I believe it was on Tuesday, no I think it was Wednesday, when a bunch of fireworks got dropped off at my house. I wasn't home so Scott dropped by my work to get the garage clicker. He also got me to sign up for four shifts in the fireworks stand. We are running, for the first time, a fireworks stand to raise money for Chi Alpha.
Also on Wednesday, we finally managed to play a good game of Russian Scrabble. It seems we have been plagued with P being sick or getting kicked out due to closing. This week though, we played at The Shack, and La Falda was able to make it! The Shack is a really nice restaurant here in Missoula that really does not live down to its name. Jamey said it felt so "cosmo (cosmopolitian)" playing there, and I agree, but it was really perfect. Free refills on the coffee, a nice waitress, wine available (albiet a bit pricy). P won, which is to be expected since he does speak Russian as his first language, but it was surprisingly close, as he'll admit. Man, it was a frustrating game for all of us though. It was just a really tight board, and hard to play the words you had. You know, not enough branching out.
Thursday, hmmm, oh yeah! I played Age of Empires II (A real-time strategy computer game, build an army, take over your opponent, the usual) with J.J. It was a good night, we ordered pizza from Papa John's, and the girls stayed out late. A tip on the pizza: when they offer you a square pizza at Papa John's, don't take it! Seriously, the sauce is horrible. We thought something was wrong with it, and had them send a replacement round pizza.
Friday... Hmm... Let's move on.
Saturday I went to the Russian store. There is a Russian store in Spokane, WA that every once in a while packs up a bunch of chocolate, kvas, meats, cheeses, and more, and makes a trip to Missoula. They set up at a family's house. This time in the yard, before it was in the basement. It is so cool. There are a bunch of Russians, or people who speak Russian, they are from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia. Mostly from Belarus. Last time I went with P, but he didn't want to go this time because he planned on sleeping. It was going to start at 11:00, and he planned on staying up to play Battlefield 2, the great new computer game.
I drove around for quite a while trying to remember where on Mount St. it was. Finally, I saw a group of Russians standing on the sidewalk outside this house. I parked the truck, and got out to see if I could find out where it was. First I walked by them, then I walked back, and began talking to them. We'll do italics for translated Russian.
Me: Excuse me please, do you know where the Russian store is?
A Nice Russian Lady in a Group of About Eight: blah blah three (hours/o'clock).
Me: Is it here? Is it at 11:00?
ANRLIAGOAE: blah blah three (hours/o'clock).
ANRLIAGOE: Where are you from?
ANRLIAGOE: blah blah Where are you from?
Me: I was born in Missoula.
ANRLIAGOE: How do you know Russian?
Me: I am studying at the university.
Another Russian Lady: Oh, I knew you were a smart fellow. How long have you been in school?
Me: Two semesters.
ARL: Wow, you are a smart fellow. They just left Spokane, and should be here in about three hours.
ANRLIAGOE: What is your name?
Me: My name is Lance. What is your name?
ANRLIAGOE: (Sadly I forget what she said here.)
Yet Another Russian Lady: Come back at 1:30.
Me: One forty?
Me: Okay. Big thanks.
So I came back at 1:30, and I managed to talk Shannon into coming. We met La Falda in the parking lot of Pierce Flooring, and walked over there. I think Shannon liked it, just for the experience. It is pretty neat to feel like you're back in Russia for an hour or so.
Sunday after church, we went out to World of Wings, and then Goldsmith's Cold Stone Rock Ice Cream with Jamey, ed, Jessica, Dave, Maria, J.J., and Anna. World of Wings is one of the new restaurant additions to Missoula. Looking on their map of locations on the menu, we're the only location in the Northwest. Most of them are in Lousiana and Florida, so you know they have good wings. Goldsmith's used to be "Goldsmith's Cold Stone Ice Cream," but big 'ol Cold Stone fixed that. Just for that you don't get a link, Cold Stone. Maybe you'll think twice about the mom and pops next time, but look on the bright side, I could have given you a vindictive link.
Then, Sunday night I totally spaced my first shift in the fireworks stand. Sorry Scott. I did write it down right after all. I just remembered the the date wrong.
So we're back at another Monday. Work was another normal Monday, but I got the DVD Burner I ordered from newegg already. So I burnt The Birds to a new DVD and removed the region code so La Falda can watch it on her DVD player. I tested it on mine and it seems to work great! Next on the list, Rudolf na Ostrove hračiek, with audio in English and Slovak 5.1 surround!
So my passtime is playing Half Life 2. I thought it would be a good idea to get a fancy new game to try out that fancy new video card, and HL2 fits the bill. It is really impressive, and Saturday I had a blast playing it except for all the crashes. There is nothing annoying in the same way as computer crashes at random intervals into a good game. I spent the day reading threads and tweaking the settings on the video card, to where now it is pretty stable. To pass the time between boots, I worked on translating this Russian song by Vladimir Vysotsky. He's cool, I got the CD just over a year ago as a gift from La Falda, one of the best gift givers around.
Now about that title... I was working in the yard today, installing a new sprinkler manifold, when in the air, I caught the smell of death. Yes, it is pretty distinct, and pretty unpleasant. After judging the wind I looked and found a dead Prince. It was sad, because he was a good cat, and I have some fond memories of him. How many of you know your neighbor's cat's name? I had found him the other day in the dog house - injured, and brought him over to the neighbor. I guess he got away and died in my front yard. For your benefit, I won't share a photo. No I didn't take one.
In other neighborhood weirdness, a fire engine and ambulance came rushing down the street while I was mowing today. I saw them take someone out of the house on gurney. What really struck me odd was how normal my day was going while their world could be crashing just a few doors down. Was someone having a heart attack or something? I said a prayer, and kept mowing.
Word spreads quick I guess, becuase I already found out that she was taking sod out of her yard and putting it in her big trash can when it fell on her. She is okay, thankfully.
Sunday I ran into Scott at church. He is back from Slovakia! We then went to the China Garden for lunch. They have really good Chinese at an affordable price. While we were there, we had a long conversation about cheese, before Scott showed us pictures on the laptop. Here are some of the highlights I can remember about the cheese conversation.
- I wonder why you don't see much cheese in Chinese food?
- Dave is going to have a cheese party sometime.
- Dave wants to join the cheese club in Missoula.
- Some people like sharp cheddar, and others don't.
- Some people like bleu cheese, and others don't.
- Some people like the skin on brie, and others don't.
- Kraft singles make the best grilled cheese sandwiches.
- Kraft singles are not really good for anything else.
In my opinion, I think that any real cheese enthusiast likes sharp cheeses over mild cheeses. In case you don't know, sharp cheeses are just aged longer and have a stronger taste. Some cheeses, like brie, have a crust or skin of mold from age. I would think that the cheese lover would like this, but what do you think? Who likes cheese more, someone who likes sharp cheddar, or someone who likes mild cheddar? Can this idea be used as an analogy for something?
Let's not get stuck on cheese here too, but before I move on, I did find out a little bit about that question of cheese in China on some globalization website. Some people are starting to make money by importing cheese into China despite everyone's advise to the contrary. Quoting a quote in the article, "Chinese can't digest cheese and don't like the taste."
Time to move on.
La Falda got back into town yesterday. We had a great lunch at IHOP, and then a great welcome back party. It was too bad that when Walmart made the photo CDs they didn't really care which was up on the photos. J.J. stood on his head to watch a couple of the CDs. Walmart, if you are listening, even though it doesn't matter when making prints, orientation does matter when you are showing the images on a DVD player!
And in more news on the technical difficulty front, La Falda gave me the coolest gift from Eastern Europe. Monty Python and the Holy Grail on DVD, or shall I say, Монти Пайтон и Священный Грааль! It the most super-deluxe version you have ever seen, in widescreen, in English, Hungarian, and Russian, with subtitles in Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Slovenian, Swedish, and Turkish, encoded for regions 2 and 5! Wait a minute. Regions 2 and 5, what the heck is that? Well, the motion picture people like to be able to release a movie in the U.S. on DVD sometimes before it is in theatres in Europe, so they came up with this whole region thing. Basically, there are five or seven regions in the world, and DVDs will only play on DVD players with a matching region. The U.S. is not region 2 or 5. So I have a little project. I am going to "fix" the DVD so it will play on any region. This will consist of burning a new DVD without the region code.
Other than all that, I have been cleaning the garage and building a retaining wall in the backyard. The welcome back party last night was great. It was nice just to get together with friends again.
Shell Steamer/Fish Layer: Hi, Sure. You know it's not healthy to eat here so many days in a row.
Me: Yeah, but it's the best $2 lunch around.
SS/FL: Yeah, I know. I do it too.
Me: I just don't know what else to get.
Cabbage Man: Do you want anything spicy on this Fish Tacoritto?
Me (small chuckle): I'll have hot sauce please.
Cashier: Is that a half taco?
Cabbage Man: It's a fish taco.
Cashier: Oh, it's a little taco. I should have known by now. $1.95. Are you going to stick around?
Cashier: Okay, well, bye.
Me: See ya later.
Here is a little story of my high school basketball career. Freshman year was the only year I played. Sophmore year I was just good enough to make the team, but only good enough to sit the bench, unless we were down by twenty points or so and there were only two minutes left in the last quarter. I guess they didn't want to injure me for those times when they needed to score a bunch and there wasn't much time left. It never really worked out like that though.
Coach asked the team to come in to practice over Christmas break if we were going to be in town, but my mom had bought me ski lessons at Marshall. This was no small thing for my family - skiing isn't cheap. So I told him that I would have to miss three practices over the break because of the ski lessons. He said, "You're going to have to choose between basketball and skiing." Well, it wasn't very hard, and I quit basketball then and there.
It all worked out for the best however, because I joined the speech and drama team, and had a great year of performing a humorous duo with "B". I continued with speech and drama the next two years, doing humorous duo with Justin, and I really regret playing basketball my freshman year when I could have been acting, but no use crying over spilt milk.
In other news, yesterday I collected some more rocks for my retaining wall project. It takes tons of rocks to do this stuff, literally. My goal is turn my backyard into a Japanese garden, and as they say in books and magazines like The Journal of Japanese
Gardening, the stone is the backbone of the garden. I'm really in to it too. I suppose you could call me a gardenerd, because that's what makes a nerd right? Being in to something. It helps when not many other people are in to the same thing, but that's okay, I wear my nerd badge with pride. I have been taking pictures of the retaining wall project in its stages, so when it's done I can do a before and after thing, maybe even a "this is how you build a retaining wall" thing.
I think some people like running over my garbage can lids. I don't know why. Maybe it is becuase I'm a bad neighbor. This is why I'm a bad neighbor:
1. I don't talk to my neighbors much.
2. I haven't planted grass in my backyard yet, and according to the covenents it was supposed to be done about two and a half years ago.
3. The front yard didn't have grass until last year.
4. The convertible horse trailer is a bit of an eyesore.
5. I steal my neighbor's garbage cans.
6. I leave my garbage can lids in the alley when they get blown over.
You are probably wondering about number five there, eh? Well, there was this garbage can sitting in my front yard for over a week last winter. I didn't know whose it was, so I thought if I just left it there someone would come and pick it up. After a week though I got tired of having a garbage can in my front yard so I put it in my garage. Well, not too long ago I discovered that it has some numbers and a street written on it. I keep forgetting to bring it over there, but right now it's predisposed holding a bunch of scrap wood in my garage anyway. After the bonfire, I think I'll do the right thing. I don't know when the bonfire will be.
Of course, it kind of makes it difficult for me to get things done in the yard, and what is worse is that I was just getting the motivation to do it. All is not lost though, the rain has directed the effort towards cleaning the garage and the place I have been calling "the junk room." Cleaning stuff makes me feel good and satisfied. Weird, eh?
I have found a new fun thing to do too. In case you didn't notice the really cool red phone booth photo a couple of blogs back, let me tell you what is going on. I like to post images with words to make things more interesting. So if I can't find a good one of my own, I have been searching the tags on flickr, and using a randomly applicable one. I always make sure to leave a comment on the photo to let them know I used it.
I suppose that I better get home now and start cleaning or something, but it just doesn't seem fun now. Oh well.
I asked them if I could do an interview with them, and they agreed, but told me that the Independent had already got them, but you know what? I can go to press faster than the Independent.
Well, again, audioblogger was down today, or we could have had a nice, breaking-news audio report. Unfornately, my backup plan of recording a voice-mail and later doing a three-way call with audioblogger.com did not work either. For some reason the voice mail never showed up. So I will do my best to recount from memory how the interview went.
Lance: Hi this is Lance here on the corner of Broadway and Ryman with cars honking in the background, and two boys holding up a sign that reads, "Honk If You're Happy," and I have the privilege of doing an audio interview with them. How are you doing today Erik Burton?
Erik: Good, thanks.
Lance: Now why are you guys out here holding up this sign that looks like it is getting beat up by the weather.
Erik: Well, no reason really, we just wanted to cheer people up, you know with the rain.
Lance: That's great! I see you also have a sign taped to your t-shirt that reads, "Proud To Be Adopted, April." What is that about?
Erik: Well, I was adopted seven days after birth, and I am proud of it. (I think he said more here, but I can't quite remember)
Lance: Cool. So Michael Montoya, how are you doing today?
Michael: Fine, thanks.
Lance: Now, you are out here holding up this sign with your friend. How has the response been? Would you say there have been more cars honking or not honking?
Michael: More honking.
Lance: Great. How long have you been out here?
Michael: About an hour.
Lance: Wow, are you getting a little cold being out in the rain?
Michael: Yeah, a little bit.
Lance: This is pretty crazy, have you guys ever done stuff like this before?
Michael: Well, we played Marco Polo in the mall. That was pretty cool.
Lance: Cool. Well, thank you for your time, do you guys have any final words?
Erik: Have a happy day!
Lance: Well, I guess that's it. #
Erik and Michael, if you are reading, leave us all some comments, and tell us how it all turned out. I hope it went well.
It seems like there are lots of people who have a problem with talking loud as soon as they get on the phone. Myself included - usually. If I am in a long conversation this isn't the case.
I was thinking, why this might be the case, and this is my theory: You can't see the person you're talking too. Normally if you can't see the person you’re talking to, you will speak in a louder voice to be heard. Suppose you were in the woods, or on the other side of a wall or cubicle. So I think we speak up without thinking about it because it is what we have become accustomed to do.
What do you think? Do you talk loud on the phone?