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.