Saturday, July 30, 2011

Looking for Some Mellow Air

I see this everyday when I make eggs for breakfast. It’s the controls for the fan above our stove. It has nice late 1950s look. Surprise – Mel-o-air is still in business. They’ve been in business since 1952 according to the website – “nearly 50 years” – hmm, time for an update on that math.

Given the weather recently it would be nice to have a button to summon some real mel-o-air.

Friday was a sick day. It was a partial mental health day with some authentic symptoms thrown in for good measure. I’ve been fighting a cold for about 2 weeks. I thought it went away, but its back. Symptoms include sore throat, swollen glands, cough, and general exhaustion. Doesn’t really feel like a cold. It feels like everything (play, work, work-related travel, oppressive heat and humidity) has caught up to me. It’s been chasing me for about 2 months, but I must have slowed enough for it to tackle me from behind. I would like to give it an olde fashioned name like dyspepsia (wait that's a real ailment). Here's a good one: Nervous Prostration - though it seems a bit melodramatic.

I know I bring it on myself by engaging in too much activity which can be loosely defined as activity other than work. But I can’t help it. Extracurricular activities like the Planning Commission and Rosetown productions help get me up in the morning. Another PowerPoint presentation and the latest spreadsheet doesn’t do the trick.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Broadway Debut

Don't look so grouchy man! It's your Broadway debut after all!

Having some free time on Saturday, I took the train to New York City to conduct a little research for work. Dont' ask for all the details but "Yes" you have to go to New York to do this. The fact that I was in Philadelphia for other business made it easy. After some work time at the New York Public Library, I found myself with several hours free before I was to catch my train back to Philly so I played tourist, going to the top of the Empire State Building - a first for me. I snapped a few photos from the edge, but got a little dizzy and queasy and found it much more comfortable to hug the inside of the wall on the observation deck.

[Looking north and a bit east, the Chrysler Building, George Washington Bridge (I think).]

After that it was off to Times Square. That was an overwhelming experience - with millions of tourists, incredible noise - not to mention temperatures near 100.

After Times Square I wandered for another hour or so ending up in Hells Kitchen where I must have looked more local than tourist as I was greeted by a candidate for civil judge and given a brouchure. It was fun getting away from all the tourist stuff and seeing people where they actually live.

But - enough of that - I had to retreat to Penn Station well before departure time because I was too darn hot after several hours of wandering Manhattan.

Hot Time in Philly

[Checked the weather on Friday afternoon - ouch.]

I decided to follow this oppressive heat wave as it crosses the United States, arriving in Philadelphia on Thursday for meetings with customers. I had some free time on Friday so (like a fool) I wandered around in the 104 degree heat.

[From the top of the steps looking east.]

I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art - famous for it's incredible steps that Rocky ran up in the original movie. Not a lot of tourists were doing the run up the steps and posing with hands held high - though a few couldn't resist the urge. I walked to the top of the steps in long pants, sleeves rolled up, carrying my laptop bag over my shoulder and holding my sport coat in my hands. Upon reaching the top I did not pump my arms, instead I retreated into the blissful air conditioning of the museum where I spent over an hour wandering the galleries and cooling down. When I signed my credit card receipt at the admissions desk I dripped sweat onto the receipt. The young woman behind the counter took it in stride, suggesting I might wish to use the complimentary coat check as it seemed I woundn't be needing my jacket.

I took a cab back to the hotel.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ahh to Be at the Lake!

My nephew is quite the fisherman. While he shows the usual impatience of a younger fisherman - constantly switching bait - never letting the bait sit still for a second as he casts and reels in, casts and reels in - he must know something I don't. One thing he can do is respond correctly to a bite and set the hook properly. Here's a few snapped over the recent 4th of July holiday by Auntie Amy. He caught these from the dock all by himself. (Purple plastic worms - that's the ticket!)

These pictures from Amy come as a welcome relief. I'm sitting in Philadelphia (business trip) where the god-awful heat and humidity has followed me from Minnesota. Landed at 4:30 and it was 97 degrees - with terrible humidity. Went to dinner by cab - not far and probably would have walked had the weather been better.

I love the silhouette - I think I'll make it my new Facebook image!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Whew! Wizard of Oz Comes to an End

[Curtain call - me in middle with tie.]

We wrapped up the Rosetown production of the Wizard of Oz Saturday night. If you will forgive the metaphor, the show was as hot as the weather – with humidity and temp climbing throughout the day. Despite a great deal of tumultuous weather, we lucked out. There were no weather related cancellations like last summer’s tornado shortened final performance of Oliver!, or the snow-cancelled Christmas Carol performance last December.

The end of a production is always bittersweet. We are happy to have our evenings back, but “regular” life seems so boring compared to life in Oz.

Congrats to local Mayors Peter Lindstrom of Falcon Heights and Dan Roe of Roseville for their cameo appearances as “Honorary Mayor” of Munchkin City. Reciting lines over music on a stage filled with close to 100 Munchkins, in front of a crowd of over 500 can be a daunting task. But the mayors rose to the challenge. I spoke with Mayor Roe. He seemed to really enjoy it – and looked quite the part in his mayoral sash and top hat. (See far left in picture above.)

Thanks to Amy Crosson for the picture above. Many others have documented the show, see this great Flickr collection, and more on the Rosetown Facebook page.

What’s next? Like all strenuous activities – when it’s over you say, “Whew! Glad that’s over, I’ll never do that again.” But of course, you will try out for the next production because you’re hooked. Why? It’s a gas to spend so much time with your kids – and other families. The cast of Oz ranged in age from 4 to 54 (or so). It’s a great community and inter-generational activity. Other reasons include the obvious – it’s so much more rewarding than the “day job”.

The next show? The Christmas production, a musical, The Ultimate Santa. Next summer – Fiddler on the Roof.

Dress for Success

I’m preparing for upcoming business travel. I will be at a trade show in Philadelphia starting later this week, doing the usual PowerPoint presentations, and conducting some focus groups.

The instructions in the picture above come as a great relief as the clothing decisions have been made for me. (Note the orange spotted tie!) I’m befuddled about what color belt and shoes to wear. Maybe I’ll go crazy on socks.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Twin Lakes

[This was a once a parking lot. Would you guess it's only a few blocks NE of the 35W and Highway 36 interchange?]

Shana and the kids are out of town, and I was feeling antsy after dinner so I hopped on my bike (something I don’t do too often) and set out on a little field research in my role as a member of the Roseville Planning Commission.

Mission – to visit the Twin Lakes site. I won’t go into all the gory history, and there is a lot of history. It’s still something of a hot-button political issue in Roseville.

I had visited the site on other occasions, but always as a motorist, driving the streets. Up until now I had only driven the main streets. Tonight I wanted more detail so I used the bike. I biked around the overgrown parking lots. Some of it felt very post-apocalyptic – like a Twilight Zone episode or maybe that book published recently about what would happen to our infrastructure if humans suddenly “left” Earth. There are numbers of open buildings, warehouses mostly with loading-docks. There are plenty of areas where kids and others could walk right into these buildings. I suspect lots of partying takes place back here – or at least it would have when I was a kid. Maybe kids today are different? Lots of interesting graffiti.

When I was back there the police showed up. I biked over to the squad car to greet the officer figuring they were after me (trespasser), but he just said "hello" and kept driving. I probably didn't look too threatening.

Later I discovered what the young kids were doing. While riding by the Metro Transit Park and Ride multi-story ramp I observed several kids skate boarding in the ramp. It’s probably a great skate boarding site once the cars clear out post-rush hour. The police didn't drive through the ramp – maybe he didn’t see them, or figured kids will be kids.

[A view of Langton Lake, located at the north end of the Twin Lakes area.]

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Oz is Hot - and So's the Weather!

[Photo Source – Rosetown Playhouse. You can't see me but I'm helping hold up the gates of Oz.]

The first three performances of The Wizard of Oz are over. Now we can rest up for next week’s shows on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (July 14, 15, and 16). We had a big crowd last night – 700 some. (Approximately 550 attended on each of the first two nights).


Kids are scared of the Wicked Witch. You can hear the littlest members of audience tittering and gasping when she first appears. Score one for great make-up!

The Cowardly Lion is a great hit – especially with the Lion King reference.

The joys of outdoor performance: It’s almost impossible to easily get into and out of costumes when it’s almost 90 degrees with humidity to match.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Essential Non-Essential Spouse

As many know, Shana is a non-essential state employee and so has been laid off with the recent Minnesota state government shut-down. Friday was her first official day of unemployment, but as Friday is her usual day off, it passed unnoticed – for the most part.

With the 4th of July holiday, Tuesday marked Shana’s first official day away from work as a laid off employee. Upon returning from the cabin, she got right to work – around the house. When the kids and I returned from Oz rehearsal Tuesday night at 10:00 p.m., there was furniture to move. She had been working and cleaning in the family room – and had done everything she could on her own. It was up to the Dude and I to lend a helping hand on a few pieces of heavy furniture.

I’m not sure what all the future holds for the non-essential, essential spouse. She’s talked about more furniture re-arrangement, clutter control, and some painting as well. If it wasn’t for the lost income, this shut-down may turn out to have a positive impact on the household.

As I tell her - you may not be essential to the state of Minnesota, but you're still essential to me and the kids.

We’re Off to See the Wizard!

It was a great opening night with 552 in attendance.

We only get access to Como on the day of the show. Up until then we rehearse at Roseville Area Middle School (RAMS) in the theater and/or cafeteria with the floor taped off to mark the entrances – so you never know how it will really work until you get there. There are always last-minute details to work out like entrances and exits and dance changes – moving folks off the stage and into the spacious aisles of Como. I was great!

Toto remains a bit of a wild-card, running through the audience, up and down the rows of benches and chairs, but it’s funny (and cute) enough to almost seem a planned part of the show.

Friday, July 01, 2011

First Dress Rehearsal

Here's the Dude in full flying monkey costume. He's Nikko - the "head" flying monkey, the henchman of the Wicked Witch of the West.

I love the back stage stuff. Here's the "official" order from the sheriff stating that Dorothy must give up Toto to Miss Gulch.