Tuesday, May 19

Ask and You Shall Receive

So things have been going pretty good for me recently, just wanted to share my cornucopia of blessings.

Last weekend, and the one before, I had the distinct pleasure of using Dave's grill. I have not really been able to grill much in a safe environment for tasting, but I've been really excited about the flavors that you can bring out with a grill and an open flame. Two weeks ago, I made about a billion barbecued chicken breasts, with a monstrous side of potatoes and onions and colored bell peppers, also done on the grill, while inside Mindy and Julie helped me to prepare pork pot-stickers (which as it turns out Mindy and Joshe love… ask them). So I seemed to have not messed that up too bad, as everyone seemed to enjoy it.

So I decided to try a little more adventuring on the grill this last Saturday. I made six Hawaiian chickens (teriyaki chicken with grilled pineapples like I love at Logan's). Also, six more with a super secret ingredient which I cannot yet divulge. I also grilled half inch slabs of red onions marinated in the Hawaiian chicken marinade, and super yummy bushels of asparagus. If that wasn't enough, I boiled corn on the cob and finished it on the grill. I learned a lot from this experience, not the least of which is that gazillions of asparagus are hard to keep from falling down through vertical grates when you have so many to watch. Also, the Harding's on 9th street, however friendly a market, is not a good place to shop for meat or produce.

Wrapping up, I had a lot of fun, and I was very thankful to Dave for sharing his grill and utensils with me, and I can't wait to grill more. I actually told him that I was thinking that I might need to go out and grab a little charcoal grill to leave in my garage for grilling on weekends. I told him though that I'm going to have to wait because I'm trying to not buy anything that I don't absolutely need for one year. Of course, a few things that I will not be surrendering are good food, golfing, and Griffin's tickets. Things I will be giving up or severely cutting back on computer parts, dvds ([cry] Quantum of Solace), eating out at lunch, extravagent purses, and everything that Mindy likes. In the words of Lord __________ (a movie villian), "That is a sacrifice that I am willing to make."

As always, please comment with either the name to fill in the blank or another quote from this movie, so others can keep playing.

Long story short, as is never true with me, I came home and found a sunbeam gas grill - big one - sitting next to the garbage, as someone had moved out that weekend. I haven't had a chance to see if it the propane delivery system works, but I can at least convert it to a charcoal grill if I wanted to. I was amazed at how my needs are provided for.

In addition to grilling, Mindy and I fell in love with our future wedding location. You should read all about it on her post about it. I would ask you to remember that we have not put any money down yet, so don't get too excited about the date which Mindy haphazardly posted therein. But the pictures really don't even do it justice, and I think Mindy's pictures are quite stunning. It just really blew us both away, but I'll let Min explain that to you.

Monday, May 11

In the spotlight

This past weekend Mindy and I ventured to Holland to watch our very first Tulip Time parade. We had of course both marched in it several times, but it was a cool experience being able to watch Eric in it for the first time.

Holland was a lot of fun, and the carnival food was to die for. Every cart seemed to have something more amazing than the last. When Mindy and I were sitting sharing an enormous elephant ear we witnessed a hilarious jumbo (footlong) corndog that looked like a penis. Mindy refused to photograph the event for you loyal readers, but you will have to use your imaginations and trust me that it was indeed hilarious.

As it turns out, we actually ended up in the background of the news. Some might think that it was the beautiful black baby in front of us that lured the Fox 17 interviewer to our location, but I would argue that it is the imperceptible yet powerful gravitation pull produced by my exceptionally large nose. Whichever the case it turns out that we were on the news, I'm the one in the faggy yellow windbreaker and the long trashy hair. Not only for those reasons, but I was super worried because after I had blown my nose in a completely hillbilly half paper towel, only then did I recognize the fact that a news camera had been there all along. So for the rest of the day I was worried that I would be blowing my retarded nose on the news. Excitedly, we waited for the NASCAR race to end (which was won by old-balls Mark Martin). Tulip Time and the adjoining Right to Life float banning was the lead story. You can see the result below. Notice how many times you think… "Well, Benn is certainly out of the woods now. There is no way they'll show him… No wait, I guess there was."

Anyways, thanks to all of you who slugged through my epically long last post. And especially to all of you who helped me with the questions I posed therein.

As a parting note, I was behind a jeep with an awesome license plate the day of my big post, but it slipped through the cracks until now. This was an Iraq Veteran plate, what's vanity read "H8SAND." (How do you like that Grandpa, I agree that we need to use the non-personal subordinating conjunction "what's").

Wednesday, May 6

In other news

In this post, like the local news, I will unapologetically jump from one topic to the next in most cases without even the faintest attempt at segue.

So, my lappy finally gave up the ghost. First it was the wireless card which fried, then the sound card, now I think the video card is fried as it fails to display anything on the screen even though it seems to turn on just fine. It also does not show up on the local network however, so I'm not sure but there may be other problems not as simple as just a video card. I have had the roughest time with that piece as it is only a few years old. I am planning on trying to plug it into an external monitor to see if I can fire it up long enough to extricate my precious data from the clutches of it's hard drive, but I assume the worst. Fortunately, I have backed up most of my data, like my pictures, and my music, and my old essays and such, but there were some things - notably my new blog design that I was working on from scratch - and an interactive wallpaper that I was hoping on debuting as my first tutorial on my new blog when it launched. But alas, I could have easily had worse luck.

However, that does provide me with a similarly difficult choice as to another I recently faced. I have been concerned about an exit strategy for returning the nissan 240 back to my uncle Tim who graciously has allowed me to borrow it for the past several years. I cannot explain what a blessing that has been to me to have (generally) reliable transportation through this time. Anyways, I've been growing increasingly concerned that I have been abusing his generosity and should get a plan for getting a new car. However, I run into a problem because I believed that he didn't really want it back, and I couldn't really just up and sell it, so I wasn't sure what to do. » Flash Forward ».

Maybe about two weeks ago, Uncle Tim and his son, Ryan, my cousin, were having dinner at BW3. In the very short time they were having dinner, Ryan's super-old GMC pickup truck was stolen right out of the parking lot leaving Ryan with absolutely no transportation. As Mindy's mom has kindly loaned Mindy a car, we could still have one and a half vehicles including my bike as a half. As much as I was sad to not have a car of my own, I became increasingly confident that I really wanted to be able to help Ryan out as his dad had been there for me when I was in a pinch. It was a hard decision at the time, as many of you reading this blog probably had a conversation about it with my as I was trying to decide what to do. But since I've given Ryan the car, not having it has not been one ounce of trouble and in fact, has helped me to keep a little closer to Mindy as we do more things together. It has actually been kind of nice. Fortunately, the thieves ended up just recently abandoning Ryan's truck at a gas station, just as Uncle Tim predicted they would (upon these grounds I now suspect Uncle Tim of having participated in several "boostings" in his day).

Anyway, that was a very difficult decision for me, as is the decision to by a new computer or not, and whether it should be a notebook or a desktop. Since this rotten luck with my late lappy, and my discontent with the long term performance of the one before that, I had sworn off laptops. I was hoping to build my own desktops from now on so that they were fully upgradable and built to my exact specifications. As I have been learning however, in the face of plummeting manufactured pc costs, building a computer is more of a luxury now where it used to be a good way to save money. So here is my dilemma. At the time of this writing I have the following assets:

  • Mindy's two laptops which I hate both of them but they can allow me to at least check my mail on the road
  • The old desktop on which I am writing this post running brand spanking new ubuntu distribution with a 2.5 Ghz processor and a 500 Gb hdd but a lowly 512 Mb of RAM
  • An empty but exceedingly geeky brand new case which looks like a transformer that I got free with the purchase of a sidewider laser mouse and matching light-up keyboard with removable, magnetically-docking numpad
  • And an enigma of a lappy

Now three things are important to note here. First, my job as web designer, graphic artist, software manager and advertising executive means that I literally spend 100% of my time on the computer. If I am not on the computer, I am doing something that I shouldn't be doing. In fact, my graphical and video duties are best performed on a reasonably high performing machine (notably RAM). Second, most things I do for fun, like blogging, reading blogs, and working on at home web-design projects were up until recently performed on my lappy possibly watching tv with Mindy. Third, it has been the case that we have been travelling ceaselessly. We are at the in-laws every weekend for this thing or that. We both like to be home a lot, but even if we didn't between our two or two and a half families there is some family function nearly every weekend. The above circumstances basically necessitate me having a computer, and because of our travel make a laptop an attractive choice.

Also, thanks to an amazingly well-thought out and incredibly effective attempt however well-meaning attempt at saving our economy, yours and my tax dollars have furnished me with an economic stimulus windfall of around $500 of unearned revenue. Go Government(ha)! Therefore, we have roughly enough cash to cover one computer of either type, but it is really, really, really nice having some extra money which allows us to finally get away from literally month to month. Did I mention how nice having even a very small amount of extra money is. I also will be getting somewhere in the neighborhood of $3000 after taxes over the next few months between the profit sharing and bonuses that Kirk is paying out in installments every two weeks. I would love to save that for a car or the wedding instead of buying a computer but we will see. I've decided that I will try it for a month and see how things go which may slow my new blog development, but the only one that's going to bother is me…

To dispatch with that topic I would ask the following (here's looking at you Dan, Jackson, Adam?, Brad, Alex, and Ben). This Dimension 8200 has something called RDRAM or Rambus Kit RAM which is obscenely expensive and quite hard to shop around. While DDR is very popular and can be found very affordably like here on Newegg. I've been looking around to see if it's compatible but I haven't been able to find a definitive answer. More RAM would significantly ease my woes with this desktop and make it much more appealing as a medium term option. If I recall correctly, I believe Jackson might have had this exact model throughout college so maybe he can be of some assistance though my confidence in Dan is pretty high too.

Let's get on with the show with a bit of observationalist ranting. Investigate the diagrams below.


wtf… are computers and telephones seriously
trying to make my life hell?

As a few of you may remember, I was approached by a videographer on YouTube who had asked me to create a logo for his company, and I had taken on the project and promised to show all of you my work. Take a look and tell me what you think in the comments (remember that criticism is much more helpful than compliments, so don't beat around the bush). I made two possible logos, so that he can choose based on his tastes, as I was not actually able to meet with him to brainstorm. I like them both but I think I might like the energy-wave Z more for his company as there is more vivacity and motion, though the top one is nicely corporate. I also tried to make three copies which is a trick I learned from reading many logo design blogs because in a business setting you are not always able to have your logo in full color, as in faxes or stationary, so you should make it in a grayscale copy and a 2-color copy because there are actually some very minor design changes that should be made to maintain readability for those media.

CraZay Video Productions Logo

I also played around for two of my last three posts on the TatStore.com blog with some cool stuff. My favorite was using pre-packaged layer styles to turn our stencils, and one with custom colors designed by yours truly, into pretty cool images which I could see as logos for tat companies or whatever.

I'm a Pirate by bennthewolfe, on Flickr

Mindy and I had a few weeks ago looked around at athletic clubs to join. I was hoping to find a nice track to run around on, and maybe somewhere to shoot hoops on occasion. We looked at the gym right next door to TAT but the muscle-head who ran it was kind of a turn-off though his gym was very nice, and well priced as I learned. We then went to the YMCA up the road. It's brand new and had a ton of super cool stuff. A few of the stand-outs were a medicine ball up and down put them through the cylinder that lights up game, a two-bike virtual simulator where you pedal and steer through an environment and race against your neighbor and your personal best time, a pool (Y standard), and A BATTING CAGE. Not only that, but this place had a very nice atmosphere that was attractive to both of us. However, gyms are quite pricey and at $78 and $98 per month we will have to put those off for some time.

So instead, Mindy and I have been focusing on exercise on the weekends. For example, last Saturday we went over to KVCC played tennis for a few hours, then ran the track for a while, came home and ate, then played catch with the softball, and then played 9-holes of golf after watching the amazing upset at the Derby jockeyed by that charmingly incomprehensible southerner. I hope that we continue to have such lovely weather on the weekends so that we can plan a rally match for nearly every weekend. That is still in the works for those of you who are interested, which should be all of you living in West Michigan.

So if you are still reading this post it must mean you are very interested in the goings-on of my life. So in that vein, I have a couple of suggestions for you. First, you may have noticed on my sidebar at right, Mindy has made a blog which documents the progress of our upcoming wedding. If you have not read that, make sure to hop over there and get all the hot inside information (wedding.thebam22show.com). If you do, make sure you leave a comment, as she is very excited to show off her blog since she has gotten it all working and installed, picked the theme, customized it, and written every post all on her own, and I think she's doing a fantastic job. The posts are funny and informative, and we plan to be hosting an eRSVP there and dispensing other important information there.

Finally, I have been mulling over writing a post on torture, but as the window has slightly passed. I would like to point you to a couple of wonderful items. First and foremost, please please please check out Jackson's FAQ on torture over at hisConsiderations blog. Also, make sure to watch the Shepherd Smith's passionate response to the topic. As I think is clear from an earlier post of mine, The Worst Show on Television that I couldn't agree more with him. I doubt that we have heard the last of this debate… sadly.

Friday, May 1

So Behind

It's so hard to get back on the horse once you get behind. You don't want to blog because you feel like you don't have the time to dedicate to get everything in that you need to. So I decided that I'll do whatever I can tonight and then whatever else I still want to write about later.

So, first of all, congratulations to Mindy on finishing what was a very difficult semester for her and, happily, will be one of her last. To celebrate, she wanted to go out to Charley's Crab which overlooks the Grand river downtown. We have wanted to go since we first saw it, and remembered every day we went to a D-Zone game because it's very close to Van Andel. So, Friday was our perfect opportunity. So she and I hit it down there in our jeans (and she was even wearing a “I ♥ NY” shirt).

Charley's Crab, Grand Rapids

When we arrived it was not very busy, but our hostess said that it had been because some schools were having their proms that night. She brought us all the way to the back of the restaurant, and we sat with a beautiful view of the river right next to a wall of windows. The only better location would have been the patio but we didn't want to ask. The inside was awesome anyways, they had cool wallpaper and these incredibly large mirrors which really gave it an open feel. Charley's crab is owned by the same restaurateur as is the Gandy Dancer in Ann Arbor.

Charley's Crab Interior, Grand Rapids

The bread they brought us before our appetizers was delicious. They had these poppy seed rolls that tasted a lot like Charley's twists for those of you hip to the old Ann Arbor scene. They were really good. They also brought crackers that were very brightly flavored wheat with poppy and sesame seeds. With all of this they brought the standard whipped butter but also this deliciously savory smoked salmon pate which was great on the crackers. As a bonus, (since I never eat just one basket of bread) our waitress threw some fabulous jalapeno cheddar biscuits in the second basket. They were sooo good. Biscuits seem to be a seafood standard, but I always hate them. I am not a biscuit fan, but I am telling you that these were unbelievable. The sneaky jalapeno heat really brought out the hidden sweetness of the cheddar (I know, go figure). Delicious.

This brings us to the appetizers. We got two. Of course we got the Calamari which was just okay, but actually included the tentacles which Mindy had never had. They were served lightly breaded with an onion and bell pepper sauce that was so strong it almost tasted pickled. It was definitely interesting. By far the best thing we had all night was the Macadamia nut encrusted coconut shrimp. Not only have I never seen such large, meaty shrimp, but the Mango salsa garnish was absolutely amazing. I am not at all surprised that they offer this appetizer as an entree option on the menu also. This shrimp was a dream!

Then it was time for dinner. Mindy is on a Reisling kick thanks to my lovely cousin Vicki. So she was excited to try a Columbian Reisling as she had only had American and German varieties. It was soooo sweet that even I conceded that it was okay. For dinner, Mindy ordered the surf and turf which was a lobster tail and maybe an eight ounce steak. It also came with these incredibly huge asparagus and mashed potatoes. She also got the dynamite sauce as a topping for her steak which was a mistake - very much undelicious. All told her entree alone came to $53! I thought that I should try their crab cakes as at many places this is a signature dish. I really didn't like them, in fact I barely made it through one of my two. Not to say most people wouldn't like them, but I definitely didn't.

After dinner we had a dessert of delectable blueberry cheesecake which was quite lovely.

Charley's Crab
63 Market St. S.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Table 418/1
Guests: 2
Reprint #: 1




Coconut Shrimp App
Sicilian Calamari
G1 RS Columbia
Mozzarella Caprese
Surf & Turf
Dynamite Topping
Crab Cake Dinner
Dessert Special 2




Balance Due

Replica receipt as I am too broke for a scanner