Monday, December 28, 2009

Of Course - the Dominican Republic

Here's good news on the Henry front:

When the nurse did Henry's vitals before bedtime he said, "Would you like to know the countries of North America?" He proceeded to name all of them and even inserted "Don't forget the Dominican Republic!"


When I read this to the kids this morning, the Dude was flabbergasted, "Even I don't know the countries of North America."

Neither does his 47 year old Dad.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Grumpy = Good

This is indeed good news:

In contrast to those annoying happy types, miserable people are better at decision-making and less gullible, his experiments showed.

If this is true, Big Sister will have a very good day at school while little brother (who has already started Christmas break) will suffer through another day at home with Dad.

Hat Tip, NewsCut.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Incompleteness of Christmas


[The Dude on the "big" downhill part of our "back-yard" cross country ski course.]

I don’t know why Christmas always seems to catch me by surprise. Here it is December 21 and I haven’t finished my shopping. I acquired a fair amount of booty on Saturday – running here and there all around the square – but I’m still not done. Rather than go all to pieces, I’ve made my peace with the incompleteness of Christmas.

The following things that will not get done by the 25th:

The Christmas card and letter will not be complete or sent before Santa makes his rounds. Sorry Mom. If you follow this blog on a regular basis, I don’t think any of the news in the letter will surprise you. I’ve done my part, compressing my “accomplishments” for 2009 into two paragraphs and asked the rest of the family to do the same.

Not all Christmas decorations will be deployed. I realized this yesterday when Shana asked if could move the Christmas boxes down stairs – rather than just leave them in the middle of the living room for the next weeks. One of the boxes – a big plastic “keep” box purchased several years ago at Target – was very heavy. I believe it contains all our holiday dishes – which we don’t keep out the rest of the year, and have no cupboard space to store them even if I wanted to use them.

Hmm – that’s not so bad – only two things. I know I will finish the shopping even if it means spending Annual Male Shopping Day (aka Christmas Eve) at the mall.

So what is my excuse you ask? What have I been doing besides shopping and Christmas “carding” in all my spare time? Well, here’s what happened yesterday:

AM: Skiiing with the Dude in the “back yard”.

Afternoon: We went to see Shana’s dad in a wonderful little Christmas play produced at his church. Shana’s dad played an aging Martian.



PM: Last night we went to a solstice party hosted by one of Shana’s co-workers where a lot of folks (adults and kids) brought their instruments for Holiday jamming. The Dude held his own on tin whistle.

Add to yesterday’s agenda, the past two weeks of end of season school activities – various choir performances – and general standard non-holiday business – and you have it. Four days to the big event, and I’m not done.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m ready – just not done. There is a difference. I’m ready for all the social activities, spending time with family and friends, eating lots of good food, watching kids open presents. I just haven’t finished all the stuff I’m “supposed to” have completed. Thinking of it that way – that’s how I make my peace with the incompleteness of Christmas.



P.S. - Duke sends his greetings from the couch. He refuses to get caught up in the holiday rat-race.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dressing Up - Again?

Good News – You gotta take what you can find.

In these crazy times, it’s good to see this – young men dressing up again. Credit (or blame) Mad Men – a show I’ve never seen – I really don’t care. I just say. “Thank God!”

“The older generation, say 45-plus, look upon success as being able to dress down,” said Marshal Cohen, the chief analyst at NPD Group, which tracks retail sales. “They think being able to wear jeans is the epitome of achievement.”


I’m not a dress-up freak. I enjoy being able to wake up in a crappy mood and say, “Whew – at least I don’t have to wear a suit” – throw on a sweater and khakis and still be better dressed than 75% of the work force. On the other hand, I still wear ties and sport coats – sometimes more than once a week!

Even in these times, dressing up has to count for something. I may have shared this anecdotal evidence before: When I wear a tie and/or coat to work, the execs (and the mail guy) will greet me as I pass in the hall. If I wear khakis and polo shirt, they look right through you.

As my dad always said, you can never really overdress. If you show up at an event and everyone is casual, just take off your jacket. If that doesn’t quite cut it, remove the tie. When all else fails, roll up your sleeves. Of course, this advice came from a guy who marched across Germany in the Spring of ’45 wearing a tie. Even though he hadn’t changed underwear in 6 weeks, he still shaved and wore a tie. (He told me that was a 3rd Army thing – Patton and all.)

Another reason I enjoy dressing up some is that I can have my “Mr. Rogers moment” when I come home from work. Changing out of my work clothes, into more casual togs completes the transition from work to home.

Good News

You gotta believe in Santa Claus after reading Henry's latest update,

About 30 minutes ago Santa, Mrs. Clause, and a random elf came to visit the ICU. He had bells and I said, "Henry! Santa is here to see you." Henry opened his eyes, turned his head, and tried to turn part of his body!!! He kept his eyes open for quite a few seconds. It was definitely intentional. I hugged santa so hard that he is getting a restraining order on me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Get Well Soon!



Yes, I’m still here – just caught up in all the Holiday Cheer – hah!

This news – front and center around our household the past few days - our little buddy Henry has been diagnosed with viral meningitis and encephalitis. He has been in the ICU at Children's Hospital in St. Paul since Monday. Henry’s currently in a deep sleep with a feeding tube. The MRI looked good and they keep running all sorts of tests. Wait and see – and pray.

As Shana said the other day, this family knows too much about brain injuries. See this earlier post about his mom.

Facebook - Will You Be My Friend?

I’m on Facebook – but I’ve had my ups and downs with that social media platform. I much prefer Twitter. I must admit I'm something of a spectator on both. While I keep my Tweetdeck up most of the day, I only check Facebook every other day or so, and rarely post anything.

Here’s an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal about the changing face of Facebook and social media:

Suddenly, our friends were something even better - an audience. If blogging felt like shouting into the void, posting updates on a social network felt more like an intimate conversation among friends at a pub.

. . .

Just as Facebook turned friends into a commodity, it has likewise gathered our personal data – our updates, our baby photos, our endless chirping birthday notes— and readied it to be bundled and sold.

So I give up. Rather than fighting to keep my Facebook profile private, I plan to open it up to the public – removing the fiction of intimacy and friendship.
But I will also remove the vestiges of my private life from Facebook and make sure I never post anything that I wouldn't want my parents, employer, next-door neighbor or future employer to see. You'd be smart to do the same.

We'll need to treat this increasingly public version of Facebook with the same hard-headedness that we treat Twitter: as a place to broadcast, but not a place for vulnerability. A place to carefully calibrate, sanitize and bowdlerize our words for every possible audience, now and forever. Not a place for intimacy with friends.

Monday, December 07, 2009

What - No Mustache Deal !?!



Oh No! – The Christmas cards are arriving. In one card someone even mentioned how much they enjoy keeping up on family events via the blog – Oh the pressure! I guess I’d better post something for Martha.

This is my least productive time of the year. The shortened days and lack of sunshine sap my energy. My creative juices seem to dry up. Rather than a long inspired blog post, here are some random thoughts:



Just because I’m lacking energy, doesn’t mean I’m a humbug. We did a little famly holiday activity Sunday, attending the Rosetown Playhouse production of Santa Claus. It was a blast, and many of the folks from Music Man were in the cast – which was both good and bad. Good – because it was fun to see them in action, and great them after the show. Bad – because we kept thinking how much fun we would have had in the show, had we tried out (and got in) ourselves.

We loved the show – the Dude insists on attending a performance next weekend as well!

Funny thing - the opening weekend of the show featured a special "mustache deal". If you appeared at the show with a mustache (real or fake) you got $3 off the ticket price. (Mustaches - and beards - feature prominently in the story.) It was a fun deal, and the entire Hobbled Family was all faked out in mustaches! This morning (Monday - first day back at work after a weekend of no shaving) I thought - what the heck, I'll let it grow for a week and see what happens - I can go to another show next week and save another $3. Imagine my surprise when I realized the mustache deal was only for the opening weekend. Oh well, at least my face is kind of warm. [See above photo.]

We learned that next summer they are staging Oliver – that’s got us excited.

After the show we purchased our Christmas tree. It is now in the family room covered in lights. We are waiting for next Friday’s pizza night to decorate with all the trimmings. [I know, it sounds like we have this holiday thing all nailed down – with a decorating schedule and all. Hah! I’ve just barely started the Christmas letter, and only have two gifts. Oh well, there’s plenty of time.]



In an effort to energize, I stepped out into the bleak mid-winter (or early winter) for a quick walk after lunch. It was “cool”, 23F and windy – yikes! It’s a long way to April.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Applying the Kravitz Approach



About 8:00 am this morning a work crew of some sort (possibly a survey crew) set up some sort of transmitting device in the far southeast corner of the Fairview Community Center property. This is right behind our house, so I got curious. I didn’t have a chance to talk to the 2 workers as they had left by the time I stepped outside – but I snapped a picture of what they set up.

I feel a bit like Gladys Kravitz, but I just have to know what's going on - so I emailed the school.

For the record, the Dude thinks the FBI put up the device to monitor stuff in the neighborhood - seriously! Not sure where he came up with that conspiracy theory.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Monday



The Dude and I were flabbergasted when we spotted this outside his school this morning. The school is home to many free-spirits, and there are a number of interesting vehicles parked nearby - several hand-painted cars, others festooned with numerous bumper stickers - but this one takes the cake.

What is that animal? A rat? Possum? I don't know.

If you owned a Mercedes would you attach a large furry rodent to the roof? Maybe if it was a Yugo - but not a Mercedes - but that's just me.

But then I'm such an old fuddy-duddy that my one of my first thoughts was - hey it's raining - imagine the smell of wet fur in your garage later today.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Damn Dog

First big mistake of the morning – thinking of myself before the dog.

Breakfast was over, and we both had to “go”. Usually I take the dog outside, then take myself inside – so to speak. Today I said, “No, me first, then you – it’s no fun hopping around on one leg outside while you do your business – though it does keep me warm on a frosty morn.”

You can probably see where this is leading.

What amazed me was that he waited until I had my coat on and was walking towards the sliding glass doors off the family room before lifting his leg and peeing all over the door-mat and little bucket where we store the leashes and other dog stuff.

Those who know Duke know that once he starts – he doesn’t stop. In addition, he’s not the kind of dog to take little pees – marking here and there. No, he waits, and goes once per walk – and it takes the old guy about 30 seconds. This was one of the long ones and as I stood there with the back door open yelling and swearing, he just stared at me – and peed.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Upper Mississippi Shakedown



The Dude and I, and several of his friends, spent a lovely 2 hours cleaning the eastern banks of the Mississippi River in St. Paul. How did we come to do this you may ask?

One of the Dude’s classmates determined that the Mississippi River banks needed cleaning – and she set out to do something about it. She wanted to gather a group to spend several hours cleaning along the river, and worked with school staff to put a notice in the school newsletter.

There were six kids and three grown-ups at today’s event – a great kick-off for this group which promises to grow and do more clean-ups.

[The Dude climbing the river bank bluffs.]

I was amazed at the “interesting” stuff that one finds along the banks of the mighty Mississippi. I found a few items that Mark Twain would never have thought of – or maybe he would have?? In addition to spectacular bluffs and views, this particular portion of the river is known for its “social” life. It’s essentially a place where one parties and meets folks for “adult interaction”. Apparently the signs posted by the city stating that certain illegal behaviors can result in one’s picture being posted on the city’s website haven’t quite done the trick. The youngest of us – a kindergartener – happened upon the section of the river bank where most of the adult partying occurs. She had no idea what she picked up and handed to me. Luckily we were wearing disposable gloves. I quickly cleaned up the rest of the evidence, even locating two stashes of interesting reading material.

Most of the litter was of a more mundane sort – lots of cans, bottles, and plastic crap. Yuck. In addition to the interesting finds mentioned earlier, we did uncover one pair of underwear, one bra, a car muffler, two full cans of beer (Coors Light 16 oz), a hack-saw, and a small football – possibly a dog’s fetch toy.

[Looking south towards the Lake Street bridge.]

All-in-all it was a very successful outing. We collected over six garbage bags of junk – and had a great time doing it.

[People of a certain age will recognize the title of the this post.]

Friday, November 13, 2009

NIMH?

[Source Wikipedia]

That's National Institute of Mental Health - just learned that today while doing a little research about Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

Exciting news from the Hobbled Household: M will play the lead in her school’s musical production of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. She has been in so many plays and musicals over the years, and is quite elated to have the lead. It will be one more thing to add to her busy schedule, but I know she will have a great time.

I’m not familiar with the book – or series - so I’ll have to read quickly to get up to speed with this deal.

Several sources point to this interesting bit of trivia – the changing of Mrs. Frisby to Mrs. Brisby for the 1982 movie, The Secret of NIMH.

The lead character's name was changed from Mrs. Frisby (in the novel) to Mrs. Brisby to avoid legal entanglements from the Wham-O company (makers of the Frisbee). Unfortunately this change came late in the film's production, long after the actors had recorded their dialog. Because it was not feasible to have every actor using the word "Frisby" in the movie re-record his or her lines, the change from "Frisby" to "Brisby" was actually made by the sound editors, who, by hand, carefully sliced the "br" (taken from other words spoken by the actors) into the "fr" on the magnetic dialog tracks.


Wired’s GeekDad has a nice review of the book.

I'll post more as the rehearsals get underway.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Duke - an Update

The compass is moving along nicely. It appears to come out one end as effortlessly as it went in the other.

More good news this morning, when M found the metal “handle” like part, along with the little view-finder piece on the floor in the backseat of my car. It appears all he needed to “pass” was some chewed up plastic and little shards of glass, which Shana spotted yesterday. That’s nothing for an omnivore like Duke.

Let’s hope it’s all out.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Duke Lost? Ask Duke

Duke now has an internal compass system – at least until he poops it out.

Duke accompanied me while I dropped M off at GVE (aka Girl’s Vocal Ensemble – a 7 member subset of the Church Choir.) GVE meets Monday nights from 4:30 – 6:00. Since it was a beautiful day, I figured Duke and I could walk along Summit Avenue, then I’d put Duke into the car, pop into the store for milk, and be back in plenty of time to pick up M.

I swear I was in the store about 9 minutes tops – I come out and Duke had eaten a compass. I forgot it was in the back seat. It was my compass from when I was kid – and the Dude had been playing with it and left it in the car.

The compass used to look like this.



What was left looked like this.



I think the face was real glass – pretty thin, but I don’t think it was plastic. The little metal handle thing is long gone too.

M joked, “Did he swallow a magnet? We could stick him to the fridge.”

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Indian Summer



It's been beautiful here in Minnesota the past few days. I believe we hit 60 both today and Friday. I spent several hours engaged in outdoor work - raking and mowing, draining the rain barrels, etc. But it wasn't all work. Here's M sitting outside the Dunn Brothers in the St. Anthony neighborhood- we stopped after bringing the Dude to a friend's house.



In addition to the outdoor fun, the Dude and I cleaned the Hamster cage this morning. After we got it cleaned out and put back together, Roscoe went a bit mad trying to figure out how to get in and grab Chubby (the Hamster).

Friday, November 06, 2009

Duke says, “Good Morning”



Duke stands on the front step to say “Good-bye” to M and I as we head off to school/work Thursday morning.

It’s been a very busy week. I’ve thought a lot about blogging – but that’s as far as I got. Let’s see if I can piece together something out of some of my earlier thoughts. I actually draft these in Word in a daily diary I keep, and then copy/paste into Blogger. I start a lot of posts that never see the light of day. Some don’t make it “the moment” has passed and what seemed fascinating at noon has lost all its appeal by 5:00 p.m. Most are just censored because they seem too personal or potentially embarrassing – but really, what are blogs for?

Planning Commission Update: Until now, most people probably thought, “He’s never met a cell tower he didn’t like,” but Wednesday night marked my first “no” vote on the location of a tower. The proposal was brought by a wireless internet provider for a 100 foot tower and small “base unit” at the foot of the tower. The tower was to be located in a park. The city staff then upped the ante by proposing a 150 tower that would require a 20 x 20 foot enclosure at the base. The larger towers are optimal because they allow co-location – having several providers on one tower: in this case it would be the original wireless provider, and then (most likely) several cell phone companies. The city has several such towers on city property. Leasing the towers results in about $375,000 a year revenue to the city. This new tower would possibly bring in another $20,000. Nothing to sniff at in these times, but I thought the park was a bad location for the tower. My colleagues on the planning commission decided to send the proposal back to staff for more work, with the understanding that it would come again before the commission at it’s December (or January) meeting. The park still seems the likely location; they just wanted more work on the placement in the park and look at possible efforts to mitigate the tower’s impact in the park. I voted no to tabling the proposal and sending it back for more work because I oppose the park location – period. Mine was the only no vote.



Thursday ended the work day with some seeding. A colleague is heading up a employee volunteer effort to plant native grasses and flowers along a berm between one of our parking lots and Highway 149. I didn’t participate in the earlier weed pulling – that was the real hard work. Seeding was quite easy. Just use your shoe to scrape up some dirt, drop the seed mix, then step on it to make sure it stuck into the dirt. It turned out to be very nice way to end the day.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Anniversary

[Toasting Shana from the airport bar. Happy Anniversary indeed!]

Romantic guy that I am, I spent our 15th wedding anniversary in Boston – for work. Between flight delays due to weather, and MSP runway construction, I didn’t get home until almost midnight – rather than scheduled arrival of 8:30 p.m.

[Local school children had placed these frames near some of the graves.]

Plus-side – flight delays allowed a little walking tour of Boston – mostly Freedom Trail stuff – with special attention paid to graveyards.

[Brewer and Patriot - again with the little frame - and what's the deal with the little stones placed atop the gravemarker?]

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Autumn Leaves



I'm crossing my fingers that I don't come home to a house will all the windows open again tonight. Duke must have eaten something bad (or worse than usual) because when M got home from school yesterday she was in for quite a surprise. Duke had had a major "accident" in his kennel. Shana had to clean up 99% of the mess - including bathing Duke. All I had to do was wash lots of yucky towels and clean our bedroom walls - yes the walls. Word to the wise: Think twice before putting your dog's kennel in your bedroom!

No meetings on the calendar today - and the bosses are away - which means I have no discipline in my schedule, leaving me time to do everything or nothing at all. So far, I'm actually making nice progress - cleaning up some loose ends that have been lingering for a while. Let's hope I don't lose momentum in a post-lunch stupor.

Beautiful fall day - even had my coat off during the lunch hour walk. We've had snow already, but of course that's come and gone. I heard one of the forecasters say this morning that we could have thunderstorms before the week is over. It's like Fall, Winter, and Spring all in one month.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Monday – the Sun is Out




I’m feeling especially sun-deprived this Fall, so when the sun broke through just before lunch, I had to fight the urge to run out the door right away.

I think that the Dude is missing the sun as well. He’s been a bit down, and finding all sorts of excuses not to do homework, delay bedtime, and drag his feet going to school. Not as bad as in the past, but I find myself thinking, “one day at a time” and breathing a huge sigh of relief when we deposit him safely at school each day. The hard part of my day is over by 9:00 – sort of.

It’s been very busy at work lately. My co-worker had her baby last Monday and so begins a 4 month leave. I’m running fast to catch up with her project work. It won’t be easy – as she is irreplaceable (she knows it!) – but I’m muddling through.

After the short lunch walk, things look different and much more “doable”. It will be a busy week. I’ll be traveling to Boston on Wednesday, returning late Thursday evening – almost 24 hours in the city. That’s normal for most trips – but leaves you wanting more of your destination than the view from cabs and hotel windows.

As I posted, Shana called to report Duke had "messed up" his kennel pretty good. All the windows are open at home, and Shana was getting ready to wrestle Duke into the bathtub. I'm finally ready to re-think our decision to keep his kennel in our bedroom.

Friday, October 23, 2009

One Week in Weather



[Friday afternoon: Winter - again.]



[Thursday - you can almost feel it coming.]



[Ahh - Monday!]

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Situational Awareness"

A Northwest Airlines plane overflew the Minneapolis airport by 150 miles Wednesday night, while the pilots engaged in a heated discussion over airline policy, according to federal officials.


As one who has been called on to give their opinion on matters relating to Delta/Northwest, I found this MPR story fascinating,

The flight was 74 minutes late, according to the Northwest Airlines Web site. The site says the flight was "delayed due to weather-air traffic control." The flight landed at 9:15 p.m.

In interviews with the FBI and airport police, the crew stated they were in a "heated discussion over airline policy and they lost situational awareness," according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

"They probably lost track of where they were," said Keith Holloway, public affairs officer for the National Transportation Safety Board.


The pilots were probably discussing the StarTribune's penetrating piece of journalism from a few weeks ago.

Funny that the plane is described as a Northwest Airlines plane. In fact, the story doesn't even mention Delta. I'm sure the Delta PR folks will work to correct the story to insert the proper name of the company.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sick Kid



I thought about editing the picture to remove the toes of my Chuck Taylor's but then thought the better of it.

I was home today with M - who has been sick since Sunday. It's not the dreaded H1N1 (we think). No fever, just some aches, lack of appetite and inability to stay awake! The kid is sleeping like a pro. She slept until 11:00 today, then took a nap in the afternoon!

With a sick kid who slept most of the day, I was able to get a fair amount of work done. I had a lot of busy-work (messing with spreadsheets, etc) that was best done away from all the work-place distractions. By mid afternoon I was looking for a break - missing all the interruptions that comes with working in a large office.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall Colors



Pictures from the Walking Path.



Busy Monday. My co-worker has begun her several month maternity leave (a boy - Owen Michael !), and I'm already slightly confused, but muddling through.



M is at home sick - and I suspect I'll be staying home tomorrow. Had a chance to step out at lunch and enjoy some sunshine and temps in the mid-50s. Indian Summer - or whatever we call it now. Very nice.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Am I?



The Dude snapped this picture today.

Hint - The photo was snapped while climbing trees this afternoon.

I Get a Treat Soon - Right?



Duke - ever the good natured pet - puts up with the Dude dressing him in the old Harry Potter Halloween costume. Too small for the kids - but just right for the 75 pound Golden Retriever.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Love Email Marketing

I'm on a number of email lists, receiving all sorts of valuable information from retailers, news organizations, non-profits, etc. This afternoon I received an email from Roto-Rooter. They send only a few a year - so I took notice of this one. I got a kick out of the seasonal tie-in:

John,

Millions of pounds of pumpkin pulp is scraped from pumpkins throughout the Halloween season, resulting in yummy pies, creative jack-o'-lanterns... and plumbing nightmares.

Every year, plumbers get lots of calls to repair garbage disposers and kitchen sink drains that have been clogged with slimy, stringy pumpkin pulp and seeds.


They are not content to stop the Halloween tie in there. They go on,

Did you know... In 1979, Roto-Rooter created a popular TV commercial called "The Raving," which was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's famous poem "The Raven." It's still popular today.


Hmm - still popular. We'll see about that.



Suddenly there came a rushing,
as of someone slowly flushing
water 'cross my chamber floor.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Old News

The StarTribune article on Delta-Northwest is now online. My comments appear in this sidebar piece - without picture.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Born to Run



[Hat tip on the video to Conditioning Research.]

Last week I finished Born to Run , by Christopher McDougall – one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It appealed to me on a number of levels – as a runner/former-runner and someone who loves a good adventure, travel story.

One aspect of the book – barefoot running, and the basic anti-running shoe company message – has attracted lots of attention. This short piece from CNN is a nice introduction to the book and some of its highlights.

Just watching this video made me want to take off my shoes and run - except for the snow. Hmmmm.

You Must Come to Our Store!



Happy Tuesday - here's a quick recap of the past 24 hours - in no particular order.

Duke started things off with a seizure this morning. It was his first seizure in one month. That is one of our longer seizure-free stretches. He’s been very active lately. With his lower weight, and the cooler weather – he’s very active. We even “jogged” this morning – a few blocks.

Last night we ran into a snag attempting to order a Halloween costume online from Party City. On Sunday, the Dude and I visited the local Party City store. He had found a costume while browsing online and wanted to pick it up at the store – only they didn’t have it at the store. The very helpful clerks informed us that they don’t stock all the costumes at any one store. They suggested we go to counter and ask the staff to locate one at neighboring store. I said we would try to order online – since that’s where we first found the costume. The clerks said that sounded like a good idea as well.

Last night, the Dude and I go to order the costume only to be called up short with this message:

[Click to enlarge.]

Apparently they would like us to go to a store to purchase the costume. We already know that our local store does not carry this costume, so we will have to go to another store to make the actual purchase – or will we? I’m never good with the angry customer routine, but I’d at least like to have them ship the costume to “our” local store. I’m not driving around the Twin Cities for a Dark Skull Warrior costume.

That said – it was a beautiful morning here in the frozen north.


Monday, October 12, 2009

I'm Famous

The article I was interviewed for finally appeared in the StarTribune - yesterday. Except I can't link to the article. It was one of their print-exclusive pieces. The sort of thing designed to get everyone to run out to the newstand and purchase a paper - because it's the kind of thing you can only get in print.

I'm not sure why it was a print-only article. Everything that needs to be said about the Delta-Northwest merger has been said already. It's not really an exclusive story.

Too bad it's not online - it's a real nice picture, and I need to update my FaceBook photo.

One of my colleagues emailed and said "You're Famous". Here is my reply:

Today while driving my 9 year old son to school he said, “Do you think people in the other cars are slowing down because they recognize you from your picture in the paper?”

Yeah – in my dreams!

Hmm - Never Seen That Before



With snow on the ground, it seemed a good weekend to try something completely different. Earlier in the week, while driving the Dude to school, I noticed the sign at the State Fair entrance. There was going to be a comic book convention at the Grandstand over the weekend. I read the sign out loud - big mistake!

"Oh, we are so going there!" said the Dude.

"Yeah, well, maybe, we'll see," I responded uncertainly.

Come Saturday it seemed like the thing to do so - after tennis and a quick stop at the library - we drove over to the Fair Grounds. I knew it would be interesting when I saw folks "in character" wandering the streets of the Fair Grounds. When we got inside - holy crow! Comic book displays everywhere - obviously - but also lots of figurines (or whatever you call those "toy" figures representing comic book, tv, and movie characters), games, and other "stuff" I couldn't identify. There were a number of cool "zine" type publications - lots of stuff that looked like people published themselves, and then of course - the biggies - DC, and whoever else. [Sorry - I'm not a comic book guy.]

The artists were there as well - the Dude purchased a Batman (or was it Batboy) book, and the artist - the penciller and inker - autographed the cover.

And of course - folks in costume. The picture below shows only a few of the people who dress up for these events. I regret not snapping the shot of the rather roly, poly teenager wearing only gym shorts who had painted his entire body green. The Dude and I were not sure if he was the Hulk or Green Lantern - or a new action figure, "Soft Green Teen". There was a also a great Hagrid - looked almost like the movie version.

Anyway - a splendid time was had by all. I'm sure this will be a "can't miss" event next year.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Happy Birthday John Lennon



A quick search of the Hobbled archives shows I posted a Beatles video featuring John Lennon last October 9 – Lennon’s birthday. Continuing in that tradition, here’s Nowhere Man, from 1966 in Germany.

Happy Friday!



This picture is from Wednesday - at noon on the Walking Path. The sun had finally broken through and it was a beautiful Fall day. Sun is out today as well - but they are predicting possible SNOW for tonight and tomorrow.

It’s been a busy week, and I’ve been very crabby – just ask Duke! As usual, I only post when in a good mood. That explains the hiatus – and now that pizza night (it’s a tradition as you recall) is just around the corner, it’s time for another post.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Cancelled Flights and Lost Luggage

Oh the joys of business travel. I returned late Friday (make that early Saturday) from a brief trip to Charlotte, NC.

It started out fun on Thursday afternoon when I was interviewed by a Star Tribune reporter for a story she was writing about the one year anniversary of the Delta-Northwest merger. She and a photographer were standing outside the security line trying to get folks to talk but most wouldn’t even make eye contact. [Haven't seen the story yet - I'll be sure to post a link when (and if) it comes up.]

I was friendly enough to make eye contact and answer a few questions. My only complaint – if it was even serious enough to call it a “complaint” was the confusion I encountered trying to check my one suitcase.

I had booked my travel using my employer’s online travel planning tool. The itinerary that printed showed the following, “Airline – Delta Air Lines; Flight 3377, OPERATED BY COMPASS AIRLINES”. No reference to NWA. I had checked into my flight the day before and printed a boarding pass – the boarding pass was for NWA. Hmmm.

At the airport, all the signs behind the ticketing agent say Delta (there is no reference to good old Norwest Airlines – or NWA.) I approach the ticketing agents and notice that the computer screen at check in presents me with a choice for logging in – Delta or NWA, KLM, etc. I choose Delta, and walk though the steps only to have it stop short and tell me there was no record of me, and that I should see a ticketing agent. The ticketing agent sees my boarding pass and says, “Go ahead, and do it again – but check NWA this time.” Success – and I’m off. It was right after this that I was stopped by the reporter. I relayed my story of my 30 second delay – and that was that.

As an aside – I favor checking luggage – I hate schlepping around both my laptop bag (which I carry on) and my luggage small as it is. Security is a pain since you have to remove the laptop from the bag and run each through separately – not to mention, shoes, watch, etc. It really comes down to not wanting to deal with my liquids – so I check the darn bag.

On the way home, Friday night (I wish the reporter was there), my flight was delayed once, then twice, then three times, then was cancelled outright. I was able to work my way onto a different (and direct !!) flight on Mesaba/NWA/Delta – but my luggage was going to be going through Detroit – on Saturday. Made it home about 1:30 AM, and crawled into bed for about 5 hours of sleep – we had a busy Saturday morning. My bag arrived about 4:00 PM that afternoon.

I am rethinking my checked-luggage philosophy. This makes two times, in two trips, that I arrive a day ahead of my luggage. Next time, I’m carrying it on – better make sure I have the appropriate 3 oz. bottles.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Double Yolk



Our neighbors raise chickens. Yes, Roseville allows chickens - but they must be hens, no roosters. One of the many benefits of having chickens next door is the chance to eat very fresh eggs. I've actually worked with eggs that were still warm.

Yesterday our neighbor shared another dozen eggs. Some were so big that it made it impossible to close the egg carton. (We use old store-bought egg cartons.)

Last night I decided to scramble two eggs for M. The first thing I always notice when I cook with the neighbors eggs is the incredible size and bright yellow color of the eggs. The egg "white" appears smaller - I suspect that is due to the large yolk. These are free range chickens - well as free as they can be in the city. They come out of the coop for a while almost every day. They pick around the yard, eating seeds and bugs.

In addition to the very yellow yolks, we were stunned to see the that biggest egg (from Beauty I believe) had two yolks. The kids made me take a picture - as if I wouldn't have done so without their prompting.

Now if the city allowed Roosters, might we have had twin chicks? Sounds reasonable but I'm not a farm kid so I don't know if it works that way in the chicken world.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sharks and Jets and More

The other night the kids and I were talking about how Romeo and Juliet is West Side Story is High School Musical – young lovers from different families, gangs, cliques – the same old story repeating itself.

Willa Cather said something similar – only much better.

"There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes over for thousands of years."
Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

HT: Terry Teachout’s Almanac.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Laptop - But Where's the Printer?



It was a happy Monday yesterday. It doesn’t get any better than getting the email asking when they can stop by to drop off the new laptop. It’s fast, and lighter, and somewhat smaller. And – might I add – the cafeteria was serving Swedish Meatballs. Happy Monday indeed!

But now it’s Day 2 and the laptop honeymoon is over. My dictionary needs to be retrained. Imagine a computer dictionary not recognizing “Gisselquist” – the nerve. [Right click, Add to Dictionary.]

This morning I spent too much time trying to get the darn thing to recognize my desktop printer – the elusive HP LaserJet 1320 – not the various other HP Laser Jets out there – but the 1320. It almost makes me feel special – like I have the only 1320 – except I can’t print without walking down the hall to collect them.

Wait – there’s more: All my Internet Favorites were saved – thank goodness – but of course they now list in alphabetical order – not the special order I prefer – most frequently used links on top. It’s amazing how many links I just click automatically without thinking what they are called. Now I have to think – what is the real name of that site? – and then go searching down the list.

Yep that’s the extent of my troubles: My laptop can’t find my printer though they are about 2 feet away from each and tethered by cord; and, it takes me about .75 seconds longer to find a web site in my Favorites. Could be worse.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Springtime in September



The sunflowers just keep coming. They don’t seem scared off by the sight of their dead kin, hanging limply from the same stalk.

In our garden it’s sunflowers and tomatoes that just keep coming. At other locations around the metro area, some report lilacs blooming.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Maybe I Should Go Climb a Tree



I shouldn't complain about this late summer like weather - but I will. This is the time of year for the beginning of cool, crisp days. Yet here we are, nearing the end of September and we are running the AC almost every day. We do it for the dog of course - but I think the Hobbled Wife enjoys it as well.

It's been a week and a lot has happened as usual but I just don't have the energy to post. Perhaps it's the weather, perhaps it's our busy schedules, maybe it's lack of good sleep - though Duke has been sleeping until 5:30 the past few days. Whatever the cause, posting takes a hit. It's a leading mood indicator, sort of the canary in the mineshaft of how I'm feeling day-to-day. Feeling good, post. Feeling crappy, avoid the posts - probably out of fear of saying something stupid.

So - before I say something about work, life, dog, that I may regret later, here are some nice pictures taken yesterday as we walked home from the Dude's tennis lesson. We pass through the lot behind Corpus Christi where they have the best old climbing tree in the neighborhood. I believe it's a boxelder - hence the bugs. (My apologies for the slightly blurry shot of the bugs. The BlackBerry doesn't do as well on closeups.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Duke - and the Bloomin' Garden

[Summer lingers and Duke enjoys some time in the pool.]

It's been a while since I posted about Duke. I wish I had snapped a better picture - one that would show off his weight loss. We've had him almost one year. Duke arrived at 112 pounds, and was weighed Friday at 87 pounds. We are quite proud of ourselves - though Duke is not always so happy. In addition to apples that have fallen from neighbors' trees, he's also taken to eating tomatoes from Shana's garden. Oh - and cat litter - but we won't go into details here.



Snapped a few shots of the gardens - this is the space near our mailbox and along the driveway. Shana can identify all the various plants - I just take the pictures.



More flowers - feel free to hazard a guess in the comments as to what they are. Sorry, no prizes.



All these flowers are quite small - seems the little guys bloomed last.



Final note (thankfully without pictures): The Dude has a stomach bug. He skipped dinner, and became ill shortly after that. Sad part is that he really wants to go to school tomorrow. I told him it was probably just a 24 hour stomach bug. He hopes it's a 12 hour bug. Yeah - right.