Thursday, December 28, 2006

"I'm On The Hunt, I'm After You. . . "

The local oldies station, KOOL 108, after several weeks of holiday-only music, has switched its format. No longer do I hear "oldies". It's been creeping towards modernity slowly. I recall several years ago when it played only 50s and 60s music. Then it played music from the 60s and early 70s. The new format seems to be some sort of 80s - maybe 90s thing - - with some old stuff thrown in for good measure.

Odd note - the web site still touts the 60s and 70s - maybe the web folks are off for the holidays?

Tonight while driving home from work I heard Surfin' U.S.A. by the Beach Boys, followed by (with no commercial interruption) by Hungry Like the Wolf, by Duran Duran. Now I can't get that one out of my head - OOOOWWWW!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Blog in the Family

Forgot to mention that M is now blogging. We set it up on December 23, but she's been so busy with her new iPod (thanks to Grandma-ma) that she has not had much time to blog since Christmas.

That's "Lambie" or is it "Lamby" or perhaps "Lammy" - I've never had to spell his/her/its name before - with a batch of cookies that the kids and I made on Saturday. Very tasty - I had the last two today. [Photo courtesy of M - who received a book on digital photography for kids on Christmas - expect even more photos to follow.]

Post-Christmas: Sorting it All Out

The Hobbled Runner is enjoying a few days home with the kids while the Hobbled Wife toils away - making history (inside joke that). It was a successful morning, with the Dude working mightily on his Harry Potter Lego ship - a million pieces at least, but he does a great job reading the instructions - and really got into sorting pieces by color and function (YES!- someone to pass on the retentive gene).

We got out of the house around 11:00 to visit the Como Zoo. This was my idea, I can't stay inside all day, and I wanted to see the new Tropical Encounters exhibit at the Conservatory. Very cool - they have tropical birds and lizards (and one Sloth) just "out in the open", and fish tanks full of pirahanna (sp?), a water anaconda (green, gross, and gigantic). We even ate lunch at the zoo - very nice cafe which I'd only walked past and never entered. It beat the planned lunch at Perkins.

After Como, we stopped into Target to pick up a prescription and some groceries. That's right, Target one day after Christmas - a bit crazy, but on busy days they have all the registers open, so things moved very fast.

Back home for fun, fizzy experiments with the new chemistry set pictured above.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house - the goodies are laid out awaiting the arrival of the Man in Red.

Not Santa - but the "other" Superman. The Dude is ready to map out his adventures for 2007 with his new Superman calendar.

Diggin' into the loot - time to take the new things for a spin.

Later that day with Grandma-ma, the kids display the plates the made at Color Me Mine.

Christmas Eve

Lots of fun at the Gisselquist family Christmas eve celebration at Uncle Paul and Aunt Deb's new home in Lake Elmo. The "kids" (cousins and grown-ups) decorated cookies before the appetizers/dinner, then opened presents.

Here the Hobbled Runner trys his hand at cookie decorating.

Belle awaits the crumbs.

The cousins.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


M in the backyard.

Centerville, SD

Mentioning my father in the last post, got me Googling around South Dakota for a picture of the church(s) he attended as a kid. Found this nice site for Centerville, where he lived from birth to about age 13 I believe. I found a few, but will have to consult with family elders to make sure which is which.

This picture of Gunderson Park is interesting for two reasons: First, I've actually been there - during my first trip to Centerville - I was probably about 13 or 14 at the time; second, I'd love to be able to scan in closer to see if any relatives are amongst the crowd.

Lutherans - Always on the Cutting Edge

Heard an interesting story on MPR this morning, about the changing face of Lutheranism. The story is about an exhibit at the U of M's Immigration History Research Center, that looks into how Lutheran churches are reaching out to the immigrant communities around them - and some are offering services in different languages.

According to curator Allison Adrian:

"My world really does not look like Lake Wobegon," she says, so she wondered, "Why is the stereotype still out there? So I decided to investigate Lutheranism and drove around looking for Lutheran churches that did not fit that Scandinavian, white mold and they were surprisingly easy to find."

Amen to that - the older I get the more tired I am of Lake Wobegone. It's charming, but - - enough already.

One big change - besides services in different languages - involves the music:

"The immigrant congregations have services that run from two to three hours," she says. "They actually want to sing for a much longer period of time than the older Lutheran congregations want to. So music is really at the heart of the tensions that exist around these cultural changes in the church."

This reminds me of my father's stories of having to attend services almost that long - conducted in Norwegian. The problem with those services, according to my Dad, wasn't the singing (wasn't much of that), but the incredibly long prayers, and fire-and-brimstone services.

It's not just Lutherans though, several churches around here (one Baptist, and the other non-denominational) hold services in different languages, in this case Korean and Japanese. I believe some of these instances are actually other congregations using the space of the larger, more established church.

Another link here.

White Christmas?

While it seems like we will get some white stuff, I almost hope it doesn't snow. It would be the only non-white Christmas in 44 years that I recall. Something to tell the grandkids.

Drizzle will change over to snow Thursday night...give yourself a little extra time getting to work Friday morning

A powerful winter storm could drop 3-5 inches of snow on the Twin Cities starting Thursday night and ending early Saturday

Source: StarTribune Weather.

Gift Giving Advice - from an Economist

Here's some last minute gift giving advice from Marginal Revolution:

The economist in me says the best gift is cash. The rest of me rebels. Some people argue that the reason we don't give cash is because that is too easy - to show that we know the person well we must signal by shopping for something "special."

Yet this can't be quite right, either. Imagine the following thought experiment. Someone gives you $100 cash. You go out to the store and buy a set of car tires. Purchasing the tires clearly maximizes your utility. Now imagine that instead of $100 the gift giver gave you a set of car tires. Would you be happy that they know you so well that they purchased for you just what you would have purchased for yourself? I don't think so.

I'll try to keep this in mind as I hustle around the Twin Cities on my last-minute shopping errands.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Jingle Bells, and All That Jazz

Quite a fun time on Monday night as 30 or so Cub Scouts from Pack 150 went caroling at St. John's Hospital. The kids did a great job, stopping twice on each of 4 floors, and working through a standard program of 5 songs: Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, Deck the Halls, Away in a Manger, and The Dreidel Song.

Big sister came along - it was either that or go with Mom to a school meeting. Caroling won - no doubt about it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Crazy Busy - Holiday Edition

I've edited yesterday's whining, sniveling post (which I pulled) to be a little less self-centered, but still give you an idea why I have a little less of the Christmas spirit this year.

Tired, tired, tired – and two tired kids: M has been on-the-go, non-stop for a few weeks with the Alice play, Ragazzi (Opera) choir, and Church choir. This past weekend was the culmination of many weeks’ work – Friday night play performance; Saturday morning, the Dude had “play class” and M had a 3 hour Ragazzi practice; Saturday night was the final night for the play, and the kids didn’t get to sleep until 10:45 am; Sunday morning – to church by 8:00 for two services (9 and 11) “Lesson in Carols”, home by 12:15 – leave house by 12:45 for piano recital; leave by 2:30 for Ragazzi choir concert starting at 4:00, short concert, followed by terrible dinner at Fuddrucker’s (I know – I know – what did I expect?). Though both kids almost fell asleep over dinner, no one was tired when we got home – both up until 9:30 – 9:45 – and up by 6:45 for school.

[Monday/Tuesday update: Monday night was the "strike" and cast party for Alice. For those non-theater types (which included me until last year) "strike" is not a reference to a labor dispute, but referes to the act tearing apart the set after the play is done. Much fun, and potentially dangerous. I've never seen so many kids ages 9 - 15 walking around with power tools in their hands. It's amazing no blood was shed. Of course, kids up late - - again.]

No Christmas Letter – I’ve spent about one hour trying to write the damn thing, but it’s the only writing I’ve done recently where I face serious writer’s block. The words just won’t come. I’ve been so busy with work and kids (see above paragraph), that it’s going nowhere. Don’t expect anything this year – perhaps a New Year letter – but don’t hold your breath. I always get guilty when I don’t get cards and letters out on time. This past year I’ve posted hundreds of blog entries, somewhat continuous updates with news and pictures, but now I have to condense one year down to one or two pages – it’s ridiculous! If more than two of my relatives ever looked at this darn blog, I’d feel less guilty – at least they would be getting the news. Thanks to those who do read – Merry Christmas.

The Dude hates school – or something: Every morning it’s the same thing – he digs in his heels and refuses to go. Sometimes he claims illness (and I do believe the school thing is effecting him physically), other times he just gets stubborn. He’s been late several days, and had to come home sick once. I have no idea what to do. It’s even impacting bedtime since he “can’t close his eyes” because he thinks about school. You can’t sleep without first closing your eyes – but it’s amazing how long he can keep them open in the face of exhaustion.

Hah – there’s my Christmas letter. I think I’ll just print it out and send it. -

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Weekend Highlight - So Far

This will no doubt be the highlight of the weekend - if not the entire month! The Dude sat through the 4th performance of Alice in Wonderland - this time Grandmama and Boppa were in attendance. After the show the Dude (with a great deal of coaxing from the Dad) approached the Cheshire Cat (or Chessie as she is known throughout the play), and asked for an autograph. She was very nice, and chatted with the Dude a few minutes, then posed for this picture.

The Dude has been smitten by Chessie. He talks about her a great deal, and likes to act out her lines around the house.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Inland North

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
North Central
The South
The West
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Hmm - "Inland North" - you betcha that's my accent. Funny little test to determine what sort of American accent you have.

I Used Google - Duh!

The Dude was on the computer last night and he called out for assistance. I assumed he had a Word formatting question on one of the many stories he is working on. (He always wants to use some bizarre font.) Turns out he was just about ready to start an online Chess game. Without scaring him, we steered him off that site, and discouraged him from playing any games online, and told him the only games he can play are at

When asked how he found the chess games he said, "I used Google" - of course - I taught him that.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Bike Helmets

This has bothered me for about a year now. It seems - and this is based only on my personal observation - that fewer bicyclists are wearing helmets. Sure - kids still wear them (for the most part), but I've noticed lots of older bikers without helmets.

Harvard Economist and blogger Greg Mankiw points to a recent article in the NYTimes that suggests they may be on to something:

Examining the data, he found that when he wore his helmet, motorists passed by 8.5 centimeters (3.35 inches) closer than when his head was bare. He had increased his risk of an accident by donning safety gear.

Why? You might suspect that cyclists wearing helmets are more prone to take risks. But studies have found otherwise. The real answer, Walker theorizes, is that helmets change the behavior of drivers. Motorists regard a helmet as a signal that the cyclist is experienced and thus can be approached with less caution. “They see the helmet and think, Oh, there’s a serious, skilful person,” Walker says. “And you get hit.”

As tempting as it is to ride with the wind blowing through (what's left of) my hair, I suspect I'll be wearing a helmet for years to come. Have to set a good example for the kids.

More Alice - Backstage Antics

Here are a few more photos the Hobbled Wife snapped at Sunday's performance of Alice in Wonderland. M and two of her fellow "flowers" are all made up and ready to go. M enjoyed giving her brother kisses with her orange lips.

Judging by the look on the Dude's face, it was better to be the kisser than the kissee.

Christmas Concert

While doing a little "research" for the family Christmas letter - yes - it's gotten to be quite the project - I'm actually "researching" stuff - anyway - I came across some nice publicity for Maria's upcoming choir concert. In case any of you are in the TC area this coming weekend.

The Minnesota Opera’s Project Opera Concert

Project Opera, The Minnesota Opera’s co-ed youth opera training program, will be performing December 17th at Westwood Lutheran Church in St. Louis Park. This free concert will include Benjamin Britten’s moving A Ceremony of Carols along with other season selections. Both Ragazzi (grades 4-7) and Giovani (grades 8-12) ensembles will join forces for these exciting concerts. Westwood Lutheran Church, 9001 Cedar Lake Road, St. Louis Park, 612-333-2700,

Maria is a member of Ragazzi.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Opening Night

Friday was opening night for Alice in Wonderland. All went well. No one dropped a line, and the audience enjoyed themselves. All the old preschool friends showed up to watch M - who played one of the flowers, and Johanna - who stared as Alice - at opening night.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hobbled and Happy

Sometimes it's a good thing to be a Hobbled Runner:

This has been an unusual season for the cardiac health of marathoners. After years in which almost no deaths were attributed to heart attacks at this country’s major marathons, at least six runners have died in 2006.

Two police officers, one 53, the other 60, died of heart attacks at the Los Angeles Marathon in March. The hearts of three runners in their early 40s gave out during marathons in Chicago in October, San Francisco in July and the Twin Cities in October. And at the same marathon where Mr. Turner was felled, another man, 56, crumpled near the 17th mile, never to recover.

Source: NYTimes

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Sew What!

Finally - Dad and the Dude purchased the official Cub Scout shirt. We had to sew a number of different patches on the dang shirt. Here I am early in the day when I was still in a good mood - and hadn't poked myself 100 times (the Dude actually just left a box of band-aids next to me while I was sewing) and had to start the darn pack number patch over 3 times. The Hobbled Wife finally relieved me about 8:00 p.m. and finished the job in no time. Photo courtesy of my sis-in-law.

Alice - "Off With Their Heads"

M has been quite busy rehearsing Alice in Wonderland these past few weeks. It opens Friday, and we are all very excited. M is one of the flowers - far right in this picture - pink shirt, blue jeans. Alice is played by an old friend of M's - someone she's known since she was about 6 months old in day-care. They went through day-care and preschool together, so it's fun to see her in the lead. It's a very big cast - 54 kids in all. Should be a great show.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"More Homeruns, Less Singles"

Sports metaphors are easily overused - especially in the corporate world. Where I work, we've been asked to "Hit more homeruns, less singles." This means we shouldn't waste time on little products with few customer/subscribers, but instead concentrate on the bigger ones that generate more revenue. Never mind that you can win a baseball game by hitting a lot of singles.

Along those same lines, I found this post interesting. Via, it's a list of former major league pitcher Don Carman's list of canned responses to reporters questions.

Don Carman pitched in the Major Leagues from 1983 through 1992; for the Phillies, the Indians and the Rangers. During the post game interview he was often well known for his catchy response phrases and cliches given to reporters.

During the 1990 season he posted a handwritten list of his responses on his locker which was published in many newspapers across the country and used by him to answer questions.

Some of my favorites:

1. I'm just glad to be here. I just want to help the club any way I can.

. . .

14. That All-Star voting is a joke.

Of course no list would be complete without the old standbys:

24. Yes.
25. No.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Feeding Birds . . and People

I've been neglecting the back-yard birds lately. It's been about 3 months since I've filled my many feeders. I'm not sure why - just got too busy. Now it looks like I may face higher prices at the birdfeed stores when I resume feeding. The Birdchick blog tells us why.

This is interesting because it combines my interest in nutrition with birding. Apparently the price of sunflower seeds is on the rise due to the increased use of sunflower seed oil (a healthier alternative) in cooking.

A Small Visitor

Everyone has recovered from our weekend visitor - cousin Isaac. Actually it was a pair of visitors - Aunty Amy and Isaac - but as any parent knows - the excitement is all around "the kid."

Big news this evening - Amy called to say that the little guy is crawling! Apparently the lessons he received from his cousins paid off.