the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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Washington State: Non-Linear Wrap-Up

After spending most of Cinco de Mayo hung over (and, probably, still more than a little buzzed from drinking until 0500 the night before), Liz and I met up with long-lost high school friend [info]dendacien to do a bit of catching up, then it was off to the airport for the red-eye back to Cleveland.

Mercifully, I was able to sleep for pretty much the entire flight; my eyes shut as soon as I was seated, and I woke only to put on an eye mask and earplugs, and later to take them off before landing. Had a nice conversation with the cabbie who drove us home, then Liz put on cartoons and I fell back asleep.

We ease now into quiet Sunday afternoon domesticity, quite the contrast to the epic road trip of the past week. The cat boxes are now clean (joy) and the mail is sorted (yay). Laundry is started (good), though in a testament to my fatigue, I managed to run my cell phone through the wash, so that's probably a goner, along with the last couple of photos that I shot the other night before we left. I'm doing a bit better now, cranking the tunes and pushing a couple gigs of photos from the Liz's laptop over to my main desktop machine, so there will eventually be some new stuff showing up over in Flickr-land.

The current plan is to jot down some travel notes, somewhat out of order, and post them here. By now everyone should be familiar with non-linear storytelling techniques, so this should not be too hard to follow.

Many thanks again to [info]wolffire and [info]gr0m1t for inviting us into their home and life; they really upped the vacation to a whole new level of awesome.

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Washington State: Part One

After a long, long Friday night of staying up burning CDs for the rental car, and a long, long Saturday of airplanes, airports and power naps, we arrived in safely in Seattle and found our way to [info]wolffire and [info]gr0m1t's (very lovely) house without incident. After a bit of catching up we walked to nearby Circa, a West Seattle alehouse with supremely tasty food; I'm very satisfied with my choice of a Boundary Bay Blonde and the halibut tacos, a nigh-religious experience after a day of airplane food.

Today we have an appointment at Chateau Ste. Michelle and a bit of sightseeing planned, and then dinner at Beàto. In the morning, we head off to the other side of the state to start the wine visits in earnest. We're very happy to have made a better rental car selection than on our Napa trip (do not drive a Ford Taurus on windy, windy roads, kids); the comfy seats should be a nice bonus as we drive all over creation this week.

More later -- must eat breakfast and get going.

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Comic Life

So I discovered the other day that my new Mac came bundled with Plasq's nifty Comic Life, a program that lets you easily drop your photos and other images into comic book layouts, add effects and word balloons, and generally cause you to lose track of time.

I started putting together a simple page last night to see what it could do, and show Liz how cool it was, and it kind of got out of hand after that--becoming a three-page mini story of going to our friends' wedding in October:

It has a few little quirks that annoy (trying to get the right thing selected can be tricky once it's been dropped into place, and the fancy lettering really doesn't like to export to PDF without a fight), but it's probably one of the most fun and imaginative apps I've played with in a long, long time.

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Birthdays, Exits, and New Years

Had a lovely weekend.

Gorgeous day yesterday, perfect for taking care of some last-minute errands and running down to West Point Market with Karla to pick up groceries for Liz's birthday dinner.

Did some errands with Liz today (frame shop, Radio Shack, etc.), enjoyed helping set up her Tivoli iPod radio gizmo, played some Wii (the Rayman: Raving Rabbids game is quite recommended from our house), and did some maintenance on her laptop.

Bad news: my mother-in-law's dog passed away this morning. :-( He was a good friend, and will be missed.

Super-nummy birthday dinner for Liz tonight with Karla. We did a trio of cheeses--Ewephoria, Mimolette, and Brie--with provencale wafers, bosc pears, pink lady apples, and an olive medly and nicely matched to a cremant d'Loire; main course of prime rib (sooo pink and tender) matched with a roasted mix of carrots, parsnips, and potatoes, and perfectly paired with Katherine Kennedy Lateral (a luscious Bordeaux-style blend). Followed it all up with chocolate raspberry parfaits from Michael Angelo's. Yummy!

We'll spend the rest of the evening chilling out and enjoying some quiet time together, making plans for 2007 and getting ready for the adventures ahead.


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Making It So

Liz and I took a well-deserved three-day weekend trip to Ann Arbor to celebrate our anniversary a little early. It's hard to believe that six years of marriage have gone rocketing by so quickly!

Friday night we enjoyed a good wander around downtown Ann Arbor, discovered, to the peril of my credit cards, the Vault of Midnight, got a head start on our Christmas shopping, and met up with Kevin Dangoor and Mark Ramm at the Arbor Brewing Company, where a good time was had by all.

Saturday, after a spot of brunch and shopping (and discovering the hypnotic terror that is "Powerpuff Girls Z"), the main attraction began: a series of RSC shows featuring Patrick Stewart. First up was Julius Caesar, not featuring Patrick Stewart, but instead featuring buckets of blood, dogs of war, signs and portents, and all similar manner of treacherous goodness. We paused for a jaunt over to Vinology for dinner, followed by a quick bit of dessert at La Dolce Vita, then it was back to the theatre for Antony and Cleopatra, where I had a bit of a chuckle over Patrick Stewart's wig--I don't think I've ever seen him have that much hair before, unless you count the space-mullet he sported in Dune. This morning, we brunched again, then took in the third and final round, The Tempest, which had been done up as a rather cinematic affair in a barren land north of the Arctic circle, somewhere between King Kong and Neil Gaiman.

As expected, Patrick Stewart was thoroughly at home on the stage, and did not disappoint, in energy, in subtlety, in getting just the right nuance. And though he chewed a bit of scenery, he should be commended for making sure that his fellow players get chances to shine in their own right. We were especially impressed with Cleopatra, whose performance utterly defied words as it cascaded from girlish delight to bitter jealousy and rage, into despair, and finally, tragic, dignified resolve. Bravo!

And, just like that, the time has gone and now we're home again, making preparations to do battle with the week ahead. Oh, yes, there are still tickets available for some shows, if you find yourself of a mind to go. Even if your seats aren't the greatest, you won't regret it.

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Back From SFO

Just a quick post for now... We are back safely from San Francisco. Thankfully, the house is still standing--no exploding water heaters, no massive wake of feline destruction, nothing. I suppose it's a good thing we got in when we did, as the news now tells us a plane got diverted to Cleveland as a result of some security scare. That would have fouled our return to kitties but good.

The remainder of our time in wine country was simply marvelous, and filled with a delightful lack of televisions, internet, and cell phone coverage. High points include our romantic lodgings atop the oceanside cliffs of Albion, tour at Handley, visit to the indulgent "Bubble Room" at J, and utterly perfect dinner at The Girl and the Fig in Sonoma. I suspect that I'll get around to writing about it a little bit sometime soon (which probably means I'll never get to it, based on my track record).

Don and Kai are married (for a whole day now). Hooray for them, and about time too! I ended up standing in for a replacement groomsman, which was a pretty good time overall. I got taken to my first football game (with 72,516 in attendance), enjoyed hanging out with Don and his friends, and generally did my best to keep Don from either jumping off of or passing out and falling down the cliffside behind the wedding site. Ah, good times. :-) Anyway, we wish the two of them heaps of all that good marriage stuff, blah blah blah. Not that they need my additional blessing, as they are about as perfect together as any two crazy kids could be, but I figure good mojo is always welcome.

Lots of photos were taken. Coming soon: maybe I'll find the time to sort and upload some. Stranger things have happened!

Too much new stuff on the Tivo this week: Galactica, Dr. Who, Lost, Eureka, Studio 60, The Office, Robot Chicken, etc. etc. I think I need a vacation day to catch up with everything... :-P

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Punching for Our Supper

After a Monday night of drinking high-end sake and feasting on exquisitely delicious sushi with my high school buddy Josh, we hauled our sleepy behinds up to Napa for the kick-off of the week's wine country adventures.

We spent pretty much all day Tuesday at Tres Sabores, getting a tour by way of working for the winemaker, Julie Johnson. Liz and I punched down the caps on some 2006 Petite Syrah, took some samples of Zin grapes from the vineyard, and ran the samples over to a local lab for testing. After a lunch of burritos from La Luna (perfectly paired with Julie's 2004 Zin), it was back to work again: Liz punched down, then went out into the vineyard with Julie to do some pre-harvest maintenance, while I repaired some dodgy splices in the wiring for the shop's speakers and got the radio going again, all while standing on a series of ladders and entertaining a charming six-year-old girl whose father was up for the afternoon to work on his Cab. We've apparently been adopted by the various dogs and cats who romp about the grounds--two of the kittens even tried to sleep with us for a while last night. The sheep and guinea hens, however, remain a bit standoffish. Julie very generously treated us to dinner at the bar of a nearby restaurant, and then we slept the sleep of the righteously tired.

Today the weather is grey and misty. There is harvesting this morning (actually already completed) and preparations for crush are underway. Once that's completed (or at least going) it'll be time to hit the road and drive up north to Albion.

I have been fairly photo-crazy up here, so expect some updates once I get a chance to edit and see what came out well.

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When You're Going to San Francisco...

To celebrate our launch and the start of vacation, I took my team-mates out to Melt for beer and tasty food, and a good time was had by all. Of course, then I had to go home and pack, and then didn't sleep much that night (I never manage to sleep well before a flight for some reason). We tried to sleep on the plane, occasionally hampered by the gentlemen behind us, who were apparently best friends in a former life. I could have put up with their loud conversation (audible through ear plugs and over iPod), but it was the harmonica assault in the middle of my nap that really upset me.

Once we got checked in and had real food (an adventure in itself, thank you hotel restaurant that can't tell bratwurst from least you had free popcorn and tasty beer), we hopped the BART down to the Embarcadero and met up with my cousin Cole, an RA at Stanford who was up for the day to make sure his residents survived their scavenger hunt. We meandered around at the Ferry Building market, had a walk along the waterfront, watched a group of skaters making a video of themselves screwing up tricks in fairly spectacular fashion, and had a great time catching up.

When it was time to let Cole go to meet up with his Stanford crew, we walked up to the Metreon to chill out for a bit, visited the Apple store, and popped into the Container Store to kill some time. Then it was off to Tres Agaves, where, after having our table given away several times, we met up with fellow CWRU-escapee Andy Reitz for dinner.

Liz has spent today in class downstairs, while I've been largely comatose and drooling on myself throughout the day, which has been punctuated by strange visions on TV: Mike DeWine and Sherrod Brown on "Meet the Press," Woz being interviewed, Scrabble finals on ESPN. Now that I've basically spent the entire day asleep in a hotel room, I'm starting to feel surprisingly human again. It's a good feeling.

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How the Mighty Have Fallen

Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.
Okay, we are officially living in Bizarro World...

We went to the Brew Kettle with [info]butterandjelly a couple of Wednesdays ago, and while there I tasted (and completed!) a sampler flight of beers. Amazingly, after years of hating beer with a vengeance, I've started to find things that, beyond merely not offending my palate, and pretty damn tasty! So far I'm mostly preferring porters, stouts, and Belgian things, as long as they are "good"--I think my previous issues, like those with seafood and wine, were due to the fact that I'd never really had anything worth having.

Still--no good can come of this! ;-)

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