Thursday, November 20, 2008

Freezing for Charity!

Every year a radio station in Minneapolis called Cities 97 puts out a CD filled with songs that various artists have played in their studio throughout the year. They call this CD "The Cities 97 Sampler, Live from Studio C". It's filled with acoustic performances from some of today's best bands. They only produce 35,000 copies and all the proceeds go to various local charities. I have a great love for music, so getting these rare live performances is a great addition to my collection (plus, I feel like I'm doing a good deed).

Five years ago they had the 15th Anniversary of their Studio C disc. The radio station was doing a call-in contest and if you were the 97th caller, you could win not only that years Sampler CD, but you would also win CD's from all 15 years! Since I have that kind of time, I called in one night and ended up being the 97th caller! I won all 15 CD's, plus a trip to the Sampler Release Party where Erin and I got to mingle with a bunch of celebrities. Well, when I say we got to mingle with celebrities, I mean, the celebrities were in one room and us common folk were in another, but it was still fun.

Ever since then, I've had to continue my collection of CD's, so each year when they come out, I make a special trip to Target (which is the only store that sells them) on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. In order to keep all the proceeds going to charities, they have to limit the amount of CD's produced, which usually means they sell out within minutes of the store opening. I've done well and either myself or Erin has been standing out in the cold to collect every CD for the past 5 years.

This year I was fortunate enough to have the day off, so this morning I made a trip to Target to pick up this years CD. I arrived about an hour before opening and there were already over 100 people in line. If you can picture the typical Target store, the line extended from one of the front doors and around the side of the building. By the time the store opened, the line extended to the back of the store. The temperature this morning was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit, but fortunately the side of the building I was on was in the shade and the wind, so it only felt like 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Outside the store this morning, people were huddled in blankets and heavy winter coats. A few people had arrived at 5 AM, they brought sleeping bags and chairs. Between people complaining about how cold it was and how crazy everyone was to stand in the cold for a CD, there was conversation of how many Sampler CD's everyone had, how people got off of work for the morning. Usually though, the conversation came back around to how cold it was and how we were all crazy for standing in line.

Once the line started moving, it was amazing how well organized everyone remained. It was similar to standing in the lunch line in elementary school. Everyone was walking in a single file line, they were very quiet because they knew if they caused too many problems, they would feel the wrath of the 19 year old security guard. Once we got into the store, there were a lot of sighs of relief as we felt the warmth of the store hit our faces. A few people got their CD and left, a few like myself had to get some groceries, a few made their way over to Starbucks.

It felt good to know that the proceeds from my purchase were going to local charities. They said that this years CD would raise over $1,000,000! That alone is worth standing in the cold for an hour.

When I finished my shopping, I left with my CD in hand. I looked over to where they were handing out the CD's and noticed that they still had some left.....and the line was gone. So, despite standing in line for an hour, I could have slept in, walked from my warm car into a warm Target at 8:05 AM and still gotten my CD. That wouldn't have made for a good story though.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Relaxing at the gym.

I went to the gym this afternoon to workout and noticed they had a new contraption. I'm always anxious to check out the new equipment so I asked one of the trainers what it was. She told me it was a Water Spa. She explained that you lay down in it and it gives you a massage by blasting water against you. Actually, it blasts water against a tarp that's touching you, so you don't get wet. She also told me that for this week only, they were letting members try it out for free. Let me get this straight, I can go to the gym, lay down and get a massage for free. Sounds like I belong to the right gym.

After I got done working out, I asked her if I could try it out. She got it started and told me to take off my shoes and lay down in it. It looks like a massage table and a tanning bed combined into one. I lied down in it and there was a monitor below my face playing some very hypnotic images, actually, it kind of looked like a screen saver. Then she put some headphones on me, playing music similar to what you'd hear in a regular spa. She told me she'd set it for four minutes. I said, "Four minutes! I was thinking more like twenty." She said, "Okay, I'll set it for five." I told her she needed to work on her negotiation skills. Now that I think about it though, it's probably me that needs to work on negotiating because I was there for five minutes and not anything close to the twenty minutes that I was hoping for.

The capsule started to close and the water massage started. It actually felt pretty good. It stung my legs a little bit, but maybe that's because I had shorts on. I have to say, I've had regular massages before and they're about 1,000 times better than this. The five minutes went by pretty quickly and it was a great way to finish my workout.

I'm not sure what the cost difference will be between this and a regular massage, but I'd be willing to pay a little more for the human touch of a real massage. The cool part about this thing though.....it looks like a spaceship.

Monday, November 03, 2008

My Liquid Diet.

Last month I decided to give up going to Starbucks for the month of October. I think I was becoming addicted. It got to the point that I was going almost every day, sometimes twice a day. It seemed as though I couldn't walk by a Starbucks without at least walking in to see how things were going, maybe check and see if they had any new drinks. I'm not sure if I was addicted to the caffeine or the ambiance. I think I liked the whole process; the ordering, the repeating of your order by the barista, then the delivery of your drink when they call your name and again, repeat what you ordered. I think I even liked walking around with a Starbucks cup in my hand. I guess it made me feel like one of the cool kids. There was one step of the process I didn't enjoy however, and that was paying $4 for the drink.

That was one of the reasons I wanted to give it up for a while, it was costing me about $120 per month, and that's if I didn't get yogurt or a muffin. I also thought I could maybe do without the calories and caffeine, neither of those two things were doing much for my diet. I think another reason I wanted to give it up though was to make sure if I was ever addicted to something worse than caffeine, like drugs, that I could hopefully quit. Although, I think being hooked on crack cocaine is a little different than being hooked on caffeine.

What's kind of funny about me giving up Starbucks for a month is......I don't like coffee. As a matter of fact, I hate coffee. I don't even like coffee flavored ice cream. Maybe that's kind of like a vegetarian giving up Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, pretty easy to do. I was hooked on my favorite drink though, a "grande non-fat no-water chai tea latte with a shot of sugar free vanilla". Yeah I know, it sounds like something a high maintenance girl from Malibu, CA would order. Well, I don't care, it's freakin' great! It kind of tastes like pumpkin pie. Yummmm, actually, now that I think about it, October is over. My liquid diet is done! Starbucks, here I come and this time, I'm getting a venti!