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 In an unpublished paper that has been submitted to an economics journal, the pair declare: “This paper provides evidence that daughters make people more left wing.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.