Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Work Laughs

This is the sort of thing that gets a chuckle around my work-place:

Types of Lawyers #1: The Big Firm Summer Associate
There is a certain type of lawyer who is not a lawyer at all. At best, he’s a fictional lawyer, a make-believe lawyer, a pretend lawyer. Though skilled at imitating a lawyer in dress, language, and attitude, he is no more a lawyer than the miserable sad sack who’s failed the bar exam seven times. If this type of lawyer offered legal advice to a corporate client, he would likely be sued; if he appeared in court to argue a motion, he would likely be arrested.

One of many things I have discovered in my searches throught the growing world of blawgs - legal blogs.

Monday, June 28, 2004

MPR Marches On

What to make of this? Is my new favorite station (KLBB 1440 AM) owned really owned by MPR?

Was checking the program schedule for KLBB, 1400AM, when I stumbled upon this site. Seems that KLBB and MPR are associated. 45 E. 7th Street being the street address of MPR in downtown St. Paul. Also the url savvy.mpr.org is sort of a giveaway.

Did a little more searching and it turns out KLBB is owned by MPR through Greenspring.
Greenspring is a taxable for-profit company that engages in communications activities that support the mission and goals of American Public Media Group (APMG), but are more properly pursued by a taxable entity. It does so through the ownership of two operating subsidiaries: Minnesota Monthly Publications and The KLBB Company.
Specifically,
The KLBB Company (KLBB)
The KLBB Company is a taxable for-profit company that engages in the operation of KLBB 1400/1470 AM in the Twin Cities on a commercial basis with an American Standards format, under license from MPR.

The KLBB Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Greenspring.


Not that there is anything wrong with that - there isn't. But now I have another reason to feel guilty about not contributing to MPR. I do contribute to KFAI 90.3, and WCAL 98.3, and sometimes KBEM 88.5, the Jazz station, but not the biggie - MPR 91.1/99.5 in the TC. Guess I feel they have enough money. They don't need my nickels. If Bill Kling misses my donation to MPR, perhaps he can have Greenspring contribute the $120 (that's only $10 a month). If the contribution comes in during pledge week, he might get lucky and get a mug, or take advantage of a matching grant.

The Quest Begins

Finally got off my butt and applied for another job in the company. I'd been toying with the idea for some time, when I got a call from my former HR manager telling me about this new opportunity. Always a good sign when someone from HR tells you about a job you might like to apply for.

I had landed in my present postion almost 2 years ago (8/2002) after being re-org'ed from another department. While I enjoy the people I work with, the actual work has become quite routine. Not only do I need more challenge, but the people I supervise/manage could do with a little more challenge as well. They deserve someone who's a little more engaged.

Of course, once I decided to leave this job, I started to see it in a new light. I'm energized, busier, looking forward to coming into this "old" job which one week ago bummed me out. Maybe if I always keep looking for work I will find my present job (whatever and wherever it is) more challenging?

That's "Captain Noodle" to You

Looking forward to a long weekend at the cabin. Hope the weather is sufficiently summer-like to allow plenty of water time.

While I'm not the world's biggest Noodle fan - I can take them or leave them - I found this offering in their product line particularly interesting. The Captain Noodle.

This noodle is designed with a beverage holder on each end! Whether your beverage is in a can or a bottle CAPTAIN NOODLE can hold it. The CAPTAIN NOODLE also insulates your beverage from the warm water and hot sun, keeping it cold. You will now be able to doodle around the pool or lake on CAPTAIN NOODLE and enjoy a cold refreshing beverage anytime!

Imagine that - doodle on your noodle?

Maybe I just like the name (and rank). Actually from now on when I am in or near the greater Dent area I would like all to address me as "Captain Noodle".

Friday, June 25, 2004

Not Big Enough for the Human Spirit

Like this quote. It's from Working by Studs Terkel.

"Most of us, like the assembly line worker, have jobs that are too small for our spirit," an editor says. "Jobs are not big enough for people."

Some might find that a bit depressing, but I actually read it as a little "pick me up". Rather than letting your boredom with work get you down, just remember that most of us have jobs too small for our spirits.

(Stumbled on this quote in NYT article. It's too old to get for free, but found same article reprinted in the Int'l Herald Tribune.)

The Morning After Pain - Cruciate Crural Ligament

Word to the wise (or is that unwise): Don't run in flip-flops. Last night I joined the Dude for some running, chasing, etc. in the field behind our house. Of course I was wearing the cheapest down-market flip-flops I've ever owned. They were $2.99 at Nokomis Shoe Shop. I thought all was going well, in fact my knee didn't even hurt. Wow - running without knee pain. Perhaps I should throw out my $85 running shoes and use cheap flip-flops from now on.

No - - woke up this morning, and it hurts here:

The cruciate crural ligament is a Y-shaped band placed in front of the ankle-joint, the stem of the Y being attached laterally to the upper surface of the calcaneus, in front of the depression for the interosseous talocalcanean ligament; it is directed medialward as a double layer, one lamina passing in front of, and the other behind, the tendons of the Peronæus tertius and Extensor digitorum longus.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Nothing Looks Good

Trying to blog everyday, but looking over the day so far, can't think of much to say. Got the day off to a good start by correctly answering the trivia question at Caribou (thus ensuring a whopping 10 cent discount on my coffee purchase).

Question: How many times had Frank Sinatra been married?
Answer: 4 times.

Here's the strategy I employed - in case you're wondering how the hell I knew the answer. I knew "Old Blue Eyes" had been married at least three times: the initial Mrs. S, mother of Nancy and Frank Jr.; Ava Gardner - the woman he left wife #1 for, a short-lived marriage; Mia Farrow - mid 1960s; and then I through another one in for good measure, figuring I really didn't know that much about Sinatra so there was bound to be at least one I was missing.

Did a little "Googling" to fill in the blanks and learned this about wife #4:
Barbara Blakely Marx divorced her husband Zeppo Marx to marry Sinatra. They wed 1976. She remained his wife until his death.



Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Ratzin' Fratzin' amazon.com

Trying to order one book for the Father-in-Law - typical belated Father's day. As everyone knows, amazon.com waives shipping and handling fees for certain items (the new stuff essentially) if your total purchase is over $35. Figuring the book was "only" $21, I sought to add two CDs that I had heard on radio this week: Wilco and the Bottle-Rockets. What a deal right? Order one present for someone else, and get two things for ME. I did feel a little greedy.

Go to Check-Out and what - - they slapped on shipping handling fees? OK, the Bottle-Rockets CD is not new enough or popular enough, or whatever, so it doesn't qualify for waived fees. No problem, delete that item from order.

Proceed to Check-Out and, you guessed it, more shipping and handling fees. Seems that my order (minus the Bottle-Rockets) is only $34 and change. Sh*t! Now I'm faced with the choice: Do I find another qualifying item to bump me over $35 thereby saving shipping and handling, or do I eat the shipping/handling? Yes and no.

In the end, I cancelled all "my" stuff and only ordered the book. Even with the shipping/handling fee it was almost $10 off store price. So I really saved - meaning I wasn't "tricked" into buying more than I needed in order to save shipping/handling. Why spend $25 more just to save $4 shipping/handling. I know it's not the American way - too bad.

Now I feel less selfish anyway - I only bought a gift for the truly deserving father-in-law.

"Bill's Beach Diet" - the Details

Several have asked for more information on the Bill's Beach Diet. "John," they say, "All those other diets publish detailed plans directing you on what to eat - and what to avoid. Where is your plan?"

Good question, but perhaps we can re-phrase your question:
Q: Where's the beef?
A: It's on the grill.

You see, the grill, actually any sort of outdoor cooking, is the linchpin of Bill's Beach Diet. But perhaps I should lay out the Bill's Beach Diet week-by-week. Remember, if you are prone to robust fitness and energy, you may want to consult a physician before embarking on Bill's Beach Diet.

Week One
Breakfast #1: Upon awaking, gently get out of bed, stretch, and scratch yourself if necessary. Leave the bedroom and shuffle towards the kitchen, hoping someone has already started the coffee and gone to town for the paper and pastries. The first meal of the day is the most important, you want to get off on the right foot. Start lightly, pour a cup of coffee, grab a goo-filled pastry, and proceed immediately to the couch. Don't overdo it. Just because you slept 9 hours doesn't mean you can't still be tired.

Breakfast #2: After reading the entire paper, it's time to think about moving. Again, you may need to stretch and scratch yourself as you arise from the couch. Amble towards the kitchen to make sure there are no additional goodies to sample. Here you may want to take another pastry - but only half. Be sure to announce to all present that you really shouldn't but you are going to take only half - - if someone else wants some.

Often Breakfast #2 provides an opportunity for the first grilling of the day. Seize the moment when it presents itself. There's nothing better than the smell of Goodman's sausage smoking on the grill at 9:30 a.m. What will the neighbors think? They will probably find some excuse to stop over. Something about using your toilet as their septic tank is full - - again! Don't be fooled.

Lunch: Lunch provides the most options for those on Bill's Beach. Here you may wish to sample any left-overs from the night before. Perhaps you went to Billy's Bar in Vergas and have some left over French-fries or hamburger (at 1/2 pound it's a biggie). Check all Styrofoam containers you find in the fridge.

Be on the lookout for fresh fruit. Perhaps the locals have procured fresh strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries. Don't overlook fresh fruit that's part of a package deal, i.e. the rhubarb dessert. Most of these contain rhubarb (kind of fruit, kind of vegetable - it grows from the ground after all), strawberries or copious amounts of sugar to cut the rhubarb's tartness, and bread products. Almost a meal in itself.

After grazing on left-overs, and sampling the frozen pizza or mac and cheese you had to make for the kids, it's time to say good-bye to lunch.

As you leave the kitchen you may want to consider getting dressed for the day. Either way, whether you are wearing fresh clothes or pj's, the hammock awaits!

Cocktail Hour: Usually someone stops by to visit at some point in the afternoon. Now's the time to bring out the beer, wine, gin-and-tonic, chips, crackers, cheese, nuts, and anything else that's not tied down tight. Cocktail Hour can start anytime from 2:00 p.m. on, and has been known to morph into dinner.

Dinner: Assuming your cocktail guests are still there and the sun is setting, it's time to start the grill - again. You may also want to adjourn inside as the mosquitoes are likely getting pretty fierce. When you arise from the chair (or hammock) be sure to stretch and scratch yourself. Those of you still in your pj's - - might as well keep them on, it will soon be bedtime anyway.

Dinner will consist of some grilled meat, often porkchops, chicken, sometimes hamburger, but always hotdogs and bratwurst - - children need tubular meat by-products after all, and they're great for the grown-ups too.

Dessert: After dinner don't be afraid to hit the fresh fruit again. What goes better on ice cream than freshly picked strawberries or blueberries after all? Have you tried the rhubarb sauce yet? What? You already finished your ice cream. Let me get you a little more, you simply gotta try the rhubarb sauce.

Bed-Time Treat: You probably haven't put the ice-cream back in the freezer after dinner. That's OK, it makes a great bed-time snack. Apply fruit as necessary.

Where has the time gone? It's time to retire for the evening. You don't feel like getting off the couch, and getting ready for bed. Don't worry - remember - you still have your pajamas on! It won't take long to brush your teeth, stretch, and scratch yourself, then collapse into bed.

Good night.

Score One for the "Bill's Beach Diet"

In my fight to de-bunk the bread-is-bad crowd I now have SCIENCE in my corner,

"When unproven science becomes a sales pitch, some people get rich and the rest of us get ripped off," Jeffrey Prince of the American Institute for Cancer Research told a news conference.

Experts Slam Low-Carb Trend as Rip-Off CNN

Donuts? Don't mind if I do.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Blawgs

Some of this is actually work-related. I spend some time monitoring law-blogs, or blawgs as they call themselves. Actually found a business purpose for sharing this one today. Patently Obvious, is a blawg by a patent attorney. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has begun offering Live Help ("chat"), and the blawg included a transcript.

West offers Live Help and it's a growing area of customer support. Sent the link to my colleagues. Now I don't feel guilty for my web wanderings.

Food, Food, and More Food

Cousin Blair always has the goods on the food scene. Found this neat one off his site,

When you own over 100 cookbooks, it is time to stop buying, and start cooking. This site chronicles a cookbook collection, one recipe at a time.


The site: 101 Cookbooks.

Yoga - the Class

Yoga class started last night. Nice group - and I'm not the only man! Meets at the community center, so it's a quick walk out the back door and through the park. And it had to be quick walk last night. Even with the wind, the mosquitos almost ate me alive.

I feel pretty good after a month or so of video/dvd practice, but I have one major weakness: I still can't bend from the waste that well. Rather than a standing forward bend (Uttanasana), I do more a slumped forward bend. Also my seated forward bend, Paschimottanasana, is pretty lame.

Friday, June 18, 2004

For the Swede in Me

Here's a fun list that some of us may enjoy. Some of these traits sound very Minnesotan.

You Know You've Been In Sweden Too Long When:

22. You have only two facial expressions – smiling or blank. Also your arms are just hanging down when you chat with other people.

. . .

25. Hugging is reserved for sexual foreplay

Walking Faster?

Lately I feel that I'm walking faster. When crossing the parking lot at work, or on the path at noon, I keep passing people. I don't feel like I'm exerting any more effort. In fact, I feel more relaxed than usual. Must be that Yoga.

There he goes again, extolling the virtues of Yoga. Keep my personal history in mind: I started out as a rather inflexible kid. I fell in love with running at age 13 (8th Grade - Cross Country) and began running year round at 15. Only recently have I had to let up. By my calculations, that's 25 years of continuous running on a body that was stiff to begin with.

Yoga has loosened my whole body, particularly my hips and shoulders. Perhaps I have better motion in my legs and am using my arms to propel me when walking - - something I might not have done before?

Pain-be-Gone

This morning I had a stiff neck due to some problem or another - maybe slept on it wrong. I sought relief in the Six Stretches To Do At Your Desk from Yoga Journal. Ahh, that's better.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

That's Right - AM Radio Daddio

Heaven help me I've started listening to old-fogey radio stations. Make that AM old-fogey radio stations.

Driving home from work the other day I became bored with the FM offerings. KOOL 108 the "oldies stations" wasn't doing it for me. They have about 75 songs that they play over and over. Their play list is a little too heavy on Neil Diamond for my tastes. Cities 97 always confuses me: they will play a wonderful song (new or old) but then follow it up with Phil Collins. Cities 97 confuses me anyway. I fear I've grown out of their demographic: I can no longer tell the difference between Norah Jones, John Mayer, and the like. And the fact that they play Pearl Jam's cover of the 1950's tear-jerker "Where, Oh' Where Can My Baby Be" confuses me all the more. Is Pearl Jam serious, or are they making some sort of ironic statement? Doesn't matter as I never liked the song. KQRS 92.5 has it's moments, once you get past its moronic morning show. The DJs who appear through-out the remainder of the day are just fine - they actually lack personality - probably an attempt to make up for the overwhelming nature of Tom Bernard and the "Morning Crew".

Public Radio is usually my saving grace, but since it was after 6:00 p.m. my favorite KFAI 90.3 had ended it's musical programming and was in its news-hour. Interesting at times, but a bit too far to the left for my liking - Pacifica Network or something. 91.1 - KNOW - was in the middle of one of it's 10 minute spots on migrant workers or somesuch. I was lost, adrift, with nowhere to turn but AM. Good old scratchy AM. The kind of radio that fades/statics out under bridges.

After searching around the dial - lots of right wing talk and religious programming, I settled on KLBB. The drive time show (3:00 - 7:00 p.m.) is called the "Cool Club" or some such thing. They were playing Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole. You could almost hear the ice cubes clinking in the Hi-Ball glasses and smell the smoke in the lounge. Very soothing, a little heavy on the strings, but good fun nonetheless. They even have less "advertising" than Public Radio. Perhaps it's nostalgia for a bygone era. Perhaps its the fact that I grew up in a 1953 Rambler, and now own a 1958 Rambler style house. I really dig that 1950s era music. Nothing too loud, great singers singing the standards, not much "attitude" (or so it seems now - this was the era of the Rat Pack after all).

Perhaps it's just a phase I'm going through, or perhaps a phase I'm growing into? Either way, KLBB 1400 AM now has it's own button on the radio.

Fargo - via Lileks

James Lileks has a great piece on growing up in Fargo in the latest American Enterprise. Here's a great quote:
You can't describe the vastness of the Panavision prairie to East Coasters. Either the idea bores them--sorry, if there's not an all-night Thai take-out every ten blocks I am so not there. Or it's incomprehensible--what, a dirt ocean that just sits there?

Yes. That's it. The earth is flat and the sky is big, and you're a small lone thing rolling between the two. True Midwesterners have no time for oceans--all that pointless motion. It comes in, it goes out. What's the point? True Midwesterners have no time for mountains. They're so obvious. They don't do anything. We have mountains, in a way; they're called clouds. And they move. Can yours do that?

My Dad would have loved that. Growing up in South Dakota, he could wax eloquently about the prairie. Once on a family vacation to the Rocky Mountains, when everyone was oohing and aahing over the scenery, he kept complaining that the mountains kept "getting in the way" of his attempts to view the scenery.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Adult Happy Meals

S and I have been enjoying the new McDonald's Go Active Happy Meals for Adults. I was very skeptical. Since I don't eat that much "junk" I figured why break tradition and go healthy at McDonald's of all places. I've tried them two times, and have been pleased each time.

Jane Brody of the NYT recently tried one of the new McDonald's salads,

For example, the other day I ordered a grilled chicken Caesar salad at McDonald's. A nicely seasoned, tender, skinless chicken breast came on a bed of crispy lettuce - iceberg and greens - and grape tomatoes with a sprinkling of grated cheese. On the side were packets of croutons and Newman's Own Creamy Caesar Dressing.

The calorie count for the salad without trimmings was 200 with 6 grams of fat. The croutons added 50 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. I used only a few dribbles of dressing - the entire packet would have added 190 calories and 18 grams of fat. Had I known ahead of time, I could have requested Newman's Own Low Fat Balsamic Dressing with only 40 calories and 3 grams of fat in the entire packet.
Link

This is personally my favorite choice, and I - like Jane - use the dressing
sparingly.

Plus - you get a "toy" - a pedometer. Last time I had to give my pedometer to Bones. He clips it to his belt and uses it for "Rescue Hero" play. Apparently it's some sort of communication device. He pops it open and talks into it. (He gets that from his Mom's side.)

Don't Wanna Go

Today I had the pleasure of transporting to their various daytime activities two children, neither of whom wanted to go where they were going. Let's start with Bones. Nice morning, got to watch the Dora pirate video. He's mostly over pirates, but they still provide a laugh and a chuckle. Left the house willingly, but on the way out the door mentioned a certain story book that resides at his pre-school. Big sis remembered the story very well. The two of them discussed this story in a tone of voice reserved for the discovery of a long lost friend or toy. The story is about a girl making popcorn. The popcorn machine starts popping and it won't stop. The popcorn goes onto the floor and out the door. Very funny - - apparently. Dad wasn't paying much attention, but apperently some sort of agreement was struck. Dad and/or sis would read the story when we arrived at his school.

That's all well and good - except that this morning routine depends on some exquisitely timed drop-offs. We only have 2 to 3 minutes to say good-by to the Dude before Dad and sis head off in the other direction for the senorita's Spanish "camp" where all student must "hasta pronto" and arrive not before 8:55, but not after 9:00.

At the Dude's preschool, when it became apparent that Dad was going to do the drop and run, Dude protested and wrapped himself around Dad's legs. This slowed the old guy down, but he still hobbled to the door. Luckily "Teacher Andi" intervened, and the Dude went rather willingly into her arms - for the last time as it is her final day at school. (Another post perhaps)

20 minutes later we arrive at "Spanish Camp" (9:01 - crap) - with takes place at a suburban school - indoors - that kind of "camp". On the way in, senorita informs papa that she does not want to go - too hard - all they do is talk Spanish all day. Ah-ha, that's the point of an immersion program. It's sink or swim. Luckily for Dad she didn't wrap herself around his legs, but went willingly into the class. I think she will survive.

Hasta Luego

Monday, June 14, 2004

Brown Thrasher

Weekend at the cabin. Did a little birding with the kids (4 and 7). Tons of Orioles and various sparrows, wrens, small brown birds. One item of interest, my first Brown Thrasher. It was acting very aggressively in a brush pile at edge of woodsy swamp area. It was making the "smacking" sound mentioned here:

Voice A variety of musical phrases, each repeated twice; call a sharp smack!

Perhaps we were too close to nest?
Nesting 4 or 5 pale blue, brown-dotted eggs in a large, coarsely built nest of twigs, leaves, and rootlets lined with grass. The nest is usually near the ground in a dense, often thorny bush.

That describes our situation to a "T".

Also seen: Nice soaring Bald Eagle, Hummingbirds at feeders, Swallows galore, and thousands of dragon flys. Did not see: Blue Bird, Eastern Kingbird (my favorite).

Friday, June 11, 2004

Reading

Went crazy at the library yesterday. Checked out five books, and bought four more very used books - - only 10 cents piece. The bargain books are intended for cabin reading.

Of the books I borrowed, I really looking forward to Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence, mentioned in an earlier post. Hope to gain a better understanding of my Rescue Hero son. Also hope to get a kick out of The Two of Us: The Story of a Father, a Son, and the Beatles.

What to Do?

Received this e-mail from work buddy:

Everyone:

I'd like to introduce our new baby to you.

Ava Elizabeth Granger
6 pounds 11 ounces
18 3/4 inches
Born June 7, 2004
8:36 am

Ava was born with Down Syndrome and an associated heart defect. She has been in intensive care at Children's Hospital since birth and despite all the obstacles is doing remarkably well. She is beautiful and has lots of spunk which will serve her well.

Regards,


Wow - that's tough. Hope all goes well. Not sure what to do.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

I Can Tune My Guitar, But I Can't Tuna-Fish*

Lunch-time at the salad bar. I spied the "shredded turkey" and applied it liberally to my greens. Since turkey was the entree of the day it seemed logical that shredded turkey was available at the salad bar. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the shredded meat was not turkey but tuna fish. God I hate tuna fish! Now I've spent the afternoon cruising for candy - - stealing bits of chocolate goodies from my co-workers - - in an attempt to eradicate the fishy taste from my mouth. Kind of defeats the purpose of a salad.

(With apologies to REO Speedwagon from whose album, You Can Tune a Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish I stole my title.)

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Medical Authorities Confirm: Wife a Pain in Neck

S pulled a neck muscle coughing (yes that's right - coughing). She has since been to the doctor who prescribed a muscle relaxant and physical therapy. Treatment is proceeding slowly. She is still a pain in the neck.

Repose in Tree Pose


Tree Pose Posted by Hello

Even a "Rescue Hero" needs to take a break and re-charge the batteries now and then. On this day, he decided to join Dad in front of the TV with the latest yoga video. It was a warm day and Dad was in a hurry. No time to switch into work-out gear, so Dad just slipped off his pants and proceeded to practice in his boxers. Like father, like son: not to be outdone, the Dude removed all his clothes save for his underwear.

Let you think this pose is totally peaceful, those are little soldiers on his undies.

Working it Out

An Op-Ed piece from conservative columnist David Brooks in today’s New York Times reminds me that I’ve been thinking about “where I am” politically these days, and meaning to write about it:
Once it was liberals who rhapsodized about progress. Even stoic Woodrow Wilson once exulted: "Progress! No word comes more often or more naturally to the lips of modern man, as if the things it stands for were almost synonymous with life itself." But since Reagan's time, it sometimes appears that liberals and conservatives have traded places.
Now Democrats often accuse Republicans of recklessness and utopianism while Republicans accuse Democrats of being the timorous defenders of the status quo. Democrats are more likely to emphasize fiscal prudence, foreign policy caution and economic security.
But it's all really about American exceptionalism. Reagan embraced America as a permanent revolutionary force. His critics came to fear exactly that sort of zeal.

Brooks captures some of the internal tumult I now experience. Once active in Democratic politics, I now have no interest. Not terribly impressed with John Kerry – I preferred John Edwards optimistic, upbeat message. I find myself disenchanted with the Democrats who appear quite dour – I believe one writer recently said that John Kerry looked as if he was sucking lemons – taking our bitter medicine. On the other hand, I cannot embrace Republicans: Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz seem just plain mean, as do many of the party faithful. I also do not share their mistrust of Government. I see Government as an agent of “good”. It is not inherently good, but it is certainly not inherently evil. It can be slow and bureaucratic, and it can inhibit personal freedoms from time-to-time, but its role as a safety net must be preserved.

Something has changed my focus. Maybe it’s my MBA classes, or my 10 years in private business? I certainly pay more attention to business news – politics is almost like entertainment news to me.

Those in government think the world revolves around them. It certainly seems that way; given the intense media coverage they receive. But I actually think the business world has a greater impact on our well being than government. Sure government imposes taxes and regulations that impact business decisions, but nothing really drives our day-to-day lives as much as business decisions. Millions of small (and large) business decisions are made every day: Do I hire one more employee? Can I open a branch office there? Do I dare place that big order next quarter? These decisions impact expansion or contraction of business resulting in a certain quality of life – or lack thereof.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Father Tames Bugs

Kids and I went to the Summer kick-off event at the Roseville Library today. Lots of fun - but when isn't it fun to eat hot dogs, popcorn, ice-cream, and lemonade at 10:45 AM while sitting on a curb in a parking lot! Dad steered clear of the hot-dogs - I usually stay away from beef by-products until after noon.

Signed up for the summer reading program, prizes after reaching 8 and 20 hours of reading (or being read to in Bone's case). Much fun inside the library as we watched the show of "Bruce the Bug Guy". The guy really knows how to work an audience. The best part was when he puts three bugs each in a series of tupperware containers and places them on the floor for a little audience participation. Everyone just stared as we sat gathered around our creepy dish. All the kids claimed they wanted to touch the bugs but didn't actually dare to take their hands out of their laps. The two moms in my circle were supportive, but offered no help. (One actually kept quite a brave face as it looked like she might faint at any minute.) As you may have guessed, your hero, stepped forward and picked up the giant millipede. This little lovely was dark brown, measured about 6 inches long, and was about 1 inch in circumfrince. With 248 legs (according to Bruce)it looked like a cigar come to life. It tickled as it worked its way up my hand to my wrist, then my arm. Doddy wanted to try, so I gently pulled the critter off - the legs gently popping off my skin - he really had a grip! The Dude did a pretty good job and seemed to enjoy himself. Eventually the other kids warmed to the occasion and "petted" the little monster.

Having mastered the millipede, I just had to try the "Hissing Cockroach" - so named because when alarmed it hisses - I kid you not. Of course if lived up to its name when I lifted him from the dish, hissing at me and the kids as if on cue. Very cool! This guy was a little creepy, about 4 inches long! No one really like this guy.

A few minutes after the bug show I made the mistake of licking my finger tip to turn a page (it's a library after all). I wish I could say it tasted like chicken. It didn't - very bitter - very bitter.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

First Monarch

68 degrees and sunny for the noon walk. Lot's of folks out on the path. One woman even had her binoculars and Kenn Kaufman field guide - what a geek! Actually I envy her - she's got guts. People were staring at her. I keep binoculars in my cube, but just use them for staring out the window. I have a 6th floor view of the West "Woods" from my cube. Under the old West Publishing, my teams' space was occupied by executive offices. Those lucky enough to be next to windows are sitting pretty!

Saw my first Monarch butterfly. Don't know if that's early (or late). Maybe I just haven't been paying enough attention.

When I'm 102

Had dinner with my Mom last night. It was her 75th birthday. We plan to celebrate later this month with entire gang, but couldn't let the day go by without a little celebration. I arrived bearing a card and small plant - and tons of rhubarb! The woman had over a dozen birthday cards on her window ledge! I've never had that many cards before. Must be nice!

We had dinner in the dining room. She lives in a seniors' place: Not a nursing home or assisted living - but no one under 60 and most in their 70s and 80s. At the next table was their most famous resident - George somebody who is 102 years old. The man was dining with three other men - probably in their late 70s or 80s. George carried most of the conversation. At the end of the dinner he stated in a booming voice, "Nice to have your company tonight gentleman." As he rises he lets fly with this, "Hope you get into mischief, but don't get into trouble." It struck me as funny - never heard it before. I suppose when you are 102 you've heard a lot of things. His companions left by the back-door, but George exited through the main entrance. This resulted in him "working the room" going table-to-table chatting with friends. He does wear hearing aids, but he hardly stoops, walks unassisted, and doesn't look a day over 85. And I mean that as a compliment.

Mom is looking good at 75. Didn't want a big celebration, "Seventy-five is nothing!" she assured me. And it isn't if you have friends in their 80s, 90s, and 100s. My aunt lives in the same building as my Mom. She is 80+ and going strong, traveling all over the US, gardening, etc. Another friend of my Mom's, one of the "girls" as she calls them, turns 90 this week. This 90 year old lives in her own house, mows her own lawn, and recently helped her grandkids redecorate their kitchen - wallpaper and more.

Here's hoping I see 102!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Everywhere

Today's NYT article article on rhubarb, has cousin Blair musing over his own love of the stalk.

Have I mentioned that I absolutely adore rhubarb? No, probably not. Every summer, my grandfather would harvest what seemed to be a neverending supply of rhubarb from one of his gardens. Then, my grandmother would take these simple stalks and produce strawberry-rhubarb jam, strawberry-rhubarb sauce, rhubarb sauce, the occasional strawberry-rhubarb pie, rhubarb bars, and so forth.

Blair's grandfather and grandmother are my godparents, the incredible aunt/uncle duo of Myrtle and Ole.

H and S, with a little help from the Dude, picked rhubarb from the farm this weekend. We came home with a 40 lb bag of the stalks, some almost 3 feet in length. Add this to the never-ending supply in our own yard, and that's a lot of rhubarb. So far this year we've had rhubarb sauce, rhubarb bars, rhubarb torte - and probably a few others I overlooked.

Forget the "beer belly". Is it possible to get a "rhubarb belly"?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Why Didn't You Stop Me?

Raining cats and dogs at noon, so rather than walking outside on the nice path past the pond and through the woods, I opted for the "interior route". Our company Intranet has two maps available: the exterior routes, totaling almost 2+ miles; and the interior route which consists of walking all six floors of the building, and the lower-level, from the northern-most staircase to southern-most. The interior route didn't look too bad. It's 1.2 miles of climate controlled walking, with some stairs thrown in for extra measure.

I made it two floors before going crazy. I started on 6th and began to work my way down. In the middle of 4, as I passed the cafeteria, I lost it.

Maybe it's all my years as a runner that cause me to rebel against indoor exercise. Yoga doesn't bother me because that's like stretching - something we always did inside before going outside to run. Attempts to use a Nordic Trak usually peter out after a few weeks. It's like one of those dreams where you are always trying to get somewhere, or complete some task, but you just can't do it. "But John," everyone always says, "Just listen to some music or watch TV. That's what I do." That's all well and good, but I prefer the great outdoors without electronic stimulation.

Next time I tell you I plan to walk the "interior route" - stop me.