Enjoying Autumn (Or ‘The Fall’ As Minnesotans Call It)

Hello all,

Apologies for the lack of posts lately. I didn’t mean to disappear so abruptly. It has just been a very hectic, and very tiring, couple of days. Nothing too exciting mind (IE no blog stories); just work (Vanna’s job, not mine; can’t work just yet) and family (again Vanna’s, not mine; though I suppose they are mine too now!) commitments that have meant we’ve hardly been home since Thursday.

In fact, the past three days we have left the house before 8am (I’ve had to wake up at 7!) and not got back until after 10pm. Awful right? Understandably I’ve not had much time on my computer. Hence why I haven’t blogged since Wednesday.


But I’m back now.  And…I really don’t have much to report. I returned Destiny on Friday, which was a sad moment. I watched football and saw family on the weekend (interesting for me, not exactly riveting stuff for you), and then today Vanna gave blood. That is about it. As I said before, nothing eventful has happened since I last posted.

But don’t despair just yet because I have pictures! Well, three pictures but still, plural pictures!

Yes, that’s right. To make up for my sudden absence, I made Vanna (that’s how marriage works!) take pictures of the trees with her nice camera. Fall is always a beautiful time of year, but there is something magical about it here. Though this weekend’s journeys around Crow Wing County have been rather draining (waking up at 7am is like torture), they have at least led to some scenic driving.  Admittedly the pictures below is a very (very) small sample but you can still get an idea of how pretty it is right now.


Not many pictures I know (Vanna’s camera died just as we found a great spot…typical), but as this is Vanna’s favourite time of year, I expect I’ll have a bigger album to upload sometime soon. Depending on whether we have the time or not, we may head to Duluth to see how the trees look there. Even if we don’t have a trip like that, it is my first Autumn in MN (September, October, November and December are all new) so we’re bound to do something interesting before the season changes.

Urgh. I don’t want the season to change. I like Fall; why can’t it stay like this forever? Winter just means snow. And in MN, snow really means SNOW. Autumn here might be great but you can’t truly enjoy it. Why? Because you know that when it ends, you’re then got six months of awfulness. It is like a Sunday evening as a child; you might have a nice night lined up but it is tempered by the fact you have to go to school in the morning. Except in this case, you have bitter winds, bitter colds and bitter, never-ending snow to look forward to.

The worst thing is I haven’t even experienced a full Minnesotan winter yet! My last trip here didn’t start until January! How can I feel this despondent after only three months? That isn’t good! What is going to happen to me when the snow hits in November? (if not earlier!) I’m dreading it. The snow novelty ran out a long time ago but the white blanket is going to turn again anyway, like the unwanted party guest that it is. And no matter how much I want to enjoy these next few months, I won’t be able to because I can’t forget what is on the horizon (its snow, people; lots and lots of snow).

Ugh. Minnesota sucks. Whose idea was this to get married and live here?


Can’t we just move to California or something?




If Your Partner Says They Have A Good Idea…Don’t Listen

Yesterday, Vanna suggested that she and I should have a picnic somewhere in the woods. Though it was beginning to get cool (it was after 5pm), it was a pleasant and sunny day. With winter approaching, Vanna reasoned that it would be wise to take advantage of the nice weather while we still could. She had a point; soon there will be snow and we won’ t have another picnic opportunity for months.

Nevertheless, I was reluctant. It sounded a nice thing to do…but what about mosquitoes? Vanna shook her head at this question; because it was no longer warm or humid, the mosquitoes in the area would no longer be a problem. As I had no other objections, we set off for our early evening picnic.

After driving for about ten minutes, Vanna spotted an abandoned snowmobile path. We stopped the car and set up our picnic blanket in a nearby clearing. It was a neat little place…but we were soon swarmed by mosquitoes. Urgh.

‘No problem’, Vanna said, ‘they are only baby mosquitoes. They can’t hurt you.’ I doubted this logic, but I wasn’t going to ruin our little outing by complaining, so I did my best to ignore the swarm. While Vanna told me about her day, I listened to her stories, I ate my salad…and I got bitten. A lot.

We had a great picnic though. It was a really good idea. If you ignore the fact I spent the entire time flailing my arms around in an unsuccessful attempt to shoo the mosquitoes away, that is. What fun we had!


Cut forward to this morning. I got in the shower and surveyed the damage. Two bites on my neck, two more on my arm and numerous others no doubt waiting to flare up when I’m least expecting it. Weirdly my legs, which were bare, don’t have a single bite on them. Somehow these baby mosquitoes – the ones that can’t hurt me – managed to get me through my thick shirt and nowhere else. That was nice of them, wasn’t it?

I suppose the moral of this very short story is, as the title infers, not to listen to your partner when they get a clever idea. It never ends well for you. Or in this case, me.

Vanna, incidentally, didn’t get a single bite. Funny how that works, isn’t it?


To show she isn’t all bad, Vanna picked up a copy of Destiny last night for me. I have talked quite a lot about it recently (I want an Xbox One and I want Destiny with it) so in a kind gesture (ie, a way to shut me up) she stopped by the Redbox machine in Pequot to rent it for me.

Destiny is…not what I expected. At all. I don’t even know what to think. Is it good? Bad? At this moment, I don’t really know. But I have until Friday to reach a conclusion, so if I can voice my thoughts on it in a coherent manner I’ll post something about Destiny this weekend.

If I don’t…uh, forget I mentioned it.



Why Do I Waste My Time Watching Under The Dome?

This week I’m going to discuss television shows/movies that I watched a long time ago (in some cases a real long time ago) yet never got around to discussing on the blog. Better late than never, right?

To start the catch up, I thought I’d talk about Under The Dome. I have talked about this show in the past (and not in the most flattering of terms, as you can see here) but now that I’m working my way through the second season, I thought this was the perfect time to bring up my hatred for UTD up again. Enjoy!



Please does anybody know the answer to the question I pose in the title? I honestly don’t have a clue. It can’t be because I love the book; that loyalty surely disappeared by the time I finished season one. And it can’t be because I think it is good; neither you or I should be so ridiculous to even suggest that. So what is it? There must be a reason why, despite my immense dislike for everything this show stands for, I continue to persevere with it. Even though I think it the show is terrible, I am half way through season two (it may be over on T.V. but I recorded them as I wasn’t in the country when it started) and I won’t stop watching until the ending credits on the finale. Hell, I probably won’t even finish there; Under The Dome will be in its thirtieth season and I’ll still be sitting on the couch, the only idiot who hadn’t switched over.

Ugh. It is inexplicable. Really, I don’t know what I’m doing. I can’t even talk about UTD without ranting about it.  The writing, the acting and the characters (a combination of both bad actors and bad writers I suppose, but nevertheless worth including here) are just horrible. It would take me hours to list all the flaws in the show.

If you’re thinking I’m being overdramatic, I’m really not (okay I probably am but lets run with it). There is so much wrong with this show. If it isn’t a bad plot or plot device, it is awful dialogue ruining the scene.  If it isn’t horrific character logic, it is somehow even more horrific story/’dome’ logic (in the series, the dome is essentially a character too…a really dumb character).

I just cannot stress how bad Under The Dome is.  If an episode isn’t clichéd/unoriginal (which it is around 90% of the time) it is stupid beyond words. I watch it and feel my own IQ slipping.

And yet I keep going with it! The only reason I can come up with is that the show has ventured so far from the book, I feel I have to watch it to see what they do next.  Don’t confuse this for storyline immersion however, as I spend most of the episode deriding the sheer idiocy of, well, literally anything that happens. I reckon there is bigger chance of me being gripped by a late night shopping channel show than there is of being absorbed by Under The Dome  (“only one minute to buy one of the last 342 Multi-Purpose Towel Blankets!”).

Urgh. In one episode I even cheered a character/actress that I have never liked simply because she was momentarily unpredictable; a depressingly rare trait for the characters in this show. I don’t even know what else to say about it. I just have to laugh because if I don’t, I’ll end up crying about what could have been.

That is the worse thing about this abject monstrosity. Under The Dome had so much potential. It really did. I won’t harp on about the book here (because I’ve done that so much in the past already) but it was, genuinely, unbelievably good. One of the best books I’ve ever read.  This is why the show annoys me so much. I cannot for the life of me fathom how it doesn’t even contain a tiny fraction of the novel’s greatness. They (I’ll get onto the they in the next paragraph) have completely ruined the opportunity to make Under The Dome the best show on television. I should be talking about a masterpiece here…and I’m not. What a joke.


In the interest of fairness, I would like to state I do realize that just because I think a novel is awesome doesn’t mean a T.V. adaptation will automatically be good as well. Regardless of who is working on it, there will always be issues. In the case of Under The Dome, I can understand it would be very difficult to copy everything perfectly. For example, there are certain elements of the book that would be too dark for most networks to include (except for HBO perhaps). The audience might not even like it. And it would be a hugely expensive project to follow the novel accurately; replicating a whole town’s worth of people each with their own background and story would be a massive undertaking.

Even with an unlimited budget, that would be hard to do. Over a hundred people in a book nearly a thousand pages long…could you imagine trying to include every detail included in Under The Dome? If I compare it to Peter Jackson and the Lord Of The Ring/The Hobbit films, I can sympathize somewhat with the writers; no matter how much Jackson included in that trilogy, there was always going to be more that he missed out or didn’t explore in detail. It was impossible for him to please everybody. Under The Dome effectively had the same problem.

Still…they could have made it work! Stephen King and Steven Spielberg both work on Under The Dome! The two Steves! How can the dialogue and story be so bad? Lost was made up on the spot yet it had some fantastic arcs and character depth. Sure it wasn’t flawless but it was still a very good show. UTD has plenty of great source material so why isn’t it at least hitting a similar level to Lost? Why are all the characters so one-dimensional and predictable? And why is the dome a sentient being? Who thought that was a good idea? You’d think a huge invisible dome that has mood swings would be the worst thing on the show, yet everything else is so unconvincing and stupid it doesn’t even make the top 3 of terribleness.

It is just sad, people. I watch this show and simultaneously mourn it.



Frank Darabont, who directed The Walking Dead, also directed three of Stephen King’s works; Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and The Mist.

The Mist is about a group of people trapped in a supermarket by a dangerous fog. Like UTD‘s…dome, the fog is merely a device used to create a situation where the various sides of humanity emerge. Darabont nailed these characters in The Mist. I can’t help but think about how much better things could have been if he’d worked on Under The Dome. Not only does Darabont respect King’s work, he is very good at creating deep characters which is exactly what UTD needs. I reckon his version (if it existed) would be one I could truly love and invest in.

Naturally I assume his commitments to The Walking Dead probably kiboshed any potential involvement. But one can dream, right?

An expanded sidenote:

Hang on a second. If you think about all the criticism TWD gets for having too much dialogue and not enough zombie fighting (I like the show but I get the argument; it’s what we want yet not what we want), and how in comparison, UTD has no character development but lots of drama…wouldn’t it have worked out if the writers et all had switched projects? Just think about how awesome it would have been if that had happened!

Ugh. Why didn’t it happen? In an alternative universe people are watching two of the best shows ever, while we settle for one terrible show and another that flits from amazing to disappointing depending on who you ask. That’s nowhere near as good. We’re missing out on greatness!


Okay, I’m done now. Thanks for reading.


Adjusting To The New Time Zone (A Blog Announcement)

Hello all,

I just wanted to let you know that I will probably start publishing my blog posts at a later time from now on. When I started this blog, I aimed to post around 6pm GMT because that way if anything happened that day, I could write about it immediately. Although Minnesota is 6 hours behind (12pm not 6pm), I continued to follow this rule on my trips to the States; the only difference, of course, is that I would talk about what happened the previous day instead.

Now that I’m in America on what I hope is a permanent basis, it seems the perfect time to change the system back to ‘this is what I did today‘ format. Consequently, I will be posting (most of the time anyway) at 6pm CST, 6 hours later than usual.

Does this affect you readers? Well, if you are in America, not really. UK viewers may end up a little behind the times (what you read at 6pm will be what I posted the day before) but I don’t think that is a huge problem given how I’m often working a few days behind as well (check the honeymoon blog posts for recent proof of that).

Why did I bring it up then? Well just to update you all, I suppose. What if you were waiting eagerly at 12pm CST (6pm GMT) for a blog post that didn’t arrive for another 6 hours? Highly unlikely I know, but it would be rude of me to allow such a thing to happen. I don’t think I’d be able to forgive myself (possibly).

But now you know so crisis avoided. If you’re ever find yourself in that unusual position, you will remember to do something else instead! For example, you could look through the archives, share a link to my website with all your friends…or follow me on email so you’ll know exactly when I’ve post every single day that I bother to write something!

Uh…you’re welcome?

Anyway, that’s about all I have of interest to say at the moment. But I’ll be back tomorrow to complain about season two of Under The Dome. How exciting!

Speak to you then!


5 Types Of People I Hate (When Driving)

So I’ve driven for…uh a couple of months now, and though there are some areas that need improvement, I feel like I’m a fairly competent driver (hey, stop your laughing, you lot in the back). I’m respectful of my car (well…Vanna’s), the road, and of course, other road users. I don’t speed, slow other cars or drive recklessly. I know what I’m doing on the road; at the risk of sounding overconfident, I reckon that once I get reversing nailed down I should be able to pass my rest without any major difficulties. I may not be as good as…uh, Kimi Raikkonen (I was once told I looked like him – probably because of the hair – so he’s my go to driver from now on), but you can certainly trust me to commandeer a vehicle in a safe manner.


I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m getting this driving business nailed down. I can drive around and it is no big deal. I belong on the road. Cops even follow me…but in a positive way….because I’m driving so great. You know what I mean?

No? Well have I at least convinced you that I believe I’m a good driver? Yes? Excellent. It is very important I express my credentials to you before I get into this blog post. Why? Because I’m about to criticize the driving abilities of others and I want to do it without any doubt whatsoever. I want to sit at the top of my tall, ivory tower (I’m in the penthouse suite!) and cast judgement on others because they can’t drive as well as me, while simultaneously ignoring all the petty comments of the naysayers that try to bring my beautiful tower down (you haven’t even driven for a year, you don’t even have a license etc etc; bitter remarks like that).


So now we’ve cleared that up (recap: I’m amazing at getting behind a wheel, starting the engine and then making the car move places without killing myself or others!), let’s go through the list of people who should stay at home or get the bus from now on (not that I’m taking a condescending tone or anything).

Intro (an explanation of my reasoning):

You see, in these precious few months that I’ve driven, I couldn’t help but notice a number of bad behaviours that I wish to complain about in my own…special…way (see everything above).

Now I’m not talking about people who go the speed limit or people who go slow at night as I understand not everybody is as comfortable behind the wheel as I am. That’s not their fault.

No, I’m talking about the people who are either arrogant, ignorant, stupid or a magical combination of all three. I’m talking about the people who need to take a long hard look at themselves, think about what they are doing and…uh, stop doing it. They ruin the driving experience for everybody else (as well as being dangerous) and that annoys me. I’m talking about people like…


VIP is a term my dad used and I think it is very appropriate word for the drivers it refers to. Like a celebrity who thinks the world revolves around them, VIP drivers believe themselves to be the most important thing in the world.

Well, that’s what I have to assume from their driving. Why else would someone abruptly cut out in front of you (forcing you to hit the brake) when there was plenty of space once you went by? Clearly they must be famous or significant and we mere mortals should just adjust our driving to appease their reckless behaviour. They have places to go, people to see. They can’t wait! Their time is precious. Let them through, let them through!

How can you tell when someone is a VIP? Well the aforementioned cutting is a giveaway. Speeding through a yellow light when it was safe to stop, overtaking cars going a respectable speed, merging into your lane while ignoring the fact you were going faster than they were (they can’t let you pass first, don’t be ridiculous; they’ve got places to go, people!)…these are all trademarks of the VIP driver. No, they are not impatient drivers, just very busy people.

Think about VIPs as cops. But, you know, without the power, authority or emergency. So not like cops then. More like…[REDACTED].

Best (Worst) Example?

Oh there are so many! But nothing beats the VIP who carelessly pulls out in front of you because they are too damn inconsiderate to wait. I don’t suffer from road rage, but if I did, cutters would receive the most vitriol.

The Unpredictables:

Swerving, random acceleration/slowing down, delayed reactions to signs/cars/deer/general hazards are the unsafe traits of the Unpredictables.

A lame name I know. I suppose a better title would be Phonies, as I often find that the reason for the poor driving is because the driver is too busy yakking on their mobile to focus on the road. It isn’t illegal to use the phone (unless you’re texting) while driving in this country (or Minnesota at least) but it should be. When you are in control of a ton, two ton, vehicle, your entire concentration should be on the vehicle so you don’t kill yourself or others.

Fact: using a phone is a distraction. Phonies are even worse than VIPs; they are unaware of their surroundings, dangerous and unpredictable. I wouldn’t say they are as bad as drunk drivers, but their stupid decision to be on the phone definitely hinders their driving. Can’t the call wait? If you need to answer it, pull over first. When you are on the road you are responsible for more than just yourself. Being on the phone is selfish and I hate you for it.

Sorry, got caught up there. A lot of personal pronouns there. I’m not directing this at you, dear reader(unless you’re guilty)…my apologies.

As I say, not every driver culpable of driving erratically is on their phone. But most of them are.

Best (Worst) Example?

Driving along the freeway and the guy in front of me is changing speed and veering for a good five minutes. I finally get past this accident waiting to happen and what do I see? The guy was TEXTING! Going 65mph and he’s texting. What a colossal idiot.

Special mention to the driver who had his indicator on for ten miles. That was beyond a joke. Guy didn’t even have the excuse of being a Phoney.

(K)Night Riders (geddit? I’m referencing an 80s show I’ve never ever seen in my life!):

Riding (going super close to the back of the car in front) is a risky and dangerous move (no reaction time) no matter what the circumstances. It is especially bad, however, when it happens at night-time. Deer is a huge issue here, and it is very difficult to look out for them when you have a tailgater blinding you with their headlights. Plus, if you have to brake suddenly, they will hit you. And it’ll be their fault.

Can’t stand riders. They create an unnecessary and completely avoidable situation. Patience is a virtue, and not being rear-ended should be as well. Get off my butt, jackass!

Best (Worst) Example?

Well…literally everybody who does this to me sucks.

Cidiots (I’d love to take credit for that hilarious play on words…so I will!):

City. Idiots. Cidiots. Clever, I know.

Essentially these are the tourists who come up from the cities for the weekend and ruin our time on the road with their defensive driving. They don’t know the roads and even if they did, they still don’t know what they’re doing. They’re impatient, rarely indicate, ride your butt constantly…essentially a awful combination of the bad driving traits I’ve already covered. And they clog up the road with their stupid boats.

…God, I’m becoming a local.

Best (Worst) Example?

Guy in his big truck towing his big boat forced me to slam on the brakes when he pulled out in front of me into the opposite lane. Could he have waited? Of course he could have. A VIP cidiot. Oh joy.

Car-less Morons (sometimes you just have to play it straight):

Now, I have a bike. I’m too lazy to use it at the moment, but I do like cycling. And I often cycle on the road (as opposed to trails). But unlike so many bicyclists, I know the highway code. I cycle with traffic, not against it, and I stick to the farthest part of the hard shoulder so I don’t make drivers nervous by veering out onto the road. It isn’t hard to be safe, is it? Why then do so many fail to obey the simple laws of the road? Ridiculous.

Also, pedestrians, I know you have right of way but would it kill you to look first (in fact, it would do the opposite!) before you step out? And when I stop for you, where is my thank you wave? It is common courtesy, you impolite gits. Your lack of gratitude for me not running your ignorant self over makes me want to run your ignorant self over.

And, hey, if you are going to walk around late at night, wear bright clothes. And walk against traffic, not with it. Thanks.

Best (Worst) Example?

Turning a sharp corner late at night and almost hit a dude who is walking on my side of the road wearing all black. Annoyingly it would have been my fault had I knocked him over. How selfish.


I made this list to make a somewhat sarcastic dig at VIPs, and ended up making a passionate argument against…well, practically everybody. Sorry about that.

In my defence though, I think I’m justified to criticize these people. There a lot of poor drivers out there causing accidents, after all. Sure, there are plenty of good drivers too, but it only takes one distracted, tailgating VIP cidiot to ruin your day (and your car).

So if you are reading this and you are guilty of one, or some, of these bad driving behaviours…please stop. Then tell somebody else to stop. That way everyone could have a fun driving experience and there would be no accidents ever.

That’s how it works, right?

Thanks for reading,



Driving Home (Another Picture Journey!)

Originally posted on Even More Photography On The Citadel:

The last honeymoon blog post. I’ve used up all of our pictures and told you all of our stories. It was an eventful few days, but after this it will be time to move on and talk about other things. Thoughts on driving, football, T.V…food. The usual. Ah well. All good things come to an end eventually, right?

So, after the bear center, Vanna and I decided to drive back home; we didn’t feel like hiking and we couldn’t really afford to visit anywhere else.

We did, however, try to make the most of our journey back. Instead of taking a direct route, we pulled off the road whenever we saw something interesting for pictures, a look around etc.

We stopped at about six places, but the four places in the slideshow below were the only ones of interest (ie, the only places we took pictures). There is Mud Creek…

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Pictures From The Boundary Waters: The North American Bear Center

Originally posted on Even More Photography On The Citadel:

When we were heading into Ely on Thursday, we happened to see the sign for the North American Bear Center (Ely must just have a monopoly on the larger American mammals…). As our original plans to hike all Friday morning had been kiboshed (Vanna’s shoes were soaking wet, and neither of us were particularly keen to try again after Thursday night), we decided to stop by on our way home. And because it was so early (got there before opening time), not only did we get in first, we were able to explore most of the center before we were disturbed. It was pretty awesome.

Naturally, we couldn’t help but make comparisons to the wolf center. As you can see from the slideshow above however, the bear center was far superior. For the same admission price, you were able to learn so much more about bears (as somebody who didn’t…

View original 442 more words

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