Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Takin' 'Bout My Generation

Well not actually my generation, but folks a few years younger.

Management by Baseball - a great business blog (don't let the name fool you), has an interesting piece on what it calls "The Clueless Contributor problem":
The pattern I've noticed in Ban Davises is that they tend to have some form of attention deficit disorder, a lack of intelligence, OR come from a sub-generation of people who run roughly from 26-35 years old. Why that sub-generation? I'm not sure why, but I'll offer up a quick w.a.g.: When these folk were adolescents, success as described by leading communication outlets such as TV and news seemed to be disconnected from actual accomplishment, and some imprinted on the idea that work achieved and success were somehow not linked. Dot-bomb millionaires, Enron, Milli Vanilli, Chainsaw Al Dunlap, et.al. Some people came away imprinted with the idea that just showing up and looking good was enough. And in our society today, that's actually true in many cases (though not in the true crucible of management, baseball).

Who Are These People?

Yesterday our home phone was deluged by calls from people who had received a call from “our phone” and, having caller ID, returned the call to see what was up. After some confusion it was determined that a telemarketer in Missouri with a similar, yet different number, was computer-dialing (my term there) people with some sort of offer. Dozens – probably close to one hundred called “back” to our home to see what was up.
Amazing – who calls back a telemarketing computer-generated call? Not too long ago everyone was up in arms about telemarketing calls and the various state and federal “no-call lists” were implemented to thunderous approval – or so I thought. Apparently there are a lot of gullible people out there who not only welcome telemarketers’ calls, but also go to the effort to contact them back after they missed the call.
I wonder what they were selling?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Spring has Sprung

Walk @ Lunch – 62 F, Partly Cloudy and Mild: First signs of spring observed on a relatively short, 1 mile walk past parking lots, open fields, small woods and marsh. Last week I had seen robins, but those don’t really count, since some over-winter, and I don’t consider robins as much a sign of spring as some. Today on the other hand, I heard two Killdeer, two Red Wing Blackbirds, and at least two frogs (species unknown). I heard the first frog on a small pond that is still 1/3 covered in ice!

SSRIs

Interesting reading on "Life Begins at Thirty" - a food blog that I sometimes frequent. Apparently the blog host has been having headaches for some time:

So just take a guess what he suggests: antidepressants. He tells me that since I am getting them in the morning, maybe the antidepressant will help my muscles relax in the evening and then I can wake up without a headache. Think of it like a valium, he says, but without the addictive side effects. I am listening to him very skeptically when he declares the kicker: "Besides," he says, "it will give you a seratonin boost and who doesn't need a seratonin boost. I mean, everyone you know will eventually be on some type of seratonin boosters - it's just what we need in this society. So you may as well give it the old college try."

"Without addictive side effects" - perhaps - but it's not easy to get off the things either. I would like to get off Zoloft, but even my new doctor (the nice one) doesn't recommend it until Summer - given the seasonal nature of my meloncholia.

Sleepers Unite

Good News for the sleepers in the family, and some potential bad news for the one early-early riser (you know who I’m talking about):
But before slinking back under the covers in shame, slugabeds of the world should consider: Sleep researchers are casting doubt on the presumed virtue and benefits of waking early, with research showing that the time one wakes up has little bearing on income or success, and that people's sleep cycles are not entirely under their control. Buoyed by the reassessment of their bedtime habits, a few outspoken and well-rested night owls are speaking out against the creep of sleepism.
NYT, Registration Required.

Highway 10

I'm one of those nuts who returns from an "offline" vacation and reads the daily entries of certain blogs he's missed while being offline. The Bleat is one of those - of course. Here's some good stuff from Thursday. What would you do if wife and kid took a long vacation?

my wife and child will be taking a trip with her Mom and sister in the summer, and I’ll have nine days alone.

I know exactly what I’ll do. I’m going to drive home along the old highway 10, the road that tied Fargo and Minneapolis together before the interstate was built. Small towns every 20 miles. I’ll stop whenever I want, take pictures, maybe even hole up in a small motel, drop into town, find a bar, open the laptop, and get my ass kicked for being from the city. No, that wouldn’t happen – Highway 10 is the road all the big city folk take to their cabins and resorts; they’re used to the cosmopolitans showing up Friday with their creels and creased pants.

That’s my dream, anyway. Dog in the back and the road ahead. We’ll see.

And don't miss today - the Easter trip home, memories and more:
We'd taken out some afghans the night before - one green, one blue, both knitted by my Grandmother decades ago. I'd curled up under them as a kid; they were later draped around a chair in the living room. Good as new. Can't shake 'em. Sometimes you actually get irritated at the obstinate persistence of inanimate objects; it would be simple if they'd just leave. Because here I am in my father's new house, staring at this letter my Grandma wrote in wool. You can run your hands along it and pretend you're touching her; you can imagine the day at the farm,

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Soggy Dad

Tomorrow we set out for a little get-away at the beautiful Rapid River Lodge near Brainerd. There will be a total of 3 families (my wife's high school friends), and 8 kids. For some reason I'm the only husband in the group - - not sure how that happened - - the other 2 guys apparently just can't break away.

Picture this: 3 high school girlfriends spending the entire weekend poolside - enjoying cocktails - while yours truly - the designated "life guard" - is busy with all 8 kids in . . . .

"Northern Minnesota's most unique hotel. A 13,000 sq ft indoor water park boast two 240 ft waterslides and a lazy river complete with a waterfall and rapids. The kiddy pool is a spectacular array of slides, water features and even a tree fort that children are simply enchanted with."

Yikes!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Death and Dying

Heaven help me I am putting my “two cents” into the Schiavo matter. My mother and I were discussing the case this weekend. She reminded me that my grandfather (my dad’s dad) died at home after his family decided to stop feeding him.

It was March 1968, and he was beyond the help of medical science, in the final stages of cancer. The doctor gave the family the option to keep him in the hospital on a feeding tube, or take him home to be with the family. It was explained that taking him home would speed the inevitable death process since we wouldn’t be able to feed him regularly and the only way to get him to “eat” would be forcing food down. He had lost appetite and ability to eat independently.

I remember visiting my grandparents’ home during this time. I was a few days shy of 5 years old. They lived in the lower floor of a duplex in south Minneapolis. My grandfather lay on a little couch or day-bed in a back room. While I don’t recall all the details, I can picture him lying in a room that wasn’t his regular bedroom – perhaps a spare room?

He died a few days later, in the early morning hours, with my father at his bedside. His kids were taking turns sitting with him and providing relief to my grandmother, and my dad happened to be there when he died. My father had just gotten home when I woke up. I remember asking lots of questions about what it was like to watch someone die —typical brutally honest questioning from an almost 5 year old.
Thirty-two years later, my mother and I sat by my father’s bed as he died of cancer.

Felt like I completed the circle.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Cool Journal

Today I started using a birthday gift I bought myself. It's a journal from Ex Libris Anonymous. They make journals from old books by taking the front and back covers and some of the pages inside, then inserting good quality paper, and finishing it off with a spiral binder. Their site has many cool examples of their work.

I always carry a notebook or legal pad around work, but most are kind of boring and have crappy paper. This one is very cool and bound to attract a lot attention. Oh Yeah, my journal is a green textbook entitled, Essentials of Pyschological Testing, 2nd edition, by Cronbach. It appears to be the 1960 edition.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Funny MN News Item

Having a vanity plate that reads "TIPSY" may not be such a great idea after all.

Over-Parenting, Over-Protection

I found this fascinating, Protecting Kids to Death in City Pages.
It's not enough that adults are watching from the ground, or even that there are some adults up in there. It matters not that every inch of Adventure Peak is "padded, netted, and enclosed." No, my generation believes good supervision means being right there with your own child every minute, even though our parents would have happily plopped down for a good gossip.


Interesting discussion on worrying as well:
Worrying is a secular form of prayer, according to David Anderegg, a psychology professor at Bennington College in Vermont, and the author of Worried All the Time: Rediscovering the Joy in Parenthood in an Age of Anxiety. Earlier generations coped with the thought that they couldn't control what happened to their offspring all the time by reasoning that once the kid walked out the door, God took over. But accidents are no longer seen as divine intervention, and the parents Anderegg now sees in his private practice often equate worrying with being devoted.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Damn Knee

Not sure where this is coming from, but my "knees" are back. Perhaps it's the two-walking/jogging sessions since last Thursday, but the knees never hurt during that exercise, only walking up and down stairs after.

Everything was OK until Friday afternoon. I was going up two flights of steps at work when my right knee just seized up. I was between floors so I had to go either up or down. I waited a few moments and proceeded up - very slowing, leaning heavily on the rail. Since then I've been taking the elevator.

Saturday night, M fell asleep on the way home from a friend's party. I carried her in the house and really felt my knee when ascending the stairs from the garage.

A co-worker (who has suffered many running injuries) thinks it's my cartilage. Whatever it is it sure hurts - now just sitting around. I iced it this morning, after aggravating it during sleep.

Great - I'm 43 years old, but have the knees of a 73 year old, not to mention the cholesterol to match.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Decaf Please

Funny piece from David Brooks. [NYT - registration required.]

If 18,000 calories and four kinds of booze didn't kill me, there was no way a smidgen of caffeine was going to keep me awake.

And yet we live in the age of the lily-livered, in which fretting over things like excessive caffeination is built into the cultural code.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Family on the Web

Cousin Jim grabs the most obvious url, www.gisselquist.com.

Also stumbled across this reference to Nils Gisselqvist - using the Swedish "v" rather than the more Americanized "u". Looks like he was a photographer.

Nils Gisselqvist (1889-1945) var Ystadsfotografen med de verkligt artistiska anlagen. Han utformade en teknik där han målade på stora pappersnegativ som han sedan kontaktkopierade på vanligt barytpapper. Resultatet blev fotografiska konstverk med sagolika motiv som nu kan beskådas i nyhängda galleriet.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Day-One

OK - betting down to business. According to my calculations (from nutritiondata.com), here's how Wednesday went:

Calories: 2225 (goal 2900)
Fat: 58.5 (goal 96)
Sat. Fat: 13 (goal 29)

I didn't count the frozen peas (about two dozen), and the 1/4 of a red pepper sliced, that I sprinkled atop my spaghetti (Annies Whole Wheat), but that would be 0 on the fat and only a few more cals.

Got up early this AM, as usual. But unlike "usual" went out for walk/jog for 30 minutes. Very nice- low 30s and snowy. I won't go on about how the stillness of the fresh blanket of snow muffled my steps as I toured the neighborhood while friends and neighbors slumbered, etc. ...

Nice 1 mile+ walk at noon - - snow had given way to drizzle, sleet, wind - yuck!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Cholesterol - Diet and Exercise

Diet and exercise - figures! The doctor and I agreed to pursue the pursue the diet and exercise route and re-check in 6 months (September). Doing a little research on the web, and found the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) site. Inserted height, weight, age, etc, into this and got this:
Based on the information you provided, the number of calories estimated for you to help you lower your blood cholesterol level is 2900.
Based on your estimated calorie level, your daily limit for saturated fat would be 29 grams and your daily limit for total fat would be 96 grams.

Not looking forward to counting calories, but here goes.

I developed a template in Word to use each day. Provide a little framework for recording the basics. Don’t want to become a fanatic. Since my diet doesn’t vary a great deal from day-to-day I hope to get a general idea of calorie and fat intake.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Not Elissa Steamer

All claims to the contrary, my sister-in-law is NOT Elissa Steamer. I don't even think she owns a skateboard.

Cool Road Kill

Interesting road kill - an opossum , on Larpenteur in front of Gibbs Farm - about one mile from home. I've never seen one in the wild before - - not sure if road kill counts as "wild".

Cold today - 30F and windy. Quite a contrast from yesterday: sunny and 60F. The joys of Minnesota in March.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Time to Clean the Feeders

This from the StarTribune:

Call it nature's nasty trick.

This winter, common redpolls -- small red-capped finches that flock at feeders -- have swarmed into Minnesota from Canada, delighting bird watchers.

But in the past three weeks, birds have been dropping dead near feeders all over the state, victims of salmonella.

People are being urged to remove finch feeders, clean them with a mild bleach or vinegar solution and not replace them for a while to force the birds to forage more widely, lessening the spread of the disease.

Haven't seen any dead redpolls - but I've seen quite a few of the live ones.

Good News, Bad News

Got my blood tests back from the MD. The new doctor and I meet Tuesday to discuss in more detail, but here's the raw data.

Good news: TSH is 2.1, they recommend 0.3-5.0
Bad news: cholesterol was 222 (range <200)
HDL (good cholesterol): 48 (range >39)
LDL (bad cholesterol): 165 (range <130)
Triglycerides: 44 (range <150)