Last month I assembled all of my earthly possessions in Des Moines, IA, gave some of them away, put most of them in a truck, and left a few in kitchen cabinets as an accidental gift for my former landlord. I drove the truck to Bloomington, IL and slept for a night. The next morning, my brother-in-law loaded a roll-top desk (that two of me couldn't lift) onto the truck all by himself. I was impressed.

Then I drove the truck to Carbondale, IL, and through Carbondale to Murphysboro, IL, where I now live in a duplex between a dirt road and a forest. I don’t really want to live in a large city, but I also don’t want to live in the middle of nowhere, which unfortunately means I’ll likely be moving again within the next year. Hopefully I’ll manage to lose more stuff before then.

Boxes were left unpacked as Jessica and I drove back to Bloomington, where we spent Christmas. On the day after Christmas, we celebrated “fake New Year’s Eve” (as they call it) with Jessica’s high school friends. One of those friends works for NBC news, and informed us of Gerald Ford’s death hours before you knew about it. I forgot about it almost immediately, only to be reminded of it hours after you knew about it. I remember reading something about how there’s no point in watching the news because you’ll be told about anything newsworthy anyway whether or not you’re interested. I think that’s mostly true.

From Bloomington we went to Peoria to spend “fake Christmas” (as only I call it) with some of my family. We talked briefly about Gerald Ford dying and played some Scrabble. We also watched Charlotte’s Web, which was pretty good for a children’s movie. No wait — we went to Peoria first between Christmas and “fake New Year’s Eve,” then back to Bloomington, then back to Peoria. On the first trip to Peoria, my friend JJ gave me some music by his friend Mitch Ure after we shot BB guns at empty cans.

After the second trip to Peoria, we went back to Bloomington again, where I saw some of Cars while falling asleep. Then we went to Iowa City, IA, where we celebrated actual New Year’s Eve, among my college friends, who — when together — refer to it as “New Yars” due to our shared interest in piracy. In Iowa City I watched most of Wine for the Confused with John Cleese (of Monty Python fame). It was more informative and less funny than I expected. I also watched a few episodes of Firefly, and I expect I’ll watch it all eventually.

From Iowa City, we went to St. Louis, MO where I sang in a recording for a song by Mitch Ure along with a girl whose name I’ve forgotten, but whose picture can be found in the January issue of Guitar Player magazine in the section on MySpace musicians. Also in St. Louis, I watched Factotum, a movie based on books by Charles Bukowski, who I only know of due to a song by Modest Mouse. It was okay. We stayed (and watched the movie) with JJ. Jessica’s grandma called and talked at length about Gerald Ford. She wanted to make sure we saw his funeral procession on TV. We didn’t.

From St. Louis, we got on a plane to Reno, with a layover in Denver. No movies nor discussion of Gerald Ford in Denver. At the boarding gate, we sat near two Japanese girls who spoke to each other in Japanese. My Japanese is very rusty, but I did catch one of them saying she doesn’t like Americans. In Reno, I watched both Children of Men and 28 Days Later, both violent distopian stories set in a future Britian. I preferred 28 Days Later, not least because it involved zombies. We stayed with my brother and sister-in-law, who played a lot of Scrabble with us, took us to visit my cousin in Sacremento, CA, took us skiing in Tahoe, and discussed Gerald Ford with us.

I spent a lot of time in Casinos and eventually succumbed to gambling $1 in a penny slot machine while we waited to be seated for breakfast. At one point I was up to $1.07, but I lost it all in the end. Then we flew back to St. Louis, and attempted to drive back to Murphysboro. Unfortunately, all access to Interstate 55 was closed, so we had to take what ended up to be about a two hour detour through St. Louis to find another bridge over the river. But we eventually got back to a house in the middle of nowhere full of unopened boxes.

I’m working from home now — right now, in fact. So far it’s not as different as I was expecting. I’ve opened a bank account and established new health insurance, but I haven’t watched any movies in Murphysboro yet and the one person I’ve talked to — the cable guy who spent an hour here beforing telling me he couldn’t get the cable modem working on the jack in my office — did not mention Gerald Ford. I have a three day weekend, so odds are pretty good that I’ll experience a movie, Scrabble game, and/or discussion of Gerald Ford. I’ll keep you posted.

 

The Des Moines Register today published what must be their twentieth report on Iowa Governor and Democrats Looking Conservative chair Tom Vilsack's surprise Easter trip to Iraq:

The whirlwind trip with three other governors also gave the Midwestern Democrat, who is working to establish a command of world affairs, a key line on his resume as he looks at running for president.

I can see that resume already:

Foreign Policy Experience

  • Spent a day in Iraq posing for pictures and doing conference calls with press back in America.

"Almost subliminally, the governor is saying to activists, 'I have foreign policy experience,' " Sabato said. "There will be people out there who, without realizing it, check a box in their own mind that he understands something about the critical hot spot on the globe."

I know which box I've checked in my mind.

exploits war for personal gain

He hasn't even announced his candidacy yet, and I already want to vote against Tom Vilsack for President.