Saturday, June 16, 2007


I’ll be married in a week. My sister got in today. My best man is coming into town and joining the family for dinner tonight. Groomsmen are getting in from New Zealand on Tuesday. Family and friends are flying in from all angles. My beautiful fiancĂ©e arrives on Monday. This is it. I am stoked.

I will write when all is set up in Milwaukee. As for now, I am going to take a little advice from a wise friend of mine, and go revel in it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Last Close

Tonight went by just like any other night at the Bucks. Jarrod, Mark, and I were done with closing duties early. We leaned against the counters and chatted. We turned drinks out with our eyes closed. We yelled Schwarzenegger quotes at the top of our lungs. (And I just spelled 'Schwarzenegger' correctly on the first try.) We ate pastries that were going to go in the trash either way. We shared observations about regulars. And, keeping with tradition, we clocked out early. The three of us will never be behind that counter together ever again. It was a sad night.

Although the Bucks hasn’t been the most exhilarating job ever, it has drawn people together that would have never known each other. I remember meeting Jarrod for the first time over a Donald Miller book he had out on the counter. I thought this guy is going to be cool. A well worn Miller book was a guarantee that we would at least have some good conversations. Never could I have imagined making such a good friend as Jarrod at the workplace, especially in a coffee shop. Our friendship now extends beyond the bar and into the lives and interests we have away from coffee. I am thankful for that and hopeful that the distance that will soon separate us doesn’t build a wall between us.

I wish I had a picture of us behind the bar. It would be nice to glance at it and be taken back to this stage in my life, which was extremely transitional and uneasy, but fun and a time I will never forget.

There is one thing that can instantly bring me back to my nine month tenure at the Bucks. What is it? It is The Shins’ Wincing the Night Away. Jarrod and I played this album so much at work that every note of every song brings back the green apron, the smell of coffee, the customers, the long talks with intervals of lattes and frappucinos, the breaks, the rushes, the pretending our voices were The Shins’ guitars, the pints at the Pumphouse after work, and the connection that I was so blessed to find in the vastness of this corporation. He will never know how he helped me get through some nights at work, some emotionally trying times in my life, and long days.

There are diamonds in the oddest of places.

This is for real...

Paul Potts sings like Pavarotti. Whether you hate American Idol and its relatives, you have to love this clip. Jaw dropping.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Kubica F1 Crash

This can drain a F1 race of its fun. Amazingly, only a light concussion and a broken leg were suffered.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Siren's Eye

I have three shifts left behind the bar at store 6638. Since I was hired at the Hover store, three more stores have opened in Longmont. The company has hired over 67,000 people since I started work on September 12th. I work for a giant, green beast that is devouring street corners and strip malls in the night. You’ll go to bed one night and wake up with a green, Bucks’ awning across the street. The Siren (an ancient, female sea deity) will be staring out from behind the window with a smirk on her face and her long flowing black and white locks will be covering her naked breasts that, by the way, aren’t covered in the original logo. Just visit the first store. You’ll see.

This company gets a lot of press about being such a great one to work for. If you average more than 20 hours a week you get benefits. What are the benefits? You can enroll in an amazing health coverage program that will run you $33 a paycheck. You can also start a 401K. You are offered a stock plan. In this plan you determine what percent of your paycheck you want to devote to purchasing stock at a 15% discount. The Bucks’ stock isn’t falling, so you pretty much have an instant 15% growth on your investment. However, I don’t see the companies stock climbing that much over a short time unless their music label takes off, and by the sound of Paul McCartney's latest album, that won't be happening.

All the benefits are nice, aren't they? There are some holes though. In order to get a guaranteed 40 hour work week an employee needs to be an assistant store manager or a store manager. Having expressed a desire for as many hours as possible and open availability, I have hovered between 20 and 35 hours a week for 99% of my time there. This wouldn’t be that bad if the Bucks paid employees the way they could. I am talking at least a double digit money amount an hour. They don’t pay that though. They lose a lot of ground on the good employer ladder when it comes to base pay. And that is what really counts for me. I don’t feel like a valued employee there. The company can underestimate my importance to their local and regional success. That is the nature of the beast. Paying such detail to the part is unacceptable when it can be replaced with a brand new part for less.

A company’s treatment of their employees needs to come full circle. Good benefits, a full work week (if desired), loyalty to the employee, and good pay are major qualities of a good employer. The Bucks does a good job on one of these. That’s a 25%. Sorry, there’s no curve.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lincoln vs. Polk

It has been a while since I have had some Vonnegut up on here. I bring it back today with one of my favorite passages from A Man Without A Country.

"What did Abraham Lincoln have to say about America’s imperialist wars, the ones that, on one noble pretext or another, aim to increase the natural resources and pools of tame labor available to the richest Americans who have the best political connections?

It is almost always a mistake to mention Abraham Lincoln. He always steals the show. I am about to quote him again.

More than a decade before his Gettysburg Address, back in 1848, when Lincoln was only a Congressman, he was heartbroken and humiliated by our war on Mexico, which had never attacked us. James Polk was the person Representative Lincoln had in mind when he said what he said. Abraham Lincoln said of Polk, his president, his armed forces’ commander-in-chief:

Trusting to escape a scrutiny, by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory—that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood—that serpent’s eye, that charms to destroy—he plunged into war.

Holy shit! And I thought I was a writer!"

Vonnegut writes on and eventually comes to that much glorified battle at the Alamo.

“Remember the Alamo? With that war we were making California our own, and a lot of other people and properties, and doing it as though butchering Mexican soldiers who were only defending their homeland against invaders wasn’t murder. What other stuff besides California? Well, Texas, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.”

I loved these passages because they are so poignant to issues of today—a war in Iraq and illegal immigration—that they give me comfort in knowing a great man, Lincoln, thought it necessary to point out the President’s misjudgment. Now you cannot say much like that without being labeled un-American, disloyal, and treasonous by the commander-in-chief.

Lincoln would be pretty pissed off.

Monday, June 04, 2007

High Life

*What follows is a scatterbrained, quite awful recap of the days in Milwaukee.

Crowded airport. Very rainy. Kate and I sit by a window overlooking the Midway traffic zooming under the skywalk. A group of businessmen sat down next to us and all three of them got their laptops out. There screens meet in a neat little triangle in the middle of the table.

One of them tried to crack a joke as they all sat down. “It’s times like this that people always want to debrief. Well in my family we keep our briefs on.”

His friends didn’t laugh, but he did the only thing he could do and laughed at his own joke.

We got in Tuesday morning and it took a while to get a rental car. We wanted a Dodge Charger and we were told we would get something similar. The Chargers were gone. All that was left in the same price range were minivans and a Grand Marquis. We went with the Dodge Caravan…the old standby. I noticed that on the Thrifty keychain the color of our car was written out as being "Glod" and our car was a "Gearavan". For a moment that was funny to see and then incredibly depressing. The Chicago traffic was typical from the point we left Midway. It was stop and go all the way on Cicero until we got to Interstate 55. After that the traffic wasn’t horrendous for a while. We hoped to stop at Silo for lunch, but we stopped at an oasis to eat at Panda Express because we didn’t really have the time for Silo if we wanted to make our 1 pm appointment at Spring Brook.

The humidity was shocking at first, but even after three days I feel like I have gotten more used to it. Tuesday was definitely the hottest of the three days. It was around 88 degrees. Wednesday was slightly cooler and it has rained a lot today since we got down to Chicago.

The rest of Tuesday we spent some time familiarizing each other with Milwaukee’s layout. Milwaukee’s foliage is dense. There are thick forests up to the highway’s edge. I couldn't see past the walls of trees. Because the trees are so thick and tall you can’t see what is right over the hill. So when we stopped by Spring Brook I felt like it was out in the middle of nowhere. It wasn’t until we drove north that I realized we were only 20 minutes away from downtown Milwaukee. So, the city is relatively compact, but it maintains the feeling of small town living…maybe. It is hard to describe.

We went to Mayfair (a mall) and picked up PF Chang’s for dinner with Lori, Cory, and Sam. We went to bed early that night because we had been up since 3 am Colorado time and we only had 4 hours of sleep to begin with.

We saw a lot of places on Wednesday. There is no point in listing all of them because they were all essentially boring. We got to ride on some golf carts. Vending machines come with some apartment complexes. Pink kitchen cabinets are ugly. One of the places had its own private entrance from the Grand Avenue Mall downtown. We will never live in the Juneau Village Towers. They had great views, but the building was rotting it was so old. It was ugly, plain, and small. Yankee Hill is for the richer and I am fine with that. If I were also a pharmacist Yankee Hill would be fun for a bit, but we would also need a little more space. Another time perhaps. I am very happy with the Spring Brook apartment. We have the rest of our lives to do some downtown living and I am confident we will have the opportunity. It is just a bit of a stretch at this point especially with parking spots at $115 a month.

I was impressed with downtown Milwaukee. It is pretty clean. It looks like there are a lot of fun things to do. It exceeded my expectations. Actually, I really didn’t know what to expect, but I just wanted everyone that told me Milwaukee was such a bore, ugly, and crappy to be wrong. They are wrong. Even after spending two days there I can tell there is plenty to do. We are only 70 miles from downtown Chicago too. If there is nothing to do in this area, there is just nothing to do.

Our apartment is gorgeous. I feel very blessed and fortunate to be able to live in such a place with Kate as a newly married couple. The place is brand new. The kitchen has granite countertops and the kitchen sink is mounted under the countertop. There are all new black appliances. There is a den, a big bathroom, balconies, good closet space, and a new washer and dryer. There is a pool, hot tub, and fitness center at the clubhouse. It is close to stuff and it has great access to the freeways. And most of all, I am excited to make a home there with Kate. I know we can do great things with the space. And I am ready to live there with Kate, to start filling that place with memories.

We hit up The Silo today. It was delicious. We also drove into downtown and down Lake Shore Drive. We got off at Michigan Avenue and gawked at some ghastly expensive apartment and condo towers. The sights were awesome, the traffic was not. We were in it for hours and finally made it here only to discover that our plane may be delayed due to poor weather in Denver. We accomplished a lot this week. I am proud of us for going out on our own, doing all this traveling, and making a big decision that we feel good about.

*I am quickly running out of names of Milwaukee beers for blog titles.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Old Milwaukee

I am back. Kate and I had a whirlwind trip out to Milwaukee. When we got in to DIA late Thursday night I felt like we had been gone a week. When we got back to Maxima she started like we had been gone a week.

After seeing around 15 floor plans at 8 different apartment complexes we made a decision Wednesday night. We searched around in the suburbs and downtown; to the west, southwest, and south of Milwaukee. There were positives to nearly every place we saw, but when we put everything on the table we definitely kept coming back to a nice one bedroom place south of downtown in Oak Creek. The building is new, beautiful, and it is reasonably priced for all that you get. St. Luke’s, where Kate will be starting July 9, is a 10-20 minute drive from Oak Creek. The airport is 5-10 minutes away, and downtown is just a few more minutes further north than airport. The lake is also a few minutes east.

The actual apartment is sort of overwhelming. It will be our first place as newlyweds, which is sort of weird. Kate is sort of all over her career, which is certainly not common when you are 23. We won’t be living in a dorm-like apartment. We won’t be really poor. Going out to Milwaukee and searching for places and signing a lease was all a bit of an eye opener for me. I am terribly excited to live in our new place, but there is a little bit of me that feels like we need to be living in a really dumpy apartment and we need to scrape by because that is what newlyweds do, right? Certainly, that is what we would be doing if Kate was working for the Bucks too, but she is not.


...even Chicago is counting down...