Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chillin' Out in Minnesota

I was cooking dinner when I heard an expletive expressing disagreement from my husband. He was talking to the newscaster on TV's national evening news. Brian Williams was leading into a story of the cold in the heartland by saying everything had come to a halt in Minnesota. Really? The reporter on location reported Minnehaha Falls had frozen over. Guess what. That falls is frozen every winter when temps dip below +32 degrees. It is winter.

Local schools opened two hours late today. Many schools outstate closed due to -35 to -50 windchills but Minnesotans continue on in most activities. My husband believes the media hypes stories looking for the sensational slant. He has that impression after spending time filming in Alaska during the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

While the national news thinks Minnesota is shut down, the local news lead with a story about two people winning $10,000 for finding the St. Paul Winter Carnival medallion. Every year during the Winter Carnival people search for a hockey puck sized medal hidden in a public park. They chip through ice, dig up snow and spend long hours outside. Last night is was painfully cold outside with a brisk wind. Over one hundred people continued to look for the medallion until it was found at midnight.

I think the national media underestimates some of us. They didn't underestimate me. We went out for dinner last evening to celebrate my son's birthday and then quickly retreated to a warm house.

For the Good of My Country

This morning when I heard Mitt Romney had lost the Florida primary I said that I kind of felt sorry for the guy. He has been spending his personal fortune. I think I heard $40,000,000 to date. My husband had a different slant. He said it was "Good for the economy". Good for the economy? All this time I have been whining that I am already tired of campaigns. I should repent. I can take it, if it is good for my country. Let them spend. Let the money flow. I will remember it is good for the bottom line.

Is passing legislation that adds $150 billion to the national debt by sending everyone a check

the best plan for stimulus for the economy? Popular move maybe, but they are counting on everyone spending the money. Do you think everyone will spend their check? What if some save it? Wouldn't it have been a better idea to send us gift cards from the store of our choice? The feds could probably get a 5% price break from the stores. Everyone knows that 10% of these cards are never redeemed. That would mean the businesses would gain 5% upfront and the Gov would get a discount of $7,500,000,000.. A win/win deal. Uncle Sam as Santa. The bill the Feds charged would arrive later for taxpayers or taxpayers kids just like at Christmas. Make that "holiday season" to be PC.

Maybe more politikin' would solve our economic woes. More candidates--all of the time. Maybe I would vote for the guy who offered to send me a check from his personal fortune. Maybe I would send the government a check if they would just stop!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Saying Thank You

Neat article about a local man's efforts to thank military families. Open the website too.

Time After Time...

I retired a year or so after the movie, “About Schmidt” came out. Remember that? My sister had warned me it was not a very appealing look at retirement. I agreed.
My husband had retired before I did. He warned me retirement would not be easy. I disregarded that advice thinking that was easy for him to say. Wouldn’t it be great to have a stress-free life?
I discounted being bored. I retired anyway. I was bored at first. It took six months to a year to rewrite my life. One needs to fill in the time previously spent working. You need to find new friends. You need to establish routines. You need to fill the time with meaningful things.
New challenge; what to do when you have more time on your hands. It is leap year. We have an extra day in February this year. I already have that extra minute a week that Boniva saves so I don’t have to “set aside time” to take the weekly pill for osteoporosis. Now that big pizza chain is offering me “thirty minutes” to do what I want. The ads say if you order the pizza you have thirty minutes to do what you want before it arrives. On their commercials one guy spends his time getting “30 Minutes Abs”. Another couple contemplates romance. The commercials are a spin from the old days when they promised to get pizza to my house within thirty minutes or it was free. They no longer offer it free if it doesn’t arrive in thirty minutes. They offer me time. Maybe retirees aren’t their target audience. Maybe those thirty minutes are more precious to working parents and busier people. Wouldn’t it be nice if the OTD crowd could accumulate those minutes and add that on to our life expectancy?

Do You Know the Way to San Jose? (thoughts on the TripTik)

We are considering taking a roadtrip to Texas in March or April. My sister lives in the west Texas hill country. If you look at a US map, the navigation looks simple. Drive 1200 miles south on I-35, turn right near Austin , Tx and go 60 miles. Viola! Today Jon went to the AAA website and printed a TripTik. It is 63 map-illustrated pages of the route. . Simple, huh. Jon remembered the days when he drove his dad to Texas for the winter. He remembers inadvertantly deviating from I-35 around Kansas City. He remembers his dad's ire. His dad was a dear, sweet man with a not so endearing temper. "You are wearing out my brakes!," his dad said when Jon found himself going through KC on surface streets instead of around it on the beltway. It was a bit tense. So, Jon printed a TripTik. It will be my job to navigate around KC.

My record for using the TripTik is flawed. Thirty years ago we did a road trip to California with our kids. AAA printed a flip-chart style TripTik for us. It worked fine. Follow the page, when you get to the bottom, turn it over and start at the top. There was only one problem. On the return trip, we had the number of days travel calculated (figure how many miles you must drive per day) to get back just in time for the kids to start school. No slack time. When we got to the bottom of one TripTik page we were entering Yellowstone National Park. The TripTik picked up as we left the park. We did not calculate the time it would actually take to drive through the park. In August, you drive miles and miles through the park following RVs going 20 MPH. Everyone goes slow to see the wildlife. We got behind schedule. We exited the park and had to drive across a northern mountain pass by Red Lodge, Montana. We drove through the mountain pass around 10 or 11:00pm. No guardrails. No street lights. The occasional grazing herd of cows in the road. Ooops. We got to Billings,MT late, slept fast, and continued on in the early am. We had 950miles to cover in the last day if the kids were going to start school on time. We may have exceeded the speed limit in North Dakota.

Wish me luck navigating, or I could just read the signs. I don't think you can lose Texas.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Voter Discretion

But Is There a Surfin' Safari?

I just listened to a piece on public radio about American "Nip-Tuck" tourists going to South Africa for a Plastic Surgery Safari. Surgery and aftercare are cheap in South Africa. We are out-sourcing our surgical procedures. They described surgery there as 1st world surgery with a 3rd world price. Patients/customers have the surgery, are prescribed potent painkillers and then continue on to see large game on a safari. When they come home some tell their friends that the restful trip did them a lot of good when people notice a face free of wrinkles and sagging skin.

Besides vanity, many people undergoing gastric bypass need a tummy tuck or whole body lift. The body shrinks, but not the skin. Insurance won't pay, so traveling to a cheaper venue and combining it with a vacation is an option. I lost 80+ Lbs. and understand this thinking. My midriff bulge is still there. Thanks to Curves I have good abs but they are slathered in buttery fat! It would be so nice to have a surgeon deal with it instead of me. Maybe there are other options. I remember a Seinfeld episode where Kramer went to a vet for pills to cure his cough. It was cheaper. Googling found me this vets poster online. They do dental care and laser procedures. Surely Botox couldn't be too hard for a vet. I worked with a local Dr. who was a vet before becoming a medical doctor. He did hair transplants. The other option, and I will probably scandalize you with this suggestion, is to combine plastic surgery and a mission trip to Africa. There is a lot of need for volunteer medical personnel in the bush. It would be a win/win deal. Mission trip travel is tax deductable. I can feel God looking over my shoulder as I type this with displeasure. Skip that last idea. The vets office has possibilities though.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Family Portraits

We have a date set for a family reunion in August. A couple of us are already focused on preparations. One of my cousins is hard at work collecting family photos and has set up a website to share them. He often emails me old pictures I have never seen. Our grandmother died young at 40 before any grandchildren were born. I am touched seeing pictures of her I had never seen. One of my deceased aunts was the image of her mom. It is all a lovely nostalgic trip. Future generations will appreciate this collection as well.
With today's digital cameras we tend to take a lot of pictures. Some will look like the coco"nuts" in the picture above. Most of the old photos we have were posed carefully in a studio. It is fun to imagine them gathering and having their portrait taken. They dressed in their finery and even the baby boys wore dresses. I wonder if Dick Cheney and Barack Obama have any old photos of their common ancestors. Strange bedfellows. Do you suppose they call each other and share stories of great-great-grandpa? Do you think they will have a family reunion when the election dust settles?
When people do geneological searches they may be hoping to be descended from royalty. Our family's claim to fame is ancestor Charles Parnell. The world can thank him for the Irish Republicans. He fought politically for the Irish and is considered the "George Washington" of Ireland. We aren't taking credit for the Irish Republican Army. Strange bedfellows.

Friday, January 25, 2008

In the Market


Remember this Hall & Oates classic, "Private Eyes"?

"Private Eyes

they're watching you

they see your every move

Private Eyes

they're watching you

Private Eyes

they're watching you

[ Lyrics found at ]

watching you

watching you

watching you"

I have heard it referred to as the Stalkers Theme Song. Creepy. I'll bet you are humming that tune all morning now. My point is, after the federal government awarded $5,000,000.00 to a Minnesota flight school instructor for turning in Zacarius Moussaoui, more people will be on the lookout for abberant behavior. Moussaoui is the co-conspirator who attempted to learn to fly a 747 to be part of the 9-11 attacks. He dismissed information on how to land the plane and raised suspicion about his plans. Good thing the Minnesota guy turned him in. He probably saved lives. I think he deserves his reward. I think we need to be vigilant. I also think the Feds must get a lot of strange tips. My daughter knew someone who called the FBI when she saw a man taking a picture of the IDS building in downtown Minneapolis. Big Brother and Little Brother are watching and for $5,000,000. I might keep an eye on you. After all, my check for $241 from Bill Gates hasn't arrived yet. Neither has my rebate from the government.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

THIS MUST BE MY LUCKY DAY - or- "The Check is Almost in the Mail"


I enjoy getting email and staying in touch with family and friends. I don't enjoy getting "form letter" email that threaten bad luck if I don't pass it along. I am amused by the ones that promise "something good will happen to me by 11:00 am tomorrow " if I don't break the chain.

I received the following email from a friend today. I copied and pasted it to eliminate the hundreds of names and email addresses and phone numbers trailing on it. I find it amusing that so many could be so gullible, but I sent it to three other people! (I told myself they could read it for the chuckle.)

Here it is:

"Read carefully... THIS TOOK TWO PAGES OF THE TUESDAY USA TODAY - IT IS FOR REAL To all of my friends, I do not usually forward messages, But this is from my friend Pearlas Sandborn and she really is an attorney. If she says that this will work - It will work. After all,What have you got to lose? SORRY EVERY BODY.. JUST HAD TO TAKE THE CHANCE!!! I'm an attorney, And I know the law. This thing is for real. Rest assured AOL and &nbs p; Intel will follow through with their promises for fear of facing a multimillion-dollar class action suit similar to the one filed by PepsiCo against General Electric not too long ago. Dear Friends: Please do not take this for a junk letter. Bill Gates sharing his fortune. If you ignore this, You will repent later. Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet companies and in an effort to make sure that Internet Explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test. When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it (If you are a Microsoft Windows user) For a two weeks time period. For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00 For every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, You will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a check. Regards. Charles S Bailey General Manager Field Operations 1-800-842-2332 Ext. 1085 or 904-1085 or RNX 292-1085 Thought this was a scam myself, But two weeks after receiving this e-mail and forwarding it on. Microsoft contacted me for my address and within days, I received a check for $24, 800.00 . You need to respond before the beta testing is over. If anyone can afford this, Bill gates is the man. It's all marketing expense to him. Please forward this to as many people as possible. You are bound to get at least $10, 000.00 We're not going to hel p them out with their e-mail beta test without getting a little something for our time. My brother's girlfriend got in on this a few months ago. When I went to visit him for the Baylor/UT game, she showed me her check. It was for the sum of $4, 324.44 and was stamped 'Paid In Full'.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I am already tired of the hype. I am already tired of hearing them proclaim they are going to win. I am tired of snide remarks. I am tired of the disrespect. I am tired of being solicited for my vote. I am tired of watching some of these untalented people make fools of themselves. Now they are in South Carolina. They want to win there and then head to the big contest. They want to be the next American Idol. I think the show has lost its appeal.

Presidential politics can wear one down like the American Idol contest. Candidates have been engaged in campaigning for over a year. Maybe if we had a panel of three judges like Randy, Paula, and Simon we could thin out the crowd shorten the procedure. (Simon need not apply. Qualifications for the panel of judges should include being a US citizen.) Judging from the way politicians work together these days, picking the judges would have to begin long before the campaigning. Let’s not tell Florida we are voting to pick the trio of judges. That could only slow this down.

Monday, January 21, 2008

On a More Serious Note

We saw the movie, "Juno" a few weeks ago and liked it. I recommended it on my blog. Then I heard from a Christian friend whom I like and admire, who had reservations about the film. I withdrew my endorsement, not wanting to be controversial. I still believe it is a film with a wide-ranging appeal and a gut wrenching point. It is about a sixteen year old girl who gets pregnant after a daliance with a friend. She is flippant about "nipping it in the bud" (having an abortion), but changes her mind after a picketer at an abortion clinic mentions that the baby already has fingernails. She realizes it is a baby she is carrying and choses to carry to term and place the baby for adoption. The movie is written from a common culture teens perspective. It is not a sermon or written from a Christian point of view. But, it is powerful and has a pro-life message and should be an encouragement to future adoptive parents. It also shows the emotional cost of teenagers having babies.
Someone sent this link today to an article by Star Parker. I read her book, "Uncle Sam's Plantation" and admire her. I guess if she was not afraid to say she appreciated "Juno" I won't be either.

Not Always Cheeseheads

We watched the Packer-Giant playoff game and rooted for the Pack. It was extremely cold on the "frozen tundra" and I wondered how long it would be before the TV cameras zoomed in a a trio of young guys with bare chests painted green and yellow. I never saw that. What they did show was a trio of young ladies in yellow bikini tops with bare midriffs. They didn't even look drunk. Probably looking for that moment of fame on national TV. I hope they didn't watch the entire game like that. The coach of the Giants looked like he needed an ER visit. His face was dark red. I kept an eye on him. Most of the Packer team worked with bare arms. Can't figure out how sleeves would have hurt. Sleeves probably wouldn't have helped much, but weren't we hearing that with -15 to -30 wind chills bare flesh freezes in less than a minute?

I admire the Packers and their fans. 73,000 people willing to stay outdoors for a couple of hours last evening are dedicated (or demented). Of course, many of that number were New York fans.

Eli Manning is a likeable guy and will follow his brother Peyton into the Superbowl. I wonder if that has ever happened before--- brothers quarterbacking successive teams in the Superbowl. They occasionally showed dad Archie Manning rooting for his son. Archie played for the Vikings for a season before he retired. Not sure who we will cheer for in the Superbowl. Both teams are fun to watch. I guess I will be pretty safe if I wear red, white and blue when I watch the game.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Our Words Live on After Us

One of the joys of my morning walks is visiting with some of the long time citizens of my town. I am a newcomer. It will be 25 years this June since we moved here. It doesn't count that I claimed Stillwater as "my home town" when I was a kid. We would drive through Stillwater on our way to visit my mom's hometown of Somerset. I liked Stillwater and remember saying, "This is my hometown". Prophetic? Out of the mouths of babes... Anyway, I like to get these septugenarians and octagenarians to talk about their memories.
There was a local lady a few years back nicknamed Leapin' Lena. Everyone called her that. She could be seen walking around town-fast-, clutching her purse tightly against her body. She was outspoken and fiercely independent. One of my walking partners laughed when she told this story. Lena had a relative who brought her to midnight mass as St. Michael's church one year. During the service, there was a hush as the lights were dimmed and candles dimly lit the beautiful church. Lena was then heard to loudly say, "Who turned off the G___D______lights!" My bet is, she was only taken to that service once.
I am not sure if we had any ancestors or relatives this colorful, but am soliciting stories from my cousins and aunts and uncles. Maybe there is a Leapin' Lena or Buster in our family tree. I think if we shake the tree a bit we may find some interesting stories too.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Colder Than a .......( -14 with Wind Chill - 29) and Dropping

It's been a cold week in Lake Wobegon and getting colder. Minnesotans usually regard surviving frigid temps as a badge of honor. I think we have softened a bit since I was young. Why? My theory; we no longer live vicariously watching the Minnesota Vikings play outdoors in subzero temperatures. Green Bay still has the distinction of being tough enough to play, tough enough to watch games outdoors in January. Our memories are short, however, and fans are pushing for an outdoor stadium. My choice? Watch it on TV when it is cold. I will also watch the Packer game with a lap robe in place. I get cold just seeing cold people.
There still are the brave (or foolish ones) in this state. There is an outdoor Pond Hockey Tournament today on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis. That is our old neighborhood. They use warming tents and hand warmers. Bud Grant, Vikings coach in the 70's & 80's would not allow his players to wear gloves or use hand warmers while on the bench. No warming tent. They didn't even make that much $$ in those decades. No wonder they were purple. No wonder they had a fierce line. Warm weather cities' teams did not enjoy playing here in late December or January.

The Cats Turn

Solve this word puzzle:


There are 7 girls on a bus

Each girl has 7 backpacks

In each backpack, there are 7 big cats

For every big cat there are 7 little cats

Question: How many legs are there in the bus? The number of legs is the password to unlock the attached Excel sheet. If you open it, add your name and send it on to see who else can unlock it. Send it back to let the person know you got it correct .
P.S. There is NO driver

PS: The bad new? I can't put the Excel sheet address on here because it doesn't have one. You will have to comment or email me for answer. Some solve this quickly. Some don't.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gone to the Dogs

My Cribbage group is finally meeting to play cards tomorrow. Last year we managed to get together almost every other week. One friend goes "up north" for the summer. We never managed to get back on schedule in the fall. Three times I have called and arranged to play cards. Three times we had to cancel for someone to attend a funeral or some other morbid reason. I felt like I had a black cloud above my head and sat back waiting for someone to take the lead. This week Loralei initiated plans. They decided to meet at my house. That is okay. I have always offered to host here since I like in the middle.

When I was growing up we always played cards. My parents played 500 with friends. We learned to play poker when we were kids. If I recall there are many variations of that game. The only one you hear about now is the popular Texas Hold'em. I must have lead a degenerate life as a child. No money changed hands except occasionally a few pennies. I only got in trouble once. When I was quite young my paternal grandmother came for a visit and I asked her if she wanted to play cards. She declined. My mom took me aside and explained that grandma's religion forbade card playing. It also forbade drinking and I think my dad had strayed from what he was taught as a youngster. Sorry grandma. Maybe she prayed extra hard for us after that. It is always good to have grandmas concerned about your welfare.

Well, I'll Be Domed...And Catch Me If You Can

I walk at the Rec Center in the dome covered field house. The surface is a soft Astro-turf like fake grass; it is easy on the feet. Walkers frequently remark how grateful we (mostly senior citizens) are for the warm, dry place to walk. Yesterday everyone said how cold they were. No heat. No wind either, but no heat. Today I will venture over a little later hoping the candlepower effect of all those warm bodies helps. Maybe they have fixed the heaters.

I haven't blogged since Sunday. No ideas. Still no ideas of consequence, just a few contemplations. If you are my age you will remember Edmund Muskie, a presidential candidate from the 60's or 70's, tearfully defending an attack against his wife. It cost him his candidacy. A few years later, a congresswoman from Colorado, Pat Schroeder, wept on camera and was ousted from the race. Can't show weakness. What happened in New Hampshire? How did this ball bounce in Hillary's favor? Or did it? Pollsters are squirming. Perhaps the public who had watched Hillary stand up to Bill's publicly exposed philandering without tears felt compassion for her. Some might have seen her sensitive side for the first time. I still think Mitt better be careful.

We live on the border. The other day as I drove, no sped, across the long interstate bridge by Hudson, WI. I noted my speedometer's reading and slowed down. Then I wondered who exactly would give me a ticket on that bridge? Wisconsin State Patrol? Minnesota State Patrol? Who patrols it? I believe both have jurisdiction but can't imagine a squad car driving out half-way and making a U turn. I reckon it is a free zone. Put the petal to the metal and go. Slow at the exit.

We were in Montana in the early 90's shortly after they had a period of no speeding laws. Those independent people liked their wide open spaces and have a cowboy attitude towards government restrictions. Go as fast as you want. No problem. Plenty of room on those isolated roads. They did coalesce and reestablish restrictions bowing to federal pressure to withhold funds. Our Montana friends told us it was also legal for someone to drive and drink a beer in the car. Amazing. Wasn't legal to be drunk, but it was legal to drink. I guess when you live in a big, lightly populated state they worry less about hitting another car. The moose are on their own.

The picture is not Edmund Muskie, just some guy on the Intranet with a great catch.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Demise of the Doughboy

I received the following "story" about the demise of the Pillsbury doughboy and passed it on to Jon. He retitled it "May He Rest in Pizza" and sent it to everyone he knew. One of those people was a Catholic nun. She replied to the email saying that a bishop they both knew had died. Her reply still had the heading "May He Rest in Pizza". Mea culpa, mea culpa, no one meant any disrespect. Jon changed the heading with his reply to her. Didn't want to have it look like they wanted the dead bishop to rest in pizza.

Sad News
"Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment community. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71.
Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs.Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours.Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times he still was a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model formillions.Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, two children, John Dough and Jane Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart.The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Movie We Enjoyed

It is Jack Nicholson playing Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman playing Morgan Freeman but a better movie than I expected. This a heart warming story of friendship. Of two men dealing with the end of their lives with grace and a lot of humor. People in the theatre were laughing out loud many times. Not morose. Serious at times but lighthearted and uplifting.

Let's Do Lunch - and- Keep the Change

Wrestling even looked phony years ago. I remember my mom saying someone had told her they went to a professional wrestling match where the guys went at it like they wanted to kill each other. The spectator then saw the opponents leave together to go out to eat after the match. It was a show. It was business. It was their job, but they did not carry animosity toward each other when out of the ring.

Our legislative branch used to operate like those wrestlers. They hotly debated bills and verbally fought each other. Civility remained. They showed respect. They did lunch afterwards. They socially interacted. I heard one pundit say laws forbidding the two martini lunches or accepting gifts over a small amount have changed the way lawmakers do business. These social meetings smoothed over ruffled feathers and made it possible to compromise. More bills were hammered out at the local steakhouse after sessions. They needed to be civil. They needed to show respect.

I think we should bring back the dinner meetings. Let them do lunch. I am not endorsing any candidates in this writing. I just think we should consider that all of them enter politics wanting to do the right thing. All think their views are right. Sure, there is the power thing, but at some level they want to lead others in the proper direction. It is our job to carefully screen these candidates and chose the most qualified.

Polls last year revealed a flagging job approval for congress. Their approval rating is in the teens. As a group they are reviled. Individually they are admired. Many of our current crop of candidates are from this elite body. People disapprove of congress but also say they like their own senator or representative. Isn't that strange. These are the same people. One might wonder how this could be. Do we dislike the people or the way they relate?

If you have ever drivin in Jamaica you will remember the VW bug sized potholes in some of the roads. This happens when one district did not vote for the current administration. The new politicians do not allot funds to that districts' infrastructure maintainance. We have a tradition of "pork barrel bills" in our country. Senators pay back colleagues for their support on one bill by voting for money to flow to the other's district. This has been a motivator in getting them to cooperate with each other. I don't think it is the best motivator. The motivation should be that they are Americans who love their country and want to do the right thing. A lively debate is good. Pressuring others to see their viewpoint is still good. Hating each other and retreating to our camp to fight is what the Iraqi government is doing. We can do better. I say "Do lunch".

Work on the big problems of illegal immigration, healthcare needs, economic downturns and our own security. Treat each other as colleagues and not the enemy.

Keeping it Simple

I didn't write this. I got it emailed from my sister. Clever synopsis of Bible history. Bet you didn't know the current administration was involved. See line seven!

The Bible in 50 Words!

God made

Eve bit

Noah arked

Abraham split

Joseph ruled

Jacob fooled

Bush talked

Moses balked

Pharaoh plagued

People walked

Sea divided

Tablets guided

Promise landed

Saul freaked

David peeked

Prophets warned

Jesus born

God Walked

Love talked

Anger crucified

Hope died

Love rose

Spirit flamed

Word spread

God remained.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sweet Deal

The kid is starting his final semester in college next week. When he registered for classes, he sheepishly told us he registered for a class in maple syrup production this spring. It is a one credit class, just what he needed to round out his credits. Not too hard, mixing well with the tougher classes he will take this last semester. He also sold it as a chance to get out in the woods and do something fun. Okay. Sure. His University has a 2500 acre campus and a good stand of maple trees to tap.

He will be doing all of his own cooking this session. We plan to send him back with staples for his pantry. He is a fairly good cook and eats fairly balanced meals. I think I will tuck a box of pancake mix in the box. He will probably be able to bring a "free" pint of maple syrup back to his apartment. Free? A one credit class costs over $800. Bargain syrup, huh?

New Year's Goal: Always Knowing Where I Am Going in Life

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Whole Lot of Shakin Going On

Wisconsin got hit recently with a deadly tornado. Tornados in January? What next? Earthquakes? I don't think we need to worry about this, but they do say there is a big fault near the Mississippi in Minneapolis. My mom had a strange sort of optimistic take on life. "It could always be worse", she would say. Look at the picture. It is worse. Tornado and lightning. Do you duck, run for cover or just pray?Earthquakes have a low probability of hitting Minnesota. So do tornadoes in January. I got this "test" for earthquake preparedness and failed. I got 4 of 10 correct. Not good for someone headed to California in March. See what you do.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The King is Dead; Long Live the King

Pathetic as this seems, when I looked at the calendar this morning and saw January 8th, I thought, "Elvis' birthday". Why do I remember that? I was never more than a lukewarm fan. He was, however, the first rock star I liked. I was about ten when he became famous with his first hits.

Elvis has been dead over thirty years. There are tabloids who previously published stories about him faking his own death. He was spotted working at a K-mart or Walmart in Ohio. I don't think he was so desperate for a private life that he is still stocking shelves somewhere. I don't think he could have made enough to retire from Walmart. I don't think their pension plan is enough to keep him in Cadillacs or flashy clothes. Dead, his estate earns more than he did when he was alive. Maybe he has worked out a deal with his managers to siphon some of that money to another account. Maybe he is cruising the Mediterranean with JFK on Onassis' boat. Maybe we are crazy for listening to any of those stories.

In the early 80's my sister and family moved south. She told us, "Elvis is not dead in the South". There were still radio stations that continually played his music. He was revered and kept alive by fans. Elvis was not dead in Georgia, but the War Between the States was not forgotten either.

Perhaps Entertainment Tonight will show a clip of the candlelit procession of people at Graceland softly crying and paying tribute to the king. Nashville still remembers her favorite son. Some of those fans are getting a little long in the tooth.

Elvis was a twin. His brother died at birth. What would the world have been like if there had been two kings of rock and roll? I wonder if they were identical. In spite of losing the twin brother we have thousands of replicants dressed in white jumpsuits sporting black pompadour hairdos to console us. Perhaps Elvis lives after all. I can't think of another celebrity so imitated. I wonder if he would rather have not done the drugs and lived a few more years. It must be hell to be stuck in 70's fashions.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Disney Restaurant Bans Kids

That headline will grab your attention. Disney banning kids? I read on. One of the Disney resorts has a new upscale adults only dining room. For $125 a plate couples can escape to a serene world. Spokesmen stated that infrequently someone wanted to dine there with young children. Most were there to enjoy an adult quiet dining experience. Disney folk stated there are 97 other Disney restaurants that are geared to families.

What were people thinking when they brought their overtired, probably squirmy small fry out to a sedate dimly lit expensive restaurant? I began to shake my head. I understand that children can have problems being quiet and well mannered at the end of a tiring day. I cannot always understand that parents take them anyway. Isn't that what Mc Donalds is for? Then my memory kicked in. I often find when I become judgmental my conscience reminds me I have done about the same thing. Years ago, when our grandson was highchair sized, we brought him and the whole family to a local Italian restaurant. It was not an exclusive place, but nice. We sat at a large round table enjoying the antepasta, canneloni and pleasant ambiance. Our munchkin was pleasantly quiet. No screaming or fussing. Mom and dad fed him off their plates. When it was time to leave we noted in horror the ring of spaghetti around his chair. He had also flung spaghetti a pretty good distance on the carpeted dining room while we were busy talking. We slinked out vowing to stick with Perkins next time. Right now it is time to "eat crow."

Saturday, January 5, 2008

This Week in Politics. Observations of Someone In the Middle Lane

No endorsements. Just things I have heard, read, or seen this week in politics.

Iowa caucused. Not everyone does that. Minnesota caucuses. In addition to that we have a primary. Covers all the bases. Declare who you want publicly then do it secretly in the polling booth months later. Who planned that?

Minnesota's legacy for years was to be considered a "Blue State". We were a blue state before the rather recently designated blue state/red state handle. (That started with television election coverage in 2000.) This is the land of Humphrey, Mondale, Gene McCarthy, and of course, Harold Stassen.
You have to be about my age to know who Harold Stassen was. He was a perennial candidate for president. A former boy governor from Minnesota who wore a bad hair piece. We tried not to notice him. We tried not to be embarrassed by him. Then we elected a boa-wearing, trash-talking, chrome domed former wrestler turned talk show host as governor. Well, governor, that should have embarassed us good. We outlasted him. He quit in a huff after four years. This week he was again in the news promoting his new book, "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me." Samples from the book made the newspapers. He tells of advising President Clinton to accidentally bomb Jerusalem off the face of the map. That would solve the fight to the death struggle in the middle east. He said we could claim we had a "computor misfunction". Might be hard to get that one past the Lord who plans to rule from that hill. Oh, Jesse...What were we thinking?

Maybe it is a good thing Minnesota doesn't have the first caucus in the US. We learned our lesson and won't pick Jesse again, but it looks like Chuck Norris might be interested in politics......

Hillary came in third. In spite of her strong well funded organization, she came in third. Some have called her calculating. I think she was miscalculating. After the White House, she moved from DC to New York. In the Iowa caucuses a guy from Arkansas was a decisive winner. Maybe she should have gone home. The heartland might have liked her better if she came from Arkansas. Hee-haw.

A note from history. Bill Clinton's approval soared in the 1992 election after he played the saxophone on national TV. Huckabee plays a pretty fair guitar. He was a guest on Leno the Monday night. Anyone with political aspirations better practice when they are young. Didn't Truman play the piano?

Last week Mitt Romney fielded a question from a reporter about the campaign manager of an opposing candidate saying he would like to punch him out. Mitt answered with good humor, "Just don't touch the hair", he said. Mitt, this competition wasn't about hair after all. John Edwards tried that and didn't win either.

I also heard that the people with the most expensive political managers did the worst. It seems the people had something else in mind. Change. Change. Change. We are a little nervous about the history book showing this lineup of presidents: Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton.
Maybe Jesse does have a future on the national level. First, he will have to move back from retirement in Mexico. If he is not available, it looks like tough guy Chuck Norris is getting interested in politics. If Huckabee picked him as a running mate we could have a president from Texas (H.W Bush), one from Arkansas (Clinton), one from Texas (GW Bush) followed by a president from Arkansas and VP from Texas. That doesn't sound like change to me.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Proud MOM

Our youngest is in the home stretch of his undergraduate education. The last tuition bill sits on my desk. He has been focused and worked hard. His science major has kept him busy doing homework until midnight many nights. His grades are good. He is goal oriented. Soon he will be job hunting. If you can believe what you hear, there will be a job for a someone in the sciences. He majored in chemistry with a track in analytical chem. His minor is environmental sciences. His dad and I imagined he might be employable at a company like 3M who need to clean up the mess they made in the groundwater near the Chemolite plant. Good benefits. Good company. A good future. He intends to take a break working for at least a year before heading to grad school. To advance in chemistry you need to do post graduate work.

Andy spent yesterday working with his brother in law. His eyes sparkled when he told me of a possible future job. One of the guys who works with son in-law Mike had a friend who was a chemist. He got a job at a local brewery doing quality control. "But that's not all, mom", he said, "He quit that job and got a job traveling to festivals around the world testing different beers". Dream job for a 22 yr old. Wouldn't he make his parents proud. 3M may have to wait for the boy wonder.