Evel Knievel Days: Day One

Today, Kaleb, Timothy, and I checked out the Evel Knievel days festival in uptown Butte. It’s a pretty cool event because there is a ton of free entertainment. Traveling acts come from all around the country to perform at Evel Knievel days, and during the evenings a group of professional freestyle dirtbike riders get together and perform insane stunts. Today was the first day of the festivities, and most of the main attractions were scheduled for the weekend. We checked out some of the street vendors and watched the freestyle riders practice for part of the afternoon, then left and checked out some other places in Butte. Here’s a few of the pictures I snapped while we were uptown.

Sketchy-looking alleys make the best shortcuts.


We drove around Harrison Avenue and stopped by a couple of random stores. We stopped by the local Sears to see how ridiculously tiny it was in person (it really was ridiculously tiny). We also checked out the local GameStop, Play ‘N’ Trade, and a used bookstore. The bookstore was awesome. I almost bought a college textbook on Microbiology, but I decided to buy a few other books on writing and photography. Out of the three books I bought, I think The Associated Press Stylebook will be especially useful later on.

Today was pretty awesome. I can’t wait to read my new books, so I’m going to start that now. New posts tomorrow. Keep commenting!

– Will

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P.S. I haven’t been able to post blogs on the same day for the past few days because of time issues with this vacation, but posts should resume daily updating on Saturday, July 24th.

Fifteen-minute Fisherman. Full-time Photographer.

Today we went fishing at Storm Lake. The drive to the lake was long and bumpy, and my uncle’s rental crossover barely made it up the hill. After finally reaching the lake, we discussed whether or not the drive down would be better or worse. We were also talking about how it would have been much easier to take a truck, and how my earlier suggestion of taking the Focus to the lake would have been impossible when an old man in a Geo Metro appeared at the top of the hill. Ah, how I love irony…

The lake was beautiful. The raw reflection of the overcast sky, the tall green trees, and the sharp mountain background on the water made a natural masterpiece. Capturing this natural masterpiece proved difficult at first due to an interesting lighting situation, but I was able to take several nice shots. Below is a panorama of the lake.

After taking a few pictures of the lake, I grabbed a fishing pole and made a couple of casts. After fifteen minutes without any bites (during this time I tried at two different spots), I gave up fishing and decided to explore the lake’s trails for more scenes to photograph. I brought my nice camera and the small blue point-and-shoot. Unfortunately, the blue camera is no longer usable. I set my camera on the floor near my seat when someone moved the seat forward and crushed the top of the bag. Now, the LCD screen on the blue camera is completely messed up and cracked. I’m pretty bummed about it because I really liked that camera. It can still take pictures, but you can see what you’re taking a picture of because the screen is cracked. On the bright side, my good camera suffered no injury and the blue camera only cost around $20. I’m still pretty depressed that it’s broken though, especially because it was such a good camera for a cheap price. Hopefully I’ll find another good camera like it soon… (Here are some other pictures I took when we were down at the lake.)

When we were walking around the lake, I found a nice stump with some interesting moss-stuff on it. I was snapping some shots of the cool looking stump when the sky opened up and rain fell in a torrential downpour. We ran back to the car and waited until the rain stopped. It rained intermittently throughout the day, and it got progressively worse as the day dragged on. We continued to explore the lake’s trails between the  heavy rains, killing time until the evening. I decided to go down the hill in the truck instead of the rental, and the experience was much better. When we got home, we munched on snacks and watched a George Lopez marathon on Nick@Nite. Life goes on…

I’m going to get some sleep now. It’s been a long day…

– Will

The Drive.

Initially, I planned to leave for Butte at 6 or 7 in the morning. After staying up until 1:00 A.M. packing, I decided to delay leaving until later in the morning. I ended up leaving the house at around 9:45 A.M. Aside from encountering a few idiots on the road and some annoying construction zones (nothing like going 25 mph on the highway for six miles), the drive to Butte was uneventful.

After arriving in Butte, my cousins and I spent some time at my grandma’s playing video games and watching TV. This got quite boring after a few hours, so we decided to make a random Wal*Mart run. My grandma asked us to pick up a few groceries while we were there. We probably looked really weird pushing around a cart filled with bread, cheese, fabric softener, motor oil, an oil filter, windshield wiper fluid, digi-camo duct tape, a surge protector, no-show socks and a lime-green flash drive, but we didn’t really care. We were just glad to get out of the house.

Now, we’re sitting around in the living room watching a Family Matters marathon on Nick@Nite. Today was pretty uneventful, and kind of exhausting. More blogging goodness tomorrow.

– Will

Packing Fail.

It’s 11:16 P.M. at OP13 studios and I’ve just hit a roadblock in the late-night packing process–  my suitcase isn’t big enough to hold all of my stuff.

I guess that isn’t something that I shouldn’t have expected (it’s carry-on sized at a whopping 21″) but it is a bit of a disappointment. Now I have to make a decision to either find a bigger suitcase or pack some stuff in the suitcase and other stuff in my backpack. I think I’m going to run downstairs and see if there’s a larger suitcase down there… I’ll be right back.

(A few moments later…)

OK, so I did manage to find larger luggage. Now I have to choose between a super huge suitcase (this thing is a beast) or a duffel bag. The duffel bag doesn’t seem that much larger then my suitcase, so I may have to go with the gargantuan baggage. Let’s see if my stuff will fit… Nope, it’s not going to fit in the duffel. It looks like I’m bringing along Godzilla suitcase. Everything fits nicely in the big suitcase, but I feel like its way too big. People will be asking me which pocket the kitchen sink is in.

To give you an idea of exactly what is inside the suitcase, here’s a short list (remember that I’m going on a five-day trip):

* Five “Day” Shirts (aka shirts I would wear in public)

* Four PJ/whatever shirts and two pairs pajama pants and two pairs of shorts.

* Three pairs of jeans and three pairs of shorts.

* One swimming suit.

… and eight pairs of socks and nine pairs of underwear.

So that’s it. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it takes up a lot of space. The main space hogs are my jeans and my PJ pants. Butte has crazy weather, so both are necessities. Even if it is July, I don’t want to be stuck in shorts when it’s 50 degrees outside. I’m also going to bring a hoodie.

My backpack is an entirely different affair. Everything fits inside of it perfectly. I’m bringing a lot of electronics (my laptop, my netbook, my iPod Touch, my Snowball Mic, a stack of blank CDs, an external CD drive… and some other stuff.

I really need to finish packing now though so I can get a good night’s sleep for tomorrow’s drive. I’ll add an update after I finish.

– Will

Prep. Photograph. Pause.

When it comes to any type of preparation, I am either over-prepared or completely unprepared. Knowing this about myself, I have planned out the items I need/want for Tuesday’s excursion a few weeks in advance. I’m also beginning to purchase some of the stuff I want for my dorm room now. Today, I bought a small, black Kenmore coffeemaker. I contemplated buying a larger coffeemaker for a little more money, but I remembered that space is going to be very limited in the dorms. I don’t think I’ll ever need or want to brew more then the five cups of coffee at once anyway, so the larger capacity isn’t necessary. A random bonus to buying the coffeemaker a year early is being able to make coffee in my bedroom. I don’t think I ever will after tonight, but who knows.

Coffee. Cameras. Click.

This cup makes me laugh every time I see it.

The coffeemaker will also coordinate with the toaster I want, so I guess that’s cool. Heaven forbid if my small appliances don’t coordinate… Hell would break loose.

As I uploaded those pictures, I came across a few pictures I’ve been meaning to upload for a while now. I took a few pictures of my laptop and how my netbook compares in size to my new laptop. Check ’em out:

I think my netbook is just a wee bit smaller, but the laptop’s power and OS makes up for it’s bulkier size.

I also made a roadtrip mix CD for the trip on Tuesday. Here’s a picture of the “art” I doodled onto the CD:

I’m wiped. Work was exhausting, but not productive. One more day until freedom. Good night.

– Will

On the Road Again…

Yesterday, I drove the car for three-hours straight over 212 miles of Interstate-90. Today, I drove the same trip backwards. Six hours of driving, 400+ miles of highway, and countless obscenities over two days. Motivation (“energy”) to drive to Butte from Billings after a long-shift came from a wicked combo of fruit-punch Powerade and Monster M-80. On the drive back, I mixed things up with an 8.4 oz. can of Red Bull in lieu of the Monster M-80 (driving on minute sleep required more caffeine). The chairs in the car felt comfortable yesterday, but today they seemed incredibly uncomfortable. My legs were incredibly cramped and stiff by the end of today’s trip, whereas yesterday I didn’t feel any cramps at all.

I’m going to drive the same trip again in two days. Alone.

Driving for that long, without any company, is going to be intense. I’m excited to go, but I am also a little apprehensive. I don’t want to get bored on the way up, so I’m making mix CDs. I don’t want to get hungry either, so I’m buying some good snacks for the road. I don’t want to fall asleep at the wheel, so I’m going to get a good night’s sleep the day before and drink some coffee on the way up. I don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere if the car were to break down (very unlikely), so I’m thinking about bringing some tools along with me. I’m also going to change the oil in the car and check the tire pressure. I might buy a car charger for my phone too…

I have a lot of stuff to do in a short amount of time. I work from noon to nine tomorrow, and then noon ’til eight on Monday. I’ll have to buy most of the stuff I need in the morning on Monday, and maybe make a quick run to the store after work. I want to have everything ready on Monday night so I can leave early on Tuesday morning.

After just completing the drive today, thinking about doing it again seems daunting. A few days of rest from the highway will hopefully make the trip more enjoyable on Tuesday. I’m still excited to hang out with my cousins and check out Evel Knievel days though, so the trip will definitely be worth it.

I’m going to sleep now. It’s nice to be back in my own bed after sleeping on the couch…

– Will

The Next Time You Buy Socks…

The next time you find yourself buying socks from a major retailer, notice the way the socks are arranged. Notice the little tags behind the socks. See how the socks are neatly organized with each style of sock placed in a specific area. Count how many hooks are sticking out from the shelf in front of you. Count the socks too, if you’re so inclined. Then take a step back.

Somebody went to all the effort to put every single sock on those hooks. Someone put all of those hooks on that shelf. Somebody placed each of those tags behind the socks on the hook, and they also printed out the little pieces of paper for those tags. They also placed each individual sock in its correct location, carefully noting where each style goes. They followed a planogram to place each sock where it belongs, and they spent serious time placing every single hook, sock, and sticker on that stupid shelf. Remember that the next time you go sock shopping and feel tempted to completely destroy the sock section.

I had to complete another sock POG today. Actually, I completed two and a half sock POGs today. I finished the planogram I started last time, then I shifted an old one to a new section, and then I started and finished a new one. I was supposed to complete four sock planograms today in six hours. I was originally scheduled to complete five POGs in two hours, but because I never finished them the last time, I had to play catch up. Corporate expectations for associates to complete all of these tasks are insane. Each planogram takes at least an hour to complete, and that’s if the associate working on the task is uninterrupted  in their work and they don’t have any equipment issues (the handheld “workstation” dies, the printer battery dies, the handheld won’t connect to the store’s network, the printer runs out of paper, the planogram is messed up, etc.).

I guess I don’t really care about all that right now. I’m 200+ miles away from work, I have tomorrow off from work, and in three days I’m going on a five-day vacation. They only have two more days to torture me before I leave.

…assuming that they approved my vacation request…

I really hope they did. I put my request in more than two weeks in advance (two weeks advance notice is the minimum requirement for requesting time off) and I’ve been looking forward to this trip for about a month now. My cousins are also excited for me to visit them.

And yet, I’m already in Butte. I had to drive in today for the funeral tomorrow, and then we’re driving home tomorrow. A few days later, I’m driving back. That’s a lot of time on the road in a very short period of time. I should have a nice trucker’s gut by the time my vacation is over. 😛 Right now, I’m sitting on my grandpa’s couch, listening to my dad and my grandpa talk. I should probably rejoin the conversation.

Keep reading, commenting, and spreading the word! 😀

– Will

Swimming, Sunburns, Music, and “The Good News”

Public swimming pools are an interesting affair. At different times of the day, the average age of the pool population changes. Around noon, mostly little kids are swimming. In the late afternoon, mostly teenagers and adults are swimming. With this change in age, so changes the average speed of the swimming population. Little kids swim incredibly slow whereas most teenagers swim at a decent pace. I understand that little kids have smaller bodies and less muscle, but I tire quickly waiting several minutes for little kids to swim from the diving board to the ladder. A new rule should be suggested that would be similar to this: If you can’t make it to the ladder in thirty seconds or less after your dive, you are not allowed to jump unless there is three or less people in line at a single diving board. Extreme? Perhaps. But it solves the waiting problem for the rest of us.

Another fun thing to do when swimming at a public pool is to forget to apply sunscreen. Nothing reminds you that it’s summer in the northern hemisphere like a nice sun-burned back. And you know that ladies love red necks and shoulders with a farmer’s tan, because there is simply no other way to explain why they always giggle when you walk by with that damaged skin combo.

Kelci joined me on my adventure to the swimming pool today. After a few hours of roasting, we decided to bail and go to Hastings. After a few moments of digging through the dollar CD section, we both picked some interesting looking CDs. I think I got my dollar’s worth of good music from my selection; I’m not sure how well Kelci’s picks turned out yet. We exchanged some epic mix CDs before the adventure began, so either way we both ended up with good music at the end of the trip.

After the swimming and music trip, I went home. I was having a brief discussion with my mother about college when my dad came home. He had an interesting look on his face. It was almost sad, but also surprised. My great-aunt died a few days ago, and he just found out today. I never really got to meet her, but she gave me a nice gift for my confirmation a few years back. The few times I did meet her she seemed to be a very nice person, and I’m sad to see another family member pass away before I’ve truly been able to know them. Life goes on however, and it looks like I’m going to Butte on Saturday for her funeral. It’s supposedly also going to be a “test run” for my trip to Butte on Tuesday.

I don’t think Tuesday’s drive is going to be exciting now that I’m driving up a few days beforehand, but I guess driving alone will be a different experience then driving with my dad. It kind of casts a cloud over the trip, but I’m sure everything will still be fine. Evel Knievel days will be going on during my stay, so I’ll still be able to check out the dirt bike tricks and free-energy drink samples.

Now you’re probably wondering where the “good news” is at. Well, it’s a brief description of my attempt to share “the good news” with a friend of mine. We were talking about random things when we got into a bit of a debate with religion and then all of sudden I was talking about how this person should reconsider their views. I’m not sure where it came from, but I felt the urge to try to get this person to give religion another chance. It’s a bit odd, considering I haven’t been to mass in a while, but it was like a reawakening. I feel a sudden invigoration to pick up a Bible and read. I also have a strong desire to go to church.

Random note: I get paid tomorrow! Yay! 😀 The poor streak is over. I can’t wait to spend money again. I’m going to go to bed now so that I can wake up early and buy stuff (haha).

– Will

P.S. I have to send a shout out to my cousin Timothy– it’s his birthday. Happy Birthday cuz! See you soon.

Retail Training for Seven Hours + Split Shift= FML & $$$

You’ve never really lived until you’ve gone through seven hours of Sears Softlines MCA training. From corrupted PowerPoint files to 80 page pamphlets that tell you how to do your job correctly, it’s an event that could easily thrill hardcore adrenaline junkies. Inspecting the sales floor, changing the men’s department, and carrying ladders and tall polls are just a few of the activities you’ll participate in. Sounds fun, eh?

If you thought that was fun, start the whole seven hour event at 7 in the morning. Go home at 2 in the afternoon, rest for a few hours, and then come back to work at 5 and work until close.

I really hate split shifts. I would rather just work the entire ten hours all at once then split it into two separate shifts. I easily went through a gallon and a half of gas  just driving back and forth between my house and work.

To show my appreciation for split shifts, I made a random wardrobe change during the three hour break. I changed from my usual uniform to this:

Split shifts make me want to kick babies and verbally abuse the elderly.

Why did I randomly decide to wear vest, tie, and a nice dress shirt to work instead of the usual polo? I don’t know. I was hoping it would disguise my disdain for working the split shift.

So that’s it. I went to work and learned how to do my job “correctly”. Life goes on. I’m going swimming tomorrow, so I need to get to sleep at a decent time.

Thanks for reading, and leave your comments, suggestions, etc. below. 😉

– Will

Letters to Nobody

I would like to take a moment and speak directly to a few people who I used to be close to, but for whatever reason we had a falling out or simply lost contact. I won’t name them individually, but I believe they’ll know who I’m talking to if they ever stumble upon this blog… (Each individual paragraph is meant for a different person.)

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We had a lot of good times together, didn’t we? The weekends we shared for six months were amazing. I’ll never forget our epic adventures, or the accompanying mix playlists. I don’t hold any grudges about what happened, just a lingering curiosity as to why it ended like it did. I guess we both knew at one point that it was doomed to end… The conversations stopped, things grew increasingly awkward, and stress from the outside made it all fall down like a tower of playing cards. I still think we can be friends and not just mere acquaintances stuck in a limbo of awkward-casualties. I’ll always remember us getting kicked out of the Crowne Plaza by that weird guy in a purple shirt…

Oh, the lists. The glorious lists. There are two lists, to be exact: The list of best friend requirements and “The List”, a list of things I have to do to make up for missing an important event. And the nicknames. 98 degrees is probably the oddest nickname I’ve been given, and that’s probably why I had to wear a bag over my head to keep the FCC from getting all up in my grill. (haha) I’ve attempted to patch things up between us in the past, but nothing panned out. I know you probably would be happy to leave things the way they are, and that’s fine, I just want to know why it ended. It was abrupt and it seemed to come out of nowhere. I would like to patch things up eventually, but I’m also willing to accept that things will never be the same again. I’ll keep scrounging eBay for yellow power ranger pencils in the meantime…

Dude! What happened? We used to hang out all the time. Remember the stupid videos we used to make on Josh’s phone? Or the video we made where Josh threw his phone at your wall? Those were some good times. Failing epically to make the soccer team freshman year was a buzzkill, but it was still fun to play soccer and run in the mornings during that summer. We seem to be going in different directions in the future, but we still need to stay in touch. Maybe one day we’ll get a band together…

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So that’s it. I don’t know why I felt the need to do that, but after the events of today it seemed necessary. Speaking of today’s events, I had the day off from work. Aside from getting my hair cut, nothing major really went down (lack of money= lack of stuff to do). Anyway, I gotta get some sleep now so I can get up early for work tomorrow. Check back tomorrow for more blog goodness.

– Will