As Far As I Can Tell

Steel City

There is honking and screaming outside of my window. Sometimes in unintelligible bursts and other times I can make out words like “Superbowl” and “Steelers”. I never keep up with sports but I sometimes get sucked into playoff games when I have a vague connection to the team. I watched the last half of the last quarter of the game today, just enough to understand all the hoopla outside. In Pittsburgh saying “Go Steelers” is a normal way to greet someone, so this is huge.

Last night I was eating at a Vietnamese restaurant and overheard a conversation between a customer picking up a to-go order and the owner. As he handed over his money the man asked the owner if he kept up with football. The owner said yes, he watched it from time to time and that it was good; that it seemed to make people in Pittsburgh happy. I guess I can step back from my jaded perch and agree.

Go Steelers.




Posted by: meredith on January 23, 2006 1:46 PM

Yesterdays game was not as good as Steelers vs Colts. I am glad they won. Your new city should be all a buzz Feb. 2! I will be cheering for the Steelers : )

Posted by: gig on January 23, 2006 6:58 PM

I have a strange connection to sports myself. The other day i staopped by a store near my house to buy a coke and the kid working said “I can’t beleive you’re not watching the game” I could hardly beleive it myself after he said so, kind of. It has become a tradition here to watch whatever sporting event happens on sunday, my brother makes dinner and has guests over. In turth, I have learned a lot about sports, and although I have no alliance but it does serve as a connection to other people.

Posted by: John Wagner on January 24, 2006 1:33 AM

as a person who does like some sports, i could really care less about the nfl. although, i’m really do want to throw an awesome superbowl party… game watching optional.

Posted by: e_prime on January 26, 2006 5:42 PM

my new city is full of seahakws fans. SO THERE! i saw this fellowship and immediately thought of you.

Posted by: jim on January 27, 2006 12:35 AM

hey i saw this (thru the readymade blog) and immediately thought you’d be interested:

Posted by: jim on February 8, 2006 3:26 AM

In search of a third place

After five months in Pittsburgh most of my time is still spent shuffling back and forth between home and campus, spending a lot of time at both but not much anywhere else. The idea of the “third place” is something that has been written about in books like The Great Good Place. With the increase in coffee shops and other similar businesses I don’t know if the lack of these locations is really a problem but finding one to call your own sure is.

I’ve always felt the need to leave the house and go somewhere, usually a coffee shop, sometime during the day. I would go with no reason, just to check up, meet people, and probably run into someone I know. Places in Kalamazoo like the 4th Coast, The Space, and The Rocket Star were second homes where I felt comfortable, met new people, and even received phone calls.

That’s one of the things I’m lacking here. I have a coffee shop only two doors down but I can’t seem to make it feel the same way. It’s always been a natural or obvious thing before; maybe it just needs more effort.



I find the same problem up here.

Posted by: John Wagner on January 22, 2006 9:37 AM

The Squirrel Cage during the day is a good place to hide out. If you sit in the booths near the back, you can even pick up free wireless. Other places: The Beehive on the South Side is good place to work. There’s a decent coffee shop in Regent Square whose name I am blanking on right now. Quiet Storm on Penn in East Liberty was another place to hang.

Posted by: Dan Saffer on January 22, 2006 11:59 AM

Two words: Eat N’ Park. I count Eat N’ as one word in case you wondered.

Posted by: meredith on January 22, 2006 12:42 PM

Thanks Dan, I’ll check those out.

Posted by: Simon on January 22, 2006 2:18 PM

Quiet Storm is great.

Posted by: eli on January 23, 2006 10:36 AM

Me too Simon. It feels like missing a core group of friends. Lately I’ve really taken to the laundromat. I’ve been going multiple times per week. It’s peaceful there with nice ambient noise, and I can still be productive in more ways than one. Ah. Not the same as coffee shops in Lansing. Just not the same.

Posted by: andrea on January 23, 2006 11:53 AM

Also, I just bought that book. It reads a little like a college social sciences textbook, which I also miss. Thanks!

Posted by: andrea on January 23, 2006 12:37 PM

wow. i have always felt this way, too, but never thought that there’d be a damn book about it. and people wonder why i want to do my entire life’s work in readng/writing/artmaking about place.

Posted by: jim on January 27, 2006 12:39 AM

Perfect for each other

Although an important part of the trip this news deserves a separate post. While in Paris Meredith and I decided to get married. That’s right: engaged, betrothed, intended. After 5 wonderful years I can’t imagine life without her and luckily she feels the same. I couldn’t be happier than I am with her. Mark your calendars for “sometime next year”.



Yay! I call ring bearer!

Posted by: jake on January 16, 2006 7:06 AM

Congrats to both of you! A great place to get engaged for sure.

Posted by: Naz on January 16, 2006 10:35 AM


Posted by: Tom on January 16, 2006 11:00 AM


Posted by: Andrea on January 16, 2006 11:14 AM

Simon, I can’t express how happy I am for both of you. You two are perfect for each other and our crazy family is so happy to have you as part of it! I love you and can’t wait for sometime next year!!!

Posted by: gig on January 16, 2006 1:57 PM


Posted by: eli on January 16, 2006 3:57 PM

simon, my whole-hearted congratulations! if you have the reception at camp i promise not to drunkenly sing happy birthday to you at 3am. :) — nayt

Posted by: nayt on January 16, 2006 8:48 PM

Congrats Simon. That’s such a great thing! You two are such a great couple, so well paired, and almost as cute as Allison and I. ; ) lemme know if you need a DJ. *heart* e.

Posted by: e_prime on January 17, 2006 7:09 PM

Thats fantastic, I’m quite happy for the both of you.

Posted by: JohnWagner on January 18, 2006 12:29 AM

Hey, congratulations!

Posted by: miguel on January 19, 2006 12:35 PM

Yes - Simon, 2006 will be simply amazing and it get’s even better now that you two will get hitched. Congrats & Blessings - Wolfgang

Posted by: thewolfman on January 19, 2006 11:22 PM

well, golly gee! congratulations, sir and madam!

Posted by: stewart on January 20, 2006 3:53 PM

wow. I want to give you a huge hug. Congratulations. You two are such wonderful great people, and I am so happy for you!

Posted by: emily on January 20, 2006 11:27 PM

about time Seriously though, I wish you both the best!

Posted by: JoshF. on January 21, 2006 1:02 AM

Wow. that is so cool. Great news. Congratulations. I am so happy for both of you.

Posted by: josh on January 23, 2006 12:58 AM

Simon & Meredith….Congrats!!! I’m not surprised, although I kind of am as I saw your mother today and she didn’t say anything…this is my first trip back to Sturgis since Christmas, but I feel like I should have known this somehow….I’m SOOOOOO Happy for you two. You two are perfect for each other and I’m glad that you’ve found one another! Best wishes!!!!! What a great way to begin the new year.

Posted by: lynsey on April 9, 2006 1:10 AM

Baaah oui, the trip was great

I’m back from Europe, back from being with Meredith and living the lazy life. Now I need to rev my engines and get up to speed for semester number two which starts tomorrow morning. I’ve barely left the house since I rolled in last Friday night as I try to catch up on email, weblogs, sleep, and Birdie love. Thanks to Christina and Andy for taking care of the little Bird while I was abroad.

The trip was great, completely satisfying and relaxing in all ways. After four months apart it was so good to see Meredith again and live life alongside hers in France. I’m jealous because I never got to do a study abroad and would love to live outside these United States for a while. Valenciennes may not be the best city in France but it’s something different, and that may be reason enough for us to deal with this apartness. Besides her temporary home we spent time in Lille, Paris, and Venice. The trips within the trip are what seemed like vacations and the rest felt more like living, which was great. Making food from the grocery store and huddling away from the cold watching downloaded movies from child sized beds.

We went to Paris on New Year’s but the one night there feels like so much more. We have both been there multiple times but this was different. This was our romantic get-a-way on the one day of the year when everyone is celebrating, regardless of religion, race, or class. A new year is a universal time for optimism and the city was exploding with people, fireworks, and the smashing of empty champagne bottles. The Champs-Elysées was packed to capacity with half a million people drinking, dancing, and cheering. The celebration continued all the way to the Eiffel Tower which was lit up sparkly style with flashing white lights. I’m counting on 2006 to live up to the start that we gave it in Paris.

A week later we flew to Venice via Brussels for another weekend trip. Venice is such a strange city, like something that shouldn’t even exist. Its absurdness gives it an air of a theme park, a land where cars and even bicycles are missing and tight little alleys hide beautiful campos until the last few steps. But unlike a constructed amusement park it’s embedded with history and life everywhere, decaying but still vibrant. It was smaller than I expected and we were able to walk through nearly all of it in the two days we had to spare. We were cold, but I think Venice in the winter makes sense. It’s less people, cheaper, and from what I understand less smelly. I’d recommend the winter trip; next time I’d like to go in February for the carnival celebration.

Why bother explaining the trip in words? Here are the photos instead:
Valenciennes and Lille
All of the above



Back in Pittsburgh

I’m back from my trip to Europe and there’s plenty to tell about the great time I had. I wish I was still there with Meredith but in two and a half months she’ll be back — plus February is the shortest month of the year. Count ‘em. My jet lag is catching up with me now but I’ll update you tomorrow with a full report. All of my photos are on Flickr and I’ll get those annoated tomorrow too.



As far as who can tell?

Chicago, IL

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