Sunday, December 23, 2007

White Christmas



It snowed yesterday, and it continues today. Yesterday started warm (low 20s) but became colder as the day wore on. Lots of frozen slush in the streets. Right now it's 16, snowing, and very windy - a mild blizzard perhaps?

We leave in an hour to go sliding with some friends (the talented Daub/Short clan) and then having home-made chicken noodle soup. Perhaps some Bundt cake as well?

[Some no-holds-barred snowball fighting.]

[Take that old man.]



[Spot the female cardinal for extra credit.]

[Mmmm - Snowflakes.]

All photos courtesy Miss M.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Turkey With All the Trimmings



All sorts of notoriety in the Short/Daub family. While mother Susanna basks in the limelight as newly published author of the hot selling Bundt Cake Bliss, daughter makes the news on her own.

Mattie won first prize (age 9 – 12 division) in the Star Tribune’s Turkey “coloring” contest.

For those of you not from the Twin Cities area, here's how it works. Every year on Thanksgiving Day the Star Tribune features a large picture of a Turkey in it’s Source Section (formerly known as Variety – the one with the comics). Several weeks later (like today) they announce the winners. Here’s a slide show.

As you can see, some contestants have gone way beyond color crayons. Mattie uses that Minnesota staple, seed-art or crop-art, to give her winning creation a particularly Minnesotan spin.

Congratulations Mattie!

Bus Tales

[source]

I love these little slices of life. Here is Bus Tales, a web site that allows you to submit stories of “interesting” things that happen on public transportation in the TC area.

Here’s an excerpt from “Chatty Guy”:

Finally, Chatty Guy never misses the evening 663 at 4:30. There have been a few occasions where he is running late, or the bus is early. On these occasions, Chatty Guy has been known to sprint along S 9th Street for 3 blocks to catch up to the 663. On one occasion, I was sitting by someone with whom I often exchange Chatty Guy stories. We noted his absence, and I casually said “We’ll probably see him streaking down the sidewalk.” We looked to our right, and saw him in all his glory, flying across Nicollet Avenue at Jesse Owens-like speed.

In conclusion, I have nothing against Chatty Guy. Some consider him annoying, but I consider him an asset to the 663. If we ever part ways, I’ll always treasure the memories and pray for the poor soul he currently victimizes.


I heard the site's creator Rett Martin interviewed on MPR a few weeks ago. I meant to get online and check it out, but forgot until today when I saw MNSpeak had linked to it.

I suspect other areas have similar sites. This one reminds me of the Kevin Kling play 21A about riding the number 21 down Lake Street – a very interesting route.

Summer Camp - - Noooo!

Considering I haven't even finished my Christmas shopping, I didn't need to receive this email from the Hobbled Wife:

On a different note - I was talking to the MCM staff doing summer camps. They are doing a fabulous camp - one day each at MCM, Guthrie, MacPhail and the Center for Book Arts. Unfortunately, is over the July 4th week!!! I refuse to work that week... oh well. M gets enough culture.

W also said that the Guthrie has had their summer camps up online for 3 weeks now, and they are 70% full..... ugh.


Yes - too much culture.

Here's my new rule: If a SUMMER camp fills up before Christmas, it's not the kind of camp you want to attend anyway.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I've Been Warned

[Origami Santa]

Another Dude/Dad drive-time conversation. While driving the Dude to school this morning, listening to Christmas music on the radio, the Dude asks,

"Why do grown-ups sing about Santa Claus if they don't believe in him?"


Hmm - were getting on shaky ground here.

"Well, at Christmas, everyone wants to believe, so even grown-ups sing about Santa."


He ponders, then lets me in on THE PLAN:

"After Christmas break my friends and I are going to bring the notes and cards from Santa [Editor: apparently the little thank you notes he leaves for the milk and cookies] to school and compare them. If we see that his signature is different, we know you guys are faking it."


Hmm - I'm stone silent.

"It's not fair, tricking people. It's mean."


I'm not sure where this is going, but then he says,

"I'm going to believe anyway. No matter what you do."


Now that's the true holiday spirit.

Redo My What??

It’s not enough that I practically hand-feed posts to my wife’s blog. (Please note, she calls me out by name but does not insert hyperlink back to my blog.) No, she demands I blog on my own. Well here goes:

Last Friday, I’m installing a new program on my PC. That means I try install – it doesn’t work – I need a password, so I email tech support. The tech folks who “assist” with this function are in India.

They respond at 3:30 am Monday with my password which is so generic I should have guessed it in the first place. I enter the password, but I'm still getting error message. I email tech support.

They respond at 3:59 a.m. Tuesday, the email contains this helpful instruction:

Redo your SQL server definition. I have attached instructions. Please note that in step 6, you need to enter tracker_user for BOTH user id and password. [If you could not find the option for the 'DBMS Type' as 'Tracker SQL Server 6', then select option as 'Tracker SQL Server']. Then you can able to login with your User Id & Password.


Yeah - that's easy for you to say. Piece-of-cake – I think.

I suspect that if I encountered serious problems and needed help NOW, that I could probably find someone in-house to assist, but sometimes it’s fun to go through the motions as a good corporate citizen – just for the blog fodder.

Update: Hah - it worked – not exactly as set out in the nice instructions included in the attached Word document, but then I’m a bright guy and between B’s instructions and my ingenuity, I got the darn thing installed an working.

I would have completed it Tuesday, but I was too busy, so I finished up today in about 10 minutes. Of course I sent a Thank You reply email. Wonder what time it is in Bangalore?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Here Comes the Sun

When do their little sayings stop being “cute”, and start being odd - - or in this case, just downright dangerous?

Yesterday on the way to school – a cold, clear morning – about 7 degrees Fahrenheit, the sun glistening off the snow:

“Dad, does the part of your skull above your eyebrow hurt when you stare right into the sun?”

“Well – I try not to stare directly into the sun. It’s dangerous.”

“Yeah, but when I stare into the sun, the skull above my eye really hurts.”

More Coffee



Time for a coffee post – because it’s been a while – and you should always make time for a coffee post.

I ran across this one yesterday. It lists the presidential candidates and their coffee choices:

Hillary Clinton: Sometimes black, sometimes with cream
John Edwards: Doesn't drink it
Barack Obama: Black (but rarely drinks it)
Bill Richardson: Cream
Rudy Giuliana: Splenda, Sweet'n Low or Equal,
Mike Huckabee: Splenda
John McCain: Cappuccino or coffee with cream and sugar
Mitt Romney: Doesn't drink it (Mormon)
Fred Thompson: Cream


Then today, Lileks Bleats about having to beg the waitress for coffee at the Convention Grill.

I took (G)Nat to the Convention Grill tonight, something we’d been putting off for a long time. I begged the waitress for some coffee, and she said it might be a while; they had to make some. I wanted to bring out my copy of the National American Restaurant Charter, an important document written in 1912, which states, without preamble, codicils, amendments or secret protocols that there shall always be coffee available to succor the needy and enbrisken the spirits. One could say that the assertion of immediate coffee as a right, not a boon to be granted at the owner’s whims, was one of the founding concepts of American restaurants, and one of the things that made this country great. If a bit jittery. We’ve gotten away from the idea, what with the Starbucks paradigm and the general acceptance of standing and waiting for your coffee drink to be assembled from raw materials. It’s a bad sign. A nation that always has a hot pot on the Bunn-o-Matic burner is a nation that can deal with Hitler.

“You don’t have any coffee?” I asked, weakly.

“We don’t have any made right now,” she said.

That’s the same thing, I wanted to say. To quote Felix Unger, you have to make coffee. It doesn’t just come. Words to live by. Infinitely applicable.

Eventually the coffee was brought, and my sense of weariness and desperation was so apparent she left the pot.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More Bundt Cake Bliss


City Pages did a really nice story about Susanna - and her book. Most press that I've read covers the book in a sort of "Ya, You Betcha, we Minnesootans like our Bundt Cake" kind of way.

Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl's City Pages article also showcases Susanna in all her glory:

Years of creating a non-farm-girl adult identity followed, years when she went to sophisticated urban dinner parties with nary a Bundt cake in sight. She worked as a clinical social worker, adept at crisis intervention, often in domestic violence cases. Then came a brain aneurism, which by all rights could have killed her, but from which she miraculously recovered. Then came the Bundts. "It was like: I'm not dead!" Short said, laughing. "So it's time to celebrate myself. I realized: I went to college, I married a girl, and guess what? I like Bundt cake—that's who I am. Deal with it."

. . .

"It's funny, during the last presidential campaign, when all that nasty advertising [opposing gay marriage] was going on, this older man at my church came up to me and said, 'You know, Susanna, I want you to know, when I see you I never think, oh, there's the gay caterer. I think, oh, there's Betsy and Susanna. I wonder what sort of Bundt cake you're going to bring to the deacon's supper.'" Short paused and stuck a fork in the innocently simple apricot-almond pound cake she had baked for my visit. "That's Bundt cakes," she told me. "It feels great to do what I love and be who I am and not worry about what it is magazines think I should do."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Blogging from Rochester, NY



Busy cold, weekend - took some fun pictures but didn't get a chance to post. Today finds me in Rochester, NY on business. Flying out at 5:00 - if weather doesn't delay. As usual - it's a 24 hour stay so no time to look around. The weather is warmer than MN. Nothing like below 0 weather to make you appreciate 35 degrees.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Drive 55 - Saves Gas, Saves Lives

Wasn't that the old slogan? Maybe while were at it, maybe we can advocate for the metric system again. God - I miss the 70s.

Speaking of the 70s - wasn't that the time when we started driving 55 mph? Those days could return. The trip to the cabin could get longer - if this goes through:

The Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group is set to present some of its recommendations to Gov. Tim Pawlenty early next year.

The group is studying 50 options. Among the ideas is lowering speed limits on interstate highways.

In the city, the group is talking about dropping speed limits to 55 mph, from 65 mph. In the country, the idea is to go down to 60 mph, from 70 mph.


This gives me a chance to post on another climate-related item that's making the rounds on the blogosphere - arguing that divorce is bad for the environment- because it's a waste of resources - two households, etc:

The data are in. Divorce is bad for the environment. A novel study that links divorce with the environment shows a global trend of soaring divorce rates has created more households with fewer people, has taken up more space and has gobbled up more energy and water. A statistical remedy: Fall back in love. Cohabitation means less urban sprawl and softens the environmental hit.


Not sure where I'm going with this - but these sorts of efforts make me feel like an old (greenhouse gas emitting) curmudgeon.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

SNOW! - again


It's shaping up to be a white Christmas around here. The Dude and I went cross-country skiing on Sunday, and it looks like we might want to go again tonight.

According to the StarTribune:

Tuesday, December 4, 2007 12:37 pm
Snow advisory from 9 am to 9 pm Tuesday for much of Minnesota (including the Twin Cities)

Alberta clipper may drop another 3-5" of snow, worst travel late Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday night

Another clipper Thursday may drop another 2-5"....no thaws, no significant melting in sight....temperatures trend well below average into much of next week

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friends at Friends School


Here's the Dude - in back wearing MN Twins T-Shirt, holding the "Axe" (more about that later).

Tuesday night we attended a "class meeting" at the Dude's school. The meeting was pretty loosely organized. The first half hour involved eating desserts everyone had brought from home while the kids ran around like maniacs. After everyone was sufficiently sugared up, we went into the classroom for a performance of a little play, "The Woodcutter of Gura" a fable from Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Dude played the Woodcutter, hence the Axe - cardboard and duct tape.


In this shot (a zoom would have helped), the townsfolk of Gura are trying to wake the "dead" Woodcutter.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Helvetica

I guess I'm just geeky enough to think this sounds interesting:

2007 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Max Miedinger and Edouard Hoffmann's design Helvetica, the most ubiquitous of all typefaces. Widely considered the official typeface of the twentieth century, Helvetica communicates with simple, well-proportioned letterforms that convey an aesthetic clarity that is at once universal, neutral, and undeniably modern.


It's the Museum of Modern Art's exhibit celebrating 50 years of Helvetica type.

My Land's End Lady

After reading this essay about the erotic appeal of the Land's End fall catalog, I may never look at my wife (Land's End fiend that she is) quite the same way again:

You have to look closer to see what truly makes the models special, though, what elevates them above Victoria's Secret: they have wrinkles around their eyes. These women have laugh lines, taut necks, and that slight tummy that can be so, so sexy. These are not the airbrushed dolls of ignorant fantasy. These women are real.


Hat tip, kottke.org.

Warning - while it's relatively safe for work, it's a little risque.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Big Honkin' Plane


Ventured out over the noon hour today - dentist appointment. Looked up into the sky and saw this coming in for a landing at MSP. Very LARGE!

Representatives of the Toulouse, France-based company brought the A380 to Minneapolis today as part of an around-the-world trip to showcase the world's largest passenger airliner.


Oh yeah - no cavities.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Frida and the Birds



On Saturday, the Dude and I visited the Walker Art Center to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit – along with everyone else in the Upper Midwest. It was his first time ever at the Walker and my first time in about 10 years. I used to visit the Walker all the time – was even a member for a year or two – when I lived nearby and could walk over.

The kids and I visit the Minneapolis Institute of Arts frequently (several times a year maybe), and always spend lots of time enjoying the collection. Our experience at the Walker was not as much fun. The collection on display seemed rather limited compared to the MIA, and we moved pretty quickly past most of the work. For his part, the Dude was impressed with some of the pieces – even commenting that one looked like the artist had made it the “Creation Station” – the corner of his classroom where everyone brings cast-off objects from home that they then assemble for art projects.

The highlight was the Frida Kahlo display. I won’t tell you how long we waited in line to be admitted to this display – OK – we waited almost one hour – but the Dude was very patient, amazingly so. The Kahlo exhibit was housed in several rooms that held between 250 and 275 people. Entrance and exits were monitored closely and people were let in when others exited. It was crowded, but I had the best tour guide in the house.

The Dude’s Spanish teacher is very interested in Kahlo – obsessed might be the right word to use. The kids have learned all about her life, her work, her marriage to Diego Rivera, etc. The Dude recognized several paintings, telling me the story behind the picture, the symbolism involved, and in what stage of her life/career the painting was created. It was pretty amazing.



All-in-all it was a good trip. One of the highlights was seeing the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture. The Dude had never seen it “live” before – but knew it was “famous, because I’ve seen it in books and calendars”.

We also got to combine art with birding. There was a Red-Tailed Hawk working the sculpture garden and later the grassy median of Hennepin Avenue between the Walker and St. Marks. Quite amazing really given the highly urban landscape – and the Dude loved it – given his recent obsession with Raptors.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Night on the Town - or - "Will You Be Able to Hear From Here?"



Hobbled Wife, daughter, and father-in-law attended the "Away in the Manger" concert by Cantus last night. The Dude opted not to attend - he thinks everyone is getting carried away celebrating Christmas - when Thanksgiving is not over yet. He stayed home with Grandma-ma.

We got nice seats in the full house. A few minutes before the show began a fifty-something man and his mother came around looking for seats. They decided to sit directly behind us. He asked his mother several times, "Will these seats be OK? Will you be able to hear from here, Mom?" Each time he asked, she assured him that, "Yes" she would be OK.

Midway through the performance one of the singers steps forward to announce the next selection. Granted he was the quietest of the group (in speaking voice that is) and they didn't have a microphone since there voices are enough in most spaces. Sure enough, she starts muttering (loud enough to be heard), "He needs a microphone. I can't hear a word he says. He really needs a microphone." The son, dutiful as ever, agrees with Mom.

Taken alone that wouldn't get my goat, but son was quite the Cantus fan. In that short interval between the last note and the clapping he usually exclaimed, "Oohh" or "Mmmm" - or some other indicator of pleasure. I almost wanted to turn around and ask, "So, was it good for you too?"

Anyway despite the Mom (I cant' hear you) and Son (Ooh, Aah), and the three cell phones that went off during the performance, it was a beautiful time. To top it all off they had hay-rides around the intermission at Harriet Island.

Sheesh - I'm beginning to sound like an old fart. Given the Hobbled Wife's latest post - you'd think we spent most of our time at home - with every attempt to venture out into the real world resulting in disappointment and surly anger. That's not true. We are actually very nice people. Go ahead, invite us out to do something. We won't embarass ourselves - really.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bowling for Turkeys



Crazy night last night – but that fact that I got to visit a little bit of history (one of the last of the church bowling alleys) made it worth the while.

Tuesday is Turkey Day at Thomson-West; the day that all employees and retirees receive a free frozen turkey. Turkey number 14 for me - - the “gravy handcuffs” – rather than the golden-handcuffs – I’ll never leave. Anyway, the free turkey is my contribution to the family Thanksgiving celebration, so I have to figure a way to get it out to my brother’s house in Lake Elmo. That’s not hard in itself, but we had a few other items on the agenda last evening.

M was at opera choir (6:00 – 8:00), the Dude and Mom were going to see the Lion King at the Orpheum, and I had to be at St. Frances Bowling Center in St. Paul at 6:30 to cut a check to the bowling alley operators.

St. Francis Bowling Center of St. Francis-St. James United School in St. Paul's West Seventh Street neighborhood belongs to an elite club. St. Francis has six lanes and may be one of the last two church bowling centers left in the Twin Cities.


Pack 150 was having a big bowling event at St. Frances. Even though the Dude was not in attendance, I felt that as Pack Treasurer I had to be on hand to pay for the lanes and shoes, etc. I could have let one of the parents pick up the tab and reimburse them later, but I hate doing that too often, and the parents don’t like it either and it usually falls on one family (our Pack Leader) to foot the bill.

Anyway – I had to get to St. Frances, and then zip over to Lake Elmo, then home again by 8:00, all during the tail-end of rush-hour.

Made the trip with 10 minutes to spare (bowling joke there), and I now know that I saw a little bit of church/bowling history as well.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The "Dad Project"


[American Infantryman of the 89th Division prepare to cross the Rhine.]

This “Dad Project” is lots of fun. Despite his rather sketchy use of dates, names, etc. I’m beginning to piece things together. My goal is to create a rather short booklet that describes his time in the service combining narrative from his journal entries, my own text to “bridge the gaps” and photos (scans of his own) and others found on the web – like the one above of the 89th Division preparing to cross the Rhine.


It's easy to find material on the different Divisions, but that's not too helpful as a Division is made up of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers. So while I know he had to cross the Rhine - I recall him mentioning that, I keep digging further to find what I can about the smaller units he served in - - like his Regiment (353rd), Battallion (2nd), Company (E), Platoon (4th), or even his squad (the basic unit of 9 to 10 guys led by Sgt. Hammer of Texas - that much I know).

I hope to make additional progress over Thanksgiving when the Gisselquist clan gathers at my brother’s home.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Beatles – No End To What You Can Learn


[photo source]

Beatles - the band that just keeps on giving. Just when I thought I knew everything about the Fab Four, I stumble on to Ruth McCartney, step-sister of Sir Paul.

Now - don't get me wrong - I knew that Paul's dad had remarried - but I didn't know that his wife had a young daughter that the elder Mac adopted. Turns out she has her own career in show biz.

This one I literally stumbled upon while reading Terry Teachout who pointed to Anecdotal Evidence. There I scrolled down to a post about how poetry stops working when it stops singing.

Blogger Patrick Kurp quotes this from Thomas Dekker circa 1603:

“Golden slumbers kisse your eyes,
Smiles awake you when you rise:
Sleepe pretty wantons do not cry,
And I will sing a lullabie,
Rocke them rocke them lullabie.”


Sound familiar? Kurp points out that it's the poem the Beatles used for the lyrics in Golden Slumbers on Abbey Road.

From there I'm off to Wikipedia to learn more about the Beatles' tune Golden Slumbers, and the poet Thomas Dekker.

The Golden Slumbers post got me searching around for Ruth McCartney, and there you have it.

What I did before blogs - I'll never know. This whole adventure took under 5 minutes, and now I'm armed with more Beatles trivia not to mention a [very] little knowledge of Thomas Dekker.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Father's Memories


This is intense. I am working on typing up my Dad’s war memories – based in large part on an after-the-fact “journal” that he wrote in the 1990s. I also have an old diary kept at the time – but it was very sketchy – stuff like “December 1 – arrived camp x” and so on.

As I’ve been typing up his hand-written journal, I’ve been messing around online trying to find information on places, weapons, events, he describes. Wow – and I guess I knew this – but there is a ton of WWII stuff online. I found the web site for his old division, and the very cool map shown above of the route they took through Europe.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pink Morning



M was amazed when she came downstairs around 7:00 am to find everything bathed in pink. The sun was rising through some clouds and the effect was amazing. She stepped out onto the deck to snap a few pictures. The top photo was taken with flash, the bottom without.

Yikes - A Shrike!



[Northern Shrike, Photo Source]

Here’s one you don’t see every day – or at least I’ve never seen one before. While out for my regular noon-time walk when something caught my eye just off the edge of the walking path. I looked to my left and saw a very distinctive looking bird perched about 2 feet off the ground on some dead branches. Didn’t know what it was – thought perhaps some sort of flycatcher, but after dinging around on Google, stumbled on the Northern Shrike.

Now that I know more I realize that if I would have looked closer, perhaps I could have seen its lunch impaled on a small twig or branch. The Northern Shrike is a “predatory” songbird. Because it lacks the talons of a raptor, it is known to kill it's preay by impaling it on a twig, branch, or sometimes on barbed wire.

Many great bird photos, including the shot of the Northern Shrike above, at Mike’s Birding and Digiscoping Blog.

This Wikipedia entry shows a Shrike with a rodent mouse impaled on a thorn.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Have You Had Your Flu Shot Yet?

[Image - Wikipedia]


Alex Tabarrok, at Marginal Revolution has this to say about flu shots:

People who have the flu spread the virus so getting a flu shot not only reduces the probability that I will get the flu it reduces the probability that you will get the flu. In the language of economics the flu shot creates an external benefit, a benefit to other people not captured by the person who paid the costs of getting the shot. The external benefits of a flu shot can be quite large. Under some conditions each person who is vaccinated reduces the expected number of other people who get the flu by 1.5.


OK - better call the Dr and schedule the poke.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mmm - This Looks Good


[Photo: Simply Breakfast]

I’m a sucker for these sorts of things – where someone takes a daily photo of what would normally be seen as a mundane event or task. These are actually quite beautiful – in addition to making one hungry.

Now read the book –Simply Breakfast.

Via J-Walk Blog.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Bundt Cake Bliss


It's been a while since I blogged about our friend Susanna. These days we see her in her new role as successful author:

Growing up the daughter of a Methodist minister, Susanna Short remembers church potlucks with the dessert table filled with Bundt cakes.

“In the Midwest, you just see them everywhere,” said Short, a professional caterer whose first cookbook, Bundt Cake Bliss: Delicious Desserts from Midwest Kitchens,” is due in bookstores by Nov. 15, which just happens to be National Bundt Day.

November 15 - Mark your calendars!

Oh - and the Hobbled Wife invites you to visit the Minnesota Historical site to enter your memories about Bundt Cakes.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Flurries!

Two seasons met on my noon-time walk. Flurries began to fall as I stepped over a grasshopper on the walking path. The grasshopper was hopping very slowly along the asphalt walking path - - probably the only warm surface left.

Just Another Newspaper?

Interesting article in todays Stribune about Minnpost.com - the soon to be released vehicle for former StarTribbers and others.

Minnpost.com hopes to prove that the Internet isn't just for kids anymore. The news website, scheduled to debut this week, will rely heavily on veteran Minnesota journalists, many of whom were on the job when typewriters were all the rage.


These guys may be in trouble. Do they really think that up to now the internet has been “just for kids”? Many of us adults have made the transition from typewriters (IBM Selectrics and carbon paper in my first post-college office job) to computers years ago. Does Minnpost really think the internet is one big Myspace culture – full of crazy kids text-messaging each other and sharing videos on YouTube?

During an Oct. 24 launch party, founder Joel Kramer, a former Star Tribune publisher, told visitors to think of this nonprofit project more as a magazine (Slate, Salon) than a newspaper (Star Tribune, Pioneer Press) with a heavy emphasis on personalities. "We're designing ourselves to be a second read," Kramer said. With that in mind, the bulk of new material will post around 11 a.m. every weekday (for the most part, no publishing on the weekend).

A “second read” – must be conceding “first read” status to “the kids”. So they will publish once a day, and not on weekends? Why go online? Sounds like a newspaper to me.

"We're going to focus on lunchtime when we will be the new information," he said. For those who prefer their info the old-fashioned way, hard copies will be available in high-traffic areas in the Twin Cities. Kramer is hoping that companies will reprint these copies on their own and distribute them to their employees. Lots of talent on board, but if you go by the party refreshments -- cheap wine and warm Coronas -- it's going to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants experiment


Oh – I see. It’s still a newspaper. Looks like they have a lot of great writers signed on, why don't they let them loose and see what they can really do?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Post Halloween Blues



Amazing - just a few days ago he was young, vibrant, burning with Halloween spirit. Now it looks like he forgot to put in his dentures - ready for an AARP membership.

Busy day. Mom and the Dude went to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha - further encouraging the Dude's obsession with Raptors. M and I putzed around town, dining at Perkins, then shopping at Rosedale.

I was looking for some new casual clothes I can wear to work. I've given up on expanding my more formal network since every time I wear a tie, I have to answer all sorts of questions about why I've "dressed up". I've resigned myself to khakis from here on out. Still, I wanted something a little different - some way to express my own person al style. OK - Rosedale is probably not the place to find one's individual style - but I tried.

I've decided I'm in an in-between stage. Too old for Banana Republic and Gap - but not quite ready for the J.As Banks - or whatever it's called. In the end, only bought some CDs at Borders - can't tell what CDs since I think I'll save them for Christmas gifts.

Came home - raked, mowed, and tackled buckthorn. After raking the back yard clean, the Dude looked out the window and asked where the leaves had gone. He was incensed that I'd cleaned up "his pile" of leaves. He got his shoes, ran out into the yard, found the bag of leaves, and proceeded to dump it in the "special spot" under the tree.

Too bad I didn't grab the camera for that.

Past Few Days



Beautiful Halloween - cool, a little windy, but clear - about 50 degrees or so at Trick-or-Treat time.



Friday night - boy's night - as Mom and M were off with Girl Scouts. Lots of time to build space-ships, etc. with pattern blocks. There's a very long story about the structure and the smaller "ships" flying alongside, but I don't recall the details. Some things are best left to the 7 year old mind.



Dude snapped this photo during our "jam session", me on the guitar and the Dude on tin-whistle. Probably a good thing we didn't record it.

We wrapped up the night with a almost a good hour of Harry Potter Uno - what a crazy Friday night.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I’m (Still) Not Joel Hodgson



It's crazy the way the mind works sometimes.

MST3K – saw that abbreviation in a buzz.mn comment and thought, “Where had I seen that before?” Googled it - oh yeah, Mystery Science Theater Three Thousand, I remember that show.

That brought back another memory – how I was once mistaken for MST3K host Joel Hodgson. He’s a Twin Cities guy from way back – comedy clubs in the 80s I believe. Anyway, I was in law school, living near Loring Park, walking home from class when a young woman stops me on the street.

“You’re Joel Hodgson right?” she asks. She’s a little flustered and kind of giggly – apparently a big fan.

“No, sorry – must look like him.”

“Wow, you really look like Joel Hodgson. Do you know him?” I never understood why just because I looked like him I should know him.

Anyway we stood there making odd conservation for a while, and I finally broke it off to go home to study.

What a nerd! She was probably using that Joel Hodgson line just to talk to me, and even if she wasn’t, I probably could have faked like I knew him anyway. No wonder I didn’t get married until I was 32 – not the best at detecting the signals.

Anyway that was all B.S. – Before Shana that is.

UPDATE: Just found this via MNSpeak: Powered by the orginal cast of MST3K - a new venture, "Cinematic Titanic". Good luck Joel - you good lookin' guy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy Anniversary

On our 13th wedding anniversary, I’m happy to say that I’m still learning new things about my wife. This time through the blog she shares with friends. I had no idea she expected to hate Lion King. I’m glad to hear she didn’t pop for the $45 T-Shirt.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Swallowed by Leaves


The Dude "helping" me rake leaves earlier this afternoon.

Scout Camp


[The Dude and a friend on the hike down from "Friendship Point".]

The Dude and I spent the weekend at Camp Phillippo near Cannon Falls, MN. It's an annual event where the Boy Scouts of Troop 150 "host" the Cub Scouts of Pack 150. The highlight of the weekend is the turkey roast on Saturday. They dig a pit, line it with rocks and drop two 14 pound birds (heavily wrapped in foil) into the pit and cover it with coals. This cooks for 2 hours and 15 minutes - all the while tended by scouts who keep burning logs to make coals, and then pouring coals into the pit.

It was delicious - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and corn. "Cub Scout Thanksgiving" according to the Dude.

[Building the tripod.]

There was a lot of outdoor stuff - building a tripod - I'm not sure what we would ever use the tripod for - it was mostly an exercise in knot-tying. We took a hike to "Friendship Point" with it's commanding view of the Cannon River valley. The boys mostly messed around, making up games and running through the woods.

[The view from the top of Friendship Point - looking west toward Northfield and Carleton - of course.]

We also were asked to do a one-hour service project - removing Buckthorn. We pulled a lot of Buckthorn. The trouble is we didn't apply herbicide so it will be back next year stronger than ever. One of the dads is a professional forester and it drove him crazy that we weren't really solving the problem, but the kids had a blast identifying Buckthorn so the Dad's could saw and hack it down.

[Phoning home to report on the deluxe accommodations Saturday night.]

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Once a Runner, Always a Runner

I obviously can’t break my addition to running. Even when I’m not running, which is 99% of the time; I still love a good running story.

Here’s a cool site that seems to exist simply to tell the stories of Minnesota runners. Last night I spent the better part of an hour reading through his stories. I loved the Steve Hoag story.

Steve Hoag was 2nd in Boston 1975, with a 2:11 – behind Bill Rodgers at 2:09:55 (where Bill stopped to tie his shoes several times). Steve went on to found Marathon Sports, a great old MN running store. Small world story, he now helps coach cross-country at Richfield High School – my alma mater.

For anyone interested in competitive running in Minnesota from a historical perspective, it’s a great interview. Can’t believe it’s “historical” since I lived it myself. Sigh!

Here's a sample:

I’m always curious what the “Old School” runners think about all the training terminology (lactate threshold, anaerobic threshold, tempo runs, heart rate monitors and the different zones, etc.) that gets thrown around now-a-days?

I admit I break out into a cold sweat when I hear terms like lactate and anaerobic threshold. We had days when we ran very hard for varying distances, we had intervals – long and short, we had long aerobic days of 15-30 miles and we had easy “filler” days to rest and help get our mileage totals up. We were just not real scientific about it.


Does he still run?

My “running” is based on the “gentleman’s 3”: slow, easy running for 3 miles, usually on trails or grass.


Sounds like me - The Hobbled Gentleman.

Friday, October 19, 2007

2 Mile Challenge


Found this cool tool at The Deets. It's a map-generator that lays out a 2 mile radius from your home (or any address you enter). The idea is that most of our commuting takes place close to home - and couldn't we bike or walk - or use some other fuel saving mode of transportation.

As I may have mentioned before, I've tried to do more bike errands. I'm limited by weather (yes - I know not everyone is), and by the fact that many of my short errands involve ferrying kids around - often at night. Bike purists would see those as very lame excuses - but I don't really care. On the other hand, the map does make me pause and wonder what I can do by bike. Maybe I need to accessorize (or pimp my ride) with new baskets or something.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rainy Days and Teacher Conferences

The Hobbled Runner was home with the kids today as this is day-one in the four day weekend known as "MEA" - for Minnesota Education Association" - though I'm not even sure if the MEA actually holds it's annual conference this Thursday and Friday. (Yes - they do, but they are called "Education Minnesota" - though their web site is down.)

What this means is a four-day weekend for everyone in the Hobbled Household. The Dude's private school (in St. Paul) follows the St. Paul public schools schedule so they were off even though their teachers aren't members of the MEA. For the record, the Dude's teachers were hard at work holding parent/teacher/student conferences. We attended two today - one with the Dude's "regular" teacher, and one with his music teacher. All is well - thank God - it's hard to remember how unsatisfied we were last year before we switched schools.

The kids and I "dined" at Perkins for brunch, then went to see the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit at the Minnesota Institute of Arts. I never heard of Georgia until I was in my 20's - my how times have changed. Both kids are very familiar with Ms. O'Keefe and her work so it was fun to see her stuff with the experts.



I wasn't familiar with her whole "Pelvis" series, but the MIA displayed several works on this theme - very interesting, though the kids were a little creeped out by the fact that it was based on a body part.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Speaking of Food

This is very interesting, a photo series of people and their breakfasts. OK - maybe not interesting to everyone. I just get a kick out of seeing how people really live their lives. The Internet is such an interesting place.

Lots of carbs there :)

Source: kottke.org

Those Darn Cavemen

Those Darn Cavemen – they led the good life. Over the past few months, I become interested (you might say obsessed) with what some call the Paleo or Evolutionary ways of examining our diets and fitness routines.

Short version: The idea is that human beings evolved over millions of years and most of that time we spent as hunter-gatherers. Only very recently, with the advent of modern farming, have we begun to “enjoy” more refined foods. Therefore, say the Paleo/Evolutionary folks, our physical, mental, and genetic make-up is still geared to the food and lifestyle of hunter-gatherers. Despite our modern trappings, we our still best suited to chasing down game, and rooting around for vegetables and fruit. Our bodies, and minds, don’t know what to do with the stresses of modern life, our lack of exercise, and the tremendous abundance of food – most of which our evolutionary make-up cannot properly handle. Take us out of cubicles and cars, strip us of our latest fashions, and we still are best suited for fight or flight responses to stress, gorging on food when available, and going hungry during lean times. The problem is that we are presented with stress all the time, food (some of it not so good) is everywhere, and we don’t know what real hunger is.

From a dietary point of view, evolutionary folks are very anti-carbohydrate. They avoid carbs at all costs. The purists don’t even eat the “good” carbs, e.g. 100% whole wheat, organic, bread would be off limits because our Paleo ancestors never grew flour for milling and baking bread.

I stumbled on this community while researching cholesterol. One of the contributing factors to my high cholesterol was my elevated triglycerides. (Your cholesterol reading is comprised of HDL, LDL, and Triglycerides.) Triglycerides are greatly impacted by sugar. The more sugar you consume, triggering some sort of insulin reaction (I’m still fuzzy on the science), the higher your Triglycerides, and the higher your cholesterol reading.

Many of refined foods (breads, modern fruits) have lots and lots of carbohydrates. So in attempt to reduce my Triglycerides, I set out to cut carbohydrates. I’m not perfect. I still enjoy “good” bread/toast for breakfast, but I try to avoid bread, or anything made with flour after that. I'm not perfect. As a matter of fact, I’m drinking a beer as I type this. No one’s perfect. But I cut way back, and my Triglycerides and Cholesterol went down. I also lost a lot of weight.

The idea of the Paleo-enthusiasts is that if eat more like our ancestors (meat, nuts, plenty of vegetables and some fruits) that we would be more healthy. So I do - I eat more meat, ton's of servings of vegetables, my usual 3 or 4 fruits a day, all the while trying to avoid (but not eliminate) carbs.

Lately the Paleos’ anti-carb crusade got a big boost from the release of Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. In his book, Taubes examines the conventional wisdom that low fat, high carb diets are good for us – better than diets high in fat (the way we “used to eat” – bacon and eggs for breakfast every day, meat at every meal, real butter, etc.).

As pointed out by William Souder in the Star-Tribune last week:

Here's how Taubes explains it: When you consume carbohydrates, your body responds by flooding your bloodstream with the hormone insulin. Fat cells, highly responsive to insulin, readily convert calories to additional fat in its presence -- and resist giving those calories back as fuel. At the same time, persistently high levels of insulin reduce the responsiveness of nonfat cells, creating an insulin resistance that is a precursor for diabetes. Meanwhile, certain carbohydrates -- especially fructose -- are transformed by the liver into triglycerides, which strongly correlate with heart disease.


So, as for diet, I’ve gone Paleo – to a certain extent. I enjoy it; I find I experience fewer ups and downs that come with consuming carbs – no sugar highs and lows. I seldom crave bad carbs, but I do have a hankering for cereal now and then. I fully realize – as I am often reminded – that it is not so easy for others.

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is now a Paleo look at depression.

According to Stephen Ilardi, Ph.D,

“There’s increasing evidence that we were never designed for our sedentary, socially isolated, indoor, sleep-deprived, poorly nourished lifestyles.”


As he states later in the article,

“We’ve been engineering the activity out of our lives,” . . . “the levels of bright-light exposure – time spent outdoors – have been declining.”


Source Dr. Helen

The article goes on to say that fresh air and exercise can help alleviate depression - something I've notice myself. Another good reason to get in touch with your inner hunter-gather.

I’ve intentionally avoided blogging about my efforts to implement some sort of Evolutionary fitness practices. My recent sprinting post highlights one effort in that direction. I can leave that discussion for later.

Web Helps Music Industry

- - only if that music is classical music.

Alex Ross writes in the New Yorker that classical music is actually getting a lift from the web. I for one never read anything about classical music - and still don't listen that often - but here I am at Terry Teachout's About Last Night, linking to Jeremy Dink, who links to the New Yorker.

Great quote - note related to classical music - by Denk:

“Like many people, I started blogging out of an urgent need to procrastinate.”


Oh, for the record, Jeremy Dink is not Yo Yo Ma.

Friday, October 12, 2007

You Say Gag-Knee, I Say Gon-Ya



Big doin's at the Minnesota Historical Society - where the Hobbled Wife goes every day to "make history". We (meaning every good Minnesotan) is celebrating the Sesquicentennial- the 150th birthday of the North Star State. It's one big party - let me tell ya - MN150 they call it.

A few days ago she was reading the list of folks who planned on being at last night's opening (members-only) event. It was an impressive list.

"Hey, who's Vern Gag-Knee?" she asks.

"You mean Vern Gon-Ya, the famous professional wrestler," I quickly responded.

That's Vern Gagne (picture at top). Not to be confused with Greg Gagne (pronounced Gag-Knee) famous Twins player (below). Anyway - Vern was one of the 150, Greg was not.



Here's what the MNHS folks had to say about Vern:

Verne Gagne's succesful wrestling career at the University of Minnesota was just the beginning. He turned pro in 1949, and through the new medium of television, became a national sports star by the 1950s, capturing several heavyweight titles and becoming one of the nation's highest-paid wrestlers. In 1960, Gagne formed the American Wrestling Association as a promotional vehicle for his sport-and, overnight, became its biggest star. By the time he retired in 1981 Gagne had won 10 World Heavyweight Championship titles.


And to make matters more confusing, the Wrestler Vern had a son who was also a famous wrestler - named (of course) Greg.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Richfield Gets a Target



Yes - another Target post. I knew that they were opening a new Super Target in Richfield - just 4 blocks from the Hobbled Homestead. Didn't know they were calling it Cedar Point Commons - very high and mighty name. {More info here.) I recall the old "point" as the intersection of 66th Street and Cedar Avenue, with the Municipal Liquor store on one corner, and a Standard Gas Station across the street (now buried by the Super Target). One half-block to the north was the old "Soft Touch Sauna" - Richfield's first health club (cough!).



Of course a lot has changed since the days of the old Tom-Tom Drive In - located just 2 blocks north of the present day Cedar Point Commons. This is an old photo from the Richfield Historical Society (highly recommended) - but I have a vague memory of visiting the Tom-Tom with my father. That must have been before my brother was born - so pre-1965.

They have some interesting statuary at Cedar Point Commons. Found some cool pictures on Flickr - but couldn't post them to the blog for some reason.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Big, expensive, salad

Today I paid $7.37 for salad at lunch. That might not be much for you – but we have a “corporate subsidized” cafeteria. It’s rare to pay more than $5.00 per meal. Milk and ice-tea are free, and we get free fruit (2 pieces) on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Anyway – $7.37 – I was shocked. That’s a full $2 more than I’d ever paid before. Our salad bar is a build-your-own deal, and the cashier weighs the salad and charges customers accordingly.

When the cashier said the price, I blurted out “Wow, $7.37?” She replied, “Yes, the plates weigh more than the boxes.”

Fascinating – I’d never heard that using a glass plate versus the Styrofoam boxes take-away boxes would make a difference. It shouldn’t. Isn’t the scale calibrated to take into account the plate/box??? Maybe it was a bad scale.

In the end, it was very busy, and I couldn’t figure out a good way to challenge her – I probably should have asked her to re-weigh it on another scale – so I paid the price and moved along.

Later I did the math. At 30 cents an ounce, that works out to 24.5 ounces or 1 ½ pounds of salad – spinach, mixed greens, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot shavings, sliced ham, soy nuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, and olive oil. OK, maybe it was 1 ½ pounds – but still!

For the record it was a damn fine salad. Tomorrow I try another cashier.

Dale's Back!



Buzz reports on the grand-opening of the new Super Target in Edina, near Southdale. Good news for all - Dale is back. When we lived in South Mpls, this was "our" Target (talking about pre Super Target days). It was either the Edina Target or Lake Street Target. I preferred the Target that didn't have to have armed off-duty Mpls Police Officers at the door.

This is also the Target closest to my Mom's house - about 4 blocks to the north. I suspect she's happy as well.

Oh, this is one of 61 Targets opened today. Sixty-One!!!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Do I Get a Whistle?

The Hobbled Runner's life keeps taking crazy turns. The latest chapter has yours truly in the role of assistant basketball coach. Yes, that's right. I'm finally being recognized for my basketball skills - Hah!

Back-story: The Dude has registered for basketball. This will be his first year, and we are a little concerned about whether he will actually follow through as the season approaches.

Enter - family friend Mark. Now Mark has coached both kids' soccer and volleyball teams. Last week Mark emailed asking if I was interested in being an assistant coach with the team he is head coaching.

For some reason I said, "Yes". There are several reasons. With me as assistant, they will assign the Dude to my team. That should alleviate any anxiety he might have about playing basketball. (Fingers crossed) I also enjoy working with kids - and I've been assured I don't need to know anything about the sport.

I did warn Mark that I had never played organized basketball as a kid, and I had never even participated in office Final Four betting pools. I'm like a clean slate, ready to start from scratch.

When do I get my whistle? - - or maybe that's only for the Refs??

Come to think of it, I don't have any court shoes. Do people still wear Chuck Taylors?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Gasp, Pant, Altitude!

Wow - I'm not in MN anymore. After the various sessions this afternoon, I went for a little walk/run deal. Covered about 3 miles tops - lots more walking than running. Lots of panting on my part. I forgot about the impact some real altitude can have on a part-time runner.

After my run I reported for duty - cocktail hour and poker match. Needless to say I didn't play poker, but did enjoy the free beverages. For the record I was the only guy in "business casual" attire. Apparently when the sessions are over you can wear jeans - and this sales group is a pretty funky bunch. Oh well, didn't take me long to adjust - and I never did take off my sportcoat!

No real exciting dinner news to report, though they had homemade vanilla bean ice cream for dessert - very nice.

The post-dinner activity is a "Casino Night". I pass.

A little more work tommorrow and fly out at 2:00.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Reporting from Colorado



All is well from Colorado Springs. Just returned from a night of fine dining at Walters. Have a very nice room overlooking the golf course and the mountains.

Several colleagues and I slipped away from the regular sales meetings - just lots of awards, etc. -- for a nice dinner at Walters. May I recommend the Scallops (appetizer) and Colorado Lamb? We all have presentations at the crack of dawn tomorrow, so it was best to avoid all the revelery.

Once a birder, always a birder: During the cocktail hour on the terrace, someone remarked about the strange birds flying overhead. The Hobbled Runner was quick to ID them as Magpies. The ID was easy since I had seen a bunch in the Badlands of SD last month.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

School Days

Time to post about school. Surveys show that most fans of Hobbled Runner attended school – so there’s an instant connection. Also, I hope that by posting about school and education, and using terms like school and education over and over again, my Google Ads will change for the better, I will banish that beer-bearing hussy that often appears in my right pane Ads.

I haven’t posted much about kids and school lately, because things are going well – generally. M seems to be settling in to the new routine that is 5th grade. She has a new teacher this year. This is a tremendous improvement on the less than stellar arrangement she was in for grades 3 and 4 when she had the same teacher and classmates for two years running. I won’t belabor that – it’s water under the bridge – and besides, I don’t think the teacher is a public figure for defamation purposes (you lawyers out there know what I’m getting at.)

The Dude still has his moments. We haven’t noticed any outright “School Avoidance” as it’s known, but he did report an interesting classroom control tactic. At one point yesterday, the entire class had to miss “learning time” because 2 or 3 kids were acting up. Translation: They all sat in silence because 2 or 3 kids were being disruptive. I’m not sure how long the silence lasted, and I don’t know if the few troublemakers got the message, but the Dude was upset. This seems to be a very ineffective discipline tactic. Why punish the whole, for the sins of a few? Are the “good” kids expected to take these 2 or 3 aside at recess and administer some sort of rough justice so it doesn’t happen again? I highly doubt that – given the school’s general mission.

The Hobbled Family has spent a great deal of time trying to redirect the Dude’s attention and sensitivity to what’s going on around him in the classroom. To his credit, he’s a very emphatic kid. He worries a lot about what other kids are doing: Why are they acting up? Why don’t they want to learn? But that much concern for one’s fellows can create a lot of stress and anxiety, energy better spent learning. We’ve been pretty successful keeping him focused on what he can control (his own actions), and setting aside what he can’t control (other kids’ disruptive behavior).

So now we have to coach him through the classroom silence event. He and I discussed it while driving to school this morning. I told him it was a pretty ineffective way to handle a class, thus introducing the theme that adults don’t always make the best choices. I suggested that we could talk to the teachers involved. “No, don’t do that,” he said. “You can always tell when someone’s parents have contacted the teacher, because then the teacher has to take them aside and discuss the issue.”

I asked, “What would you have done differently?” and he relayed the story of how his P.E. teacher handles similar events.

His PE teacher handles miscreants by making only the trouble-makers sit-out for a short time. That seems the right message – you are responsible for your own actions. If you act up (cheat, don’t play by rules), you will be asked to sit out a few minutes. Your classmates will not suffer at your expense.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Popcorn, War, and Strep Throat – in no particular order of importance

It was a relaxing weekend of sorts around the Hobbled household. It was a rainy weekend which discouraged the sort of frenzied outdoor activities witnessed over the past two weekends. To make matters worse, I discovered that I have strep throat. That gave me an excuse to take it easy. I had been feeling crappy for several days, but since I didn’t have a fever or any great aches and pains – like the Dude – I thought I was in the clear. The Hobbled Wife talked me into visiting the MD and having a throat culture – and sure enough “Positive”.

Kids (and parents) are crazy about a “new” method of making popcorn. We discovered the recipe in Cooking Light magazine. Sorry – unable to link directly to recipe, but it’s easy enough to recreate: One half cup of popcorn into a paper lunch bag. Tape the bag shut, place the bag in microwave and cook for about 2 ½ minutes – or until the “pops” come about 5 seconds apart. I think what the kids liked best was when the bag exploded in the microwave (OK – ½ cup was too much, or the bad was too little – better use 1/3 next time). They also enjoyed melting the butter, and pouring it over the popcorn with salt. The kids refer to this as the “old fashioned way” of making popcorn. Yeah, right.

Spent some time at my Mom’s on Sunday, and started looking through some of my Dad’s old pictures from WWII. He has an interesting collection of Nazi propaganda photos – I think they were intended for use as postcards, though I’m not sure. These were “looted” (his words) from a large, abandoned German house. He and a buddy split a photo album, taking the propaganda shots, along with some personal photos. The personal photos are images of German soldiers – mostly officers – taken in the field – some battle scenes, and at a sort of camp or military school. I hope to get these scanned (my scanner does not work), and post them.

Also came across some photos of my Dad during this era – both state-side and in Germany. But the big discovery was the journal my Dad constructed after-the-fact. According to my Mom, he decided later in life to write down his war memories as best he could recall – before he forgot them. She tells me that he had almost completed the work, but tore it all up and started over again. She doesn’t know why he did that.

I plan to type these memories up. It’d be nice to be able to post some memories with the pictures – but don’t expect anything real soon.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Update - Sick Kid - Again

Well the Dude is sick again, strep throat. He has yet to experience a full week of school this fall - being sick at least one day each week. Very unlike him.

Not only does he miss school, but the other activities as well. Choir for example, they've met three times, he's only been there once. Karate - attended last week's first session, sick this week.

For my part I feel pretty good - tired, but what's new. Very busy at work, as I'm traveling next week and am working with colleagues on a presentation for that event. Upside - this is the first business trip in over a year where I won't have to change planes. I'm the king of airport transfers and I'm getting pretty tired of it. This time - MSP to COS (Colorado Springs) and home again. The one nice thing about my company, when we travel, we don't stay at no Super-8.

Lucky Bastards

This explains all the dead bees on our windowsill.

It's easy to tell if a drone is still a virgin--because it's still alive. Once they mate with a queen, they die in process.


We have a nest outside and for some reason they work themselves indoors and die. The inside ones that are still alive are so slow you can pick them up and they don’t complain – no stinging. They are just waiting to die I guess.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Guilt - Gets You Coming and Going

Enjoyed this from Tyler Cowen in the Marginal Revolution:

My wife, a PhD microbiologist, told me once that when she was at work she felt guilty about not being at home with the kids and when she was at home with the kids she felt guilty about not being at work.

… [skipped the good stuff, read it yourself] …

As I wrote this post, I asked my wife about her feeling guilty at home and at work but she told me she no longer feels this way. "Really?" I asked, "Why not?"
"I decided to act more like a man and get over it," she responded."


True for me - Don't know how the Hobbled Wife feels about it.

Watching the War

OK - I always say I'm not going to get caught up in the latest Ken Burns thing. How many times can you listen to famous actors reading soldiers' letters home, while old film footage runs in the background? But - for whatever reason, I fall for it every time.

Last night the Dude and I were watching together. You have to be careful, some of the footage is hard to watch for a 7 year old (and a 45 year old for that matter). He asked me why I was interested in the war. I told him that Grandpa (my Dad) had fought in the war. He had forgotten that.

As we were watching a particularly raging battle scene he said, "Grandpa did THAT?"

"Yes, I guess so," was my lame response. My Dad told me a number of stories - but not all of them I'm sure. I recall a few:

Sneaking through a German town, running from building to building, hiding in doorways so they wouldn't get picked off by German snipers. As they crept along, being careful not expose themselves, some little old lady steps out into the street and heads out across the town square laden down with bags like she was on her way home from the market. He recalled how the Americans just stopped and watched her. My Dad said that some of the Germans were so used to war that nothing stopped them from going about their "normal" lives.

As a kid I was always fascinated by my Dad'stories about his squad determined who would go first across open fields. Apparently sometimes it's just too much work to go around, but they didn't dare just send everyone across fearing snipers. My Dad often volunteered - as did other single guys without wives and families. The first time he crossed an open field, he went very slow, gun at the ready, dropping to the ground every time he thought he heard a noise. It took forever, but all was clear. Later on, he just walked across the open fields - he figured that he didn't stand much of chance if anyone was really waiting to get them anyway.

All this WWII stuff got me thinking. My Dad kept some pictures from the War. I might try to scan them and post them on the blog. We don't have the world's greatest scanner, but it's worth a try.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Faster, Faster

The Hobbled Runner found this interesting:

If you could only do one thing for your body - - -

You should sprint for your exercise. It is fun, builds coordination, and will make you stronger and leaner. The damage to your joints is far less than jogging and it is more effective than walking. Sprinting trains anaerobic and aerobic pathways, but with less oxydative load than jogging.


Now that I think of it, I do enjoy sprinting. I don't often sprint, but I have noticed that my knees don’t hurt while sprinting after Frisbees with the kids. If my knees are hurting, I usually feel if more when jogging than sprinting.

Interesting – fast (sprint) and slow (walk) are relatively pain free – maybe I should listen more to my own body.

This DeVany guy is one of those paleo-lifestyle folks. He stresses eating and exercising like our ancestors, and by ancestors he doesn’t mine great-grandpa Nels from the old country – he is talking about our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

Fascinating stuff – I’m hooked on his blog – and those of fellow travelers.

Crazy Weather

[photo from StarTribune]

The Dude and I here coming home from Karate last night (that’s the subject of another post), when we hit “weather”. The drive should have taken less than 10 minutes – but we had to keep diverting and circling back because the “usual” routes were flooded and police were diverting traffic. The whole time it’s raining cats and dogs and circus animals. We finally give up and wait it out in the Bylerly’s parking lot. The entire time we are listening to WCCO – which is what you do in MN when the weather is bad. (That’s about the only reason I listen anymore now that the Twins have moved to KSTP – the subject of yet another post – could be a busy weekend.) I was afraid the coverage would scare the Dude – but he was OK as long as I kept explaining the Eagan, Inver Grove Heights, etc. were “far away” and the storms were moving off into Wisconsin anyway.

Lileks at Buzz sums it up:

I did what we all do: turned on CCO. It’s the law. Sure enough, two guys were taking calls from people all around the city, reporting in: tree limbs down! Standing water! Rotation! Green clouds! I heard reports of twisters in Eagan, a twister descending at 494 and Penn – the exact place we’d intended to visit before the storm hit and canceled our Target plans. (False alarm, as it turns out.) You can’t quite suppress the sense of excitement. It’s the last one thing that unifies us; it’s happening now; it’ll be over soon, and there’s no one who’s to blame. Weather is the antithesis of politics.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

How Do You Say, "Brush Your Teeth" in French?


This is interesting:

ONE OF the tired cliches about Europe is that its inhabitants all have mossy teeth, and have limited enthusiasm for matters of personal hygiene. This is a deporable generalisation, and not a serious subject for discussion. That said... crikey there is a jaw-dropping piece in today's Le Figaro, tucked away in the health pages (alas, not seemingly available on the internet).

. . .

57% of French children under five have never brushed their teeth


Yikes! Via Megan McArdle at the Atlantic.

Looks like a job for Prof. Colin Jones.

I have followed up my article on 'Tooth-pulling in Eighteenth-Century Paris', Past and Present, 2001, with interdisciplinary research which will lead on to other publication and a book on the cultural history of the smile.


God I love the Internet. Found the info on Prof. Jones while searching for appropriate image.

Car Free Saturday?


I’m usually not one to hug trees, but I think I could pull this off,

Every September 22, people from around the world get together in the streets, intersections, and neighbourhood blocks to remind the world that we don't have to accept our car-dominated society.


- via Modern Forager.

Actually I can probably do this. Saturday morning we have soccer practice – well actually I don’t have soccer practice but the Dude does. We ride our bikes to the local park. I will make an effort to ride my bike on any other errands – better buy beer on Friday!

Note – source of funny tree hug photo,