Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 as history

For most of you, when you read this, it will already be 2013.  For me, as I write this, 2012 is still hanging in there, limping into the history books.

Dick Clark is gone, and, to tell the truth, we've been ringing in the new year the past few years with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin on CNN anyway, live from Times Square, and don't you just love the way she makes him laugh?

And 2012?  Well, it was a year.  It was even a leap year, so we had an extra day of it. Okay at times (Romney lost), rough at times (the Sandys).  It's unclear, even at this eleventh-plus hour, whether we're going over a fiscal cliff, whatever that is.

Personally?....

Regrets?  I've had a few, but then again too few to mention.

Resolutions?  I've got more than usual.  Some things need to change.

Good luck making your changes too, but don't wait too long.  Years last about ten minutes.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

the man with the handicap tag

If you ever have a temporary or permanent disability that affects walking or just getting around, you will be very thankful for Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, which mandates public places to be handicap-accessible.  You'll be grateful for ramps, for elevators, for curb cuts, etc.

Jerry, now stuck with that scooter for a number of weeks, is paying attention.  He also went to the license center to get a tag so that he can park his car in handicap parking spots, which is another major help.

Occasionally, Congress does something right.  On the other hand, 1990 was 22 years ago.  That Congress is long gone.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

it's worse than a sprain

Jerry went to an orthopedic doctor today and found out that his foot injury is worse than expected.  Instead of a sprain, he has what is called lisfranc (click on that word for more info), which means as many as 12 weeks not bearing weight on his left foot and after that who knows.  This is not going to be easy, dudes.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

oh, to be back in mile high stadium!

I was tempted to write something about Tim Tebow, the mediocre quarterback who was so good at exploiting the way-too-easy-to-exploit evangelical community last year while having a couple of amazing but apparently flukey games with the Denver Broncos, and how he has bombed this season playing (or mostly not playing) for the New York Jets, and how satisfying it is to see him crashing down to earth.  But I resisted the temptation, as you can see.

By the way, my temporary hearing loss from that bad cold seems to be almost gone and I'm so glad about that, of course, but the experience left me with a whole new appreciation for the difficulties of the hearing-impaired.  It also made me appreciate silence, and now that I can hear, you'd be surprised how annoying the sounds of the television are.  Meanwhile, Jerry, since he has that sprainted foot, sits in front of that TV whenever he is at home, and I can understand that.... But it doesn't make for a great match-up right now.  Sort of like Tebow and the Jets.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

not as quiet as you might think

Downtown Minneapolis, usually bustling on a Wednesday, is pretty darn quiet today.  That's what happens when Christmas falls on a Tuesday.  Nobody wants to go back to work the next day, and people find a way to use vacation days.

Not me, though.  Here I am, working, and this is never a slow week for me.  It's the last week of the year, and this is a big last-minute tax-planning time for clients.  What makes this year particularly difficult is that we don't know what rules we are playing by, thanks to a do-nothing Congress, and the best advice we can offer has a lot to do with guesswork.

One thing that will get people's attention next month (meaning next week), if they get a paycheck, barring some breakthrough among legislators, is that the payroll-tax reduction has not been renewed, and folks will find 2% less in their net pay.  I wonder how loud people will squawk.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

miserable ones on christmas

Actually, it was a lovely Christmas, nothing miserable about it.  Just a little out of the ordinary for me, and maybe that's partly because of Jerry's foot injury and my temporary hearing impairment, which actually was quite a bit better today.

James and Joan went with Jerry and me to see the movie version of Les Mis√©rables.  Today was the day the film opened.  We liked it.  Of course.

And then, rather than spend Christmas in the kitchen, we all went out for dinner with Jon and Tom.  And gifts were relatively limited.

Less traditional, yes.  Less stressful, definitely.  I recommend it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

'sickening', I say

I got a kick out of the New York Daily News cover yesterday, referring to NRA bigwig Wayne LaPierre's press conference on Friday.

In my post on December 14 ("'unfathomable', he said"), the day of the Newtown massacre of children, I predicted that the craziest of the gun nuts would say the answer to the gun problem is more guns.  LaPierre proved my point.

While it is heartening to see people talking about finding a way to a sane gun policy -- at least a ban on military-style weapons in civilian hands -- we all know that the discussions won't get us far.  There are too many weapons already out there, and there are too many NRA members who have been convinced that restrictions on the deadliest killing machines will somehow lead to the government confiscating their hunting rifles.

Political decisions that could have prevented these mass murderers should have been made long ago and weren't, and now we are stuck with the consequences.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

he got the boot

Okay, so the world didn't end yesterday after all, but that doesn't mean there was no disaster anywhere.

Consider Jerry's day, for instance.  While buying a Christmas tree, he tripped over a pallet at Home Depot and sprained his foot (My first response:  "What the heck were you doing at Home Depot?").  In such pain that he thought his foot was broken, James and Dave rushed him to the Emergency Room, where the hospital people took Xrays to confirm, to everyone's relief, that the foot was not broken.  A sprain is no picnic, though, and the ER people put Jerry's foot in a boot and he may have several weeks of recovery.  In the meantime, he can't put any weight on his left foot and has one of those scooters to get around, and he has taken the experience, other than the continuing pain, in stride.

Maybe that was what the Mayans had in mind.  Jerry's foot.

Friday, December 21, 2012

mary o.'s special request for today



As I write this, it's only 10:30 a.m. Central Standard Time, and I'm not sure what time of day the Mayans forecast The End to happen, but let me squeeze this in just in case...  My friend Mary's request --

"The End of the World as We Know It" by REM.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

apocalypse now or then

Assuming that the ancient Mayans have credibility and the world really does end tomorrow, 12/21/12, look on the bright side:  At least we won't have to hear any more about "the fisal cliff" that might be coming the first of January!

And if you attend one of the "End of the World" parties, at least you won't have to worry about having a hangover the next day!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

one shade of grey

As I look back, evaluating 2012 on a personal level, one thing I can't deny is that this was the year that grey hair became much more abundant on my mostly still-full head of hair.  I don't know why it surprises me.  Reality isn't my strong suit.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

i had a burger and coffee

Maybe it's my stuffed-up head talking, but I'm pretty sure that my daily blog streak (not missing a day since August 2010) is nearing an end, and I'll just go back to something more occasional or something more than occasional, just not a daily requirement.  It's not that I don't have anything more to say, because I never had anything to say in the first place.  Maybe it's just the world has become overblogged and everybody's bored with it.  It's like the title of a book Jon gave me once -- Nobody Cares What You Had For Lunch.

Monday, December 17, 2012

underwater with a Nyquil hangover

You know that feeling?  It describes how my head feels mornings when I wake up the past few days.  I guess I can't tell people anymore how "I never get a cold..."  And I hope I get my hearing back soon.  Asking people to repeat everything they just said, I feel like the old grandpa in the rocking chair, saying, "Heh, what's that you say??"

Oh well, I know people have much worse problems.

Jerry is making me some chicken soup and a tunafish sandwich.... (He hates it when I say "tunafish", thinking it's a redundant term, which of course makes me like saying it)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

the NRA sucks

I was just listening to Bob Schieffer (of CBS News) saying that the National Rifle Association is tbe most feared lobbying force in Washington DC, which is why no gun control measures -- even minor restrictions on assault weapons -- can ever get to the floor of Congress.  It's a sad fact for our country that our so-called 2nd Amendment rights have become so distorted, and it's embarrassing as we face the rest of the world.

Nobody needs to own an assault weapon, unless you're just waiting for your own chance to be a mass murderer.

Friday, December 14, 2012

'unfathomable', he said

The count continues.  This time it's today, it's in Newtown, Connecticut, and this time it's 20 very young children and six adults who have been murdered by a mad gunman.  And the elected officials who refuse to ban assault weapons have even more innocent blood on their hands.  And the craziest of their supporters will be saying, "The answer to guns is more guns.  Those 5-year-old kids should have been armed to protect themselves."  And the un-crazy among us are much too quiet.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

transposing the numbers buys us another week

You know that Mayan calendar thing, that supposedly predicts that the world will end this month?  Well, a lot of people were confused about which day of this month it's going to happen, thinking it was supposed to be 12/12/12 -- in other words, yesterday.  Even Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last night got it wrong.  No, no, no... The prediction is for the 21st of this month.... We've got a whole 'nother week before the end-of-the-world parties happen... followed by what?  --  the 22nd, maybe?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

my ear is lame

I still have this stupid cold, which is not common for me, and I find that wishing it away isn't helping any, and now it seems to have settled in my right ear, which is causing my hearing to be undependable.  I'm asking people to repeat things, and I'm getting better at reading lips, and it has left me mostly exhausted and without blog inspiration (very unusual for me, right?).

So I thought it would be a good day to post a video, maybe something in the spirit of the holidays and also related to how I feel right now... Was tempted to post a version of "Do You Hear What I Hear?", but I owe you better than that, so No.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

what a 'hipster' is or isn't

Somebody made a comment that my new glasses looked a bit "hipster"-like, and, except for knowing that I'm too old to be a hipster, I wasn't sure whether that was a positive or negative comment.  So I went to the authority -- urbandictionary.com -- (which I love) -- to get some background on the subject.  Please click on the link below and have a few laughs on the description of "hipster" --

urban dictionary definitions of "hipster"

-- (although the definitions left me still wondering whether it was a positive or negative comment!)

Also, if you feel like hanging around urbandictionary for a while, check out "New Jersey".  :-)

Monday, December 10, 2012

being not stuck in bad-weather traffic

The downtown streets were snowy and icy, so I walked to work.  Okay, it's only eleven blocks, but it felt good to be able to walk past the congestion, and it made me realize I should walk to work more often.  Remind me.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

smells like snow

The only thing I brought back from New Orleans was a cold, and I nursed it all day on the sofa under a blanket that we once stole from Northwest Airlines, watching football and occasionally napping, while outside the snow fell and piled up.... up to fourteen inches before it stops, they say.  The roads are terrible and the temperatures are dropping fast.  We need groceries but who wants to go out, sniffling and hacking, trudging through this stuff even though the grocery store is only two blocks away?.... the heck with it.  Feels like we're home, pass the hot chocolate.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

MSY to MSP

While it may be hard to get on a plane where it's 74 and sunny and go home to a place where it's snowing and 50 degrees colder, I have to say this has been an unexpectedly great vacation, and I'm grateful that we got to do it.  Sometimes the relatively unplanned and spontaneous vacations turn out to be the best.

As for Louisiana, it made some amends for my traumatic summer of '68 in this state, and New Orleans turned out to be one of those It's-a-fun-city-to-visit-but-I-sure-wouldn't-want-to-live-there places.  Now back to a reality of sorts -- and a diet for sure.

Friday, December 7, 2012

it may be big, but it ain't easy

In my ongoing educational endeavors, I was going to tell you why New Orleans is nicknamed the Big Easy, but apparently there isn't a clear-cut answer to that question.  It might be that jazz musicians used to find it easy to find work in this music-driven city.... Or it might be something else entirely.  I doubt that anything here is easy anymore.

Before you visit here, friends will warn you about crime, pickpockets, drunks, dirt, and there may be some truth to everything they say, but there is an unmistakable charm and good energy too.

I got up early, while Jerry sleeps in, and have been wandering the early-morning neighborhoods.  At the moment, I'm sitting at a Starbucks on busy Canal Street, which seems to be the dividing line between the central business district and the French Quarter.  That's enough sitting and blogging for now.... I'm off.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

the ride back to NOLA

I found it to be sad leaving the Mississippi Gulf Coast, partly because I liked the area way more than I expected to and partly because we drove along the coast, in daylight this time, the eighty-some miles from Biloxi back here to New Orleans and we could see the lasting damage that Hurricane Katrina did seven years ago.  Waterfront development has been slow to shake off storm fears -- empty blocks where something used to be, building-less foundations and twisted trees all too common now.

We've checked into our hotel in New Orleans, just a couple blocks off Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, where we'll say for two nights.  An exploration of a different kind begins.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

mobile-izing

We're day-tripping out of Biloxi and, as I write this, we're getting to know Mobile, Alabama, the only part of Alabama on a coast.  It's an okay city, as far as I can tell in spending just a couple hours here, with some nice tree-lined historic neighborhoods and a sleepy manageable downtown.  We had a good barbecue lunch at a dive named the Brick Pit (You know I love dive eating establishments with graffiti all over the walls and ceilings).  And now we're heading a few miles east to Pensacola, Florida, then back to our hotel in Biloxi.

The only hard part of these road trips is how we make each other nuts with our driving styles.  He says I'm too cautious (which, of course, I'm not), and I say he's way too aggressive (which he somehow disputes).  Either way, we're somehow still surviving.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

life, as viewed from the Waffle House

Greetings from downtown Biloxi, Mississippi, where we are having breakfast at the Waffle House, a Southern breakfast chain that I can never resist even though it blows my calorie count for a week or more.

The Southern accents in this part of the Deep South are at their most extreme but purposely charming when they want to be.  Coming down in the hotel elevator this morning, a young woman started chattering to us about the gun tattoo she had on her right arm and then she had to show us the "huntin'" tattoo on her leg, and she blamed both tattoos on a wild night she doesn't remember at age 16.  Fellow elevator-riders from central Florida loved them.

We're off to explore downtown Biloxi, hoping that all the guns here are just tattooed.

Monday, December 3, 2012

MSP to MSY

Why "MSY", you ask?

The official name is the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, so how did they get an airport code of MSY out of that?

Since this is a blog site chock full of valuable yet worthless trivia, I looked it up for you.

The original name of the airport was Moisant Field, named after some long-ago aviator named Moisant, and the airport was near stockyards.... So MSY stands for "Moisant Stock Yards"...

And we land there today.  I just hope we don't run over any runaway cows.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

packing for katrinaland


Path of Hurricane Katrina, 2005. Map: Jim McMahon

Remember Katrina, that hurricane in 2005 that did terrible damage to the Gulf Coast, particularly Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama?

See on the map where the hurricane hit the coast?  Well, that's exactly where we will be spending the next few days, flying out of Minneapolis tomorrow afternoon, staying a couple nights in Biloxi, Mississippi (which is right next to Gulfport), a couple nights in New Orleans, maybe a day trip over to Mobile, Alabama.

It's been seven years since Katrina.  Much has been reconstructed, and much will never be the same there, I'm sure.  We'll check it out.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

it's gonna be a hard december

Chances are that we are going to hear about the "fiscal cliff" debates in Washington all month.  Congress will, I'm guessing, go right to the brink on the hard decisions to be made, which means December 31, and how it all turns out affects my work very directly.  It's impossible to plan when you don't know what the rules are.

Friday, November 30, 2012

november 30, 1978: vineland, new jersey

Some babies take a while to make their appearances and some just can't wait to be born.  My niece Ruthie was one of the latter.  She wouldn't even give her mom time to get to the hospital, being born right there at home while my brother was probably panicking and their dogs (Jenny and Bo?) barking away:  at least, that's how I picture the scene.

Some people just know how to make a dramatic entrance.

Happy birthday, Ruthie.... I hope you have a drama-free day and a few laughs too.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

once gold, there's no going back

My friend Todd left on vacation, and I use the term "vacation" very loosely, so let me tell you about this...

He flew from here today, Thursday, MSP, to Atlanta, where he changed planes to go to Los Angeles.  He'll visit his sister in LA briefly, then fly cross country to New York, where he'll stay, visiting a brother in Brooklyn, for exactly six hours.  Then he gets back on a plane and goes to Nashville to see his grandfather for a day or two, then back here to Minneapolis/St.Paul on Monday.

Now if you happen to be geographically challenged, get out a map and figure out how many miles that trip covers and how many hours on airplanes it would require.  It's a big country, dude.

And have you figured out why he did it?  Yep, you guessed it -- he needed that many miles to maintain his Gold Elite status on Delta Airlines for 2013!  And rather than thinking how crazy that was, I was thinking -- that's exactly the sort of thing I would have done!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

why 'happy hour' was invented

A crazy day -- One client meeting that went for three and a half hours followed immediately by another client meeting that lasted three hours.  Both were excellent meetings -- fun, even, but that kind of pace can wear on you.

A work week right before I'm leaving town is often crammed full of pressure and anxiety.. Same in the week right after I get back.

Referring to my trip next week, my co-worker Jeff to me over happy-hour martinis:  "Why do you like traveling down South?"  Me:  "Two reasons:  1) the food; and 2) being there makes me feel so intelligent!"

(It was the gin talking).

Monday, November 26, 2012

vows in a fetid swamp

There I was, in the hot summer of 1968, trudging through the swamps of central Louisiana, surrounded by bugs and armadilloes, weighed down for days with weapons and a heavy backpack, being trained to be a killing machine in the jungles of Vietnam (training which fortunately I never needed in the jungles of Germany).  Is it any wonder that I would stand there in a foxhole that I just dug and vow two things:  that I would never in my life return to the state of Louisiana and that I would never go camping?

For 44 years, I have kept those vows!

Until next week.  No, don't worry, I'm not going camping.  I'm flying into New Orleans, Louisiana, which I realize is a world away from Fort Polk but still has me struggling morally with that vow which was, I argue, made under extenuating circumstances.  Now I know how those Republican senators feel who are finally dumping Grover Norquist's no-tax pledge!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

bonding moments with 007

Not to get overly mushy, but it was one of those best birthdays.  Last night was  a fun one with Jerry, Jon, Tom and Joan -- an excellent dinner followed by the new James Bond movie.  It's a Bond-year tradition that these guys indulge me with, new Bonds on my birthday.  I hope they all always look back fondly on our Bond Novembers like I do.

Skyfall, by the way, is a terrific movie, one of the best Bond films in years.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

fortunately, i'm not hexakosioihexekontahexaphobic

Desperate for rational thought, I was thinking, if I live another six hundred years, today is the day I would turn 666, the Number of the Beast, a number that freaks out some people with fear.  What I didn't realize is that there is a name for such people!

Friday, November 23, 2012

i hope you didn't go shopping today

I like this quote... Black Friday:  Only in America people trample each other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.

BUT, if you couldn't resist a bargain, I hope you at least avoided that evil company Walmart, unless you were there not to shop, but to show support for the Walmart employees brave enough to finally be protesting their low wages and destructive management.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

pilgrimage to the mall

Definitions of the word "pilgrim":

From Wikipedia:  A pilgrim (from the Latin peregrinus) is a traveler (literally one who has come from afar) who is on a journey to a holy place.

In American history:  The legendary, mostly mythical story of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts, who came from England for religious freedom.  They did okay, except for the large percentage of them who died those first few years, and they shared that first Thanksgiving dinner with the native Americans, who had, willingly or not, shared their vast lands.

Today, Thanksgiving 2012:  Those who gobble down  their Thanksgiving dinner to rush to be first in line when the stores open on Black Friday.... and now, to their shame and to the abuse of their employees, some of those stores are even opening on Thanksgiving evening.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

4 eyes 2 drive

I've dreaded renewing my driver's license.this year.  The last time I renewed, four years ago, they let me squeak by on the vision test, although, truth be told, they probably should have flunked me then.  This year, no such luck.  It's not that I really mind wearing glasses to drive.  I just don't like being legally required to wear them.  And yes, I do know how lucky I've been to live this long with good vision.  That thought should make me feel less awful about physical deterioration (but it doesn't).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

generals and mistresses

How many generals do you think haven't had affairs at some point in their career?  Even General Dwight Eisenhower had a mistress during World War II.  I mean, let's face it:  they're away from home a lot, their wives usually aren't very exciting (compared to blowing people up, that is), and there are probably plenty of women with "Doing a general" on their Bucket Lists.

Petraeus?  Well, first of all, he could have done much better (and maybe he did), and second, I wish he would have instead been spending his spare time figuring a way to get us out of Afghanistan faster.

Monday, November 19, 2012

lincoln who?

My sister Joan and I went to see the new Steven Spielberg movie, Lincoln (starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln), and, being from a history-buff family, we both liked it.  But I'm thinking that today's average movie-goer, used to special effects, vampires, and  mindless sequels, would be wondering, "Who is this Lincoln guy?", "What's this Civil War they're talking about?  What country was that?", and "Do they give free popcorn refills at this theater?"

Sunday, November 18, 2012

he heads into gray predictability

I just drove Jerry to the airport.  He's flying to Seattle to spend some time with his friend Tomoko, who is just being released from the hospital to recover at home from serious surgery.

As we were driving, we kept commenting about what a perfect day it is, weather-wise, here in Minneapolis today... an unseasonal 57 degrees, sunny, pleasant... and it's supposed to stay nice through the Thanksgiving weekend.

Cool, huh?  Except for Jerry, who will be in Seattle!  The forecast for all week there is rain, gray, zero sun, the temperatures hovering around fifty; in other words, Seattle is living up perfectly to its image and reputation while Twin Citians bask in relative sunshine!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

here we go, a-christmas-carolling again

Thanksgiving is next week, then it's more than a month after that before Christmas is upon us.... or is Christmas already upon us?

I walked by Hans's desk at the office Friday, and he had Christmas music playing on his computer.  He didn't seem to think it was weird to be listening to Christmas music on November 16th.  I did.

I just got home from Mall of America.  It already feels like Christmas season there.

And A Christmas Carol, for the thirty-something year in a row, has begun at the Guthrie Theater and will play until Christmas.  It's a Twin Cities holiday tradition that I had seen two or three times before and saw again last night (thanks to tickets for me from the Guthrie).  Emma, James's friend, went with me, and I do have to say this year's version might be the best one that I've seen.

Just please don't wish me a Merry Christmas until at least the first of December.

Friday, November 16, 2012

goodbye to texas and twinkies

I never liked Twinkies, so it doesn't break my heart to hear that Hostess is closing down operations.

The state of Texas is more of a headache than it is worth (think:  george w. bush, the Dallas Cowboys), so the movement by some of the goofier residents of Texas to have their state secede from the United States, makes me chuckle.  Let 'em go!.. and they can take the rest of the red states with 'em!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

'old age isn't a battle'

"Old age isn't a battle.  Old age is a massacre."-- Philip Roth, Everyman (2006).

I am reading Philip Roth's most recent novel, Nemesis, and was sad to learn that it is his last.  At age 78, he has stopped writing.  He's had enough.

I haven't had enough though.  I have read almost every Philip Roth book that's been published, fiction and non-fiction, and he's been one of my favorite writers for a long time.  You may know some of his writings -- American Pastoral, The Human Stain, Portnoy's Complaint, and many more...  Some of his more recent books have dealt with aging and how helpless we are to stop the physical and mental agonies of the aging process.

He can retire satisfied with his accomplishments, but I'll selfishly miss his future works.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

just another reason to avoid boring pizza

If I were a person so desperate for pizza that I would ever order from the Papa John's pizza chain, this would be an excellent time to boycott.  The owner, who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, has announced that he is cutting back the hours of a bunch of employees in order to avoid new Obamacare rules for employers.  So, in other words, to spite Obama, he will do harm to his employees.  Why his people don't deserve adequate health insurance he doesn't say.  It's a shame that anybody needs a job so bad that they'd work for this creep.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

mid-autumn sports update

Basketball:  I've been to three Minnesota Timberwolves games so far, and the Wolves are somehow looking good (a record so far of 5-2) despite the fact that three or four of their best players are out with injuries for extended periods.  How long can they win before there aren't enough players left to man the court? The only undefeated team, the New York Knicks (4-0).  Some of the worst NBA records so far -- Detroit Pistons at 0-8 and Toronto at 1-6, the only Raptors win unfortunately coming against the Timberwolves.  :-(

Football:  I'm not feeling a lot of excitement about this season, maybe because the Vikings are just ranked a mediocre 14th (out of 32 teams), which is actually better than anyone expected, and the Eagles are ranked #24, way worse than anyone would have expected.  The top-ranked teams are all pretty unlikable:  Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears.  Ho-hum.

Baseball (even though baseball season is long over):  Millville boy Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels was named American League Rookie of the Year.  Yay!

Hockey:  The NHL is still on lock-out.  I never hear anybody talking about this.

Lacrosse:  Just kidding.

Monday, November 12, 2012

there aren't many perfect days

... and today certainly wasn't one of them.  But, when I think about it, I can't point to any imperfections in it.

Sure, the weather has turned chilly and it was slippery driving this morning... Sure, I had a busy day full of meetings that kept me from getting any real work done...

But my car didn't slide off the road.  I made it to the office.  I spent the day working with people that I really like.  I came home to a nice warm place.  Jerry had made dinner and baked apple pie.  I took a quick power nap before we ate.  It's quiet.  I feel good.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

as a veteran, i have earned the right to say this

It's Veterans Day, and for some reason Veterans Day is annoying me more than usual.  The pseudo-Thank-Yous just seem to be lip-service when they come from people who support unnecessary wars and then don't watch out for veterans after they've served.

The ways to thank veterans:  Don't let future veterans be sent off to fight offensive wars that we start for trumped-up reasons; hold politicians accountable for the lives they destroy; and take care of those who return from war, especially if they are injured -- mentally, physically or psychologically.  The care some of these wounded veterans receive is pathetic.

And do you know that one of four of the homeless people in this country are veterans?  And that unemployment rates for veterans are way higher than for the general population?  These are shameful facts, man.

Help and support are needed, not patronizing standing ovations by people who have no idea what they missed......

Saturday, November 10, 2012

the 'naked' guy in person

Somebody gave us tickets to see David Sedaris tonight at the State Theater.  You know him, David Sedaris?  He's a writer, "humorist", comedian.  A few years ago, I went on a brief David Sedaris kick, reading a couple of his books, Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked, and was briefly smitten by them, until his little essays seemed to be all the same, formulaic, in an Andy Rooney sort of way (The answer might be to read one of his books and love it and don't read any more of them).

David Sedaris in person?  We'll know soon.  I'm hoping to get a few chuckles out of the evening, at least.

Friday, November 9, 2012

high in the rockies

One of the more amusing results of this week's election is that two states, Colorado and Washington, voted to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.  How progressive of them!  Of course, pot is still illegal for federal purposes, so the vote might end up being meaningless and potheads in Denver or Seattle will continue to be criminals, but at least this might be a start to ending stupid drug laws.

If somebody had told members of my generation forty years ago that weed would still be illegal in the year 2012, we would have shaken our heads in disbelief, maybe giggled a little for no good reason, and passed around the water pipe.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

the mysterious, evil underwriter

Since mortgage rates are so low, Jerry and I decided to re-finance the condo.  We jumped through all kinds of hoops -- unnecessary hoops, I might add -- that the mortgage people threw at us.  We have good credit, the mortgage balance isn't a lot compared to our combined incomes...  It should have been a slam-dunk for these people.

But today we reached our breaking point.  They came back after all that, asking for one more thing -- something totally meaningless -- that "the underwriter" wants to see.  Well, that was one hoop too many.  It was obviously just meant to be harassment -- a let's-degrade-the-customer-since-we-can sort of thing.  So we said NO and withdrew our application.  It's their loss.  Nobody should have to put up with that kind of crap.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

and we don't even have to wait for florida

Ah, it's a lovely morning.....

Last night was one of my best Election Nights ever.  It was an evening to celebrate with friends, many moments of feeling proud...  Let's all hope that good things come from the happy results.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

it's a james bond november

One of the mysteries of Howard is that I -- a non-violent, easy-going guy -- am such a fan of the James Bond movies.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Bond movie, Dr. No.  I have the first 20 (out of 23 films altogether) on DVD, have seen all of them multiple times, and I have memories of when each film was brand new.  I have a book, The Essential Bond (thanks, Jon!), and Wikipedia, of course, that have me knowing more about the history of the Bond films than is normal.  For me, it's pure escapism: the stories themselves are often really silly.

I've been watching several of the old Bond movies on DVD the past few days, partly to escape commercial TV and partly to mentally prepare for the new James Bond movie, Skyfall, that comes out later this week.  To tell the truth, the newer releases haven't been as much fun as the old ones -- too serious, too Bourne-like -- but I of course wouldn't dream of missing it.  I hope that Jon and Tom go with me.  It's become part of the tradition.

Monday, November 5, 2012

2 philly boys and their dreams



(If you get an ad before this video starts, click to skip the ad).

I thought we could use an upbeat song today, so how about some Hall & Oates?  Daryl Hall & John Oates that is, from the year 1980.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

some of them even admit it

This is it:  my last mention of the election until after it's done.  I promise to make tomorrow's and Election Day's posts as far away from politics as I can make them.

And my last comment before the vote is to express my extreme disappointment that there is still so much racial hatred in this country.  A large percentage of Romney voters are not voting for Romney because they like what he says.  How could they?  His only vague economic "solutions" are to cut taxes even more and reduce government regulation even more.  These are the exact two causes of the Bush recession of 2008-2009.  And the Romney voters might say they like his position on social issues, even though his positions change every day depending on who he's talking to.  Let's face it:  There is nobody who likes Romney, except maybe his wife and kids, who have reaped the benefits of his capitalism-without-a-conscience history.  Even the conservatives don't like him.

But there are plenty of people who hate President Obama, and they might say, Oh, it's because he's a "socialist" (which he is not and which people who say that have no idea what socialism is anyway) or because he couldn't help create even more jobs than he did (thanks to the do-nothing/block-everything Republican Congress).  It's really because he is half black, and you know it and I know it.  As the world watches our election, I am embarrassed for us.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

without spanish or love

After a week of being worried about storms on the East Coast while at the same time being stressed and repulsed by election politics, I ended the week on an escapist note, by going to the Timberwolves season opener.  Sorry, faithful readers, it's basketball season again.

And the Wolves, fortunately playing the lowly Sacramento Kings, won the game, so we at least have one moment of being undefeated.  And they did it without the team's two marquee players, Kevin Love (with a broken hand) and Ricky Rubio (still recovering from last year's knee injury).

There are new players on the team, plus it's become an even more international team.  Besides my favorite player Rubio (from Barcelona, Spain), there is a team member from Montenegro and two from Russia.  Let's hope they and the rest of the team somehow all share the language of winning.

Friday, November 2, 2012

chronic civic anguish

Finally!  Most Republicans and Democrats are finding common ground!  And, no, I'm not talking about Superstorm Sandy bringing President Obama and Governor Christie together.  What I'm referring to is that here in the early days of November, we just want this rotten election to be over!  We are all to the point of feeling we will upchuck violently if we see even one more political ad on TV or get one more political phone call or receive one more piece of political junk mail.  And we look forward to it ending on Tuesday, Election Day.

Except, of course, that it won't really end.  Newly-elected congresspeople, instead of trying to work together to solve some problems, will immediately begin running for re-election in 2014, and whoever wants to run for President in 2016 will begin laying the groundwork, and political talking-heads will start talking about the next election right away.  It's no wonder so many people put their heads in the sand.  Something needs to change.  The problem is that the people who would need to change the system are the people who benefit from it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

finding an 'ick' factor in the red letters

Minnesota has a question on next week's ballot on whether to amend the state constitution to define "marriage" as only between a man and a woman.  Whatever.  The people who will vote for it are the people who find the idea of same-sex couples  "icky" and somehow a threat to their own 'idyllic' marriages.

What would be amusing -- if it weren't so pathetic -- is watching these people trying to say that same-sex marriage violates the principles of the Bible and then trying to find isolated, dark hidden passages to back them up (Like the racial segregationists used to do).  If I were a person who took the Bible literally, which of course I am not, I'd be sort of pissed that I couldn't find clear verses that back up my 'ick factor' prejudices.  Why, for instance, I'd be asking myself, if God hated homosexuality, didn't he squeeze it into the Ten Commandments?  Or why isn't there some anti-gay rhetoric in the New Testament red letters ("the words that Jesus spoke")?

Or here's another one:  If marriage is so sacred that it needs to be defined in the constitution, shouldn't it be against the law for divorced people to remarry?  Jesus was not shy about saying that's a No-no.  I guess that people in the voting booth, with their third of fourth spouse in the booth next to them, conveniently just don't find that quite as icky and therefore an affront to their hypocritical 'religious' beliefs.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

a witch in the skyway

Maybe I've been a little distracted -- storm news, too much work -- but, until I saw a person in costume (a great costume, actually) in the skyway, I had forgotten what the date was.  This isn't high on my list of favorite holidays.  I'm hoping I don't get home tonight and find out that we were invited to a Halloween party.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

hello from dry land

I think that I've been watching too many online videos and photos of flooding the past three days -- When I look out my window I find myself surprised to see that it's dry out there.

But it appears that my family and friends on the East Coast have come through the storm safely without much problem, so I'm thankful for that.  The Jersey Shore didn't fare as well.

If I were Pollyanna desperately looking for a reason to be "glad" about this superstorm, it would be that it temporarily replaced the election as the #1 news story.  A storm like this seems to bring out the best in people:  our election process brings out the worst.

Monday, October 29, 2012

march 1962: sea isle city, new jersey

Sea Isle City, March 1962
Today's the day when people are nervously waiting for Hurricane Sandy to hit the Mid-Atlantic East Coast -- it's predicted to directly strike New Jersey, my home state.  Already, southern New Jersey resort towns are mostly underwater, even before the storm officially arrives there.

As I hear the forecasts of "Frankenstorm", I am reminded of the "Ash Wednesday" storm of March 1962 (it began on Ash Wednesday), which caused the most damage to the Jersey shore of anything I have ever witnessed anywhere, especially in the little resort town of Sea Isle City.

You see, Sea Isle is the town my folks used to take us for a week every summer, up, that is, until 1961.  It had a small but very kid-friendly boardwalk, the kind of place where my parents could just turn us loose and know that we'd have fun and be safe.  We usually stayed in an apartment over a Boardwalk shop a few feet from the beach.  I will always have good memories of those vacations.

Then the freak storm of Winter 1962 happened and wreaked havoc on the South Jersey shore, especially Sea Isle City, which was mostly washed away.  The boardwalk was totally destroyed (as you can see in the photo above).  Our dad took us down there several days after the storm, and we saw the scant remains of buildings that we once knew well.  The city over the next few years rebuilt as something unrecognizable from what it used to be.

And now Frankenstorm is ready to strike.  We wait and see.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

our patio nature study

It's become one of our October traditions, I guess.  Jerry brings home a couple pumpkins, puts them out on the patio..... and then slowly, day by day, bite by bite, the pumpkins start to disappear.  Eventually, all that's left will be the stems.

It's the squirrels that are the culprits, and, believe me, we don't love squirrels (a/k/a "tree rats"), but at least this gives us a daily laugh -- and we don't have to do any pumpkin carving.

Also -- note in the background that the daisies are still alive, even though we have had overnight freezing temperatures.  Sturdy little suckers, aren't they?  Maybe next year we do only daisies!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

sandy is going to new jersey and i'm not

I was just thinking the other day, 2012 is the first year in a long time that I haven't been back to my home state of New Jersey.  Not sure why. Some dynamic has changed.

And now Hurricane Sandy, "Frankenstorm" they are calling it, is heading up the Atlantic, and the weather guys are saying there's a good chance it will veer off to the west, potentially making a direct strike on my beloved South Jersey shore.  They're saying it could be the storm of the century.

'Am hoping that Sandy quiets down and becomes in retrospect one of those super storms that never happened.  For my family and friends in NJ -- hang in there.  Stay dry and warm and safe.

Friday, October 26, 2012

b.s. spoken here

President Obama, while being interviewed for Rolling Stone magazine, reportedly referred to Romney, indirectly, as a "bullshitter", which of course he is, but never mind that right now.  Certain people, none of whom would vote for Obama anyway, are now appalled by the use of such language.  What's funny is watching them being appalled without actually saying the theoretically offensive word.  Even flipping past MSNBC on TV last night, I saw Laurence O'Donnell having trouble telling the story without getting an opinion from the network's legal department that, since it was in a direct quote from the President, it was okay to say the word.  What??  If people don't want their ears potentially shocked by words they don't want to hear, they shouldn't even own a TV.... or ever leave their house.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

the story of ten years ago today

25 October 2002, ten years ago today, one of the saddest days of my life.

Jerry and I were driving to have lunch when we heard on the car radio that a small plane carrying Senator Paul Wellstone and others had crashed in northern Minnesota.  We freaked out.  We immediately skipped any ideas of lunch and headed right for Wellstone re-election headquarters, a place we knew well.  As we drove, we heard the further news:  that Paul, his wife Sheila, daughter Marcia and several unnamed others were confirmed dead.  Besides wanting to be with like-minded people in those terrible minutes, we needed to make sure our friend Fawn and other Wellstone staff members that we knew were safe.

I'll never forget the scene at the Wellstone office that day.  Everyone was panicked and crying, grief counselors were already available, CNN and the other news networks were setting up outside and broadcasting nonstop about this national story, the death of a U.S. Senator.  We stayed well into the evening in this surreal place.  I remember that Senator Ted Kennedy happened to be in town that day and stopped in at some point to try to comfort all of us.  As he shook my hand, I looked into his eyes and saw his own grief, an emotion that he knew well from his own life, but I couldn't speak.

Paul Wellstone was the voice of my political conscience, but for me personally there was more to him and his family than that.  They were always happy to see Jerry and me at various events, and they would find little human memories that would give us all laughs:  the time when Paul, at a fundraiser at our home, realized to his horror that his zipper was down ("That's the first time that ever happened to me!" he told me later); the time Jerry crashed a wedding party being held in the same building as a Wellstone fundraiser just to get Sheila a glass of red wine; Marcia telling us that our "drama-red" living room walls had inspired her to paint one of the rooms of her house the same color (and, as she would tell us this, her husband would roll his eyes).

My political world has been empty without Paul Wellstone, but what still brings tears to my eyes is the memory of how wonderful these people were.  I considered them to be friends, but, in reality, they were friends to all five million residents of the state of Minnesota.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

AMS to MSP: 31 hours of birthday

When you start a day in Amsterdam and fly to a destination seven earlier time zones away, it makes for one long day.  When it's your birthday, it's an extra seven hours of celebration, if you're a person who tends to celebrate birthdays, which Jerry is.  I think he's  having a fine birthday so far, but who's to say?  There are still a few hours left, and the onset of jet lag is a concern.

Standby today was painless, business class was priceless, and we are back home.  I'm very glad we went on this trip, short though it was.  Being back in Germany and the Netherlands somehow made me feel momentarily a little younger, and that's not an easy feat these days.  I'll try to make that feeling last.  I'm already planning the next trip back.

the thumb photo

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

sorry about the thumb

Darn.  I was going to post a photo of Jerry and me standing on a bridge over the Amstel River, with the houseboat where we are staying in the background, but the iPad doesn't seem willing to let me post it.  It isn't a bad picture.  We asked a passerby to take it, and his thumb unfortunately shows up in the left hand corner, but, hey, beggars can't be choosers.

If the standby gods are kind, we fly home tomorrow, on Jerry's birthday.  You might say, Aw, that's a shame that he has to make that long flight on his birthday, but if you say that you apparently don't know Jerry very well.  He'd rather travel than anything, even if it's just to go home.

I'll post the photo when I get home.  Maybe as a thumbnail.

Monday, October 22, 2012

far away, in south dakota

As I look over today's news, I am saddened to read of the death of George McGovern, former senator from South Dakota and 1972 Democratic presidential candidate.  He was a man I had great admiration for and is the first political candidate that I ever actively campaigned for (stuffing envelopes, making phone calls).  Even though he lost to Nixon in a landslide, McGovern stood by his liberal principles and against the Vietnam War and world hunger.  He inspired a lot of people, and maybe that's even more important than being a President.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

wiedersehn!

Saying goodbye to good friends, catching the 14:46 train to Amsterdam...(I love the trains here).  Not sure if I will have more Internet access today... If I do, I will check in.  Will come back to Germany soon, I hope.
*****
Arrived in Amsterdam, staying in a great little hotel on a side street next to the Dam (the palace)... Tomorrow we move onto a houseboat for a couple nights.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

after the night of drinking Weizen bier

I am generally not a big fan of weddings and the parties afterward, but this one, for Jana and Tanya, was a special one.  The ceremony itself was in German, of course -- without English subtitles, and the party was fun -- well planned with nice guests, many of whom tried to use their best English on us, generally with good results.  Whenever I am in this country, I think I'm going to go home and learn German so that I can communicate better next time I'm here...  Then it doesn't happen.

Another beautiful day here today.... Will make the most of it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

in the shadow of the cathedral

It's good to be back in Germany.  I missed it more than I would have guessed.

The good friends that we are staying with live just outside Cologne, near Bonn actually.  Such nice people -- they make us feel very welcome.  Jana gets married this afternoon, the ceremony and the later reception both within a block or so from the famous Cologne Cathedral.  It's a beautiful day, the weather could not be more perfect.  We might stay in Germany an extra day or two.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

going dutch

It feels like a typical Amsterdam morning... Cloudy, occasional rain.  We just had our continental hotel breakfast downstairs.  Our room is small, cozy, feels quite Dutch... You just need to be careful in the compact shower that you don't accidentally hit the knob wrong and either scald or freeze yourself.  We leave shortly for the train station and the trip to Germany, where our friends will meet us at the Cologne bahnhof.  Back to our familiar Amsterdam in a couple days.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

overlooking our houseboat

Well, it wasn't our houseboat.  It was a houseboat that we rented a week at a time for several years in a row.  The rent got too high at some point and now we haven't been here in Amsterdam in four or five years.  It's good to be back. This one night we are staying at the Eureka Hotel, which happens to be right next to our houseboat.  The neighborhood brings back good memories.  Tomorrow we take the train to Cologne, Germany, where we will spend two nights before heading back here to Amsterdam for about four days of rest and recreation.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

MSP to AMS, i think

Well, the chances are good that we will make it onto one of the Amsterdam flights today.  Maybe standby won't be too stressful after all, and business class might make me forget my prior anxieties.

Whether my blog streak can continue through this European trip will depend on my access to Wifi and internet and also that I can remember what day and time zone I'm in.  If I miss a day, try to carry on without me.

Off to the airport with fingers crossed......

Monday, October 15, 2012

hobbling jack flash

I'm quite aware that rock 'n roll, when compared to the age of the earth, is still a young phenomenon, but I'm amused that the Rolling Stones are celebrating their 50th year as a band:  rock is older than it feels.  In fact, the guys just announced today that they are doing concerts in December in London and New York.

As much as I have always loved the Stones, I've never gone to one of their concerts.  If I ever have wanted to go, it was in the late '60s, when they were in their prime, but I've always much preferred their studio sound to their live concerts.  Still, I guess it would have been fun to see Mick and Keith sometime, just to say you had seen them.  Maybe seeing them in person isn't really about the music. Every time they announce a new concert tour, everybody assumes it will be their last.  They're almost in their 70s now, which, let's face it, isn't nearly as old as it used to be.  Let's see how long they can go.  I'm still telling people to read Keith Richards's autobiography, Life.  It's one of my favorite books.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

who is christopher hampton?, part 2

OK.  I promise this will be my last theater post for a little while.

As I might have mentioned before, the Guthrie Theater is currently doing three Christopher Hampton plays on its three stages, and I saw the second and third of those this week.  Three plays, three subjects.  What these plays had in common for me was that I came out of each thinking, "So what?"  What motivated Christopher Hampton to write any of these, and what did he want to say?  I don't know.

The first, Tales From Hollywood, I covered in a previous post.  The second, Appomattox, has two distinct acts, one taking place in the last days of the U.S. Civil War, 1865 (Lincoln, Grant, Lee, etc.), and the second in 1965, at the height of the civil rights era (LBJ, Lady Bird, MLK, etc.).  This was a world premiere.  It seems to me to be unstructured and pointless.  My suggestion to Mr. Hampton, if he wants to save this play, is to drop the whole first act and focus on Lyndon Johnson, a crudely effective president who comes across in this production as a terrific stage character.

The third is a small play, Embers, a three-person play that is mostly a monologue by one of the characters.  I at least liked it better than Appomattox.  It may be talky, but at least it's not hard to figure out what it is.

The Hampton plays, as well as the playwright himself of course, are very British, even though two of them take place in America and one in Hungary.  They all have highly intelligent dialogue.  They just need to give the audience a reason to care.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

'billy elliot' the musical

Since the musical version of Billy Elliot opened in London in 2005 and on Broadway in 2008, I'm a bit late in weighing in on what I think of it, but this is when I saw it, so be it.  The touring version is playing at the Ordway Theater for the Performing Arts, one of my favorite venues.

The show is flashy, and the music is good -- hey, it's Elton John, how could it not be?  But Jerry and I both decided that we liked the non-musical movie (from the year 2000) a lot better.  The problem with both movie and even more so on stage is the heavy northern-England dialect.  It's a great story but much can get "lost in translation".  I think we would have been kind of confused by the play if we hadn't seen the film first.

One of the best characters in the film is Billy's dad, and on stage the character is less interesting, without focus.  There are four young actors that alternate the lead as Billy, and the one that we saw was a very a talented dancer.  Even if you don't get all the nuances of the plot, it's an entertaining evening overall, and the show might make you want to see Swan Lake.

Friday, October 12, 2012

musical evenings

I could have watched the vice-presidential debate last night.  No, I take that back.  I couldn't have.  Mentally, I'm done with this election.  It will be good to be out of the country for eight or nine of the remaining days before 6 November.

And there are other ways of escaping besides fleeing the country.  How about theater and more theater?  Maybe a movie or two squeezed in there somewhere?

I've been seeing the Christopher Hampton plays currently being staged at the Guthrie Theater, and I will say more about them after I see the third one tomorrow.

Last night and tonight, however, are musical-theater escapes.  The Mixed Blood, a local Minneapolis theater company, is doing Next to Normal, and James, Emma and I went last night and loved it.  Good music and voices with a gripping story about a family dealing with mental illness.  The Mixed Blood does good stuff: check it out sometime.

Tonight, Jerry and I are going to the Broadway-touring production of Billy Elliot over in St. Paul at the Ordway.  Looking forward to that.  We saw the non-musical movie Billy Elliot and thought it was great (see my post from 7.19.12).  Now we'll get that story with Elton John music.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

wedding plans out of a bottle

This is a follow-up to yesterday's blog post about our reason for going to Germany next week.  It would be a long story to repeat, and, rather than re-hash all of it from the beginning, let me direct you to my old post, "the note-in-the-bottle story" from June 17, 2008... Then, after you read that, please come back here.  The link:  the note-in-the-bottle story.  It's a cool story.

And the follow-up to that story?  Jana, now 22, is getting married next week, on the 19th, and she wants us to be there.  I'm not a big fan of weddings, especially one all in German, but I do celebrate our friendship with Jana and her family.
*****
Today's date?...It's 10.11.12, in case you hadn't noticed.  This afternoon at 1:14, military time, it will be 10.11.12.13:14.  Fifteen seconds into that minute it will be 10.11.12.13:14:15.  Thanks, Mary O. and Todd N., for this important newsflash.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

if only i were a 20-year-old backpacker...

It looks like, yes, Jerry and I are going to Europe next week... and until now I've never been apprehensive about a trip to Europe -- except maybe when I was in the Army getting stationed in Germany in 1968 -- not even when we flew to Amsterdam in 2001 a week after 9/11.  But it's these damned standby tickets again that Jerry got from his friend who used to work for the airline.  That's why I'm uneasy.  I'm too old for uncertainty.

So, assuming that we get on a plane, we will probably be put in business class, so that's the potential upside -- plus, these tickets are super cheap.  The nervousness comes from not knowing if there is room for us or not.  I'm just not a kid anymore, I'm not good at sleeping on airport floors waiting for a seat on a future flight.

The plan, if it works out --  We leave here next Tuesday, the 16th, flying to Amsterdam, the Netherlands.  A night in Amsterdam (My favorite city).  Taking a train to Cologne, Germany and staying there for two nights, then back for three nights in Amsterdam, trying to fly back home on the 24th.

And why go to Cologne?  Because we are going to a wedding.  Why?  Who is getting married? Well, telling you about that will take another post.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

his favorite number

Somewhere along the way, a few years ago, 31 became my son Tom's favorite number, and I forget the particulars of why that is.

Thirty-one years ago this very minute, Tom was born.  And now he gets to spend a whole year being his lucky number.  I hope it's his luckiest year yet.

Tom has a bit of a photographic mind, so he will probably remember that this photo is the same one I posted on my blog a year ago today.  What can I say?  It's a picture that makes me smile, so here it is again, and I'm smiling.

Happy Birthday, Tom.... :-)

Monday, October 8, 2012

christopher columbus!

If you don't work in a bank or at the post office, you probably don't know that it's Columbus Day today.  Well, it is, so Happy Columbus Day to you as you ponder Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492 and theoretically discovering America. For instance:
--  Why get on a ship, leave Queen Isabella, and risk falling off the end of the earth?  Was he 100% sure that the earth was round?  Was it hard to talk other people into sailing with him?
--  He apparently never accepted the fact that he had discovered a New World, convincing himself that he had just really found a different way to the East Indies, his original destination.
--  Why stubbornly continue to call the natives of this new land Indians?  Didn't he have anybody standing next to him saying, "Hey, dude, you're not in India, get some reality -- Can't you come up with a different name for these people?"
--  If he hadn't discovered America, would we all be squeezed into Europe?
--  Was it just dumb luck?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

a place you wouldn't mind having mechanical problems

Today for Jon should have been a "VIE to AMS to MSP" day.  His two week vacation in Austria is over, and he and Chris made the flight from Vienna to Amsterdam, where they had to change planes, but then, due to "mechanical problems" (which is always an intimidating phrase when thinking about air travel), their flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis was cancelled, and they need to spend a day and an overnight in Amsterdam.  Ah, what a nice problem to have -- being stuck in Amsterdam, my favorite city.
Jon & Chris unexpectedly in Amsterdam today

Saturday, October 6, 2012

emma goes normal

James's best friend Emma has started a new "normal" blog, which she credits to me, even though I'm pretty sure I never would have recommended anything TOO normal.. :-)  She had another blog, but I think she decided to outgrow it or keep it for those less cerebral moments.  You see, she is a Journalism major over at the University at Minnesota -- or might she major in Cultural Studies or German Studies??  She is 19, which probably means she thinks she can do it all.

Here is her blogsite -- the normal one:  http://tinygrayson.blogspot.com.  Give her some encouragement!

Ah, 19.  When I was that age, if I would have flunked my Army physical, my plan was either to move to New York City and write or major in Journalism at the University of Missouri at Columbia, but my healthy body let me down, so here I sit writing a questionably normal blog.

A quote from Gore Vidal, one of my favorite writers, recently deceased:  "Write something, even if it's only a suicide note."

On the lighter side, here is a joke from my friend Elke, who could teach German Studies if she wanted to:

Q: What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic, and a dyslexic?

A: Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a Dog.

Friday, October 5, 2012

bring on the swimsuit competition

The presidential debate a couple nights ago solidified my own opinion that these debates are a waste of everybody's time.  Mitt Romney -- or maybe it was his evil twin -- showed up spouting non-specific nonsense that basically contradicted everything he had been saying in two years of campaigning.  Suddenly he was rejecting a lot of the stands he had made when selling his soul to get the blessing of the radical right wing of his party.  It's no wonder Obama looked dumbfounded at times.  He must have been thinking, How do you debate a guy who has no core policy convictions?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

what not to put down a garbage disposal

The condo maintenance man and Jerry have the plumbing under the kitchen sink taken apart.  The garbage disposal was making wacky noises and was backing up into the sink, and now all seems well, I hope.  Something was stuck in there:  eggs shells, maybe, although that sounds odd to me.

One thing to never put down a garbage disposal:  potato peelings.  I found this out the hard way a few years ago when I had my apartment in downtown St. Paul.  My brother Ronnie and Vickie were visiting and Vickie was making mashed potatoes, and she put the peelings down the garbage disposal. It wasn't long before my next-door neighbor was pounding on the door.  Ground-up potato peelings were coming up into his bathtub.  As I recall, we needed a plumber to fix that problem.

You have to admit that this blog site is a wealth of useful information.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

an idea that's subject to debate

One of the dumber parts of modern-day presidential elections would definitely be the candidate debates.  Why must a potential president be a good debater?  Very few candidates were on their college debate team, I bet.  I would be happy if there were an honest discussion of the issues, but there never is.  These people running for office know how to ignore questions and veer off into their canned campaign speech (And why must a president show poise and be a good speaker?  It's not the Miss America Pageant!).

Anyway, the first Obama-Romney debate is tonight, and I'd just as soon not watch but will -- well, sort of.  We are going to watch it on big-screen TV over at the Graves 601 Hotel with a bunch of like-minded people (I hope).  Jim Graves, who owns that high-end hotel here in downtown Minneapolis (across the street from Target Center) is running for Congress against that nutcase Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann, the Congressperson from a neighboring district.  He will probably lose (it's a bit of a redneck district), but the polls are close and he is at least giving her a scare.  So it's a debate-watching fundraiser for Jim Graves.  Food and drinks provided.  Depending on how the debate goes, the drinks might be very much appreciated.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

looking over Tom's shoulder


As one son, Jon, hangs out in Bratislava, Slovakia today, Tom, son #2, sits in front me as I type this, playing a game on his iPhone.  He and Jerry are leaving for the Lynx playoff game any minute now.  If the Lynx lose tonight, they are out of the playoffs; if they win, they go on to the next round.

Hey, how do you like our new bookcase over in that corner there?  It has kind of a sleek, understated look, don't you think?  Looking from this view, I see more than ever how that ceiling light over the entryway needs to be replaced -- boring!  How about something with some color and pizzazz?

Monday, October 1, 2012

siri enters my life

When I opened my iPad the other day, there was a notice that I could download iOS 6, which is, I guess, a new Apple operating system -- at least new for iPads.  So I did the download, and, guess what, one of the changes to my iPad world is that I now have "Siri", the Apple answer lady.  You verbalize a question and she answers with a computer-woman voice tinged with annoyance.  People with iPhones already have this, and now I do.  You can ask questions like, "Where is the nearest restaurant?" and she comes up with a list for you.  She doesn't do as well with "Where is the nearest public toilet?" (she refers you to a website that is dedicated to that question) or "What is the meaning of life?"  Maybe they are saving those answers for iOS 7.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

i wonder why i am biting my nails

There really isn't a good reason.  Did I have too much coffee today?  Is this upcoming week going to be stressful?  Do I need to stop reading internet political news?  Is it time to turn off football?

.... and September 2012 ends.  It was a quick month..... "the days grow short when you reach September..."   Our weather is still great, my patio plants are still looking good, except for the petunias and the zinnias.  I keep on watering them anyway.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

if we don't crash on the way

I'd rather be a driver than a passenger (which is probably why I drive a Volkswagen), and, if this post seems shaky, it's because this is my first post ever done in a moving vehicle, and Jerry is a the driver, which in itself is a reason to be shaky.  He is -- shall I say? -- a fairly aggressive driver, which isn't a good mix for a nervous rider like me.  James is with us, we're dropping him off at work on our way to pick up Tom, then we're meeting up with Ruthie and her mom Vickie for dinner.  Vickie is arriving from North Carolina for a 10 day visit.  Have fun while here, Vickie...

Friday, September 28, 2012

a blank space in the church directory

We had good intentions, Jerry and I.  We had an appointment to have our pics taken tonight for the upcoming church directory, but then we got an offer we couldn't refuse:  complimentary suite seats at tonight's playoff opener for the Minnesota Lynx, last year's world champions in the WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association, that is, for most of you in the world that never heard of the WNBA).  The Lynx have been amazing this season, so maybe we will have a repeat of their championship, and Minnesota doesn't often get championship teams, so we'll take what we get.

We had to cancel our photo shoot and there were no more appointment openings, so I guess I'll continue to be mostly anonymous at church.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

who is christopher hampton?

You may not know of him -- I certainly did not -- but the Guthrie Theater is doing a salute to him. Christopher Hampton is a British playwright/screenwriter (Dangerous Liasons, Atonement), and I will be seeing three of his plays within a three week period.  We saw the first one, Tales from Hollywood, Sunday night, followed in the next week and a half by Appromattox and Embers.

Tales from Hollywood will not be, in my opinion at least, a big crowd-pleaser but seems to be a big critic-pleaser.  It takes place in the late-'30s to early '50s, focusing on writers escaping from Nazi Germany and trying somehow, through language and cultural barriers, to becoming Hollywood screenwriters.  I have a definite interest in that era -- where the average theater-goer may not -- but still had a hard time getting into this complex story.  The technical effects of this production help keep your attention on the characters.  The second act makes you glad you sat through the talky first act, but I'm not sure that everybody hung around for the second act.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

i like my congressman

I attended a CPA lunch today where the guest speaker was Keith Ellison, my congressman and, incidentally, the first and only member of the U.S. Congress who happens to be a Muslim.  He gave a good talk about the frustrations and challenges of a very divided Congress and nation.  Somehow he made it all seem less hopeless than it generally appears to be.  I look forward to voting for him once again.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

the hard life of a scab

If you didn't watch last night's Monday Night Football game; if you have not looked at any internet sites, facebook, or tweets today; or if you have no water cooler at your office where people gather and chatter, then you will have no idea what I'm talking about.

It's a day that people who like professional football won't forget any time soon.  The regular referees, due to a dispute with the owners, have been locked out and replaced by low-level replacements who appear to be new to the game of football.  We are just in the third week of the season, and these scab refs (scab = union-busting) have been making atrocious mistakes (which is not to imply that the regular refs never make any screw-ups), but last night was the topper.  A blatant error by the scabs in last night's game gave the victory to the wrong team.

Today, there are hand-wringing and obscenity-laden tirades everywhere, and this might be what it takes to get the regular refs back.  Even political opposites  -- the President of the United States and the union-hating Governor of Wisconsin -- are calling for the return of the regular officials.  The scabs are cowering somewhere in shame.

The hubbub is way more entertaining than the game was.

Monday, September 24, 2012

wading ever deeper into shallowness, part 2

Part 2, when was Part 1, you ask?  Well, it was on August 24, 2010, to be precise, and I wouldn't have thought of it except that somebody somewhere went back and read that post a few minutes ago, and, despite it's questionable grammar, it seems like an appropriate title tonight.  You see, I'm sitting here lazily watching the Emmy Awards, which were actually on last night and which I'm not proud to say that I DVRd while we were at the theater.  Hey, this is mind-numbing, but at least I can forward through the commercials and the whole reality-show segment.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

tales from minneapolis

Minnesota Vikings 24, San Francisco 49ers 13.  What?.. The 49ers are probably the best team in the NFL this year, and the Vikings are still limping from a 3-13 record last season.  So it's an unexpectedly happy day for Vikings fans here in Minneapolis.  That's the thing about football.  On any given day, any team can beat any team, and it's possible to overcome enormous odds.

We go from watching a great football game to seeing a play tonight at the Guthrie Theater, which is just five or six blocks from the Metrodome where the 49ers sucked today.  The play is Christopher Hampton's Tales from Hollywood.  I'll tell you more about that after we see it.

A couple nights ago, we (along with James and his friend Emma) went to see a classic play, Waiting for Godot, at the Jungle Theater.  You can always count on the Jungle to do a great production, even though that theater is just a fraction the size of the Guthrie.

That's the great thing about living in the Twin Cities:  lots of choices for whatever you like.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Jon: MSP to CDG to VIE

I'm a little envious.  Jon, my traveling son, leaves today for two weeks in Austria, flying from here to Vienna, changing planes at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris.  He and Chris will be spending time there in Vienna and five days in Salzburg and day trips all over the country and maybe over the border into Slovakia and/or Germany.  Jon  and I (and Jerry and Tom) spent several days in Salzburg in 2000, but the rest of Austria will be new for him.  Jon researches the heck out of a place before he travels, so by the time he gets back, he might know Austria better than some Austrians do -- except for his very limited knowledge of the German language, of course.  Have a great trip, Jon.  Keep us all posted on your whereabouts.

Friday, September 21, 2012

explanations without rationalizations

If people still used phonebooks, I'd say he just picked me at random out of the yellow pages -- Who knows where he got my name?  But a few minutes ago, I got a call from a reporter from one of the local TV stations asking me as a CPA if I could help him understand Mitt Romney's 2011 tax returns, which were just released a couple hours ago.  It was tempting, but I knew there was no way I could walk the guy through the return without editorializing about the obscenity of tax laws that allow people like the Romneys to pay such a low tax percentage on their income just because it's investment income instead of work income.  I referred the reporter to another firm.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

a new york state of mind

Maybe I need to re-think that title for this post.  People Googling for the Billy Joel song might be directed here, distorting my blog statistics once more, like "spacy or spacey" or "good mood food" did... Oh well, I'll take my chances because it just feels right.

See, it's just that I was talking to Mary W. on the phone yesterday and she was once again telling me that Jerry and I should go to New York to see Book of Mormon, and then today a friend of mine, Cassandra, a non-reader of this blog and thus knowing nothing about the Mormon thing, called to tell me that we were free to use her "vacation condo" in New York City anytime we wanted.  Excellent timing, Cassandra..... It feels like good karma.  What's the best way to check on Broadway tickets?  I'm a man on a mission.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

i like the other guy a lot

Lately, I've been getting in some jabs at Romney, and now that his "47%" video is out, he is an even easier target of derision...

.... but rather than just focusing on what a dweeb Romney is, I realize that I need to say something more about the other guy.

Last night, we were watching President Obama on Letterman's show, and it occurred to me once again how lucky we are to have him in the White House.  He means well, and he really wants to be the President of the whole country, not just the people who voted for him.  He has struggled against enormous obstacles since becoming President:  a financial disaster inherited from bush/cheney; a politically-motivated (non-stop!) Congress that wouldn't give him what might be considered even minor victories; vile racist slams generated by right-wing entertainment-media.  He has done well against the odds, deserves a second term, and besides that he is darn likable.  He isn't quite as liberal as I would like him to be, but I know that pragmatism and compromise are sometimes necessary too.  My vote will definitely be for him and not just a vote against Romney and his fellow plutocrats.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

alles Gute zum Geburtstag! again, Elke

I think that my German friend Elke and her husband Peter are sailing the North Sea on this, her birthday.  If she finds some momentary internet access or if she happens to be back home, I wish her a very happy birthday.

Monday, September 17, 2012

a high of fifty-eight

Three or four days ago, the temps were in the 90s, now we can't even break 60.  There is something to be said for sweatshirt weather, though.

The word from Mary W. in Oregon:  See the Book of Mormon in the Big Apple, not the Minneapple!  From Lee: Get the new iPhone!  My readers are good at telling me what I want to hear.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

unexpected 'mormon' problems

Darn!

The hit Broadway show, The Book of Mormon, the irreverent musical created by the South Park guys, is coming to Minneapolis in February, and single-ticket sales start next Friday.

We happened to stop by the ticket office at the State Theater yesterday and found out that the two-week run is almost already sold out, mostly to season-ticket holders.  The ticket guy suggested that if we want to get any tickets at all, we had better plan on waiting in line all day Friday and even then might not get tickets.  You see, usually the big hits -- Lion King, Phantom, Wicked, etc. -- come here for a month or more, this one just two weeks... and everybody wants to see this show -- even people that never ever do Broadway musicals.

So what to do?  You know me well enough to know that I don't do lines, so there is no way I'm going to spend a day standing in line -- especially for tickets that might not be there when I would get to the front of the line.

Maybe hop a plane to New York to see it on Broadway?  Or see it in another city where it tours? -- How about Salt Lake City??  :-)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

gleeful once again

James stopped by, is watching the season opener of Glee, which he DVR'd on our TV.   It's his favorite show, what can I say?

Hey.. Apple this week announced the new iPhone 5, shipping starting next week sometime.  I'm toying with the idea of dumping my Blackberry and going all-Apple (I say this as I blog on my iPad).    If my friend Aaron P. reads this, he'll laugh -- I used to fight getting any kind of cell phone, and now look at me: wanting the newest and best.  A sad commentary!

Friday, September 14, 2012

lagrolla and new people

We're having dinner with folks I haven't met, a woman that Jerry knows and her husband that neither of us have met.  I'm sort of a shy person (at least until the red wine kicks in), so let's hope we can find things to talk about.  Me to Jerry: "They're not Republicans, are they?"  Jerry (with a worried look): "Gee, I don't know."  I'll ask.  The answer will determine how limited our topics of conversation over dinner might be.

But  -- the cool thing is that we are going to LaGrolla for dinner.  It's over in St. Paul, on Selby near Western, and is my favorite Italian restaurant in the area.  It's a beautiful evening, maybe we'll even get to sit on the patio there.  Good food, good wine, good atmosphere.... so let's hope for good company too.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

his mouth, her leg

It was so tempting to rant about Mitt Romney again and his unbelievably offensive reaction to the embassy killings in Libya (I mean, whatever happened to the "United We Stand" mantra that those people used to spout?), but I will refrain from the obvious and instead post something more unusual.  You know that I am not pro-tattoo -- in fact, I would say that I am anti-tattoo, so it's remarkable that I am talking about tattoos twice in the same week, but I found this photo of a lady's 3D leg tattoo fascinating (I admit that I stole the pic from a friend's blog, and she had stolen it from somewhere else)...

I, of course, being a bit of a curmudgeon about such things, can't help but wonder what this leg will look like when varicose veins set in, but you have to admit that it's an eye-catcher, while being sort of spooky-looking at the same time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

try this one on for size

There's a good new play in the Dowling Studio at the Guthrie Theater:  The Brothers Size, written by young playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney.  We attended opening night this past Saturday.

The story centers around the relationship of two brothers, last name Size, African-American, living in the bayou country of Louisiana.  The younger of them is recently out of prison, trying to adjust back to freedom but still having nightmares of the horrors of prison.  It's intense, sometimes funny, sometimes musical.  Excellent acting.  Just 90 minutes total -- but you'll be entertained, and you'll find yourself caring.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11

You couldn't miss seeing the flags at half mast today or miss hearing people quietly discussing where they were when they heard the news.

I wondered if there was something different I could say this September 11, the eleventh anniversary, but I looked back at what I said on 9.11.11 or 9.11.10, and there is nothing to add.  The feelings don't change.  The date will always haunt us.

Monday, September 10, 2012

searching for a doc cloud

Some days it's just gibberish that I have for you.  I know that.

Hey, I have a question:  what does a nervous breakdown look like?  I mean, if I had a nervous breakdown, how would anybody know?  Wouldn't they just they think I was just having one of my weirder moments?

Another question:  Have any of my readers ever used Google Docs or Google Drive?  Any feedback?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

while being reluctantly purple

I'm not ready for football, you already know that.  The weather was too beautiful to put on purple shirts and go inside a domed stadium to watch a team that last year won three games and lost thirteen.

It didn't matter.  Our friends asked us to go to the Vikings game with them today, and we went because we wanted to hang out with them.  The game started dismally.  The Vikes were playing the not-exciting Jacksonville Jaguars and the first half was so lacking in action that it felt almost like baseball.

The second half changed.  Suddenly Minnesota had an offense, suddenly the game was worth watching.  The game, after a series of improbable last-minute-of-regulation plays, went to overtime, and the Vikings won in overtime...

And we were yelling and high-fiving, and football season is back, even for us.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

the tattooed guy at the next machine

Come to think of it, this might be a continuation of "there's something about september", but Jerry was just commenting that days like today, weather-wise, are his favorite.  It's still warm here in the Twin Cities, but it's breezy and there is a hint of autumn, and it's just one of those days where you gotta just love life.  If only we could halt time here to this moment in September 2012.

I was thinking about that a little when I was working out at the gym a couple hours ago.  There was a youngish guy at the next machine, working his calves, and I couldn't help but notice the tattoos all the way down both legs.  The design was actually quite something, I'm sure that his tattoo artist must have been proud of his work on those perfectly toned legs.  But I'm thinking, little does this young guy know how fast the next twenty, thirty, forty years are going to go by, and as those legs age those tattoos could end up looking like droopy splashes of nothing.  When something in our lives reaches near-perfection, it's a shame we can't freeze that part of us permanently and then just work on everything else.

Friday, September 7, 2012

distractions for two whole months

Some of the speeches from the Democratic convention were great, but I'm speeched-out for a while so am glad the conventions are done.

To be dreaded over the next sixty days:  The awful political ads on TV.  It's a time to switch it off, read a book instead, or maybe just turn on the television to watch a DVD...

... except for the debates.  They could be worth watching this year, if they can be real.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

helen's questions

Helen, in New Jersey, a long-time friend and regular blog-reader of mine, had two questions for me, and they made me realize that my posts occasionally leave people wondering, "Huh?".. So let me fill in some gaps.

First, she wondered, after reading my recent "seatless" posts, why the heck Jerry is flying standby?... is it that cheap?  Well, here's the deal.  He has a good friend, retired after many years with Delta and Northwest Airlines, who has given him several of her "buddy passes" (perks for being an airline employee), and they are very cheap yet can often mean being seated in first class, the downside being that you have to put up with the uncertainty of being on standby.  And he handles uncertainly better than some of the rest of us.

Next, she asked, are you and Jerry back together or not?  Well, yeah..... :-)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

seatless from seattle

Jerry is finally on a plane back to Minneapolis, after sitting around at the Seattle airport waiting for two earlier planes that had no room for his standby butt.  I need to pick him up in a couple hours, which means that I need to DVR tonight's Bill Clinton speech, since I wouldn't want to miss it.  I loved Michelle Obama's speech last night.  I'm still pessimistic about the November elections, but this, the week of the Democratic National Convention, is a time to feel good -- relatively, at least.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

there's something about september

As much as I always dread the end of summer, I find that those first post-Labor Day weeks bring me high energy.  It's like summer vacation is over and it's time to get back to work -- even though school days are a distant memory. I need to take advantage of the moment.

Monday, September 3, 2012

changes since 1894

Historical trivia for you:  Labor Day first became a national holiday in 1894 in a declaration signed by President Grover Cleveland, the intent being to celebrate workers and the many accomplishments of the labor movement.

Update to today -- Labor Day 2012:  Every year, you hear less and less about the "Labor" part of Labor Day, and I can't help but wonder how long it will before the plutocrats and big business, in their ongoing move to demonize labor unions, find a way to change the name of the holiday to something else.  It's appalling  how they have, through their political puppets, already convinced many lower/middle income, underemployed and underpaid voters that unions are a bad thing.

More historical trivia for you:  Organized labor was the first group to be crushed by the Fascists in Italy and the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s.

I hope you are having a good Labor Day.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

seatless to seattle

Jerry is going to Seattle for a couple days to visit his friends Tomoko and Norm and is flying "standby", which means you show up at the airport and don't know if you're going to get on board or not.  The first Seattle flight was full, so he hung around the MSP airport for three more hours, and it's looking like this next flight is a go.  Have fun, Jerry.  I kind of wish I was going too, except for the standby part of it -- I'm way too insecure for such shenanigans.  Let's hope he has good luck getting a flight back.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

playin' in the streets


If you go wandering the streets of downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul this summer, you might be surprised to find some old, beat-up, yet artistically-revived pianos here and there, and you can just sit down and play them, like I did at the two pianos above (Photos by Tom Dixon!).  The project brought together local artists and businesses (thanks, Russ!) to add some music to downtown street life.  Okay, not all the keys work and maybe the pedals stick and the pianos overall might be a bit out of tune, but you'll find out how good it is to play in the open air.  They will just be there until the middle of September, then they go off to piano heaven, so enjoy it, as players or listeners, while you can.

The website for this great project:  PIANOS ON PARADE

Friday, August 31, 2012

there was no good

... there was just bad and ugly.

And so ends the year 2012's republican national convention, and even though I wanted to watch parts of it, just out of curiosity, I, when the time came, just couldn't stomach it.

I wouldn't mind if these people would just get up there and say what they believe, although, if they really did that, they'd get very few votes.  Instead, it's all lies and distortions, non-specific platitudes and the dumbing-down of any possible civil discourse, and I hate yelling at the TV, so I switched it off.

Apparently even Clint Eastwood bombed.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

the commercial quota

I admit that I'm in a TV mood and not the the TV itself but mostly just lying here on the couch and dozing off with something in the background and at the same time I need to avoid Mitt Romney's acceptance speech, so I am zipping all over OnDemand and my recorded DVR stuff.  And, as I am watching The Big Bang Theory and fast-forwarding through the commercials, I am noticing once again what a large percentage of a half-hour show is made up of commercials! Didn't this stuff used to be regulated by the FCC?  Did Congress override?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

how james is doing, an update

James, my 19-year-old nephew, (remember him?) starts his second year of college this week, and he recently observed his one-year-anniversary at his Mall of America job, so it seemed like it might be time for an update.

What a year it has been for him and for us.  He has matured, especially in the past three or four months, way more than we would have predicted.  He has become a hard worker, a good student, and a well-rounded guy.  He lives in a nice studio apartment across the park from us, has made a number of good friends and is developing goals for his life.

... and, he has started his own blog, which he has given me permission to share with you.  Click on it, see what you think:

http://greenpenguin11.tumblr.com/

Nope!  He changed the address:  http://gracefulassassin11.tumblr.com/