the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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315/365: Laughing Buddha

315/365: Laughing Buddha

We managed to sneak out for a twelfth anniversary date night, woo-hoo! After picking up movie tickets, we did a bit of wandering in Crocker Park, ate dinner at Vieng's, watched Skyfall (certainly the best Bond film since the Connery era, possibly the best ever), and wrapped up with drinks at B-Spot.

I say it every year, but it's really hard to believe that so many years have passed so quickly.

It's equally hard to believe how quickly this year has flown by--just 50 days to go!

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217/365: Shades

217/365: Shades

It turns out that Liz and I haven't had a proper date night in forever, so we were grateful to get away for a few hours last night. I tagged along for dress shopping (frowning at things that didn't fit right, approving things that did), then we caught a bite to eat at B-Spot (where she showed off her new Tom's sunglasses, a freebie thank-you gift from my job) and got her caught up on The Dark Knight Rises.

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130/365: Holy Cow

Holy Cow

In the brief window between Liz's return from England and her departure to Virginia Tech for our niece's graduation, I managed to steal a few hours of her time for an impromptu date night--Avengers on the 3D IMAX screen and late dinner and drinks at B Spot.

This charming fellow kept us company, looming large on the wall above our booth.

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92/365: Shapes of Recovery

92/365: Shapes of Recovery

By Saturday night, the vertigo cleared, and Sunday I felt blissfully alive and well on the road to recovery, so Liz and I escaped for a date night: The Hunger Games movie, followed by dinner and drinks at the Bar Louie in Crocker Park, where I realized I hadn't shot anything for the 365 yet.

This one speaks to my obsession with geometry; we have circles (some concentric), lines, squares, rectangles, triangles, spheres, even hexagons. Of course it's entirely possible that I was also at a creative nadir and the previous remark is how I try to make myself feel better about it.

One interesting note of trivia: I have reached the 25% point in the 365 project (admittedly with some posts to backfill as I process what I shot during the Great Discontinuity of vacation). I'm pleased that I've gotten this far, and more than a little intimidated that even with this milestone, the vast bulk of the work is still ahead of me.

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Weekend, Surprises, Verbosity

After far too much not-blogging, I think I'm hitting the point where the withdrawal is really starting to bug me, so I guess I'd better take care of that.

Work is fairly unmentionable; I pulled a few 12-hour days last week, which I should probably stop doing if I'm going to be the only one (as usual) trying to put in the extra effort to keep the project on schedule. Hah. I am Jack's insane work ethic.

Far more mentionable is the weekend that just whooshed by in a bizarre combination of gosh-that-went-too-fast and cheerful, languid laziness.

Friday started out with one of the few rare instances in which I am proven right, but I was unfortunately too right. I don't know crap about cars, but I've listened to enough "Car Talk" to recognize the clicking sound that Liz's car was making every time she turned left as her CV boot. I felt somewhat vindicated when the issue turned out, indeed, to be her driver's-side CV boot, but as it happens I am karma's bitch--she needed to get both of them replaced. Somehow the old "why buy one when you can have two for twice the price" philosophy doesn't really feel so great in practice. Not the most auspicious start to the day, and it'd come at the end of a week far too long.

Liz quickly turned the tables on my week, though, starting with dinner at Nemo. We sat in the tiny little "Lover's Lane" nook, an odd little space barely large enough for a two-top table, and strangely, delightfully echoey. We had a great conversation, luxuriated in the sensations of food and wine (my Sangiovese was utterly fabulous with rack of lamb and mushroom risotto), and enjoyed the tumult of rain, thunder, and lightning outside.

We spent Friday night, Saturday night, and half of Sunday parked in front of the TV, breezing efficiently through the final season of "Six Feet Under" on DVD, a sudden arrival on seven-day loan from the library. The season had some weak spots, but overall it was a fitting conclusion to a great show, and a nice farewell to characters that have managed to become like family. It's definitely worth your time if you haven't seen it; if you can put up with the ever-present background morbidity, it's quite interesting, often hilarious, and surprisingly uplifting.

Much of Saturday managed to be simultaneously relaxing and off-kilter. Now, Liz and I had laid out a moderately elaborate plan for Saturday, consisting of all of our necessary and desired weekend errands in the proper order of timing and fuel economy, but the cats managed to completely throw it into disarray by nine o'clock in the morning as Julia came bounding up onto the bathroom counter, leaving a path of bloody pawprints in her wake. Realizing what was going on came in little quanta of sudden understanding: there is a cat here; there is something on the counter; the something on the counter is blood; the blood is from the cat; the cat is bleeding; oh crap oh crap the cat is bleeding all over; what has the cat done now? Liz was a shower and full set of clothes ahead of me, so after we corralled Julia in the bathroom to assess the damage and clean up her wounded paw, Liz and Julia zoomed off to the vet while I stayed behind to get dressed, look for more blood, and be someone for Valentine, the likely culprit, to howl confusedly at. Luckily, the bleeding--caused by a puncture wound to one of the pads on her left hind paw, either claw or fang--had stopped fairly quickly, and no stitches were required. The patient returned home promptly, along with a prescription for a week's worth of liquid antibiotics. The details of administering liquid meds--specifically pink liquid--to a fussy cat are best left to the imagination, but suffice it to say that Liz is now down one white shirt, and we had to add a trip to the dry cleaner to our Saturday agenda.

But! Our bloody cat had the good taste to get hurt, get better, and get home in time to let us get to our 10:30 appointment to peruse tile flooring options for the laundry room (a moderately long story in its own right that I won't get into here). From there, though, all of our errands seemed to start getting out of order, and the flow wasn't working, which unfortunately makes me a tiny bit fussy, even though I got a bunch of CD's from the library, got a haircut, and spent some nice time wandering around shops in Rocky River with Liz.

What really got to me was Liz's suddenly-announced, last-minute need to be on a conference call at two PM, right in the middle of when we were supposed to be tasting wine and getting groceries. Which then got rescheduled to three, allowing us to stop by Grady's to taste wine and nosh on little wine-friendly nibbles. But the vital trip to the grocery store had to be deferred. I sat upstairs and listened to music while Liz waited for her call. The cats hung out with me in the open window, relishing the fresh spring air and staring greedily at passing birds. When three o'clock came and went, I went downstairs to harass Liz about this call--shouldn't she call in or something?--and, rebuffed, I retreated back to the office to sulk and ponder whether we'd ever attend to the rest of our errands while I listened to Jethro Tull and Peter Gabriel. Slowly, there came a deep rumble, as the biggest semi I've ever seen trundled cautiously around the corner. Great, I thought, who's the asshole driving a giant truck through our neighborhood and ruining this perfect spring day? The truck pulled a little further around the corner, and I was able to see the Room and Board logo on the trailer. Liz and I had spent a day in downtown Chicago last winter trying to find a leather chair for me that was up to Baby Bear's "just right" standards, and had after several hours succeeded in filing an excellent candidate away in my permanent wish list. Swell. Somebody's getting awesome furniture and it's not me. I'm never going to get my chair.

Right about then, a lot of things happened at once. First, the truck whuffed and sighed to a stop directly across from our driveway. Valentine and I shared a dumbstruck moment of incomprehension; according to Liz, the look on my face was priceless. Liz closed the office door to keep the cat contained. And then, to my complete and utter astonishment, the delivery guys started unloading my chair, while, by complete coincidence, the Peter Gabriel CD I'd picked up at the library blasted out "Shock the Monkey."

After assessing that all was well and functional in the land of new things that recline, we did a quick furniture rearrangement in the living room, and since then I've been taking every opportunity available to test out my new manly man chair. I've covered one of the really long chapters of Head First Design Patterns; I've chilled with the iPod; I've enjoyed sitting by the open window with the cats; I've sipped wine and listened to Pink Floyd; I've passed out and drooled on myself; I've (now) blogged. So far, it has passed all of the important tests with flying colors. Well, almost all--the cats are still a bit scared of it, but I expect that with time they'll show it the same indifference that they usually show me.

So, yes, Liz's "conference call" was a lie, a ruse, a deception, a clever means to have me home so that she could see my reaction, and I completely, totally, thoroughly fell for it. In a way, that makes it all the sweeter. (Right?) In case I haven't correctly sung the praises of Liz lately, let me declare here that I totally love my wife, that she knows exactly how to spoil me, and that she is damn good at being awesome. My silly manly man chair is beyond excellent, unneeded, and unexpected. Thanks, hon!

Other than that, life is quiet here; lots of work, lots of studying, and as much slacking and irresponsibility as we can get away with. Gotta keep things in perspective, after all.

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Better Days

Luckily, fortunately, thankfully, I've had a string of pretty good days lately.

Liz had to work for most of Saturday, so I used the time to knock a bunch of things off my to-do list, including a trip to the library to refresh my influx of new music, and a half-day of being able to work in peace in the office. Saturday night, she took me to Grovewood Tavern for dinner, which was utterly fabulous (I had the "Quackitori", seared duck breast yakitori style, and I highly recommend it, especially paired with the Parallel 45 Cotes du Rhone). After dinner, we hit the Velvet Tango Room for post-dinner cocktails, where I was introduced to the shimmering delight that is the French 75. I totally dig VTR's vibe, and I got an especially geeky thrill from recognizing Winchester '73 playing on the TV by the bar. VTR is a bit pricey, but the experience--especially on the weekend, where your lady friend gets a perfect rose--is worth it.

On Sunday I managed to get more stuff on my list done, and then we hit the local movie theatre for a matinee of Thank You For Smoking, a cheerfully subversive little movie that anyone with two brain cells and a sense of humor should see as soon as possible. Seriously--run, don't walk; it's that good. My only issue was with the quality of the audience, as we seemed to be seated directly in front of, next to, and behind people who insisted on sharing their running commentary, explaining jokes to each other, and so forth. Sorry, folks, but if I wanted the commentary track, I'd buy the DVD, and you wouldn't be part of it. Though it was almost worth it to hear the person next to me try to explain a joke and then, verbally, loudly, not get it... (Seriously, she didn't understand why it might be funny that the firearms lobbyist set off the metal detector at a security checkpoint. "Must be something metal," my next-door Ebert observed.)

Monday marked a return to workplace madness, but it ended early as Liz and I had picked up tickets to see K.T. Tunstall at the House of Blues. It was a pretty much spur-of-the-moment decision a couple of weeks ago when I realized that she was in town. I admit, I'm a total poseur, and it took her solo appearance on NBC's "Today" show for her to arrive on my musical radar... I wasn't sure what to expect from seeing her live, but I figured I wouldn't be disappointed, and the ticket price was pretty fair, so I figured there were worse ways to spend a Monday night. We had a nice dinner at the HOB (assisted in part by a small parade of happy-hour mixed drinks), and then proceeded to be completely blown away by her live performance. She's touring with a band to back her up, which helps fill out her sound nicely, and there were particularly nice bits featuring various band members soloing on drums, keyboards, trumpet, guitars, and cello. Mellower tracks had a nice dash of psychadelia that reminded me of early Pink Floyd, while the more raucus, upbeat numbers struck me as the perfect soundtrack for blasting down a desert highway, windows down and stereo cranked. In short, even if she's getting mainstream radio (and worse, grocery store!) airplay, K.T. is the real deal, and you should check her out, especially live. Seriously good times.

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Of Rings and Regular Expressions

Keeping busy. More than a little stressed. The next couple of days are (as usual) critical. So far so good, though...

I've graduated from being assigned weird shifts for monitoring the farm during Val to being on call 24x7 for the duration; I'm not sure if this is an improvement or not, but it allowed me to attend the Lord of the Rings symphony on Saturday night. Liz and I met up with friends for dinner at the Severance Hall restaurant (tasty, though I had the world's dullest steak knife) and then marvelled at how tight the symphony had gotten since we'd first heard it. The Cleveland Orchestra brought their "A game" and really rocked my socks; I got all weepy-eyed in all the right places. Beautiful, and a great early Valentine's gift to ourselves!

I spent a bit of time today fixing up some geeky things that have been bothering me. I twiddled's CSS a bit to be better behaved in IE, moved my IE-specifc hacks into a separate stylesheet to help get me ready for IE 7. And I finally managed to hunt down the bug in that was causing it to mangle content so badly (any "<br />" ended up getting doubled twice by its "cleanup" routines, and some bits of nearby text and other tags would get similarly repeated). I filed a bug with a very simple patch, so hopefully it'll get folded into the main release at some point, so no one else will have to suffer. It's amazing how different <(\S+?)\s*?/> (bad) and <([^\s>]+?)\s*?/> (good) can be.

Other than that, nothing exciting (other than watching the Canadian women's hockey team annihilate pretty much everything in their path). At this point, I'm just hoping to survive the next two days!

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And Suddenly Tuesday is Date Night

Liz and I manged to almost completely forget that MacHomer is playing this week at the Hanna Theatre. Luckily, we managed to remember in time to get tickets for this evening's show, which played to a surprisingly packed audience. If you enjoy "The Simpsons" and have read or seen "the Scottish play" at least once, you will probably get a sizeable kick out of this... Most of his voices are dead on--pretty much any character that wasn't Bart, Lisa, or (alas!) Homer was perfect. The whole thing is nicely integrated with a music and video track that really adds to the production--there are a lot of characters to keep track of, and there are some cute visual jokes. The ending is, as one might expect from a Shakespearean tragedy, pretty grim, so the audience receives as a bonus feature Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" as performed by 25 of rock's "most annoying voices."

We preceded the show with a bit of wine and food at Vinea, a fairly new place just down the block from Playhouse Square. I quite enjoyed the spinach salad (I have a weakness for cranberries and blue cheese) and was significantly awed by the "Italian Plate" appetizer which, after claiming in the menu to have a couple of cheeses, a couple of Italian meats, a loaf of bread for dipping in olive oil, and some olives, ended up being enough food for a modest paramilitary outfit, if not a small army. There was enough left over to make more than a full plate of the same thing at any other restaurant, and that's when the guilt really started to kick in--certainly there are some starving children who could use some sopresetta and smoked gouda?

All in all, it's been a better-than-typical Tuesday evening--which I think will get rounded out with the last chapter of Anansi Boys. Cheers!

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Take Me Out

Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

Friday: Post-launch drinking festivities with co-workers (yay, the new AOL Greetings site is live!) blurred pleasantly into dinner and beverages of various and sundry natures with [info]aquamindy, [info]reasie, [info]oogby, and [info]trenchcloak, followed by a couple of rounds of Apples to Apples back at our place. Lots of fun all around.

Saturday: Slept in, got a haircut, did some errands, and drove down to the West Point Market in Akron to aquire cheese and similar tasty comestibles. Had a lovely movie night with equally lovely [info]aquamindy: a nice Barbaresco, cheeses, olives, bread, grapes, and Spartacus. Liz decided the evening required some bubbly to achieve completeness, and so it was that I had an excellent Saturday night...

...And a mostly non-existant Sunday: Slept until about twelve-thirty, took some Advil, ate some bread, drank some orange juice, and went back to sleep. By six PM, I was starting to feel human again, so I got cleaned up and we dashed off downtown for the Indians game; work had rewarded me with a pair of tickets, and on a perfect day like yesterday, such an opportunity was not to be ignored. We had good seats, the weather was amazing, the crowd was excited (once the dreaded "wave" got started, it went fully around the ballpark six or seven times before dying out), and the Tribe played like the good ol' days--the final score was 12 to 4. A great way to cap off a relaxing, fun weekend.

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Installation Complete

Went out with [info]aquamindy last night for the Westlake Rotary Club's board member installation ceremony and dinner. My cutie-pie is now officially sworn in and a member of the board; on top of that, she even received a spiffy certificate from the outgoing president for being all-around groovy. And she got lavish praise from fellow knitters on her recently completed poncho. Rock on!!

The event was held at M. Bistro in Westlake; I nibbled on the adequate hors d'oeuvres and sipped a decent Pinot Grigiot, then chose the stuffed chicken which was delicious with a glass of anonymous Chianti. Mayor Clough, seated across the table, unfortunately didn't fare so well; his medium-rare steak arrived well-done, and the replacement steak had only been briefly seared and looked as if it might walk off the plate and moo at us. I hope he had a snack or something when he got home, because they never even bothered to bring him anything else once steak number two was whisked away uneaten, and no one offered dessert to anyone at our table. We also ended up waiting about an hour for our check, so it turned into a surprisingly long evening for everyone.

Still, a good time was had by all. And I'm super-proud of my spiffy wife! :-)

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