Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Round Up Time

Herd 'em up, head 'em out, Rawhide!

Who else but our littliest grandbabies, Roman and Zoe in the saddle.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Setting My Clock to Lifetime Savings Time

A quick look at my email this morning and resolve to change my ways. My husband forwarded a site called "The Death Clock". Who wouldn't want to open that on a Monday morning. You fill in a few blanks with personal information and the site calculates your probably date of death. I did. Then a screen came up saying my time had expired. I thought I had taken too much time calculating my BMI and day of the week I was born. No. My date of expected death was February 22, 2001. Cheerful way to start the week. What had I done? I am a non-smoker and not that fat. I did it again and instead of putting pessimistic ,I entered optimistic. Now I was given several more decades to live. You can expect my demise on July 1, 2047. I know I tend to see the dark side of things vs. my husbands more positive spin. I think I will cheer up AND quit watching the news. I could also watch the You tube video my sister sent this morning. Laughter is good for the soul and probably the body too. Have a nice day.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fantasy Island Redux

Imagine my surprise when I picked up the Sunday paper and saw the headline on the travel section-- "Fantasy Island" . Yesterday I referred to the dynamic dyo of Tattoo and Mr. Rourke.

The Pioneer Press story wasn't about them either. It is about the world's largest water park in northern Germany. Developers have turned a form blimp hanger into an enormous beach party. It has sand beaches, islands, the requisite water slides and of course, this is Europe, the nude spa. I laughed when I read the encounter of the author and his young son with the spa.

It brought back memories. About thirteen years ago our close friends moved to New Hampshire. That winter NH has record snowfalls. They had one storm that knocked out electricity to rural areas for months. A lot of snow. Some ice. They thought they had moved from a snowy, wintry state, but realized New England can have a few wintry surprises too.

By April they wanted a respite. We arranged to find cheap flights and accomodations and meet for a long weekend in Las Vegas. We brought ten year old Andy and used the town for home base with day trips to see the sights. One day we drove to Death Valley. On the way back, someone at a gas stations directed us to a hot springs in the desert. We had our bathing suits in the trunk and were game. The springs were inside a building with separate entrances for men and women. That should have been a clue. Jon and his friend Dave took Andy to the mens' side. Sue and I went into the womens room. We showered and changed into bathing suits in private stalls. When we attempted to enter the hot spring area we were stopped and informed we could not wear suits. I went to a Catholic girls school where we showered individually after gym and admit I am pruddish. We skipped the dip in the hot springs. Then we waited for the guys. After a while they came out. Andy was quiet. I'm not sure he was prepared for a spa experience with naked 70 and 80 year old men. Did I mention the place was by a retirement trailer camp?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour

How are you planning to spend your "earth hour" today? We used to have a whole day, didn't we? Now you must plan carefully and spend your time wisely. http://www.earthhour.org/about/

It probably isn't appropriate to spend my "earth hour" on-line blogging, so I had better hurry.

I did clean and fill the bird feeder this morning. Any points for that?

I think the idea was for everyone to unplug electrical things for an hour. Turn off the lights and save the earth. What? Maybe because lights also generate heat we can stop global warming. This is about global warming.

If we coordinated that effort what effect would that have? Wouldn't the synchronized effort cause the whole world to reconnect to the grid at the same time after the "earth hour" and cause a great surge in demand for electricity? Blackouts could occur. Be careful fellow earth dwellers. Maybe we should all spend our "earth hour" sleeping late. Maybe I will just take a nap.

Zee Train! Zee Train!

If you ever watched "Fantasy Island" in the 70's or in reruns, you may remember Tattoo announcing the arrival of guests to the island. He would alert Mr. Rourke to arriving planes.
That doesn't have anything to do with this video. It is just a cool video of a fantastic miniature train display in a Hamburg, Germany.
My husband's first job was on the Great Northern Railway. He was sixteen and got the job as 4th cook (aka dishwasher) by lying about his age. These days you a birth certificate to get a job and he wouldn't make the cut. This summer job involved five day runs from St. Paul to Chicago with an overnight in a railroad hotel. Then they went from Chicago to Seattle with another hotel stopover and a return trip to St. Paul.
Would you let your sixteen year old do that for a summer job? The late 50's / early 60's must have seemed safer to parents. Maybe there was a biblical reference that comforted them: "Train up a child in the ways...."
Jon worked the Great Northern and Northern Pacific trains summers for several years and was promoted to 3rd cook. He continues to be nostalgic about choo choos. Yesterday we pulled over to watch a freight train go through Lake Elmo.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Where Do I Sign Up to Test the New Drug?

I found this You Tube video about Resveratrol by clicking on an ad for an anti-wrinkle fix. Mind you I already have a few bottles of anti-wrinkle lotion in my bathroom. I still have the wrinkles. I was just curious. Many of the ads are funny.
The video was from a Barbara Walters 60minutes interview about anti-aging. Dang. Scientists may figure out how to keep us all looking better and healthier but that could mean outliving our diminished 401Ks. Feeling younger and healthier, people would put off retirement. How would that work with the high unemployment rates? Maybe we don't need Resveratrol. Someone should work on a drug called Reversitall that we could give politicians so they could figure out our economic mess.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Smile, You are on Candid Camera

I've got a headline for Jay Leno today. ( Last night he joked about the woman who bought fake boobs with a fake ID. He must be reading my blog!) If you live in Minnesota ,you have probably heard about the guy who stole a laptop from a store that specializes in selling security surveillance equipment. I'll tell the rest of you. The store has 17 surveillance cameras that capture a clear, color image of the store and grounds. They have better shots of this guy than most wedding videographers get of the bride. Dumb crook. I wonder if they will let him keep the laptop. He will need something to amuse himself when he sits behind bars.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

When It's Chilly, We Want Chili

The title says it all. I like to make chili (the soup) when it is cold outside. My apologies to my Texas relatives. Mine would not pass for chili in the Lone Star State. There are no real chilis in my chili and I use hamburger which is a cardinal sin unless you live in Minnesota. We recently had a Chili Cookoff at church. This is mostly a time for the guys to show off their skills. An associate pastor calls his recipe "Methane Madness".

Garrison Keillor likes to muse about our cuisine--green jello "salad" and hot dish are traditional church pot luck dishes. Actually, I haven't seen green jello salad in years and not much of any Jello at church dinners but you might have to be Lutheran. Catholics ate red jello with bananas like my mom made.

A recent bit of news that might interest my Texas family, the three counties around St. Cloud, MN are considering consolidation to save administrative costs.
The proposed name of the new county would be Lake Wobegon County. No kidding. I wonder if Mr. Keillor has a copyright on the name. Perhaps he could work a deal with the state. We use the name and let him be our new senator.

Headline News

My favorite headline today: "Police Say Woman Used Fake ID to Get Fake Breasts".
Somehow this seems logical. I know. I know. Identity theft is no laughing matter. It has ruined many a person's credit. Still, you have to say the woman was shrewd. This happened in southern California so the chances of finding her by a physical description are slim. Think about it. They are looking for an enhanced woman---in California. It does seem fitting that she used plastic to buy more plastic.

PS I had to chose the illustration carefully today.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Whether You Like It or Not

Weather. You like it or not. We just had an excellent week of warm, sunny spring weather with above average temperatures. That turned into a normal spring week with clouds and almost daily rain that will cap off this weekend with snow. Welcome to Minnesota.
We have nothing to complain about. Many states are dealing with long droughts.

There was a blizzard yesterday in South Dakota with 70 mpr winds and heavy snow.
Downpours measured in inches in the Red River valley are causing the rivers to rise. Twelve years ago the Fargo/ Moorhead area had the flood of the century with widespread destruction. This year's flood is predicted to be more devastating. I guess the '97 flood was the flood of the last century.

Volanic Mount Redoubt in Alaska blew its' top yesterday. Maybe we should leave some of that money in the budget to monitor volcanos. (Why is that mountain named "Redoubt"?)

In spite of having fairly normal spring weather in the metro area, we continue to focus much of the newshour to reporting the weather and we haven't even had a tornado yet. I guess that takes our minds off our senatorial election recount and the feds spending one trillion $$$$$$$$$ on toxic assets yesterday.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Too Big To Fail

The Dow Jones went up almost 500 pts. today in reaction to the feds plan to purchase "toxic assets" from banks. We purchase toxic assets helping the banks clear away their bad investments. Tax payers take the hit and banks are in a better position to recover and make a profit. I suppose they must do that so there will be more $$$ available for bonuses.

For the average person like myself who does not have a thorough understanding of economics everything that has been happening has been a mystery. It seems our overspending has been part of the problem but is also the answer. Since the average person won't buy that new car or shop retail the government is doing our spending for us. It helps to have a printing press I guess.

Advice on what the government should or should not do is similar to those medical bulletins we hear that say "drink the wine for heart health" or "drinking alcohol causes cancer". Who to believe?

We had a traveling teacher in church yesterday with a refreshing teaching. He said Job, the biblical book about the guy who lost everything, moaned and sought council from his friends and acquaintances for nine months without success. Things got worse. Nothing improved until he turned to God for answers and everything was restored to him.

Just because the government says something is "to big to fail" and seeks to rescue it doesn't mean they can. Remember what they said about the Titanic? It was seen as indestructible but failed because of rivets.


The twins were six months old yesterday. Mom and dad got a cute picture of them eating cereal for the first time in their "high chairs". I love the bare feet.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Communications 102

Years ago elementary teachers taught the fine art of penmanship. If you are from my generation, you might remember your Palmer method or Zaner-Bloser instruction books from grade school. ( I learned Zaner-Bloser.) The books had illustrations on beautiful cursive letter writing. You practiced on special lined paper that helped you get the letters properly sized.

I don't think today's teachers will spend the same amount of time drilling children in perfect cursive letters. Texting and computer keyboard, and cheap long distance calling have made handwriting almost obsolete. I wonder what we will be losing. Didn't caveman who had to chew tougher food have more teeth than we do? Wasn't there some benefit in mastering fine motor skills?

A couple years ago I started emailing and blogging at my daughters prodding and enjoyed it. Recently a longtime good friend sent me her Facebook address and asked me to join. I delayed taking the step, but finally did, although I haven't entered anything but my name and age on my page. I'm working on it. Eventually I'll get 'er done but I am leaving the Twittering and tweets to the robins while I try to decipher "pokes" and "likes". We've come a long way from signal fires and petroglyphs.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Far From the Madding Crowd

John Q Public is outraged about inflated bonuses paid to executives of failing corporations that are surviving with taxpayer money. Didn't congress know they would pay the bonuses? Didn't one experienced senator guarantee they would get their bonuses?
I got a tongue-in-cheek mass emailing this week that suggested the Feds offer everyone over 50 yrs. of age a million to retire. This proposal would cost less than the stimulus packages we have already doled out.
Jobs would open for the unemployed.
Diminished retirement accounts would be fattened.
A provision to receive the money would be that the recipient bought either a foreclosed house or an American made car thereby solving the oversupply of houses and unsold cars. A stimulus package many would feel good about, right?
That Washington group is probably as guilty as the Wallstreeters. Don't they get perks taxpayers pay for? I don't hold politicians in higher esteem than the financier gangs. There is a new guy who talks some sense we might want to line up behind and follow. See what you think.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Party Hardy

I t's spring in Minnesota with the temp hitting 65 today. Everyone was out walking tonight. One lady was walking a multicolored Standard Poodle. I stopped to ask her if it was a designer breed and she said the dog was a Standard Poodle with "parti coloring". I had never seen that before in a full sized poodle. The dog looked like the black and white one to the left, not the picture on the right.
That dog has been partying at an entirely different place.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

No Revelie on the Reverie Harp

Today's Pioneer Press Washington County section has a story on a Stillwater company's Reverie Harp. It was designed by Matt Edwards of Musicmakers, a local retail and catalog merchant of stringed instruments and kits to build your own. They offer the harp in kit form or ready-built and it has become their best seller. People love it because anyone can play it. You can't hit a bad note. It is tuned so that all the strings are in accord and a person can play it without lessons.
Our daughter worked for this company for almost ten years and Matt is the young man who filled her job when she left. I was thrilled to hear of the company's success with the instrument.

This easy to play instrument is reported to be soothing and used during pregnancy, labor and with hospitalized patients. Even a child can play.

Link to website: Scroll down left column to the light green area and click on "sound" for a page with audio samples. I like the effect when it is played with dulcimer hammers.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Field of Dreams

I'd bet most Chicagoans still say Marshall Fields instead of Macy. Now they find the Sears Tower has been sold and will be renamed Willys Towers. What next? Juicy Fruit Field?

Naming rights to raise funds has been a growing concern. We have Target Center and Target Field is being built for the Twins to play baseball outdoors. The U of MN got a big donation to name their new football stadium. It is getting harder to follow which team they are talking about when they broadcast from the different ball parks around the nation. Many have new stadiums with corporate names that don't identify the place.

Recently the Vikings team made another pitch for a new stadium. Currently the Vikings, Twins and MN Gophers share rent on the HHH Metrodome. Stadiums for the Twins and Gophers are under construction. I guess the Vikings feel left out. Vikings management suggested we think of building them a stadium as a stimulus to local economy. Think of all the construction jobs. (Don't think of the billion dollar price.) Since the Vikings usually self-destruct at the end of each season there hasn't been a lot of good will to build them fancier digs.

Like you, I am sick of hearing about the "Octomom". The woman seems like an idiot, but one can't help but feel concern for her children, although not enough concern for me to send a donation. I have ambivalent feelings. I hopes she finds a way to care for and feed them but I am not responsible. Then...viola! An idea. Naming rights. Why hasn't anyone thought of that? There are eight kids. Lots of possibilities. Maybe she could even lend her pseudonym (Octomom) to a sequel to that James Bond movie. Lots of possibilities for childrens names: Victoria- sponsorerd by the lingerie store.

Wally, by the world's largest retailer. Might even get some diapers from them.

Macy is a neat name.

How about Olympia? It might offset some of the bad publicity one of their heroes created.

Even Bernie Madoff might tell where he buried the money for a little image improvement.

Bernie Madoff With the Money

By Jane Celeste the Pest

Bernie made-off with a stash
Of his trusting investors’ cash
But now justice may have come
They've incarcerated the bum
And he’s wishing he could make a dash.

Bernie expressed his regret
One day in jail has made him fret
No Rolex or no yacht
Just a stainless steel pot
Things won’t get much better, not yet.

You must show us the money
No 67 million for your honey
You stole from your friends
And must make amends
Others futures are now not so sunny

While he’s lounging in jail
Getting tons of hate mail
The Feds audit his books
Thinking there were more crooks
In the scam and there must be a trail.

Where did the fifty billion go?
Banks in Switzerland? Curacao?
It’s time to confess
Let’s have some justice
There is plenty of room at Gitmo.

Friday, March 13, 2009

We'll Miss the Swiss

I was raised in the central Minnesota town of Little Falls. Two local businesses were Simonet's Funeral Home and Simonet's Furniture store. When we moved to Stillwater we also had a Simonet's Funeral Home and Simonet's Furniture. The families were related distantly. The Simonets emigrated from Switzerland in the mid-1800's. Years ago the furniture makers made the caskets and the two businesses were a natural pairing.
Simonet's Furniture in Stillwater was a main street fixture for years. A decade or so ago they moved up the hill into a new building. The same family has owned and managed the store for five generations. This week my good friend Mary, whose great-grandfather started the business in 1864 told me they were going out of business. Bad economic times have taken their toll.

In the 80's the store made news by breaking a record for the longest run of an employee in the same job. A local woman became their bookkeeper when she was about 16 yrs old. She stayed in her job until she was around 90, if memory serves me correctly. The last years she used a walker to accomodate an aging body. Her mind stayed as sharp as ever. The owner of the store gave her a ride to work each morning. What nice small town values, a faithful employee and accomodating employer. When she retired, they probably computerized their records.
You can't read the small print on the sign on the back of the truck, but it says "we retired the horses in 1913." Now we are going to retire the store in 2009. We will miss the good service from a local store where you could buy a piece of furniture in the morning and have it delivered free the same afternoon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Realities and Old

It's March, it's Minnesota and we had another "tournament blizzard" yesterday. The metro escaped with a glazing of ice and little snow, but outstate got hit hard. Actually, in Minnesota we refer to everything north of the twin cities as "up north". If you look at a map you will notice "the cities" are in the lower fourth of the state geographically. We have been conditioned to look for the tournament storms. Years ago there were two tournament weekends in March: the hockey and basketball tournaments. Now, I believe they run almost the whole of the month. We have divisions according to gender and size of the school. Hence you might have AAA, AA, and A boys basketball and repeat that with girls' sports and duplicate it with hockey. You see we have a lot of tournaments in March. The poor Minnesota Wild Hockey team has trouble scheduling home games.
Might as well face it--it snows in March.
The poor Minnesotan is not only bombarded by freezing rain and snow, we have to contend with daily updates on election results. You had forgotten about the election, hadn't you. We are not so lucky. Our senatorial contest is still being contested in court. Both sides are spending someones' money picking at nits. Norm Coleman finallly suggested a week ago that we vote over. It is hard to imagine anyone feeling good about any decision that comes down. This is ruining our squeeky clean political image. Wouldn't a coin flip work? An article in Newsweek this week proposed another solution. Vote over with two new candidates. I think I heard a loud AMEN from the populus.
Times have been strange.
-- You can buy a couple shares of GE or GM stock for less than a Happy Meal.
--Michael Jackson still has fans in the UK and is touring again.
-- The former CEO of Countryside Mortgages who helped topple our empire with bad mortgages is getting rich buying up houses at firesale prices.
-- Bernie Madoff is about to plead guilty if his wife can keep some spending money----$67 million.
Friday I finally sold off part of my IRA that was invested in "financials". It had lost so much I thought I might as well take what was left before it was Zero. Yesterday Citi Bank announced a 4 biillion dollar profit and the stock market soared. Maybe I should keep an eye on what that CEO of Countryside is doing or invest in Michael Jackson memorabilia.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Simply Amazing

My sister sent me this link to an amazing You Tube video called "Regeneration of Cells". I thought it was another video about reuse of cell phones.
No destruction of human embryos needed for this scientific miracle. Do you think this just happens or are we not wonderfully made by a very "intelligent designer".
This may be a very good place to invest---probably better than Citi Bank or GM