Wednesday, December 31, 2008


The bad stuff:

My boyfriend's grandmother passed away in March and my grandfather died in June. His other grandmother had a stroke this year, and so did mine. Several friends lost grandparents, aunts, friends or pets this year. Car trouble. A few friends lost their jobs and one had to move because his landlord was evicted from the place she was renting. My niece moved to Colorado in July. Prague. Work. Politics class. School in general. Heath Ledger. Michael Crichton. Recounts. My iPod breaking. Too much snow in December.

The good stuff:

My boyfriend and I celebrated a year together. Lots of babies born, two engagements and a few new pets. My niece moved back. Berlin. I moved into an apartment and neighborhood I really like. Most of those friends have found new jobs. Obama. Calculus 2. A+ certification. A week up on Potato Lake. Camping. The Dark Knight. Duluth. The Minnesota Zoo. Sonic. Bowling. Zack and Miri. 33 books. The 35W bridge reopened. Lots of new music. My Blackberry. The boyfriend got a Wii, and he is buying me a sewing machine for Christmas.

So it seems there was a bit more good than bad. That's a good trend, right?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Teen Angst

I wrote this poem in 9th grade:

I had a beer behind a book, no one gave me a second look.

I shot up in a back hall, no one seems to care at all.

I failed five tests in a row, people act like they don't know.

I had a joint under the stairs, I guess that no one really cares.

When I was thirteen, I ran away. I was gone for over a day.

When I got home, I got a beating, which wasn't exactly what I was needing.

I'm more innocent than I appear, for growing up is what I fear.

I'm just a kid, not sure of what I did.

I don't know where to go from here, I guess I'll have another beer.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Too much Christmas

Too much Christmas
Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Down by the river

Down by the river
Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


Disenfanaticism - What happens when you find something you like being advertised in an icky way, like spam or pop-up ads. Netflix: you were the first.

Cute animals, but not the ones you're thinking

No cats or dogs here. A baby hippo was born at the Berlin zoo on November 29th. Scientists have discovered hundreds of new species in Mozambique, including the olive sunbird.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cold? Why yes it is!

Cold? Why yes it is!
Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Cute Things Falling Asleep

I have only seen 29.2% of the IMDB top 250 movies.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Today's word is bivouac.
"I’ll go see where he’s bivouacked the family." always struck me as odd when watching The Great Outdoors.

Today's annoyance is crappy snow shoveling, and today's malady is Upper Respiratory Illness.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


I passed the 602, so now I have to get through the 601 on Tuesday

Count again

Metropolitan State University claims to be convenient and accessible because "Five convenient metropolitan locations serve as class sites." Except that they don't make a point to hold general classes at each site. Want to take any Math class? You must got to one of the two St. Paul campuses. Art? Every class but one is held in the same building in St. Paul. Chemistry or Biology? Let me give you a map to St. Paul.

I am very annoyed by the lack of any official statement about this. Put it the handbook, note it on the locations page and make it clear on the information pages about each major. "The Math Department is located in ST. Paul and holds classes in St. Paul and Midway." If they were more upfront about it, students could make an informed choice instead of being mislead. I feel mislead.

I've emailed people at the school, complained in class and asked a Metafilter question about it. While I know it can be hard to get an answer to a Why question, I find this one particularly difficult. Several times they have just restate the policy instead of offering a reason. If I did that on a test, I wouldn't get credit for it.

Reasons I have been given:

Lack of students willing to take a class in Minneapolis, due to parking costs or other reasons: Parking is only $2 more here and it's not an issue for College of Management students. If you don't hold classes here, how do you know if students want to take them? The last three classes I took here were full on the first day.

Due to an agreement with MCTC, Metro will not hold 100 level classes in Minneapolis so they won't be in competition: What a crappy agreement. The co-location was nothing of the kind then. It turned Metro into an unwelcome guest, and not a roommate.

Lack of space: How many classrooms are empty in Minneapolis? I'm not just talking about in the CoM building, but in all of the MCTC buildings. An Algebra class needs seats and a whiteboard and I think they have some of those hanging around.

It's! so! easy! to take an MCTC class for Metro students: No it's not. You have to apply, get transcripts twice and you have to take MCTC assessment tests. How is that different than attending any another school?

The bottom line is that you are not filling your customers' needs and I have tried to point this out. Apparently there are too many layers of bureaucracy to get a point across.

I'm so frustrated by this that I have decided not to continue trying to take Metro classes. I haven't decided what I am going to do yet. I have checked out other schools, including MCTC, and might go to one of those. It seems like my job will pay for Associate's degrees now, too. For now I plan to take a CLEP or two this spring.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Don't leave soda in your trunk

Don't leave soda in your trunk
Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Monday, November 24, 2008


On Saturday afternoon, I tripped over my laptop cord. My right big toe got bent too far and hurt like I had stubbed it. It swelled up and I have been limping since then. I just read a description of sprains and I am pretty sure I have a mildly sprained big toe. Pain meds and ice are recommended.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Originally uploaded by soelo

I have always appreciated the honesty of this sign.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

No School For You

I am not taking anymore classes at Metro State. There are two more meetings of my current class, and after that I am done. There are many reasons, but chief among them is that they don't hold enough classes in Minneapolis. I asked why and was told that they don't hold 100 level classes in Mpls because they have an agreement with MCTC due to the colocation. There was no answer about 200 and higher level classes. I asked for one, but there has not yet been a reply.

I would like to call shenanigans on this agreement. It is not any easier for a Metro student to take an MCTC class than for them to take a class anywhere else. The only difference was no application fee. I still had to pay to have my transcripts sent, take MCTC assessment tests, etc. The only cooperation I see is that we sometimes get a classroom in their buildings. In my opinion, they are not very nice rooms.

Going to school is hard enough without having to deal with the non-answers I have been getting. You might say that college is supposed to prepare you for the real world and there is plenty of bureaucracy to deal with there. Well, I work for a giant corporation and live in a big city, and this is a new level of it.
I am going to try emailing my adviser. I have never talked to her, so this will be a lovely introduction.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


October 30th - I went to the Al Franken rally at the Convention Center. Saw Amy Klobuchar, Keith Ellison and Bill Clinton speak, as well as Al himself.

October 31st - I went to Aaron's party as a tree. No one knew what I was.

November 1st - I volunteered at the DFL and made ~250 phone calls.
November 2nd - I was supposed to get crafty with Gee, but I had to cancel on her to do homework.
November 3rd - We watched 'Recount' in class.

November 4th - I voted and then stayed up past 1am watching returns. I went to bed when it was apparent they would not know who won the Senate race before morning.

November 5th-7th - I stayed after work for four hours to attend A+ test prep class.

November 6th-9th - I am watching Debbie's cats while she is in California. Twice a day I go feed them and give Stormy his meds.

November 8th - I finally got to see 'Zack and Miri Make a Porno' with Mike.

November 10th - Class, where the write up of our voluteering is due. It will be the first class where my homework is done before 6pm.

November 17th and 24th - We have to give 4-person presentations in class. We also have to watch 7 or 8 others. Oh joy.

November 18th-20th - More A+ class.

November 21st - 'Twilight' comes out.

Either November 14th-16th or 22nd-24th - Driving to Colorado.

So if I ignore you during this month, please forgive me.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

How does your mind work?

Are you an Empathizer or a Systemizer?

I guess I am a systemizer, since my SQ is almost 3 times my EQ!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Michael Crichton

Micheal Crichton has died of cancer. I really enjoyed his book entitled 'Travels', but I haven't read any of his more popular novels. The book is a collection of episodes from his life from the 60's to the 80's, a mix of biography and travel stories.

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November

I know I will. Here are some of my favorite parts of Obama's speech last night:

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dreams of our founders are alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."

"It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day"

"The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand."

"To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope."

"Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old. She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin."

Here's the whole thing.

President-Elect Obama!

I have never voted for a winning Presidential candidate until this year. It feels good.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Monday, November 03, 2008

Why I hate my class

It's supposed to be a "smart classroom", but there seems to a problem with some part of the technology every week. Sometimes the problem is that the teacher doesn't know how to work the technology. I wonder if there was any training provided.

I like that teacher, but she gave a mini-lecture about spelling after our first papers. The next lecture she had notes in a Word doc that she showed on screen and it had many misspellings.

It is a class on Elections and Parties. This is not the place for you to discuss your views on each issue. Issues should only be discussed as they pertain to the campaign. Shut up, please.

During a discussion, you get to make one point each time you talk. I don't care that you work at the capitol, you are not teaching the class.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, October 30, 2008

At the rally

At the rally
Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Al and Bill

Al and Bill
Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

That One

That One
Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

RSS to Email Services

Shoot, It looks like is dead ( and also). It's good that I kept a copy of my OPML file. Rssfwd got updated after being mysteriously down for a while, but they let me import all of my old subscriptions. It sucks, I am sure there are some feeds in Sendmerss that were not in my OPML and not in Rssfwd. I liked Sendmerss' interface more, but now I have to use Feedblitz or Rssfwd. In looking for more services, I found most of the sites either require some kind of software installation or code or else they are really for mailing list managers and not end users.

I have found a few others that seem to meet my needs but I haven't tried them yet.*

*well I have tried each one with a single feed... but I have no meaningful results yet.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Local Transportation

In Downtown Minneapolis, Marquette and Second Avenues are under construction right now. Once the project, called Marq2, is complete in the Spring of 2009, all express buses that currently use Nicollet will move to Marquette and Second. The new layout for both streets will be two bus lanes and two traffic lanes. Neither one will have a bike lane and bicyclists are expected to use Nicollet Mall. Currently, bikes are not allowed on Nicollet Mall between 6am and 6pm, although I see plenty of them there and have never seen one getting a ticket. At some point, bikes will be allowed on Nicollet 24 hours a day. The Marq2 project is costing approximately $41 million dollars and is funded by the $133.3 million grant that Minnesota got from the US Dept of Transportation in order to reduce congestion in the Twin Cities.

In 2009, Hennepin and First Avenues will be converted from a 1-way street to a 2-way street for vehicular traffic. That project doesn't have a slick brochure like the Marq2 yet and doesn't appear to be funded by the grant.

There are plans to build 45 more miles of bikeways in Minneapolis through 2010.

The Lowry Avenue bridge was closed in April of 2008 and reconstruction is not scheduled to begin until summer of 2009. It is expected to take 2 years.


I have never thought of Applebee's as a joint to hang out in, but apparently Dave has. I was sitting at a table in the bar area with The Boyfriend. There were a few different people at the bar, all watching the football and baseball games that were on TV. Dave comes in, sits down at the bar and announces two things: #1 his kids are in the car and #2 he just bought a house here. His fellow barsitters and tenders are friendly and reassure him when he expresses doubt about such a big purchase. He then goes on to explain that he owns a martial arts business in The Cities, but it's okay since that's only a 30-minute drive from here. (I think it's more like 55, The Boyfriend says 45.) He then launches into a story about a customer injury, a lack of insurance, his brother's failure to buy the insurance and how he just decided to pay the customer off. All the while, he has pointed out what everyone else did wrong. He did nothing wrong, of course, and has the money to just take care of things. No one actually asked him anything about what he did or how the business was after he mentioned it. He got there all on his own. At this point, it's obvious to me that no one is paying much attention to him. The couple that was sitting closest to him went outside for a smoke. He then starts talking about several other things and finally settles on sports. Dave decides that insulting the Vikings is a good idea. He asks if they have ever made it to the Superbowl, and when someone points out that they have, he says, "Well not this year." Wow, he really knows how to make friends. He ends up bringing up a bunch of other teams and cities trying to stop the heckling that is coming at him from several of the formerly friendly bar patrons. When he finally gets up to leave, one of them tells him to take care of his kids, and he says, "You take care of yours, too," as if that was meant as a friendly good-bye. Some people just don't get it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cloud Cover

Cloud Cover
Originally uploaded by soelo

I can't see a speck of blue sky.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Monday, October 06, 2008

Five Years of Blogging

Today my blog turns five, and I always post the following list on my blogiversary.

Here are my top ten movies of the year-so-far:
Baby Mama
Burn After Reading
The Dark Knight
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Iron Man
Pineapple Express
Smart People
Tropic Thunder
Vantage Point

Based on previous year's data, 5.5 of those will probably show up on my Top Ten of 2008 list.
The movies most likely to take the place of any of the above are Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, The City of Ember, Zack and Miri, and Twilight. I have not allowed myself to see Nick and Norah yet. I am using it as the proverbial carrot on the end of my school-stick. Basically I can't see it until I finish my paper. More on that later.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

33 books

33 books
Originally uploaded by soelo

Only 29 are shown, since I got rid of two and have lent two more out.

The Wisdom of 33 Books

As I go through them again, I will add quotes.

1. Eragon - Christopher Paolini
"Every age needs an icon- perhaps that lot has fallen to you."
2. Baggage - Emily Barr
"I want to see her, and yet I need to run as far from her as I possibly can."
3. Emily Ever After
4. The Guy Not Taken
5. Wuthering Heights
Catherine says she loves Heathcliff "because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same..."
"My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I AM Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being."
6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 
7. A Wind in the Door 
8. Dirty Girls Social Club 
9. Miracle 
10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 
11. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
12. His Dark Materials:: The Golden Compass - Phillip Pullman
13. Serenity
14. Little Earthquakes
15. The Know-it-All
16. His Dark Materials: The Subtle Knife
17. Life of Pi 
18. His Dark Materials: The Amber Spyglass
19. Girls' Night Out
20. Twilight
21. The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America - Bill Bryson
22. I'm the One That I Want by Margaret Cho
23. Solo - Emily Barr
24. Good in Bed - Jennifer Weiner
25. Certain Girls - Jennifer Weiner
26. Under the Banner of Heaven - Jon Krakauer
27. Flatland - A Romance of Many Dimensions - Edwin A Abbott
28. The Big Love - Sarah Dunn
29. The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper
30. How to be Good - Nick Hornby

31. Travels - Michael Crichton
"Brugh talked about the value of being able to see a card, or a life situation, from all sides. To see the good and the bad, and not to consider the thing itself as possessing either goodness or badness. He talked about how people became rigid when they assigned fixed values to things.

32. New Moon - Stephenie Meyer

33. milkrun - Sarah Mlynowski
"How could I ask for a better friend? Someone who gives me a backup plan. Instead of someone who makes me the backup plan."


I forgot that today was the day of the fare increase. My bus home has a sign on the farebox that just says "$2.25".
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's always fun until someone loses a finger.

The boyfriend and I were standing in his entryway putting on our shoes before bowling. (Not our bowling shoes, but our "don't drag dirt into the house" shoes.) He kicks one of my shoes down the stairs leading to the basement. Before you assume he is mean, recall that I have done this to him at least twice before. I always try to get it about two or three steps down, but it always tumbles farther than I want it to. We have odd ways of showing affection. I am carrying a purse and a backpack and wearing one shoe. I head down the stairs to retrieve the other one, slip and fall down about four stairs. I am laughing and he is asking if I am okay. After I put on my second shoe, I realize that my right pointer finger is bleeding. We go up to the bathroom to wash it out and the BF applies antibiotic salve, gauze and a bandage. He feels guilty, but I point out how I have done it to him before. My gash is wierd shaped, like an upside-down V. Surprisingly, it did not affect my bowling at all: 108, 118 and 121. Maybe it slowed me down? I have been able to write and use a mouse just fine. I doubt I'll be very good at the Wii, however, especially pinball.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Friday, September 26, 2008


Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

A Plus

Yesterday we found out we have an opportunity to take a class at work to get A+ certified. It was a last minute thing since today was the first class. This was very timely for me, since I'd been contemplating getting certified in something.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Yesterday morning I dreamt that my politics class devolved into yelling over universal health care. I was for it and most were against it, so I stood up to better address the class. My purse was unattended, and I saw a girl reach into the pocket and try to steal my wallet. I grabbed her wrist and held it until security showed up. I checked the pocket of my purse, found a $20 and sneered at her, "You're stupid. You didn't even get my money."
This morning was different. I dreamt I won $50,000 on a scratch-off. I started thinking about what I could pay off and then what else I could buy with that money. I knew I had to go to the lottery office, but for some reason I turned the ticket in at the store. They gave me some cash and an IOU for the rest of it. It sucked when I woke up.

Yo La Tango

Yo La Tango
Originally uploaded by soelo

at barrio
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


Originally uploaded by soelo

At Manhattan
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


If it weren't for the couple blocking the aisle, Skooch would have been the oddest thing I'd seen all day. The couple had two GIANT backpacks and were sitting on either side of aisle with their legs turned towards each other. They were also holding hands and all of this caused them to block the aisle of the bus. Whenever a passenger got on, they had to turn their knees and let go of each other. This not only squished the people sitting next to them, but also provided a very small opening for others to push through. Despite the fact that the entire back half of the bus held exactly one passenger, they took the first two forward-facing seats.
Skooch got on a stop or two after I did. He wore a very long grey afro, combed out to stand even higher, and coke bottle glasses. He had a full backpack and a grocery bag with him. So when the couple only gave him eight inches of room, he had quite a bit of manuvering to do. He got past them and found two empty seats. He struggled to remove his backpack while still standing because the bus was now in motion.
When it came time for him to get off of the bus, he stayed seated while putting on his backpack. This caused him to be wedged between his seat and the one in front of him. After a hurculean effort, he launched himself out of the tight space, grabbed his grocery bag and disembarked.
I imagine that his friends call him Skooch and he is both the local oddball and the neighborhood "familiar stranger". If my annoyance had not been all used up on the aisle-blocking couple, I probably would have found him a bit annoying. Luckily I didn't have any bad feelings leftover for him.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chocolate Chai Latte

Chocolate Chai Latte
Originally uploaded by soelo

At Espresso Royale
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


Today started with a dream that I still had not finished my paper for school. At work I fixed a database error and sat in wonder about when we will be moved. On Friday night I got my sewing machine working (yay). It really was just an issue with the needle. So I have been sewing too much and not doing anything else, like homework. Shame on me.

I am currently questioning my school attendence right now. I have some issues with how Metro State runs things, especially in regards to the Minneapolis campus. I am thinking about switching schools. I wonder if it would make sense to just get a certificate in something instead of the four year degree. Probably not as I am taking my second to last General class. Oy.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bitter and Dippy

There are two different women I know (well, that I am acquainted with) and I call one Bitter and the other Dippy. This is during my inner monologue, not to their faces. Anyway, whenever I see Bitter she looks put out and annoyed. If she is on the phone, she is griping at or about someone trying to scam her. If she is talking to someone, it is about how they should watch out so someone else doesn't take advantage of them. If she is alone she has a pained and tired look on her face. She once threatened a friend of mine, so I don't give her the benefit of the doubt. I just ignore her as much as I can.
Dippy is another story. On paper she's a lot like Bitter. Same age, job, family and fashion. But instead of Bitter's permascowl, Dippy wears a permasmile. If she's talking to someone else, it's loud and about how proud she is of X or how she can't wait for Y. The problem is when she is trying to convince you of something, she uses smiley faces and fifty-nine exclamation marks, wishes you a nice day and thinks that will "win you over". But her facts are wrong. She once told someone else I was "crabby", and I don't know of it was because I don't smile or talk loud enough, or simply because I remained unconvinced despite all her sugary sweet platitudes.
My point is, I don't like either of their attitudes. Life is not always out to get you. Smiles will never replace logic. That is all.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Indigo Girls - Jonas And Ezekial

I left my anger in a river running highway 5
New Hampshire, Vermont, bordered by
College farms, hubcaps, and falling rocks
Voices in the woods and the mountaintops

I used to search for reservations and native lands
Before I realized everywhere I stand
There have tribal feet running wild as fire
Some past life sister of my desire

Jonas and Ezekial hear me now
Steady now and don't come out
I'm not ready for the dead to show it's face
Whose turn is it anyway?

Now when I was young my people taught me well
Give back what you take or you'll go to Hell
It's not the Devil's land, you know it's not that kind
Every devil I meet becomes a friend of mine
Every devil I meet is an angel in disguise

Jonas and Ezekial hear me now
Steady now and don't come out
I'm not ready for the dead to show it's face
Whose angel are you anyway?

White - chain - rope - fear
(Hush my darling)
Be still my dear

A bullet in the head, now he's dead
A friend of a friend, someone said
He was an activist with a very short life
I think there's a lesson here - he died without a fight

In the war over land where the world began
Prophecies say it's where the world will end
But there's a tremor growing in our backyard
Fear in our heads, fear in our hearts
Prophets in the graveyard

Jonas and Ezekial hear me now
Steady now and don't come out
I'm not ready for the dead to show it's face
Whose turn is it anyway?

Jonas and Ezekial hear me now
Steady now I feel your ghost about
I'm not ready for the dead to show it's face
Whose angel are you anyway?

I said there's prophets in the graveyard
(Now I walk in beauty)
Prophets in the graveyard
(Beauty is before me)
Prophets in the graveyard
(Beauty is behind me)
(Above and below me)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Da Bus

I ride the bus to work and to school when I can, so I enjoy reading the local blogs by riders and drivers.
Picking Up Strangers gave me a lot of laughs and a few gasps today. I found it from Jeanne's comment on Bus Tales.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Chill-out

The Chill-out
Originally uploaded by soelo

At Flame
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


Originally uploaded by soelo

I made this today. Can you tell I miss crafting? I am working on setting up the crafty corner of my bedroom. When did I get so much fabric? I really need a sewing machine that works. I also need to start bringing my needlework along to Mike's house and whenever I go out of town.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Joined Recently

Friend Feed
Hogwarts Live

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

7 Spanish Angels

He looked down into her brown eyes,
And said, "Say a prayer for me."
And she threw her arms around him,
Whispered, "God will keep us free."
They could hear the riders coming,
He said, "This is my last fight.
If they take me back to Texas,
They won't take me back alive."

There were Seven Spanish Angels,
At the Altar of the Sun.
They were praying for the lovers,
In the Valley of the Gun.
When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared,
There was thunder from the throne.
And Seven Spanish Angels,
Took another angel home.

She reached down and picked the gun up,
That lay smoking in his hand.
She said, "Father, please forgive me,
I can't make it without my man."
And she knew the gun was empty,
And she knew she couldn't win.
But her final prayer was answered,
When the rifles fired again.

There were Seven Spanish Angels,
At the Altar of the Sun.
They were praying for the lovers,
In the Valley of the Gun.
When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared,
There was thunder from the throne.
And Seven Spanish Angels,
Took another angel home.

There were Seven Spanish Angels,
At the Altar of the Sun.
They were praying for the lovers,
In the Valley of the Gun.
When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared,
There was thunder from the throne.
And Seven Spanish Angels,
Took another angel home.

There were Seven Spanish Angels,
At the Altar of the Sun.
They were praying for the lovers,
In the Valley of the Gun.
When the battle stopped and the smoke cleared,
There was thunder from the throne.
And Seven Spanish Angels,
Took another angel home.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


My recent mp3 finds:

Candi Stanton - He Called Me Baby
Frou Frou - Holding out for a Hero (the cover done for Shrek 2)
Ingrid Michaelson - Overboard
Roadside Poppies - Just Another Love Song
Sergio Mendes ft. Fergie - The Look of Love
Sparrow House - When I am Gone
Syreeta - Your Kiss is Sweet
Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma
Youth Group - Forever Young

Monday, September 08, 2008

Six months until the end of my first 1001 days

March 8, 2009 will be the last day of that project. I am sure I'll start another list soon after that.

I got six of my 9 things done this summer, and to get that same rate on my 101 things, I need to get 68 of them done.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Twilight Widget

Twilight Teaser

Watch the First One or the Second One. Twilight comes out November 21st.

Friday, September 05, 2008

RSS in my email

From 12:00 am until 3:45pm today, my rss inbox got 929 messages, almost one per minute. Extrapolate that out to the four months since I started this project and that is just under 175 thousand emails. So, I should hit 200 thousand before the end of the month. If I had not been emptying my trash, I might even hit 20 percent usage of my 7104 megabytes.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More New Music

Amy Winehouse - You Know I'm No Good - "I cried for you on the kitchen floor"

Coconut Records - West Coast - "And I miss you, I'm going back home to the West Coast. I wish you would put yourself in my suitcase."

David Jordan - Sun Goes Down - "If you lost your senses, here have mine."

Dragonette - The Boys (Calvin Harris Cover) - "I like them tall boys, I like them short boys. I like them brown-haired boys, I like them blond boys. I like them big boys, I like them skinny boys.

Fishboy - Halftime at the Proper Name Spelling Bee - "The looks upon the children's face were emptier than outer space"

Lily Allen - Naive (Cover of The Kooks) - "I know she knows I'm not fond of asking"

Neneh Cherry - 7 seconds - "And there's a million voices to tell you what she should be thinking"

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Solo Moviegoing

My boyfriend admitted to me that he has never gone to see a movie alone. Admitted is the wrong word, since he was not ashamed and he really didn't see it as an odd thing. He was in the minority in the car, since I do it all the time and the friend we were driving with does it on occasion. The BF gave two reasons. First, he isn't that into movies and doesn't need to see them in the theater. He adds that he's seen more movies in the theater over the last year with me (five or six?) than he had in several years prior! Second, he sees movie-going as a social activity and wouldn't do it alone. He even thinks it's sad to see people alone in theaters.

This was surprising to me because about 3/4 of the movies I see in theater are alone. This year I have seen 16 movies, and 10 of them have been alone. I don't object to seeing movies with my friends, but I also enjoy the alone time I get from being able to watch a movie in the theater and not have to discuss it immediately. The first movie I saw alone was 'Dances with Wolves' and the last was 'Pineapple Express'.

So, along with vacations and dining out, this is yet another thing that I do alone.

2008 Fall TV

Sept 2 - Bones
Sept 9 - Fringe
Sept 10 - Do Not Disturb
Sept 13 - MadTV and SNL
Sept 17 - Manswers
Sept 18 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Sept 22 - Heroes and CBS Mondays
Sept 23 - Opportunity Knocks
Sept 24 - The New Adventures of Old Christine and Gary Unmarried
Sept 25 - Survivor and NBC Thursday Night
Sept 29 - Chuck
Oct 9 - Kath and Kim and SNL Weekend Update Thursday
Oct 13 - My Own Worst Enemy
Oct 15 - South Park
Oct 30 - 30 Rock
Nov 2 - Surviving Suburbia

Read in August

30. 'How to be Good' - Nick Hornby
31. 'Travels' - Michael Crichton

'Good' was a novel that I had to push myself to finish. 'Travels' is a collection of essays from Crichton's life from the late sixties to the early eighties. It starts with him in medical school, goes on to describe many trips he took and finishes with an exploration of metaphysics. The middle was my favorite part. I am planning a blog post centered on the book, and it has really piqued my interest in Crichton himself.

I started reading 'New Moon' last night, the second book in Stephenie Meyer's vampire series. I'd picked 'Twilight' for my book club to read, thanks to a friend's suggestion. At least two of my other friends and three family members are now into the series. Most of us can't wait for the movie in November.

Fit it all in

When trying to fit it all in, it seems to work better if there is less to fit in. I always try to fit more in than I should and then stuff gets squished or broken or the bag looks funny or things get neglected. This is often the case with actual things but it spills over into money, food, entertainment and time.

-I am chronically late to everything but work and school. It's usually because I thought I could do too much or tried to fit just one more thing in.
-My inbox that holds only rss feeds has just under 40,000 messages in it. That does not include the 4,000 or so that I have archived.
-My other two inboxes have hundreds of emails that should be in the rss inbox.
-When moving, I realized I easily have over 100 boxes of stuff.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Eye of the beholder

"It's rude to be rude. It's not rude to be direct, especially in business situations."
phunniemee on AskMeFi

Monday, August 25, 2008

Transit on the go

I just used Nextrip Mobile from Metro Transit here. It worked great, unlike the phone version that didn't seem to think there were any more trips on the 4 after 8:50 pm. I even tried to get tomorrow schedule instead and it thought a sneeze was me saying "Eight".
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Did You Know

that you can see the Great Pyramid of Giza on Google Maps? It's the biggest one with no marker on it.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Originally uploaded by soelo

Sigh... I wish I was somewhere over here right now.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Monday, August 18, 2008

Gmail tip for finding archived items with no label

I have a Gmail account with over 50K messages (my rss feeds) and I sometimes read it via Gmail mobile. So, I end up with messages that have been archived but not labeled (oh no!)

To find them, search this:
"-label:inbox -label:blog -label:comp ..."

You have to add a -label:tag for each tag, so it can take a while to write. But bookmark it and you never have to write it again! I found the idea at the bottom of this thread.

Harry Potter moves away, so Twilight moves closer

Since Harry Potter has moved it's release date to July, Twilight has moved up to November 21st.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Current Events

I have updated my 101 things post, checking off a few more things while I was changing the text back to all black. I made cookies in July, took my Calc final Wednesday and got my immunizations last Thursday. I don't have my grade yet.

I start a new class, Elections and Political Parties on August 25th. In most classes there is at least one annoying person (although Calc2 was mercifully lacking one) and I just know there will be more than one in this class.

An arch in Utah's Arches National Park has collapsed. Utah was so pretty when I visited it with my mother in 2003. We talk about going back all the time.

The last item on my list of 9 things to do this summer was to visit another State Park in addition to Frontenac and Afton. When my grandfather died in June, he was buried in Fort Ridgely Cemetary, which is inside the Fort Ridgely State Park. Then when I went up to Sunset Lodge with my boyfriend and his family in July, we visited Itasca State Park and walked across the headwaters of the Mississippi. I had not even realized/remembered either of those until I pulled up the list of Minnesota State Parks and saw them both on the list.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Russia's Grizzly Coast

Russia's Grizzly Coast
Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Mere katfight

Mere katfight
Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The World in a Spreadsheet

The default Microsoft Excel worksheet has 256 columns and 65,536 rows. This gives us 16,777,216 individual cells. The current world population is estimated to be 6.684 billion people. So, to fit the whole world in a spreadsheet, you have to put 398.4 people in each cell.

Friday, August 08, 2008

European Population

There are many ways to rank cities by population:

-Strictly by the population within the city limits
-Include the urban area, but no "satellite cites"
-Include the entire metropolitan area: cities, farmland and smaller towns, defined in Europe as the LUZ (large urban zone).

Bucharest, for example, has the sixth largest population in the EU within its city limits. Expand the definition to urban area, and it drops to number 20. Expand it out to the entire LUZ and it drops to 23 on the list.

Those rankings are for the current EU, but if Turkey is admitted, all of those would go up by 3, since Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir are larger by all definitions. In fact, Istanbul would be number one for city limit population at 11.1 million. London would still hold the top LUZ rank with 11.9 million.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Express rates of change in Pineapples

I am about to go to take the final test for Calculus 2 class. Happily I am much more prepared this time than I was the first time I took Calc2 in 2005.

As a reward for my (probably B-level) work in the class the semester, I am going to see Pineapple Express right after I finish the test. First Showing has an interview with the director David Gordon Green and another with Seth Rogen himself. James Franco gets some love, too, with this post which includes some other stories that feature him, and finally they review the film.

Friday, August 01, 2008

See The World - Gomez

Day to day
Where do you want to be?
'Cos now you're trying to pick a fight
With everyone you need
You seem like a soldier
Who's lost his composure
You're wounded and playing a waiting game
In no-man's land no-one's to blame

See the world
Find an old fashioned girl
And when all's been said and done
It's the things that are given, not won
Are the things that you earned

Empty handed, surrounded by a senseless scene
With nothing of significance
Besides a shadow of a dream
You sound like an old joke
You're worn out, a bit broken
Asking me time and time again
And the answer's still the same

See the world
Find an old fashioned girl
And when all's been said and done
It's the things that are given, not won
Are the things that you earned

You've got a chance to put things right
So how's it going to be?
Lay down your arms now
And put us beyond doubt
So reach out it's not too far away
Don't mess around now, don't delay
See the world..

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Harry Potter and the Secret Treasure of Death

Apparently that is the Japanese title of the seventh Harry Potter book.
If you follow that link, there is a picture of 5 girls holding their books, and the one in middle just looks angry.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Book List

27. 'Flatland - A Romance of Many Dimensions' - Edwin A Abbott
28. 'The Big Love' - Sarah Dunn
29. 'The Dark is Rising' - Susan Cooper

Flatland was bit too political for my taste. The Big Love was simple but not overly predictable. The Dark is Rising seemed to get repetitive at times, but it still made me want to see the movie.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cabin Life

We've been up here since Saturday afternoon and already I have seen dragonflies, chipmunks, a red squirrel, ducks, loons, eagles, herons and several varieties of bass. Last night, Mike and took his boat out to watch the sunset and do some fishing. We got a few nibbles but didn't catch anything. Then as we were heading in we saw a shooting star! I can't believe how big the loons are or how beautiful their call is.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Originally uploaded by soelo

Is getting ready for a night on the town.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, July 03, 2008


I just completed the 15th move of my life of 31 years. 15 moves is 16 different places, which means I have averaged less than 2 years per location.

The longest place I have lived is the house my mother still lives in, and the shortest place is the 3rd Hopkins apartment. I forced them to give me new unit after mine flooded 3 times and they wouldn't let me out of my lease, so I was in the two 1 bedrooms for a total of a year, one for seven months and the other for five.

This last move was a pretty different experience than my others. For one, my roommate and I just got approved last Friday. I knew it was going to be down to the wire and had no idea if I could get in to the place before July 1st, so I didn't hire movers or reserve a truck. I did rent a 10x15 storage unit on Thursday afternoon. From Thursday to Saturday, my sister and I took seven cars loads of boxes to the unit. Sunday morning we signed the lease and started moving stuff into the apartment. In all, it took 20-21 car loads, two passenger truckloads and one Home Depot truckload to get all of our stuff out of the old place. Um, time to declutter! I did some of that before moving, but it never seems like enough. I still have some stuff in my friend's basement from two moves ago. I know there is a Christmas tree down there, and an unknown number of boxes, somewhere between 5 and 20. But it sort of evens out as I am storing some things for my niece.

Despite the last minute timing of it all, the only really bad thing about the move was how sore we all got (and still are). Our family has had some nightmarish moves in the past, including one where we lost the key to the Budget moving truck and had to get a locksmith to cut a new one and another where our U-haul broke down multiple times on a 75 minute drive. In comparison, this one was not so bad. It helped that I was moving out of a first floor unit.

Thanks Shannon, Gerardo, Josh and especially Tanya for hauling my stuff and cleaning my old place.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Just Mean

Just Mean
Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Originally uploaded by soelo

Chubby has tireds from moving.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

101 and 9 things update

9 things in 92 days - June 1 - August 31, 2008
2 Move - this is in process right now - I'll probably post about it when it's over.
4 Pass Calculus 2 - I got an A on the first of 3 tests.
7 Visit Science Museum - planned for tomorrow
8 Eat at Fogo de Chao - done on June 6th - the rolls are so good!

33 books
26. 'Under the Banner of Heaven' - Jon Krakauer

101 things
Make a scrapbook of all my travels - I have started, and I hope to be done with 1992-2001 by the end of the summer. 2002 was the first time I took a digital camera on vacation, so I am only committing to finish the trip from which I already have the physical prints. But, I also joined snapfish to get the digitals printed and am pleased with the results so far.

Make an informative opening page for - I was working on a huge list of Web 2.0 sites as well as a nice dashboard for myself. I just put them both together.

Journalize my time from age 18 to 28 - I have been percolating on this quite a bit lately. I am thinking more like a timeline than an actual journal.

Monday, June 09, 2008


Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Local Openings

Grizzly Coast opens June 7th at the Minnesota Zoo

Several Sonics will be opening in Elk River, Savage in August and on Suburban Ave in St Paul in 5 days!

The Star Wars exhibit runs from June 13th to August 24th at the Science Museum.

Did you know...

that there are at least three escalators in Wyoming.

The only time I've been to Wyoming was with my high school marching band and we went to Cheyenne. We went through South Dakota on the way and spent a day in Colorado. The only thing I remember about Cheyenne was going the rodeo and spending the whole time in the amusement park. I am perpetually working a scrapbook of my travels and found that I don't have much in the way of Wyoming memories. Even my page that says Wyoming has at least one South Dakota picture on it.

I think I would enjoy stopping in Yellowstone, at Devil's tower or seeing the Grand Tetons.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Chic Lit

23. Solo - Emily Barr
24. Good in Bed - Jennifer Weiner - which I reread because I was about to read the recent sequel:
25. Certain Girls - Jennifer Weiner

And last night I started "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer. It's an investigation of the Fundamentalist Mormon sects, and the violence some of their members have committed. Sure it's a timely read, but I bought the book in 2006 after seeing Krakauer on Anderson Cooper.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

9 things in 92 days - Summer 2008

June 1 - August 31, 2008
1 Ride Ripchord at Valleyfair
2 Move
3 See the new Grizzly Coast at MN Zoo
4 Pass Calculus 2
5 Finish Scrapbooking 1992-2001
6 Visit Mpls Inst of Art
7 Visit Science Museum
8 Eat at Fogo de Chao
9 Go to Fort Snelling or some other State Park, aside from Afton where I'll be camping Labor Day weekend.

Italics mean the item has been completed.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Summer TV

May 19 - The Bachelorette - ABC
May 20 - Not Going Out - BBC America
May 22 - Last Comic Standing -NBC and Reno 911 - Comedy Central
June 1 - Code Monkeys - G4
June 2 - The Mole - ABC
June 3 - 30 Days - FX
June 5 - Swingtown - CBS
June 8 - Law & Order: Criminal Intent - USA
July 1- The Secret Life of the American Teenager -ABC Family
July 1- Not Going Out Season 2 - BBC America
July 13- Big Brother -CBS
July 13- Picture This -ABC Family
July 17 - Reality Bites Back - Comedy Central
July 21- Wanna Bet? -ABC
July 27- Jingles - CBS

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Originally uploaded by soelo

This is the view from near the rock.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


Originally uploaded by soelo

I am camping at frontenac state park this weekend. We hiked down to see this formation around noon.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Monday, May 19, 2008

MIA at the movies

The trailer for 'Pineapple Express' features my favorite track from her 2007 album Kala, "Paper Planes". On Friday I saw the trailer for 'You Don't Mess with the Zohan' which is blasting "Jimmy" from the same album.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Originally uploaded by soelo

It's a beautiful day.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Originally uploaded by soelo

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Four More Years

Yesterday was my fourth anniversary playing KOL. Back then I didn't even know there was a difference between Bugbears and Saucerors. Boy was I silly.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A date with Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince comes out November 21st, 2008
and it has been announced that Part 1 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be released November 19th, 2010. Part 2 will be in 2011, but there is no date yet.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Taking Calls

funny pictures

My job title is "Credit Representative", which means I take calls in the department that handles payments. Except that I haven't taken any calls in about seven and a half years. Instead, I am on a team responsible for reporting and administering worklists.

A month ago "they" decided that one of the groups in our department needed more people taking calls, and they asked for a person from my center. Instead of giving up a person, "they" decided to have each of us take calls for 4 hours each week.

At least, that is what we were told. Most of us suspect there is a more political motivation behind this decision. Regardless of the why, I will do what "they" ask of me. However, even though I am being asked to do 4 more hours of work each week, I am not getting any reduction in the other work I am expected to accomplish. Some weeks, I can get it all done, but others are so busy that I can't even get my stuff done much less 4 hours of another team's work.

There are several other issues we have with this, but basically it feels like we are expected to do plenty of extra things all the time and that suddenly that isn't good enough. Some of are going to stop going the extra mile, whether we realize it or not.

Anyway, today was my first day taking calls. It was pretty much what I remember, answering questions and not getting many payments. But there were several things I did not get done today because I only had about 5 hours to do them, and on a normal Monday I have at least 7.


Send Me RSS Logo
This site emails you RSS feeds.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Feline download complete

Feline download complete
Originally uploaded by soelo

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


Originally uploaded by soelo

Running Aces
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Outdoor Vacuum

Outdoor Vacuum
Originally uploaded by soelo

I know it is exciting that the snow is gone, but this is a bit much.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Media Randomness

New York magazine asks, "Who Will Be the next MIA?"

Utne Reader calms us all down by assuring us that, "Wal-Mart will never take over the world."

Postcards from Yo Momma posts something I would not be surprised to see in my email box. My mom is smart enough to know they probably are the same person, but humble enough to ask one of us to be sure.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I <3 New York

"New York, I Love You" is being filmed right now. It's from the same guy who produced "Paris, je t'aime" in 2006 and will be followed by "Shanghai, I Love You" in 2010.

Paris was a great series of 20 short films about love set in Paris, so the other two will be essentially the same thing in their respective cities.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Celebrity birthdays and children

Kanye West is only 16 days older than me. I would have guessed he was at least 35.

Liv Tyler is nine days younger than I am, which I think I knew. If not, I would have guessed she was a bit younger, like 28.

I love this picture of Lourdes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hey you look like...

Except the first one, this blog post found some great pictures to compare the actors faces with the people they might be portraying.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I got back last night. I had to hurry to my connection in Chicago yesterday afternoon, and my luggage didn't make it. But United delivered my bag late last night. Sweet. I'll be posting my trip diary just like last year. Hopefully it won't take as long for me to post it all.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Germany and Prague - Day 10

Tuesday, April 1 - Rental car to Munich Airport, Flight to Chicago, Flight home

I woke up at 8:30 to find that none of the socks I'd washed the night before were dry, so I ended up blowdrying one pair to wear on the plane. I had breakfast at the hotel and headed for the airport. I was planning to fill up the car at the last exit, but there were no gas stations there, so I ended up driving all over the town of Freising looking for gas. I stayed on the main roads at first, but ended up finding one in a residential area. Because of the delay, I checked in for my 12:20pm international flight at 11, oops. The passport checker asked me if I was coming from Berlin because I had a KaDeWe bag with me.

They served us pasta for lunch and then I started watching movies. Alvin and the Chipmunks and Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium were first. They were both more entertaining than staring at a seat back, but if I hadn't been on a plane, I don't think I would have finished watching them. Then I turned to No Country for Old Men in desperation. I missed the first 5-10 minutes and wasn't planning on liking it, but I did. Back in February I saw a picture from the Oscars, and I thought Javier Bardem looked a lot like Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and I guess I am not the only one. I watched an episode of Grey's Anatomy next and was reminded of how similar they look. For a snack, we were served one of the best sandwiches I've ever had, smoked turkey on pretzel bread with paprika chips.

We landed at Chicago O'Hare and went through Passport Control. The guy who checked mine didn't say a word to me. He just took my passport, looked on the computer, stamped it and gave it back to me. The stewardesses told us that if we were laying over in Chicago, we had to pick up our bags and recheck them on our second flight. So, I waited a very long time for my bag, just to carry it about 50 feet to recheck it and then run onto the train to the other terminal. While on the train, I turned the network on my Blackberry on for the first time since leaving Chicago ten days ago and it started downloading 150 emails. I had to go through security again and then run to my gate only to see them closing the door to the jetway. They let me on as the very last passenger (it seems to be a theme for me at O'Hare) and I slept most of the short flight to Minneapolis. My bag was not as quick as I was and didn't make it on the flight, so United had to deliver it to my house around midnight.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Germany and Prague - Day 9

Monday, March 31 - Train to Dresden, Rental Car to Ingolstadt, Sleep in Ingolstadt

I had been fighting off a cough since the start of this trip, and Monday morning it kept me awake from 4am to 6am. I'd set my alarm for 7:30, but I fell back asleep until 8am. There was a train bound for Dresden due to leave the Holesovice station at 8:36 am, so I rushed to pack up the last of my stuff. I made it to the train in time and had to find an open seat since my ticket was a generic one with no seat assignment. Since this train was going back to Berlin, there were the same awesome views all the way to Dresden.

Once we got to Dresden, I knew I needed to disembark at Neustadt station to get on the S-Bahn route S2 to the airport. But I was anxious to get off the stuffy, crowded train and assumed there was plenty of transit between Haubtbahnof and Neustadt. There probably is, but I couldn't figure it out after I left the train at Haubtbahnof. I couldn't find any stops for the S2, nor could I find any routes at the station that said they went to Neustadt. I asked a few people but they didn't understand or didn't know where the S2 stopped.

Finally I walked around a tiny mall and found a stop for the S3. I got on it going the wrong direction first, but finally made it to Neustadt and got on an S2 to the airport.  The S3 had been a beautiful ride with views of museums that crossed over a river. The S2 went past some junkyards and lots of wooded areas. Once I made it to the airport, I rented a black VW Passat from Budget with automatic transmission. It didn't have a standard key, but instead you put a large fob into an ignition bay on the dashboard. No turning required, just push it in to start the engine.

After familiarizing myself with the car, it was time to drive on the German Autobahn! I exited the airport and got on the 4 to Chemnitz. Well, first I got on the 4 going the wrong direction and had to turn around to get to Chemnitz. Then I took the 72 and stopped at rest stop outside of Plaven. You have to pay 50 cents to use the bathroom, but you get it back if you buy something at the store there. The 9 then took me past Nuremburg and on to Ingolstadt, where I was staying for the night. The hotel was two quick turns off the Autobahn and I discovered that the Audi headquarters are in Ingolstadt. I ate dinner in the hotel's Italian restaurant: spaghetti with olive oil and garlic and then salmon.

Day Ten

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Germany and Prague - Day 8

Sunday, March 30 - Prague Day 2

March 30th was the start of Central European Summer Time (daylight saving here to us Americans) which pushes the clock ahead by an hour. Between that, my sleeping in and not hurrying much, I didn't leave my hostel until noon. I had already done most of the things I wanted to do in Prague in the previous day and a half! At Holesovice, I bought a generic ticket to Dresden for 525 kc (around $34) and then took the metro to Petrin Hill.
I planned to take the funicular up to the Petrin lookout tower, but the funicular was closed. Later I found out I could have taken a tram up to the top of the hill. Instead I walked up Karamelitska to the Charles Bridge again. This time I went across the bridge, came back over and went around to the Lennon Wall. Then I took the Metro up to the Malostranske namesti stop again. I crossed the river on Manesuv Most and walked past namesti Jana Palacha, named for Jan Palach. I got back on the Metro and headed to Palác Flora, a mall over the Flora Metro station. There I had some gelato, pondered seeing another movie and got some groceries. I decided against another movie and just went back to my hostel to surf the web for a bit.

Day Nine

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Germany and Prague - Day 7

Saturday, March 29 - Prague Day 1

I woke up at 8 am and took the Metro to Mala Strana and then the #22 tram up to the Prague Castle, the biggest castle complex in the world. When entering from the tram stop, you walk on a bridge over Deer Moat and past the riding school. I bought a 250 kc short ticket and a 50 kc photo permit. The short tour includes the Old Royal Palace, an exhibition "The Story of Prague Castle", St. George's Basilica, and Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower. St Vitus' Cathedral is free and holds the Bohemian Coronation Jewels. It reminded me of Westminster Abbey, just a bit less crowded. Next I went into the Old Royal Palace, a building where Czech kings have been crowned and presidents elected. Vladislav Hall is the large hall in the center of the palace with a vaulted ceiling in a rose petal pattern. It was a cold and windy day, and I noticed that most of the buildings were cold as well. Just off the hall is the Louis Tract, where the Thirty Years´ War began and where I was asked to show my photo permit. I continued on through St George's Basilica and then followed the crowd down the hill and into the Golden Lane. The Golden Lane is a collection of small houses within the castle grounds, also famous for housing Franz Kafka for a year.

The lane is full of gift shops, and as you descend the hill towards the castle exit, you pass more gift shops. Ignore those shops and take in the city views you see while passing Daliborka Tower. After a brief stop to snack and consult my guidebook, I took the 22/23 tram to Tesco, which sounded like a supermarket. It ended up being more like a department store with a small food section. I then walked north to Old Town Square to see the Astronomical Clock that has parts dating back to 1410. It is beautiful, entertaining and rather complicated. It was still cold, so I bought a Trdelnik, which is like a strip of dough wrapped around a metal stick and grilled with sugar and vanilla. As I sat and ate it, I made conversation with a British girl. She told me about how she and her boyfriend had missed their original flight to Prague and had to buy new tickets and drive several hours to a different airport. I told her about my passport ordeal last year.

After warming up a bit, I headed towards Josefov and the Old New Synagogue, but there was marathon being held that blocked my way. I got back on the Metro and went to Mala Strana, Lesser Town. Just outside the Malostranske namesti stop is a little park area with very nice views looking back at Old Town over the Charles River. I then took the Metro over to Wenceslas Square. I was mostly wandering at this point, with no real destination in mind. I sat in the square, read and gazed up at the National Museum. A group of demonstrators passed through the square and a woman started to hand me a pamphlet. She saw my book and said, "Oh, no Czech, no Czech," and walked away. I wandered a bit and then saw a sign for the Lucerna Passage. The name struck me as familiar, so I went inside. It is basically a mall, but then I saw this statue hanging inside and realized why the name stuck out.

There were two movie theaters (Kino) in the mall and There Will Be Blood was playing in English with Czech subtitles. I kept up my tradition by seeing it (100 kc for a ticket). It was too violent of course, but I did like the storyline. After the movie, I went back to the McDonalds near my hostel for dinner and then hit the sack.

Day Eight

Friday, March 28, 2008

Germany and Prague - Day 6

Friday, March 28 - Train from Berlin to Prague, Sleep in Prague

I woke up at 8:30, packed and went downstairs to check out. I had purchased a train ticket from Deutsche Bahn on the Internet, but I was not sure if it gave me a car number and seat, so I asked at the front desk. It took them a few minutes and they had to ask several people, but they finally figured out that my car number was 260 and my seat was 56. I took the U-bahn to the Zoo station and got on the S-bahn to Berlin's Hauptbahnof, which is the largest crossing station in Europe. There I got snacks for the trip and went down to the lowest platform to wait for my train. It had started in Hamburg and was going all the way to Budapest, but I was only going to Prague. It was 2 and a half hours to Dresden and most of the scenery looked like very typical Midwestern American farmland.

From Dresden to Bad Schandau there were awesome views of the Elbe river and the bluffs and towns along its banks. The train was pretty empty until the first stop after the Czech border, in Decin Piper. There were lots of places along the tracks where there were houses built close to the tracks, but with a garden or cemetery between them. Once in the Czech republic, we continued along the river and the bluffs grew into mountains and there were more farms and vineyards.

Once we reached Prague, I got off at the first station, Holesovice and looked in vain for an ATM. I walked to my hostel and checked in, only to find I had a shared room and not a private one. I left my things there and went back to the train station. This time I found an ATM and took out a thousand crowns, or around 65 dollars. I got change at the McDonald's and was happy that they had curry sauce for my chicken nuggets, but it smelled too much like ketchup. I took the metro up to the Charles Bridge and walked across it, taking at least one picture of each statue as I went across. The sun slowly set as I walked across, so the pictures at the beginning show a much brighter sky then those towards the end. There are perfect views of both the Castle and Petrin hill from the bridge as well.

Day Seven

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate
Originally uploaded by soelo

Built in 1788. Napoleon had a victory parade through this when he conquered Berlin. This was part of the Berlin Wall and where it was first opened in 1989.

Germany and Prague - Day 5

Thursday, March 27 - Berlin Day 2

Today I went on the Discover Berlin tour from Berlin Walks, which I highly recommend for an overview of the city. Our tour guide was Jacob and we met outside the Zoo Tiergarten station. We took the S-Bahn a few stops and then saw the TV tower from far away. We went past the Berliner Dom, saw the roof of the Synagogue, and then hit Museum Island. There Jacob pointed out the bullet holes in some decorative columns, and explained how they were made during the Battle of Berlin. I think he said the Soviets made them.
Seeing the Gedachtniskirche's bombed out remains and now being in front of these bullet holes had a sobering effect on me. WWII had played out on the very ground beneath my feet. Many of the buildings and roads around me had been destroyed and rebuilt. It's one thing to learn or read about war, or even to watch it in a movie. It is quite another thing to have physical remains of a war in front of you.
We continued over the island and stood in the Lustgarten while he told us about the Altes Museum (Old Museum) and then the Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace). We then continued down Unter den Linden ("under the lime trees") past tons of buildings of historical importance and took a break in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Consruction on The Gate began in 1788, and since then it has become the ultimate symbol of Berlin's history of rule by the Prussians, Napoleon, the Nazis, the Soviets and now it's reunification. It was part of the Berlin Wall and witnessed Reagan's speech where he implored, "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
After walking through the gate, we could see the dome over the Reichstag building off to the right, but turned left towards the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The Memorial is a non-square city block covered in 2,711 large concrete slabs called stele (plural: stelea or steles). They vary in height from 8 inches to almost 16 feet, and the ground slopes down toward the center. The overall effect is chaos and order coexisting. The architect stated he wanted to show a supposedly ordered system that had gone awry. It was pretty somber walking through, even though the optical effects were interesting when I was near the center. One of the pictures I took there is now the wallpaper on my Blackberry.
After we all met up on the other side of the Memorial, we walked over to the parking lot of an apartment building and Jacob told us the story of Hitler's last days. We were standing right above the bunker where he killed himself, and Jacob explained how it was all just a pile of concrete rubble now. We walked past the former Luftwaffe headquarters and over to a section of the Berlin Wall that still remains on Niederkirchnerstrasse. Here he told us the story of the Wall coming down. We headed over to Checkpoint Charlie and then up to Gendarmenmarkt where the tour ended. I was surprised to see an Obama bumper sticker stuck to the sidewalk near Checkpoint Charlie.
I took the U-Bahn to Friedrichstrasse station to get batteries for my camera. The charger was not charging them in the camera, so I had been using my Blackberry for pictures during the whole walking tour. I then walked over to the Pergamon Museum. Inside I saw the Pergamon Altar, the Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the Market gate of Miletus. I climbed to the top of the Pergamon Altar and then saw a scale model of the site of the New Acropolis Museum in Athens.
After that, I bought some food at a grocery store and headed back to my hotel. Tomorrow I take the train to Prague.

Day Six