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,

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


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 - the soon to be released vehicle for former StarTribbers and others. 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 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.