the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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No Business Like Snow Business

You Don't Say
Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

March 1 was strangely mild; I laughed derisively when the weather lady declared that it was "coming in like a lamb" for once. Silly, silly woman. As a recent fortune cookie told me, "the lion, when hunting, does not roar." And that's what our small handful of balmy days were--that nice peaceful time before the lion pounces and tears you limb from limb.

So, after a Tuesday ice storm that had my car out of commission all day (plow didn't come before work, I got my car stuck in the ice and snow, and did some underbelly damage in its extraction, Liz was paying close enough attention that she was able to stock up on food and supplies before the whole state got socked on Friday. Her efforts made sure that once I was home from work on Friday, we could just hole up in the house and watch the snow come down, and down, and down down down, burying our yard and turning the neighborhood into an icy moonscape.

We entertained Claire. We had cocoa. I played a ton of Mass Effect. We watched a couple ski down the street. And still the snow kept falling, and falling.

Finally, on Sunday, the weather broke, our plow guy cleared out our driveway, and we emerged into the sunny day to explore the new world.

I shot a bunch of photos on Saturday and Sunday, including some great shots of Claire.

While I enjoyed having an excuse to wear my Jayne hat, I think it's safe to say we're all looking forward to spring.

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Saturday: Photo Progress, DVD Recap

I spent most of the day doing the first big pass through the photos from our trip to Washington, doing some color correction and putting a rating onto everything. The next step will be culling through the good stuff--of which there is a surprising amount!--to find the things worth uploading to share. I can tell I've really improved with the DSLR; I made a point of never taking it out of 100% manual mode for the trip, and more than ever I am getting what I consciously want from what I'm shooting. Although I'm perfectly willing to enjoy the happy accidents, or the tragically awful shots that become beautiful after radical post-production alteration.

As a side bonus, I've also been plowing though a bunch of the music that I'd ripped but not really gotten around to listening to. I finally picked up a copy of the Cranes latest disc, Particles and Waves, which for the past couple of years has been import-only or completely unavailable (and which now seems to finally have some stock in the US). It's mellow and quite enchanting, and I'm really digging it.

Meanwhile, Liz and I are fighting a desperate battle to get caught up on library DVD's... Last weekend we watched For Your Consideration (better than I had expected) and Stranger Than Fiction (quite good but definitely not a comedy, no matter what the trailers would have you believe).

Thursday we watched Children of Men, which (in my estimation) is possibly the best science fiction film in the last ten years, and easily the equal of Blade Runner and Twelve Monkeys. Michael Caine's performance (apparently inspired by John Lennon) was a particularly nice surprise, a ray of sunshine in an otherwise grim and gritty world. I was especially amazed by some of the very, very long shots--including a nine-minute shot during an ambush and chase early in the film, and a mind-blowing six-minute shot near the climax (this article discusses the VFX work involved; use BugMeNot to skirt the mandatory registration). It's a bit heavy, so it might be some time before I can rewatch it, but it's so richly detailed that I think I'll definitely have to see it again at some point.

Last night was This Film Is Not Yet Rated, an entertaining, infuriating, often-humorous, strongly biased, and somewhat ethically dubious documentary that attempts to penetrate the veil of the MPAA's super-secret and rather arbitrary movie ratings system.

Tonight's film was Curse of the Golden Flower, a stunningly beautiful (and rather melodramatic) family tragedy that unfolds in the early 900's within the Imperial Palace. Truly, this is a movie with everything: Swords! Poison! Rebellion! Incest! Revenge! Ninjas! Embroidery! Betrayal! Gong Li's boobs! Suicide! Horticulture! Moral ambiguity! Janitorial staff like nothing you've ever seen before! Good stuff.

Unfortunately, in between photos and movies today, Liz and I took a two-hour nap, and now it's almost 0200 (again) and I'm wide, wide awake. I always have a terrible time readjusting to Eastern time after being out west, but this is really starting to hurt...

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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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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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Catching Up

Had a nice chance to take a deep breath this weekend and get caught up on some stuff around the house, mostly chores like raking and cleaning that slide all too easily when life is crazy.

But I also managed to start getting traction on rating, sorting, tagging, and uploading photos from our increasingly less-recent trip to California. I've now uploaded probably close to two-thirds of the photos from the week. Notable stops on the trip (previously documented or otherwise) include:

Drinking sake with Josh

Punching down at Tres Sabores

Forgetting about everything except being on vacation

Making new friends

Helping with crush (no, I did not get to drive the forklift, just take pictures)

Looking out at the ocean from our room at the Albion River Inn

Lunch at Navarro in Anderson Valley

A perfect rose

A stop at Dimmick Park, reminiscent of visiting a cathedral

...with many, many more over at my Flickr photostream.

Hopefully I'll have time this week to upload the remainder: photos from Mendocino, a glorious sunset over the ocean in Albion, wineries in Sonoma, and Don and Kai's wedding.

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Lazy Anniversary Weekend

Dear reality,

Sod off. We've quite enjoyed ignoring you this weekend.

Friday: Infinity, bubbles, cheese, and "Galactica".

Saturday: Sleep, wine tasting, the tasting menu at Nemo.

Sunday: Stayed in bed all day, sleeping, watching movies, sleeping, catching up on Cerebus and Flight, leftover Indian food in our PJ's, snuggling by the fire and listening to this week's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me".

Hardly glamorous, but perfect in its own way, and exactly what we needed.

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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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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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