Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Famous Quakers

With one child in a Quaker (Friends) school, I found this list of famous (and not-so-famous) Quakers interesting. My favorite is a man I never knew by name – until now: Cassius Coolidge, the artist famous for Dogs Playing Poker. As the list maker says,

I really only included "Cash" Coolidge because I have a fondness for his Dogs Playing Poker prints (one used to hang over my puppy's sleeping cushion in my old house). Still, it's pretty interesting to know that the painter was born to abolitionist Quakers in upstate New York, and that he's oft-credited with creating Comic Foregrounds, or those novelty photo scenes you pay $2 to stick your head into, to make your body look muscle-bound at the beach

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Shark Attack

I'm never at the right place at the right time so I miss all the fun. Last Monday, the Dude and I visited Underwater World. Too bad we missed the big event on Friday.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


The “Dad story” took on a new life last night. For the past two months, I’ve been sitting on a very rough draft not sure how to proceed. The Hobbled Wife has been bugging me to post the story to the Minnesota Historical Society’s Greatest Generation site, but I’ve hadn’t really considered her suggestion too seriously. I always figured I would post it there – after it was complete, but I wasn’t really taking steps to complete the story. Yesterday, I finally started messing around on the site, and it inspired me. Now I feel like I have an audience to write for and a reason to edit the darn thing into a presentable format.

Yesterday, while messing around on the site, I found this story about a guy in the same infantry division as my father. They both took different routes to the same place, as my father started out in the Army Air Force, and this guy was Army Infantry from the beginning. For that reason their state-side training experiences were different, but they both landed in Le Havre about the same time, and were engaged in battle around the same time. My favorite quote from this gentleman’s story:

“We ended up in Luxemburg, a country I never knew existed.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

National Pie Day

The Hobbled Wife informed me last night that today was National Pie Day and that she and her colleagues were going out to lunch to celebrate. I have called and emailed her several times today and have yet to receive a response. They must be doing some serious celebrating.

I dare you to try one of the suggested methods of observance:

Pay it forward. Hand out pie slices to strangers and encourage them to do the same for others. It could spread the peace on earth and goodwill to mankind that we all hope for.

Be a good Samaritan. Buy an extra pie at your local grocery store and give it to the person behind you in line. You may just change their life!

Now if I ever went pie-crazy and decided to start a pie blog, this guy has already taken the most appropriate url, Johnny-Likes-Pie.

For what it's worth, my favorite pie-place - The Loon's Nest in Vergas, MN - homemade pies, baked by the locals. Mmm - tasty.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Underwater World – “Cool” say the grownups

It was a busy day yesterday, the MLK holiday, with the kids off school and parents off work. Started the day at the doctor, getting the Dude’s hand X-Rayed. He had injured it Sunday afternoon – in a “fight” with his sister. Monday morning rolled around and he still favored it, meaning he held it out in front of him as he walked around the house – very suspicious looking. The doctor asked him to squeeze her finger, he could barely use that hand to squeeze the doc’s finger. A series of X-Rays came back negative – no breaks, but probably some trauma, strain, sprain on the knuckles and tendons on the back of his hand. Just to keep things interesting, we stopped by Snyder’s on the say home for an ace bandage to wrap the wrist. When we got home, an old friend from his old school had arrived for a play-date.

After lunch, the Dude and I accompanied a (new) school friend and her mother to the Mall of America’s Underwater World. (FYI on the Friends School slide show – click at home page – the friend is the middle one with pig tails on picture 1, the Dude is in orange t-shirt in slide 3 or thereabouts.) The Dude was a little apprehensive to make the trek without Mom or Dad, so I went along. It was very cool. The highlight being the underwater tunnel where you stand on a moving sidewalk (you can step off to observe things more closely if you wish) as it snakes through a huge water tank. The various water wildlife swim around and over you – it’s very intimidating to see a large shark or sting-ray swim about 5 feet over your head. Even the grownups pronounced it “cool”.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Owls, and More Owls

With the Hobbled Wife off for a weekend of winter fun near Goosesberry Falls, the kids and I made the best of it this frigid weekend. We tried to go bowling Saturday - but so did everyone else. Rather than waiting one hour or more for a lane, we proceeded south to Como Park for some indoor warmth in the Conservatory and a chance to say good bye (for now) to the polar bears at the Zoo. Neil and Buzz, the bears, are being moved while their new Polar Bear Odyssey is being built.

Sunday, the Dude and I attended a Raptor Center presentation, All About Owls. The presenter was Sharon Stiteler aka the Birdchick. It was a very well attended - standing room only - about 50 or more in attendance. The Dude, despite being one of 5 in attendance under the age of 12, was not the least bit shy, raising his hand and asking all sorts questions. He really knows his raptors.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Art - It's a Girlie Thing

Enjoyed a cold day away from the office. Since I was going to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to be trained as a "Picture Person" I decided to take the whole day off and enjoy myself. I'm now a trained Art Adventures volunteer:

The Art Adventure Program introduces K-6 students to works of art from a variety of cultures. Trained school volunteers visit classrooms with posters of art relating to a common theme, such as animals, celebrations, or relationships.

Myself and another parent will be presenting at the Dude’s school on the topic of People and their Environments.

Funny (or sad) note: Of the 50 or so parents who showed up from around the Twin Cities for the Arts Adventure training, only 3 were men. I think that in general, volunteering in school is a Mom's job. I've seen Dads participate at both the Dude's and M's school, so I know that they are out there. Maybe it's Art - are men not interested? Hmmm - maybe just an unrepresentative sample. Next time, I'm sure all the Dads will show up.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Cinderella Dressed in Yellow. . . "

Inspired by this article in the StarTribune, I tried jumping rope last night. I only lasted about 10 – 15 minutes. I was pressed for time and it kind of leaves you winded. There is a downside – I have to do it outside (brrr!) as I need a lot of overhead room to swing the rope.

Perhaps this will be another item to add to my growing repertoire of home exercises. I’ve been doing lots of calisthenics (push-ups, crunches, squats, etc), and yoga. I'm also accumulating a variety of dumbbells for weight lifting. I feel pretty good – and I am now rather smug about how I haven’t been a member of a “club” for several years. Really - I just don’t have time to drive somewhere to workout, so I’m adding 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there - - often while watching TV or interacting with kids in evenings. If I get my usual 30 minute lunch-hour walk in at work – and no elevators – up and down 5 floors several times – add some home exercises, and I can get between 40 minutes to one hour of “work-out” time every day.

Now I have to find time to work on my jump rope rhymes.

Video Snacking

It's called video snacking - because of course everything needs a catchy name.

“Go take a walk around your office” at lunchtime, said Alan Wurtzel, head of research for NBC. “Out of 20 people, I’m going to guarantee that 5 are going to be on some sort of site that is not work-related.”

I’d say more than 5 – and it’s not limited to the lunch hour.

1973 - All Over Again

If that last post wasn't enough, Lileks today released his new site devoted to the 1973 Sears Roebuck Catalog. I remember it well - just about our only source for creating The Christmas List.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Skylark - 1974

On several instances lately I've almost drowned in waves of nostalgia. I’ll be driving along and hear a song, or some random thought will just spring up and I suddenly realize – God, I’m getting old. It’s not a bad feeling, kind of bittersweet really.

Today's Almanac entry from Terry Teachout reminded me that I should blog about it. Here Terry quotes Anthony Powell:

"They say you lose your head for nostalgia, as you get older. That's also the time when waves of it come sweeping down without warning. You have to ration yourself, or a sudden dose knocks you out, as it did me."
Anthony Powell, Temporary Kings

A few days ago, I stumbled on the following collection of songs on my new favorite blog, Echoes In The Wind. It's a local blog. He's from St. Cloud I believe.

WARNING - the song links take you to a site where you hear the music. Put on your headphones if you are at work. Also - some of the ads on this site are probably not safe for work (NSFW). I obviously didn't click the ads - but the pics and text are enough. You have been warned.

Wildflower, by Skylark (1974). Christ – how it hits me even now. 1974 – sheesh I was 12 years old, only one year older than M now. Will she be sitting somewhere in 2042, hear some song and think, “Man, that really takes me back.”

Looking down the list, Yikes it's I’m Not Lisa - - oh brother – another one.

Gotta cheer up – at least he links to I Saw Her Standing There, 1. . 2. . 3. . 4. .

Monday, January 14, 2008

Carbon Monoxide Incident

The more I think about this, the more it “bugs” me. M was at a friend’s house on Friday night for a sleepover. While the girls (M and two of her friends) were watching a movie, the Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector sounded. Everyone (M, her two friends, the one friend’s mother, and the friend’s little sister) vacated the town home, and the authorities were alerted.

Maplewood Police, Fire, and an ambulance responded. Everyone was checked to determine the rate of oxygen in their blood, M and her friends had the little clip thing on their finger (pulse oximeter) to get the reading. The rescue folks were concerned about M because she reported having a headache, but that was apparently not caused by the CO.

It was later determined that the CO detector was activated by some fumes from the nearby parking garage. The air cleared, the authorities have the OK, and everyone went back inside. There were no further problems.

Here’s what bugs me – at no time during this entire episode, or after, did anyone call us, the parents. I realize it’s up to us to communicate with M and her friend’s mother that a phone call would have been expected, but I’m still amazed that the Police, Fire, or Ambulance staff never called. Granted the little clip on the finger is pretty standard, non-invasive procedure, but it’s a medical treatment nonetheless. What if someone had some sort of pre-existing condition, or medical problem, that would have been nice to know during treatment? M recalls the girls saying they were visiting for a sleepover. Were the authorities really OK assisting 10 year old girls without asking them to contact their parents? I realize the injuries were not life threatening (in that case I would expect them to act first, and contact later), but this seemed like a situation where a little parental involvement might have been necessary.

Interesting to note, the city of Maplewood had a page about CO on their website.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hobbled Wife - Guest Entry

Hobbled Wife making a guest appearance here on the Hobbled Runner. I figured you should hear about my day for a change...

Started out with a trip to a new ski trail. I made the trek to the venerable Elm Creek Park Reserve to check out the trails. This park is highly acclaimed for it cross-country ski trails. It also has a very very busy snowboard hill and tubing trail.... Only in Minnesota (maybe?) do they make snow for XC ski trails! I must admit the trails in that part of the park were wonderful. The outer trails weren't in as good condition, but hey, it's still snow, and we're pretty darn excited to have enough to ski this year! I did take a nasty spill and have a beautiful black & blue elbow to prove it. (sdmoose- we'll head over there next year!)

Next part of my day - Dude's school had the annual MLK celebration concert. They just concluded a year-long residency with two gamelan artists. I was not familiar with this type of Indonesian music, but it was pretty amazing. (You might ask why did they play Indonesian music at an MLK celebration? I believe the answer has to do with learning about diverse cultures. They really learned a ton.) The kids were totally engaged - and it was not easy music. This western-music trained ear was not able to follow it very well at all. The Dude really enjoyed learning the gamelan - he played big gongs. M said the when he played the big gong, she could feel it all the way through!

Next part: attended the Senior Recital for the neighbor kid down the street. Super nice kid. And super amazingly talented pianist (among other things.) I was truly overwhelmed by this recital. I was a bit late due to Gamelan concert (see above) so heard Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, a Ravel piece, "Gaspard de la Nuit", and Trois Mouvements de Petrouchka by Igor Stravinsky. We get to see him perform again in February when he plays the Emperor Concerto with the Minnetonka Symphony. I think someday we will be able to say we knew him back when....

And now - early to bed with a great book!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Crazy New Shoes

M and her new Chuck Taylors.

Baron the Kestrel

Baron, an American Kestrel

What do you get the kid who has everything? An American Kestrel, that's what. OK, we didn't buy him an actual kestrel. Instead, we adopted one at the Raptor Center as a Christmas gift for the Dude.

As an adoptive "parent" you get to spend some quality time with your bird when you visit the Raptor Center. Today was our first visit to the Center since adopting Baron. Adam, one of the workers, took us behind-the-scenes to retrieve Baron and then we were able to watch while he was being fed - yuck!

The Dude came armed with two pages of questions about Raptors which Adam patiently answered.

[The Dude, Adam, and Baron]

Friday, January 11, 2008


The Hobbled Wife sends this pic of the Dude engaging in a little act of school-avoidance this morning. The Dude really wanted to sleep in the bathroom last night. In fact, he fell asleep on the bathroom floor. He had set up an elaborate "bed" of blankets and pillows on the floor, plugged in a CD player to listen to a book on tape - and fell soundly asleep. I moved him back to his bed around 1:30 a.m.

He awoke this morning angry that he had been moved and quickly reestablished his claim on the bathroom. What better way to spend those quiet moments before breakfast than lounging in the bathtub with one of his home-school* books?

*We have a variety of teaching aids - most purchased last year during our "school troubles" in an effort to provide the Dude more academic challenges. He often takes them out and "home schools" himself.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Nostalgia for the Blizzard of 1975

I’ve experienced very odd waves of nostalgia lately (subject of a blog post in and of itself) and I had just such a wave today when I read about this day in Minnesota History.

1975: The blizzard from January 10 to 12 is the “most severe of the 20th Century,” according to newspaper accounts, setting a low barometric pressure record of 28.55 in Duluth. The blizzard causes thirty-four deaths and over $1.4 million in damages. A train is stuck at Willmar and some roads are closed for eleven days.

It’s amazing what I remember about that storm. I was in 7th grade, 12 years old. As I left Richfield East Junior High (no “middle school” for this boy – no sir!) that Friday afternoon, I was looking forward to the weekend and finishing a book about D-Day I war reading.

As I left school, it was raining. The rain soon switched to snow, and man did it snow. It made life as a paperboy difficult. This was one of the few times my Dad actually drove me on my Sunday morning paper route – in our black 1965 VW Bug.

Back in the day, children delivered papers – must have been before child-labor laws. I delivered the Minneapolis Star, the afternoon paper, Monday through Saturday, along with the Sunday morning Star-Tribune – hmm, was it called that back then? They combined the papers on Sunday, and there was no afternoon delivery. So I worked 7 days a week – amazing. They made the afternoon Star guys deliver the Sunday paper as well, to give the Minneapolis Tribune paper-boys (yes there were paper-girls too) a chance to sleep-in at least one day a week.

Speaking of the old Star (afternoon) vs. Tribune (morning) – that was, to me, a great dividing line between families. Did your family take the Star? If so your Dad probably worked some sort of manufacturing job that started early and ended in mid-afternoon, giving him time to read the paper. I recall all sorts of guys waiting for their paper every day. On the other hand you could have been one of those fancy-pants Tribune families (Republicans no doubt). I believe I only had one friend whose family subscribed to the Tribune.

Further nostalgia: Growing up in the late 1960’s and early 1970s, I recall several other cultural divides in addition to the Star v. Tribune:

Evening News – CBS (Cronkite – our family), or NBC, or ABC.

Toothpaste – Crest (us) or Colgate (them) - - or were you raised by Pepsodent freaks?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Stuck on School Avoidance

The Dude wasn't too happy to return to school on Monday after 2 full weeks of Christmas vacation. At least he didn't take it to extremes:

A 10-year-old Mexican boy was so determined not to return to school after the Christmas holiday that he glued his hand to his bed.

Sandra Palacios spent nearly two hours on Monday morning trying to free her son Diego's hand with water, oil and nail polish remover before calling the authorities in the northern city of Monterrey, said police chief Jorge Camacho.

Hat tip, J-Walk Blog.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Polar Camp

Beautiful day for Polar Camp at Camp Phillippo today.

Polar Camp is a Cub Scout "day camp" event involving lots of running around in the snow, playing games, and well - - running around and playing games. My suggestion for next year - a few less games with balls and teams, and a few more traditional scouting things - like learning winter survival tips, animal tracking, or other winter-camping or scouting things, anything but dividing up in teams and throwing balls at each other. After 1 and 1/2 hours of basketball Saturday (we won - but don't officially keep score), the Dude and I had our fill of competitive activities for the week. I realize some kids really get into physical games (not to mention the dads monitoring NFL football on their blackberries throughout the afternoon), but me, I'd rather watch birds or build fires.

With the temperature in the low 40s and the sun peaking out occasionally, the biggest problem was not staying warm, but keeping dry as we rolled in melting snow and generally sweated out day through a variety of activities. Our guys, Pack 150, were paired up with Pack 283 (very cool web site) for the day's festivities. Nice way to meet new kids and parents.

I didn't take the camera today (we really need two) so you'll have to believe me when I say that I showed great form on the snow tubing hill. Really - I only screamed once.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Meeting History

I met history today - Bud Kraehling – at the Minnesota History Center of all places. How appropriate. We had a nice, short chat. Bud told me he volunteers one day a week at MNHS. Today he was staffing the front desk in his role as official greeter. He's looking good. I didn't ask him about the weather.

For Minnesotans of a certain age, Bud was the weather-man (yes, "weatherman" - this was the days before meteorologists) on WCCO-TV (channel 4) for about 40 years.

Later the Dude noted that Bud shares the same name as a resident bird at the Minnesota Raptor Center - - Bud the Bald Eagle.

The Dude is still off for winter break, so we took some time this AM to see the MN 150 exhibit.

Oscar Peterson - R.I.P.

After 10 days of an almost total web-fast, I return. What have I missed? Oscar Peterson died. I didn’t see that in the paper. Not that it wasn’t there (I don’t read the Star-Tribune as closely as the Hobbled Wife); but, if it was I missed it.