Monday, June 23, 2008

The Weekend in Five

1. We went to Minnesota this past weekend to attend Kathy's 15th college reunion. Kathy went to Carleton, a small liberal arts college roughly 40 minutes from Minneapolis, which Kathy's Mom also attended. We had a great time -- I'd met a decent number of her classmates over the years, and enjoyed hanging out with both them and the ones I met this weekend. We got into Minneapolis in the late afternoon (note to self -- when flying with Emelia, it's worth booking the direct flight over the connecting one, even if it costs a little extra or we have to schlep to Dulles), which gave us enough time to check into the hotel we'd reserved right by the airport and grab a bite before it was time for Emelia to go to sleep. I have to say that most of the time, Hotwire is the best option for reserving hotels. We ended up in a lovely suite that included a better-than-average complementary breakfast for less than $60 including taxes.

2. After Emelia went to sleep Thursday evening, my friend Dan picked me up and we hit a couple of beer bars -- the selections were a bit disappointing, as not much new was available. During the evening, Dan apologized for forgetting a can of Surly Bitter Brewer that he'd intended to bring, and encouraged me to hit a beer store on my way out of town to grab some of my own (Surly is only a couple of years old, but arguably is the best brewery in town. It also provided a great private tour as part of last year's RateBeer Summer Gathering). I told him that we'd be heading out early in the morning, long before the beer stores would be open. I was, after all, in town to attend Kathy's reunion, and the fact that I was even able to get with Dan was a bit of a bonus. Apparently, having such a healthy attitude was something that the Beer Gods smiled upon, for that afternoon, when we were hanging out with Kathy's classmates and the alcohol began flowing, someone walked by with a mixed case of Surly products, including Bitter Brewer. I asked him what the deal was, and learned that one of Kathy's classmates is married to the founder of Surly, and that she was providing a few cases for the event. The fact that I since discovered that I had already rated it doesn't bother me in the least, as I enjoyed it there, along with the other three Surly beers that were in the cooler.

3. Out of a recognition of the noise that would be created by partying alumni, the rooms for the alums with children were on the top floor of the dorm we stayed in, the fourth floor. I know they meant well, but the fourth floor was a bit of a haul to bring all of Emelia's accouterments (including the portable crib), seeing as how there were no elevators. Plus it was a bit of a haul if you wanted to hang with folks while a child napped, but still wanted to check on her on occasion. And it was warm -- being part of a relatively junior class, we weren't in a dorm with A/C, and the sun beat down upon the very windowed rooms all day long (and heat rises). It cooled down at night, but it was tough for Emelia to fall asleep for her nap, and even harder to do so in the evening while the room at its peak temperature. Friday night, Emelia wouldn't go to sleep, and Kathy finally brought her downstairs around 9pm. After a little time in the relative cool, we went back upstairs to try to get her to sleep. Our efforts before 10pm came to naught, as it was then that the fireworks began, seemingly right next to the building. Emelia wasn't too scared (I calmed her down pretty easily when she started to stress), but she certainly wasn't going to sleep right then. Finally at around 10:30, only ~4 hours later than usual, Emelia fell asleep for the night (she usually goes to sleep just after 7:30, but Minneapolis is one hour behind DC).

4. On Saturday, one of the activities was a porch party at the house of a couple from her class that own a house just two of blocks from campus. They have kids, and there were plenty of toys to keep Emelia occupied. She was mostly exploring the toys by herself, and while many kept her interest during the time we were there, Emelia eventually settled on a few dolls with a stroller. As is her wont with dolls, she was transfixed, particularly with an anatomically correct boy doll. At one point I explained to her that these were dolls to play with while she was there and that she'd have leave them, but I didn't have much hope that she fully understood what I was saying. And indeed, when it was time to go, she let loose the loudest series of shrieks I'd ever heard pass her lips. Ah well, these things happen I suppose, but Kathy felt pretty embarrassed (I mostly tried to suppress my laughter).

Emelia was fully over it by the time we were about a block from dinner. From that distance we saw Shizuka and Kazumi -- Emelia shouted, "Kaz," and Kaz shouted, "Melia!" Well, Kaz did that at first, but pretty quickly she noticed that we were walking with Greg (classmate to Shizuka and Kathy), and she started shouting, "Greg!" After the mothers put their daughters down, what ensued was the classic movie scene parody, with the two of them running toward each other, followed by Kaz running right past Emelia to greet Greg.

5. Carleton doesn't just recycle, it composts. At meals, pretty much everything except the metallic butter wrappers went into the compost bin, including, when we ate outside, the "plastic" (corn or potato) utensils and cups. Kathy and I thought it was fantastic, and when I got back home, I discovered that Carleton has a host of significant green initiatives. I know colleges and universities are usually at the forefront of such efforts, but it makes us wonder how soon such efforts will become mainstream.