Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Let the Record Show....

This is the Hobbled Wife posting. Yes, I have my own blog, but as I never use it, no one ever visits. So- since it is crucial that the record must show the activities of the last weekend at the cabin, I thought taking a valuable blog entry on Hobbled Runner was the most reliable method.

Please note that the following pictures clearly show that others BESIDES myself spend time at the cabin napping. It is also crucial to note that the Hobbled Wife did NOT get a nap on this particular day, while these two did.

Disclaimer: John had a swim suit on. He wants to say that this is the first Memorial Day he can remember that he spent significant time in the swim suit!

Brownie Bridging

Busy night as we attended the year-end Brownie/Girl Scout event at Parkview Center School. Highlight of the evening was the "bridging" ceremony when M and the other more senior Brownies crossed the bridge - literally and figuratively - to the junior Girl Scouts. Good-bye Brown Sash, hello Green Sash.

Oh - the Fearless Leader of Troop 1253 - made a very heartfelt plea for more money. Kind of like pledge week without the premium gift offers.

Kids and Cameras - or Gnome Blogging

[Directions: Place head on grass; Put camera in grass six from head; Snap!.]

Only after loading the pictures did I realize what M had done with the camera during the hour she had it.
[You wonder what all these old dolls do at the cabin when we're not there.]

Three Johns and a Dock

[A Rite of Passage as the Dude assists with "putting in the dock" for the first time - age 6.]

[Multi-generational dock installation - or - three Johns and a dock. Hats were optional, though blue swimsuits were required.]

It's a record – the longest drive to cabin – 5 hours 15 minutes. We did stop twice (Subway in St. Cloud – 25 minutes tops, and Dairy Queen in Staples (of course) for 10 minutes.) Traffic like crazy. The high price of gas is not stopping anybody. As usual, the price of gas rose with each passing town. It was about $2.59 in "The Cities" and by the time we got to Perham it was $2.75.

For the first time, the dock was "put in" without hypothermia. Temps in high 80s at least – 97 in city on Sunday. Water bearable to the point of allowing several short swims – or at least limited wading with a quick complete immersion. Didn't take your breath away – too much.

Fishing – the next big thing. The Dude fishes with Cousin Michael and learns to bait his own hook and take fish off the line – well almost.

Instead of packing my bag with all sorts of cabin "projects", I let the cabin "just happen", and I was not disappointed. This year I did not pack 4 or 5 books of the sort I'm supposed to read: like Moby Dick, or War and Peace. (To me, "summer reading" means getting caught up on all those books I was supposed to read when I was younger. But really – if you haven't read the classics by age 44, why start now?) For the most part I relied on reading material available at the cabin – old musty books and magazines from years past. Every summer I think, "This is the year I'm going to do - - fill in the blank - - during my free time at the cabin." Don't know who I'm kidding, since I never did all those things before the kids came along, and I sure as hell don't have the time now.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Two Words

. . . and those words are Flat Screen.

Yes, I'm starting a new job next week. I could post about how excited I am for the change and new responsibilities. How I'm going from supervising 20 people to only supervising one (me). Ahh - the relief.

But - I've been a little chagrined by the fact that I'm giving up my fabulous window seat for a rather cramped cube in a sea of cubes - - and it's the "old" design - not the cool new ones like I've enjoyed for almost 4 years.

All that changed this morning when I went down to see the new set-up. I almost wept - FLAT SCREEN monitor. And it looks real cool. Sleek, black - and a funky new keyboard to boot. Sure I'll miss the window - but for now - - FLAT SCREEN.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Does She Really Believe?

If she really believed in angels wouldn’t she drive faster?

Creature of habit that I am - during my morning commute, several days a week I fall in behind an older woman driving a rickety maroon Oldsmobile. The old car has one of those “I Believe in Angels” bumper-stickers. She drives very slowly. When entering 35E from Ayd Mill Road, she takes the entrance ramp at about 20 mph. Those who know me know I’m a pretty cautious driver - but really - you can take that ramp at 35 almost 40 mph.

Today she went even slower and I got to thinking that if she really believed in angels shouldn’t she just hit the gas and hope for the best - - it will turn out all right in the end.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Life's Lessons

Good lessons today from Business Pundit:

I always volunteered to do whatever needed to be done, and other employees would sometimes ask me why. "If they only pay me $4.45 an hour, that's all the harder I'm gonna work," they would say. I think just about everyone in the store told me that at some point or other. So I worked hard for $4.25/hr, on up through $5/hr, through $6/hr, and on into $6.50/hr and a position as shift manager. I guess the other employees didn't want to show they could handle shift manager responsibilities until they got paid shift manager wages.
. . .

It's funny that at the time I didn't feel like I was learning anything working in fast food. Looking back, it taught me quite a lot. I think most situations are like that if you keep your mind open and your eyes out for the learning opportunities.

So wherever you are in life, even if it isn't where you want to be, keep your chin up. Remember that good business lessons sometimes have unlikely sources, and all kinds of experiences can be good for you.

[Emphasis mine}

I’ve seen people who slack in one job while trying to get the next best job. They seem to think that people conducting interviews for the new job will know that this person's present gig is a “crap job” and that they would do better in the new, more important position.

Two lessons here: The folks making the hiring decisions for the "newer, better job", don’t assume you are a "diamond in the rough", just waiting for the new job to really shine. They assume that if you’re a slacker in job one, and you’ll be a slacker in job two. Oh - and for the most part, the employees never do better in their new positions.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Uno Flashback

Seems like just yesterday - I first heard of the card games Uno and Skip-Bo up at Green Lake. My "little" cousins were obsessed with the games, and I suspect I was dragged into a game or two, or three.

Cousin Blair takes a trip down memory lane:

While browsing the aisles at Walgreens this morning I wandered through the "fun" aisle while on my way to pick up something in an adjacent area. I was only superficially paying attention as I wasn't looking for any games or toys but then I came to a complete halt when I spotted these two boxes:

[uno skip-bo photos deleted]

I haven't played Uno or Skip-Bo in years. In fact, now that I've thought about it further, I suspect I haven't played either since my grandparents were still alive. Naturally, I embraced my proclivity towards impulse shopping and purchased both games. The question, of course, is do I remember how to play either one of them?

My kids still play Uno - we have the Harry Potter version.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Choir Concert

[Posing for "formal" pictures.]

The Hobbled Runner is back in the game after spending most of Saturday in the horizontal position - some 24 hour stomach bug. Yuck!

Sunday afternoon was full of fun with Maria's piano recital (the pictures did not turn out?) followed by her end-of-the year Choir concert. Too tired to write much, but a picture's worth a thousand words, so here we go.

[Formal shots over, hey, "what's my brother doing over there?]

It was a crazy day for pictures - as mentioned earlier, none of the shots from the piano recital turned out. We also never got any pictures with all three grandparents, but here's a nice one of my mother, Maria, and I.

Here's one with the brother.

Finally, it's all over, time to blow off steam.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Minnesota - My Home Sweet Home

The Dude's kindergarten class finished their Minnesota unit last week. In addition to a week or two chock full of Minnesota learning, each kid drew their own map of the state. He was quite proud of the map. I just put it up on the wall - he's in bed of course so won't see it until tomorrow morning.

The Hobbled Runner accompanied M to another summer musical cattle-call casting session tonight. She was auditioning for a role in The Music Man, produced by the St. Anthony Community Theater group. It was kids' night tonight - so the place was packed. There were about 40 girls - apparently all trying for the elusive Amaryllis role. There were only about 5 boys that I saw. Apparently the competition isn't so stiff for Winthrop. No one wants to play the stuttering little guy who spits out Gary, Indiana.

I was allowed to accompany Miss M into the audition room where she sang - - Gary, Indiana. Good strategic move as I bet she was the only girl to sing that song - since it's really a "boy's song". Hopefully she stood out from the rest. She did a great job. She was also asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance - which she just belted out! They wanted to hear her project a little and she did.

If she doesn't get a lead - she would be content with a chorus part as there are lots of town kids - members of the band, etc.

Beatle Splits

Don't much care about Paul and Heather - really - but couldn't resist the opportunity to play around with the lyrics to one of well known songs:

“Will you still need me?
Will you still feed me?
When I’m sixty-four?”

She must have answered, "No". Paul McCartney and Heather Mills split - - one month shy of the Big Mac’s 64th birthday.

Not that I ever begrudge the dude for marrying again - but really - having a child in your 60s??

Blogging and Privacy

Found this article discussing legal issues about blogs, expectation of privacy to be quite interesting.

Evidence from personal journals has been used in criminal cases for a long time and subjected to the gristmill of legal analysis. The blog, a hybrid format, poses new questions about where the line between public and private can be drawn on the Web.[FOOTNOTE 3]

In essence, blogs are electronically accessible versions of private diaries and personal papers -- sharing the qualities of print journals in substance and computer evidence in form.

Funny - I have no expectation of privacy blogging. While some use their blogs as a "personal journal" - willingly publishing the blog on the web - where anyone can see it - seems to nullify any expectation of privacy you may have originally had.

The expectation of privacy in an electronic journal, and society's recognition of that expectation as reasonable, will depend on Internet era definitions of constitutional principles. The blog is a dynamic piece of evidence at the tip of the print and digital convergence. It remains for the courts to provide guidance as the first prosecutions relying on blogs are litigated.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Lame Ducks and Cedar Waxwings

During this 2 week period between jobs I am a lame duck. I pass the time helping my successor transition into my role, cleaning out both paper and electronic files, and starting nothing new. I’m under orders no to start any new projects - don’t want to burden my successor with any of my crazy schemes, let her come up with her own crazy ideas.

At 44, after several different jobs under my belt, I’m mature enough not to be bothered by the fact that I know my successor is going to do things differently than me. That’s one reason why change is good – new people seem old problems in a new light, and are willing to try new things. Good for everyone here. Likewise, I will bring a fresh perspective to my new role.

Promises/threats by new department to start using me before my official start date – by dragging me to meetings, etc. has not come to fruition. So here I sit, responding to the occasional email and counting the days.

Lame duck status gives me more time for walks over the lunch hour. And after missing a few days last week – it’s been a rainforest around here, I’m taking advantage of the nice weather to stretch the legs. Today I saw a small flock (really only 3 birds – is that a flock?) of Cedar Waxwings, flitting from a stand of trees over and across the walking path to drink (yuck) muddy water from one of the many puddles left by the recent rains. Hadn’t seen Cedar Waxwings that closely before - pretty little birds.

Monday, May 15, 2006

End of Good Writing (?)

The ArtsJournal folks are hosting a "discussion" of the impact of blogs on art criticism. The conversation naturally takes in the impact of blogs on writing in general - and how do you make a living at writing, if customers/readers come to expect to get it for free. Anthony DeCurtis wonders what will happen to those who want to make money by writing - - if others are just giving it away.
The other matter is, ahem, getting paid for doing this work. I did plenty of writing for free when I was starting out, and occasionally still do for academic journalis and such. But as so many newspapers and magazines implode, how is anyone supposed to make a living doing this?
By Tyler Green responds:

If I didn't blog, magazines and newspapers never would have called with paying work. And I would like to think I have a built-in audience willing/ready to buy books by me.

A blog is essentially marketing-made-public. It also has a nice side-benefit: Because people in the industry (the visual arts) know me from the blog, I have access for paying work. And because I have access to industry folk, I learn things that I can turn into paying work. It's a self-feeding cycle.

End of Books (again)

Ann Althouse and discussion in the comments, about an article in Sunday's NYT magazine by Wired magazine's Kevin Kelly about whether digital technology will replace the printed book.

Althouse says that,
Kelly takes the extreme position that copyright holders will have to give up on the outmoded practice of making money from selling copies. No matter how much they've been able to get their needs served by legislators, the sheer force of technology will defeat them in the end.

Gas Prices and Sprawl

Here's an interesting take on (some people's) conventional wisdom - that higher gas prices will result in the death of sprawl. The idea is that once gas prices get too high, people will move closer in to the urban core to cut commuting time.

Predictions of the demise of suburbia, choked to death by high gasoline prices, may be greatly exaggerated.

Conventional wisdom suggests that high prices at the pump mean less driving and, hence, the withering of far-flung suburbs, whose residents must drive to jobs, shopping and recreation.

. . .

Yet in reality, these fears -- or hopes -- may well prove misplaced. Higher energy costs could make people look for work closer to home, which for most of them is the suburbs.

The posting points out a variety of reaons why this is wrong - including looking back to the 1970s when gas prices first hit the "crisis point". Apparently more people left the core cities in that decade than any other in the 20th century.

While they didn't all pack up and "move home" to the city, folks in the 70s did turn to more fuel efficient (and in those days foreign) vehicles.

What I find interesting about this piece is the point that high gas prices might drive more jobs to the suburbs - where the workers live, and the impact it might have on increasing telecommuting opportunties.

So if we are going to have an increasingly suburban and even exurban future, we need to figure how this can work in a high-cost energy environment. One sensible solution lies in the continuing transformation of suburbs from their old role as commuter bedroom communities into places that offer a larger array of jobs, cultural and commercial opportunities.

And this,

Suburbs also can benefit from the digital option. Single-family houses frequently have the "extra room" critical for work at home, and for people with children, the advantages of flexible hours and less commute times are significant.

. . .

These changes should inspire planners, architects, policymakers and those concerned about the environment to think about suburbs in positive and creative ways. Given our need to cut energy consumption, we need to think less about dragooning Americans back into the cities and more about finding ways to make all communities more self-reliant and less energy consuming.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Rotten Idea?

Funny post on Concurring Opinions, one of the law blogs (blawgs) I read on a regular basis. The author proposes a new legal publication, "Journal of Law and Fruit" - taking advantage of the various "fruity" references in the law: Whether a case is "ripe", whether an item seized in a search is "fruit of the poisonous tree", etc.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Duck ala Crate

Wednesday evenings means picking M up from Choir School. Dinner is served at 6:00 - in the church basement - of course. Over spaghetti last night, I told my table mates about the duck problem. One of the parents, Jim, had an idea. How about herding the ducklings into a dog crate, then hope the mother follows. Slam the door and off you go?

Hmm, that might work. Running out of time here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"Liquor Store Needs" ??

I've accepted a new position at work. I won't bore you with the details, but wanted to comment on how NICE everyone has been to me today. When I've told people on my team, they were all so happy for me and many said some very flattering things about me as a manager. Probably total BS - but you take what you can get.

After talking to lots of folks in person, I sent an email to a larger group of colleagues. My favorite response:

Well, as the saying goes, don't be a stranger. If anything - I know you will still have liquor store needs!

Background - in addition to her 9-to-5, this colleague still works at MGM Liquor Warehouse - her old "law school job", so I see her some weekends when "stocking up" on life's essentials.

Ducks and Bathrooms

Have I mentioned the ducks? We have a mallard hen nesting in the Arborvitae under our picture window. I suspected something was up when she spent a great deal of time just hanging around our front yard. One morning when leaving for work I scared her out of the bushes.

On Sunday, while washing the windows I heard a hissing sound from the bushes. I looked round-and-round but couldn’t see anything until I got real close. There she was sitting on her nest. This time she didn’t move. She must have eggs. I stopped washing the windows - good excuse!.

Yesterday I got to worrying. How is she ever going to get the ducklings to water safely? We live about ½ mile from any pond. I don’t think they could make it that far without losing some ducklings. The Dude and I were discussing options when I hatched (no pun intended) a plan. Keeping in mind that this plan probably violates some sort of Federal Migratory Bird Act - I thought I’d put the ducklings into a box (that’s the easy part), then assuming the mother duck stays close by (hissing no doubt), I’d toss a blanket over her, and throw box and blanket into the back of the car and drive them to the pond. Would it work? Don’t know. Thought I’d better call an expert to check on the wisdom, practicality of this idea.

Imagine my surprise, while doing some online research for solutions, specifically looking for the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville, I stumble on this from the Restroom Ratings site. Funny, and Yes, they are impeccable. The kids and I were visiting the Center a few years ago, it’s adjacent to the Harriet Alexander Nature Center, and as often happens with little kids, the Dude had to use the restroom. It was very clean, but if I recall correctly, the Dude complained about the smell of the cleaner — it had indeed been cleaned thoroughly.

More to follow on the ducks.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

OId Car/New Car

Just a quick post to announce the end of the road for the old SL2. I brought it into the dealership at 8:00 a.m. to have them look at the strange vibrating noises coming from somewhere under the car, and I had pretty much sealed the deal on a new car by 9:00 a.m. - - not bad for a rainy Monday morning. Spending well over $2000 to make the old thing safe to drive (god - how long did I drive it in an unsafe condition!) seemed a bit too much.

Photo from last night when we went to finalize the paperwork on the new vehicle, 2006 Saturn Ion. Maria looks sad, I was exhausted.

Oh yeah - Saturn of St. Paul/White Bear Lake - ask for Melissa.

Q-U Wedding

Here's a picture from the recent Q-U wedding at Parkview Center School. It's an annual event for Kindergarteners - and quite the big deal. The Dude was a ring-bearer. Everyone was excited that it "made the paper".

Reverend Read spent a few moments talking to all of the kindergartners and reminding them what they were about to witness was a pretend wedding.

“I’m going to read from the book of q,” he said, before reading several words beginning with “qu,” many of which drew polite giggles from the audience.

Finally, “u” turned to “q” and repeated after the minister, “I ‘u,’ take you ‘q,’ without question or qualm, to quote and quiet, to be my partner in words, from this day forward, I won’t quit.”

Read then had “q” repeat the words to “u.”

With that, he smiled and told the audience, “Ladies and gentleman, I present Mr. and Mrs. ‘qu.’”

The wedding party and all guests then enjoyed cake and punch before heading to the playground where Mrs. “qu” threw her bouquet.

Link to full article.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


The Accidental Hedonist keeps a list of items containing High Fructose Corn Syrup. She recently added some items to the list, apparently the list now includes ALL children's cough syrups.

As some of the commenters to the main list suggest, it would be easier, or at least shorter, to keep track of all the foods without HFCS.