Helicopter Ride 1

Every year for the 4th of July, Cedar Rapids puts on this huge festival to celebrate. It starts up in mid-June and goes through the 4th. For the past several years, Ariesna and I have bought buttons for the festival1 but have missed most of the festival. Given that we live in Cedar Rapids now, we’ve been making an effort to actually attend some of the events. This morning we got up at 7 AM2, hopped into the car and drove out to the Marion Airport. The airport was hosting a Fly-In/Drive-In breakfast, offering airplane/helicopter rides and had numerous planes for spectators to look at. Ariesna & I decided to go for a helicopter ride which was … quite the experience. First off, here’s a few rules/tips for any other first-time flyers to keep in mind when going to one of these sort of things:

  • Wear blue jeans or at least some kind of pants. Standing near the landing area for the helicopter gets rather chilly with the chop from the spinning blades.
  • Tuck your shirt in so it doesn’t blow up around you.
  • Wear shoes, not sandals. Makes it easier walking through the grass over to where the helicopter was landing/taking off.
  • Leave your hat in the car. The chop from the helicopter is strong enough to blow it off your head.
  • Leave your purse/bag in the car. There’s very limited space in a helicopter, and you don’t want it to:
    • bonk the controls with a heavy bag while the pilot is trying to do his thing.
    • watch your purse/bag go sliding out the helicopter to fall way, way, way down to the ground.

Just a few thoughts you should consider. Anyway, back to the story. Ariesna was feeling very nervous about the flight while we were waiting in line but doing her best to stay calm. Then when we were 3rd in line, the people in front of us asked to switch places with us as there were only 2 helicopters in service for the rides and they wanted to chat with the pilot of the one we would have ridden on. We immediately took them up on their offer and then had a pleasant chat with them while they waited. It turned out they’ve been coming to this Fly-In/Drive-In for the past 3 years and look forward to flying with one particular pilot every year. They also reassured Ariesna about the flight and got her calmed down nicely. Then before we knew it, it was our turn. The helicopter had room for 3 pilot (1 pilot & 2 passengers). Ariesna climbed into the center of the aircraft while I got the “window seat”. I put that in quotes because the side of the helicopter was totally open. No windows, no doors just a big, big hole you climbed in/out of3. Once we were strapped in and put on our headphones, I realized I had something of a problem. Either the cord on my headphones was very short, caught on something or I was sitting on it but I had no leeway with it. I couldn’t sit up or even really hunch over while wearing the headphones. I ended up, slightly hunched with the headphones partly askew. The lift-off made me think of a bumpy roller coaster and then we were in the air over a corn field. It was also around that time I realized I was definitely going to have problems with this ride. See, I tend to get vertigo but only in a certain range of heights. Under roughly 10-12 feet and flying in an airplane up above the clouds, I’m fine. However for certain distances between there, heights can give me the willies. I tend to think of it as the range between small hurts and certain death. The helicopter flew at just the perfect height to trigger my feelings of vertigo. Wheeee! Now add in the lack of a door on the helicopter, being strapped in with a single lap belt and my side of the aircraft being the one which dropped down on every turn; and you’ll understand why I only took 2 photos during our flight. Spending the rest of it with one hand clamped to the side of the helicopter and the other locked onto my wife’s hand. Naturally, she thought this was hilarous once we landed.

*sigh* No respect, no respect at all.

Then we walked around looking at the planes setup for show, snapping a couple of pics4. When I later review the pics, it turned out most were over-exposed, so I’ll have to edit them in GIMP before posting the rest. Finally, we decided to get some breakfast. Only the line at the airport’s breakfast was long and the food looked unappealing. So we drove off to Village Inn, had an entirely too big of a breakfast complete with coffee and pie. Mmmm, pie. Good times, good times.

1 The buttons get you into some events for free or at a reduced rate.
2 *ugh* On the weekend, we strongly prefer to lounge about till late in the morning.
3 There were obvious mounting points for a door, so I’m guessing they removed the door to make it easier to get people in/out for these rides.
4 Which I have posted to a Fly-In/Drive-In set on my Flickr account.

Unlike the majority of Amercians, I did not head back to the office after the Memorial day weekend. Well, not back to my office anyways. Instead, I whipped out my interview suit1 and went to a job interview. It was a really good thing that I left early to get there as I got slightly lost. I stopped at a coffee shop and got directions. Yes ladies, men can and will ask for directions when we know we’re lost2.

After getting the directions sorted out (I missed overshot the street I needed to turn onto by 1 block), I arrived at the company’s office3. The building looked surprisingly new, though it was a bit warm inside. Though that could have been a combination of me being nervous and me having “suited up”. I had to fill out some paperwork (boilerplate HR background check authorization forms) and then waited a bit for my interview. Shortly, my interviewer showed up and took me back to his office. We went over my resume a bit, though it turned out his copy of my resume was missing the information about me being a UofI graduate. Fortunately, I had prepared for that eventuality by having multiple copies of my most current and most generic4 and I gave one of these copies to him. We discussed what sorts of things I do for my current employer, what I did during my college days and so forth.

But we also got off topic several times dicussing a variety of side issues: my Japan trip, Mindbridge, working for companies who close their local offices, being a non-traditional college student and so on. While I do not have an overbudence of interviews under my belt; this one felt like it went extremely well. I really felt like I made a connection with the interviewer5. As it turns out, the company is looking for 1 person for their computer operations department and 1 for their data warehouse. According the interviewer, the operations position is a bit lower than what I’m really looking for in a starting salary but he thinks I could be a good fit for the other position as well. He went on to say the company really needs to get these positions filled quickly before their busy season hits and I should hear something back in a couple of weeks.

Since the interview went so well and the only reason I was on time for it was the helpful coffee shop; I went back to have myself a little snack6. The shop is called the “Coffee Talk Cafe”. When I got there after my interview, the only people in it were the staff. The lady behind the counter was very friendly and we chatted for a bit. She wished me all kinds of good luck on my interview, while she rang me up. I got a toffee nut latte and a orange/pineapple muffin. I ate in the shop and so they nuked up the muffin, putting a little butter on top. It was divine. Yum, yum. *smile* It took them a little bit to make the latte and when the lady brought it over we chatted a bit more. Apparently, I resemble the lady’s brother and in my suit look very “professor-ish”. I left a little bit after that and am now home chilling out. I’ll br browsing the online want ads in a little bit (looking for other nibbles) but right now I feel really good about today and the interview I had.

1 Okay, it’s really my only suit.
2 We just don’t think we’re as lost as you think we do.
3 Per my long standing habit, I will not be discussing who they were.
4 Given time and available brainpower, I prefer to customize my resume for the company & job I am applying for.
5 Did I mention this person is also the hiring manager? Oh well if I hadn’t yet; I have now.
6 To be prefectly honest, this was my breakfast. I was feeling too nervous prior to the interview to want to eat anything.

Chocolate Brunch Waffles


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup NESTLE® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Toppings (whipped cream, chocolate shavings, sifted powdered sugar, fresh fruit, ice cream)


  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl.
  2. Microwave morsels and butter in medium, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100 percent) power for 1 minute; stir.
  3. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth.
  4. Cool to room temperature. Stir in milk, eggs and vanilla extract.
  5. Add chocolate mixture to flour mixture; stir (batter will be thick).
  6. Cook in Belgian waffle maker* according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve warm with your choice of toppings.

[Editor’s Note:] As a child one of my favorite things to have for breakfast was waffles. Unfortunately, we didn’t own a waffle iron so I almost never got to have them. Ariesna and I have had a waffle iron for a while now but our attempts at making waffles have been… less than entirely successful. We had been buying those box mixes at the store but the waffles made from them always sat like lead in our stomachs. Yesterday, we were talking about trying to make waffles again. Since I’ve had such good luck with AllRecipes.com; I went to their site to search for waffle recipes and found bunches of them. I copied several into an email and forwarded them to Ariesna. This morning she went through them and decided to make these Chocolate Brunch Waffles. They turned out scrumptious. Though I do have a couple of caveats about this recipe.

  • Be very careful not to overcook them or they come out crunchy.
  • The recipe makes a great many of the waffles. Come hungry or have something you can freeze them in.
  • While very tasty, these waffles are still have something of a bread-like texture and aren’t as light/fluffy as the ideal waffle should be.

*blech* I hate being sick. Sure, it’s paid time off from work (121.5 hours of sick time remaining) but I’d rather be feeling good and taking vacation time. I am mostly over the bug I’d caught, but still feeling a bit congested. That being the case, I’m skipping coffee today in favor of hot tea1. This being Wednesday, my preference for tea caused a bit of confusion.

Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Buttercup is marry’ Humperdinck in a little less than half an hour. And every Wednesday, myself and a few co-workers head over to the Terrapin to get a cup of real coffee2. Almost without fail, I order a “Grand Canyon” which is 2 shots of espresso, steamed milk, a shot of dark chocolate syrup and a shot of mango syrup. *yum* When I got there today, I picked up their tea menu and Rob (one of the owners) ordered me to put it down. I explained about the congestion and he accepted it, but I wouldn’t say he was happy about it. Then I ordered their Chinese Breakfast tea, as the description sounded similar to the yunnan jig tea I’ve mentioned before. Hot caffeinated beverages acquired, we headed back to the office and I headed back to the mountain of email that had arrived while I’d been out. After clearing out that mess (most of it went straight to the trash), I started/continued testing a problem I’d been working on Friday. I’m still processing the data for that test now, but I’m also starting to wonder if I should have stayed home again.

Today, like Sunday, I woke up feeling better than the day before. The problem is like Sunday, I didn’t stay home. Sunday, Ariesna & I were invited to go to Niabi Zoo over in Illinois with some of her family. It was a fun day and I took quite a few pictures3 but by the end of the day, I was totally wiped out and realized I should have stayed home. Now I’m not wiped out (so far) but I do feel more tired than I should from just sitting at a desk, staring at a computer screen. Ah well, not much I can do about that now.

BTW, last night I upgraded Cath‘s site to the current version of WordPress. I was kind of annoyed at how long it took but then most of that time was taken up my crappy ftp client having problems deleting the files for the old version from the webserver. Mind you I was booted into Windows at the time4 which undoubtably was part of the problem. But I did eventually get it done and wouldn’t you know it looks nearly identical to what it did before. I’d call that a good sign for a seamless upgrade, but I’m waiting to hear back from her before I call it a success. So why the upgrade? In part to patch some old security holes and in part because all the new/interesting stuff for WP is happening on the newer versions. This way if she feels like going out and picking a different theme5; it should be trivial to install it.

Anyway, one of the reasons I was annoyed with the amount of time it took was last night also happened to be the season premier for NCIS. I’ve been a fan of this show for a while now, but season 2’s finale was murder. Quite literally, as they killed off one of the NCIS agents. I was very much looking forward to seeing where they’d take the show next, but with upgrading the site and some other things I didn’t get to watch the show as thoroughly as I would have liked. From what I did see, I’m not sure how enjoyable season 3 will be. I don’t care for the new characters they introduced into the NCIS office (Director Jenny Shepard and Agent Ziva David). The romatic background between Gibbs & Shepard could be an interesting subplot but they seem to be pushing it too hard in an episode which should be dealing more directly with the remaining NCIS agents working to find Kate’s killer. And then to make the episode a 2-parter leaving us on another cliff-hanger is distinctly annoying. *sigh* I guess we’ll have to wait and see if they can pull this up with next week’s episode.

1 Next to chicken noodle soup, hot tea works best for clearing up congestion and helping me feel better.
2 The first part of this paragraph is a quote from The Princess Bride. And when I say coffee, I mean flavored espresso.
3 I’ll see about posting some of them later. Incidentally, there was a classic car show being held on the zoo’s premises so don’t be surprised if you see more car than animals photos.
4 I had some work to do that required M$ Word, as OpenOffice Writer couldn’t properly edit the fancy formating in the document (originally created in M$ Word).
5 By perhaps looking through the themes in Alex King’s Theme Browser….

I had originally planned on attending a Pampered Chef party with my wife last Sunday. I had been thinking it would be some pleasant socializing over some tasty food with a bit of somebody trying to sell me some pricey kitchen stuff. That is to say a not entirely unpleasant to spend part of one’s afternoon. Instead about an hour before the party, our friend Bryon stopped by and mentioned that Bruce Campbell was in town giving a short talk and promotting his new book, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way.

I thought about it for a minute, but I knew there’d be more chances for Pampered Chef parties and I doubted I’d have any better chance of getting to see Mr. Campbell in person. So after a quick shower1, Bryon and I hopped into the car and drove into Iowa City. We got to the site about 40 minutes prior to the event began. We waited around and it turned out one of my co-workers was also there2. Then about 10 minutes before Mr. Campbell was scheduled to begin speaking; they opened one set of the doors into the auditorium and let everybody in. And naturally, it wasn’t the door we’d had been waiting at. *sigh*

Eventually, everybody was inside and mostly seated but then the organizers explained how the signing procedure was supposed to work and said the new book was for sale at the back of the auditorium. So we ended up giving up our fairly good seats to go get in another line. It took a while to get through the line, but it was good that we both went to the line as Laura3 showed up looking for us. Apparently, she decided the party wasn’t her cup of tea. While we were waiting in line; she kindly thanked me for “being so god-damn tall”.

There was a considerable amount of waiting in line to get the book, but eventually we all got our copies and headed back to find new seats (the good seats we’d had were long gone). A bit after that Mr. Campbell started taking questions. It turns out he’s a very charismatic speaker. There were a number of questions about him working with Sam Raimi, but the only one that really stuck in my mind was:

Questioner: When working on Spiderman, did you hang out with Tobey Maguire?
Bruce Campbell: Why would I?


After far too little time had passed, Mr. Campbell stopped taking questions and then made a short speech promoting B-movies as the only place that is still creative in Hollywood.

…getting bitten by a radioactive spider is a b-movie!

After the speech, they started having people come up to get their books signed. Bryon & I had relatively low numbers but when we were going up they weren’t actually checking peoples numbers. Eventually I got up there and had Mr. Campbell sign my book; but I felt like a complete twit, the entire time I was there. I mean I have enjoyed all of his movies that I’ve seen and what I read of the book while I was in line was very amusing but I didn’t really have anything to say to him. He was very polite to me, but it was a rather uncomfortable moment for me. Signed memorabilia is nice to have I suppose, but it doesn’t do much for me. To tell the truth, I’m not entirely sure why I went up to have him sign the book. Other than I’d waited in line to get the sticker saying I could do so. *shrug* Life, go figure.

After that, we took off and headed off to meet up with some other friends for some RPGing. When we got there they were still finishing up with the Pampered Chef party and I got to munch down some of the leftovers4. Then it was game time and afterwards off to Old Chicago for dinner. All in all, a very pleasant Sunday. 🙂

1 Bryon arrived before we were expecting anybody. And yes, I’m extra-specially lazy on the weekend; so if I’m not expecting company I will hang around the apartment without getting myself up and ready for the day.
2 That would be Quincy for those that are curious.
3 Another friend of ours. One who was supposed to be at the Pampered Chef party.
4 Ah, breakfast at 3pm….