Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday in Springfield

Wide awake at 8:30 a.m. today, we somehow reached the decision to spend the day at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. Though the weather was cold, there was no snow in the forecast and the library is only a 90 minute drive away... what better way to spend the first half of our saturday?

Turns out, the museum was way better than we anticipated. In addition to the standard relics, letters and doo-dads behind glass that you would expect to see in a museum, there were holograms, sound effects and theatrical smoke. Seriously, the museum made children cry. That's one heck of a show.

There were also two non-Lincoln exhibits that alone were worth the price of admission ($7.50 if you're wondering). First - a multi-media exhibit featuring campaign propoganda from every presidential election. My favorite was the Reagan anti-communism "Bear in the Woods" ad. A close second, realizing that young Richard Nixon looked a lot like Regis Philbin.
The second non-Lincoln exhibit was a collection of 195 WWI and WWII posters. Most of the posters were from the US. There were also posters from Great Britain, France, Russia and Germany. Luckily, I had Justin to translate the German. I've got to say, the cartoonish use of Hitler made my day. Don't believe me? Just look at this...

Enough said?
Anyway, here's to one more weekend in the middle of nowhere!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Typical night in the midwest...

Tonight's excitement:

1. Taco night
2. Lunar eclipse
3. Putting gas in the car.

We are exciting people.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bison Hats and Bad Hockey

We attended a Bloomington Prairie Thunder hockey game on Friday night, when the Prairie Thunder hosted the Muskeegon Fury in an International Hockey League (IHL) matchup. The IHL is comprised of only 6 teams representing a who's who of Midwestern holes in the wall, including Flint, MI; Fort Wayne, IN; and of course Bloomington, IL. The league and its players put the "minor" back in minor league. Bloomington's leading scorer paints houses in the offseason, and probably earns twice as much painting as he does playing hockey. The best skaters on the ice were the referees.

We highly recommend this experience, which was far greater than the sum of its parts: the venue, players, and 3,700 fans in attendance. The Prairie Thunder mascot is a bison, and many fans wore team gear, including some fans who donned bison hats. That's right, furry hats with little bison horns, which are friggin' awesome!

Whenever the home team scores a goal, the arena erupts in cheers, train whistles, and blasts from novelty plastic horns carried by some fans. The crowd expressed more enthusiasm and had more fun than some NHL crowds 4 to 5 times as large (think Penguins games when the team was awful). Unfortunately, we had a 1 hour drive home after the game, otherwise we would have taken up an offer to hang out at the bar in the arena and "hobknob" with the players.

All this would have been enough to add up to a great evening, but two tickets to the game cost us only $12. The tickets were buy one get one free if you redeemed a special Pepsi can. We strode to the ticket window, asked for two of the best available tickets, crushed a pepsi can, slid it under the glass along with a credit card. You can't do that in Philly or Pittsburgh. Score one for the Midwest (finally). It was a great night.

And So It Begins

Keeping up this blog was Justin's new year's resolution. Clearly he's failing at that. (Edit - looks like Justin and I started blogging at the same time. We really should spend more time in the same room. Anyway - read on. - Jenny) Can't say I blame him - he's got enough on his plate with school and TA responsibilities. Conversely, I work for the government. That means that not only does my work day end at 4:30 p.m., but more importantly, I don't have to work on "holidays" like President's day. Pretty sweet, right? So it looks like the blogging duty is going to return to me, if it hasn't returned already.

This morning was fairly eventful. Justin and I went to brunch with Ozlem (a fellow student of Justin's) and her daughter Caline. We went to Radio Maria - a spanish place best known for its brunch menu. It was delicious. Beyond delicious (for this town). Poor Caline may disagree. She's only seven, and probably would have been happier having cereal at home while watching cartoons instead of eating unnecessarily fancy food with her mom and two grown weirdos.

After brunch we stopped home long enough to watch the final round of this week's PBA event. Justin's favorite, the extremely handsome Mike Scroggins, defeated my favorite, Walter Ray Williams, Jr. Yes, we have favorite pro-bowlers. We are that cool. (And yes, Maria, that link was for you.)

Once bowling ended, we went to our very first open house. Now that (1) Justin's sure he's going to stick out the entire 5-6 years of this PhD program, and (2) I have a job, it's pretty clear this our tenure in Illinois is that permanent kind of temporary. So, we're on the market for a house. Expect to hear lots more about the house hunt as it progresses. For today, I'll leave it at these two things:
  • We looked at a house within walking distance of a Wal-Mart in Champaign - Thumbs down for a multitude of reasons; and
  • If you're the betting type, the safe money is on us ending up in Farmer City, Illinois (That's right Farmer City - treasure the name).