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Bitter Pill

march 2006

How Far Will $36.42 Get You?

February 28, 2007 2:19 PM

Rob was goofing around yesterday with the seats for a trip to Scotland which he's making this spring. Tom and I were showing him a wonderful site to help find good seats called Seat Guru. Then end result was that Rob got one of the best seats on the plane, which of course is helped by the fact he hit WorldPerks Elite status this year so he gets premium seats and exit rows. Lucky dog.

The sidebar conversation that kicked up was about how it only took something like 50,000 frequent flier miles for his wife to go with him. Recently Northwest upped the minimum miles for a trans-pacific flight to 75,000 miles, with most of them at 90,000. This sparked Tom's curiosity and he went looking for award fares to Tokyo.

Turns out Tom struck gold. During "Golden Week" in Japan, which is like a country-wide spring break, award fares are down to 60,000 miles. Funny timing too: My trip to my company's annual conference this week will put me over 60,000 miles.

So this morning I spent $36.42 with Northwest Airlines for nonstop travel from Minneapolis to Tokyo-Narita, and nonstop home again to visit my twin brother who lives in Tokyo. This will all happen at the end of April/beginning of May. I'm extremely excited as I've never been there to see him before.

So how far will $36.42 get you? Roughly 11,902 miles, that's how far.

11,902 miles.
.305 cents per mile.

Bon Voyage! More fittingly in Japanese, Ichiroheian O Inoru!

Deep Meaning Pop Culture Factoid

February 27, 2007 7:35 PM

So I'm here at work listening to the album Return to Cookie Mountain by TV on the Radio. My favorite track on the CD is called "Province" and it's a song about moving on from relationship tragedy and going forward. The chorus of the song is as follows:

Hold your heart courageously as we walk into this dark place
Stand, stare fast, erect and see that love is the province of the brave

Now for the factoid: This was orignally a quote from none other than Ghandi.

It's a pretty powerful thought. In my experience, Ghandi had it right.

Unable To Sleep, For All The Right Reasons

February 20, 2007 2:58 AM

I had a pretty strange thing happen tonight. Before I can even begin to explain that, I have to tell the story of what I think is my earliest memory.

When my brother and I were somewhere between 18 and 24 months old, we had these little rider kind of things that we called "'Splorers," which was short for "Explorers," the real name of these things. They had a little steering wheel in front and you sat on top of it, and pushed around on it with your feet.

My brother and I were racing around a coffee table we had in our family room downstairs with our 'Splorers. As I went around one end of the coffee table, I must have taken a bit too much speed into the corner. The end result of that would be falling head-first directly into the edge of a brick fireplace that was on the wall on the outside of the corner. The only thing I had to stop myself against the fireplace was my forehead.

I don't remember the actual incident, but I do remember being laid out on the kitchen counter staring at the ceiling screaming my lungs out. I was covered in blood. Any head injury bleeds like you wouldn't believe, and this was no exception. I remember somebody holding me down and trying to control all the blood. I could do nothing but stare at the ceiling and cry.

The only other memory I have that night was driving to the hospital, and only a brief moment of that. Provo is flanked by mountains on three sides, and Utah Lake on the fourth. I remember going down a road that hit the mountains to the West, and came to a T. If you turned left, you would head up Provo Canyon, which is easiest to describe as the "back way" to Park City. If you turned right, you'd head towards Brigham Young University and the rest of Provo.

I remember that intersection because there was a power plant there. I remember having my head covered in a blanket or a towel and seeing the lights on the smoke stacks and the rest of the power plant in an old, red Dodge truck we had.

The end result to my injury would be something like 18 stitches directly across the middle of my forehead.

That's all I remember. The ceiling, and the lights of the power plant. I don't remember hitting the fireplace, nor do I remember the hospital or the stitches. Just the blood, the ceiling, and the power plant.

Which almost brings me back to my moment this evening...

To this day, I still carry the scar of that fall. It's probably about an inch and a half long these days, still smack in the middle of my forehead. While certain lines of age and stress help hide it a bit, stand close to me and it's easily visible.

I remember a lot of nights in Jr. high and high school where I would lay in bed with my headphones on, listening to music until I would fall asleep. Occasionally I'd be laying in bed, and my scar would start to tingle. It's the strangest feeling, almost like my forehead had that pins-and-needles, leg has fallen asleep feeling. It would only happen every once in a while and only lasts maybe five or ten minutes, but it always came with a good feeling and mindset. I remember asking a doctor about it during a high school physical, and got a "That's Weird" reply. It would happen every once in a while when I was much younger too, but I never paid any attention to connecting it to my feeling or state of mind.

So, we finally make it to tonight...

I haven't felt that scar tingle like that in a good eight to ten years. I guess I just haven't thought much about it or paid attention to it, until tonight.

I was sitting on the couch earlier reading a good book about the effects of the game of soccer on world globalization. (sidebar: I plan on adding a "currently reading" list here somewhere). I had The Current playing softly in the background, just to cut the quietness of an empty home.

As I sat there, my scar started to tingle again. I wish I could describe it better than I did above, because it's a pretty darn strange feeling. As it did its tingling ebb and flow, I recalled that sensation with some memories of the thoughts and dreams I had back when I connected the dots about that tingling always coming in a good state of mind.

So I sit here awake tonight, but for the first time in a long time, I feel like I'm awake for the right reasons. That little tingle made me put my book down and close my eyes briefly, taking in the solemn, quiet peacefulness that accompanies this feeling.

The mark across my forehead is the one physical scar I carry with me, visible for the entire world to see. Below the skin I carry many more, many of which will remain my own.

It made me think about a lot of stuff. Where I've been, where I'm at, and where I'm going. What I've been through since that first memory, and the ones I have yet to collect until my last. It made me think about all those dreams years ago, and how they only remain dreams if you let them.

I think today's tingle was my brain extending an olive branch to my heart. It's going to take awhile, but my inside has started to make peace with itself.

Time for bed, where I plan on putting on some headphones with some of those CDs from high school, hoping that tingle returns for a moment again tonight, as if to tuck me in.

It's Time Now, That I Pick Up My Hustle

February 14, 2007 5:55 PM

Today is Valentine's Day. I've been dreading this day since early January, when I had my last two significant dates that haunt my memories of my relationship with Nina.

Skip back a few years...

The first Valentine's Day that Nina and I spent together was me plotting at my finest. I got with Melissa (her Maid of Honor in our wedding) and came up with a plan to surprise Nina on Valentine's Day. The only thing I told Nina was to take a few days off, and pack a suitcase for warm weather.

The night before, I popped out a three ring binder with all the emails that Melissa and I had exchanged over the prior several weeks, and in the very back was our boarding passes for a flight to Honolulu. She was shocked of course, because she didn't think I had the audacity to fly halfway across the Pacific Ocean for Valentine's Day.

We spent the next five days on Oahu, just being beach bums. Valentine's Day dinner we ate at a restaurant that left a lot to be desired in terms of atmosphere, but the food was amazing. The view was also great, as it was on the 30th floor of a hotel right off the beach.

So, that was my most daring Valentine's Day surprise. I'd challenge anybody to do better.

So, back to 2007...

I ended up out last night (ironically with a lawyer) with a strange feeling that if I stayed out, maybe I wouldn't have to face today.

I eventually made it home and slept through the night (mostly) with the help of Uncle Benadryl. I had the strangest feeling when I woke up this morning. It's something that I've noticed at work the last few weeks. I tend to be a fairly passionate and competitive person about things I believe in, be it work, relationships, sports, anything. Ask anybody on my kickball team about our last game. :-) It's like a little pilot light inside me that sometimes gets my furnace burning, and when it does, I feel like I operate at a different level than normal. I'm focused, confident, and ready to take on the world.

When I woke up, that feeling at work that my pilot light is ready to spark the furnace is starting to burn again. It's been months since I've felt ready to get up and take on the world in the morning, and today I do. I hopped in my car this morning with a bunch of indie rock (including Muscle N' Flo mentioned below) and a line in that song caught my attention. It's the title of this post. If you actually listen to the lyrics, it's a "rebirth" kind of song. Man, did it fire me up even more this morning.

I'm ready.

It's time now, that I pick up my hustle.

I'll get up strong, and muscle on.

So let's start kicking some ass. The other realization I had this morning was something that Rob said to me in the bar the other night. He said "What are you doing to move on?" What I realized is that a) he's right. It's time to get up, dust off, and start firing through life, both barrels blazing, and b) I'm not gunning alone. I've got a battalion of friends ready to take up arms with me. And I'd do the same for any of them.

So, the first battle to fight was fought valiantly yesterday. I received an email from Geri yesterday with an awful story. A family in town (single mother with four children with very limited financial resources) had their house broken in to. The theives took almost all their electronics, like a TV, DVD player, etc., sheets off the bed, and the family dog. That's right, they stole the dog too.

The minute I got Geri's email, I called for the battlestations. Within four hours, several coworkers ... Scratch that ... friends ... Stepped in and we've managed to replace EVERYTHING this family lost, including the dog with a new animal that the family will pick out from the Twin Cities Humane Society.

None of us have met this family, nor do we even know their names. But it's the right thing to fight for. If there's one thing to fight for, it's for the belief in the good of humanity.

Tonight I even have a date! While I'm not a big fan of this Hallmark holiday (despite earlier boldness as explained above,) it will be fun to spend some time with a person that I genuinely like to be around. She didn't find the fact I took a box of Franzia wine to a formal party last Saturday quite as funny as I did, but hey, nobody's perfect. ;-)

I know that the emotional rollercoaster will continue, and I know I'm going to have those extremely dark days in the future, but I feel like I'm turning a corner today. The lows will come and go, but as long as the fire is burning, I'm ready for it.

It's time now, that I pick up my hustle.

SIDs and STARs (But Not The Stars You Think)

February 13, 2007 5:23 PM

After an incredibly busy weekend, I decided to take it a bit easy on Sunday and hang around the house. I cleaned a bit, watched some TV, and played around on my PC.

As some of you may know, I'm a bit of a flight junkie. I've manged to log several hours tooling around Eastern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin in a Cessna (still a long way to go for a private pilots license,) as well as having flight controls hooked up to my PC at home. I decided to use my time to do something constructive and teach myself some instrument flight procedures. Particularly, Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs) and Standard Terminal Arrivals (STARs).

All commercial aircraft you fly on have to follow these very specific instructions whenever they depart or arrive at an airport. Think of it as lanes on imaginary roads in the sky. By keeping aircraft in these lanes, controllers and airports can provide safer airspace for us all.

As I will be traveling to San Diego in early March, I decided I'd give the exact flight that Northwest flies a shot using the proper departure procedures from Minneapolis, and the proper arrival procedures for San Diego.

First, I found the route that NWA0189 (Northwest flight 189) had to file with the FAA from Flight Aware. Check it out:


Note the route on the Flight Aware profile for this flight. The first code is the departure procedure, SCHEP1. The last is the arrival procedure, BARET4. The stuff in the middle are the jetways and navaids that this flight will use to find its way across the United States.

If you want to see what the procedures actually look like, here ya go:

SCHEP1 Departure
BARET4 Arrival

Easy to read, huh? The picture above is the BARET4 arrival into San Diego. While it may be hard to read (especially if you don't know what the numbers mean) this arrival begins almost 180 miles away from San Diego. The thing is though that a commercial aircraft will cover that distance in about 20 minutes. Not a lot of time to try and figure things out.

Anyhoo, I managed to decipher it pretty well. For those who think pilots don't do a whole lot but flip on the autopilot, these procedures definitely teach you some respect for what they do. Navigating an aircraft halfway across the country flying at very specific altitudes and over very specific points at very specific speeds probably keeps their hands full.

So, check SIDs and STARs off the list of things to know.

Great Quote For Friday

February 9, 2007 5:52 PM

Earlier today I was emailing back and forth with a friend trying to schedule a night to get together for dinner. We only seem to go out once a month or so, which I'm starting to assume is because it takes about a month to save up for the bill from our last few dining excursions. The first question from her was "Where do you want to go?" It reminded me of an old quote I remember from philosophy class:

    "Of all the things that wisdom provides to help one live one's entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship. Before you eat or drink anything, consider carefully who you eat or drink with rather than what you eat or drink." - Epicurus

Her response:

Well, that philosopher obviously never had Cosmos' tuna tartare! Just kidding!

If any of you know her, you know how funny that really is.

Muscle N' Flo

February 9, 2007 1:37 AM

I've been listening to primarily indie rock for years, attempting to kick the more mainstream stuff. Andrew turned me to a site that used to be good called epitonic.com, but new owners have taken all the cool out of it in the last few years. I had a bit of a drought between the demise of Epitonic and the rise of The Current and then later Sirius Satellite Radio.

Sirius Satellite continues to deliver on some new and unexpected indie rock that is flat out brilliant. While driving in to work the other day, I managed to catch one of those songs that makes all the day dreaming you do on your commute come to a halt, and focus immediately to what's coming out of the speakers. The song is called Muscle N' Flo by a band called Menomena. Yes, they are named after that horrible Muppets song. Regardless of (what I consider) a crappy band name, these guys are good.

When I was in the band in jr. high, my horrible band teacher said that music is nothing more than organized noise. Some of you may find Muscle N' Flo on one side or the other of that equation, but these guys manage to cram just about every instrument you can think of in a room and the end product to me is nothing short of stunning.

You can actually listen to it too. Check it out:

Menomena - Muscle N' Flo

Hope y'all enjoy it. if anybody else has any other indie rock discoveries, be sure to reply in the comments section.

In the meantime, I need to crash. A very fun night last night ended in me sitting at the Warehouse District light rail station for 30 minutes waiting for the last train home at 1:16 in the morning. A nearby thermometer indicated it was -4F. I was the only person on the entire train, managed to fall asleep and somehow mysteriously wake up at my stop.

Speaking of muscle, that combined with working out every day (sometimes twice a day) for the last few weeks is catching up. According to our super-scale at work, my weight is down about four pounds, but I've managed to put on four pounds of muscle too. That equates to eight pounds of fat loss. Sweet, huh?

Anyways, my point was that I need my sleep.

G'night everyone!

The Reaction And Other News

February 3, 2007 10:21 PM

Tom, the owner of the brightest office space on the planet, returned to work Thursday morning. It became a coordinated effort to ensure we knew when he'd be walking in the door, so a fellow co-worker urged him to carpool, and then gave us the heads-up as they rode in.

His reaction was a lot more mellow than I imagined, but you really have to know Tom to understand that. Don't get me wrong, he still freaked out, just not as much as I had anticipated. He actually examined everything fairly close and thought it was very artistic. He ended up setting up shop a few cubes down and still hasn't touched a thing in the cube, except the keyboard which he didn't believe worked (and it does.)

Reaction pictures are now included in the album.


I've received emails from all over the world about this, a lot from people I don't even know. The funniest reaction was from some folks in Europe who were mortified that we would do such a thing to a co-worker. They thought it would come across as being mean spirited, as opposed to hazing somebody at the office that we all really like. I guess it's a culture difference. Oh well.

Other News...

I started drinking at 7:30 this morning! Hey, there was a reason for it. Every year Rob (another co-worker) who is from Scotland and was a former national champion rugby player recruits me to go watch the Six Nations Rugby Championship. It's only televised at Brit's in downtown Minneapolis, and since all the games are played in various countries in Europe, to watch it live you have to wake up at the crack of dawn.

We watched France kill Italy and then hoped for a good result from Scotland who played England. The game was played in England where Scotland hasn't claimed a rugby victory in this tournament since 1983. Hopefulness was good through most of the first half, but the second half was an absolute smattering by England. Final score: 42-20.

Tonight I'm headed to the gym and then might meet up with some friends to watch the Wild game. Tomorrow holds a repeat 7:30 a.m. drinking time with another rugby match, then straight to lunch with some others, then off to a Super Bowl party that night. It's a good thing I got some rest during the day today.

Hopefully everyone else is staying warm. It's -6F with a windchill of -22F right now. Ugh.


This is the word barf of a guy named Bob (Ethics major turned Software Engineer) who lives in Minneapolis.

Email me. Buy some photo gallery prints. Do whatever.

Looking for foil pictures? They are here.

Unfoiled, The Movie

Why [IT] Matters
My Life Applied to Corporate America

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