Friday, October 28, 2011

Time – and How Not to Use It.

[Picture from walking path at work - illustrative of a good way to spend your free moments.]

Sunday I returned from a run and decided to do what little post-run stretching I do in the back yard. It was warm and sunny and Shana and the Dude were gardening. As I lay on my back looking up at the clouds it hit me – when was the last time I laid on my back and looked up at the clouds? When I was 12 years old? No, better make that 10? If you think about it – or maybe if you don’t think about it – it almost feels like you are on a giant ride (let’s call it Earth) and you can feel it spin you around – forward.

On a related note I read this interesting piece about time, and how we use it – or don’t – and working – or not working:

Yes, we're Americans. We are, by and large, utterly terrified of silence, stillness, spaciousness, the doing of nothing so as to feel the totality of everything. Meditation, for most, is disquieting and strange. Deep quiet feels weird and dangerous, a void aching to be filled. The Internet has us convinced that the world is a roaring fire hose of urgent information, and if you can't swallow it all, well, something must be wrong with you.

Mark Morford Hat tip: Austin Kleon.

Related – in a way: Sitting in a meeting Wednesday. Everyone had their laptops open. One colleague turned to another and said, “Four emails! How can you only have four unopened emails in your in-box?”

Both this colleague and I have close to 200+ emails unopened at any time. I’m kind of an email slacker – if the subject line or sender doesn’t jump out at me, the email is ignored. This other guy, he’s a getting-things-done kind of guy, but even he can’t keep up. On the other hand, at least one colleague does keep up with email. So how does she do it?

“Every morning at 4:45 when I’m eating breakfast, I read email, sorting and deleting as I go along,” she replied.

Four-Forty-Five in the morning! Ugh – another example of how the corporate rat race is one I’ve lost. There are days when I’m certain I’m not even entered in the race.

New Year - Old Tasks

Found this to-do list in the pocket of a coat I don't wear very often. It's an old "barn coat" purchased in the mid-1980s at Dayton's. In the pocket was this old to-do list. It could be from last year, but I also found an old receipt - for the purchase of donuts and pumpkins at Rainbow dated October 24, 2009. So maybe the to-do list is 2 years old.

Despite the passing of a year - or two - the tasks remain almost the same as those we accomplished (or failed to do) last weekend. Both the Dude and I got haircuts. We also went to the library to pick up a book on hold.

The list also has some things I still need to work on: We still haven't purchased pumpkins and our Anniversary is tomorrow (17 years) and I still haven't bought a gift!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thank Goodness for Indian Holidays

Until I read the Wikipedia article, I knew nothing about Diwali (or Deepavali) except it meant no 7:45 AM “stand-up” call this morning.

True confession: I am usually sitting down at my dining room table for these stand-ups.

Urinetown Press

[Photo by MacDonald Meade.]

The Roseville Patch published our press release and a nice photo.

The Roseville Review also ran the photo (in their paper) - but not the article.

While the article/press-release was written by me, it was a real team effort. Lots of great photos by Mac Meade (parent), and Shana's interview with the production's director Michael Sheeks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Problem: Can’t sit still!

Solution: Short work bursts – don’t expect to sit still through all 319 unopened emails – just isolate one email chain and read, respond, and delete.

Then get up – move around – and return for the next attack.

The Ultimate Santa

The kids and I have roles in Rosetown Playhouse’s upcoming production of The Ultimate Santa. It’s very exciting for me as I have a named role, “Stocky” – a stock-broker and contestant in the Ultimate Santa television reality show.

So what's it all about?

Is Santa irrelevant? Perhaps? An unscrupulous television network, trying to boost ratings has decided to cash in on questions circulating about the continued relevancy of Santa Claus by hosting a reality TV show to find a replacement, a “new” Santa. Twelve people are put forward to compete for the title of The Ultimate Santa – including the real Santa Claus, and Mrs. Claus – along with a cast of characters with little or no experience to actually be Santa.

We’ve had two rehearsals so far – concentrating on lines and blocking. Dancing starts Thursday! Yipee!

It’s a busy time in our household with Maria getting ready to open Roseville Area High School’s production of Urinetown: The Musical.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

From Whence I Came

[Ole and Marie Olson - my great-grandparents. Date unknown.]

Maria is doing a project for Geography where she has to trace a set of ancestors who emigrated to the United States. Always up for a challenge, Maria decided to avoid the easy route which would have been to follow my father-in-law's forebears. As a Mayflower family they are very well documented - going back to the 1300s or something in England.

No, instead she has chosen to document my mother's grandparents (my great grandparents) Ole Olsen and his wife Marie. Not a lot is known about them - in fact we don't even know when they immigrated. Ole was born in 1866, Marie in 1864. Their first child was born in the United States in 1884 - so he was 18 years old and in the U.S. But when did he arrive? Was he married? Did they leave the old country as a married couple, or meet up here?

Little is known - he was dead by age 34 - and only two pictures survive. This picture of he and Marie taken in Willmar, and separate head and shoulder shots that appear to be taken the same day, based on their dress and general physical appearance.

Assuming our great grandchildren will still be able to access the media our lives our are stored on, let's hope their future geography projects are much easier.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Move Along - Nothing to See Here

The bench is gone.

As you recall, it was neglected. I guess it was a choice between repair or remove - and remove won out. It was obvious no one sat on it anyway.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Santa-Hole

On Monday the kids and I auditioned for Rosetown Playhouse’s The Ultimate Santa. Everyone who auditioned was required to sing a non-religious Christmas song. I sang what I call the “Hula Hoop” song, made famous by the Chipmunks. Maybe it’s really called “Christmas Time is Here” or something.

Then we had to present a one-minute monologue answering one of these questions:

1. Where does Santa really live?

2. How did reindeer learn to fly?

3. What happened the year Santa got pneumonia?

I choose the first, and presented a short monologue about Santa living in our hearts, in a "Santa-Hole". The idea was based on the theory of the God-shaped hole that I first read of in James Lileks' Bleat. (Alas, can't find link to original Bleat.)

I did it without notes – but here is what I prepared ahead of time. I stuck to the text (mostly) but as often happens in those instances you get off message and have to just go with it.

Where does Santa really live?

Santa lives in the hearts of each and every one of us.

You may not know this, but we are all born with a little “Santa-Hole”. In fact, about 1/16 of our heart space is allotted for Santa. Most of us fill that space with the joy of Christmas, gift-giving, merry-making, and so on.

Unfortunately that hole grows smaller as we age.

But sometimes events conspire to turn back the normal aging, Santa-Hole shrinking process. Of course the most famous example of this was the Grinch who stole Christmas.

Technically speaking his Santa-Hole didn’t grow – instead his entire heart grew, thus increasing the size of his Santa-Hole in proportion. But – same result –larger Santa-Hole, more joy and giving for the Who’s down in Whoville.

But I’m not the Grinch.

What can I do to stop the normal Santa-Hole shrinking process brought on by aging?

Well, absent a Grinch-like change of life the rest of can only hope to keep our Santa-Holes from shrinking by following this advice: Eat right, get plenty of exercise, and never stop loving the gift of giving, the true spirit of Christmas.

Of course the third part of the audition was the dreaded dance which seemed easier this year – though I won’t kid myself. I won’t be amongst the featured dancers.

Good news this morning: Call-backs tonight the Dude and I. Not certain about Maria yet – she had a number of conflicts

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dear Santa: Send White Shirt

I apologize for the blurry shot - that's me flabbergasted by the Christmas decorations at Macy's in Rosedale. Macy's was our third stop in the elusive search for the white dress shirt.

The Dude and I set out after noon today in search of the white dress shirt - straight collar (not button-down). He needs it for "opera choir" as we call it around the Hobbled Household - more officially Ragazzi, part of Project Opera. (Both he and Maria are in "Opera Choir" - M being in Giovani for the older kids.)

First stop Kohl's which had plenty of button-downs but no straight collars. From there we ventured over to the Mall. We had hoped to avoid Rosedale but since Kohl's didn't come through, it was off the the Mall.

Penney's - Nope; Macy's - No; Herbergers - Yes, but none in his size. Home to order online which is what we should have done in the first place.

Other weekend accomplishments include 7 loads of laundry, yard work (mowing, etc), cleaning the bathrooms, cooking a great ham on Saturday, and ham soup with the left-overs tonight.

Engaged in some parent-powered-publicity for Urinetown. I drafted a "news" story for the local press, The Roseville Review, and the Patch. Shana is interviewing the Director tomorrow morning before work hoping for some quotes to round out the article, another partent is providing a few pictures. After all that work, let's hope they print it.

This morning I did a short run - continuing a recently established tradition of the once-a-week run. It's amazing that it works. I think all my walking during the week helps provide something of a "base" for my weekly 2+ mile run. It's fun, I (sort of) wish I could run more, but once-a-week works for me.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday - No Longer Pizza Night

[A close-up look at the walking path - complete with festive fall colors.]

Tonight for dinner it’s Noodles and Company which now alternates with Chipotle, replacing our Friday Pizza Night in the Hobbled household – at least for the duration of the show as Maria is instructed to avoid tomato products of any sort (including pizza) while on “vocal rest”.

Yes, I am aware that most pizza establishments offer a “white” pizza (free of tomato sauce). But try serving that to kids – I dare you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Alternate Routes to Work

For the benefit of a neighbor and co-worker - two alternate routes to work.

The shortest - and least free-way intensive.

View Larger Map

Slightly longer - includes freeways and the ever colorful Yankee Doodle Road.

View Larger Map

Too Big?

Can a monitor ever be too big? The answer for me is, "Yes".

Our department admin was so proud that she scored these nice new monitors for everyone. I'm less excited. With my glasses (progressive lens bifocals) I find I have to turn my head from side to side, and up and down, to take it all in. I've gone to using my laptop open on my desk. The small screen is best for viewing everything at once, and it's low enough and can be angled "just right" so my bifocals work great.

I still have a tuck-under keyboard - but it's screwed to the "wrong" spot since I don't use that cool, new, BIG monitor. Instead I just tap away on my laptop and use the big screen when someone stops by and I want to show them something - or like today (the other 95% of the time) when it's a great venue to showcase my desktop background. That's a photo snapped Tuesday morning while walking Duke.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dry, Dryer, Driest

Some dry-looking plants along the walking path at work.

We are enjoying a long run of crazy nice weather. We’ve had about a full week of highs in the 80s, windy, and dry.

On Saturday Shana asked me to dig a hole to plant a new shrub rose. I dug down about 18 inches and it was bone-dry the entire way. I’ve never seen it that dry before.

We’ve been watering that rose, and other parts of the yard all weekend. We’re not looking for lush green grass, but want to get some moisture in the ground before the inevitable freeze and snow.

But we will enjoy the shorts in mid-October while we can!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Getting Better - Thanks to Caribou

Things are looking up - with my free coffee our in-house Caribou. Hmm - The note says I should call a radio station and tell them how this gift made me feel. Won't go that far - thanks anonymous benefactor and/or KTIS. For the record, I felt "good" - which might not sound like much, but given my day up to that point, that's not bad.

For a warm, almost summery Friday it's been a very frustrating day – though I did make it to 9:19 AM before sending my first crabby email. It's amazing I made it that long.

I’m trying to accomplish one big thing that MUST BE DONE all the while answering questions about our products from what seems like every sales person out there. Here's a hint to those who want my attention - Microsoft Outlook's Red Exclamation Point of High Importance does not help. Once everyone starts using them - it's like working in a bell factory - you can't hear the ringing anymore.

Ahh - the power of coffee - especially FREE coffee!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Always the Last to Know - School Bomb Threat

I've never been one of those "Helicopter Parents" but this would have been nice to know about. Cut and paste from Roseville Police Press Release:

During the late evening hours of Tuesday, October 4th, Roseville Police Detectives arrested and placed a 15-year old Maplewood male at the Ramsey County Juvenile Detention Center on a probable cause Terroristic Threats violation.

It was at 12:53 p.m. on Tuesday, October 4th, the Roseville Police Department responded to a bomb threat at Roseville Area High School located at 1240 West County Road B2.

Roseville Area High School officials told investigating officers an anonymous caller had called the school and left a voice mail message indicating he would “blow-up” the school at the school at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 5th.

Police and school officials searched the school and found no suspicious items.

During the subsequent police investigation, detectives learned the identity of the suspect who made the bomb threat to the school. When questioned by detectives, the youth admitted to making the bomb threat to the school as “a prank.”

This 15-year old suspect was charged by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office earlier today with felony terroristic threats.

The Roseville Police Department is continuing to investigate this case to determine if others were involved.

Still haven't received a communication from school - the Shana got this via email from the City (she subscribes to all their news via email).

Update - Shana reports there is a voice mail on the home phone left at 9:30 AM today. They were probably waiting to see if the bomb went off at 7:30 before calling. Considering I knew all about homecoming week BEFORE it even happened, thanks to the School's listserv email, you think they would notify us Tuesday - the day of the arrests, etc.

Yo - Ho - Ho - We Won!

There was a little friendly competition amongst the groups at work to prepare a basket for a local charity silent auction.

The theme involved shelter as the charity, Dakota Woodlands, is all about shelter – so birdhouses were distributed. We were told to prepare a gift basket using the bird house in some fashion. Since our bird house was a pirate ship we decided to go the rum and treasure route.

You can see the finished product with the bird house painted by yours truly. There are several bottles of rum, a $100 gift certificate to Treasure Island Resort and Casino, and some poker chips.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Urinetown - the Trailer

While I cleaned the kitty litter boxes this afternoon, Maria and the cast of the Roseville Area High School's production of Urinetown was having a lot more fun - filming this trailer. Everyone is getting excited - opening night, October 28.

Vocal Strain - The Hobbled Voice

We have a bona-fide theater related injury at the Hobbled Household - Maria is suffering from vocal strain. As much as I like to include pictures in my posts, there is no way (with phone camera) to capture a picture of what vocal strain looks like. There really isn’t much to see.

If she were in the traditional sports, it would be easier to demonstrate injury – and elicit sympathy – with a cast and crutches – or at least a limp.

Mostly it looks like a quiet 14 year old – which I realize is rare. Maria is under doctor’s orders to maintain “vocal rest” which is easier said than done.

Things were going fine for Maria’s voice despite (or because of) three choirs, private voice lessons, and rehearsal for Urinetown five nights a week. Then something happened. After a particularly forceful solo at rehearsal, M reported her throat hurt. After a few days without improvement we consulted with her voice teacher, who recommended a doctor who works with singers. (He is also the father of one of M’s classmates). The ENT observed a thickening on one side of her vocal chords.

Recommendation: “Vocal Rest” – limited (or no) talking. No singing – but she continues to attend U-town rehearsals – but is not singing in the choirs – merely attending – and lip-synching (kidding). Avoid pop (soda for you non-Minnesotans), tomato based stuff – pasta sauces, pizza, etc – and citrus (OJ, etc). She is on Prednisone and an ant-acid to deal with possible acid reflux – which is common among singers because the heavy pushing with their diaphragm can cause the stomach acids to sometimes leak through – further irritating the already injured vocal chords.

I expect the remainder of the weekend to be quiet. I’m sure there will be no whining about homework as that would be a violation of the “vocal rest” protocols.