the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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Being Uncle Mike

My recent vacation photos hiatus is in part due to spending last weekend being all responsible and grown-up and stuff--Laura, one of my nieces, came to visit us for the weekend. Note the use of the word "my," a big step for me, as for most of the past seven years, the girls have been "Liz's nieces." Maybe they're just growing up to the point at which I can relate to them, but they're really, finally feeling like family.

So! Laura braved the increased airport security, water bottle fascism and all, and arrived last Friday. Liz picked her up, and after getting settled in at the house, took us all out to lunch at Phnom Penh; to my amazement, Laura loved her loath chha! That evening we hit our local Winking Lizard and then went out to Will Farrell NASCAR movie (hilarious, recommended), got ice cream on the way home, and stayed up far too late playing Munchkin. Saturday we caught up on "Monk" and "Psych", then went out to friends' for their Wild Game BBQ, where there was much delicious food, frosty beverage, and wacky croquet fun, then zipped down to Blossom to chill out under the stars and experience the Cleveland Orchestra playing the scores to Bugs Bunny cartoons (and incidentally seeing a lot of folks that we don't always bump into). Sunday we had brunch downtown, spent a few hours at the science center (note to self: don't try the "virtual hang-glider" right after eating...), tried to get Laura hooked on "Firefly", and played a lot more Munchkin and Apples to Apples.

Laura was up and out the door early on Monday to get to her flight on time; by all accounts she made it back home safely. I'm still trying to wrap my head around her pronouncement that I'm "an awesome uncle," but for the most part I guess that's pretty cool. The entire experience has left me a lot more optimistic about the idea of being a parent, a mental paradigm shift that is simultaneously comforting and scary as hell.

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Oregon Trail!

Were you a budding computer geek in the mid 1980's? Deadly Hippos has an interview with Philip Bouchard, one of the designers of the immortal Apple II game Oregon Trail. Good stuff that really brings back memories... If you get similarly overcome with nostalgia, you can bust out the emulator and play it--just don't blame me when your office productivity spirals off into oblivion as you re-master your buffalo hunting skills.

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How to Entertain Cats and Silly Humans

Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

The attic dude is here again this evening, so the cats are locked up for their safety and the overall cleanliness of the house--we don't exactly want to find bits of insulation in strange feline gift zones. I figured I should at least keep them company, since there were going to be lots of weird noises coming from the ceiling while work was going on.

So, we played, they napped, they helped me try out different Livejournal styles that didn't have previews, but best of all, we found an exciting new game--confetti in the fan! All you need to play is an up-turned fan (the Vornado 750B is pictured), a bit of scrap paper that you don't mind turning into lots of little bits of scrap paper, one or more bored cats, and one or more bored humans. Engage cats with "Hey! Check this out!" type banter and and excited tone of voice, while partially concealing the scrap paper in your hand; they will come running to see what's so special. Toss the paper into the path of the Vornado, and BAM! Instantly amused cats and humans!

Okay, and a small mess, but oh! is it ever worth it.

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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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Grrawrrr!! (And Other Dinosaur Noises)

Just back from a fabulous evening at the [info]oogby/[info]reasie residence, wherein tasty dinner was consumed, great conversation was had, and there was much Bitin' Off Hedz.

Yes, we neglected to bring the bridesmaid dress that [info]aquamindy was going to clear with [info]reasie, as well as the Holly Hobbie drinking glasses that had been promised some aeons ago, but nonetheless a good time was had by all. Hopefully we'll get together soon (probably at our place) for dress-examining, glass-exchanging, and cow exploding.


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Three Cheers For Wanton Consumerist Behavior

I must have been stressing a lot lately, because the last couple of weeks seem awfully irresponsible of me, from a converting-the-equity-of-my-labor-into-useless-economy-fueling-crap sort of perspective. I think I've also been in withdrawal ever since my favorite record store here closed... I need my fix, man!

Looking back over the past couple of weeks, the following essentially useless but entertaining crap has entered my life:

Trip to Stratford, Ontario

  • "MacStew" apron (complete with recipe for "toil and trouble"--it's a Shakespeare thing, you see) for [info]aquamindy
  • Rasputina's Lost & Found on CD
  • BeatleJazz volumes one and two on CD (a pleasant accompaniment to a bottle of wine)
  • A CD for my father for Christmas
  • Assorted very cool children's books

Between Vacations
I was having an incredibly shit work week between returning from Stratford and leaving for California...

  • The Cure's new The Cure on CD (the US version; I'll probably acquire the UK or Japanese edition later on)
  • Concrete Blonde's new album, Mojave (which is satisfyingly excellent)
  • Three pairs of socks! (Brown ones!)
  • Two relatively nice-yet-casual button-down shirts (I am becoming a (well-dressed) whore for The Gap, please kill me NOW!)
  • Casual grey zip-uppy thing also from Gap; [info]aquamindy says it looks cute on me, and it was on sale too, so... yeah, that's justified, right?

Berkeley/San Francisco/Monterey

  • Part of an anniversary gift for [info]aquamindy from the Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • VNV Nation's Pastperfect, a 3-disc DVD set of concert video, interviews, shenanagins, and various wicked-cool stuff. I don't feel guilty in the slightest about buying this, because it's just too fucking cool.
  • A used copy of Morrowind for the X-Box--a "game of the year" for just $12!
  • Two (formerly?) out-of-print Criterion DVD's (that seem to be back in print again, so much for feeling like I found some treasures), M. Hulot's Holiday and Mon Oncle
  • Cheapass Games! I got:

    The Despair of Being Alone In Cleveland For A Week
    I had to run to the grocery store for food, and to Bed, Bath & Beyond for replacement razor blade parts (electric weasels ripped my flesh), so I just HAD to go to Borders to console myself in my loneliness...

    • Isaac Asimov's Foundation's Edge, as I had just finished the first three Foundation books
    • Dan Simmons' Ilium, which I have been dying to read for some time

    But the pièce de résistance arrived in this week's mail...

    Ladies and gents, I give you... the world's best Linux shirt! With the mighty powers of this 100% cotton marvel, I can be two different kinds of geek at the same time! Will wonders never cease??

    Please keep Fight Club references to yourselves; I am just fine with being owned by my posessions, thank you ever so much.

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Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond

Had a long, long day yesterday. Up at 4:45 to be into the office by 6:00. Worked a full and busy twelve hours. Capped off the evening with a visit to [info]oogby and [info]reasie's house for nummy dinner and geeky good times. Surprisingly enough, I won at Give Me the Brain with a masterfully coordinated final hand, the kind of thing that never, ever happens to me in any game. We followed that with a round of Devil Bunny Needs a Ham, which was entirely fabulous, even though I got my ass pretty thoroughly kicked.

Of course, once I got home, I had a devil of a time getting to sleep, which is usually what happens when Liz isn't around when it's sleepytime.

After a period of sub-adequate and mostly useless rest, it was back to work for more hours of trying to be productive. I got a bunch of stuff done, but not as much as I wanted, so now I'm more behind than I had planned to be, and it's bugging me. The hardest part of what I'm doing now is that it would be really easy and fast to crank out crap code that I won't be able to leverage anywhere else in my project, and which would be a maintenance nightmare... But I'd rather write stuff in a way that seems "right," is reusable, is powerful in its elegance and elegant in its power. Sometimes that kind of code comes easily, and other times it takes some serious wrestling to arrive at the right place; today was one of the latter.

No significant/visible change in the kitchen today; I suspect it was all little tweaks to the alignment and leveling of the cabinetry.

But finally Liz got home from Cincinnati, and we had a fun dinner at Brendan O'Neill's that mostly consisted of my getting a lot drunker a lot faster than I had planned. I really didn't feel the first cider until the second one started to go looking for it, and suddenly I knew I was in trouble. I ate too much too, which left me feeling not exactly my best. (I'm doing better now, in case the suspense was bothering you.)

Tomorrow we have to get up at a reasonable hour, because we're attending the Blessing of the Vines at Markko Vineyard. We're planning on taking some "us time" at the newly completed Geneva State Park Lodge that night.

Then after a relaxing morning (hopefully), we'll catch up with the fun and excitement at [info]ayb2's graduation party. (Go, Angie, w00t!!)

So... I probably won't post again until Monday, at the earliest. Have a great weekend!

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Weather, Tex, Photos

Someone check the weather forecast for Hell, because we've had two gloriously sunny days in a row here in Cleveland, with temperatures in the low-to-mid-50's. That by itself is absolutely delightful, but what's really astounding is that it was this nice on a weekend. The universe just isn't supposed to work like this!

After a couple minutes of laying in bed watching the world be sunny and nice outside, I realized that today would be the perfect day to put the last coat of paint onto the windows. I certainly didn't expect to be able to have the windows open all day until spring, so it was a real treat. And the feeling of accomplishment this evening when the blue tape came off was really quite nice. All that's left now are the muntin bars, which must still be primed and painted, but they'll be easy to take care of this week.

Between the window painting but prior to the masking tape ceremonies, we met up with [info]texodore at a coffee shop in North Olmsted. He and his wife are headed back to North Carolina tomorrow, so our schedules only barely overlapped. We had a great time getting caught up; safe journeys home, Jeff.

To wrap this up, how about a couple of photos from Christmas and my happy happy windows?

Andy, Lauren, and ShannyAndy, Lauren, and Shanahan (aka "Shanny")

The makings of a tasty holiday feast
The makings of a tasty holiday feast...

Shanny wants turkey too!
Shanny wants turkey too...

Posing with the monkeyAndy, Lauren, Shanny, and the sad, sad little chew-monkey pose in front of the tree

Free at last!Free (of blue tape) at last!

Liz removes blue tapeLiz gets into the act

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Had a nice, relaxing, mellow bit of a weekend. It's been cool, grey, and drizzly, which has really made the fall colors nice.

Friday, our new Pella windows were installed (no pictures yet, been too lazy). I need to sand, prime, and paint them, which will be more work than either of us wanted, but I really think the end result will be worth it. They already look and function so much better than the three windows we replaced.

Saturday was Heather and Bob's Lord of the Rings themed Halloween party. Jules made a most excellent Galadriel, complete with pointy ears and flowing blonde hair. She'd like to mention that all shall love her and despair, just in case you were curious. I threw on some old stuff from my SCA days, and Liz looked great in the borrowed dress. Heather was striking as Arwen in an amazing hand-made white dress, and she completed the look with the LotR fanclub's official Evenstar pendant, a pair of pointy ears, and dyed black hair. Impressive! She'd also whipped us up a feast of different tasty breads, which were labeled as various lesser-known varieties of lembas. We amused ourselves with a game of Lord of the Rings edition Monopoly, while we ran the extended DVD of Fellowship, muted to allow us to listen to the Two Towers soundtrack. Sadly, I forgot the camera, so I have no pictures of everyone in costume.

Surprisingly, I thoroughly whomped everyone's ass at Monopoly, something which I truly believe is a sign of the apocalypse. If it starts raining fire and brimstone, please accept my sincerest apologies; it's just how the game went. I spent most of the game thinking I was going to lose miserably, as I had relatively little property and was rolling poorly. Rather by luck, I suddenly found myself with all four of the horses (the LotR equivalent of the railroad spaces) and Barad Dur (Park Place). I thought as long as I was losing, I'd try to swindle Mount Doom (Boardwalk) from Heather, since she was getting pretty cash-poor. I didn't think she'd give it to me, but for some reason she did. I don't think she realized I had the other property. Then, everyone started landing on my horses, over and over again. Every time someone landed on a horse, that was another $200 that went straight into putting strongholds (houses) onto Mount Doom and Barad Dur. And then, once each space had four strongholds, people started to have the bad luck of landing on them, sometimes more than once. No one could pay, since they had all over-invested in property earlier but didn't have enough monopolies built to really generate much return on their investments. I, of course, was perfectly willing to take properties off their hands... I think it only took me about 10 minutes to own just about everything on the board. w00t! I am going to enjoy this win as much as possible, because it's nigh-guaranteed to never, ever happen again.

Today we drove out to Karla's new place to meet her new kitties, Jellybean and Butterscotch. They are soooooooooo cute, in the way that only teeny-tiny playful kittens can achieve. We had lunch at Cracker Barrel (ugh, that was regrettable) due to practically nothing good being open in Twinsburg before one o'clock. After lunch, we drove up to B&B; Appliances to scope out goodies for the new kitchen, and much forward progress was made on that project. (Yay!) Finally, we schlepped back to Westlake and bought a couple of pumpkins to carve. I'm trying to decide whether to do Star Wars carvings or Lord of the Rings... I was thinking it would be pretty cool to carve the inscription from the One Ring into the pumpkin, but I'm not sure how practical it would be. I wonder if someone has a template for that...

Liz is downstairs attending to dinner preparations (forty clove garlic chicken), so I'd best be moving along to assist if I know what's good for me.

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Things and Stuff

It's time for an update, since I haven't posted in a few days. Let's see...

Had a nice little early birthday party thing on Saturday night. There were twelve of us once everyone arrived -- Jim, [info]gieves, Mandy, Don, Liz's friend Talitha (or however she spells it),'s Julie (sort of like "TV's Julie", but oh so much more glamorous), Angie, Brent, H2 and her husband Bob, and (obviously) Liz and myself. We dined on various tasty munchies, including the infamous Rocky River "bar cheese", a gloopy cheese dip rich with horseradish. We had some nice bottles of wine, though not as many as we expected. A rousing game of Cranium. Good times were had by all!

We decided to have the party a week earlier than we otherwise would. This has totally confused my dear friend Cathe, from whom I received a guilt-ridden email about how awful she felt about missing my birthday, despite the fact that it's really not until next Monday. To clarify, we had wanted to have the party on the first of March, but we'll be out of town to attend my grandfather's funeral. And we can't postpone it until the eighth, since we'll be in Ann Arbor to see the RSC. So one week early is better than two or three weeks late, in my opinion!

Gift highlights, if you must know, include the Lego Imperial Star Destroyer -- at 3100 pieces, the largest Lego set ever released -- thanks mom-in-law Anne! -- and a replica of the One Ring from H2, to caress during meetings and publicly call "my precioussssss...". I can't wait!

We finally got around to setting up our Frigits on Friday night. They are the ultimate cat toy. Set just one marble going, and the cat is upstairs and watching attentively in seconds. I'll post some pictures sometime. :-)

Sunday, I thought I'd go out and take advantage of Triple Points Weekend at Suncoast, and maybe do some errands. But what looked like "just an inch" of snow on our driveway turned out to be six inches (more in some places). I am a pretty miserable judge of snow depth from the inside of the house. Once we dug out from the snow, we went out to the mall, where the selection at Suncoast totally sucked, and I got all disappointed and cranky. At that point, we forgot about the other errands we had been planning and promptly went back home to ignore the outside world. This allowed us to munch on leftovers and catch up on Futurama, Batman Beyond, and so forth. Liz bid on (and won!) an auction for a Chilly Willy model cel. And I finally got around to seeing Heavenly Creatures, which I'd TiVo'd earlier in the week. What a charming, beautiful, and downright odd little movie! I had no idea what to expect from it, and was amused, frightened, shocked, and touched by it. Highly recommended.

What else? Hmm.

It was clear and warm on Thursday and Friday. I delighted in being able to drive my shiny, clean car to work on Friday morning. By midday, the clouds had come back, and Saturday was entirely rainy, so much so that nearly all of the snow melted. Then, as I alluded to above, we got slammed with snow in the wee hours of Sunday, with another round of snow today, just in time to make the morning drive miserable. Why haven't I moved somewhere warm yet?

This week I need to get my driver's license renewed (it expires on Monday!), and I need to buy a green shirt for Saturday. Since Grandpa was red/green colorblind, the family has decided to wear reds and greens to the grave. (The completely unsubstantiated and unscientific but delightfully sentimental theory being that he couldn't see those colors in this life, but can finally appreciate them...)

Oh, I remember now!

The guy who used to own,, and has let them expire, so I bought them today, as I should have years ago. Hopefully I will put them to better use than he did -- which shouldn't be hard, because he'd just left them pointed to stupid domain parking pages for the past three years or so. I feel an urge to get out my Daffy Duck voice and shout, "Mine mine mine! Down down down! Mine mine mine!"

And in conclusion, I would like to say that I totally need one of these.

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