Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jai Ho, Jai Ho, It's Off to the Oscars, We Go

I will be routing for "Slumdog Millionaire" to win big tonight. We saw this bittersweet, yet uplifting movie and are fans. I love the music. I am an "Indian Wannabe" now. I am even a fan of the Bollywood musical ending. You must have heard this song, if not play it and see if you can get it out of your head.

Friday, February 20, 2009

That's the Pits

This week there was a dreadful story about a chimpanzee who attacked and critically mauled a woman. We often hear that "wild" animals can be unpredictable. I just don't think of cute little chimps as wild animals. Because of their antics they seem less harmful. What surprised me most about this story was the response of the animal's owner. She had raised him in her home as her "son" for fourteen years, but when he almost killed her friend, she called 9-1-1- and told police to shoot him. We are more familiar with pit bull owners who defend their animals and petition not to have them destroyed after they have eaten some kid.

I have a prejudice against pit bulls. Aren't there enough animal breeds out there without exposing others to the dangers of this steel-jawed dog if it attacks? My husband's nephew is raising a baby with three pit bulls in the house. I don't get it. With that mindset, you can imagine my surprise when I read a story about a local "therapy dog" who is an prize winning pit bull. In a week when institutions might be wary to admit a "therapy chimp" to visit hospitals or nursing homes, a therapy pit bull is a finalist in a national contest by Milk Bone.

Do Your Mothers' Know Where You Are?

Last weekend out youngest son, Andy, went ice fishing with a couple of his former college roommates. They rented one of those big ice houses on Mille Lac Lake. The week before we had a run of four or five days of 40+ degree weather that had melted most of our snow and left standing water on local lakes. I was worried it was a little late in the year to go ice fishing.

He just smiled when I expressed alarm that he would spend 24 hrs. on the ice. The DNR was warning that standing water had weakened some ice. There were thin, "rotten" spots. You need to know that the rental ice houses are a ways from shore on a very big lake. You drive out there. OMG thought the mother.

He didn't change his plans.

I made one last attempt to dissuade the kid. These ice houses are often heated by propane heaters. A nurse I used to work with has a son-in-law who spent a night in an ice house a few years ago that wasn't properly ventilated and was overcome by CO. He lived, but is brain damaged.

My husband thinks I worry too much. I probably do. (That and nag.) When I voiced these concerns to Andy he said, "Yeah, I packed a portable CO detector and extra batteries, mom." Right.

He is a thoughtful kid though. In the morning he called from the fish house on his cell phone and left a message to tell mom he was still alive. I never got a second call saying he also made it off the ice intact, but.....

The picture is not Andy and friend. I don't think it was warm enough to catch some rays shirtless. They didn't even get a fish or a nibble. I think they might have had a cooler, though.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Let Him Who Has Ears Listen....

For the last year we have listened to public service messages warning us of the coming change from analog to digital TV broadcast. If you don't have cable or satellite TV and depend on rabbit ears or a roof antennae, you need to get ready. Help your elderly family, friends and neighbors prepare.
My husband says I would have to be included in that list. He didn't say I needed help because I am elderly, although I probably fit in that catagory. I am among the technologically challenged. I would have heard the message and purchased the converter box but them scratched my head trying to install it. I might figure it out if I took the time to read the instructions, but I would have grumbled the whole time.
Congress recently gave an extention on the date for conversion to all digital broadcast, pushing it off until June. Good. There must be a loophole for broadcasters because some have already pulled the plug on analog signals. This afternoon I listened a gentleman who staffs a tech support service for the conversion. In some areas many TV stations have already switched. The help line was overloaded. Lots of people had the boxes but found their antennas did not have the UHF capabilities or people had not rescanned and reprogrammed their remotes. Who knew?
There are always people who love progress and look forward to change. Then there are others who resisted rural electrification, flouridization of drinking water and satellites flying overhead. I am not sure if they were more afraid of big brother watching or collisions in orbit. It didn't seem like much of a threat fifty years ago. Yesterdays paper had a letter from a lady claiming they never would switch to digital broadcast. To support her point of view she sited how we never switched to metric measurements despite the 1975 Metric Conversion Act. Are you buying gasoline by the litre?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Driving the Golden Spike

A century and a half ago, our young country celebrated as the ceremonial golden spike was hammered in place commemorating the linking of tracks forming the first transcontinental railway. California was now tied to the rest of the continental US.

Today we have undertaken a new project for the history books. The new stimulus bill provides $50,000,000,000.00 to build a rail connection between Disneyland and Las Vegas, Nevada. The whole project will be "golden", not just the spike. How will we ever be able to express our thankfulness to Congress for that gesture?

It takes a lot to leave me speechless, but lately I have only been able to silently shake my head and be grateful my mom isn't alive to see these times. We have a 1001 page spending bill that was hurried passed. Most supporters admit they haven't read it. Haven't read it? The spending spree reminds me of a low budget television show when contestants are turned loose in a grocery store to grab all they can stuff in their carts in a limited time. They push, grab and race to the finish trying to get more in their cart than the other contestants. The one with the most stuff is the winner. What have we just done? Will we be able to think of ourselves as winners?
I read that even if this stimulus bill provides three and a half million jobs, each job will cost $250,000.00. That doesn't mean each worker will make a quarter million dollars. You would have to be in the collapsing financial markets to get that kind of help. Maybe they could have skipped the railroad to Vegas and created 35 million jobs each paying $25,000. Maybe they could have taken a little more time to consider the cost of what we are doing.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Other Valentines

Happy Valentine's Day

February 14th is here and I forgot to buy my sweetie a card or gift. He has always been more thoughtful than me. Thankfully he greeted me first thing with a warm "Happy Valentine's Day" and confessed he had done the same thing. We just had our 41st anniversary and I have had 14,965 days when he has proved his love for me. He still says he loves me often.
The love of my life has hundreds of thoughtful ways he shows his love too. Last night when I got home from babysitting, dinner was ready. He keeps my computer humming and my car clean. He is a pillar of strength in difficult times. He is more optimistic than I am and a man of faith. Eventually our ashes will be shelved in a columbarium in the Minnesota Veteran's Cemetary in Little Falls, MN, but we will live on forever eternally. Jon is the guy who turned my heart toward accepting Jesus years ago. Now that is a lasting valentine. Consider it yourself. This life is just a test. We were designed to last forever. We were designed to live in paradise. If you have put your hope in politicians, your money or even yourself, all will let you down. Put your heart in His hands.

Mr. Peanut Goes to Washington or Is It Jail?

I am probably violating a copywright putting this picture on my blog. I wonder if they were pushing it by creating this peanutmobile. Ever seen the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile?
No put down of Planters Peanuts intended. They are a reputable company and NOT to blame for the scandel over tainted peanut products. The latest news is the offending company with the dirty conditions in the plant has gone bankrupt. T he recall all list is extensive. I checked it out today.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


A couple decades ago a peanut farmer from Georgia was elected President of the United States. I don't think that would be as easy now. Peanuts, that all-American food, are suffering an image problem. It is only one peanut butter producer that has contaminated food, but an uneasy public is busy checking labels to avoid contracting a deadly disease. Most brands including Skippy are safe.
We have associated peanuts with baseball games and healthy snacks. Peanut butter is synonymous with kid's lunches. Peanut butter is a staple food in our pantries and an inexpensive protein source. Americans have been known to carry a jar of peanut butter in their suitcases when traveling to exotic places--comfort food when the local cuisine overwhelms them. We indulge in chocolate covered peanuts and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and tell ourselves this is a healthier choice. Just when we are anguishing over our depleted 401K accounts we are hit with a peanut butter disaster.
Yesterday we watched coverage of senate hearings concerning the actions of those responsible for distributing the contaminated food. Instead of answering the senators' questions the guy invoked the fifth amendment.
Who would have every imagined the CEO of a Georgia peanut butter company would be taking the Fifth Amendment like a Chicago gangster in Senate hearings? To me, claiming the Fifth Amendment seems less respectable than claiming our First or Second Amendment rights. A journalist claiming a right to free speech often seems valorous. An individual claiming a right to bear arms equates as patriotic to some, but claiming the right not to self-incriminate is perceived as being guilty and "lawyered up" by most of us.
I don't mean to denigrate the seriousness of the accusation that the peanut butter company knowingly peddled deadly food and people died. That would be an unthinkable thing to do. I just wonder who has caused the most mayhem to our society, they financiers who stole our money and ruined our economy or the guy who brought down peanut butter?
This situation is harder for me because the accused CEO has the same last name as my mom.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is It Still Water -or- Lake Hammond

We have had rain and warm temperatures the past few days that have made a good dent in our snowpack. When I got up this morning I checked the back yard to see if more of the accumulated water had drained away. The ground is still frozen and a lot of ice keeps the melted snow and rain from soaking in. We have a small lake. It is "still water" in the backyard. Fitting because we live in the town of Stillwater.

Over the years I would occasionally listen to a jazz radio show originating from Minneapolis on public radio. The longtime host was one "Lake Hammond". I thought his name was strange. Who would be named Lake? I discovered my error years later. His name was Leigh Kammen. Leigh is pronounced "lay". He wasn't named after a body of water after all. The ears can play tricks on you. Good to see things in writing for clarification.
Do you think Leigh Kammen, now deceased, would mind if I name the body of "still water" in our backyard Lake Hammond in his honor?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Writer's Blog"

A friend and blog reader emailed today asking if I have "writer's block". Yup. I do. It seems like I have been too cynical and unable to think of how to put a spin on daily life. What has been funny? I have been considering slipping away into the ethersphere. There are millions and millions of bloggers in the world whose only reader is their mum. I am an orphan and no mom to read mine.
Okay, I'll try to catch up on news in my life.
I now have a little one named after me. Cici delivered twins on Feb. 1st. A boy and a girl. Seems to be a lot of that going around lately. Mom and little ones are doing fine. They are named Jane and Johnson. I am honored. The Johnson name is a little unusual. He is named after the guests in my sister and brother-in-laws B&B at their Texas ranch who stayed up all night keeping vigil as the mother sheep labored and delivered. Cici is a ewe and the little lambs are just that---little lambs.
I have been thrilled to hear updates on Jane. "She dances" according to Carolyn. Sounds like a well-adjusted little lamb to me. Imagine my horror when I realized she might become someone's Easter dinner! Not to be. My sister said they will keep the female lambs as breeding stock.
Johnson's future is not as bright. One has to be realistic when you are in the agriculture business. You can't keep everyone of them as pets. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing about the progress of Baby Jane.
We now have three months of winter behind us and only three to go. It can still be cold in April. Last year it was also unseasonably cool in May but I chose to not dwell on that. It is February, the shortest month. The days are noticeably longer. It was -12 this morning but a warm-up is starting today. We should be 40 degrees warmer in the afternoon tomorrow. Back at the ranch where little Jane is frolicking, it was in the 70's yesterday. No wonder she is dancing.