Thursday, April 30, 2009

Good Old West

Nice press on the Company in City Pages (front page of the print version):

West makes its money by selling free, public information—specifically, court documents—to lawyers. On this simple model, the company raked in $3.5 billion in revenue last year, placing it on a par, sales-wise, with retail giant Abercrombie and Fitch. But its operating profit margin really impresses: At a whopping 32.1 percent, West outpaces that of tech giants like Google (19.4 percent), Amazon (3.4 percent), and eBay (20.8 percent). Westlaw excels at one simple task: saving lawyers time by making legal information more readily accessible. The company charges a firm of six to ten lawyers as much as $30,000 a year to access its state and federal databases. But since attorneys' time is worth a lot of money, the service pays for itself. After all, the more work they can do, the more money they can make.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Three Guys Named John

Here's a link to a photo of the Dude, my father-in-law, and myself at the Twins game on April 19. We went to celebrate the Dude's 9th birthday. The Twin's roving photographer snapped the shot. I have to link to it because I can't save their image to my computer - and I don't want to buy it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Facebook Fatigue

Being rather healthy, I was slow to catch Facebook Fatigue. About 1 year short based on the dates of the articles in the mainstream media.

I deactivated my Facebook account today. It didn’t feel as liberating as I imagined it would. When you deactivate Facebook (under Settings if you are interested), the program attempts to change your mind (if a program can actually do that) by pleading that your various friends will miss you – complete with their profile pictures and a little message. That’s enough to make you want to quit.

Before you deactivate, you have to choose a reason. Each reason you select pops a helpful message with a link to learn more about how to optimize Facebook to overcome that problem. Even when you are finally deactivated, you receive an email advising you that you can re-join at any time by entering your email address and password. It’s like Hotel California – you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.

The real reason for my deactivating my account wasn’t on the list to choose from – and I’m not sure it’s a real reason. Every time I try to articulate a reason it just sounds like I’m being grumpy or depressed – or both. I don’t have a lot of Facebook friends – but that’s OK. I’ve ignored a lot of friend requests because it doesn’t make sense to have all these friends in the same room. I wouldn’t invite them all to a party – so why do they all keep popping up on my Facebook page. It’s just so incongruous, all those different folks together in the same room. Some are posting about serious stuff, others are late for meetings, and still others stuck in airports. Most want to tell me that they just took some test and – “Guess what famous 1970s pop star I am?” It’s all too much!

I understand I could probably adjust my settings to filter some of the unwanted messages – but I didn’t have the energy to figure it out. In the end, I feel bad – like some sort of washed up old Luddite. Just give me a good old blog any day.

On the other hand – I am on Twitter –There’s a sucker born every minute. Follow me, @hobbledrunner.

Thank You Bruce Springsteen

I know – I know – what was I thinking letting an 8 (now 9) year old listen to Bruce Springsteen over and over. It was bound to happen. This morning it did.

Driving to school, the Dude stopped the CD in the middle of Born to Run, backed it up, started it again, listening intently.

“There – that – what does he mean?”

‘Wrap your legs ‘round these velvet rims,
And strap your hands ‘cross my engines.’?”

Never one to lie – but then again, never one to just blurt out the truth when it’s not absolutely necessary – I said,

“Hmm, it might have something to do with sex.”

No response.

“Then again, it might be about motorcycles. Like maybe she is straddling a motorcycle – hanging onto the engines.” I’m obviously making this up as I go – but it’s not so bad.

The Dude stares at me, “Yeah, maybe that’s it.”


Saturday in the Park

Warning - if you are prone to motion sickness there are portions of this video that may be disturbing. M is holding the Flip while attempting some balance beam hijinks with the Dude. Saturday, Lexington Park.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Geese on Roof

[Click to enlarge - then scan the roofline.]

By now everyone is aware of what a nuisance Canada Geese can be. They were rare in urban/suburban environments when I was a little kid, but they've made quite a comeback in the past 30 years or so. Now they are all over the place, messing up parks with their droppings. The field behind our house offers wonderful grazing opportunities to the geese. It's common to see several eating grass and pooping all over the football/soccer/baseball fields near the Hobbled home - but in the past week I've observed these two (I assume it's the same two) on the roofs of houses near the field. It's always the same house(s). Perhaps they've found a new home?

I've never seen them land or take off - I imagine it's quite difficult.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

One Wheel - Not So Easy

Here we have a short video of the Dude's first attempt at unicycling. Dad tried it too, but luckily no one captured it on the Flip. Video taken Saturday at the Dude's school.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Look Out - Tuesday and 11:45 Approaches

30 minutes to go before the worst time of the week:

"Tuesday at 11:45am seems to be the time in the day when the real workload for the week hits employees and as a result stress levels rise.

"The study also revealed Tuesday as the day when workers are most likely to work through their lunch break due to the realisation they have a busy week ahead.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Project Opera, Facebook, and Planning Commission

It was a busy week and weekend as M went through final rehearsals and performances for Brundibar – a short opera performed by her MN Project Opera group. She had a great time and it was a wonderful performance, but it monopolized the week – as those things do – and now we are suffering from post-performance withdrawal and engaging in some serious homework catch-up.

The performance was actually a “double feature” – with both Brundibar, peformed by the younger Ragazzi group, and Iolanthe performed by the older kids.

Brundibar is the story of Little Joe and his sister, Annette who are in search of milk for their sick mother. While searching, they are stopped by the evil organ-grinder, Brundibar and only by working together with the other children can they overthrow him. Notably this children's opera was performed 55 times at the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II.

Iolanthe, or The Peer and the Peri is a light-hearted story about Strephon, a shepherd, who wants to marry Phyllis, a Ward of Chancery. Phyllis does not know that Strephon is half fairy and when she sees Strephon kissing what looks like a young woman, she assumes the worst. But her "rival" turns out to be none other than Strephon's own mother, Iolanthe, a fairy - and fairies never grow old.
But Phyllis' guardian, the Lord Chancellor, and half the peers in the House of Lords are sighing after her. Quickly the peers and the fairies are almost at war, but all is happily sorted out in the end, thanks to the "subtleties of the legal mind".
[M is the baker in the picture.]

They were two very different performances. Brundibar was quite dark – though it had a happy ending. Iolanthe – by Gilbert and Sullivan – was much “lighter” as operas go. The kids did great!

We saw two of the three performances, and would have liked to attend the final performance on Saturday but actually were invited to a joint birthday party for friends of ours (our vet and his wife) – and I can count on one hand the number of events that the Hobbled Wife and I attended on our own in the past year.

Shifting gears here – it doesn’t do much good to apologize for the lack of posts. I feel like I’m at a crossroads with blogging. In the past I enjoyed posting both short and long items – stuff that was “breaking news” and somewhat more thoughtful pieces. Now that everyone I know is on Facebook – all the time – I feel that the blog doesn’t compete in the short, breaking news category – and I feel too much pressure when doing longer posts to say something important or significant.

Perhaps the best thing might be to forget Facebook – I find it annoying for a number of reasons – and blog like Facebook never existed.

Final gear shifting of the evening – I was appointed to the Roseville Planning Commission for a three year term. I’m very excited. I attended my first meeting last week. It was a short one hour meeting (the previous month’s meeting ran to 11:00 p.m. and included a 2½ hour public hearing on a neighborhood business redevelopment.) As I excited as I am – and I’m sure that it could prove to be a wonderful source of “blog fodder”, I’ll probably not blog much about the Commission. I think it best to let that business take place in its proper public forum. Although if I make a fool of myself I’ll be sure to post a link to the archived webstreamed meetings so you can laugh along with me.