Friday, April 29, 2005

Color Timeline

Taking a break from creating a project timeline, and I came across this - Colorstrology. Kind of cool - in my prior job I was pretty familiar with the Pantone color spectrum. Turns out that this is my birthday color:

"March 12, Almost Apricot, Pantone 15-1319, Musical, Communicative, Expressive."

I actually like the color for March the month (Fair Aqua - Pantone 12-5409) better than March 12 specifically - Oh well, maybe I'll go sing about it.

Back to work - working on creating a project timeline. Thought it would be a purely clerical job, but now I realize that we haven't been too clear about project milestones, so I get to create them as I go. Oh, the power!

Wait - Don't Shoot

At some time in my life - actually several times in my life - I'm pretty sure I told you to shoot me if I ever took up golf. Well, lately I've been struggling with an overwhelming urge to take up golf. Perhaps because it looks relaxing, perhaps because it looks easy on the knees. I see myself taking a bucket of balls out into the field and praticing my shots (drives, chips??? - whatever). The kids would of course run after the balls and fetch them back to me.

Ahh.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Do Mice Swim?

Bones is enrolled in a pre-school music program called "Pied Pipers". It's great, he loves it and seems to be learning a lot. The other night I asked him if he knew the story of the "Pied Piper". "Yes," he said, "Katie (teacher) read it the first day of Pied Piper class."

As he started to tell the story, I winced. Recalling a rather creepy, violent story of a man that rids the town of mice or rats, then decides to rid the town of its children when the townspeople refuse to pay for the earlier rodent removal, I was a a little leery of what he had been told in class.

He recounted the story of how a man played a pipe that caused all the mice to follow him out of town. When the reached the end of town, he "lead" them into the water. End of story.

[Pregnant pause]

"Dad," he asked, "Can mice swim?"

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Gluteus Medius and Minimus

First visit to the PT yesterday. After a few movements to give her a view of my knee and leg, the PT determined that my knee problem is likely caused by a weak and inflexible set of Gluteus Medius and Minimus. When stepping up and down on a stool, my right knee tracks in, rather than staying straight. By working my glutes I should be able to stabilze the knee as it moves back and forth.

Two sessions a week for a while. Fingers and toes crossed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Good-Luck Goodwill Pants?

Wife and daughter made a quick trip to the Goodwill store last night to secure clothing for daughter's upcoming appearance in the role of Jack and the Beanstalk's mother (more about that later). In addition to getting the necessary costume items, S found a nice dress ($2 - she feels guilty - possible mis-priced), and a nice pair of khaki linen jeans.

S is always on the hunt for pants that fit just right. Well these pants fit just great, and while trying them on she came across a bonus. In one of the back pockets was a faded, folded map of the Paris subways (Metro). S, being the Franco-phile that she is was quite amazed, and amused. She and I agree that this must be some sort of omen - a sign of good luck.

Monday, April 25, 2005

No, No, No

My wife is also very good at saying "No" to the requests for our phone number when purchasing merchandise from certain retailers. I wish I was better.

As it stands, you end your Best Buy transaction by saying NO, NO, and NO. They might consider ways to let people leave with the word “yes” fresh on their lips.


Lileks has a few more things to say about customer service:

Lesson: from Best Buy to Marshall Field’s, it’s the same problem. One day a company is responsive, quick, savvy. Then one day it’s one percent bigger than it was before, and something happens. They’re the IRS. They’re the Pentagon. They’re an organization slowly ground into ruin by a thick busy level of managers, some of whom are in charge of extracting point-of-sale contact info, others who are going to make their bones on a store-wide phone-system overall. Elephants playing patty-cake.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Dock - a Nightmare

Had a weird dream last weekend. More of nightmare really. It involved "putting in the dock". Every year my father-in-law and I put in the dock at the cabin. I don't know what is worse: the dock is comprised of a million separate pieces, all heavy as well; and of course the water is cold, cold, cold. The air temp is usually great - it being Memorial Day or thereabouts, but the water still remembers the ice.

My colleagues also complain about "putting in the dock". They lament how cold it is too. Except - and get this - they where waders! Hah! wimps. Jake and I never wear waders - we might where water shoes as the rocks are especially pointy when you are holding up a hundred pounds of old dock. But waders - Hah!

Last year - or was it the year before - when I stepped into the water I had to wait about 20 seconds for the nausea to pass. It was so cold I got dizzy and almost threw up. But the feeling quickly passed, the legs numbed sufficiently, and the dock was installed in no time.

Oh yeah - - the dream.

Jake insisted on putting in the dock. I objected as usual - but I had a good reason: there was still snow on the ground, and the ice had not "gone out" as we say up here in the Northland. Still, we had to go through with it. Actually it wasn't that bad. We probably stayed warmer than usual since all we had to do was lay the dock pieces down on the ice. Jake's theory was that as the ice melted, the dock would just "settle" into place. It would be the easiest install ever.

As the days went by the ice did break, but the dock did not settle. In fact, the dock began floating away. Jake insisted we swim after it - but I declined since there were still patches of ice bobbing on the lake. Luckily sis-in-law Amy was visiting and had her surfing web suit. She donned the suit and quickly swam to the rescue. - - Then I woke up.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Those crazy academic-types,

In a victory for pranksters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a bunch of computer-generated gibberish masquerading as an academic paper has been accepted at a scientific conference.


The piece goes onto describe how they did it, and the somewhat embarrassed response from conference organizers. It ends so nicely,

The students were soliciting cash donations so they could attend the conference and give what Stribling billed as a "completely randomly-generated talk, delivered entirely with a straight face."

They exceeded their goal, with $2,311.09 cents from 165 donors.

I Love this Stuff

This speaks to me on a lot of levels.
CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- A steady stream of the faithful and the curious, many carrying flowers and candles, have flocked to an expressway underpass for a view of a yellow and white stain on a concrete wall that some believe is an image of the Virgin Mary.

Part of me wants to laugh out loud - a stain (most likely caused by road salt) on the underpass just happens to look like the Virgin Mary - Give me a break! It's the stuff of the tabloids. Yet - I'm fascinated by the people who show up - usually crowds of them.

I used to have this conversation/argument with my father when I was younger. A little background: Lutheranism is the "business". My grandfather and three uncles were/are Lutheran pastors. I dutifully attended church and Sunday School where I learned about the miracles performed by Jesus - water into wine; raising the dead; causing the blind to see; walking on water. But when it came to modern day "miracles" the church was silent. I suspect most people just laughed them off. But if you believe in the "old miracles", why not the "new ones"? When did Jesus/God/the Church stop performing miracles?

As a young man, it was one of the many things that caused me to think that the believers don't really believe. The miracle stories were probably just "propaganda" put forth by the early Christians in a hotly competitive religious environment where all faiths had their miracles, and promises of more miracles. On one level I believe that's true. In order to develop their faith early Christians adopted concepts, legends, miracle stories, from other faiths - and even later the "Christmas Tree" was famously borrowed from Pagans. But on another level, maybe there's something to it. The "believers" sure turn out for these sightings. They really "want to" believe it's the Virgin Mary. Any harm there?

What comes first, the faith or the belief. Most of what you are asked to "believe" is unbelievable, so you gotta have faith.

Roe's Political Impact

David Brooks argues for the overturning of Roe v. Wade with a unique argument about the political fallout caused by that now 30 year old decision.
Religious conservatives became alienated from their own government, feeling that their democratic rights had been usurped by robed elitists. Liberals lost touch with working-class Americans because they never had to have a conversation about values with those voters; they could just rely on the courts to impose their views. The parties polarized as they each became dominated by absolutist activists.

While I'd hate to see women (and men) lose their right to choose, Brooks makes some good points. Back when I was first involved in politics in the early 1980s, the DFL (Minnesota's Democratic Farmer Labor party) was still a "big tent". At our suburban precinct caucus we had both pro-choice and pro-life Democrats. We got along well. Abortion was a very important issue for the pro-lifers, but it was not the only issue. Labor issues, taxes, nuclear disarmament/proliferation also had equal time on the agenda. But the biggest issue of all was defeating Republicans. Now you cant find a pro-life Democrat.
When I moved to the city in 1986 I saw few if any pro-life DFLers. But then again, MPLS has always been known for having a different political culture - - some of the older folks were still split about who they backed in 1968, Humphrey or McCarthy. MPLS DFLers are a lucky group. They tend to be more of an "issues forum", caring more about "winning" on the issues - choosing candidates that are "correct" on the various issues of the day, than actually winning the race. They are lucky because the Republican party in MPLS is pretty much non-existent. The city was home to many moderate Republicans, electing several to the city council and state legislature in up to the late 1970s. I'm told that the growth of the religious right in the early 1980s drove out most moderates. DFLers win almost by default. While that works for MPLS, it doesn't work for the rest of the state.
Statewide DFLers seem to be in some trouble, holding only one statewide office - that of State AG. It will be interesting to see how they fare in the coming years.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Birthday Blogging

Big week - the Dude turned 5 yesterday, and S turns 40 tomorrow. When I told a co-worker that my wife turned 40 this week he said, "I didn't know you married an older woman."

It's nice being the boss - gotta love the suck-ups.

Birthday a big success. Grandma-ma brought brats, beans, and potato salad so we had the first official cook-out of the season. Finished it off with one of those Dairy Queen ice cream cakes. It's amazing how easy it is to transition back into the Bills Beach Diet.

Dude received a Recorder from H & J. He loves it. He even slept with it last night. All the way to school he played it. He is working on his "patter-ins" or patterns to the rest of you. Dude is in a weekly music class - "Pied Pipers". They are learning patterns - - long, long, short, etc. All the way to school: Tooooot, Tooooot, toot. To liven things up I challenged him to try to long, short, short. He nailed it.

Benefits of Warmer Weather

Out driving around with the Dude on Saturday. "I'm happy Summer is coming," he says.

"What do you like best about summer," asks Dad.

"You can pee outside."

Indeed.

Friday, April 15, 2005

For preosfsional documtnes use poerfssional sotfware...

Spam mail is a source of amusement for me. I work at a large corporation with a pretty effective spam filter firewall thingy, so I get little if any Spam: only four or five a day; and all that goes to a special Spam e-mail folder. My cube-neighbor and I get a kick out their obvious mispellings, part of an attempt to evade the filters no double. The quote above was from a piece of Spam I received today. The sender sounds like a real winner: predators@bernhardt-holzbau.de.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

April in Paris

Kottke.org, "home of fine hypertext products", has a series of cool Paris photos, for those francophiles out there.

Library Use Up - - in Perham, MN

Warms my heart to read this news:
At the Perham Public Library, 41,414 adult and children’s books were checked out in 2004 – 2,576 more than the previous year. Use of the library’s computers was actually down from 2004, with 7,820 user occasions compared to 8,733 last year.
The kids and I really enjoy the Perham library during our summer visits to West McDonald. Nice to hear we're not the only ones.
Total visits to the library were approximately 50,336 in 2004 – compared to 45,292 in 2003. Visits are calculated by taking counts on a number of days over the course of the year, and multiplying the numbers out, rather than strict daily counts.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Nutella in a Tube

Don't show M:

It's all in the packaging, is it not? Because really, if you look at it from an objective stance, this is quite simply, well, Nutella. For about six times the price of regular industrial Nutella, as purchased by yours truly, in a moment of sheer giving-in-to-temptation, at the beauty/home store RĂ©sonances.

Source: Chocolate and Zucchini.

Loonies and Posturers

As one trained in The Law, I've followed the recent calls to impeach various members of the federal judiciary with some interest. It's a bit scary to hear members of Congress call for the impeachment and dismissal of judges who they think are "wrong". Judicial activism always has it's proponents and opponents. In my lifetime I've seen the pendulum swing from "Impeach Earl Warren" to "Impeach Justice Kennedy".

Law School Professors and Bloggers:

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, and law school professor at glennreynolds.com his MSNBC home:
If people are unhappy with the judiciary, they need to think about how to fix it, using the Constitutional methods for doing so. You'll be able to tell the loonies and the posturers from the serious ones by whether they discuss specific reforms, or just fire unaimed broadsides at the judiciary as a whole. I hope that there will be fewer of those than there seem to be, now.

Ann Althouse, University of Wisc Law Prof, comments on yesterday's testimony by Justice Anthony Kennedy:
But I love the cool, measured response that models judicial demeanor. It helps people see that judges function in a different way from politicians, even though the politicians are pushing the proposition that they don't.

Knee Update - MRI

Had a doctor's appointment yesterday, and they referred me for an MRI this morning. MRI's are very relaxing: nice comfy "bed", loud (though muffled by headphones), throbbing, buzzing, they lull me to sleep, especially since you must lay completely still for 25 minutes.

Mistake: asking that the headphones be tuned to 91.1 - the news and info branch of the MPR kingdom. I had to endure 25 minutes of House Speaker Steve Swiggum and attorney Dave Lillehaug debating the recent concealed carry court case. At least I could roll my eyes without violating the "completely still" directive.

How Could I Forget Kyrgyzstan?

How could I forget my former colleague Larry Tweed when searching for the latest news on Kyrgyzstan? Larry is serving in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan, and is blogging his service, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan. He has several posts on the revolution.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Sneak Preview - Chicken Little

We've recently purchased The Incredibles DVD. The disc includes
some previews, one of which is for Chicken Little. Here's a little
insider's look at Chicken Little, along with Rapunzel
which I didn't know was in the works, from Danny Gregory:
The movies look beautiful - Chicken Little lives an idyllic
sunlit village which is attacked by steel robots from space, sort of Babe
meets the Terminator, and Rapunzel appears to be based on the paintings of
Fragonard.

Gregory is an interesting guy. While I can't quite follow his career
trajectory, he hosts Everyday Matters, and has written several books. The most recent is Change Your Underwear Twice a Week, which is about those old filmstrips we used to watch in school.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Files? Desktops?

I'm a sucker for this stuff. All the various ways of managing time, and thinking about work. Probably keeps me from doing the real thing. Oh well, here's an interesting bit questioning why we use the file/desktop metaphor in Graphic User Interface (GUI) design:

Typically, the GUIs we all learned have used controlling metaphors that were based on physical things like desks and file cabinets and shelves. Even where these metaphors failed or misled, they were still really useful as a way of fording the no-man’s-land between terrified users and seemingly complex, command line-based systems. They built an extra layer of interactivity that made learning a computer much less intimidating and abstract by translating it into work people were already familiar with.

So, flash forward 20+ years and there are a lot of us who haven’t really thought in terms of those metaphors in years. In fact, the “desk” and “file cabinet” metaphors are starting to seem downright quaint; we want ways to increase our productivity and sense of response time, not a permanent set of training wheels, right?

From an interview with Merlin Mann of 43folders fame.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Yoga - the Next Level

On the spur of the moment, I decided to register for another session of yoga classes. They start tomorrow night. For the first time, I've decided to try the Intermediate level - the next step up from Beginner. I have been through three sessions of the Beginner level, and the instructor was urging me to move on. This should be fun because they practice some chanting - Om - in addition to the asana (poses).

Let's Talk it Out

Interesting new study:

In a surprising report from the University of Pennsylvania, researchers are suggesting that, contrary to current American Psychiatric Association (APA) guidelines, psychological therapy and counselling can be just as effective as drugs in the early stages of treating moderate to severe depression.

At present the APA holds the view that the majority of patients suffering the early stages of depression will need medication.

This new report says their findings contradict current practice in the United States and does not support that view.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Good, the Bad, and the Glazed

What good is a Friday if you can't live life on the edge. Despite my cholesterol, and general concern about health/weight, I gave into temptation and had a wonderful glazed donut at a meeting this morning.

Later this afternoon, I got curious and checked the Nutrition Data site, to get the "skinny" - bad choice of words - on glazed donuts.

In addition to calories (114 per oz), fats (total 6g, sat 2g), and cholesterol (6mg), they have a Good/Bad chart. I found this one heartening:

The Good
This food is very low in Cholesterol.

The Bad
A large portion of the calories in this food come from sugars.


See - - glazed donuts are not bad for cholesterol after all!

This just in (also on the site), M&M to Release Dark Chocolate Version - yumm!

Big Government Conservatives?

Since there’s not a lot happening inside the Democratic party that interests me, I’ve been following some of the internal goings-on with the Republicans. Here’s an interesting piece by a libertarian fellow:
In the past, whatever their differences, religious conservatives and libertarian conservatives were "fused" together, in Frank Meyer's famous formulation, by a shared belief in limited government (a belief intensified during the Cold War years due to the threat of "Godless" communism). Libertarians liked limited government because -- well, they were libertarians. They saw small government as an end in itself. And religious conservatives liked limited government in part because they saw big government as a threat to Christian virtue.

But here's where the big shift has occurred -- where the fusion's grown cold: While libertarians still believe in their half of this equation, many religious conservatives are shedding their skepticism when it comes to the state.

While some libertarian types may have been upset with President Reagan's deficits, he was at least singing from their hymn book: Government is the problem, not the solution. George W. Bush on the other hand has never even gone to the trouble of aping a small-government posture. Instead, Bush has adopted one of Reagan's other famous lines, sans irony: I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.

This represents a fundamental shift in the direction of the Republican Party and a threat to its traditional alliances. The shift is self-evident. Instead of being the party that tries to rein in entitlement spending, the Republican Party is now the party of the $1.2 trillion Medicare prescription-drug benefit. Instead of being the party that is opposed to even having a federal Department of Education, the Republican Party is now the party of extensive intrusion into local schoolhouses by Washington, D.C. And instead of being the party of the rule of law and state's rights, the Republican Party is now the party of Congressional intervention into the thoroughly adjudicated medical decisions of an individual family.

Now, to be clear: What's most disturbing to libertarians about all of this is not that the shift in the traditional alignment will hurt the Republican Party at the polls -- at least in the short term. What's disturbing is just how powerful the idea of a "God-and-government" coalition could be.
What if Karl Rove's idea for a permanent majority actually worked? The GOP could convince soccer moms that it's not so hard-hearted by implementing national health care piece by piece. It could pick up the votes of blue-collar union members by appealing to them on "values" issues that the Democrats can't talk about without choking on their own bile. And the GOP could even pick up votes from socially conservative black and Hispanic voters who are adamantly opposed to gay marriage.

The electoral logic of Big Government Conservatism, in fact, is virtually inescapable. Where the logic falls apart, however, is in why we would continue to call this new edifice "conservative" at all.

In the meantime I’m not too sure what’s going on in the Dem party. Maybe I don’t follow it close enough, but I’m not sure what Howard Dean is up to? I suspect Hillary continues to put together her machine, and I read some interesting stuff about Russ Feingold’s recent trip to the South.