Friday, March 31, 2006

Not Indiana

A colleague just returned from Italy with lots of cool pics. While there are no cute babies in these photos, she captured some pretty nice shots. Lots of sunshine - which I could use right now.

And yes, that's not Lake Michigan.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Indiana Wants Me

Returned safely from a two day visit to Indiana. Not ready to recommend the pool at hotel #1 since both M and I are suffering from various ear afflications (but more about that later - maybe).

Lots of quality time with new cousin/nephew Isaac. M especially enjoyed holding the little squirt on her lap. Many an hour spent holding that little bundle.

The Dude also enjoyed a little lap time with his new cousin.

Other non-baby related items - my first ever sighting of a Tufted Titmouse. The yard and surrounding wooded area around la Casa de SDMoose was crawling with TTs. I realize that you can spot them in MN, if you keep an eye on the bird alert lists, and are prepared to "stake out" a sighting. I'm not at that level (yet), so I enjoyed hearing the little buggers as we walked the woods around "the Res" and even had a few sightings at the feeder. (Sorry no pics - too busy snapping the bambino.)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Have a Nice Day - - Grrrr

Wipe that smile off your face:

People who smile a lot and say "have a nice day" are headed to an early grave while the grumpy stay fit.

Researchers at a German university - a land where surliness is an Olympic discipline -say enforced jolliness on the job is much more likely to make people fall ill.

They cite flight attendants, sales personnel, call centre operators, waiters and others in contact with the public for extended periods of time as being at risk of seriously harming their health.

via LikeHacker.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

DestiNation Imagination - again

Just received this nice picture of daughter M's DI team. They finished 9th out of 18 in their division. Unlike my son's team which I coached, my only contribution to this team - besides my daughter - is the straw hat worn by one of the team members - - Target Clearance $9.97.

Sporting a Corporate Smile

Hmm - not sure what to make of this.

Tom's of Maine was purchased by Colgate. Though I see their web site indicates it's a "partnership". Makes me laugh, since I didn't realize that brushing one's teeth could be such a political statement - though I guess it is/was.

Makes me long for the days of yore, when life seemed simpler, and one's oral hygiene wasn't a political statement. Growing up, we were a Crest family. It seemed you were either a Crest family or a Colgate family. Sure there were a few crazy Pepsodent folks out there, but it was usually Crest or Colgate. Yep - on the big things that mattered we were a Crest family, preferred CBS evening news with Walter Cronkite, and subscribed to the Minneapolis Star (the afternoon paper - not the snobbish morning Minnepolis Tribune).

In the end, I'll probably stick with Tom's - I like the flavor choices. Though my father used to brush his teeth with baking soda.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Working Hard?

Or hardly working?

Here's an interesting post at Business Pundit:

We work long because we are trying to avoid working hard. We procrastinate on the tough decisions, then justify our failure by assuming that it couldn't be done. After all, if 60 hours a week can't make it happen, what can?

We praise multitasking when really we should praise focus, because focus is hard and multitasking gives us an excuse (sorry for the mistake, I was on the phone while I did the report and read email on the blackberry...). We praise going through 100 emails to "stay in the loop" when really we should praise the ability to discern what is important and what isn't.

We all have the same amount of time available each day. It's how you use it that is important, not how much you use.

Yesterday I had to leave early to meet the kids when they got off the bus. I planned to work only 4 hours. I got more done in that 4 hours because I was focused.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Blog: Go Forth and Multiply

On the heels of the most recent family addition, I found this article both timely and interesting:

It's a pattern found throughout the world, and it augers a far more conservative future — one in which patriarchy and other traditional values make a comeback, if only by default. Childlessness and small families are increasingly the norm today among progressive secularists. As a consequence, an increasing share of all children born into the world are descended from a share of the population whose conservative values have led them to raise large families.

Hat-tip Newmark's Door.

Recent Arrival

Exciting times in the extended Hobbled family with this week's birth of Isaac Joseph Crosson Howk. Isaac comes to us via SDMoose (my sister-in-law) and Prof. Howk.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Have a Nugget

Have a Chicken Nugget tonight - in memory:

Robert C. Baker, an agricultural scientist who looked at chickens and envisioned chicken nuggets, not to mention chicken hotdogs, helping transform what is now a $29 billion poultry industry, died on Monday at his home in North Lansing, N.Y. He was 84. NYTimes


Among the more than 50 chicken products that Dr. Baker and his team of technicians and graduate students developed were chicken baloney, chicken steak, chicken salami, chicken chili, chicken hash, chicken pastrami and chicken ham. He performed similar magic for turkeys and eggs, doing some of the earliest work on frozen omelets.

Part of the magic lay in extracting all the meat from the poultry carcass and reshaping it. In 1982, Forbes magazine credited Dr. Baker with having invented processed chicken in 1963. De-boning machines, which Dr. Baker helped develop, made the new shapes possible — even nuggets in the form of dinosaurs.

Perhaps we will dine at Dino's tonight. They make great dinosaur-shaped nuggets.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Kindergarten Straight Talk

Critics of blogs usually say that they are nothing but sources of sappy family news. Not one to disappoint the critics, here are some cute things the Dude said over the last several days:

"Why does St. Paul suck?" This in response to grafitti he read while walking through downtown St. Paul on Sunday afternoon. How did I respond? "Suck is a bad word. We don't use bad words. Besides, St. Paul doesn't suck [oops - I just used a bad word.]"

"My sister is like a package." Asked to explain, the Dude replied, we are always dropping her off somewhere. Wednesday is the day the Dude has to ride along to his sister's tutor session, and then choir. It's all about "her stuff", so he feels like the package delivery guy.

Bar Exam Failures Rise

At least twice a year, I try to post something related to the legal profession, thus ensuring that I didn't waste three years of my life.

Concurring Opinions - a very nice law blog, or blawg - discusses the recent National Law Journal article on why more people are failing the bar exam.

The article proposes several theories for the declining pass rates, such as a lack of preparation for the Bar Exam by law schools and the existence of more unaccredited law schools. I'm skeptical about whether these are the reasons. The article proposes a third reason that probably is the most significant factor. In the face of great uncertainty about whether the Bar Exam really tests anything meaningful, states continue to raise the minimum scores necessary to pass the Bar:

Admit It - You Like Meetings

While it's popular to disparage meetings - big waste of time, nothing ever gets done - some people actually like them. I personally like a good meeting - - but then I work in a job where communication is key. I receive about 100 emails each day, and send dozens - often to colleagues sitting only a dozen feet from me. Sometimes a good meeting gets more done - quicker - than all the darn emails.

There are many things to like about work — the collegiality, the productivity, the paycheck — but few people would include meetings in the list. Monotonous, time-consuming, often pointless, meetings can be to workdays what speed bumps are to main thoroughfares: annoying, well-intentioned impediments to progress.

Now researchers have examined how an endless series of meetings can affect employees' sense of well-being and job satisfaction. In a report published recently in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers found that more people acknowledge meetings as a positive part of their days at work than they would ever publicly admit. LATimes - via Newmark's Door

These paragraphs sort of describe my workplace - which may be why I like meetings.

Overall, when the job specifically required group work, then employees generally found that meetings were useful. Employees who were part of a customer service team, for example, were more likely to have positive attitudes toward these necessary evils.

"When people are less task focused," says Rogelberg, "they allow the objectives of the day to emerge more naturally, so an interruption from a meeting is not so disruptive."

Monday, March 13, 2006

Widow-Maker Snow

This is what I colleague of mine calls "widow-maker" snow - the stuff of heart attacks. Heavy wet - about 6 inches and falling (and blowing). The Hobbled Wife and I shoveled the driveway so she could go to work - despite news like this:

Don't go into work unless you have to.

MnDOT is advising no unnecessary travel in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area as a winter storm whips through the area.

After HW's (safe?) return, I head off for the afternoon at work. It doesn't get any better than this.

NOTE: photo above taken 1.5 hours after the one below.

Snow Day

Incredible - the schools are closed. Of course work never closes. Not sure what we will do. In the meantime, the kids and Hobbled Wife sleep. I look forward to happy, crazy kids sometime in the next thirty minutes.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Birthday Bash

Busy Birthday - up at the crack of dawn to welcome the in-laws back from San Francisco on the red-eye. Honestly, I don’t know how they do those red-eyes, approximately four hours of sleep on a plane - sound like fun. They arrived about 6:45 in the AM to retrieve their car. We’ve been car-sitting - made them take a cab from their airport. Didn’t want to drive down their and meet them before 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday.

After church with M, I made brunch for the family - French Toast. After brunch I brought my old bike to the new Erik’s Bike Shop near our home for a tune-up - first time in 15 years. It was in need of some TLC. Now that the kids are riding bikes, I need to get out there with them. Until now, I’ve been able to walk or jog behind them, but they are too fast now.

Off to the Landmark Center for some Irish Dancing in mid-afternoon. Three of M’s fiends and one of the Dude’s are involved with this Irish Dancing thing which I admit I don’t understand. Some of it seems like traditional Irish Dance (though I don’t really know what that means) with a lot of modern Riverdance type stuff thrown in - - very loud, lots of shoe-banging. The Dude really liked it, wants to join up; he spent the rest of the afternoon, jigging around downtown St. Paul. M doesn’t get it. Later that night, as we were getting ready for bed she said, “But all they do is move their feet - and most of those moves take place below their knee.” She and I see eye-to-eye.

Oh - and after several days in the 50s, it’s decided to snow again.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bald Eagles

Just looked out the office window to see a Bald Eagle flying by. That scares me - let me tell you why.

I used to play a little game. If I saw a Bald Eagle, I pretended it brought me good luck for the rest of the day. They are such cool birds - sort of the "cream of the crop" of birds - that I figured it must be a good omen.

But on Monday, I was driving to work and got a great sighting of a Bald Eagle cruising over the Mississippi River near the 35E bridge. Felt real good about the sighting. It was going to be a great Monday - maybe even a great week!. But when I got to work everything went bad. Crappy day.

So now - good day so far - but then I spot the Bald Eagle flying past the window.

Bald Eagles - the new Black Cat.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hobbled - quote of the day

Here's one that hits close to home:

4. . . . Forget the running crowd, they look so old and injured to me, and they are as the scientific literature clearly documents. If it were not for the aerobic bias in research, few people would rationally do these things. Art DeVany

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Business Jargon Update

The Window Manager has an update on two new business terms: "Woffy" and "Velcro Organization".

I've been doing my own part to advance the cause of mindless business jargon. Last week I used "transparency" in a meeting - - and with a straight face. I also used "granularity" in casual conversation with colleagues, but we all broke down laughing.

Transparency: transparent, transparency: A favorite in business and government. It can mean open, visible, accessible, publicly accountable, etc. -- without privacy or secrets. "The computer age is moving society toward greater transparency." Not to be confused with the less admirable definition of transparent -- to have obvious selfish motives. Of course, we would never think of business and government in that manner.

Granularity: granularity, granular: Sand and sugar are granular. But when business execs get down to the nitty-gritty, they’re dealing in the granularity. It’s the finite details or specific fine points of a proposal or deal.

Mr. Bobbins - the "Talking" Hat

Things I learned driving the kids to school:

My daughter’s hat is named Mr. Bobbins. Mr. Bobbins talks, but only “silently”. M has to interpret for Mr. Bobbins. The hat has a friend in Africa (another hat of course).

At this point the Dude was perplexed, “But you don’t now anyone in Africa.”

Dad intervened, “No, she doesn’t - but Mr. Bobbins does.”

Sunday, March 05, 2006

DI Day

Busy day Saturday as we attended the east-metro Destination Imagination (DI) competition. [Tried to link the MN DI site, but it wasn't working.] Both M and the Dude competed. M's team went first and put on a nice little play - with M as the Queen of England. Her team competed later that day in the Instant Challenge portion of the competition.

The Dude was "competing" in the Rising Stars division which is a non-competitive gathering for K - 2nd graders. The Hobbled Runner coached the team, whose team nickname was T-JAM (the initials of the four competitors). We did our play - - 1-2-Changeroo was the theme. The "rules" required that the play be no longer than 8 minutes in length, have some sort of changing device with a hole. One of the kids had to enter the hole, and come out changed. We also had to design/use something with newspaper and duct tape. Finally, we had to "have a number" in the play. In true DI spirit, if the rules are "silent" on a matter, that means you can do it - - so it gets pretty creative.

It was a kid-created script and kid-designed set. They kids designed an "apple orchard" out of an old refrigerator box. The kids started out running around "the tree" collecting fake apples. The buckets used for collecting "apples" were made of duct tape. They counted the appled out loud, thus satisfying the number requirement. All the kids decided to disappear into the box (tree) and come out changed - - as animals. It went over very well - despite my fear that they would forget their lines or what to do next. This is a very kid-oriented affair, and as coach I could have offerred no assistance had they gotten lost.

After the play, they were given their Instant Challenge - - an event that they had no chance to prepare for. The challenge is very secret. I'm not sure if I can talk about it even now. Suffice to say it involved building something. They cooperated very nicely - though hardly speaking a word to one another - all four worked to build the structure. In the end it wasn't quite high enough to pass the test. The judges encouraged them to talk more next time. I was quite proud of the fact since it was really the first time - - despite many practice Instant Challenges - where they actually worked together. Usually they would have tried to build four separate things. So - - great job T-JAM!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cool Petri "Gardens"

Found this via 43folders. Pretty cool stuff.

Suburban Wildlife

Wildlife diversity seems to be on the rise in Roseville. As a child I recall our backyard served as habitat for about four different types of “wild” animal: sparrows, robins, squirrels, and rabbits. As I grew older, we saw cardinals, orioles, and raccoons. After I left home, my parents served as “god-parents” of sorts to a mother duck (mallard hen) who insisted on building nests in the window well by the kitchen door. One year my Mom was home for the big “Make Way for Ducklings” scene. She even helped the mother lift the little ones out of the window well and then walked along with them as the waddled to the nearby pond - stopping traffic along the way.

Roseville is no less exciting. Here are some recent posts about Bald Eagles seen within less than a mile of our home. Turkeys are also big in the neighborhood, with a two or three routinely disrupting rush-hour traffic at Fairview Avenue and Highway 36.

Date: Wed, 01 Mar 2006 09:32:43 -0600
Subject: [mou] Bald Eagles Roseville/Falcon Heights

To my surprise I observed a pair of Bald eagles male and female, I presume due to size difference, perched in a tree behind fast food row ,specifically Burger King, 1 block west of Snelling Ave. and Cty Rd B across from Har Mar Mall in Roseville! One flew over my car tree top level and lead me to the tree where I observed the second. They vocalized quite a bit and preened. They seemed quite content unlike the crows which were of course mobbing and growing in numbers as time went on.


Reported Tuesday, 2/28, by another observer: adult BALD EAGLE in the "Grove" area near the U of M St. Paul campus, Ramsey County. Bird was in the trees southwest of Larpenteur and Cleveland Aves. Being harassed by a flock of crows.
Don’t even get me started on deer - they are as bad as squirrels in some places. Haven’t seen a ton in Roseville, though others have, but I did have an interesting encounter Tuesday while walking on the “path” out back at work. As I approached three deer who were munching along the side of the path, two scampered away, but one held his ground. It was situated on a bend in the path, so I was walking directly toward it - but it had no fear. I was able to pass within 10 feet of it, and it didn’t budge. Probably could have betted the dang thing if I approached it slowly and said cute, cuddly things to it. Hope it shows more fear of cars.