Monday, March 31, 2008

Rapping and Tapping

[Post updated with actual sketch by the Dude's partner in crime. This is a cross-sectional view of our house, showing hidden passages.]

The Dude is enjoying Day 1 of Spring Break. He had a friend sleep-over last night. The two were asleep by about 9:30 - amazing! This morning they are amusing themselves by searching for secret passageways in our house. They spent close to 1 hour going from room to room, tapping and rapping on the walls looking for hollow spaces. Then they found a notebook and started diagramming the house.

Seems like innocent fun? Hmm - could be. On the other hand, I did talk them out of screwing the grate off a heating vent. I suggested that they could get into a lot of trouble if one of them got stuck in the walls.

"No problem," said the Dude, "we'd just call the fire department and they would use a hammer to knock us out of the wall."

I'd hate to explain that to the insurance person.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Not a Coffee-Break

We are now "working" from a secure, undisclosed location.

Time for a Coffee Break?

What good is a blog if you can't post cool video. These guys raise coffee to an art-form.

Discovered this on the St. Paul Real Estate blog. No, I'm not in the market, they just have tons of cool photos of the Capital City.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Enough About Me

OK - I was feeling sorry for myself the other day when I blogged about my shoulder. Went to doctor, they even X-Rayed the gosh-darned thing. Kind of embarassing. In the end, probably a strain or small tear. No PT - since I admitted remembering the exercises the PT gave me. I'll do those on my own. Other than that, heat, anti-inflammatories - buck-up you whiner.

Now on to the H-Man. Poor guy is hospitalized with pneumonia. We saw him Sunday and he was under-the-weather it didn't prevent him from climbing the stairs and generally having fun. But he took a turn on Monday so they brought him in. No one can visit - but the Dude made a get-well card.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Finding New Ways to be Hobbled

Now it's my shoulder. As I explained in an email to the Hobbled Wife this afternoon,

Two weeks now - - the problem may be that I keep trying to use it. Not push-ups – can’t do those, but I’m stretching it, doing some yoga and light weights. Shoveled snow carefully over the past few days. The theory I’m operating under is that by using it, I will keep my range of motion, and avoid scar tissue on any pull/tear I may have. Last time I had PT on my shoulder – they spent a lot of time massaging out knots directly behind my shoulder. The odd thing about shoulder injuries is that they radiate the pain up and down the arm and into the back some – so even though the injury is probably quite “small” – the pain is felt through the arm. Also – I’m having trouble sleeping on that side. I’m waking up a lot.

It was injured 2 weeks ago when I fell down the stairs. As I reported at that time, most pain was in my foot, as I had gotten that stuck up in the hand railing. My toes are still a little tender, but now I wince putting my arm into jackets, and find myself choosing to lift heavy things with my left hand/arm rather than risk the right.

Heading to the Doctor tomorrow morning. Maybe some PT - need some good massage and ultrasound treatments. Ahh - feels better already.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

What is this bird? It's not the best shot - but our batteries died while running around attempting a better pic. The bird appeared in the backyard on Saturday around 5:00 - 5:30 pm just before our first Easter dinner - with my Mom. It appears to be some sort of grouse - but it doesn't look like a native species. It was mostly brown, with a whitish breast, blue on the forehead, and white around the eyes. Perhaps a Chukar? Check out the "head gear". It had a little flap of something (skin?) on top its head. My guess is some sort of exotic species, non-native to MN, escaped from captivity.

Saturday night the sink backed up. We identified the problem as the garbage disposal. For some reason that didn't stop me from running the dishwasher. BIG MISTAKE. We had water backing up on the floor around the dishwasher and raining down on the dryer in the basement.

Finally got a chance to mess around under the sink Sunday afternoon. The non-disposal side of the sink was draining normally. The disposal mechanism was running freely - no weird sounds, so we deduced the problem in the pipes draining the disposal. I took apart the trap and used a clothes hanger to explore the pipe leading from the disposal and -- ta-dahh -- found the problem. One of those small plastic bag closing thingies. It had gone through the disposal without a scratch only to get stuck on some gunk in the pipe - thus backing up the entire operation. It was my fastest plumbing operation ever - and I didn't have to make even one trip to Home Depot. The icing on the cake? I didn't even need to take it apart and put it together a second time. Usually something leaks when I fix plumbing and I need to attach - and re-attach - and re-re-attach all the piping before it fits cleanly without a leak. Amen!

After the two church services this morning - choir sang at both, we headed over to our Betsy and Susanna's house for Easter brunch/lunch. We had a wonderful time - with Bundt Cake for dessert of course. The kids had a wonderful time.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Takin' the Stairs

Another reason to take the stairs:

The team asked active men who average 10,000 steps a day to use vehicles and elevators at every chance for two weeks. Then the scientists measured the levels of glucose and fat in their blood. They found that the less active volunteers cleared out these substances from their bloodstream less quickly, a risk factor for diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Says one of the authors, University of Missouri researcher Frank Booth: “Previously, we thought that not exercising just wasn’t healthy, but we didn’t think that a lack of activity could cause disease. That assumption was wrong.”

On a related note, another winter goes by (today is the first day of Spring you know) without me taking a ride on the “Sissy Wagon”. That’s the disparaging name I gave the company’s parking lot shuttle that runs from November to March or thereabouts.

Yes, we have acres of parking lots – and some days I’m way out there – but I hoof it every time. I’m a Minnesotan and proud of it!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

You (Still) Have Mail

Life-saver – stress-buster. This morning I unchecked the Display a New Mail Desktop Alert (default Inbox only) in my Advanced E-mail Options. Being a twitchy fellow, I was always jump on the emails as they “popped” up in the right hand corner. It seemed I never finished one task before being called off to work on another.

Now, I’m breathing easy, and getting stuff done. Don’t worry, I won’t miss your email. I’m constantly toggling back-and-forth between applications. The only difference is that now I only check my email every 3 minutes, not every 30 seconds.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Racing Buses

M and I were home together on Friday. It was her last day of Spring break, and I took the day off because I was volunteering in the Dude's classroom. It was the day of my big Art Adventure presentation, where another parent and I led a discussion on some works of art from the Minneapolis Institute of Art and then facilitated an art project. Yes, I'm an MIA trained "picture person". Very fun.

After leaving school, we picked up Mr. H. His entire family was under-the-weather, and the poor little guy (age 4) was bouncing off the walls. He is a big fan of M, and M agreed to watch him for few hours.

The photo shows them racing buses down the very long ramp they constructed in the family room using boxes from a piece of Ikea furniture we were assembling. It wasn't enough that it went from the couch along the wall all the way across the family room. No, they had to open the sliding doors, find some more boxes, and extend it out across the deck. Great fun!

A headless Mr. H rushes out to the deck with more cardboard. Longer yet!

Men in Uniform

Oh man - I really don't like uniforms. Looking at these photos of me in my new Den Leader outfit gives me the creeps. I especially don't like the requirement that I wear some sort of official scouting neck wear while "in uniform". Since I despise neckerchiefs of any sort, I opted for the bolo tie. Not quite sure that's the right look for me either.

Maybe I'll push the envelope and go without neck-gear. Perhaps I'll dispense with the uniform altogether and opt for a Cub Scout T-Shirt instead. Oh well - the uniform is tax deductible for the adult volunteers. Even the bolo!

Who you calling a turkey? It pays to leave Thanksgiving art work up - even in to March.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cupping Coffee

Spent an interesting few hours at Cafe Imports. As part of a fundraising event at the Dude's school, I had purchased the right to a behind the scenes tour of a coffee importing business, and an hour of sampling (cupping) beans. This was part of the Great Gathering Series at Friends School. It's a little hard to describe - but as a way to raise money, parents and supporters of the school arrange events (wine tastings, dance lessons, etc) where people donate their time, services, or skills. Participants (parents and friends of the school) then donate money to participate in these events. I was one of 6 who purchased the chance to spend about three hours learning about coffee, touring a real-life coffee warehouse, then cupping coffee in the sampling/cupping room at Cafe Imports.

Jason is a Friends School parent and co-owner of Cafe Imports. He gave a brief history of coffee production, then explained his business, then led the tour. The finale was the cupping which involves testing beans by preparing a pseudo-coffee (not the stuff you normally drink) then sniffing the dry beans, and later slurping and spitting. It's a lot like wine tasting, with a lot of discussion about the various fruity notes, etc we experienced. Unlike wine tasting, coffee cupping leaves you a bit more buzzed in the end.

That's the short version - but need to help shoo the kids off to bed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mmm - Maple Donuts

I enjoyed a maple donut today, courtesy of the Roseville Bakery. The occasion? We welcomed a new member to my “team”. I say team in quotes because it’s not a real big team, being comprised of only two – counting me.

It was actually a hello/good-by kind of deal, as today is her last day before taking a few months off for the birth of her 2nd child. Needless to say colleagues have been teasing me about my inability to retain staff since she’s been in her new position for 10 whole days and now she’s leaving.

Of course, family insiders also know it’s my birthday. Number 46 – if you’re keeping score at home. So in addition to the donuts (not really for me) a colleague brought brownies to help celebrate the passing of another year. Mmmm.

By the way, very good donuts at the Roseville Bakery – 1147 Larpenteur Avenue, Roseville, MN – did you know they have KOLATCHKY? Made fresh every Saturday! Available in date, cream cheese, prune and poppy seed.

Oh yeah, just got a free cappuccino at Caribou - this birthday boy stuff is pretty nice.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hobbled Runner Meets The Bear

It was a Blogger family dinner when the Bear and his parents came for dinner Saturday night. I stole this picture off the Bear’s blog.

Crash Landing

Whew – that’s better. Back from a bit of a funk. Tired, worn out, missed a day of work last week (should have been two), and swamped at the office. Warning to parents: don’t put kids in schools in different districts – M is now on Spring Break – but the Dude is not. Ack!

Most accidents occur in the home, but here’s some helpful advice. If you slip and fall down the stairs, use your foot to stop the fall. Specifically, put your foot up into the hand railing. Works every time – except that now several toes on the right foot are messed up, and one looks like a little purple sausage. In addition to my right foot, my right hip and shoulder hurt, but the pain in my back and neck is gone. Thank goodness H & J left the Honda Element (with automatic transmission) in our safekeeping when they jetted off to Argentina and Chile. The shifting in my Ion was aggravating my shoulder.

Vindicated – now maybe my family won’t tease me when I drop and give them twenty in the family room as I often do. Some nights I get close to 100 push-ups, doing several sets of 20+ at a time. Now there's this from the NYT:

“It takes strength to do them, and it takes endurance to do a lot of them,” said Jack LaLanne, 93, the fitness pioneer who astounded television viewers in the 1950s with his fingertip push-ups. “It’s a good indication of what kind of physical condition you’re in.”

Friday, March 07, 2008

Feeling Blurry Like This Goldfish

Sick day - home from work. Just got up from a two hour nap. Feel like crap, but feel I own the blog a post after one week of silence. This blog is like the canary in the mineshaft. When I stopped posting it should have been a sign - a warning - something's wrong. I chose to ignore the sign, and it finally hit me yesterday. No, I didn't go home when I got dizzy during a meeting (when I was speaking no less). Instead, I soldiered on. But this morning my body said, "No mas," and so here I am.

A few quick picture updates - Yes we have goldfish. Five of them - no scratch that - three of them. Two expired overnight. M brought them home from school - science project left-overs. The kids know their names and can tell you all about their unique personalities. I don't recall the details. Lost in the fuzz at the moment.

Yes, all the photos were blurry - but kind of in an artistic way - like we tried to blur them for effect.

And now for something completely different, Harriet Bishop. A picture from a Girl Scout outing last Saturday to the Minnesota Historical Society. Too sick to provide details. You make up a story.