miscellaneous commentary

Archive for May 2013

Curriculum Cinema

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Early during finals week at UNI I made my way to the Rod Library to inquire about a visitor’s pass. For a while I had contemplated getting one so I could finally devour their extensive DVD collection. A college student at the front desk asked for ten bucks up front and gave me a small yellow form to fill out. She said I’d get the card for one month (4/29 to 5/29 or thereabouts) and explained how to search their catalog on the library website. She must have assumed I either wasn’t an alumnus or that I was but wasn’t intuitive enough to navigate an online catalog, but she had a pretty voice, so I held my tongue and let her run through her spiel.

Afterwards she handed me the visitor card and then decided to inform me that starting “after the semester is over” the visitor passes would be free of charge. For a second I considered asking for my money back and returning in a week or two, but I decided to let it slide. She had already entered my info into the system and wasted enough of my time, so I considered the $10 a donation to the library. My meager contribution to my alma mater, I suppose.

For the past 4 weeks I’ve been devouring one movie after another, of varying quality. Most were worth watching, a few were surprisingly good – Chimes at Midnight, Baraka, Orlando, Come and See. I’ve gone through about 44 films at this point. I stopped in last Thursday to drop off the current batch and pick up just a few more, and thought to ask the guy at the front desk how I would go about renewing the pass after it expired the following week (this week). He called forth his supervisor, a slightly older lady, who said they were moving to the free visitor pass system as of June 1. Before I could say anything, she said she wouldn’t make me come back to renew it, punched a few things into the terminal, and said I was renewed… until June 1, 2014. Sweet!

Now that I’m not under a deadline to watch as many movies as I can, I don’t feel the pressing need to check out any more DVDs this summer. I think I may actually go in later this week for a book! I’ve been on an Easter Island kick as of late. I’ve read what I can find at the CF library, which amounted to some cheap YA-quality literature. Time to move up to the big leagues.


Written by camcarlson

May 28, 2013 at 7:38 PM

Posted in Cedar Valley, Cinema

Are you saving enough?

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For anyone investing in a 401(k), please take an hour to watch this video. It’s a real eye-opener. I’m happy to report my portfolio is already composed of low-fee funds, and I contribute 12% of each paycheck into my account. While that’s higher than most people I know, I feel I should raise it a bit more. Anyway, watch and learn —

Written by camcarlson

May 23, 2013 at 9:05 PM

Posted in Finance, video

Home Disorganization

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Written by camcarlson

May 21, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

As fine excuse as any

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For anyone curious to know what I’ve been up to lately, the short answer is: movies. Like usual. But even more so since this weekend, as I bashed the little toe of my right foot into the kitchen door frame, causing it to swell and turn a lovely red & purple color. So, no running or bicycling for me for a while. And with the weather *finally* cooperating, it’s a real drag not being out there enjoying it. Movies shall keep me company while I recoup.

I acquired a visitor pass to the UNI Library a couple weeks ago and have been going through their awesome movie collection like a madman. Seen over the past 15 days: The Adventures of Prince Achmed, Army of Shadows, Atlantic City, Baraka, Barry Lyndon, Dancemaker, Heart of Glass, The Killing, Le Boucher, The Life & Death of Colonel Blimp, Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, Rocco and His Brothers, Safety Last, Shoah and Spartacus. I’m aiming for another 10-15 titles before the pass expires.


Written by camcarlson

May 14, 2013 at 5:54 PM

Posted in Cinema

2 Days in Seattle

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I think I’ve waited long enough to write something about the second half of my spring break trip. Truth be told, I wasn’t as impressed with Seattle as I was with Portland. The city has a professional business go-go vibe going for it, in comparison to Portland’s more laid back, anything-goes bohemian culture. Lots of hills, lots of walking up and down hills, lots of pedestrians and bicyclists, which all equates lots of very fit people.


This is just about all I knew about Seattle before my visit.

We arrived on Tuesday afternoon, just as it began to rain. It rained all afternoon and all evening, all night, finally stopping Wednesday morning (the first day of spring). That day there was a gale warning in effect, which means winds of 35 knots (something like 40 mph). The wind did not deter me from enjoying the spring weather, temperatures in the 50s and occasional sunshine, much like what we had experienced in Portland, and a welcome respite from Iowa’s seemingly never-ending winter.

Look, green stuff!

Look, green stuff!

Look, a roundabout! And no traces of auto wreckage or bodily carnage! Sensible transportation planning in action...

We observed many cars with drivers of all ages navigating this roundabout with ease.

Like Portland, we opted for non-hotel lodging. We stayed at the 11th Avenue Inn, a nice B&B located in the Capital Hill neighborhood, within a few blocks of numerous shops and restaurants and only a couple miles from downtown. If you go to the link, you can see the room we stayed in (the Citrine room). The place was well worth the money, and it further cemented the notion that I never want to stay at a hotel anywhere ever again. The room had a small television atop an armoire but we never turned it on, and we had no need for the usual hotel “frills”. The breakfasts were delicious; scrambled eggs with ham and mushrooms plus greek yogurt topped with walnuts, granola and raspberries one morning, and fresh blueberry pancakes with blackberry syrup, banana and strawberry slices, sausage links and greek yogurt the next. I highly recommend this place.
















What I liked: the Annapurna Cafe (really good Nepalese/Tibetan cuisine), the (free) view from the observation tower at Volunteer Park and the enormous Uwajimaya grocery store. I was impressed with the massive scale of the QFC on Broadway —  an entire city block of upscale foodstuffs, twice as expensive as the fare found in Hy-Vee, with an upstairs (!!!) alcohol & pharmacy section and a lower-level home supplies section. More hipsters there than I could shake a stick at.


The enormous sake selection. This did not include the “cold bottles” across the aisle.

What I could have done without: the constant rain that turned my socks & shoes into sponges; the Public Market near the waterfront (features the stereotypical fish-throwing vendors and numerous chintzy stores and overpriced restaurants… though I did get a delicious bowl of New England clam chowder at the Athenian), spending more than five minutes inside the enormous Nordstrom on Pine St., or spending any time at all inside the other downtown stores. Oh, and “gum alley”. Disgusting.


This is the rest of what I knew about Seattle: a seafood-lover’s paradise. But where’s the red snapper?

What I would have done differently: I would have gone up in the Space Needle (despite my usual hesitation to engage in the usual touristy activities) and the EMP Museum, and I would have seen a movie at the Cinerama Theater, even if they weren’t showing something in true Cinerama format (which they usually don’t). I also would have taken a bus… any bus… out of the city center and explored some of the surrounding neighborhoods. Something I didn’t really do much of while we were in Portland, unfortunately. Oh well, there’s only so much that can be done in 48 hours.


Late Thursday morning I received both a call from Amtrak’s automated phone system as well as a notice on my iPhone that our departure from King Station had been “adjusted”. A call to Amtrak revealed a minor avalanche had occurred along the tracks on the first leg of our return journey, necessitating bussing us to the first stop at Everett WA. Departure time remained the same. We boarded the nicest, coziest charter buses I have ever been on and left for Everett amidst rush hour traffic. I’m fairly impressed with both the Amtrak app and the Passbook app on my phone; both worked very well in notifying me about changes to my itinerary.

Written by camcarlson

May 6, 2013 at 10:48 PM

Posted in Travel