Friday, December 31, 2010
I was just watching a news video of fireworks and celebration in New Zealand, Australia, Asia, where it's already 2011. We in the U.S. Central Time Zone still have a few more hours to savor 2010.
2010 was kind of weird, but aren't they all? For me personally, it was kind of a transition year -- difficult at times but better than the "unsettled" year of 2009. 2010 was the first full year of my new business partnership and the year of our remodel of the condo that we finally moved into in late April. The saddest part of the year was the death of my brother-in-law John, who I will miss tremendously, and the serious health issues and financial crises of so many family members and friends.
But like any year, there were many happy times to balance the sad ones, and life is mostly good.
Best book I read in 2010: By far -- Life by Keith Richards.
Best movie I saw in 2010 (not that I saw all that many): The Social Network.
Best vacation: Hawaii in November.
(I may fill in some more "bests" later as they occur to me) :-)
I'm optimistic about 2011, mainly because pessimism is a drag.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Went to the Timberwolves game last night, we took my nephew-in-law Ryan, the Wolves played well but lost (big surprise - they are now 8-25), we had a good time anyway. Came out of Target Center to a rainy evening, and the rain continues today: Lots of rain and melting snow, big puddles everywhere, it should be interesting when it all freezes later tonight. Sometime this evening we're going over to our former neighbor Dee's house for a combination one-day-early New-Year's-and-Jerry-and-Howard's-anniversary dinner/get-together with former neighbors. Dee has made this sort of an annual tradition, and it will be good to see former neighbors and Dee also. Sad news from Dee -- her cat Ming is dying, so we may be saying our goodbyes to Ming.
Tomorrow evening, we will have kind of a bizarre send-off of 2010. We are taking my sister Joan to see two of her favorites from her '70s teenage years, Donny and Marie Osmond, at Mystic Lake Casino. Why bizarre? Well, Mystic Lake allows no-alcohol anywhere in the building, so it will be an alcohol-free New Year's Eve party, which is a little hard to picture. The no-drinking piece of it, though, will fit right in with the squeaky-clean Osmond Mormon image. And, wouldn't you know it? These are performers that I'm not at all excited to see, and somehow we managed to get perfect seats in the second row center -- surrounded of course by aging Osmond fans (This show sold out immediately).
Saturday, the first day of the New Year, back for another Wolves game. I sure wish they could think of a way to avoid all those turnovers.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Afterwards, we strolled the Mall a little, had a quick fast-food dinner at one of the food courts. Or at least I thought it would be quick. Jerry finished his dinner (Japanese) and was still hungry so went to find something more. Out of all the food court choices, most of which had no lines of people, he picked Taco Bell (also know as "Toxic Hell"), which had a line of about 20 people. Well, first of all, I don't do lines. I'd rather skip dinner entirely than stand in a line that long. But, Taco Bell? To me, the food is kinda repulsive. But there Jerry and all those people patiently stood for probably 15 minutes in a line that hardly moved. It's a world I don't understand, waiting for Taco Bell when you could choose from all those not-busy places.
So I sat at one of the food-court tables and played with my Blackberry and people-watched a good cross-section of Twin Cities suburbia walk by with their bargain treasures. The mall life in the 'burbs is an okay place to visit, but I sure wouldn't want to live there.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Of course, Boxing Day has nothing to do with boxing, although it's unclear what its original purpose is except to extend Christmas for a day -- something to do with boxes set up for donations to the needy, according to Wikipedia.
I must admit disappointment that there is another acclaimed boxing movie, though. I mean, haven't we been through enough of those -- Rocky, Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby, etc.? Joan says it's good. We'll see, tonight or sometime soon.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Cozy evening at home. The Christmas tree looks good, I'm glad we have it. Happy to be at home.
And I keep thinking about my brother Ronnie, lying in that hospital bed in Philly feeling weak and awful. He won't get home for Christmas. He probably won't get home until 2011. I wish I could go see him.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The end of the home Vikings games for this year ended infamously last night at that outdoor stadium at the University of Minnesota. The way they played this year, the end is a good thing.
The end of Christmas season approaches. The end of 2011 next week.
Ah -- a good end -- Over the weekend, the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"...
Monday, December 20, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Then last night, spur of the moment, Jerry, Tom and I walked over to the State Theater and saw Nutcracker Fantasy, the Loyce Houlton version that has been performed this time of year here in Minneapolis by the Minnesota Dance Company for many years now. It's a beautiful, elaborate production, and it was fun. Maybe we're finally getting into the "spirit of the season", whatever the heck that means!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
But, on the positive side, most of our Christmas shopping is done, which is unusual for us by this date -- a week before Christmas. Back on the negative side, we don't have our Christmas tree yet, and it looks like we need to go get one today. It's just been too cold to go schlepping through Christmas tree lots to find the right one. I actually spoke verboten words to Jerry the other day: that maybe we just sell out and give in and buy an artificial tree this year. He dismissed my words as that of a madman, but I just got to thinking about dragging a real tree up the elevator and dealing with needles and dirty looks from the other condo residents. And any real tree will take a day or two to thaw out after sitting outside all this time. Oh geez, somebody talk me off the ledge!
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Reasons to say No to Tony's offer:
-- It's going to be colder than a witch's you-know-what. Monday evening the real temps could be 12 to 15 degrees, so you can imagine what the wind chill will be like, winds gusting across that field. Plus, there is a possibility of snow.
-- It's going to be chaotic. There will be a potentially 64,000 Vikings fans squeezing into a stadium that seats 50,000. No reserved seating. First-come, first-serve.
-- The Vikings have totally disintegrated as a team this year. The third-string quarterback will probably be starting this game. They have almost no chance of winning the game.
But will we probably go, just for the experience of witnessing a potential catastrophe to be remembered for a long time? Of course!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The possible overpopulation of the earth came back to me as a concern while reading the Jonathan Franzen book, Freedom, in which one of the main characters has what becomes his life mission: to convince people to have fewer or no children in order to somehow save the earth, which of course has limited space and resources. At the current reproduction pace, the earth eventually is going to run short of the necessary resources to feed the world, which will lead to wars and mass starvation in some parts of the world or who knows what else.
But what to do? Political leaders only think of terms of the next election, so don't expect any answers from them. Churches, especially those which are against birth control, are still encouraging people to have lots of babies. The Bushes loved starting wars over Middle Eastern oil, but can you picture wars over water and food? It could happen within a couple more generations. Our cheery thought for today.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
As I write this, there was supposed to be a game here at the Metrodome. Whoops. There went the roof.
The Twin Cities are digging out. It's fun. Joan took the bus over from St. Paul (yes, the busses are running again), we met downtown for coffee and compared stories about how hard it was to cross intersections getting to the coffee shop. How boring might it be to live in a place where they never get a snowstorm!
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Our worst snowstorm in years. Cars stuck and stranded everywhere. Travel isn't advised. But my son Jon drove from St. Paul to Minneapolis this afternoon ("to be defiant", he said) only to find the event cancelled that he drove over for. Jerry has been out in his four-wheel drive Subaru several times and loves driving around in this stuff, except for having to maneuver around the cars that can't make it through. The New York Giants football team can't get into town for tomorrow's game against the Vikings -- they've been diverted to Kansas City.
I say, it's time for a cozy weekend at home. This is the reason hot chocolate was invented.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
I keep wondering, what kind of jobs will they be?
It used to be that the U.S. could count on the manufacturing sector to create good-paying jobs, but factories have shut down and manufacturing has been shifted to other countries where labor is cheap. Then in the '90s, there was the dot/com bubble that burst somewhere around y2K. In the middle of this past decade, real estate and mortgage companies were booming but that all crashed circa 2008 and it's hard to see real estate coming back big anytime soon.
So is there another boom coming that politicians can see that the rest of us can't see? Or do they think, "A job is a job", regardless of whether it pays enough to support a family or sustain middle-class lifestyles?
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Thirty years ago today, my friend Steve (now deceased) called to tell me that John Lennon had just been murdered. It still seems as odd today as it did then: Why would anybody want to kill John Lennon? When the news came that he had been killed not by somebody who hated him but by a fan, that made it even more odd. I wish John would have still been with us these past years. I feel like my generation missed out on part of its history.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Am very disappointed that Obama caved in to the Republicans so easily on extending the Bush tax cuts. His political base is appalled at his weakness.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Back at work, back at home, back in Minneapolis, and trying to remember all the good things about living here.
A couple of ironies in showing this as my Monday video: That I, the un-Republican, am posting a promo video targeting the delegates to the 2008 Republican National Convention; and that the Convention wasn't held in Minneapolis, it was held across the river in St. Paul, and St. Paul never gets a mention here.
P.S. If you can't find reasons to celebrate your location, you should be moving.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Tonight, Sunday evening, I'm at the office for a little while, trying to get a jump on Monday morning, catching up on two-weeks' worth of mail, email, phone messages, and administrative details. Say what you will, but this will make Monday morning much easier to face, and at the moment I'm fired up to get back to work and go gangbusters. Funny how I can go through periods of being totally motivated -- not just with work but with my social choices, work-out routines, healthy eating, etc. -- and then go through periods of being a total inanimate doorknob and can't shake myself out of inertia no matter what I do. Phases of the moon? No, I don't think so. Sometimes I can be ultra-motivated and something will happen -- somebody saying something that drains the positivity right out of me. It just takes a split-second, and it's over and I can't get it back. Or is that just my excuse to withdraw and re-group?
Saturday, December 4, 2010
The dirt in this park was very thick and red (as is a lot of dirt in various parts of the Hawaiian Islands) and it had rained earlier in the day, so walking around was a little icky. Not a big problem until I got back to the condo in downtown Honolulu and realized I was tracking red mud onto the carpet. Jerry went to work cleaning my shoes (not an easy task, it doesn't come off very handily) and worked on them even more when he got back home to Minneapolis because they still had some crud on them. These are the only shoes I have that are good in snow, of which we were greeted with much on our arrival this morning. They're still not spotless, it might take a while. I guess it was just my way of bringing part of Hawaii back with me.
Friday, December 3, 2010
But the great thing about being here for a two-week vacation is the isolation way out here in the South Pacific, the fact that it is so far from the rest of the world.
I do have a conscience, though, and would feel guilty if I were to complain that this is the day we have to go home. The people that I know and love back home have been putting up with the miseries of an early winter -- low temperatures and wind chills, ice, snow, dreariness in the past couple weeks. I know we were lucky to have this time here. My way of justifying it all: Now and then you need to step away from your life and take a look at it from far away and see how it all shakes out. The issues back home don't go away while you're gone, but maybe you're better able to handle them. I do have a Dilemma Number One (which I can't discuss in these pages) that I feel better able to face plus some of those other more minor nagging problems. My head feels cleared. A Hawaiian brain enema, maybe that's what it all was.
The plane leaves at 6 this evening. I'm going to go enjoy the day.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
The Republicans in the Senate have announced plans to block every bill until they can get the tax cuts that their corporate-goon paymasters want. If they got everything they wanted (continued lower rates for millionares), the budget deficit would grow much worse in years to come. Plus, this is the party that got us into wars we can't afford and allowed Wall Street to create an economic disaster that required a massive government bail-out. So it's obvious to me: the last concern they have is the staggering budget deficit.
But now a bill is coming up to extend unemployment benefits (A relatively modest amount, I'm sure, compared to the above travesties). I admit that I don't know what the answer is regarding the long-time unemployed, but the Republicans have already lined up against the bill because it "would increase the budget deficit"! I guess they just aren't dependent on the jobless voters to help fund their re-elections.
(One of the effects of being on vacation is that I get to spend more time keeping up with the news).......
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
And what about this "Wikileaks" thing? Is it really such a big deal? I haven't seen much of what's being disclosed, but what I've seen so far would at most just hurt the feelings of some world leaders.. And if you can't stand having your feelings hurt once in a while, you shouldn't be a world leader.
And poor President Obama... He can't even play a pick-up game of basketball without being injured... 12 stitches! Let's hope that 2011 is kinder to the man. We need stuff done!
Monday, November 29, 2010
Way back in my piano-student days, Warsaw Concerto by Richard Addinsell was my signature piece, and I still like to play it now and then when I'm feeling a little less lazy than usual. I wish I could play it as well as I did when I was 18. The rendition in this video was done by the West Forest Sinfonia in Berkshire, England, and I think the young pianist did a pretty good job on it. It's a great piece, and fun to play on the piano.
(when I'm out of town for two weeks, I start missing my Steinway)....
Sunday, November 28, 2010
(The sad part of this is that the "Best of 2010" lists have already started!)
On the non-fiction side, I've read two of the books on the list and am enthusiastic about both: Life, by Keith Richards (which I just finished a couple days ago) and Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, by Daniel Okrent. Fiction-wise, I'm back to reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and will finish it this week.
You already know how much I loved the Keith Richards book, the most enjoyable read I've had in a long time. This is how the Times describes it:
Reading Richards's autobiography is like getting to corner him a room to ask
everything you always wanted to know about the Rolling Stones.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Jerry came back to the condo exhausted and in major distress, having used muscles he hadn't known about before. His back and neck were in major pain. He cried out for his chiropractor, who of course is thousands of miles away in Minneapolis. The new friend Steve, a 58-year-old guy visiting from Vancouver, also had some new muscles making their presence known. Apparently (for them, at least) the hardest part of surfing is lying on the surfboard, paddling out into the ocean to catch a wave. Or maybe, if you're going to be a surfer, you just need to start at a very young age.
I took Jerry on my long morning walk this morning, and that somehow seemed to help his back and shoulders sort of get back to normal. They're talking about going surfing again on Monday!
Friday, November 26, 2010
Jerry is off somewhere having a surfing lesson. I'm hanging out in Waikiki, taking walks, reading, trying to avoid any acknowledgement of Black Friday. It's not beginning to look a lot like Christmas, for me at least.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
In our house, growing up, dinner seemed to always be secondary on Thanksgiving to the Millville-Vineland high school football game. My mom was always frustrated that she had to plan dinner around when we'd be home from the game. Those Millville football games used to be so much fun -- Millville was such a football town -- and the Millville-Vineland game on Thanksgiving was the highlight, sometimes drawing 8,000 to 10,000 people. The rivalry goes on, and I know the games don't draw nearly the crowd or the excitement that they used to -- Millville has changed a lot -- but you know what? -- If I still lived in Millville or nearby, I'd be at those games, cheering on our Thunderbolts.
Added later: Todays final: Millville 28, Vineland 0.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Which makes me laugh. This guy, an overweight nerdy accountant, thinks that a TSA security dude picked him to fondle out of the hundreds of guys he had probably patted down that day? I'm thinking it was a bit of wishful thinking or an overly paranoid imagination, but who am I to say? Maybe it's intended as a TSA employee benefit and in their training they're taught the right ways to "cop a feel"!
I think if I'm faced with the decision, I'm gonna go with the pat-down. A little groping might liven up the nervous drudgery of going through airport security. Unless the "pat-down" line gets too long with other would-be gropees (I hate lines!), in which case I'll take my chance with the rays.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
...but what's weird is having an early breakfast on a Sunday morning and then coming back to watch football starting at 8 a.m. At home the games start at noon, on the East Coast they start at 1. Currently watching the Vikings play the Packers. The game is at home, in Minneapolis, where outside the Metrodome, there is a bad ice storm happening. If we were in town, we'd probably be at the game, assuming we didn't slip on the ice on the way into the stadium and end up in the emergency room.
We might go to the beach later.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
It was a good airplane book too, made the time go fast. Between Minneapolis and San Francisco, there was a woman next to me with an Amazon Kindle, which she says is great. I haven't been able to make the switch from paper books to computer books, but who knows where I will end up on that topic. I never say never. One thing I did notice -- when we were taking off and landing, when they tell us to turn off all electronic devices, she had to turn off her Kindle, while I kept reading.
Then between San Francisco and Honolulu, there was a super-nice kid next to me, a sophomore at San Jose State, on his way to the football game (today) between San Jose and the University of Hawaii. He was reading a tedious-looking book for school and would rather have talked the whole flight, but my nose was buried in the Rolling Stones story. It's going to be one of those books that I'll hate to see end.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Jerry found us a very nice rental condo in a neighborhood close to Waikiki. Our one venture outside the building so far today was driving our rental Volkswagen Beetle over to the Big City Diner for breakfast. The Big City is one of our favorite haunts here, although it's not that big a deal, come to think of it -- it's just a Honolulu tradition for us.
The next big stressful decision is whether to go to Hula's for Happy Hour. Mai Tai, anyone?
Thursday, November 18, 2010
That's how some days start, and then they end up in a totally different scene. In a couple hours, I get on a plane to Honolulu, Hawaii (with a stop in San Francisco), and when I'm in that warm other-worldly paradise tonight, it will be funny to think that my day started with a plugged-up cat.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
But it was one of the few places in Minnesota where we can get something resembling a Jersey-style cheesesteak, so we didn't want it closed. A person can not be expected to live without cheesesteaks indefinitely.
And what did they do to renovate?.. Nothing that we could see, except that the map of New Jersey was moved to another wall and some new Jersey-shore photos were hung here and there. Same menu. I guess they just needed a break. We all do now and then. Mine starts tomorrow.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Meanwhile, I'm on a high today, as a Philadelphia Eagles fan, after seeing the Eagles trample the Washington Redskins last night on Monday Night Football, 59-28, led by the flawless (last night, at least) quarterback Michael Vick. Michael Vick, besides being a great quarterback, is infamous for running a brutal dogfighting operation several years ago, for which he went to prison and which theoretically ended his football career.
Joan and I and other Eagles fans were dismayed when the Eagles picked him up last year, but it's amazing how forgiving we have become. We've learned to love the dude. I can even picture myself wearing a Vick jersey, although today probably wouldn't be the day to stop and buy one, at least not on the way to the Humane Society!
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Normally, these classes are held to update us on tax changes and related topics and to prepare our firms for the upcoming busy season. What will be different this year is the uncertainty at this late date of what those changes might be. You see, the "Bush tax cuts" from 2001 are due to expire at the end of the year, and, if nothing is done by Congress in the meantime, tax rates and other tax regulations will go back to where they were in 2001. This is extremely important for upper-income taxpayers in particular, whose top tax rates would go up significantly.
Considering the horrible federal budget deficits, some are saying, "Let them go back up!" The Republicans are saying, "Cut the rates for our rich buddies even more!" So there will be a fight in the lame-duck Congress between now and December 31, and you'll hear about it. I'm hoping that Obama will be not so anxious to compromise as he has been so far. He needs a win.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Then I look out the windows (I usually have a great view from my office, by the way), and it's gray and almost dark already. People are talking that a snowstorm is coming. When I check the forecast for tomorrow, the number of predicted inches of snow keep going up. 8 to 10 inches, they say now, or might this be one of those snowstorms that never happens?
But I look out at the sky again. It feels like snow. Maybe I'd be predicting it too.
I worked late every night this week: the price to pay for leaving next Thursday for two weeks in Hawaii. Tonight -- another Timberwolves game with Tom, this time against the New York Knicks. The Wolves have a one-game winning streak going. Gotta start somewhere to keep hope alive!...
... and maybe it won't snow.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
... and I'm a veteran, you know (Vietnam-era draftee). I haven't been hugged yet.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I mean, I have nothing against my dentist, who is a cool guy. And the dental hygenist who does my twice-a-year cleaning is a sweet young woman named Jenny. I wouldn't mind meeting them for coffee or lunch or a night at the opera, but I live in absolute dread of being in that dentist chair.
Yep, you guessed it, today is my appointment. And when I'm done and make my next appointment for a cleaning, I'll dread it again for six months, counting down the days. And what if they find a cavity and I have to come in sometime in between? It's a vicious cycle. But not endless.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
... and now especially that he's in Hawaii, I curl up on Monday evening, cover up with a soft afghan, eat some leftover spaghetti and a bowl of vanilla ice cream, and turn on the TV: Two and a Half Men, Mike & Molly (which I admit I fell asleep during), and Hawaii Five-O, occasionally flipping the channel to check out the score on Monday Night Football. It is all too easy. I don't dare to check what shows might be on other nights of the week.
But last night brought an extra bonus after "our shows": the premiere of Conan O'Brien's new late night talk show. Loved it. Hope it doesn't become part of a five-night a week routine! That HDTV is a vicious temptress! Will I go back to reading books??
Monday, November 8, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
Anyway... the movies for me two nights in a row, and this one was very un-Jackass-ish: Hereafter, the new movie starring Matt Damon and a bunch of no-names and directed by Clint Eastwood. It has three distant main characters whose stories come together in the end (and an unnecessary but interesting-to-watch tsunami in the beginning): afterworld stuff, the spirit world, psychics, near-death experiences. A good story, thought provoking. I liked it, and I think the other eight people did too.
No movie tonight. Timberwolves game with Tom.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I walked over to the late show last night at the downtown stadium-seating cineplex at Block E, and I do wonder how that place stays in business. Fourteen screens and hardly anybody around. The ticket was only five bucks (Monday through Thursday all day), and there were seven other twisted people at my Jackass movie, all under 25 years old, I'm sure. That's $40 the theater made in that showing, and I didn't see anybody else, including myself, with popcorn or a soda (I was already over my Pepsi limit for the day).
I promise to make my day today more uplifting. That shouldn't be difficult.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
... But life goes on, we hope...
Randy Moss has been let go by the Minnesota Vikings, and most Vikings fans, including myself, are ready to say, Hey let's get rid of the coach instead. It's a weird football year. It might be time to move on to something else.
Jerry left this morning for his month in Hawaii. Might be a perfect time for an escape.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
... and it's Jerry's favorite place in the world.
He leaves Tuesday for a month of R & R there. I follow in a couple weeks to spend the last two weeks with him.
But planning and packing for a month away is no easy chore. Meanwhile, he's cooking an elaborate dinner for our friends Diane and Tony, who are coming over to watch the Vikings-Patriots game that starts in a few minutes, and dealing with work stuff that keeps his phone ringing even on a Sunday afternoon.
"I'm overwhelmed!" he just said.
He needs to be on that plane waiting for take-off.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
The health care law is of course mostly hated by the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations, who have the power and the resources to sponsor these office-holders and candidates and television ads, and, by repeating supposedly vicious buzz words like "socialistic" over and over until they become distorted truths, they know how to fool the under-educated American public into voting against their own best interests.
We hear that tens of millions of Americans have had no health insurance, but the plain fact is that most Americans do have health insurance in percentages that probably lead to the large percentages (in polls, at least) that are against "Obamacare". To repeal this law is to go back to the disgraceful health insurance policies that denied coverage to the people that really need it but are a definite voting minority. The Obama law is flawed and needs to be improved, but it is a major step in the right direction.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
We generally fly non-stop, Philly to Minneapolis, but this time we were using frequent-flyer last-minute tickets and beggars can't be choosers, so these tickets had us changing planes at JFK Airport in New York. It's kind of a weird, non-user friendly airport to make a connection but it all worked out well. Made us want to stay in New York for a few days.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
There were probably 400 people at the viewing, long lines out the door of the funeral home. Today is the funeral and the burial. It is a gloomy rainy day, which seems appropriate as we say goodbye to our beloved brother-in-law John.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
For my sister Mary, who is remarkably brave and strong, this is a surreal time, this time between his death Friday morning and the services that are to come. The viewing is tonight and the funeral is tomorrow, and many people are expected from all aspects of John's whole life. It's not easy for her to face all that, I'm sure, while she is still in shock from the loss of her mate.
Rather than just sitting around waiting for the viewing tonight, Mary asked if we could go to the shore today, so we drove down to the boardwalk in Ocean City, where it was gray and breezy and beautiful. And familiar. It was exactly the right thing to do.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
For me, it's one of those "worst of times, best of times". The family is so far-flung geographically that it's a happy occasion to see everybody coming together, since it doesn't happen often, yet the mourning takes over our emotions now and then, sometimes unexpectedly and out of the blue.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Racquetball was a passion of mine back in the first half of the '80s, and even though I could never get above a B level of play, I had matches or leagues three or four times a week. I loved the game, and during that time I was definitely in the best shape I've ever been in in my life. That was also, I think, the heyday of racquetball nationwide. It doesn't seem nearly as popular these days, and the people who were playing back then had their knees give out eventually. I still get into a court and hit the ball around a little now and then, but the days of hard-core playing are well over. Watching is still fun, though.
So if you're thinking of trying racquetball sometime, I say Go Ahead. Your knees one day will give out from something else anyway, probably something a lot less fun.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
If the government's logic is that 'the people' should be making decisions, then here is an example of inconsistency: California has a referendum on the November ballot to legalize marijuana in that state. The U.S. Attorney General has already announced that, if the referendum passes, the federal government will fight it.
First of all, marijuana is almost legal in California anyway. Second, legalizing pot would not infringe on people's rights like 'don't ask, don't tell' does; in fact, it would make a lot more people 'non-criminals' while at the same time raising tax revenues.
So 'the people' have to approve a minority's rights but can't vote to undo illogical laws?
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
There are several problems with the Administration's thinking. First, the "people" have not voted up to now to overturn the policy, and it's been in place for 17 years. Second, whether a group of people should have rights is not something to be decided by a majority and therefore subject to its prejudices -- this is why we HAVE a judicial system. Third, President Obama (whom I still support, of course) should stop trying to cater to the conservatives who will never vote for him anyway and consider his political base instead.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Since nobody complained about the Olivia Newton-John video last Monday, I'm going to stick my neck out and try to put a video on every Monday for a while (until I get tired of doing so): Mostly music videos, from the sublime to the ridiculous, inspiring or silly... Here we go....
Sunday, October 17, 2010
"Wow," I say to the young woman behind the counter, "I've heard that song like five times in the past week, and before that I hadn't heard it in ages!"
"That's how it is with me and David Bowie," she says. "I go for months without hearing him at all, and then suddenly I hear him everywhere!"
"Maybe it's just a phase of the moon," I reply, and we agree that yep, that must be it.
This afternoon, I don my Randy Moss #84 jersey and head to the Vikings-Cowboys game. This is Moss's first home game since being back on the Vikings team, and the 65,000 fans there will go crazy seeing him again. Probably a quarter of those 65,000 fans will be wearing #84 Moss jerseys, which like me they kept hanging in the back of their closets since he was traded a few years ago. The ones who in the intervening years dropped their Moss jerseys off at Goodwill have regrets.
Hanging like a dark cloud over my normal activities these days are continuous thoughts of my brother-in-law John, in intensive-care in a hospital in New Jersey, his condition grave. I hate feeling helpless. I want him all well again......
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Just saw on TV where one of the Chilean miners was a die-hard Elvis
fan. He requested Elvis music sent down in the mine and would lead the
miners in Elvis sing-a-longs. Elvis Presley Enterprises has offered him
and a loved one an all expenses paid trip to Graceland. Remarkable how the
love of Elvis gets people through some rough times in their lives. I know
this is true.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
What an ordeal it must have been, in large part because at the beginning their rescue appeared doubtful.
But beyond that, wow, can you imagine spending 70 days underground, in a very confined space, with your co-workers?! I asked my co-worker Theresa, who has worked with me for 21 years this month, what that might be like. Let's just say, her response was not positive and pointed out some of the ickier sides of the situation: 70 days almost naked, with no shower, no deodorant, no toilet facilities.
And I wonder how soon you'd run out of things to talk about. Would you get in heated arguments, just to ease the boredom? Would you come up above ground being better friends or hating each other forever? Maybe the Chilean miners will give us some insight.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Today I had to go over to St. Paul to testify in a client's divorce trial. I was sort of nervous about that -- it's kind of a contentious divorce -- but I stayed remarkably calm and relatively articulate, and, on some perverse level, I ended up enjoying being up there on the stand. Before I went to the courthouse, though, I had some time to kill and walked through the skyways and reminisced. Or maybe I just was missing being seven to twenty-seven years younger.
Stopped for lunch at a cajun fast-food place where I used to go there in the skyway (they have great bourbon-chicken), and the same people are still working there, and the lady was happy to see me.. "Long time no see!"... Then after lunch, I was walking by the security desk at our old office building, and the security person, a wonderful woman named Sabrina, called out to me and seemed excited to see me again.
There are times when it's nice to be anonymous in an urban setting, but it also feels kinda special to be recognized and remembered.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
As I was heading to the coffee shop this morning and feeling perfect temperatures and seeing fallen leaves everywhere but with a lot of colorful leaves still on the trees and as I enjoyed the autumn moment, I was thinking, Why can't we just freeze time right here and stay like this forever (Although I hesitate to use the word "freeze")?
Instead the moment passed, and now I'm in my office catching up on work (on a Sunday morning) and taking a couple minutes to blog with you fine folks.
Jerry is in San Juan, Puerto Rico for three days, for three reasons: To re-visit Puerto Rico now and then because he lived there for a year a couple decades ago and all of his memories of it aren't bad; to visit his good friend Jose; and mostly because he needed the frequent-flyer miles to keep his Delta Silver Medallion status (And fares to Puerto Rico are apparently cheap).
and uh-oh, I see on an Internet website that Brett Favre is in trouble. I need to get back to work and get the heck out of here.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
And I guess a lot of people do get flu shots. I know this because I always seem to hear about it when they have a reaction to the shots and are under the weather for a day or so. But I haven't had a flu shot since 1976 (one of those swine-flu years), and I don't think I've had the flu in a couple decades. This makes me highly unmotivated to stand in line for a flu shot. And who knows what they put in those vaccines? Plus, it's 83 degrees outside: who can think about cold-and-flu weather?
Tempting fate? Falling into one of those "over-60" categories of people who should be getting flu shots but ignoring the warnings? The heck with it, I'll take my chances for another year. And if in a couple months, I'm blogging about being sick as a dog or coughing my brains out, try not to remind me.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Football: The New England Patriots traded wide-receiver Randy Moss back to the Vikings, and this has caused tremendous excitement here in Minnesota (except, of course, for those few contrarians who can't stand Randy Moss). What quarterback Brett Favre has lacked this season is an excellent pass receiver to throw to, and, in my humble opinion at least, Moss is the best. Let's hope that they have perfect chemistry together and can make the rest of this season entertaining at least and maybe even of champion caliber!
Baseball (2 days in a row!): The excitement from the Moss trade helped to offset the Twins' disappointing loss in the first playoff game with the Yankees. Everybody here is thinking, Oh no, here we go again, probably not getting past the first round of the playoffs.
But, for me, a Phillies fan, it was also a good day because the Phillies not only won their first playoff game, but their pitcher Roy Halladay threw for a no-hitter. There has not been a no-hitter in a post-season game since 1956! An amazing accomplishment.
And I won't blog again about sports tomorrow unless some other spectacular thing happens. :-)
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
A couple nights ago, I was able to drag Jerry away from his laptop and Facebook to go see the new movie about the founding of Facebook, The Social Network (see my blog post on September 16).
This film has opened to critical acclaim and box-office success. It is sort of a fictionalized/non-fiction story of how Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in his Harvard dorm a few short years ago and how it has developed into a company worth billions.
I liked it. The film is very face-paced and engaging, and Jesse Eisenberg as Mark is totally convincing. Jerry liked it not quite as much, and I think that my sister Joan didn't like it much at all, finding the story not all that interesting. But for those of us who have made Facebook a part of our everyday lives, I guess that it's just a film to see.
Meanwhile, real-life Facebook dramas continue. People get happy with it for a while, and people sometimes get offended by thoughtless Facebook "friends", even to the point of dropping out of Facebook altogether. And then you miss them when they're gone and you hope they come back.
Monday, October 4, 2010
And it was billed as "an old-fashioned hymn-sing", held at our church yesterday afternoon, led by Garrison Keillor, author and host of the radio program A Prairie Home Companion. I guess it was sort of a tip of the hat to "the evangelicals" in this decidely non-evangelical church.
Garrison grew up in a fundamentalist evangelical church, as did I and as did the music director of our church, and we're apparently still all "in recovery" from those days. Yet it felt sort of good to hear some familiar songs (I knew them all by heart), even though they are full of "blood" and "sin" and all the buzz words related to guilt. "If any of you grew up hearing rough preaching," Garrison told the audience, "this may be emotional for you." And maybe it was, a little, even though there is for me a total dis-connect theologically between me and these hymns. I think for most of the people there, though, these 150ish-year-old gospel songs were brand new.
Garrison Keillor seemed a lot older and more feeble than the last time I saw him, four years ago, by the way. I wonder if he would think the same about me!
Sunday, October 3, 2010
A little blip on the radar now and then reminds us that these days are fleeting. Last night, the temperatures fell into the upper 30s, and, even though the next week will bring us temps back into the 60s and 70s, a killer frost can't be far behind.
Our 23-story condo building has either air conditioning or heat available to be turned on in the individual units, never both at once. This morning, there was a notice in the elevators: The heat has been turned on. Which means that, unless a freak heat-wave turns up anytime soon, we don't have an air-conditioning option until next spring. Ominous.
No reason to turn on heat yet for us, though. Let's open some windows and let the breeze flow through.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
And why Hawaii, you ask? Well, first of all, Hawaii is Hawaii, and everybody should see Hawaii sometime. But also because Hawaii was one of the seven states that Davy had never been in, and I'm realizing that he and I are suddenly in a competition to see who visits all 50 states first. I have three to go, and now he will be down to six, and later this month he is coming to visit us in Minnesota with the intent of taking road trips from here to North Dakota and Iowa, which will bring him down to four.
So do I start booking flights to Oklahoma City and San Antonio and Portland, or let him win? Am I as competitive as he is? :-)
Friday, October 1, 2010
What is most appalling about them is how they have become totally devoid of substance. There is zero intelligent discussion of any issues. It's just negativity and distortion. And I say this about the campaigns even of the candidates that I support and will vote for.
The problem, other than of course that this is no way to operate an effective democracy, is that it turns off so many potential voters by Election Day that they don't go vote. Or is that part of the reason for the disgusting ads, to keep voter turnout down?
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Instead, of course, I went back. After stopping to buy a lottery ticket.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Clean Water Action's mission statement:
Clean Water Action is an organization of 1.2 million members working to empower people to take action to protect America's waters, build healthy communities and to make democracy work for all of us. For 36 years Clean Water Action has succeeded in winning some of the nation's most important environmental protections through grassroots organizing, expert policy research and political advocacy focused on holding elected officials accountable to the public.
http://cleanwateraction.org/ Check it out!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
It's not surprising that a leader who has the imagination and creativity to build an entertainment empire would turn out to be less than "straight" or that a person bad-mouthing other people for their sexual orientation would be less than secure in his own.
What amazes me instead is that there are so many people taken in by the spiel of a guy like this to begin with! He's one of those preaching a "prosperity gospel", which basically translates to "God wants you to be rich, and, if you're not, then you have a spiritual problem". That theory, of course, is based on the distortion of some remote verse in the Old Testament (and totally opposite the message of the New Testament). But he, the preacher, is dressed in expensive clothes, driving expensive cars, buying expensive houses, enjoying an extravagant lifestyle, so he must be right about this, correct?! Except of course, you and I can see that his riches came from the suckers throwing cash ("planting their seeds") into his offering plates. Somehow though, mindlessness continues, and prosperity theology is thriving.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Yesterday afternoon when I was done at the gym, I stopped at the Starbucks across the street from Target Center, which is where I work out... you know that Starbucks -- the one next to the Hard Rock Cafe. It was one of those great September days, a day that felt perfect for sitting at one of the tables outside Starbucks with a cup of coffee. And it was. That's always a good spot for people-watching too.
While I was sitting there with my coffee, I noticed that there was a new phrase stencilled on the Starbucks door. It says "Take Comfort in Rituals", with the silouette of a steaming coffee cup. I'm thinking as I sip the coffee (which I took comfort in, by the way), "Hey, there might be a blog entry in that phrase somewhere" (my blog having become a 10-minute ritual of my day, although I'm not sure how much comfort I find in it). So I start thinking the predictable responses I could blog about, like rituals that I take comfort in or maybe how people take comfort in their religious rituals, or whatever.
But when I got back to my computer and Googled the phrase "Take comfort in rituals", I found all sorts of recent blogs mentioning the phrase (it must be a new Starbucks thing nationwide) with bloggers posting about rituals they take comfort in or how people take comfort in their religious rituals, or whatever. And I apparently have nothing original to add. But if, a couple hours after I post this, you Google that term and scroll down far enough, you'll find a link to this post also. Who it is at Google that scans these blogs I don't know, but it's a bit intimidating. And impressive.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
I've always heard older people say that they can't sleep late, and they get up at the crack at dawn. Now I've become one of them. No matter how late I stay up (after falling asleep watching TV), I'm awake at 6:30 or 7, and the options are to just lie there and toss and turn or give in and get up for the day.
So I'm up, and I admit that the mornings are a beautiful time to be alive. Time for coffee now. Nap time later: another old-person's trait.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
My fantasy that will never happen: One day, all on the same day, every gay man and lesbian in the U.S. Armed Forces vocally "come out of the closet". Think about it. What if 10% of the military is gay or lesbian (which may be a conservative number)? There are 2 million people total in the military, so that would mean that the country would suddenly be dealing with throwing 200,000 people out of the service? Not only would the brass (and Congress) be shocked by the sheer numbers, they'd find that they were facing the prospect of firing many of The Best that they have.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Took the day off today to go to the Twins noon game later. I went over to the coffee shop early and found it to be a totally different atmosphere than the weekend mornings that I'm used to there. Weekends are quiet, with a few old guys like me here and there. Today there were lots of students from the community college across the street -- books open, laptops going, nobody past their twenties. A great energy. Life.