Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Guy Time

Whilst the female members of the household were off at a "book club", the guys did various guy things like go to Como Zoo, where we hung out with the Gorillas.

After the zoo, we heading to Como Lake for some fun. We recalled a wonderful afternoon not so long ago when we walked all the way around the lake (1.8 mi - not bad for a 5 year old), but it was cold on Sunday. The wind off the lake was nippy, so we retreated to the car after about 20 minutes.

Hair Blogging

M got her hair cut yesterday - a lot of hair. Apparently she had told some of her friends she intended to get it cut, but never got around to putting scissors to hair. She was getting bugged by all her friends who kept asking, "Hey when are you going to get your hair cut?"

She asked Mom to take her to Kids Hair yesterday if only to silence her friends.

First Recital

Here's a few pictures from last week's violin recital. None of the shots are that great, but the official event photographers were still pretty sick, so you gotta take what you get.

The other photo is a pre-show photo of the Hobbled Runner and the Dude.

The Dude played "Rowing Along" (twice through) with his teacher Michael accompanying him.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Due to Recent Illness. . .

Ahh -What a liberating feeling - After being sick, and not getting as much done from home as expected, I “cleared” my calendar of all remaining meetings this week. Oh, the power!

“Due to my recent illness, and lack of progress on your Annual Reviews, I am canceling this meeting. Of course, feel free to stop by if you have immediate issues to discuss.”

I oughta do that more often.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sick Day "Art"

Dude and Dad were both home sick today. Dude ran a fever early on, and we spent a lot of time on the couch with Dad enjoying the new wireless modem. Don't know how I lived without it.

Late in the day we decided to create a "project" out of toothpicks and marshmellows. The two photos show the project as it was meant to be (with the Dude holding everything in place), and then the project after gravity had its way (about 5 minutes later).

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Everyone under-the-weather. Dude at the bottom, fever, cough, no energy. M next up the ladder, you can hear her barking cough throughout the neighborhood, but she seems in better spirits and gets around the house more than her little brother.

The Hobbled Runner is lethargic, stuffed-up, and unsure how someone crawled down his throat last night with sandpaper.

The Hobbled Wife seems best of all, but she's sniffling and snorting like the rest of us.

Feeling that I was "tanking" yesterday afternoon, I brought home lots of work to keep me out of trouble in case I had to call in sick - I did. Now I'm sick and feeling guilty about whether I'll get any work done. Great!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Good Health - No Silver Bullet

This piece by Robert Paterson caught my attention today. It's kind of long, but thought-provoking.

Now that major studies have dismissed Low Fat diets, HRT and Calcium supplements as the answer to health, what are women going to do to have a healthy life?

Well maybe, the answer is to stop looking for the Silver Bullet. The truth is that our health is not a matter of one pill or one vector but it is a "Whole".

Is it really olive oil or is it the interactive and high intensity lifestyle of Italians that makes the difference to health? Is bone density really about eating more calcium or is it really about having an active life that includes a lot of load bearing? Is diabetes driven by our genes or more driven by what we eat?

Are we machines that can be "fixed" or are we living beings that have to take care? If we accept that we are humans and not machines then there can be no fix. As living beings, we are complex systems. Being a complex system, many factors not one, act upon us to make us more or less healthy? So what do we have to know and then what are our choices?

Later on. . .

The primary issue for having good health is to understand our immune system better and live the life that keeps it strong. But this is not what we do or where we invest. In Canada and in the US, health has been defined as access to the healthcare system. A giant industry tells us that we are only a pill away from health. But most of what drives our health are factors that can be seen as environmental. So instead of looking at how we live, we look for a new silver bullet. Instead of looking at our choices, we become helpless. Instead of taking charge, we blame.

Does that mean that we are helpless? We are immersed in this powerful culture of the consumer world, where we have largely become as domesticated as the poor animals that provide our food. We too live in large pens, called cities. We have stopped moving. We eat the same processed junk that we feed them.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Yikes - West McDonald Site

Stumbled upon this - could it be? Yes, it is.

Light or Dark Meat?

Many apologies for a very bad joke. I provide this link as a public service. The town of Frazee is about 20 miles or so from "the cabin".

FRAZEE, Minn. — A barn fire killed 3,000 turkeys near Frazee in northwestern Minnesota on Saturday.

Harry Potter - You Ever Heard of Him

For some reason the Dude discovered Harry Potter this weekend. Years of having the story read to him and wandering into the room while Mom and M watched one of the several movies we own had no impact on him.

Saturday morning, bright and early, he slips #1 into the DVD player. Halfway through he puts on his sister's black dress and the hat from an old halloween costume. He wore that (wizard?) outfit all weekend.

Don't Mess With The Kid

Birthday Season Begins

This weekend marked the start of the Birthday season - a 5-month celebration of family birthdays. This weekend we celebrated Grandma-ma's (The Hobbled Mother-in-Law's) and Auntie Deb's (The Hobbled Sister-in-Law). In March we have three: 2 sibs-in-law and yours-truly. April marks my brother's (April 1), the Hobbled Wife (April 21), and the Dude's (April 19.) We also expect the arrival of little-Moose sometime in April.

We celebrate one birthday in May, and two in June (my Mom's and Maria's). The Fourth of July would have been my Dad's (82).

Here's a few shots from recent days, including some from Saturday's birthday celebration.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

This Looks Real Good

Despite my recent successes in the health area, this looks great: Guinness Ice Cream.

Perham Book Ban?

Coincidence? Last night, I dreamt about "the cabin" - located about 13 miles outside of Perham, MN for those unfamiliar with the Hobbled Family's summer activities.

This morning, I awaken to this news:

(AP) Perham, Minn. Some parents in Perham, Minn. want several books moved from the Prairie Wind Middle School library to the high school library because their content includes profanity, sexually explicit material and violence.

Won't be long before we put in the dock.

A Business Casual Tale

“Business Casual” is the official dress policy where I work. Don’t get me started on why we even need to tell adults how to dress at work. Business casual is best defined as what we don’t have to wear - no ties and coats. We do get “dressed up” for meetings with “outsiders” like customers or job applicants, but everything else is business casual.

Yesterday the management team met to review 2005 and lay out our plans for 2006. Never mind that it’s February already—what happened to January? That’s just how we do business.

Anyway, in attendance at this meeting were all the various managers - about 9 of us - the department Director, our HR manager and new HR Director, and our VP. Only two men wore ties - including yours truly. I hesitated at the closet that morning. I wondered, will the guys where ties? I decided they would, so I pulled the noose tighter. Imagine my surprise when I realize I’m only one of two tie-clad guys. Of course none of the women wore skirts or dresses - but I can’t speak for their fairer sex - they always look better than the guys.

I came away from the meeting wondering why I even try anymore. (Yes, it was that kind of day yesterday.) Today, I’m wearing a turtle neck sweater. To hell with ties?

As an aside, I should note that how one dresses still “counts” for something. On days where I “have to” get dressed up, I get a hearty “hello” from most execs I pass in the hall. They ignore me on the 80% of the days I where khakis, but when I’m sporting a coat and tie, everyone from Directors, VPs, and even the President of the company have said “hello” to me in the hall.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

If You've Got the Time . . .

I hate replacing watch batteries. Yesterday I finally collected the three wristwatches in need of batteries and went to a "new" place in HarMar mall to have the batteries replaced. Cost of three = $25.00.

Problem is - - none of the batteries/watches work. It is now 2:32 p.m. One watch reads 2:10, the other 2:40, and the third says 7:55. One has stopped completely (7:55), one is going slow, and the other is going fast. On the "slow one" I actually saw the second hand go backwards a second-or-two before beginning it's usual forward motion.

Gotta find a mechanical (wind-up) model soon!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Good News, Good Numbers

My long-awaited cholesterol check came back today. The numbers had improved. Still not great, but better than August.

LDL 138 (was 155)
HDL 59 (was 51)
Trigs 36 (was 78)
Total Chol 204 (was 221)

No medication for now. And my Thryoid checked out fine. No need to adjust those meds.

The doctor was pleased that 1) I had followed her advice and went to see the nutritionist, and 2) followed the advice of the nutritionist.

We discussed my multi-pound weight loss. She didn't seem concerned as it seems related to my recent dietary changes. The diet is nothing spectular - just a drastic reduction in snacking, curtailing the fat I got through dairy (cheese), and watching the sugars (most notably jelly - - but also the snacking). I now eat a balanced diet: 5 servings of fruits and vegatables a day, whole wheats, no high fructose corn syrup, and I excercise more (but nowhere near my former amounts).

I figure it was the snacks that were killing me. I ate a morning snack, afternoon snack, and a "bedtime" snack. Even assuming they were "healthy" snacks, and they weren't always, I must have cut several hundred calories out of my daily intake. But in this day and age no one talks about simple calories anymore. It's all about eating the "right" fats, taking more frequent smaller meals, keeping your blood sugar levels and your moods on an even keel. As I see it - the problem with that approach is that we all eat more - since no one I know seems to curtail the caloric intake of their basic "three meals a day" to account for all this "healthy" snacking.

My advice - and it's kind of Zen-like - get acquainted with your hunger pangs again. I eat full, healthy meals, so when I get a little hungry between meals, I tell myself to "get over it" since the next meal isn't so far away. If I really can't take it, I have a piece of fruit.

I promise not to be so high-and-mighty again. I just wanted to relay what worked for me.

Weekend Report - Cross-Country Skiiing

Like true Minnesotans we spent Saturday afternoon enjoying the little snow we have. Snow is pretty sparse in the metro area, but we found some nice snow in Wild River State Park. The cross-country ski trails are in the woods - for the most part - and they got more snow last week than “the Cities” - so we were able to ski for about 2 hours or so. The kids were divided on the event. The Dude loved it, and he had to lead the entire time. He’s pretty fast on the skis and never really stops - unless he falls down. The sister held up the rear, giving us a preview of the teenage-like behavior that will soon be common-place.

The kids were pretty amazed that you could “see Wisconsin” from the ski trail, across the St. Croix River. Wisconsin seems a foreign land to them - land of 10,000 Hotel Water-Parks (the Dells). We have to remind them that Wisconsin is not so different than Minnesota, both have Hotel Water-Parks, but not covering the entire state.

That night, while putting the Dude to sleep, he told me that it felt like he was still skiing. He also said that he needs to work on “his speed”. Apparently he felt that he didn’t have enough “speed”. Next time.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Yuppy Chow, Weeklies, No-S

Crabby start to the day - actually a crabby ending to yesterday and a crabby start to today. Feeling a little tired, slightly “unwell” but not so bad I’d do anything about it like stay home from work. So instead, I’m crabby - to my wife, the kids, coworkers.

In search of a few laughs, a little pick-me-up, I encountered this. We eat a lot of these "Yuppy Chows" - salad in a bag.

See also - Window Managers post about "The Weekly" - a nice productivity tool.

Speaking of food/diet, I found this yesterday. I realize that I'm probably already following the No-S-Diet:

The No S Diet, described below, is a diet I invented for myself that I imagine might work for similarly minded people.

No funny science or calorie accounting involved, just a few simple and mnemonic tricks for giving your willpower the upper hand.

There are just three rules and one exception:

No Snacks
No Sweets
No Seconds

Except (sometimes) on days that start with 'S'

That's it.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Silly Pet Pics

Here's a great shot - - dogs, why do they put up with us?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

All Our "Stuff"

Today's Washington Post has an article about all the stuff we modern folks carry. It opens:
Slogging around with a backpack, a notebook and a bottle of water, you stop for a while and stare at the historic black-and-white photographs in the National Museum of American History. You know, the ones depicting Americans going about their everyday lives: folks waiting for District trolley cars circa 1900, for instance, or people crisscrossing Pennsylvania Avenue in 1905.

Why carry all this stuff?
It's the perfect posture for the Age of Insecurity. We fret about our jobs, families, country, manhood or womanhood, ability to be a good parent. We believe someone is out to get us. And to get our things. So, like the homeless, we carry our stuff with us. Just in case something, or anything, happens.

[via 43Folders]

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bird Theme

Another "bird" type shot. This from Ward Jenkins.

I'm quite smitten with this late 1950s - early 1960s thing these days. Don't recall how I found Ward's stuff - think it was last week.

Birds (not Owls) - 1950s Style

No more Owls - at least not now.

Stumbled upon this collection of 1950's stylized bird illustrations. Charles Harper - never heard of him - Very cool.

[Proper credit: Flickr photo collection of Charles Harper illustrations by Eric Sturdevant.]

Kids - Cause Depression?

Here's something to think about - especially for the soon-to-be parents in the family.

Any parent will tell you kids can be depressing at times. A new study shows that raising them is a lifelong challenge to your mental health.

Not only do parents have significantly higher levels of depression than adults who do not have children, the problem gets worse when the kids move out.

I don't agree. As one who suffers from the Black Dog on occasion - note the second definition, I find the kids to be a help, a balm if you will. Perhaps its because they are so damn fun - laughing, inquisitive, full of energy. Perhaps I'm just too busy to think about myself and be depressed. My Dad always said that kids got easier as they got older. He said he enjoyed having adult kids - - much more interesting dinner conversation.

Toff, the Carleton Cat

One of my "new" favorite sites, Minnesota Stories features video blogs with a Minnesota-angle. Today's story is about Toff, the Carleton cat. I know I have a few Carls (or is it Carles? - they hate it if you mess that up) amongst the regular readers. This one's for you.

My Robot Ate My Homework

Last night the Dude asked, "If you are sick for lots of days, can you send a robot to school in your place?"

Morning Report and Hotel Postcards

Blood draw fine - 90 seconds tops. Good thing I asked about cholesterol, since they had me down for Thryoid only. Kripe - I ain't poppin fish-pills for nothing.

Check out the Hotel Postcard sub-site (is that a word) by Lileks. Each week he posts postcard pictures of hotels from the 50s- 60s. Here's a cool one. That link has a cool picture, but hardly any text. His commentary is as good as the old photos. Click Back or Next to see others.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

More Owls

Perhaps I should re-name this blog "The Hobbled Owl" to reflect the very owl-like slant of recent posts.

Spent most of the afternoon with the in-laws, enjoying the afternoon with mother-to-be Aunty Amy and Uncle Chris. The Dude decided to document all the birds he saw, so he created a list labeled "Backyard Birds". For an hour, no birds were spotted outside the many windows at the in-laws. Finally, when I walked into the kitchen/dining area to inquire about lunch, I spotted what looked like a large cat sitting in a large tree out back. A Great Horned Owl. It sat there for almost an hour so we all got a good look at it.

After lunch, I took a 4+ mile walk on the Luce Line. Very nice - sunny in the low 20s - but no wind, and that makes all the difference. [Here's another Luce Line link from a more local source, the Herald-Journal - a genuine small-town newspaper.]

Friday, February 03, 2006

Snowy Owls - in DC

Once you post on some obscure topic - like Snowy Owls at MSP - you feel compelled to continue posting on Snowy Owls at airports. It's like a public service I offer.

Apparently Snowy Owls have a thing for airports. They've been reported at Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C. This just struck me - - humans watching birds, while the birds are watching planes. Every species must have some fascination with flight. Some humans are mad about birds - small, fragile animals that take flight. Perhaps some birds are interested in airplanes - huge, heavy pieces of machinery that take flight.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I'm Hip - - sort of

Haven't posted about my health lately. Here's the latest - - my left hip hurts. It has hurt for about one month. It's especially painful upon arising after sitting for 30 minutes or more. Everytime I get up out of my desk at work, I truly live up to my name, "The Hobbled Runner". Of course, no one at work knows of the Hobbled Runner, so they just call me the Hobbled Manager or something.

I think the hip thing is a yoga injury - - yes a yoga injury. Every morning I do the same series of poses. Several involve moves to open the hips. It feels good to do these poses, but I have a sneaky feeling that it is causing the hip pain. Perhaps I'll ease off on the hip poses and see what happens.

Made an appointment to get the old blood drawn next week. It's time to see if my diet changes are resulting in a lower cholesterol count. I hope so since I've given up most every vice I have - save alcohol. Gone are the donuts, scones, jelly, and almost any sort of cheese. Out are "bedtime snacks" - - and most between-meal-snacks which tended to be of the vending machine variety. I've been eating very well at meals, but the between meal pick-me-ups were probably not the best choices. I've also been popping those darn fish pills (burp).

The results - - I've lost weight. None of my pants fit, and the necks of my shirts are getting loose. All I can say is this better work.

[Note - I suspect some of the weight drop is due to my wacky thyroid which we will also explore during the blood test. If not that, I will soon start writing the next diet book.]