Thursday, November 30, 2006

Might as Well Give Iowa a Try

[Crazy looking Iowa State Capitol.]

Oh - the glamour of business travel. Drove to Des Moines and back - all for a 40 minute meeting. Granted it was a good meeting, and it was important that I attend in person - but I've got a serious case of "car butt" as well call it around our house.

Left home at 7:40 and arrived in Des Moines at 11:45 - plenty of time to enjoy lunch at the Noodle Zoo. After that I visited the Iowa History Museum. It was right across the street from the "Zoo", and I figured the Hobbled Wife - historian that she is - - would want a full report.

[Iowa History Museum]

Had a nice meeting with one of our larger government customers in Iowa, then hit the road for home. Attempted to call into a meeting/conference call later that afternoon, but lost my signal somewhere near Albert Lea.

[There's no place like home.]

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Perfect Gift for the Man Who Has Everything

I was born hundreds of years too late. These are very cool: Gentlemen's Pocket Globes.

Back Again

Been very busy lately – and too stuffed with Turkey – to blog. Here are some highlights from the kids’ lives, since my own life has been rather dull as of late.

The Dude last night, “Why do Churches have so much to do with Christmas?” Oh it would have been a great opportunity to educate him on the “true meaning of Christmas”, but since we had just watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas special, and had heard Linus deliver the story, I decided not to go too deep. I reminded him that Christmas is centered around the birth of Jesus.

His comeback, “But why December 25? How can they really know Jesus was born on that date.” I admitted that the actual birth date is open for historical speculation, but told him that this is the historically agreed upon date. I didn’t get into the whole B.C./A.D. year designation – and how I once heard that Jesus (the “Historical Jesus”) was probably born in 4 B.C. – rather than the famous “Year Zero”.

I also avoided the entire pagan roots of Christmas discussion – I was trying to get the kid to sleep after all!

Educational Update: The Dude is participating in a “Great Books” program for 1st/2nd graders – really – I’d never heard of such a thing, but sounds like fun and he is looking forward to the challenge. Finally, some enrichment – though interesting how it doesn’t quite fit into the usual school day routine. The sessions are lead by a parent volunteers, and he has to miss the valuable morning “snack/recess” time to participate.

M also misses “snack/recess” on Mondays because she is in Orchestra.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Maps, Baseball, and Grocery Stores

When you are too busy to really blog, you just post a few neat quotes and links and call it a day.

Cool election maps (remember Red/Blue state maps) for 2006 election. [Source: A Constrained Vision]

Nice review of the Minnesota Historical Society's new baseball exhibit. [Source: Mistress of All Evil]

Lileks visits the new Lunds grocery store in downtown MPLS:

I was born in a country where you didn’t pay to park for groceries, and dadgum I’ll die in one.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

News From Home

I always appreciate the email updates from the Hobbled Wife:

M has taken the electronic piano up to her room with all her Christmas books. She wants to be in her room so she can sing loudly - she doesn't like to sing in front of her family!!!! She's belting it out up there...

Bones is on the computer making a list of the first 16 presidents (after telling me Washington was 1st, and Lincoln was 16th). He wants their biographies. Did you know that 4th and 5th Presidents had the same first name? Or that many presidents have a J in their name?

I might have to turn off the spell check for him-- it's very distracting!

Commute x 3

A 35 minute commute is not so bad – unless you pull into the parking lot at work, park your car, open your trunk – and discover that you left your laptop at home. Then your commute becomes 35 x 3 = 115 minutes. Adding insult to injury – by the time I got here I had to park “out back” in the gravel overflow lot – adding another 10+ minutes to the commute if you count the walk from car to cube.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Looks like the DFL is already getting ready for the next election. Too bad they are helping the other party more than themselves. I've been meaning to post on this subject, several folks in the media have already commented on it, and Doug Grow had this to say in his column today:

Hours after holding statewide victory parties, DFLers in the House and Senate opted to become the party of Minneapolis. In a stunning disconnect from reality Thursday night, Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Larry Pogemiller were picked as the leaders of the House and Senate.

These two live blocks apart in Minneapolis. In much of Minnesota, including metro suburbs, they represent two of the scariest words in politics: "Urban liberals."

Picking Anderson Kelliher and Pogemiller marks the first time in 40 years the DFL didn't manage to reach outside the metro for at least one of its top leaders.

I suspect that Repubs are licking their lips - getting ready to go against the big urban, liberal DFL machine.

Recipe Inside

While I will never take it to the level of the one and only Recipe Inside site, I'm quite proud of these. They are a variation on the recipe inside the Quaker Oats container - - under the lid to be exact. I substituted chocolate chips for raisins.

[Observe the clutter of the "lived in" kitchen. It's the new look - all the rage this Fall.]

Friday, November 10, 2006

Politics + YouTube

Combining the subjects of my two most recent posts - Politics and YouTube - I'd like to direct your attention to yesterday's Future Tense spot on MPR.

Internet videos may have played a part in the defeat, or apparent defeat, of several prominent candidates, including Senators George Allen of Virginia and Conrad Burns of Montana.

This got me thinking. I'm not ready to say that all politicians will abandon their expensive TV ads in favor of home-grown YouTube-like productions, but it does open new possibilities for those candidates not associated with one of the major parties - or those who don't have a lot of money.

Granted, not all voters look to the internet for their political news - yet. But through a campaign web site and sympathetic bloggers your home-made video ads could get a lot of play. It's sort of a viral marketing approach to campaigning.

I know that's what I'd do if I was running. Don't worry S, I'm not even thinking about it.

Yeah – I Felt the Bump

Yeah – I Felt the Bump – but I didn’t stop to look in the review mirror.

Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman examines the “road-kill” left behind after Tuesday’s election. Here’s what he has to offer about the Independence Party:

Spoiling to be Spoilers: The Independence Party has begun to give "good government" a bad name. The party called itself "Team Minnesota" but forgot there is no "I" in "team." Peter Hutchinson got an embarrassing 6 percent of the votes in the governor's race, and his statewide total of 141,800 was close to the total received by the LOSING candidate for Hennepin County sheriff, despite the fact many Minnesotans embraced his party's platform. Ol' Hutch can chisel "Finished a Distant Third" on his tombstone, but had no effect on the 2006 election. Except for the spoiler part. The Independence Party is supposed to care about what's best for Minnesota. If so, Hutchinson might have said, "Only one person can win, and it's not me. Please vote for the viable candidate who most favors my platform, Mike Hatch." If just 22,523 Hutchinson voters (16 percent of his total) had voted for Hatch, Hutchinson would be in line for a post in the Hatch administration. Some folks are just too smart for their own good.
[emphasis mine]

I've often felt I'm too smart for my own good.

The Coleman solution: The candidate with no chance of winning should graciously step aside and hope to get offered a job in the coming administration? Talk about cynical politics.

To be honest, I don’t care that much about the Independence Party as a political party; and Hutchinson is the only IP candidate who got my vote. But when a serious, thoughtful politician presents himself to the voters, I think we owe that candidate some consideration. And when the Hatch campaign buckled under pressure and ignorance of the issues in the last two weeks, I was happy to have a positive alternative for my vote. It beats holding my nose to vote for the Hatch or Pawlenty. Besides, you need both hands to vote – one to hold the ballot, and one to hold the pen.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The "New" YouTube

I’ve noticed a “new” YouTube already. They appear to be doing a good job removing the copyrighted material that folks had illegally posted. See this related article.

I like to search YouTube for Beatles concert footage – I love them live. Before Google bought YouTube, most of the videos were blatant copies of footage from the Beatles Anthology series.

On Monday night, I was messing around on YouTube and found a lot of new concert footage. Granted the quality is pretty bad – imagine home movies circa 1964-65 with crappy (or no) sound. Most of the clips don’t even include an entire song, just bits and pieces. I actually like these since they probably give a more realistic picture of what the concert attendee actually saw and heard (or given the screaming – saw but didn’t hear). I invite you to try it – go to YouTube and use search terms, beatles concert. If nothing, it will confirm what a Beatles geek I truly am.

Hobbled Runner Decides Governor's Race

Wow - I think my vote really mattered. DFL Atty General Mike Hatch lost to Republican Incumbent Governor Tim Pawlenty by 1%. Now I have to make peace with the fact that I was one of those voters whose last minute decision to vote for Independence candidate Peter Hutchinson, probably robbed Hatch of the election.

Hmm – I think I will be able to sleep at night – no problem.

As the Star Tribune reports this morning:

A couple of miscues in the last week by Hatch and his lieutenant governor running mate, Judi Dutcher, loomed large in the final days of the campaign. Dutcher in a television interview fumbled a question and displayed a lack of familiarity with the term E85 and issues surrounding the ethanol industry, a growing and important sector of the state's rural economy. Hatch compounded the gaffe by verbally abusing two reporters as he was being questioned about the issue. Hatch did not apologize but said his choice of words, including "Republican hack" and reportedly "Republican whore," were "inappropriate."
Hatch campaign manager Jon Youngdahl said the missteps "had an effect for a day or two but voters look at the issues and are very forgiving when people say they made a mistake."
Political observers may be speculating for years about what effect the late blunders had on the final outcome.

Yep – that’s why I switched.

Anyway – enough politics. Don’t want to alienate any loyal readers out there. Time to get back to complaining about the schools and posting cute pics of my kids.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Only for Minnesotans - How to Merge in Traffic

Apparently all the Minnesota-Nice doesn't really help matters any when it comes to the issue of how to merge when you see that a traffic lane is ending (due to construction).

This is very interesting:

That's because merging early makes the backup longer. When we use both lanes until the actual merge point and then take turns the backups are shortened by as much as 35 percent.

My only experience with "better" merging came in California - San Diego. When 2 lanes went down to one, I noticed that everyone waited until the last moment to merge. At first I thought, "How impolite", but then I saw that it really worked!

Although just yesterday I tried this (merging late) when entering 35E. The minivan that I merged in front of got VERY ANGRY, and turned on its high-beams. Given that it was dusk (5:00p.m.) and misty, the high-beams didn't help matters at all - - if not for my superior driving skills it could have caused a crash - - though I suspect it made the mini-vanner feel smug.

Source: MNSpeak.

Of Course I Voted

Vote experience – I showed up at coffee break time – the first judge was not there, so her colleague had to look up my name. Just then the judge shows up, confirms my name and asks me to sign on the line. While I’m signing, she turns her back to pour coffee from her thermos. When she turns back to face me, she didn’t seem to remember that she had already looked up my name and asked me to sign. I reminded her we had completed those steps. She was OK with that, and gave me the little slip of paper to take to the other judge for the ballot.

I arrive at the table to receive my ballot just as that judge stuffs half a muffin into her mouth. She hands me the ballot and mumbled the instructions through her muffin

After that I was on my own in the voting booth – without the benefit of coffee or muffins. It was over in minutes – a rather painless process.

Note to Hobbled Wife – I “threw” away my vote by voting for the Independence Party candidate for Governor. That’ll show them – message sent!

MPR played a nice commentary from our friend John Doan – whose son attended preschool with our Dude. John spoke of his family’s history in Viet Nam, his arrival in America, and reflected on why voting and democracy was important to him. Unfortunately 10 minutes is all I have to spend looking for the darn link on the MPR site. Perhaps you will have better luck yourself.

One final “item” (rant – if you will): Yes, I voted, but I’m not wearing my little red “I Voted” sticker. I’m always slightly embarrassed wearing the sticker. Perhaps it’s my Norwegian modesty. It goes without saying - - of course I voted. Maybe we should ask those who don’t vote to wear an “I Won’t Vote” sticker?

Friday, November 03, 2006

They're Jackals, Not Wh*res

More trouble in Hatch-land:

Hatch had several sharp exchanges with reporters and Republicans over Dutcher's misstep. The News Tribune report says that when "A Forum Communications reporter asked Hatch about Dutcher's knowledge of ethanol and why she wasn't available to discuss the issue...Hatch abruptly ended the interview with: 'You're nothing more than a Republican whore. Goodbye.' He then hung up."

He should have stuck with Jesse Ventura's description of reporters - - "Media Jackals" - - at least that got him votes!

Ventura enjoyed an arduous relationship with the local media. He referred to them as "media jackals," a term that even appeared on the required press passes to enter the governor's press area.

How I Get My News

I saw it on my RSS feed, “Niche Blogging Will Continue to Challenge Big Publishers.” [I can set my internal intranet home page to receive various news feeds – kind of fun, but sometimes distracting.] That got me thinking of how I receive my “news” every day. I get most of my “news” online.

Here’s the typical day:

I start each day with the Source section of the Star Tribune – that’s what they used to call the Variety section. I read the Quirk by James Lileks, followed by the comics: every comic, every day – and some of them really suck. On most days that’s it for the print newspaper. If I have time, I check the metro section, mostly for the kinds of things that I wouldn’t hear on the MPR headlines, then finish with the obituaries. Lastly – I read the Business section – but probably only 3 out of 7 days a week. As for the “A section” – besides scanning the headlines – I open it up once a week – if that. Sometimes I read the Opinion page – but it’s mostly stuff I’ve read online several days earlier.

I listen to MPR while doing yoga and then while showering (can’t really hear it) and shaving – then off and on in the car while driving to work. I change stations all the time – which makes this time of year a pain – I’ve yet to perfect my “gloved finger” push button technique.

I now get most of my news online – via blogs. I don’t rely on the blog itself for the news, but if the blogger’s comments interest me I usually following the link to the source – usually a newspaper article or opinion posted at the news source’s web site.

I occasionally check, to see what the sensational news of the hour is.

So I’m officially one of those people who gets their news online and not in print. I will probably always subscribe to the paper in print since I’m physically unable to start my day without Mark Trail in print (yes, I know I can probably find it online). We also like to do crosswords and Sudoko at our house – and we prefer those on dead-tree byproducts, rather than online – so far.

9:10 - Oops I'm Late For Lunch

Wow - school lunch at 9:05 AM. I thought our kids' school had a crazy schedule, but this is interesting:

So Virginia Beach, where at least 1,500 students at six high schools have lunch at 9:05 a.m., either must convince the state it has unique scheduling problems or change its lunch schedules.

Luckily the Feds recognize the problem - I think:

"People recognize the need for a midday meal someplace close to midday," said James Harmon, mid-Atlantic director of Special Nutritional Programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

via Newmark's Door.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

E85 - Will That Be On The Test?

The Hobbled Runner endorses no particular candidate in the MN Governors Race. You can make up your own mind. But listening to this little exchange gave this former politico the shivers:

DFL Lt. Gov. candidate Judi Dutcher campaigned around the state Tuesday. When she got to Alexandria, a local television reporter from KSAX asked her about E85.

Dutcher: "E85...The Job Z zones you're talking about?"

Reporter: "I'm just basically asking about E85 in general, how we've turned around a lot economies out here, saved some small towns...

Dutcher: Can't even comment on it, I'm sorry. It's like you've asked me the college quiz bowl question. What is E85?

Reporter: That's fine, that's fine.

Dutcher: What is it?

Reporter: E85, the gas.

Dutcher: E85 gas...

Dutcher: "He's asking me about E85 gas. It's like the college...

Man off camera: It's Ethanol.

Dutcher: Thank you, Thank you. What has he said about ethanol?

Man off camera: Oh, Mike [Hatch]? He's 100 percent for ethanol.

Dutcher: Yea, but, I can't tell you specific programs. I'm sorry. I bombed out. Sorry."

I heard a story about this on MPR this morning, and they played the audio of the encounter. Very painful to listen to – Dutcher comes off sounding like some ditzy high school kid (my apologies to any ditzy higher school kids out there)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Indiana - Revisited

Finally loaded all our pics from Indiana. The Hobbled Wife and I enjoyed some of the shots taken by the kids. Some nice shots by the Dude of the river behind the South Bend Farmers Market, including some of the junk left along the path.

M's Zoo shot makes it look like the Dude is being attacked by the Tiger.


Quiet Halloween around the Hobbled House - only about 50 trick-or-treaters. The kids had a nice time. Snapped a few pictures of the Dude (Harry Potter) and M (a "Broadway Star").

Meant to post more - but Blogger acting up.

Way Above Average!

I found another example of how I’m way above average. Here’s an interesting statistic in an article about how Dunkin’ Donuts new coffee strategy:

"Coffee demand in the United States is the highest it's ever been," says Rodriguez. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the average American drinks nearly 24 gallons of coffee a year.

Hah – 24 gallons a year is nothing compared to my 90 gallons. Weenies!