Thursday, December 29, 2005

John Lincolnberg?

There’s been lots of Trivia at the Hobbled Household lately. The kids got a young-person’s trivia set (not the board game, just tons of “educational” trivia questions.) One question tripped up the dude (age 5 ½) the other day: Who was the second president of the United States?

The only three presidents he can recall with any certainty are George Bush, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. He claims to recall a few others when you supply the name and tell him a little bit about them - John Adams and John Kennedy for example.

So I when I asked, “Who was the second president of the United States?” He replied, “John Lincolnberg”. Not far off.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Stuck in the Middle

Now this from the Times Online is interesting:

The more daughters there are in a household, the more likely the parents are to vote Labour or Liberal Democrat. In an unpublished paper that has been submitted to an economics journal, the pair declare: “This paper provides evidence that daughters make people more left wing. Having sons, by contrast, makes them more right wing.” The academics go on to speculate that left-wing families become so through a predominance of females down successive generations.

Via Newmarks Door.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas Update

Hello, to anyone checking in for the first time. Our Christmas letter included the url for the Hobbled Runner, so I better get blogging.

It was a very techy Christmas for the Hobbled household. I received a Satellite Radio for the car, and the family received a microphone for the computer so we can now have "telephone" conversations (or whatever you call them now) with the brother-in-law using Google-Talk. Perhaps I'll post holiday pics soon - in a day or two.

Found this interesting. Prof. Ann Althouse discusses Sprawl by Robert Bruegmann. I like this quote - about Madison - but probably applies to the Twin Cities as well:

Here in Madison, people tend to gasp about sprawl, but absurdly, they also object to tall buildings downtown. We're progressive: we don't really want anything to change. Except we want light rail. Because light rail would be a wonderful way to spend money to help us feel really good about ourselves.

I'd read about Bruegmann's book earlier and meant to post something at that time. But since I haven't read the book, I probably don't want to go off on it. Through my earlier urban political training, I've been taught that sprawl is/was "evil" (a very over-used term). While I enjoy the various amenities urban life offers, I have to admit that I live in a suburb - albiet one mile from both Mpls and St. Paul.

I think the comment I saw last week referred to the NYC transit strike. It said something along the lines of - - with sprawl you avoid that problems caused by public transit strikes since you live in such a situation that you don't/can't depend on public transportation in the first place.

Anyway - for what it's worth - I won't be moving to the hinterland anytime soon - just interesting is all.

Stayed home with the kids today - vacation day. I must find a way to do this more often. It's much more rewarding than the corporate life - - and I actually accomplish things - - even if it's just 3 loads of laundry, errands, and cooking dinner for the family. I pride myself on having dinner ready when the spouse walks in the door. Immediately offerred her a glass of red. She doesn't know how good she's got it.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Lumpy Bloggers

Maybe the key to lowering my cholesterol lies not in blogging?

I wonder how many other bloggers are out there posting on a regular basis and keeping the world amused because it is one of the few outlets that requires little physical exertion? I could be wrong but it seems to me that if one is vibrant with good health and stamina, they would be out snowboading, skiing or just enjoying the outdoors. I know I would. Dr. Helen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mummy Barbie

Reading this reminded me of a funny story from a few weeks ago.

BARBIE, that plastic icon of girlhood fantasy play, is routinely tortured by children, research has found.
The methods of mutilation are varied and creative, ranging from scalping to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving, according to academics from the University of Bath.

I was watching the Dude and his friend a few weeks ago. The girls and Moms were at Brownies, so it was me and the boys one Saturday morning. They were upstairs playing around in his bedroom, when it got very quiet. As any parent (and most children) know, prolonged silence from 5 year olds is usually a sign of trouble. I asked upstairs, "What's going on up there?" They replied, "Nothing," and giggled. Guilty.

I went upstairs and didn't find them in the Dude's room, but heard giggles from older sister's room. When I opened the door, they were sitting on M's bed. Old held masking tape, the other a scissors. On the bed in front of them was a Barbie. She had been stripped naked and then wrapped in masking tape.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Making a mummy."

Source idea: Marginal Revolution.

Snowy Owl Update

I've posted earlier about the Snowy Owl that seems to have taken up residence at MSP airport. Here's a great shot of him/her taken by a local birder.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Just completed the busiest weekend of the year - perhaps the busiest weekend of my life. Some of it I experienced only vicariously, but I was a participant in most of it.

Friday night: The gals are off to a community theater production of the Nutcracker.

Saturday: 10:00 am - Dude and Dad to Destination ImagiNation, 11:00 - Dude to birthday party with 14 kindergarten age boys and 1 girl.

(In a parallel universe: 10:00 am - M and Mom off to Guthrie for a behind-the-scenes tour of The Christmas Carol, followed by lunch and the performance itself.)

The entire family regroups around 4:00 for a quick dinner before Mom and Dad are off to a holiday party with Mrs. Hobbled's work colleagues.

Side trip - During the birthday party, the Hobbled Runner did a little Christmas shopping. All he can say is that he is very proud of his purchase for Mrs. Hobbled. More than that I cannot add for she sometimes reads this thing.

Another side trip - slipped out for about 45 minutes of X-Country skiing at 4:30 - just as the sun was setting, and the temperatures slipped down into the single digits. Lots of fun, but the hills are kind of boring with M - no one can scream quite like her!

Sunday: M's church choir participates in the lessons in carols deal at both the 9:00 and 11:00 service. Since she had to arrive at church at 8:00 to prep, that meant the Hobbled Runner spent over 4 hours in a place of worship this weekend. That's got to count for something! Oh - - it was a beautiful service.

After lunch, more Christmas shopping for the Hobbled Runner - almost done now.

3:30 - 4:30: M's piano recital - three pieces, much applause.

5:00: Running entrance to the Children's Theater production of Disney's (yes - Disney's) Alladin. The Genie steals the show as he did in the movie - he was quite good - better than Robin Williams.

Monday morning rolls around and everyone out of bed early for carols around the tree before heading off to school and work with a smile on their face and a song in their heart.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Don't Click It

Perhaps you've seen this? Dontclickit. The Hobbled Wife forwarded it.

Weird site - although it works pretty good. My two-cents: I NEED to click, not just because I'm so accustomed to clicking but I've come to expect the "experience" of being on one page, then "going" to another page, etc. I guess I think of Web pages like books (I'm soooo old fashioned). You start at the table of contents (the url for the site), then page ahead (click)to a relevant portion of the book/site, then set the book/site down and pull another one off the shelf (new url).

7.6 inches

"They" report 7.6 inches of wet, heavy snow fell in the Twin Cities over the last 24 hours. It's great fun - though not quite the right consistency for snowmen - small snowballs yes, but they don't pick up snow when rolled through the yard.

Started the day yesterday with 2 hours at Bones' Kindergarten class, helping with the holiday art projects. I was in charge of the reindeer table. Trace your foot on dark brown paper for the head, then trace your hands on light brown paper for the antlers. Cut out eyes and nose (options - black or the more favorite red). Glue it all together and your're done. I spent most of my time wiping up excess glue - these kids are glue freaks!

Overheard - "Can I have the orange crayon please? I won't be your friend anymore if you don't give me the orange crayon." Ahh, the ultimate threat - I won't be your friend. Can't recall when a crayon mattered that much.

Commute to and fro not too bad despite all the snow. After arriving at home the kids and I shoveled the driveway and played in the front yard for about an hour. Then, while I ate dinner, they played in the back yard. You'd be amazed how far you slide on your bottom when you build a little snow ramp right up to the end of the slide. You come down that slide very fast - remember it's wet and your snow pants are wet - and you just keep sliding.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Anti-Wal-Mart Campaigns?

I've never given muchthought to the various (are there more than one?) anti-Wal-Mart campaigns. BusinessPundit, on the other hand, has given it some thought and offers his vision of an anti-Wal-Mart campaign:

If I were running an anti-WalMart campaign (which will never happen), I would focus on the lack of selection. I would talk about how Wal-Mart's retail dominance minimizes consumer choice. Instead of telling people not to shop there because they pay low wages or put small stores out of business, I would make consumers feel like shopping there made their lives boring and mass-market. Clear Channel Radio suffered because the mass market approach to radio came to be viewed in a negative light. There was a movement that created new radio stations with the "one big company can't tell me what to listen to" attitude. Anti-Walmarters should adopt the "one big company can't tell me what to buy" attitude.

I believe I've been in a Wal-Mart two, maybe three times. They struck me as kind of dingy, a little junky. Of course, MN is the land where Target looms large. Comparing Wal-Mart to Target - no contest Target every time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Slacker Equation

Interesting post about the "Slacker Equation" at Slacker Manager:

Yes, I think I am also an above average performer. Do you think that you are capable of doing a better job?

always. don't you? i find that it goes in cycles. sometimes i'm just treading water, and other times, i'm creating all kinds of good work.

via BusinessPundit.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Cinderella Update

Stumbled upon this on the web. I'm not the only one blogging about the Marshall Fields' Cinderella display. Lots of good pictures here. He is covering the Chicago installation, but it's the same as MPLS.

Congratulations Are Not In Order

What? I take one day off and they change the rules? My stock-in-trade, one of the many things I’m recognized as “good” at - the farewell e-mail, or the “obituary” as I sometimes slyly call it is "no more". See Friday's pronouncement:

E-mail notifications when individuals leave the department
•Consider choice of language when giving an employee departure notification. The following is an example of a good announcement (e.g., we aren't congratulating him for leaving but just offering best wishes and good luck.) Less is more with these notifications.

Hi All,
Today is John Doe’s last day on the team and in the department. Starting on Monday, he will begin his new job in New Department as a Senior Quality Assurance Specialist. Doe joined the Department in October of 2002 and just celebrated his 3rd year of service with the company.
Please join me in wishing John the best of luck in his new position.
Best wishes John!
Damn, I always congratulate them! It’s a career move, usually an upward move. Congratulations are in order.

Oh well "Best Wishes" it is.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

We Made the Paper

Imagine our surprise when we saw the picture of the Dude's kindergarten concert at the Govt Center on page B1 of the Strib. [For reasons unknown the photo is not online - only in print?? - we will save copies for the relatives.]

It was a fun - and chilly day - downtown. Lots of crazy kids running around. Our manhole cover rubbing came off better than expected. The Cinderella display at Marshall-Fields impressed even the Hobbled Runner. The concert was a success - all 21 songs!

Took advantage of my free afternoon to locate all the Christmas decorations and start the great holiday project - decorating the house (tree anticipated to arrive Sunday). Everyone says it - and it sounds a bit corny - but is amazing to see Christmas through the eyes of a 5 and 8 year old. All the decorations are AMAZING!

Note: If I was a "real" blogger I would have brought my digital camera and blogged the downtown field trip. That will be my new years resolution for '06 - never leave home without the digital cam.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Field Trip!

From an e-mail to my team and colleagues:

I will be off tomorrow (Fri, 12/9) - accompanying my son's kindergarten class on the annual kindergarten "downtown" field trip.

All three classes of kindergarteners go to downtown Minneapolis for a variety of festivities—including, but not limited to—sidewalk “rubbings/etchings” on Nicollet Mall (??), the Marshall Fields Cinderella Animated Holiday Display (yippee!), and the show-stopper—the kids are performing in a "concert" at the Hennepin County Government Center at noon. (He’s been practicing for months). Many adult chaperones needed!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Thanks - Have a Donut

Department wide e-mail just arrived:

“The food day is currently is progress!!! (Vending Area).”

This place is as bad as a Minnesota school:

Research published Monday based on surveys at 16 middle schools in the Twin Cities area has found that those with snack-friendly policies have, on average, fatter students.

StarTribune - (reg required?)

[UPDATE] - two hours later another e-mail:

Hi everyone,

I just came back from a lunch meeting where they had too much food. I brought back an assortment of canned pop, desert bars (mostly chocolate) and some pizza (now cold). Feel free to help yourself to any of it.

Hmm, lunch meetings where they order to much food? Probably spending down the entertainment budget before the end of the fiscal year.

Codeine Dreams

M was pretty out of it Monday, after 3+ hours of surgery for repairs and reconstruction on the bones surrounding her Eustachian tube. The Hobbled Wife and I agreed that it's really not worth posting all the amazing (and boring) details of the entire procedure. Suffice to say: Very early arrival at the hospital (5:30 a.m.), significant time "under" anesthesia, lots of work done on both ears, and very croggy kid in the many hours post-op.

The kid is a real trooper. When we went back to the recovery room, she was splayed out on the bed, wearing these "ear muffs" - plastic cups filled with gauze and Velcro-ed around her head. There was blood on the pillow case and sheets - - apparently her IV "plugged" so they had to remove that. Oh - and she was holding the little "barf-tray" under her chin. She was not a happy camper.

Finally checked out around 3:00 p.m. Home to the Dude who was off school Monday and had spent the entire day with his Boppa and Grand-Ma-Ma - - who had taught him piano (using M's books from her first year of lessons). She had placed a small piece of masking tape on the ten keys around middle C and and numbered them 1 - 5 (in each direction). He was very fascinated with the piano - - much more so than the violin which we pay a jillion dollars for! Perhaps Grand-Ma-Ma can give violin lessons as well.

This morning M was telling me how interesting some of her dreams were last night. Chalk that up to the Codeine laced Tylenol. It will do it every time.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Wow - I Can't Complain

My biggest problem with squirrels is that they constantly clean out my bird-feeders.

Squirrels have bitten to death a stray dog which was barking at them in a Russian park, local media report. BBC

via Althouse.

Snowy Owl

I'm a member of the Minnesota Ornithological Union (MOU) listserv. Someone spotted a Snowy Owl at "the airport" (MSP) about two days ago. Here's an interesting post about birding near airports in a post 9-11 environment:

The Snowy Owl initially reported by Deanne and relocated by Diane was again located at the airport today. I spotted the owl at 3:00 PM flying over the North half of the airport.

I also talked to two Aiport Police in which one had a degree in ornithology, said the owl had spent yesterday on building C. I asked about security and having many birders descending on the airport, and they said that as long as people obeyed the signs and stayed out of restricted areas things would be fine (stay more than 6 feet from fence etc.).

They said with binoculars they would probably run your plates as they did mine, and if people were pointing high power scopes and cameras into the airport they would probably ask for ID and run it through the system. So if you are not doing any thing wrong and have not done any thing wrong you have nothing to worry about. In fact I think they will be use full in finding the bird if it stays there.

At 4:00 PM the Owl was again relocated by a number of people including Diane near it's previous location, but further northwest on an orange beam.

Emphasis mine

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Business Links

For the project management person in your life, via BusinessPundit.

For the Risk Manager, The Irrelevance of Corporate Risk Management.

Risk management as a stand-alone business function is kind of pathetic. Lots of high-minded rhetoric, but very little impact. In practice risk management is mainly a PR exercise, sort of like economics departments from the 70’s and 80’s. Both house lots of PhDs highly influenced by economic theory, who eagerly share ideas in print and conferences. And just as economics departments were generally irrelevant to decision makers when they were at their high water mark 25 years ago, so too is Risk Management.

I would suggest to any young person who is entrepreneurial to get out of risk management departments as fast as possible.

via Newmark'sDoor.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Oh - - Did I mention I ran Thanksgiving morning? About 1.5 miles - knee felt fine, but then the cold/strep-throat thing blew threw the Hobbled family so I haven't been out since.

I want to commit to 2 days a week of running. I feel (but cannot prove) that my lack of "vigorous" exercise is the reason for my higher cholesterol.

Why Today Stinks

Left home early to ensure a timely arrival at work. Snow delayed the commute (doubled the time actually) so I arrived 5 minutes late to my meeting and have been playing catch-up ever since.

Returned a call to a different business unit regarding a woman who left my name as a job reference. First problem, she never asked if she could do this (though I would have said, "Yes.") Second problem, since leaving my area she had gotten married and has a new last name - -one I did not recognize. So I was left to call the other hiring manager and saying I did not know a woman with that name, but I said I was curious if she mentioned having worked under a different name. (Great start to her new career.)

The other hiring manager and I played phone tag for a while. On one voice mail he called me, "Johnny". Then during our actual conversation, he called me "Johnny" again. Only certain family members (you know who you are) can call me Johnny.

In the end, Johnny gave a very nice reference for Mrs. Whoever.

The Show Must Go On

The entire family spent Thanksgiving “under-the-weather”. Mom and M both had strep throat, while the Dude and Dad suffered colds. M was the model actor, performing in both Friday and Saturday’s performance of Sleeping Beauty in a fevered delusional state. Even with the assistance of antibiotics and Tylenol, she probably hit the stage both nights with a fever. That probably puts us in the running for Bad Parent of the Year awards. If it had been anything else, we would have kept her home in bed, but she had been rehearsing for 12 weeks and really wanted to do it.

Despite poor health, she “wowed” them in her first full-length stage performance, playing both the seamstress and the “wall of thorns” to rave reviews. We taped the show both nights so she can now watch the performance from two different vantage points. Yes, we’ve already watched the show several times.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Jake - a "Priest" ?

When I read this headline I was confused, HCMC head priests debunk weeping Virgin Mary statue. Around our neck-of-the-woods, HCMC stands for Hennepin County Medical Center (my father-in-law's long-time employer) and not Ho Chi Minh City.

Jake recently retired from HCMC where he was a head priest of sorts (actually Chief of Pathology at one point). I knew Jake would definitely debunk reports of any weeping Virgin Mary statues, but I didn't realize he had risen to the rank of "Priest".

Busy Week

Busy week as Thanksgiving approaches:

Monday: Work, violin with the Dude, drop M at play practice; Off to kid’s school, Parkview Center School, for author appearance (Megan McDonald of Judy Moody fame). Megan's neices attend PCS so she is treated as sort of "our" Megan McDonald. The joint is packed! Back to pick up M from play practice. In the midst of all this the Dude loses his top front tooth. Hobbled Runner consumes a late dinner, while the rest of the Hobbled Family crashes in his bed. Had to move two kids before I could retire for the night.

Tuesday: Hobbled Wife wakes up sick, M to doctor for 4 hours of blood tests, off to work for another 4 hours - Turkey day at work. Each year we get a free turkey a few days before Thanksgiving. Nice Old Economy touch. Did I mention we still have a company pension plan - - at least for us old-timers.

Wednesday: Choir practice and dinner, then off to some sort of ecumenical service where all the choirs perform.

Thursday: T-Day at Hobbled Mother’s home. Trying a new cranberry recipe - something suggested by the Hobbled Wife involving cranberries and apricots, jelly, less sugar???

Friday: Final play practice, and first performance.

Saturday: Final play performance - party?

Sunday: Day of Rest - I wish!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Links and Stuff

Busy day - thought I'd share some stuff I found in recent days:

Living in a mid-century modern house has attuned me to the design of that era. Yesterday, I found this site about Alvin Lustig (never heard of him, via Cartoon Modern.

Stumbled on this directory of running blogs yesterday, hosted via

Just in time for the holidays, Jane Galt provides her list of “must-have” kitchen items. We actually own the "microplane grater/zester" - a gift from the brother-in-law, though I use it for simple cheese grating. (Didn't know it was a "zester".) It does an extremely good job on cheese - - so thin and light. Another item of interest - something I don't have - the pineapple corer.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Piano and Tofu

Just got the pm update from Hobbled Wife:

just thought you'd be interested to know that M has now been playing Christmas carols for a 1/2 hour. I casually suggested she practice, and off she went!! She isn't playing the hard ones, but who cares! She's singing along with some, too....

we were playing the Swedish Xmas carols cd. M said it was too bad some people didn't celebrate Christmas..... it's worth it just to listen to this music. And she was serious!

I'm making the kids mac & beef, although M says she won't eat it. We're having roast tofu and veggies. Do you want pasta w/it? Yes, it really is very yummy....

Sorry to Disappoint

Love that SiteMeter. I get a kick out of seeing how folks stumble upon the Hobbled Runner. Imagine the disappointment of the searcher who found this old post after running a Google search for "leather clad boys".

Sorry - not too many "leather clad boys" here. At least not yet.

No Snow - - Yet

Yesterday the talk around the "water cooler" was all about snow. "They" were predicting 6 - 8 inches. Evening rush-hour was to be a mess. My cube neighbor - she of the new Jeep - could not wait, gleefully monitoring of dozens of weather sites.

News came in from North Dakota - another colleague hails from NoDak - snow in Grand Forks. It had to be coming our way.

Of course the afternoon wore on and no snow. Not even any rain. By late evening 7:00 or so, we had some light drizzle, but it didn't feel right. It wasn't going to happen. Awoke this morning and I excitedly peeked around the blinds (yes, you can still be excited by snow in MN - at least the first few snowfalls), but nothing.

You'd think with all the fancy high tech gadgetry, and PhD meteorologists, they could predict something as simple as snow in Minnesota in November. Give me Bud Kraehling any day.

Of course I know the real reason why it didn't snow. A few weeks back I engaged in some serious garage cleaning. All the summer stuff is stowed away, and all the winter stuff (shovels, sleds, cross-country skis) is front-and-center, ready to go. Winter is mocking me.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Fatter Americans

Meant to post on this from Marginal Revolution last week, but devclue beat me to it. Interesting stuff anyway, lots of good discussion in the comments.

Americans are not consuming more carbohydrates and trans fats because McDonald's is super sizing our dinners. Nor is our diet changing because Uncle Sam is subsidizing corn. Rather, Americans are eating poorly because of a much more fundamental change in how we eat, specifically, the rise of snacking. In fact, the amount we eat and drink between meals accounts for nearly all the growth in our consumption of carbohydrates and fats over the past thirty years. Perhaps the biggest source of America's recent weight gain and sugary diet is not so much the value "meal" but the simple snack.

For my own part, I've pretty much eliminated the mid-meal snack. (Yes, I can get pretty smug about it too.) I also try to take more time at meals - - or at least think about what I'm eating - enjoy it. Result, pounds seem to be dropping. I don't own a scale so only time I "weigh in" is when visiting my Mom, or taking kids to swimming lessons (locker room scale), but none of my pants fit well. My belt - the cool new one I wear most often - has no more loops to tighten. This all makes me feel good (did I mention smug?), but I wonder if it will make one bit of difference with the damn cholesterol??

Sunday, November 13, 2005

So Long Old DFL?

Doug Grow had an interesting column in today's Strib. He argues that Mpls Mayor RT Rybak's 37 point victory of DFL challenger (Hennepin County Commissioner) Peter McLaughlin represented a repudiation of the "old guard" Democrats in favor of the new.

Peter McLaughlin and his supporters are the '60s turned gray. McLaughlin had a noble liberal background, he had an all-star lineup of the DFL's old guard supporting him and he had big labor.

And they all sank like a stone. McLaughlin got just 37 percent of the vote against R.T. Rybak, the incumbent mayor who obviously has won over just about everyone -- except the old guard.

As a former staff member at the Mpls City Council, and DFL party hack, (in my past life), I know some of these folks probably took this bit pretty hard:

Look who McLaughlin had supporting him. Former mayors Sharon Sayles Belton and Don Fraser.

Former Council Members Jackie Cherryhomes, Tony Scallon and Joan Campbell.

But the key word here is "former." As in, "Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall," because it's 2005 and the old party's over.

The time has come for some sort of change in the DFL scene in MN, but I'm not sure that Rybak (or anyone else now - or yet) represents that change. We might still be at the stage where we know what we want don't want, but don't know what we want.

Arvonne Fraser's comment is a low blow, not something we've come to expect from someone of her intellect:

Arvonne Fraser, a longtime progressive activist of considerable stature as well as the spouse of Don, was a classic McLaughlin supporter. Liberal. Serious. Old.

What does she see in Rybak?

"Charm," she said. "We've seen a lot of charming young men elected recently. Tim Pawlenty, Norm Coleman, Rybak. They're not bad people -- but only charming."

She believes the electorate is in a state of denial, not prepared to take on the serious issues of the day.

Former St. Paul Mayor George Latimer has the last comment:

. . . Latimer, 70, believes there's more to Rybak than meets the eyes of some of us graysters. He has an ability to make complex issues understandable. He has a good heart. He enjoys his work.

And his opponents -- even once-rising stars such as McLaughlin -- can't lay a glove on him.

Latimer listened to the last debate between McLaughlin and Rybak.

"You could just hear the frustration in Peter's voice," said Latimer. "He was getting angry, and R.T. was as cool as he could be. I've been in Peter's shoes. You know when it's over."

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Help - Food (good food) Please

My poor sis-in-law. In an effort to find some relief for her pregnant palate, I've put my famous "Johnny Googlequist" skills to work finding good ethnic food in South Bend.

Here's an interesting piece by a ND person, Being Vegan in South Bend. It starts like this:

It can be difficult to find good resources for vegetarians and vegans, particularly if you've just moved into an area, or just become veggie. Now that we've been here for a few years, maybe I can share some of our experiences to help make it easier for others.

It gets better, recommending restaurants, etc (She may have heard of these - or perhaps this link is dated.)

Maybe she should join the discussion on Chowhound? He (she?) asks the same question as the sis-in-law.

Perhaps she should meet these guys, they might know some good spots.

I'll keep looking. In the meantime, if you find anything, comment on her blog.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hey - I Do That

I've been doing this for a few years now. Didn't realize it warranted it's own blog post:

Occasionally, though, when I want to be really sure that I don't drop it, or move it to the back of the ToDo list, I'll mark the note as "unread" in my email program. This creates sufficient mental anguish for me that I take care of the email at the very next opportunity.

via Slackermanager.

Other things I do that readers might find helpful:

"Worst First" - that's M's phrase. Obviously, it refers to doing those tasks we dread most first, thereby getting them out of the way. She does not always follow this advice. (This was also my father's advice to me. I never followed it when he told me, but now that I'm hearing it from my 8 year old, I can't ignore it.)

Hmmm - that's the extent of my advice. I'll post more later, if I can actually think of any.

The Next Hobbled Runner

This is just crazy:

Officials in India's eastern Orissa state fear a three-year-old who has become famous for running marathon distances is being exploited.

via Althouse.

Mmmm Beer - er Coffee

My two favorite beverages, combined. I'm not so sure, but I'll probably line up to try it.

A drink somewhere between coffee and beer could soon be on the menu. Nestec, part of the Nestlé empire in Switzerland, has filed patents in every major market round the world on a "fermented coffee beverage" that pours and foams like beer, but smells of strong coffee and packs a concentrated caffeine kick.

Discovered this at BusinessPundit.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Let Freedom Ring

Hobbled Wife reports on the following discussion with the kiddos.

I told them we'll vote this afternoon. They were none too happy about it. We did have a very educational discussion about the different jobs of President, Governor and Mayor, and what a City Council is. I fear we have a budding Republican-- Bones [aka "the Dude"] was not at all happy that the Mayor/City Government can tell builders where and what to build in a park. (paraphrasing quote here....) "They're taking away their freedoms. You know "freedom" is making choices. If the government tells the builders what to do, the builders don't have their freedom." Yikes.

Ahh, their grandfather would be so proud. (Paternal grandfather that is - Maternal grandfather will probably ask that the Dude be sent to a re-education camp.)


Update: The Hobbled Wife wanted me to make this point:

The "freedom" thing is a kindergarten speak concept-- along with "power" which is things the kids are good at. Dude says his "power" is swimming, playing soccer, reading and something else....

Voting Report

Voted this morning - #68 at 8:05 a.m. Not bad for a council/school-board race. This time I actually knew who to vote for - the Hobbled Wife told me which ones we liked.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Hybrid Talk

Much talk in family about hybrid cars. SDMoose has actually purchased one (I think?) and others talk about it.

Here's what Instapundit has to say:
As I've said before, if you just want to save money, a hybrid isn't the way to go, yet. With SUV prices depressed at the moment, you're better off buying a gas-powered SUV at a steep discount or -- better still -- getting, say, a 3-year-old Ford Expedition on a lease turn-in. But I'm very impressed that the Highlander hybrid has more pickup, and better handling, than most SUVs, and I also have to say that I like the electronic continuously variable transmission a lot more than I thought I would. Some people don't like the absence of shift points, but I don't miss 'em.

Glazing Sucks

Weekend Update - finally got around to applying some much-needed varnish to the front windows - a series of three large picture windows, with smaller crank out windows below each. To do this I had to remove the old vertical blinds. These blinds are much hated by the Hobbled Wife, so imagine her glee when they came down.

No sooner had the old blinds hit the floor, than she was online at shopping for new blinds. Never mind the hours of prep work ahead of the Hobbled Runner: sanding, washing, applying some glaze* to the parts that came dislodged during the sanding and of course the actual varnishing itself.

Sunday's Ikea trip: No new blinds yet (Hobbled Runner must return to store for approval - UGH), but many other goodies including meatballs! The first family meal in a long time (pizza excluded) where everyone ate the same thing!

*Glazing sucks - I am not a glazier by nature.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Selling Out?

Colleague e-mails this NPR link re Sir Paul, wondering if the old boy has sold-out.

Here's my reply:

Interesting piece - I guess I could be described as "post-integrity" - the term used in the piece. Personally I see nothing wrong with using your "art" to make more money or just get your face/name in front of the public's eye (again). My opinion is not based on the fact that everyone does it - - though most groups do "sell out" eventually.

At this stage of my life (43 years old and sitting in a cube somewhere in corporate America), if I could somehow parlay any earlier fame I possessed into fortune today, I'd do it. Paul is just playing off his early fame as a Beatle [and that's what it really is - since he's not producing a lot of new, ground-breaking music these days - - though I hear his new CD is fairly good] to continue to get his name "out there" and make money. I suspect a lot of starving (and not so starving) artists of centuries past would have made commercials given the chance.

It's like sports stars. They have about 10 good years before the fall apart. Why not trade off early fame and coast for the rest of your life?

McCartney is first and foremost an entertainer - why else would he be touring at age 63 when he's worth $1.5 billion? The guys' a Knight for Pete's sake - a grandpa as well as a new father. He should be puttering around the garden, playing with his cats or something. But he craves and needs public adulation - nothing wrong with that. He seems to have made his peace with that - and many fans are the happier for that.

Can’t Get Away From You - the ATM Blues

My relationship with my bank is almost a complete success—at least a success as defined by the banking big-wigs who hope that all interaction with the bank will be virtual. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy online banking and all the convenience it offers. We pay bills online; my check is deposited directly into three different accounts. I transfer money online. It’s great. But why does bank still insist I return to the bank to withdraw money from their ATMs - if I want to avoid a service charge or fee?

Over time, the number of locations where I can withdraw cash from an ATM without fees has shrunk to 2 - the bank itself and SuperAmerica stations. [But since I am usually looking for cash during the morning or evening commutes, and SA is a zoo at those times, I like to avoid SA if at all possible. Sure I often gas-up at SA, but I pay-at-the-pump. It seems wrong to pay for the gas at the pump, then enter the damn store to get cash from the ATM.]

Sure, I can withdraw at any number of ATMs around town, but the fees vary from $2 to $4 last time I tried, and I stopped trying long ago. Shouldn’t they just make it “free” at any ATM? That would even allow them to reduce or eliminate the number of ATMs at their bank locations.

Perhaps they want to do away with cash altogether? Perhaps I'm one of those old dinosaurs (the 43 year old type) who still like to carry the green stuff around in their pockets. Younger people where I work put everything on their bank-card - and most don't even ask for a receipt (based on a very unscientific study of watching those in front of me in line). When I'm low on cash, and put lunch or coffee on a bank-card, I always ask for a receipt - which seems to either amuse or annoy the cashiers, depending on their mood.

Maybe I should just stuff it all in my mattress.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cool Pics - Fresh Every Day

Don't know who Rick Lee is but I stumbled upon his pics a few weeks ago when someone linked to his photo of the filming of an upcoming Beatles movie. Lots of cool nature pics, like this.

Now I check it almost daily.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Lawyer Talk

Big Supreme Court news makes things interesting around the office. Folks have been discussing the Alito thing for a day now. One of my colleagues went to UW Madison and was a student of the blogging law prof Ann Althouse. She had an interesting piece about Alito in the NYTIMES today.

She address the "Scalito" moniker making the rounds:

Well, quite aside from the tedium of cliché, we might want to consider whether Judge Alito really is all that much like Justice Scalia. If you're old enough, you might remember how savvy it once seemed to respond to the nomination of Harry Blackmun by lumping him with Warren Burger and calling them "the Minnesota Twins."

Althouse then points out some interesting decisions from Alito's days on the Federal Court of Appeals:

Judge Alito, since he sits on a lower court, is surely bound by Smith; but in two later cases he found room to protect free exercise rights by holding the government to a tough standard about what deserves to be called a neutral, generally applicable law. In a 1999 New Jersey case, he decided in favor of two Muslim police officers who wanted to grow beards, which they cited as a religious obligation. He reached this outcome by determining that their police department's policy of banning beards was not neutral and generally applicable because it included a single exception (for people with a skin problem aggravated by shaving).

Judge Alito used a similar approach to limiting the Smith decision last year in Blackhawk v. Pennsylvania, in which he sided with a Lakota Indian who claimed he derived spiritual powers from two black bears and demanded that the state waive fees imposed on those who keep wildlife. Both decisions displayed a sensitivity to the needs of adherents of minority religions that was absent from Justice Scalia's opinion in the Smith case.

Another interesting Alito note - - I work with a woman whose last name is Alioto. I've modified my spell-checking dictionary to accept her name, but now it wants to use Alioto for Alito. Perhaps until this is all wrapped up, I should add both Alito and Scalito to my dictionary.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween Night Report

Double duty for the Hobbled Runner on the big night. Took both M and the Dude to a friend's house for trick-or-treating in their neighborhood. After an hour of that, home to our neighborhood for more trick-or-treating for M and the big kids. The Dude was tuckered out, besides, he had an "assignment". His Kindergarten teacher Judy had told them to sort their candy (kind of a "math" assignment - many ways to sort), then pick out two only for consumption. No way in hell that the Hobbled Wife and I could have kept him to only two, but whatever Judy says is "the word" around here.

Digital camera on the fritz, but we took a few old fashioned pics for SDMoose, who reports she has a belly like a small pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

It's That Time of the Year

It’s that time of the year - time to be on the look-out for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Came across this today from Art De Vany’s site:

There are many substances and experiences today that are outside the physiological limits of our evolutionary-based genetics and ancestral experience.

One of them may be boredom. I don't know, but I think it is possible to more bored today than ever before and certainly far beyond what a human may have felt 100,000 years ago (my baseline for relevance). A long winter in a cave at a Northern Latitude was probably hard. Depression may have been a coping mechanism that kept our ancestors from killing one another.

(De Vany is kind of a character (my assessment). Officially he is Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of California, Irvine, where he was a member of the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences. The main objective in his blog is to work on his book Evolutionary Fitness. He advocates the position that the human body evolved for hunting and gathering, and in evolutionary terms, we are still “there”. Modern society with its over-abundance of food and sedentary work conditions wreaks havoc on us in a number of ways. Interesting stuff.)

This reminded me of something I saw in the news about monkeys, and how they developed depression as a coping mechanism of sorts.

Monkeys in these groups seem to have hit upon a behavioral remedy for such chronic stress: strategic withdrawal. "The monkeys spend more time alone, out of physical contact with other monkeys," Shively says. "These animals look very much like depressed people. But by withdrawing, they have fewer chances to get beat up. It's actually an evolutionarily sound strategy. They get to stay in the group and function. Not optimally, but you survive. You still have a chance to reproduce." And monkey groups are very fluid: With a change in members, which can happen monthly or even weekly, a marginal monkey could very well end up on top again.

What this means to us - or at least to me - humans in northern latitudes (MN for example) are prone to depression this time of year. That I understand. Bored humans, like those in corporate cubeville for example, may develop the same behavioral remedy for coping that monkeys did - strategic withdrawal.

Don't worry, I'm fine. I'm not in a cave, and I am not strategically withdrawing - - yet. Just taking you along as passengers on my "train" of thought.

Isn't It a Pity

I was reading about Harriet Meirs today and thinking it's like an accident. You slow down, you say you won't look, but you can't help gawking. I was thinking about the upcoming nomination hearings and beginning to feel anxious for her, hoping she doesn't get too embarrassed, when I suddenly realized how wrong that was.

Daniel Drezner had the same thoughts:

I'm actually beginning to feel pity for Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers --- and this is not a good thing. I'm feeling the same way about Miers that I feel when I go to a job talk and recognize within five minutes that there is no chance in hell that this person is going to be hired.

It now seems well nigh impossible to find anyone of substance willing to say anything really positive about her nomination. Finding negative things, on the other hand, is pretty damn easy.

Or in the words of Ann Althouse: "Once people have decided you're dumb, pretty much everything you say sounds dumb."


It's just around the corner and the kids secured costumes this past weekend. M is going as some sort of little old woman (a crone or witch-type). She bought a really cool wig, gray hair and bun, and some creepy fake fingernails (black). She also plans to use some sort of make-up (Mom can help with that - Hah!).

The Dude is a wizard and has a neat hat, cape, gloves, and two wands - - kind of a wizard/magician. (It's kinda like this, only red.) He's been running around the house casting spells using some sort of faux-latin gibberish.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Sorry for all the lame kid pic posts - tell me to stop if you must. (Hah - you can't since I turned off the comments!!)

How may 8 year old American girls have a picture of Queen Elizabeth on their bedroom wall? Notice the assembled stuffed friends. Perhaps I could get an NEA grant if I could claim the scene was some sort of political tableau - the bear on the couch is Queen Elizabeth, and the two chimps are Bush and Blair. Or perhaps Bush is the bear on the couch and the two chimps are QE and Tony? Or maybe the bear is Bush and the chimps are Rove and Cheney. No wait, Laura Bush, Condi Rice, and Harriet Meirs - - oh forget it!

Bananas at the Dells

In order to shut the darn kids up we gave them the camera to play with. The results were some of the following - - taken whilst driving the detoured streets of the Dells looking for a place to have lunch.

The stuffed chimp is "Bananas". The Hobbled Runner is the passenger - the Hobbled Wife told him she was driving since, "She knew where she was going." I guess that doesn't necessarily mean that the Hobbled Runner didn't know where he was going - - but it could be taken that way.


I decided to nix the comment feature of this blog. Being the sort of uptight guy who likes to keep his comments in order, I got tired of going in after each entry and deleting the comment spam. Most of my comments came from family and they know how to find me if they need to give me their two-cents.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Wisc Dells Get Away

Kids had two days off from school (teacher conf). The Hobbled Family took advantage of the school holiday to visit the Wisconsin Dells. The main attraction was the indoor water park at the Chula Visa Resort. The kids were a somewhat bored by the facilities - since there were obviously bigger attractions nearby. But most of the cool water facilities were the big outdoor ones, all closed for the season.

Due to camera (or battery ??) problems we have not pictures of the waterpark, which is just as well. All that remain are photos of the lower Dells boat trip, ICF side-trip, and Circus World Museum visit. This somehow makes us look "better" than those other large Minnesotans who descended on the Dells last weekend and sat by the edge of the pool for 48 hours, while the final glorious days of falls raged outside.

Maria snapped this one on the boat trip. It was little chilly on the top deck, so the Dude and I retreated below deck where the heater was on. It was fun watching the "captain" pilot the boat and joke around with Ashley the tour guide.

Here's a few from ICF. It's nice to see Aunty Ames' prairie efforts paid off.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Music Night

Monday night is music night at the Hobbled Home. M has piano lessons in the afternoon, then 2 hours of play practice after dinner. The play (a musical actually) is Sleeping Beauty, produced by the Rymer-Hadley Center for the Arts. M really loves it. 2 hours on Monday night, and two hours on Saturday afternoon. She can't wait until the Saturday after Halloween when they practice 4 hours (since they will have missed the previous Monday - Halloween).

The Dude is taking violin at Rymer. After only three lessons he is doing great. Mom or Dad has to attend the lesson as well. Because of his age, they want to make sure a parent is aware of the lesson plan for the week. The Dude is like a sponge - and can "play back" the teacher's instructions almost word-for-word. She told him to practice everyday, so he does. She told him to rosin (sp??) the bow before each use, so he does. Maybe we could get her to add some instructions like "clean up your room". It's a blast and I'm even learning to control my cringes when he draws the bow across the strings incorrectly.

Extra benefit - the Hobbled Runner can now play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the violin.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Lock-Down vs. Duck-and-Cover

The Hobbled Wife e-mailed this link about an upcoming lecture at MHS called, Lecture One: The Cold War, "America Under the Atom" Allan Winkler " Saturday, October 22, 2005 " 2:00 PM

When America developed and dropped two atomic bombs in 1945, it irrevocably changed the world. The U.S. government faced a new world order rife with threats while it tried to sell the peaceful promise of nuclear energy at home. Filmmakers conjured nightmare images of mutated animals and insects preying on the innocent. Everyday Americans constructed fallout shelters as their children learned to "duck and cover." All the while, scientists were producing bigger and better bombs that altered our ideas about defense and diplomacy. In this lecture, Allan Winkler examines anew how learning to live with the terrifying power of the tiny atom transformed nearly every aspect of American life.

The old "duck and cover" makes me think of today's Lock-Down drills they have at my kids' school, and what impact it will have on this generation. Many of the 1950s and 1960s look back on the duck-and-cover drills and talk about how that Cold-War attitude shaped them as persons. This seems especially common amongst artists (read 1960s pop stars). The even had some old duck-and-cover footage in the recent PBS Dylan documentary.

What effect will practicing for a lock-down - - essentially a school-shooting incident - - have on today's kids.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Yikes - Another Book Down

Good God, I've finished yet another work of fiction. This one by Walter Mosley, The Man in My Basement. Here’s what NPR says about it:

Charles Blakey, the protagonist, is an African-American slacker who has lived a directionless life since being fired from his latest job. One day, Anniston Bennett, a wealthy, 57-year-old WASP, appears at Charles' doorstep and offers $50,000 to rent his basement for the summer. But there are a few conditions:

As a kind of self-punishment, Bennett transforms the basement into a locked cage. And an experimental relationship unfolds with Bennett playing the role of a white prisoner, with Blakey as his black jailer.

Mosley uses the mock prison-cell setting to play with the dynamics of race, freedom and manipulation. In exploring those topics, he gives a nod to classic existentialist novels of the past.

Hey - that was deep - and I didn't even know it. I just enjoyed the Blakey character, like I've enjoyed the Easy Rawlins character in Mosley's other novels. Overall, The Man in My Basement was kind of creepy, a little disturbing - especially towards the end. Not the best book to read before going to sleep - which is about the only time I read these days.

Sleep - It's Not Just for Meetings Anymore

Scientists are discovering more and more reasons to get a good night's sleep. In addition to possible links to disease, lack of sleep may lead to obesity:

Other researchers have found that even mild sleep deprivation quickly disrupts normal levels of the recently discovered hormones ghrelin and leptin, which regulate appetite. That fits with the theory that humans may be genetically wired to be awake at night only when they need to be searching for food or fending off danger -- circumstances when they would need to eat to have enough energy.

"The modern equivalence to that situation today may unfortunately be often just a few steps to the refrigerator next door," Mignot wrote in his editorial. WashPost

[via Newmark's Door]

Lunch Walk - Bird Spottings

Cool, dampish walk before lunch. Spotted a lone pied-billed grebe on the little holding pond during my noon walk. Not sure what it's doing all by itself.

Also a raptor - most likely Red-Tail Hawk. Didn't get a good look but Occam's Razor would say the odds were Red-Tail.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Comeback Kid?

True to his word - after taking most of the last decade off from competitive running, my brother (the non-Hobbled Runner) completed the Chicago Marathon yesterday in 3:34.

When we were younger and still running a LOT, he told me that he would probably continue to run competively throughout his 20's, take his 30's off (which he did for the most part), and then come back in his 40's.

Does Chicago mark the beginning of a competitive decade for the 40 year old Paul Gisselquist?

For the Birds

Enjoyed a chilly but sunny walk with the St. Paul Audubon Society Saturday morning. It was billed as "Fall Migrants at Lake Elmo Regional Park Reserve". Cool, frosty beginning with lots of boring old red-wing black birds (lots - 100s in several flocks) and blue jays moving from tree to tree. Kind of dull for the MN birders, but we had two guests from Arizona who enjoyed the Blue Jays and even the Canada Geese (damn poop machines).

Highlights for me: starting to get a handle on LBJ (birder for “little brown jobs” - all those small brown birds that you can never identify - sparrows mostly). Got a nice look at a Lincoln’s Sparrow, Nashville Warbler, Ruby Crowned Kinglet, and a Hermit Thrush (saw that one first - good eye). There were a fair number of Bluebirds, several Red Tailed Hawks, one Turkey Vulture missing a great deal of its’ right wing but still soaring, and one Bald Eagle. Also saw two Chimney Swifts.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Warren Burger - Ted Baxter?

I always knew the Chief Justice Warren Burger wasn't a mental giant, but MN pride kept me from slamming the guy so hard. Here's an interesting observation:

Of the justices whom I have met in my life, the least impressive by far was Burger (the most impressive and most gracious was John Paul Stevens). I once spent a couple hours listening and talking to Burger around a table in the faculty lounge at the University of Virginia, where I was a visiting professor from 1985 to 1987. Burger had an impressive white mane, but struck me as sort of a Ted Baxter character (from the Mary Tyler Moore show). He looked like a Supreme Court Justice sent from central casting, but when he opened his mouth, he came off (to me) as crude and vain. (I expect to get many tributes to Burger's fine qualities in the comments--and I welcome them because they may make me more sanguine about Harriet Miers' judgment.)

Emphasis mine. [Instapundit]

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

It's The Curtains - Of Course

Last night, I'm reading bed-time stories to the Dude. He looks across the room at my Beatles calendar and says, "Hey, the Beatles - in that picture - they're in a hotel."

"Yes, they are. That's the Plaza Hotel in New York, 1964 - their first U.S. visit. [Note to parents: Never miss a teachable moment]. How did you know it was a hotel?" I replied.

"The curtains, and the wall. Those look like curtains from a hotel."

I couldn't find the actual photo, but it's from this series.

Damn hotel curtains, they give it away every time.

Max, Maxing, Maxed Out

Lately we’ve taken to discussing possible names for the upcoming niece/nephew. The Dude seems to hope it’s a boy. I believe he feels outnumbered by the various strong females in the family.

The other day, the Dude suggested “Max” for an upcoming nephew name.

“Why Max?” I asked.

“That’s the name I have in my dreams,” he replied.

“Really, I didn’t know you had a name that you ‘used’ in your dreams,” said I.

Then M chimes in, “Oh yeah, he is always ‘Max’ in his dreams or whenever we are playing make-believe.”

I had no idea. It’s fascinating what goes on in their lives when you’re not around.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Trout - Not Just for Dinner Anymore

Somedays I amaze myself. Ever since last week's visit to the Nutritionist/Dietitian, I've been kind of a fiend for healthy food. No donuts at my Mom's this weekend, opted for the raisin bran muffin instead. Fruit for in-between meal snacks - - if I have a snack at all! Now this - - Trout for lunch.

I know fish is good for me - omega-3 fatty acids and all that. But fish is just so - - fishy. It's not all that much fun to make at home since the house smells so fishy afterward. But, knowing it's damn good for me, I decided to start eating it when it's offered in the cafeteria at work. They usually offer some fish once or twice a week. Today I took the plunge, trout with a little fruity salsa on top, with broccoli and corn on the side.

Time to assess: It's not even dinner-time and I've done all this "good for you" stuff: 4 servings of fruits, 2 servings of vegetable, and now the damn trout. I think I deserve some of yesterday's pizza for dinner. The Mom & Dad version had onions, garlic (lots), a little cheddar, feta, and parmesan cheeses - - oh, and a few pepperoni for the hell of it.

God, I could kill for a bag of peanut M&M's right now.

4 Hour Rule

Slacker Manager sets out the plan for the Four Hour Rule - a little trick for taking some personal time at the beginning of a workday:

The whole trick is the expectation you're creating. If you show up to work on time, you've created the expectation that you'll be there all day long. By leaving early, you're breaking the expectation and people will wonder what your problem is. If you create the expectation early on that you won't be in the office at all, then when you break the expectation by showing up, people will think you're amazing.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Hmm - Let's See How This Goes

The Dude, M, and Mom just took off across the field to the Community Center for various musical activities: M to Sleeping Beauty practice. She's one of the seamstresses - tough job in a kingdom that hasn't seen any new fabric in sixteen years. (Recall - prediction that the little darling princess would prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die leads her father the King to order all spinning wheels burned. Oh yes, there is one that didn't make the pyre - therein lies the story.)

This week marks the Dude's first violin lesson. He looked so proud marching across the field with his little violin. Small world story: his teacher is a high school classmate of my cousin David Gisselquist. The link Googles the man who has been busy as of late trying to convince the world that AIDS is transmitted in Africa primarily by poor medical practices, rather than poor sexual, moral practices. He's a Carleton grad, Yale PHD - one of the brainy Gisselquists. I'm part of the good-looking line.

Oh yeah - home with kids. Highlight making pizza with bones. We did the crust from scratch. Lots of fun with the dough. I joked that we should open a pizza parlor and call it Two Guys from Roseville.

After dinner he announces that we need doors between the kitchen and the family room.

"Why?" I ask. "So we can close off the restuarant part of the house from the family part.

Apparently the family room will be the dining room. He also informed me that after everyone leaves we will clear out the tables and just, "Relax on the couch watching TV."

Lowlight of the Day
: Trying to get out of the house to run errands this morning. After a very loud argument over car-seat selection and placement, M storms out of the garage, back into the kitchen, grabs the phone and starts calling Mom at work. "I'm going to get you two to switch today!"

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Weekend Update

Saturday: Driving down the road with the Dude, he makes the big announcement: He has "broken up" with his girlfriend. Rather than lecture him about how kindergarten is too young to have a girlfriend in the first place, I asked a few questions. Seems the GF was a little "too bossy". One example, when he was climbing a dirt pile on the playground, she chastised him and told him he was making a fool of himself by playing on a dirt pile. Apparently that was the "last straw". Good for him. There's still plenty of time to find someone who admires his dirt pile climbing skills.

Today (Sunday): Swimming lessons then off to Grandma's (Dude and Dad only). One of the Jimmy Neutron movies was on Cartoon Network (a cable offering not available at home). Score points for Dad, who correctly identified the namesake for Jimmy' dog Goddard.

Tomorrow - the first of many teacher workshop days (at least once a month). Hobbled Dad stays home - oh yeah! We plan to visit the newly opened Spirit Halloween store. I always fear purchasing (or even looking at) a halloween costume this early in the year. Kids are liable to change their minds several times before the big day. However, as everyone knows, the good custumes go quick, so you gotta commit early.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Must Resist Force Feeding

Yesterday I visit the dietitian for a bit of "Nutritional Therapy" (working on that cholesterol) and now today this:

Hi everyone,

The food has arrived and is available in the vending area. The supply will be replenished throughout the day.

Thanks again for your hard work on this campaign.

This is how we reward people where I work. The food has been "out" for 45 minutes and the one or two veggie trays are empty, leaving chips, pop, cheese, crackers, cookies - - none of which are on my new plan.

For those family members who want all the gory details of yesterday's therapy, here's a brief summary (cut/pasted from e-mail to Hobbled Wife):

Dietitian visit very interesting. Needless to say, I am doing most things right: whole grain breads, fair amount of fruit and vegetables. She liked that I was trying to cut out between meal snacks and bedtime treats.

She recommended cutting back on sugars (jelly at breakfast for instance) in an effort to bring down the triglycerides. She also suggested cutting way back (or cutting out) cheese. (I have a ham/cheese sandwich in my lunch today). Another thing - - more fish (omega three fatty acids. Suggested flax seed as an additive.

She recommended a diet of 1400- 1500 calories per day (40 - 45 grams of fat - 11 - 15 of that saturated).

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Shirts, No Shi@

Slacker Manager has a funny post about a typo in a recent Land's End catalog. Very nice response from LE as well.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Whoa - Finished a Book!

If you knew how many books I start, but never finish, this may come as a surprise to you. And if you knew how I never read fiction, this would be an even bigger surprise.

I finished an entire book the other day!

And by "book" I mean "grown-up" book. I finish a half dozen or more kid books each week. Actually, this accomplishment is amazing for two reasons (well three):

1. It was a grown-up book, read cover-to-cover.
2. It was fiction - swore off fiction a few years ago.
3. It was actually science-fiction (in as much as it involved aliens)- and I "hate" science fiction.

The book, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, by Jack Finney. OK, OK, it wasn't deep or difficult, but it was entertaining, diverting, and fun.

I had purchased the book for the Hobbled Wife some time ago, but she ever read it. She is a Jack Finney fan, so I was surprised to find this at a book store, since I didn't know Finney wrote the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In fact, I was surprised that anyone wrote it as a book - - I just figured it was a screenplay. Found it laying around, I was between books, so I gave it a spin.

Don't have the strength or interest to review it properly, but it was entertaining, not too scary (in fact pretty tame by today's standards), but an interesting "period piece". Finney was writing in 1954 or 55, but he set the book twenty years ahead to 1976. What was the reason for this? I couldn't figure it out. He didn't do any cool future-prediction stuff. Everyone still drove cars, lived in homes with regular appliances, etc. In fact, the main character was a doctor, who still made house calls and used an answering service. I thought most MDs gave up house calls by 76. Did they still use answering services?? Maybe pagers were a few years out. Anyway, couldn't see the point of the future setting.

On to another book, non-fiction again (whew!).

One of these days I will have to post about the great series that the Dude and I are working our way through: The A to Z mystery series by Ron Ray. We've kind of skipped around the alphabet, most recently finishing The Falcon's Feathers, and now working on The Bald Bandit.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Again With The Job

No disrespect intended to my company or the position I hold, but most 5 year olds are not that interested in the day-to-day activities of a call center manager. Sometimes even 43 year olds are not that interested. But when your kids start to nag you about your job, you know things have gone too far.

Saturday - driving to the library, we got to talking about school days and work days, vs. “stay home days” i.e. Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Out of the blue the Dude asks, “When are you going to quit that boring old job and get a real job building something?” Sort a little capitalist isn't he - the old jobs of value are those building something (creating wealth).

Never had that problem with my Dad. While he didn't actually build things he worked at the Post Office. A five year old understands what the Post Office does. My Dad “made the mail go through” - something anyone could understand. Call center manager doesn’t cut the mustard.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Busy Day

Rainy, dampish Saturday. The Hobbled Wife and Daughter accompanied Mattie (Susanna's) daughter to her swimming lessons, and then back here for lunch and play before M (our M) went off to Sleeping Beauty practice. They practice twice a week for two hours each time. She really likes it.

I spent the morning at the library, and the afternoon in the garage engaged in some sort of fall clean-up. Assembled one of those metal shelves that are always on sale at Home Depot. You get what you pay for. This is probably the fourth one I've assembled, and I always get something wrong, requiring me to take it back a few steps and re-assemble. In the end, a little order has been added to my cluttered life.

Dude and I dined together at Andy's Garage. Shana was not feeling well, and M wanted to play with her dolls, or go to Perkins (again!).

Everyone (but the HR) in bed early. Need a little alone with Patricia Walden and the PM Yoga - everything kind of aches from wrestling with the garage mess.

Susanna update - - she must be feeling GREAT. She called Shana this evening from her hospital bed. Everyone is amazed by her strength and determination. Go Susanna.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Oh Susanna

Our dear friend Susanna suffered a brain aneurysm while driving near Duluth. Her car left the road, but did not crash in such a way as to cause further injury. She was airlifted to St. Paul where she is undergoing a CAT scan in anticipation of surgery. S set up a CaringBridge site for her.

S is over at Susanna and Betsy's tonight for a while, with the kids, whilst the "regular" child care person (a family friend) visits Susanna at the hospital.

Seed Identification

The Hobbled wife and daughter asked that I post this pic taken over the weekend at Camp Lakamaga near Forest Lake, MN. They are some sort of unidentified seed, found on the ground, like acorns would be, but not acorns - - or at least not the type of acorn we are familiar with.

Any ideas?

Never Pay Retail

That's the name of a new site, dedicated to the proposition that why pay retail for TimesSelect material, when you can get it for free in a day or two.

Then there's this:
The New York Times Co. yesterday announced plans to cut 500 jobs from its payroll, with the deepest cuts occurring at its namesake newspaper and The Boston Globe, as advertising revenue remains in a slump.

The reduction, which represents about 4 percent of the company's workforce, comes on the heels of a 2 percent cut in May that saw 200 employees leave.

Sort of a bad news week for the NYT.

Sidewalk Dates

The Dude and I were "reading sidewalks" on Sunday. We were in the St. Anthony area of St. Paul, when we came across some new sidewalk - about three squares worth. They were stamped 7-20-2005, and they also had a name I have forgotten already: ABC Construction, Inc. or something like that.

The Dude thought someone was buried there. He's kind of fascinated with cemeteries and grave markers, so it's a logical leap. I explained that no one was buried there, but the sidewalk was stamped by the guys who made it, so we would know that they did the job. Once you know where to look, cement stamping is all over the place.

Today's Bleat touches on the same subject:

At the park a few weeks ago several of the concrete benches were stamped WPA 1939, and this gave them great poignancy - here the bench had rested for seventy-six years, facing the Mississippi; the trees had changed but the treeline had not. Traffic whined on the bridge; the flag snapped over the old hospital building; you could smell hotdogs. The relationship between today and 1939 was the same as your elbow and your ear. You could get them close but never make them touch. A few dozen yards away from the WAP tables laid slabs poured in ’64, marked with the name of a man long gone out of business. Al Parker. Forty years of feet and water hadn't erased his name; standing atop his handiwork in the impossibly sci-fi sounding year of 2005, we could still see his name and the day he finished the job. So few things are marked with the fabricator’s name and the exact date of completion; sidewalks are a common exception. Probably why we pay them little attention. If you had never seen a name or date stamped in a sidewalk, and you came across such a notation locked in the cement bond, it might be fascinating: who and why? But every street has a name, and every sidewalk has an author.

[Emphasis mine - nice words.]

Where's the Parade?

It’s official; Federated has changed the name of Marshall Fields to Macys. This doesn’t hit me very hard. I realize now that I abandoned my loyalty to the old Dayton’s when they became Marshall Fields a few years back.

When it was Dayton’s, I was very loyal. It’s probably genetic. My mother was employed by Dayton’s at Southdale when she became pregnant with me. I was employed at Dayton’s Southdale for two summers during college. To me, Dayton’s was Southdale, and Southdale was Dayton’s, part of the very fabric of my life. (That sound powerful, but it’s probably a bit of an overstatement—literary BS!)

Anyway, when they changed to Marshall Fields I began to drift away. Prior to the change, I occasionally bought suits from Brooks Brothers—back when you actually had to dress up to go to work—but I felt guilty. I rationalized that Brooks Brothers had a better selection, but I probably did it for some sort of snob appeal. After the change to Marshall Fields, it got easier to shop around. No longer bound by loyalty (or snobbery), I discovered the Men’s Wearhouse.

Now I hear Macy’s and I’m lost. There is no connection to the old Dayton’s there. Macy’s was always New York and the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Marshall Fields was at least Midwestern—based out of Chicago as it was. I think Federated may be Midwestern —but it doesn’t matter—Federated just sounds national.

I wonder how many people turn out early on Thanksgiving morning to find a “good seat” on Nicollet Mall for that big parade the Macy’s is so famous for. Heh - sounds like a Minneesoootan kind of thing to do. They will probably sit there for a few hours before it dawns on them—there will be no big floating Sponge-Bob, no Santa Claus. Oh well, there’s always Men’s Wearhouse.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Come Fly With Me

Interesting post on the Aviation industry, Wither Avaition, from Jane Galt. Food for thought here in Northwest's backyard, where the entire MSP airport seems to now be built around, and for, NWA.

Second of all, the business model is terrible. Airlines have a very high fixed cost, which is the cost of flying even if you don't carry any passengers, and a very low marginal cost, which is the cost of carrying each additional passenger. The temptation for airlines to sell empty "extra" seats at a very low price is extremely high. But every time one airline does this, it makes it that much harder for competitors to operate at a profit. Because so many of the costs are fixed, companies seem to enter a competitive death spiral, where everyone is desperately trying to dig themselves out of the hole as best they can by selling their product below cost. Also, the "hub-and-spoke" model, which makes it easy to get connecting flights, is much less profitable than the point-to-point model competitors use, cherry-picking only the most lucrative routes. And the airlines are hugely vulnerable to swings in the price of fuel.

Monday, September 19, 2005

No Thanks, I'll Wait

You may know that today marks the start of a new NYTimes service - charging a premium for viewing seleted content. I don't suspect that world was dying to know whether I became a TimesSelect member or not, but for the record, I have not. I'll just wait to read Friedman, et. al. 2 or 3 days later in the old print Star-Tribune.

In the meantime, Ann Althouse has some interesting comments:

It's awfully perverse to play up your influential opinion-leaders by making it harder for them to actually get into the interplay of opinion in the blogosphere. Or is the Times hoping this blog thing will blow over?

Sunday, September 18, 2005


The gals are back after a weekend at Camp Lakamaga (the Girl Scout get-away). Much fun was had as evidenced by many crazy pics I just loaded. Here's a nice shot of the gang (aka Troop 1253) with the Hobbled Daughter front-and-center.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Oh Right - - The Suffering Children

Sure - it's all about the suffering children:

Joachim, who lives in Toronto but hails from Sri Lanka, now holds more than 16 Guinness records, including the longest duration balancing on one foot (76 hours, 40 minutes) and bowling for 100 hours. He does it, he says, to raise awareness of suffering children.

Man Breaks Record for Watching TV.

Crazy - But I Gotta Have It

Gillette introduces the five-blade razor, the Fusion.

Fusion is also an affordable luxury. Sure, men will have to shell out $10 for an introductory set of a Fusion razor and two blades, and $12 or more for a four-pack of replacement blades. But over time, Hoffman figures Fusion will cost only about 20 cents a shave, "or about $50 a year." That's fairly reasonable compared to the cost of Starbucks coffee, bottled water, and other increasingly common everyday luxuries.

I'm a big fan of the 3-blade razor. The downside, I've been unable to find a "generic" replacement 3-blade device. Finder cheaper replacement blades was never a problem with the "old" double-blade models. Target, Walgreens, long ago introduced their own cheaper versions of the double-blade razor. Yet, I still pay full-price for the 3-blade models. The 5-blade model will probably break the bank.

But, damn they work so nice. Much better shave than the 3 blade model.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hobbled Family

Recent photo courtesy of SDMoose (The Hobbled Sis-in-Law).

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

For a Limited Time Only - 84% Off Retail!!!

The Dude had some minor surgery in late August. There was a little confusion about whether the procedure would be covered by insurance. The question was whether it was cosmetic or not. It was resolved favorably for us, as the doctor assured us it would be.

After the surgery we get the bill. (They always send the bill, even if insurance will cover.) Among the bill's line items.

Total bill submitted for procedure: $6333.

Insurance company will cover $1032.

"Payment reduction" of $5301.

I’ve seen “payment reductions” or discounts before, but $5301? That’s 84%. If I was bargaining with someone and “talked them down” by 84%, I’d start to question their integrity. Do they just make these numbers up?

Oh well, at least all we got stuck with was a $25 co-pay. Ain’t it great!

"Helicopter Parents"

The only two people I know who sent their kids off to college this Fall are definitely not "Helicopter Parents", but the phenomena doesn't surprise me.

The Lavallees are part of a new group dubbed "helicopter parents" by college and university administrators. They say the baby boom generation of parents are so involved in their children's college lives they risk preventing their children from growing up.

Today's college students are e-mailing their papers home for their parents' inspection before turning them in. Their parents in turn are stepping in to solve roommate problems, helping students pick out courses and demanding improvements to their rooms.

Hope I don't turn into one - - but when they are only 5 and 8 it's hard to imagine not being a hovering parent.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Reduced Fat?

Enjoying my morning muffin - - enjoying it too much really. Can't really be "reduced fat" as advertised can it?

Checked the Caribou site. Select "Reduced Fat Mountain Berry Muffin". Hmmm -
Reduced Fat Mountain Berry Muffin.

Fluffy buttermilk cake, studded with blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, topped with coarse sugar topping.

10 fat grams? Not really "reduced fat" if you ask me. To compromise, I only ate half, and threw the rest away, so 5 fat grams?

A Little Humor Please

On the drive in to work I listened to the beginning of the Roberts hearings. I don't know why. As someone trained as a lawyer, these things make my skin crawl. You know Roberts is not going to answer a question about a specific case (no judge ever would), and he's certainly not going to "blow it" by saying something real stupid.

John Tierney in today's NYT has some suggested questions for the Senators that just might catch Roberts off-guard:

I'm not suggesting that Mr. Roberts is a liar, or that anything the Democrats ask today could stop him from being confirmed. But they might at least keep TV viewers awake by trying questions like these:

If Roe v. Wade were a tree, what kind of tree would it be?

Is there any chance that you could speed up Justice Stevens's retirement by addressing him as "Gramps"?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Whew! What a Relief

I've seen two reviews of the new McCartney ablum, both were good. The NYT covers it today, complete with a little video/audio clip.

I'm not a big fan of post-Beatles McCartney. I don't own all the albums/CDs. But as a Beatles fan, I just breath a little easier when I see the nice reviews. He's kind of like a distant relative. I don't follow his every move, but take a little pride whenever he does something right.

On "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard," he doesn't use the Beatles touches for easy nostalgia. They're the foundation of a musical identity that's not content, this time, with silly love songs.

Notice the "silly love songs" reference - - that usually gets worked into any McCartney review. It takes a lot to live down "Silly Love Songs."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Public Radio Branches Out

As reported in today's Star Tribune, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR)—or rather MPR’s parent company—branches out:

American Public Media Group (APMG), parent company to Minnesota Public Radio, has invested almost $1 million in the for-profit, Boston-based The new venture is a "social networking" website devoted to creating an online community of public-radio listeners.

"We think we can take audiences beyond what we give them in public radio and connect them with a whole lot of people who have similar interests," said Bill Kling, president of APMG. "We hope there is a point where they actually get involved in activities with each other -- to take a tour of Italy, or live in a compound in Santa Fe."

"We can't do that in public radio," he said.

Not sure why I’d want to do that “in” public radio. I obviously don’t share the vision. I “listen” to public radio for the news (and sometimes music). I don’t expect to tune into MPR to hook up with like-minded individuals—ones who want to live in a compound in Santa Fe.

This didn’t sound suspicious to me, until I read Bill’s parting words:

Kling added, "Our challenge is to make sure that people understand that this is being done for the same reason that we produce public radio: For the advantage of our audience. We want to develop and strengthen content and to give audiences new experiences. If there's something wrong with that, then there's something wrong with public radio."
[Emphasis mine - sounds kind of defensive.]

I've blogged about this somewhere before, but it seems more and more like MPR doesn't need my few bucks a year. They seem to do just fine on their own. I"ll probably just up my pledge to KFAI - whose annual pledge form arrived in the mail yesterday, and whose Rockin-n-Rhythm show played an hour of Buddy Holly this morning in celebration of his birth.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Obligatory Food Shot

Members of the Hobbled Family consuming beef by-products at the Great MN Get Together, 9/5/05.

Enjoy Yourself Now

Given his grandfather's view on personal watercraft, the "Jet Ski Ride" on the Kiddie Midway is the closest he'll ever get to the real thing.

The Dude and unidentified female traveling companion, 9/5/06.

My Parents are Wimps

I'm forced to ride the scary rides alone.

Hitchin' a Ride

I'm not as tired as I pretend to be, just don't tell Dad.

Quick Health Update

Met with Dr today to discuss cholesterol results. We decided to try one last step before medication: The Nutritionist. This should please all those family members who think I'm just one donut away from great health!

Blogs vs. Novels

Ann Althouse has an interesting post/discussion with comments on the role blogs play in the workplace, and in our lives.

I agree - blogs are not novels, and novels are not blog. It's apples and oranges for the many of the reasons she mentions:

Almost anyone, anywhere can blog. It's not limited to persons with elite literary skills. Blog posts go up instantly and can be read instantly. There are millions of blogs, full of variety, and relatively few novels can be published and kept available. You don't have to pay to read a blog. Blog posts can describe isolated details without needing to fit them into some character's dramatic story arc. Writers with the time and ability to produce publishable novels do not populate all parts of the workplace. Novelists don't tend to care very much about the details of how different businesses work: literary novelists concentrate on personal relationships, and popular novelists concentrate on clever or thrilling stories.

I'm not knocking novels. I'm just saying they occupy one niche, and blogs have staked out another. Novels show things blogs don't and blogs show things novels don't.