Sunday, November 07, 2004

Weekend Recap

Whew! Tiring weekend. Good visiting though.

If you came here looking for insightful commentary regarding current events, check in tomorrow. Tonight we’re doing a weekend travel recap. But I’m tired, so it will be a bit of a ramble.

I did my best to help my beleaguered Big Red. But it was simply not enough. I won’t bore you with football analysis (that’s what the guy sitting next to me at the stadium was there to absorb). Suffice it to say, the new coaching staff isn’t gelling with the old players. It’s going to be another year or two before us die-hard fans can even begin to tell whether the new coach is a blessing or a curse. This year we just need to suffer through and hope for the best.

My kids got to see my brother and his family for the first time since 4th of July 2003. Their youngest child is about six months older than our eldest. Six kids between us so far. And I’m pretty sure they’re finished, though we’re not sure about us yet. Our kids all got along great, which is never a sure bet, but was a pleasure.

My mom and dad came over too, and they seemed to enjoy having so many grandkids around. They even brought along Great-Grandma Max. She hadn’t met our youngest yet, and was absolutely delighted. She’s 89, and though she has plenty of physical problems at her age, her mind is sharp as ever and her eyes sparkled as she watched her great-grandkids play.

The football experience was interesting. We had a mixed tailgate party – half Iowa State, half Nebraska fans. Everyone very amiable. Not being a regular tailgater, I had no idea how much such events prompt drinking so early in the day! I had three bloody-marys, and two beers before heading to the stadium for the 1pm kickoff. And I was no where near the drinking leader. My 36 year old brother even shotgunned a beer.

The weather was ideal. Central Iowa on November 6th, and the temperature was in the low 70’s. It was like a huge picnic as far as the eye could see. Brats, and burgers, and lots of snacky food at our tailgate. Similar fare all over a pretty decent amount of acreage outside the stadium. Late enough in the season that there were very few leaves left on the trees, but the weather was claiming it was mid-September, and we were in no mood to argue.

The Iowa State fans – never a football powerhouse – were very gracious hosts. They celebrated beating Nebraska like they had beat one of our national champion teams. Which is pretty far removed from reality, but we didn’t begrudge them. Other than a little good-natured ribbing, I didn’t see any behavior that suggested anything rude or mean about a single fan.

Probably due to relishing the weather as much as the win, we left nearly an hour and a half after the game ended, and most of the other cars were still hanging around partying.

It was a partying kind of weekend, for adults and kids. They were celebrating my nephew’s 5th birthday. So the kids got two kids parties, while the adults had parallel celebrations.

My brother also paid off our regular Vikings-Bears bet. When the Vikings win, he owes me a 6 pack of some local microbrew. When the Bears win, I owe him. The Vikings won the last one, so he got me a 6 pack of a Belgian-style white ale from Iowa City. Good stuff.

What’s more, my uncle Patrick, who lives in Half Moon Bay, California, left a special bottle of Merlot with my grandma for us (no, I’m not a huge Merlot fan, but my uncle is a fellow oenophile, and the Merlot he likes is uniformly outstanding. Last time I complained to him about Merlot, he popped open a bottle of Rombauer. Yum.). We had planned to head down a couple of weeks earlier to see him when he visited my grandma. But the kids all ended up getting their 297th (and counting) cold of the season, so we had to cancel. The opportunity of America's wide open spaces is wonderful. But in certain practical terms – like getting to see family who lives in California when you live in Minnesota – has disadvantages.

I'm such a wired person by habit at this point it was very strange to go back to newspaper and television land to see what was happening in the world. My God, does that feel slow, inexact, and shallow now. You see an inviting piece of news, and if the news reporter doesn't follow up the way you'd like you're just screwed. Nowhere else to go. I see the same piece of news online and I'm a Google click away from a couple dozen other perspectives on the same news item, and as much background detail on any particular facet as I care to pursue.

Note to the MSM - you're not just older, you're qualitatively inferior, even when you do your job well. Excellent marketing isn't enough to put things back to how they used to be.

In any case, I'm back. Catching up on the news is the task of the evening. But what I can see, I'm already getting peeved. More about that tomorrow.

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