Jim Wright is a retired Navy Chief Warrant Officer, now living in Alaska, where he turns wood into sawdust and shavings, leaving very pretty leftovers. He also runs a most excellent blog at Stonekettle Station. If you've never read any of Jim's musings or rants, might I suggest you start with some of his posts on cats -- after all, the Internet was invented for showing pictures of cats and telling stories about cats -- such as his hilarious 2009 post There Ain't No Such Things As A Free Cat and one of the funniest things I've ever read, his 2008 Manly Bloggin' Thursday, before you tackle some of his wickedly biting political commentary such as the recent Reverse Engineering The Tea Party.
Jim actually grew up in West Michigan and his folks are still nearby in Middleville MI, but events conspired such that we couldn't do the whole same-place / same-time face-to-face real world meet last year. So we both worked hard to try to figure out something this summer. Despite coming down to the Lower 48 and spending days working on his parents' house, which up to his armpits in very un-Alaska-like temperature and humidity (he claimed that all he needed to hear was howler monkeys and he'd feel like he was back in Panama -- sorry, all we could offer was very loud cicadas) AND coming down with some sort of summer cold he blamed on the poor ventilation on the long flights to get here, we did come up with a plan.
So I left the office a bit early and drove up US-131, managing to pick the correct lanes to make good time and slip off the S-Curve and pick up Mrs. Dr. Phil at the downtown GVSU campus before hopping on I-196 and heading down towards 44th Street/Rivertown Parkway.
... For A Meat Up With Joe Chicago's Pizza
Dr. Phil and Jim Wright with their dueling Bluetooth Borg ear implants.
We met on neutral hallowed ground, a la Highlander, i.e. Joe Chicago's Pizza near Rivertown Crossings Mall at 6pm for some serious Chicago stuffed pizza. He was carrying an armload of technology -- an HP netbook, a Nikon D5000 SLR, a Blackberry, the inevitable Bluetooth earpiece and the remote key for the Dodge Charger the rental car company had "upgraded" him to. We ordered two mediums, so both parties could take leftovers home in a convenient box. Good planning is essential for these sorts of things. (grin) Pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms, garlic on the left. Sausage, roasted red peppers, spinach, black olives and mushrooms on the right. Or something like that:
Jim Wright and Mrs. Dr. Phil and Serious Pizzas.
We didn't quite close the place down, remember it takes 35-45 minutes just to bake a Chicago stuffed pizza (yum grin), but it was almost 9pm when we left, after covering war stories, science fiction, writing, West Michigan and Alaska politics, etc. And now that we've met in person, I might work my way through my telephone phobia and give him a call sometime when (a) he gets back to Alaska and (b) I send him some more stories to get his professional opinion on. (double-word-score-grin)
All that's left is figuring out how to get him to Greensboro NC to meet my parents, who are huge fans of his Stonekettle Station bloggerings.
Oh, and Jim? Those howler monkeys may be closer than we thought. Yesterday I found a half eaten banana at the end of our driveway, probably dropped by some monkey driving past...