Thursday, May 24, 2007

Busy Guy

Been very busy at work, and home these past few days. Haven't had much time to blog - let alone read other blogs!

Leaving Friday AM for "The Cabin" - first trip up this year. It will also be the first trip without the H&J - the Hobbled In-Laws. Don't worry, we will be just fine up there "all alone". We know what to do, as this recent email from the Hobbled Wife shows:

OK, I'm on the phone with Jake who is giving me instructions for the cabin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let's see....
How to turn on the pump, how start the water heater, turn on the heaters, check the sand point, pull the sheets off the window, turn on the fireplace, where the key is EXACTLY. Plus, in case I'm not able to remember all this, there are written instructions on the table.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Marbles - Back in Class Again

This NYT article has been making the rounds lately. The sis-in-law sent it to me over the weekend, and now I see Althouse has picked up the theme.

Speaking of "old-fashioned" kids' play: The younger kids at the Dude's new school are obsessed with marbles. Not sure how, when, or why it started, but they collect them, trade them, and carry them wherever they go. A common sound around the school is the sound of marbles hitting the linoleum - and a teacher saying something like, "Now who's going to pick those up?"

On Saturday, the Dude had a friend over. It was warm and sunny, so I chased them out of the house to play. While I tended to some gardening they rode around the driveway on bikes, trikes, scooters - anything with wheels since the object of the game was to wipe out as many ants as possible. Yes - good, old-fashioned, unstructured play.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Prairie Overnight

The classes at the Dude's school are all given "habitat-type" names. The Dude's class is called "Prairie". They enjoyed their annual overnight trip Thursday/Friday at Camp Pepin - on Deer Island at Lake Pepin in the Mississippi River. The weather was beautiful - and the kids (15 in number) were great. I'm kind of pooped right now - and hope to get a little more sleep tonight than last night.

[Consulting the rings on a tree.]

[The Dude and a buddy use all their senses -- but sight-- to learn more about trees.]

[Rock hunting - one of the Dads knew a thing or two about rocks, so we spent much of our free time at "the beach" looking for agates.]

[Hmm - Smores!]

[A very tired "Prairie" awaits further instruction.]

Fun fact: We tasted the needles of both White Pine and Red Pine trees. The group as a whole preferred the White Pine over the Red.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


The kids and neighbor play P.I.G. - ignoring Dad's calls to come in and get ready for bed.

Rocket Night

The Dude and fellow scout stand safely behind the yellow line, at the "last" Cub Scout event of the year - the annual model rocket launch and ice cream social.

[The ice-cream was self-serve.]

I say "last" in quotes - because it never really ends. We have a two night camping trip scheduled for late July.

Homework - A Novel Approach

Our next door neighbor took advantage of the beautiful weather to review her spelling words.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Really Big Show


It was a busy weekend as M and the Dude appeared both Friday and Saturday night in The Vienna Community Arts production of The Secret Garden.

M was wonderful as the Nurse, and the Dude was a hit as young Matt Sowerby.
Posted by Picasa

The Dude (far right) - Live and On Stage

Cast Party - very late light!

The Legendary Jim Ruiz

Here's a nice video of the Legendary Jim Ruiz. I've known Jim since high school, he's a former Richfield High School cross country teammate of my younger brother. I only see Jim about once a year, when I play poker with my brother's old running buddies.

Monday, May 07, 2007

So Sad

This is not surprising, but it is sad nonetheless - the Star Tribune announced more lay offs today - this time 145 including 50 in the newsroom. That alone isn't that surprising considering the state of dead-tree journalism. What hurts me personally is the reassigning of Lileks:

[T]hey've killed my column, and assigned me to write straight local news stories.


The Lileks decision I can understand. His work at the paper has always been somewhat "less than" (I mean they call his column "The Quirk" for gods-sake) his online presence. If you read the Bleat on a regular basis, you see the beginnings of all the cool stuff that later hits the Quirk anyway. I suspect he's always been too politically conservative to have front-and-center at the Strib.

But putting aside Lileks, it looks like they might be shuffling all the columnists, including the gossip gal (Cheryl Johnson or CJ) the two liberals (Grow and Coleman) and the one token conservative (Kersten):

The newspaper’s reorganization may also include reassigning one of the paper’s four local columnists — Cheryl Johnson, Doug Grow, Katherine Kersten and Nick Coleman. The newspaper also expects to reduce its editorial staff by five staffers to seven.

Why gut the columnists? Who reads the paper for the "news" anyway. What's left? More "Source" articles and how-to tips?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Two Signs of Summer

Only three days into May and already I know summer is here:

1. Tuesday, I picked the first woodtick off the back of my neck. May 1 - that's a record!

2. I mowed the lawn tonight - first time, great smell - nothing quite like gas and exhaust mingled with cut grass.

I'm Shivering Just Thinking of It

I love this picture. It shows that even big strong guys wear waders when standing waist deep in ice-cold water in May. THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO PUT IN A DOCK. Someone alert the father-in-law.

Sorry - got carried away but it won't be long now - time to put in the dock at the in-laws cabin.

The Hobbled Wife said that I just had to blog about this.

May: Time to put in the dock. All over Minnesota, families will be coming together to curse, sprain joints, drop tools to lake bottoms and experience the thrill of icy water over the top of one's waders.

Sure, it's a tradition. But George Jukish thinks some Minnesotans are happy to outsource it. "Most of them come up here to relax," said Jukish, who installs docks and boat lifts on Bay Lake, Gull Lake and the Whitefish Chain in the Brainerd area. "The last thing they want to do is spend their weekend messing with a dock and lift system."

Hah - he doesn't know my father-in-law. The first thing he'll want to do is spend his (and my) weekend messing with a dock.

In the old days, Jukish said, that might have taken four people, stumbling with a lift down a steep bank and scraping through shoreline landscaping and muscling it into place. [He must have seen us last year.] Everyone on Jukish's crew still gets in the water to assemble docks, but the team is quick: Last week it assembled a 17-section dock with two boat lifts, two personal watercraft hoists, a bench and a ladder in 45 minutes.

45 minutes - and such a big job - I could weep!

Getting Better

The Hobbled Wife had a nice chat with the asst-principal at M's school. We feel better. We know we did the right thing. For the record, M's teacher did read the entire article - word-for-word. Sheesh!

If M survives 4th grade with her self-esteem intact, it will be due in large part to the great support she receives from her friends - and the school social worker. M has a wonderful group of girlfriends in her class. They really watch out for each other. My own personal feeling is that M's teacher sees these girls as some sort of "gang" of young hoodlum. Interesting then that today the asst-principal commented on how great this particular group of girls was.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Thinking Best at 3mph

Someone said that man’s brain worked best at 3 mph – or at least I think I recall reading that somewhere. Anyway – it’s fitness challenge time at work and I’m up to the challenge. It’s “Walk and Talk Day” at T-W - this according to a recent announcment:

To celebrate the nicer weather and the snow-free Bluebird Walking Path on the Eagan campus, Eagan Wellness Champions are encouraging employees to participate in “Walk and Talk Day” on May 2. Employees are encouraged find a co-worker they have been meaning to conference with and take the meeting to the walking path.

Alas, no one scheduled a walking meeting today, and I can’t really think of a reason to call one myself. I did my part nonetheless, taking a 2 mile walk at noon, checking my Blackberry from time-to-time. I read an interesting email from a colleague and responded on the walk.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What Would You Do?

What would you do if your child's teacher read this in class?

Marines reject recruit after violent school essay

Associated Press

Last update: April 27, 2007 – 9:01 PM

CHICAGO - Allen Lee was on the verge of realizing a dream to become a Marine after signing enlistment papers this month. But one violent, profanity-laced English essay later, the 18-year-old's future with the Marine Corps appears to be over.

Because of pending criminal charges stemming from his essay, Lee's recruiter told him Friday that the Marine Corps has discharged him from his contract, said Sgt. Luis R. Agostini, spokesman for the Marine Corps Recruiting Station Chicago.

The senior at suburban Cary-Grove High School was charged this week with two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct after the principal turned his creative writing essay over to police.

"In light of recent events [at Virginia Tech], that is part of the context of what happened that makes the reaction all the more reasonable," said Tom Carroll, first assistant state's attorney in McHenry County.

Lee has a 4.2 grade-point average and never has been in trouble before, said his lawyer, Thomas Loizzo.

Loizzo said the charges are a product of paranoia, born of the massacre of 32 students at Virginia Tech by a social outcast who then killed himself.

The essay, written Monday, reads in part, "Blood, sex and booze. Drugs, drugs, drugs are fun. Stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, s...t...a...b...puke. So I had this dream last night where I went into a building, pulled out two P90s and started shooting everyone, then had sex with the dead bodies. Well, not really, but it would be funny if I did."

The charges could result in a $1,500 fine and as many as 30 days in jail if Lee is convicted.


M's teacher has a current events reading most days when she shares something from the morning paper. This one was intended to counter some images the teacher had seen around the class - apparently some students drawing violent images. The lesson is how early things we say and do can come back to get us as we grow older.

M was very upset - shaking and crying in class. We are very upset. The school seems to think we are overreacting.