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


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" thaws, no significant melting in sight....temperatures trend well below average into much of next week