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 completerunning.com.

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 ikea.com 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.