Friday, February 25, 2011

On Wisconsin

The Hobbled Wire and I seldom argue politics, but we are of different minds about the tactics employed by the Democratic Wisconsin Senators who have left the state rather than vote on an bill they found unacceptable.

I think it will haunt them when the next face voters. I could be wrong – and the older I get the more wrong it seems I am.

It’s sometimes embarrassing, but I have a Mr. Smith goes to Washington sensibility about elected officials. They were elected to do a job, and running away from the job is not “doing” it. Yes, they want to stop the bill, and they feel they had no choice. I’m glad I’m not them.

Personal story: There are a number of times that controversial matters came before the Planning Commission. I would have loved to run away to Maplewood or Shoreview if it would help. But it wouldn’t.

On one occasion last year we couldn’t muster a quorum. Staff called, emailed, and texted the missing members. The commissioners present waited almost one hour – while the members of the public present for a somewhat controversial public hearing stared at us growing resentment. My stomach was starting to get queasy and I actually started to sweat a little as we sat there joking amongst ourselves, hoping at any minute one of our colleagues would come through the door to make it a quorum. Thank God it’s hard to find tar and feathers in a first-ring suburb – but I suspect some were wondering if perhaps a quick trip to Home Depot was in order.

In the end we cancelled the meeting; that’s never a good thing.

Today I must report that I’m softening my position on the Wisconsin Senators bugging out to Illinois because a story I heard on the radio this morning. NPR did a piece about the Illinois legislature of 1840. Faced with an unacceptable banking bill, many of the Whigs absented themselves from the capitol, denying a quorum. A few Whigs remained behind to keep tabs on things. When it looked like the majority could muster a vote, one of the young Whig legislators who stayed behind attempted to bolt – but the door was locked. Luckily his height helped soften the blow when he exited from the second floor window. His name, Abraham Lincoln.

That doesn’t really prove the point that leaving is the right decision. But it makes me (the sappy patriot) happy to hear that Honest Abe remained behind. The fact that he bolted at the last minute raised a chuckle, and for whatever reason, I have now softened on the whole Wisconsin thing – for now.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Scroll Down for New

Just - finally - finished a post I was working on for several days. Due to some blogger quirk - it published with that old date - under my more recent post. Someday I'll figure out blogger.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Answer to Everything?

Found this funny - and couldn't resist the joke.

From today's New York Times:

Mrs. Obama told reporters this month that she would promote breast-feeding, particularly among black women, as part of her campaign to reduce childhood obesity. The Internal Revenue Service then announced that breast pumps, which can cost several hundred dollars, would be eligible for tax breaks.

Ms. Bachmann lashed out at the campaign on Tuesday on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, saying that it reflected a “hard left” position that “government is the answer to everything.”

My response to Michelle Bachmann – “No, breasts are the answer to everything.”

Inspriation (Source): Tweet from Lenore Skenazy, Free Range Kids.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Old Pictures

Here's my Dad (left - big ears) and a buddy - probably basic training, maybe Army Air Corps. Due to an injury immediately after basic training, my father actually went through basic training twice. Once with the Army Air Corps (pre Air Force), and then again in the Infantry. He always said, "I was the best trained guy over there!"

As you can see from this post, we finally have a nice printer/scanner. It pairs nicely with the fancy MacBook Pro purchased last week. We've had both for a week and this is the first time I've actually played with the scanner and the Mac.

Now that we have a nice scanner, I thought it time to break out my dad's old WW2 photos. Only a few of the pictures are of my father and buddies. Most of the pictures in the album have a more dubious origin.

Dad (right) and buddy - this one actually has some writing on the back (most don't). It says simply, Germany April 45. Thanks for the detail Dad. Who is this other guy? Better yet who is the guy in the background - far left. Bonus question - what is my father wearing attached to his left breast pocket?

A number of the other pictures in my Dad's collection are not from his own personal collection, but were obtained in the course of combat in early 1945. They were looted from a castle in eastern Germany. I recall my Dad saying that he and a buddy split a photo album.

I'm no history detective, but I've looked at the pictures a number of times over the year and have a bit of a narrative built up around the pictures. My guess (and it's only a guess) is that someone in the family was an officer in the German armed forces. I can't tell which branch - but probably infantry, maybe some sort of cavalry unit. Many of the photos show young officers - many candid shots - and some more formal. There are a number of battle photos - lots of blown-up bridges and a few urban scenes. Several have tanks, but others have horses.

This one caught our eye because of the signage displayed on the bombed out building. It looks French to me.

We also found this photo of African soldiers. Would they be conscripts from one of the German colonies in North Africa?

The collection of photos also contained a number of official propaganda photos - they appear to be postcards. I suspect these were purchased at stores? Need to do more research on that point. Lots of photos of Hitler in various poses - with the people, posing with kids (kind of chilling), with his fellow leaders, etc. I may post some of those later.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Company on the Walking Path

[Clicking may help enlarge photo to show the 4 deer on the path.]

Lots of folks around here are getting fed up with winter and all the snow! Even the deer choose the walking path when convenient. It beats leaping through snow banks.

Note the cool reddish color in clouds. I think that’s due to the camera – not some interesting natural phenomena. It looked cold and gray to me.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Where's That Old Family Recipe for Turtle Soup?

This is an interesting story – and it brought back a nice (though somewhat creepy) childhood memory.

This rabbit was wild, grass-fed, and presumably antibiotic- and artificial hormone-free. Except for the car that had hit it, no food miles had been accrued delivering it to us. So why not bring it home for dinner?

The story is complete with recipe and pictures (look out!).

Now for the personal angle:

My maternal grandmother was known for picking up road-kill and bringing it home for dinner. The story I remember most vividly involved a turtle. As a small child, upon first hearing of turtle soup – which sounded so exotic (and gross) – I remember asking my mom, “Was such a thing possible?”

“Oh sure,” she replied. “My mother used to always pick up turtles on the road to take home for turtle soup.”

Now that I think back on the story, I believe Grandma stopped for turtles – dead or alive.

No story is complete without a Google search. Just for kicks – I bet this is the only reference to Grandma online – Julia Olson Nordeen Senear.

[Do a Find (CTRL-F) for Senear, she is the third one:
SENEAR Julia In Nordeen lot. Julia Nordeen Senear, 1886-1969]

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Power and the Planning Commission

It was time for change at the Planning Commission last night. Our Chair passed away in December. The Vice-Chair moved up to take the Chair's role, leaving that role vacant. Before I knew what was happening, I was nominated and voted in as the new Vice-Chair of the Planning Commission.

It's not something I sought - but sometimes we have greatness thrust upon us. [cough]

I'll try not to let all the power go to my head. On the other hand - the new appointment is just in time for Valentine's Day. Hope the Hobbled Wife remembers the famous Henry Kissinger quote, "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac."

In other related news . . .

In order to maintain favorable rates on our insurance policy with the League of Minnesota Cities, various city officials who engage in land-use planning activities had to complete an online course. I took mine today - it was actually pretty interesting. Here's a sample question below. [click to enlarge]

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Found: The Urbane Researcher?

I think I’ve located the one-time owner of The Modern Researcher. Scrawled out old name and wrote – in green pen – Bill Lindberg.

I Googled it – second search was the one, bill lindberg west publishing:

After leaving the active practice of law and becoming a full time coach in 1998, Bill worked in a variety of senior managerial positions at west publishing, one of the premier legal publishing companies in the country. As the National Manager for Market Relations, Bill worked closely with key individuals in corporate, government, and private law firms as well as in law schools and libraries. Bill also developed and delivered educational programs and hired and managed a staff of lawyers and paralegals. Source

He hasn’t been at West for some time so I suspect he left the book behind when HE left.

Bill is associated with a management consultant group – still no doubt an urbane researcher.

Wait – it gets better. Here’s a clip from the ABA Journal (1987). Looks like lots of fun at the AALL convention.

An Urbane Researcher?

The departure of colleagues sometimes presents the opportunity to inherit stuff they deem too important to throw away, but not important enough to take with them.

The kitchen/vending area near my cube has become the place for departing employees to deposit these “valuables”. Lately I’ve seen a number of old promotional items like pens and mugs, 3-ring binders and books, and last week I spotted a half-eaten box of Triscuits.

I seldom take anything from the pile. I don’t need any more stuff and it feels a bit like grave-robbing. But this week a few items caught my attention. The person “moving on” must have been with the company for some time. I found:

• Two coffee mugs promoting “old” products.

• A three ring binder for a product I’d never heard of – and it’s one of those cloth bound three ring binders – one of the “good ones” in my opinion. Found it.

• And these two old books: The Lawyer’s Guide to Online Data Bases (1987) – I liked that two word approach: data – bases; and, The Modern Researcher (first published in 1957 – but this is the first paperback edition, 1962 – year of my birth).

The Modern Researcher claims to be, “An instructive and urbane manual on how to gather . . .” The fact that it was “urbane” sold me.