she was driving around town, gardening and cooking entire feasts pretty much all by herself. She did have some trouble getting around but she kept on going. I hope to have half the drive and vitality that she showed when I'm her age.

I also remember just sitting with her and talking. Our conversations would span almost any topic, generally about my future or her past, talking about the state of the world and how much it's changed since she came into it. She was always proud of me and the rest of her family, and I take comfort knowing that she went to her rest knowing that we were all doing all right.

And then there's the cooking. She's the reason I like preparing food, and the reason that I still need to work on my Heffezopf recipe to get it back up to her level. I would often call her from college with random questions on cooking an Easter feast, a batch of Heffedaig or just how to make her famous Kartoffelsalat. I hope that my brain remembers her teachings, as I'm not sure if I can read her Schwabisch hand writing too well... not that she ever used recipes. "Just add it in till it feels right" was a common refrain from her.

A bit rambling, but that's how I do. Siegi put together a wonderful slide show with pics of Oma for the services, and he graciously sent it to me to post here. I don't have sound to go with it, but if you play You Are My Sunshine (the first song she learned in English), the Mash Theme or Beatles songs while watching you'll get the picture.

If you have any other pictures of Oma that you would like to add, just send them to me and I'll add them to the slideshow. Thanks for reading, and thank you to those who have sent their condolences- they are much appreciated. She lived a great life, went out still as stubborn and active as ever, and is now with her husband in Heaven. Who could ask for more?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Christmas 2010, part 2


I didn't actually mean to post this today... I set this one up to post automatically on Saturday and must have forgotten about it. For those of my readers who don't know, my Oma passed away this past Sunday. I guess that makes the fun we had in the post below a bit more special seeing as it was her last Christmas with us. There will be some commemorative posting later, but for now let's take a look at the good times.

The cousins could only stay with us for a couple of days, leaving on the Thursday after Christmas. Before then we managed to do a few fun things, including a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass. The CMoG as I'll be calling it is a pretty cool museum, showing off a lot of glass science and history right next to the place where they invented fiber optics and CorningWare. Here are some photos from our outing:

On our last night we had Fasekigla (oy... is that how you spell it?) and my dad made stuffed peppers. Yum!

My cousins were all scheduled to leave by Thursday but my Uncle was unfortunately not able to get a seat on his flight. So we decided to make the best of it and went on a mini wine tour, hitting up Bully Hill, Dr. Franz Konstantin, Heron Hill and Ithaca Beer Co. Here's some pics of beautiful Finger Lakes country with some Herzl clan members thrown in.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Christmas 2010, Part 1

Well, it certainly has been a long time since I rapped at you all... wait, I've started this way before and it didn't work out well then either.

For Christmas Rachel and I headed back to Elmira. We were planning on driving but through a combination of stress on my part and increasingly dire weather predictions for the weekend we decided to fly. I had to work until noon on Christmas Eve so the best that I could do was the first flight out of Milwaukee on Christmas morning.

For reference, the weather predictions were very dire- snow starting on Christmas Eve and building into a full Nor'Easter on Sunday. And, to be fair, it proved true... just not on any of the places that I was going. 3 AM on Christmas? Roads clear. Flight to and from Detroit? Not snowing. My entry into Elmira? The ground was brown. BROWN!

Coming from a land where there was at least a foot of snow on the ground, I think it's fair to say that I was a bit disappointed.

SigusFriedus and Le Dog picked us up from the airport. After that it was a whirlwind meet n' greet with the immediate fam and the quickest present opening that I have ever been privy to. Highlights included:
-I Love Bacon! from The Girl
-Awesome spring jacket that Hans got me from Columbia
-Mark Twain's Autobiography!
-and the most awesome thing of all, a drinking horn holder.

You seriously have no idea how awesome this is. Having experience attempting to use a drinking horn at... a family friendly Rootbeer-athon!... it is incredibly hard to reliably keep one's drink in the horn or one's mouth based simply on the fact that you can't put it down. With this device, I can enjoy my Nordic traditions while secure in the fact that my horn will not tip over and spill my mead.

From there my cousins came home and we started off the big family reunion. Gifts were exchanged in a "Secret" Santa. I got some awesome silicone bake/cookware from my cousin Matt while I in return got him the Star Wars pop-up book (with working lightsabers!). The inevitable Christmas dinner featured double the normal number of birds, and in the war between Max and Meat I am sad to say that meat almost won, going so far as cutting off my dessert resupply. The jerks.

I also got to reconnect with Greg who grew a beard in my absence. Much Black Ops was played, and I was introduced to a new game that Hans got called Stomple. I can't help but pronounce it the German way...

Anyway, this post is getting a bit long, so I'll continue the rest of the trip hopefully over the next week. Check in next time for the 7 v 7 soccer tourney!

Until next time...

"The xmas holidays have this high value: that they remind Forgetters of the Forgotten, & repair damaged relationships."
- letter to Carlotte Welles by Mark Twain, 30 December 1907