Sunday, August 31, 2008

dangerous winds approaching

meanwhile, reporting from the Twin Cities.....! ---
We're being invaded by men in Oliver North haircuts and women who think Rush Limbaugh has sex appeal! The Republican National Convention starts tomorrow in St. Paul, the delegates and the media and the SWAT teams are mostly in place, and today convention plans are being altered as the politicans fall all over themselves trying to be concerned about Hurricane Gustav, just about to hit the Gulf Coast. bush and cheney have already cancelled appearances at the convention to "monitor the storm"("awwwwww, you won't get to see our protest signs!")...
What a shame for the victims of Hurricane Katrina that 2005 wasn't an election year!

Friday, August 29, 2008

conventional wisdom, or lack thereof

(Jerry in Anchorage, 4 days ago, with a look on his face that seems to say, "I wonder if this state has a governor??") -------------------->
My brother Davy, now safely back in Shanghai, emailed me today to congratulate me on bringing the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, back to the "lower 48" with us... Well, luckily, we got back a couple days before she made the trip, and we admit that, even after four days in Alaska this week, we were part of the 99% of Americans who had never heard of her so wouldn't have known her if she had sat between us on the plane.
We watched parts of the Democratic National Convention while we were in Alaska and here after we got home and were relieved that, even though it was a typically dull TV event, at least the Democrats made no major blunders. It comes as comic relief that McCain announced Gov. Palin today as his running mate. The Governor of Alaska?? Alaska? Alaska bears no resemblance to the rest of the country, and, besides that, she has been governor for less than two years. Before that, she was mayor of a small town that Jerry and I went through on the train (and the train doesn't even stop there!). And before that, she was runner-up in the Miss Alaska Pageant. Help! She is capable of being president? Or did McCain just think the race is lost anyway, so what the heck, Sarah is just more huggable than Mitt Romney?
Alaska?? There are more people living in the county where I live than in the whole enormous state of Alaska! Think she'll understand the national economy? In Alaska, the term "bear market" has a whole different meaning!
This weekend, the Republicans start invading us here in the Twin Cities for their national convention. Think I'll have more to say about that??? :-)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

boring you with vacation pictures

My son Jon generally has two big complaints about me. First, that I like everybody, which to him proves that my standards are too low. The other is that I don't take enough vacation pictures.

Well, here in Alaska, we are taking lots of pictures, but now that I look at them I realize how the scenery in Alaska is impossible to capture on film. It's just all too big. Ya gotta see it for yourself.

So, pathetically enough, here is a picture of me, to show you that I was really here. And two of the better photos of Alaska that I've taken so far, one south of Anchorage and one taken on our 12-hour train trip north to Fairbanks....

Friday, August 22, 2008

north to alaska

My friend in Germany, Elke, when she heard that we were going to Alaska for a few days, said, "You can visit our friend Basti the musher!..." ("Basti the musher" -- doesn't that sound like a name right out of a Kurt Vonnegut novel?). Basti the musher is a guy from their home town in northern Germany who moved to Alaska to breed and race sled dogs -- and mostly, apparently, to get far away from his father, Friedhelm.

Nothing quite that romantic is taking Jerry and me to Alaska (-- although I did own a Siberian husky for a brief time once, but that isn't a story worth telling! --). We just happened to have cheap airline tickets. We leave tomorrow for four days.

My impression is that there isn't a whole lot to do in Alaska except ooh and ahh at the scenery, unless you happen to be a sled-dog racer or an alcoholic, neither of which we are -- yet. The itinerary: We fly from MSP to Anchorage, where we will stay for a couple nights. Then we are taking the train (12 hours!) to Fairbanks, past breath-taking scenery (Mt. McKinley and glaciers and all that), then a day or so in Fairbanks, flying home from there.

I'm taking my laptop, so I'll keep you posted, if I can find an igloo with wireless internet!

no, not Kurt Vonnegut.. it's somebody else.....

Friday, August 15, 2008

hanging out with mud hens

Most of the world is in China now for the Olympics, but my brother Davy, who lives in China, is currently here in the States. He teaches English in Shanghai, is on semester break.. . He's been in Toledo, Ohio part of this week visiting his daughter (my niece) Ling, so I made a sort of spur-of-the-moment decision to drive to Ohio from Minnesota (about 650 miles) to spend a couple days with him and with Ling. So here I am. Greetings from Toledo.

Have gotten to know the city a bit the past couple days. Last night, we went to a Toledo Mud Hens minor-league baseball game ("Klinger" on M*A*S*H's team). Nice stadium, fun game, dinner afterwards at Tony Packo's (another "Klinger" reference).

A couple things happened that I've never seen before at a baseball game. First, one of the Mud Hens swung at a pitch, and his whole bat flew out of his hands way up into the third-base stands (a guy caught it). Then, in the same at-bat, his bat flew out of his hands again, this time landing in the Mud Hens dugout. Wow, a dangerous place to be! Soon after that, a batter hit a foul ball that went over the net in front of us (we were in the 2nd level behind home plate), bounced off the luxury boxes above us, and hit Davy in the knee, then bounced down to the first level.

So Davy had a sore knee today. He says what hurt most, though, was everybody booing him for not catching the ball. I say to him, the heck with all of them, and, by the way, if you have a bad knee the rest of your life, just tell everybody it's from an old baseball injury.

Leaving town tomorrow, heading in the general direction of home. I think.

Friday, August 8, 2008

08.08.08 @ 8

I was at the coffeeshop at 8 this morning to see Jack. It's his last day on the job. He's been the manager of the shop for the last several years, and we can always depend on him for a smile and some friendly chat. He's a young, vibrant guy, obviously too talented to be a coffeeshop manager the rest of his life, is going back to school -- to the University of Minnesota (just down the street) to study theater. Another starving actor, or maybe not? Still, it's sad to lose one of my coffeeshop friends.

As I write this, I'm sitting at the Volkswagen dealership, waiting while my GTI has its 20,000 mile checkup. Across the lobby, the TV is on. In a far-away time zone, the Olympics opening ceremony is happening right now to be followed, of course, by two weeks of Summer Olympics. I'm a casual Olympics observer, will watch some gymnastics, maybe some diving.

The opening ceremonies, which I find mostly annoying anyway, will be re-broadcast tonight on American TV. We'll miss it. We have tickets for the Jungle Theater, at 8 o'clock -- Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Maybe one of these years, we'll see Jack up on stage.


Brett Favre ended up with the New York Jets?? Jerry, an avid Jets fan (sporadically), doesn't know what to think.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

see the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet

I'm just kidding about the Chevrolet, of course (Been there, done that!)... I'm a Volkswagen man through and through. And gas is too expensive for people to be taking the long road trips those old Chevy commercials used to glamorize, although I admit I like road trips (If I'm the one doing the driving). I also admit I'd rather take a trip to Europe right now, like we used to, but -- hey! -- the dollar is worth practically nothing against the Euro these days, which makes everything over there super-expensive. So it seems like a good time to "see the USA"!

Plus, at some point recently I decided I should see all 50 states sometime before I'm dead, and I still have these ones to visit --

--- Northeast: Maine and Rhode Island.
--- South & Southwest: Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma (I should add Tennessee to that list, since technically I've only been to the Memphis airport).
--- West & Northwest: Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Alaska.

So that's 14 states left to experience.

Jerry somehow has a couple of vouchers from Northwest Airlines -- anywhere in North America, $99 round-trip for each of us, must be used by the end of this month. So over this past weekend we put together a four-day trip to Alaska later this month.

And I've been itching to get back to New England for some time now, so we are starting to plan a trip up there for the middle of September. I'll make sure we swing through Maine and Rhode Island.

... and what will be the 50th state, if I make it that far?... Might that feel weird to be done with them? :-(


Just saw the new Batman movie.... Not bad!