Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Night to (Barely) Remember

Ah, the 1980s in the United States. Such an incredible era in which to come of age. Such remarkable contributions to the world in terms of music, fashion, makeup, and hairstyles. What American phenomenon best provides a snapshot of what the '80s meant in those terms to those of us who survived that decade? Why, the high school prom, that's what!

(It is highly recommended that you choose one of these links and fire up some '80s music--free!--for yourself before proceeding with the rest of this post: here or here.)

Faithful readers might already suspect where I'm going with this. Good friends Jay and Erin, party planners extraordinaire and perpetual instigators of hijinks and social activities amongst our dear group of couples friends, invited us to their home in the Red River Valley for a 1980s prom for adults last night. Couples showed up in their '80s regalia to find Jay and Erin's garage decorated like a high school gym with metallic streamers and lights. '80s music blared from strategically placed speakers throughout the house and garage all night, and the refreshments table featured spiked punch. (The only thing missing: chaperones about 30 years older than us wandering the dance floor, brandishing rulers, and admonishing us to keep our distance from one another.)

We were all so photogenic that everyone was snapping pics throughout the night as though it were a Moberg family get-together! I have been judicious in my selection of photos to post here (ever-mindful of the possibility that employers, clergy, and scandalizable parents could access this blog). Here's hoping that pictures will be worth a thousand words; they just might give you an idea of what good sports everyone was to find '80s prom gear, rat their hair, and play along with the theme. It truly was a blast.

Prom theme: "A Night to Remember." (Notice the word "Barely" inserted with a caret before "Remember.") (Notice also the faux basketball hoop resting on the garage door tracks. It's all about the details, baby!)

The dark green carpeting leads from the garage floor up the steps into the mud room of the house. When the garage became a gymnasium, however, those steps became the default entrance through the balloon archway for the Grand March. The streamers (official prom colors: teal and silver) ran around the perimeter of the garage with strings of lights wrapped in tulle in each corner. Jay hung a disco ball and rigged two spotlights to shine on it from atop each garage door opener unit (upon which he also set up wireless speakers for the music).

All the kids had a slumber party at Jesse and Nicole's while the parents enjoyed the prom, but the babysitter/saint, Elizabeth, brought the troop over to Jay and Erin's to watch the Grand March. Left to right: Suzanna, Hillary, Big Ethan towering over McKenna, Mya, Abigail, Gabriel, Hannah, and Li'l' Ethan.

Daddy and his sweeties!

The only couple whose photo in the balloon archway I don't have (here they are in the dining room): Susie and Jeff

Let the Grand March begin with the host couple: Erin and Jay! (Love the side pony tail, Erin.)

Aren't we "like, totally" hot?! (Can you tell that Susan's hair is ratted and mine is moussed, gelled, and waxed into a Brandon Walsh 'do?) (My boutonnière is a leftover from our own wedding! Get! Out!)

Nicole and Jesse. Which is more '80s: Nicole's bedazzled dress top or her hairsprayed bangs and sides radiating from her skull like the Statue of Liberty? (P.S. Erin, Susan, and Nicole went to a hair stylist yesterday afternoon to get special '80s styles for the prom. Yes, they paid someone to make them look like this!)

Rob and Laurie. The volume in Laurie's hair is matched by that of Rob's tux shirt's frills.

Jared and Tanya, Jay and Erin's next-door neighbors. That's some awesome hair, Tanya.

Tracy and Corey. Corey, Jared, Rob, and Jeff were in a four-way contest for "Most '70s-Looking Tux/Suit at an '80s Prom."

Missy and Joey. Joey won the unofficial award for "Male Who Obviously Didn't Let His Date's Choice of Dress Color Dictate His Selection at the Tux Rental Shop," otherwise known as the "Frankly, My Dear, I Don't Give a Damn" award.

The ubiquitous "Let's get one of all the girls together" photograph.

The male version of the photo above. We're "gnarly to the max." And "bodacious." And "bad to the bone." ("Barf me out" and "gag me with a spoon.")

Apparently if you own the garage/faux gymnasium, host the party, and supply all the booze and food, you're an automatic shoe-in for King and Queen of the Prom titles. (Get a room!)

And again: Get a room!

Who knows? It's probably perfectly innocent, but it looks borderline incriminating, so here it is. (You're welcome, Erin.) (Those specks on the garage floor are plastic cutouts in the shape of the word "Prom" written in cursive. By the next morning, they were all over the house, too.) And now, let the dancing begin:

Um, why is Rob getting all the female attention?! He's a "total clydesdale."

Nicole, this is the kind of dancing that would have the chaperones all over us like white on rice . . . but without any chaperones around, grind away!

Like Corey Hart, I wear my sunglasses at night. (Well, Rob's sunglasses.) Studly, no? (Correct answer: "Fer shur!")

Although one wouldn't normally look at me and think "Gangsta!" I think I fare better in that regard than Rob, whose pocket square (designed to match his wife's/date's prom dress) does not hip-hop fashion make. (It's "grody" and "hellacious"--he's a "major poser.") Nevertheless, we're both still pretty "rad" and "tubular" and "bomb."

On our way back home today, we stopped at Olive Garden in Fargo for dinner. (Other on-the-road meal highlights from this trip: Saturday night take-out from Giuseppe's, a new Italian restaurant in downtown Grand Forks [reviewed favorably here and here] that makes terrific chicken marsala and Friday night eat-in at Taco del Mar in Bismarck, where the salsa left a heat signature that I still can feel!) We didn't get back to Dickinson in time for Bravo Broadway, the final performance sponsored by the Dickinson Area Concert Association. But we did have time for another Star Wars movie!

I realize that some readers may feel that an '80s prom for adults is an idea that is "totally bogus" and "heinous," but Susan and I are glad that our "posse" is so "def," "dope," "fly," and "legit" that they found the idea "way cool" and went along with it all the way. I had a "totally radical" weekend!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wrapping up the Year at Trinity

Before Susan moves on to her new job next fall, she's wrapping up the school year at her current job with a couple annual events in which we got to participate last spring, too. Last Tuesday, we attended a recognition dinner at the high school (a four-house-away walk for us) for all faculty and staff to honor those who have achieved milestones in terms of years of service (e.g., five years, ten years, etc.) or who are moving on (i.e., retiring or taking new jobs elsewhere). Planners neglected to include Susan in the list of those moving on, so she wasn't acknowledged . . . an oversight that seemed to irritate her colleagues much more than it did Susan. We still got a free meal out of the evening (courtesy of McDonald's and Susan's uncle Dale, who manages it), so what the hey?

Tonight we got another free meal, this time courtesy of the junior and senior classes at their annual pre-prom banquet held at the Grand Dakota Lodge (which happens to make dang tasty deep-fried turkey, I must say). All the high schoolers in attendance were in semi-formal attire with fresh fake tans and much facial makeup and hair all fixative-d into place . . . and that was just the guys! I jest. They looked good all cleaned up, and those who gave addresses from the podium were amusing and confident. And the food was good, which was a priority to me since I don't know many of the people at school or "get" the in-jokes made about them at the podium.

We won't be attending Trinity's prom this weekend; we have our own prom to attend (keep reading Pensive? No, Just Thinking for further details). Perhaps the next year-end/career-end wrap-up at Trinity for Susan will be graduation May 25?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Long Time No See!

Guess who has been in Dickinson this week! Dad and Beverly and their dog, Bandy! Back from their wintertime road trip, they're now on their way back home and decided to spend some time in Dickinson first. They have been staying in their motorhome at Camp on the Heart on the south side of town and driving their car to our house to spend evenings with us, and Susan has done a fabulous job of keeping us all well fed each night. (Sample meal: I grilled seasoned Omaha Steaks, packets of sliced fingerling potatoes, and fresh asparagus outside off the veranda while indoors Susan prepared tossed salad, sautéed mushrooms and onions for the steak, and baked a homemade apple pie to serve with Schwan's vanilla ice cream for dessert.)

It has been a long time since we've seen them (six months or so), and it's been fun to watch them and their granddaughters reconnect. In fact, after returning from a brief daytrip to Williston Thursday for Dad's doctor appointment, Dad and Beverly picked up the girls and brought them to the motorhome for a slumber party! The girls got into their pajamas, grabbed their blankies and stuffed animals and sleeping bags, and bid Mommy and Daddy adieu for the night! The next day they reported having had a night full of candy, popcorn, soda, movies, and fun!


We've enjoyed getting reacquainted with Bandy, too, and she's been enjoying a houseful of people willing to give her attention non-stop, take her for walks and runs numerous times daily, sneak her scraps under the table, and introduce her to the neighbor's puppy, Buddy. Here's little Buddy first (in the arms of Abigail in the blue coat) and then Buddy and Bandy playing:

As I predicted, plans were made to meet at the Dakota Diner following church this morning. We had a great meal and exchanged huggy-and-kissy goodbyes before Dad, Beverly, and Bandy hit the road for home a couple hours north. Now that they'll be back in the area, we're looking forward to spending more time with them again; in fact, the girls have already invited them back in a couple weeks for Grandparents Day at the elementary school! Welcome home, Dad and Beverly!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Aftermath of Murder

Faithful readers will recall this event in which I recently participated. Go here for a recap from the typing fingers of the Stoxen Library staff themselves, and be sure to check out the photos of the event available here. (Can you spot me in those pics? Make that your personal challenge. Go on, now! Check out the links!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Nepal-itics


Faithful readers may recall our family's having attended a Mongolian new year celebration a year ago. Dickinson State University is quite the international university; about half our on-campus population (i.e., those living in campus housing) is made up of students from countries other than the United States. Some are from our next-door neighbor Canada, of course, but most are from China, Mongolia, Russia, Nepal, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and European and African nations. (Next fall we will welcome cohorts from Japan and Korea, as well.) One of the benefits of working at DSU has been learning about these varied cultures from the students themselves, and tonight we were able to learn about Nepal by helping those students celebrate Navavarsha, the Nepali new year. (The Nepalese students are well into 2008 here in North Dakota, but back home, depending on what local calendar they use, they could be celebrating the start of 1128, 2065, or 2139!)

I had been invited to participate in a game of Jeopardy! this evening sponsored by Residential Life. There were three teams: staff, faculty, and students. Guess which team won! My team! But we gave our prizes to the student team. Afterward, I met Susan and the girls at the Student Center, where the ballrooms were set up for the new year celebration. The Nepalese students were dressed in traditional and ethnic garb, greeting us at the door, explaining the numerous posters and items on display on tables surrounding the room, serving us Nepalese food and beverages (unlabeled, all, so I have no idea what we ate or drank), and entertaining us by singing Nepalese songs and performing traditional dances. Susan had the opportunity to learn that Nepal is not synonymous with Tibet. (Are you yourself wondering where Nepal is? Here's the CIA's take on Nepal, and here's Nepal's own tourism site.)

Besides the chance to taste unusual food, hear and see unfamiliar music and dancing, and learn details about a faraway country from people who call it home, this evening offered us also the opportunity to honor a group of students who rightfully take pride in their contributions to the global environment of our university. Susan and I are delighted that our daughters (well, and us, too) have had incredible opportunities in Dickinson in terms of learning about the world beyond from its very citizens. (Of course, we all had a preliminary education in Nepalese culture during our time in Disney World and its Expedition Everest attraction . . .)

Why don't you experience a little Nepalese music yourself? Go here or here or here for songs to listen to and music videos to watch for free, and sample the varied sounds of Nepal through its musical contributions to the world.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Awesomely Aimless Sunday Afternoon

May I promote a local business for just a moment? I'm a fan of Dakota Diner, a local restaurant near a truck stop off the Interstate on the eastern edge of Dickinson. Its setup includes a long counter with actual semi-truck cab driver's seats instead of stools; that plus its proximity to the truck stop must appeal to truck drivers. However, either end of the restaurant features tables and booths like a small-town café, and it has a menu to match with lunch and dinner specials that include a dinner role and hot vegetable as a side dish (readers familar with small-town cafés will recognize that standard feature). The kitchen is good at preparing breakfast foods, hot lunches, and fine dinners alike, making it a popular spot for business folks on lunch breaks, hungry families out for supper, and Sunday diners out for a meal after church.

I first experienced Dakota Diner last summer when my dad and stepmom were stranded in Dickinson with their ailing motorhome. They'll be in town tomorrow on their way back home from another winter on the road (my sister has chronicled here their adventures in the Southwest the past six months), and I predict at least one visit to Dakota Diner with them while they're here this upcoming week. In the meantime, Susan and I took the girls out to eat after church, and Dakota Diner served us delicious meals.

Afterward we spent a lazy Sunday afternoon away from home. I. Keating Furniture World/Ashley Furniture has a beautiful store near Dakota Diner, so we stopped there to browse and daydream about various sets of furniture in our own home. Sigh. We did a little shopping at Prairie Hills Mall (which, incidently, is sponsoring an event called Dancing with Dickinson Stars, a charity fundraiser and publicity idea capitalizing on the popularity of ABC TV's Dancing with the Stars, to which our family is addicted). Then we stopped by the Dickinson Recreation Center to check out the home show being held there this weekend. We got some ideas for home improvement projects that are on our long-term wish list.

Tonight: another episode in the Star Wars series!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Young Padawans

(I would like to think we live in a world in which everyone "gets" the "padawan" reference in the title of this post, but knowing my readership as I do, there are some among you who need to read this before going any father.)

A recent Moberg family activity has been watching the entire Star Wars œuvre as it has been broadcast on Spike TV. Why? How? With what results? All those questions are answered here (approximate portion of Pensive? No, Just Thinking readers who will bother to read that before proceeding: 12% . . . which is sad, because it's a cute story).

Anyway, after watching the movies, the girlies wanted to hear stories about my childhood love of everything Star Wars. I just so happen to have most of my Star Wars toys from when I was a boy, so off we went to the storage room to get out the toys. Handling each toy like a delicate religious artifact, I showed them each action figure (some of them now headless from being played with so much years ago) and miniature spaceships and my huge Millennium Falcon spaceship, explaining which movies each item is based upon and explaining how I used to play with them. And then they set about playing with them much the same way that I did: intermixing Star Wars toys with my other toys in games and situations of their own imagining. Thus, we get photos like this:

Star Wars figures and Millennium Falcon spaceship meet fire truck, red tractor, and yellow caterpillar

Another angle. Can you tell who's perched at the top of the fire engine ladder?

Why, yes, you are right! It's a Tusken Raider from the planet Tatooine!

The people and aliens from a galaxy far, far away ought to leave a little more distance between their fire truck and the farm tractor in front of them.

The Tusken Raider must be taking a break from marauding and pillaging on Tatooine in order to fight fires on Earth (which is uncharacteristically altruistic of him).

Looks like the tractor has gotten out of the way of the fire truck thanks to Abigail's deft driving.

Although C-3PO was programmed to function as a protocol 'droid, here he finds himself at the helm of an earth-moving caterpillar.

What a motley crew on their way to fight a fire! There's R2-D2 and a headless Darth Vader side-by-side in the front and a headless Rebel soldier, a Stormtrooper, and an IG-88 bounty hunter 'droid in the back. Good and Evil fight side-by-side when it comes to extinguishing conflagrations, evidently.

Obi-Wan Kenobi and a Star Destroyer Commander (enemies in the movies) pull over their caterpillar long enough to chat with the fire fighting gang.

Hillary takes the most faithful-to-the-movies approach to play: that's Han Solo in his own ship, the Millennium Falcon.

No farming or municipal equipment exist in Hillary's universe--just a spaceship, daring allies of the Rebel cause, and pink sweatpants.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Murder in the Library!

What a fun night! I just took part in "Murder in the Library," a solve-the-mystery/educational scavenger hunt event in the Stoxen Library at DSU. It was a cooperative venture between the library staff, who wanted a fun way to kick off Library Week, and some Resident Assistants (RA's) wanting to offer social/educational programming for their peers in the residence halls on campus. Since my office is located in the lower level of the library, I was invited by the library staff to participate, too.

DSU students signed up in advance for a spot on one of ten teams of six participants each. They showed up tonight before 7:30 P.M. to enjoy lemonade and cookies and hear the rules from the library staff. Meanwhile, inside the library we had drawn all the blinds, taped colored paper over the lights that are wired to stay on perpetually, set up strategically placed lamps for mood lighting, readied the stations for all the clues, doused the "murder victim" in stage blood and got him situated in the corner of the library classroom, and placed RA's where participants would need to report throughout the scavenger hunt to get their next clues.

Participants were told to arrive with flashlights, so once the library doors opened and the madness began, there were people running around manically in the dark, beams from their flashlights tracing paths on the floors and walls. Some RA's hid in darkened corners and leaped out to scream at passersby to heighten the suspense and add to the mood. Some teams yelled at each other and tore around wildly; some teams huddled closely together and whispered to keep other teams from hearing them. But what were participants doing besides running around in the dark with their flashlights? Here's what:

There were a series of challenges that each team had to complete and prove to someone at the next station that they had completed in order to get the next clue. Each clue was written on a puzzle piece, and upon accumulating all the clues, teams were told to flip over the clues and put together the puzzle to see the identity of the "murderer" and then be the first team to the reference desk to report the "murderer's" name to the judges there. The bloodied "victim" held one of the clues, so one of the teams' tasks was to locate the "victim" and retrieve their clue from him. Other challenges asked them to check out a DVD from on reserve and find a viewing room to watch it for their next clue; use a call number to find a particular book and page through it for the next clue; and report to the Academic Success Center (ASC), where I work, to answer three questions about the services that we offer in exchange for their next clue.

Our questions were answerable with information from brochures on display throughout the ASC as well as via our Web site, which I had pulled up on all the computers in the Learning Commons computer lab in our space. Some people went straight for the computers and, upon finding the answers, made sure to close down the site to make the task more difficult for those who followed. Others went for the brochures, leaving a swatch of destruction in their wake (papers strewn everywhere). Others knew the answers from experience, either having utilized our services or serving as student employees in the ASC themselves.

Only one team did not complete all the tasks by the time the library staff brought the event to a close. Everyone received certificates and prizes for participating: key chains, bookmarks, and coupons for a free beverage from the library's coffee bar. The top three teams got additional prizes, including candy, DSU mugs, and USB drives (for computer data storage). Everyone got a good library education (or refresher, in some cases), too, learning where the maps are stored, how to utilize the library's viewing rooms, what the reference desk has to offer, how to utilize the ASC's services, etc.

And they (and we) had a blast. In fact, nobody was in a rush to leave at the end of the night. They did eventually pair up or group together and head off for more socializing. One of the RA's spearheading the event is already planning a followup scavenger hunt (based not only on the participants' reactions tonight but also on the fact that many more wanted to sign up but could not once the sign-up sheets were full). I'd do it again! (Of course, faithful readers already know that I'm into that kinda thing.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My Trip to Mexico, Minus the Passport

Have you eaten at JD's BBQ on State Avenue in Dickinson? If not, you'd betta get yo behind there pronto--it is to die for (um, figuratively speaking, that is). Whilst the girls were at ballet classes this evening, Susan took me to JD's for supper: chicken, pork, brisket, jambalaya, potato salad, corn bread, and--beforehand--buckets of peanuts on every table, the shells of which one throws on the floor. There was even a musician on hand tonight, playing his guitar and singing in the corner as we finished our meal. Great atmosphere, great food . . . and I don't even get kickbacks for saying so!

After eating, we went to a retail chain "super" store to pick up some photos that we had developed from three disposable cameras we'd had around the house--two of them for the girls' use and one for my own use when in FL for a conference recently. Wanna see some more Disney World pics?! (These were better quality, of course, because we were using our digital camera. The best pics from the disposable camera were those taken in lotsa light--thus all the outside shots.) First, orient yourself to the resort's layout with this map. Then, enjoy:

This fountain is situated at the entrance to Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, where the conference was held and where I stayed.

El Centro is the building housing the concierge, the front desk, the bell station, the shop, and the restaurants. Here it is from the entrance driveway . . .

. . . and from the exit driveway.

This is the entrance to the conference center (attached to El Centro) where all the conference sessions were held.

Exiting El Centro to walk to one's room, one sees Lago Dorado (Lake of Gold)--the lake around which Coronado Springs is buit--and several lakeside attractions within yards of El Centro's door, including an outdoor bar and this marina. The circular yellow building at the end of the marina is where one would check out a boat or even a bike for touring the grounds of the resort.

The guest rooms are situated around the lake in three village areas: the casitas, the ranchos, and the cabanas. I stayed in a cabana, and here's an example of one of those buildings.

A beach of white sand and hammocks tied to the palm trees lies just outside the cabanas. Doesn't this look inviting?!

Here's a view of El Centro and the casitas across Lago Dorado from the end of the bridge nearest my cabana.

Another view from the bridge.

Just a few steps away from my room was the Dig Site, a recreation area for the resort featuring sand pits for volleyball, poolside deck chairs for sunbathing, a hot tub, a poolside bar and grill, a playground, a nature trail, and the Lost City of Cibola swimming pool and water slide. The faux Mayan temple is a gigantic water feature with water cascading down the steps. The totem-pole-like structure in the foreground sprays water for rinsing before or after playing in the swimming pool.

The steps to the left would take one to the top of the water slide, which snakes down to the right and ends up in the pool at the foot of the Mayan temple. Notice the jungle cat that glares down at water sliders!