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.