At The Science Center, And Other Adventures
I spent most of Saturday in Des Moines, where we went to the Science Center of Iowa. My parents were babysitting my brother's wife's 10-year old sister, and so we drove over to meet them. The exhibits there are geared toward 10 year olds. This means I had a great time, as you can well imagine.
The building itself is quite impressive, a brand-new structure with stunning features and bright colors built on the riverfront. This is a stark contrast to the old center that I remember visiting on field trips in elementary school. That one was an old, dark building wedged into a residential/commercial neighborhood adjacent to a city park.
It never gets old walking in front of the gigantic blow dryer (a 15-foot hair dryer!). Or examining the clear toilet, sink and bathtub in the "how plumbing works" exhibit. Or for that matter, the weather studio that one of the local television stations broadcasts the forecast from every night -- an off-site television studio/weather lab, complete with green screen and everything.
We sat in the planetarium for a show -- an impressive planetarium, if I do say so myself -- and I wondered why every planetarium has the same deep-throated guy reading the narration. Then I turned to my brother and said, in a dead-on impersonation, "Welcome to the plane-arium. I have a rare genetic disorder that prevents me from pronouncing the t in plane-arium." Hilarious stuff.
I also made a three-foot diameter bubble using a hula-hoop. Wrapping an egg in foam, blankets and rope, placing it on a lift to be dropped 20 feet in the air onto a sensor telling me if it would break or not was cool too.
And no, its not at all sad that I was able to entertain myself at a Science Center for 4 hours. In fact, I feel sorry for anyone who's too adult to be able to have a good time there. Seriously.
After that, we had dinner at the Court Avenue Brewery down the street. Always a good choice. Then we hit the mall on the way out of town. Had to stop by the Apple Store and play around with the new Intel-based Mac's, you know. While we were there, I was talking to one of the employees about ways to selectively shuffle songs on my new iPod.
Here's the problem. There's 8100 songs on there and counting, but there's maybe only 3000 of them I actually care to listen to regularly. The rest are album cuts that you only want to hear in the context of an album, or live versions, particularly from the several bands I collect concert recordings of.
I get sick of the same playlists all the time. I remember my old original iPod, where I could tell it to shuffle all songs and get random stuff without getting crap mixed in. Surely there's a way to do that, without removing all those songs from the iPod.
The lady told me to use the "My Rating" feature to give a rating to the songs I wanted to shuffle, and then create a Smart Playlist to only feature those songs with at least X-number of stars. Then you shuffle that, and presto!
Sounded great. Then I spent 10 hours yesterday doing the damn ratings. Turns out rating 8100 songs takes some serious time. But its fairly dominant now that its done. Now I can shuffle the 2650 tracks I actually want to hear, without having to hit next when "Random Live Van Halen Audience Recording From 1979" comes on.
We got back to Omaha at 9:45, and headed downtown to get a drink with some friends. First the Mai-Tai Lounge (on the way to downtown) and then the Upstream. As we get ready to leave, my impulsive nature got me in trouble. An old friend comes up to me, gives me a big hug and invites me to come to a party. Before I know what I'm doing, I'm on a Party Bus heading to destinations unknown, with The Colorado parked downtown. No idea where I'm going, no clue how I'm getting back. All I know is I'm on a party bus with two people I know, and about 40 ladies I don't know. Hmmm. What is this bus, exactly?
I wasn't the least bit worried. Seriously, what's the worst thing that happens? I get my cell phone out, call a cab to drive me to my truck? Big deal. But what's the best thing that happens? Who knows?
All I know is Busch Light was being served on this bus, which is always, ALWAYS good times. Two cans later, we get to this house out west, and everyone heads in. More beer is served. Some lame dude is playing acoustic "Wheel In the Sky" thinking he's the coolest guy in America. And the funny thing is, most of the ladies were buying it, and perhaps most disturbingly, more than a few of the guys as well.
I get word that apparently there is a hot tub outside, and I get "pushed" into heading out there. I was not prepared, but this did not stop me. All I can say is its a good thing I didn't have my He-Man boxers on that night, or it might have been embarrassing.
Wait, I don't have He-Man boxers. I meant Hanes boxers. Same letters, I just typed them in the wrong order and put an extraneous hyphen in there. My mistake.
Anyway, an hour later when we went back into the party, my jeans are of course half-wet. This is an unfortunate side effect of being unprepared. I was given several options on how to remedy this problem, most of which ranged from "completely unappealing" to "could be convinced".
Meanwhile, Not-Steve-Perry is still playing Journey songs on his guitar. Apparently he'd played everything from Greatest Hits, because he was playing what sounded like "After The Fall", a minor hit and album track from "Frontiers". Why I know this, I don't know. In fact, lets forget I know that and move on.
We left shortly thereafter. I had no choice, really. Besides the obvious reason for leaving (I had been offered a ride), I couldn't very well stay and take the chance Not-Steve would play "Rubicon" or, shudder, "BackTalk" from that same album next could I? Of course not. That would cause my head to explode. So off I went.
I'm happy to report I got a ride back to The Colorado Sunday morning, and that I made it home in time for the first pitch of the Twins game Sunday afternoon. I threw some brats on the grill, brought the ol' 13 inch TV onto the deck, and watched the game in sunny relaxation.
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