Friday, December 31, 2010

another year shot to hell

(Very unimaginative of me -- that's the same title I used on 12/31/07)

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

wolves and lambs

Busy as the year winds down....

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

somebody's definition of the best

I used to know the top songs of any given year, at least in those years early 60s through early 70s. Now I don't hear new pop songs, let alone know which ones are the "top" of the year. I thought it would be cute, though, to list the "top 10 songs of 2010" for you year, so I went Googling for some info about the current top of the pops and print the lyrics here for you, and the more I found, the more depressed I got. What a bunch of junk (Which is exactly what my parents said about the 60s stuff). Plus, this is a family-friendly site, and the lyrics are, well, explicit at times. So I'm going to spare you. You should thank me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

standing in line at toxic hell

We were at the Mall of America last night, which was really kind of weird because there were too many people, all for the after-Christmas sales, I'm sure, and we hadn't even done any Christmas shopping this year at any mall, it's just not our thing. But we had seen that Nordstrom was having a sale on certain Ecco shoes, and there was a certain kind I wanted since my old Eccos in that style were falling apart. Needless to say, that particular style was not on sale, so it turned out to be a dumb time to go, but I bought them anyway.

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

googling a lookback

This will be the week to look back at another strange, awful, wonderful year of our lives.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

another boxing movie

You know how weird I get about trying to see the Best Picture Oscar nominees, which of course haven't been announced yet, but there are some films that are a shoo-in for a nomination, like Black Swan and The King's Speech and The Fighter, so maybe we should do some of those to avoid a February last-minute marathon. I'm thinking today or tonight might be a good day to see The Fighter since it might be cute to see a boxing movie on December 26, which is Boxing Day in various remnants of the British Empire.

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

while the televised yule log burns

As Jerry finishes making dinner and Joan texts Merry Christmas to her nieces and nephews and we wait for Jon and Tom to arrive, we have a TV channel on playing holiday music while the screen shows a fire in a fireplace. Funny how it warms up the room!
I hope all my faithful readers are having a warm and wonderful holiday.

Friday, December 24, 2010

what christmas 2010 is going to look like

White, very white. We even got a little more snow overnight to make it a very-clean looking fresh white, and it was enough to officially make this the snowiest December in Minneapolis history (If you're gonna do it, you might as well do it big). This photo I took a few minutes ago at one of our condo building entrances, right after I took a leisurely walk through downtown to watch the last-minute shoppers panicking through the stores. I'm usually one of them, but this year we finished everything early, even the wrapping. Now I'm not sure what to do with myself! :-)
Our Christmas routine: This evening, as usual, we spend Christmas Eve with our friends Diane and Tony and some of their other friends and family. It's always nice, festive, always sort of overdone by Diane and Tony. That's how they are. I might go to church late, we'll see. Then tomorrow morning my sister Joan will come over, and my sons Jon and Tom will show up a little later for Christmas gift stuff and dinner and all our usual traditions. Our Christmases are always beautiful... I hope yours are too.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

flipping back and forth

Across the room, there's a movie on TV, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, and it's over my head, I guess, because I'm really not sure what's going on, story lines flipping back and forth confusing me (if I'm really paying attention at all), but it sure looks good on HD, sort of like moving art work interrupted by sound and commercials, so it goes on and we haven't switched it.

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


The 2010 census numbers are in, and the "official" population of the United States is 308,745,538. That sounds like a lot. The population according to the 1950 census was 150,697,361. No wonder the stores seem so crowded! On the other hand, I just heard that with only three days left until Christmas, one in five people had not started their Christmas shopping yet. My question, obviously, is this: Who did a poll to find this out? Out-of-work former census workers??

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

winter begins...

....or so my calendar says. After record-setting snow and cold, it feels like we should be nearing the end. Guess not.

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

well, why not? it's christmas week

The Christmas spirit? Again, not sure what that means, but I thought maybe my Monday video this week should be my favorite Christmas carol. And why a Josh Groban version? -- well, that's for Vickie.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

the mouse king and all that

Well, we found a real tree, and it's not overwhelming and is actually quite nice. We didn't give in to the temptation to go artificial. Not this year, at least.

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

on the verge of selling out

For some reason, it's been sort of a melancholy kind of week for me. Maybe it's the dreary cold weather or some lack of motivation at the office or worrying about my brother in NJ who has been in the hospital the past week (And not responding to treatment as he should be). Or some combination of these things and everything else.

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

wiser heads prevailing

OK, we're not going to the Monday night Vikings game after all. Tony and Diane decided it would be a miserable experience, so they're going to get their tickets refunded. A sigh of relief from me and Jerry. We'll watch the fiasco on the HD screen at home.


More Facebook news. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, has been named Time magazine's Person of the Year. Good choice, isn't it? Think of how Facebook has affected the lives of us who have been suckered into it! In addition to that Time recognition, the film awards for the year are starting to be announced and the somewhat fictionalized movie version of Zuckerberg's story, The Social Network, is already racking up nominations and awards (Good movie!). Zuckerberg also recently announced that he plans to leave most of his wealth to charitable organizations. That Computer Nerd sure made it big with such a simple concept. Why couldn't we have thought of this?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

too many people on a lesser scale

Our friend Tony called early this morning to see if we want to go with him and Diane to the Vikings-Bears game Monday night. The Metrodome is still deflated, you know, so the game is going to be played outdoors at the totally-unprepared-for-the-NFL University of Minnesota football stadium.

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

i sometimes think there are too many people

It used to be, back in the 70s, maybe even the 60s, that we used to always hear from people who were concerned about the "population explosion" and about promoting "zero population growth", but we never seem to hear much about those issues anymore, which makes no sense to me. In 1970, the world's population was about 3.7 billion people. Now it is almost 7 billion.

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

hey, it's time to go home

I got too wrapped up my work, and here it is 6:30. I'm sitting here dunking Oreos in coffee and watching out my office window for the traffic to subside before I start out for home. Rush hours the past two days have been nuts because there is so much snow everywhere that the traffic lanes have been narrowed; plus, people forget how to drive on snow-packed streets. And call me crazy if you want, but I'd much rather eat Oreos than sit in traffic.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

the Vikings always find a way to stay in the news

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

the cool thing about blizzards

Having a home. Being warm at home.

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

feeling the vibes

It's getting weird. I'm not crazy about carrying this Blackberry anyway (I mostly dislike the whole concept of cell phones), but there it is on my belt, and every time I get an email, it vibrates on my hip, and I look and it's usually a worthless email anyway. But then sometimes I feel a vibration and look, and there is no email. I just imagined the vibe. It's getting really bad now: Sometimes I feel the vibe, and I'm not even wearing the Blackberry! What is this thing doing to my body??

Thursday, December 9, 2010

jobs without a bubble

The unemployment rate is still high. As a band-aid, it looks like unemployment benefits will be extended for the long-term unemployed, and all politicians say their #1 priority is to create lots of jobs.

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


My friend Elke sent me a CD of a concert that her choir in northern Germany did last month, the highlight being Mozart's Requiem, which she knows I like. So I've turned off my Sirius Radio for a while and have been listening to the Requiem on my car CD player, sometimes in bits and pieces on those short drives. Full blast, this is adding some Amadeus-type drama as I meander through my chilly downtown Minneapolis life. It's a fine recording, the choir and orchestra sound good. Thanks, Elke!
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


Haven't heard much about Pearl Harbor Day this year... December 7, 1941 -- "a date that will live in infamy", according to FDR. Not long ago, I was reading a poll that was testing Americans' history skills, and there was an amazing lack of knowledge of that attack that launched the U.S. into World War II. A large number in the survey thought that the Pearl Harbor bombings was the beginning of the Vietnam War! A sad commentary on our educational system.
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

celebrating my location

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

confessions of a doorknob

Jerry, Tom and I went to a fun Timberwolves/Cavaliers game last night. Wolves beat Cleveland 129-95 -- a total blow-out. We saw another Wolves game like this last month where they blew away the New York Knicks and looked unstoppable, and you'd sit there wondering, How can these guys ever be beat by anybody? Ah! But this is a team that so far has only won five games this season while losing fifteen. Sometimes they look so absolutely pathetic that you wonder if they've ever played the game of basketball before. How is it that the very same players can be so nearly perfect some nights, feeding off each other's energy seemingly without limits, and then other times they seem weighed down by anchors? An impossible energy to maintain indefintely?
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

red mud on my shoes

Yesterday afternoon, our last day in Hawaii, Jerry wanted to go to a state park located remotely near a mountain neighborhood overlooking Honolulu, so we picked up some take-out KFC and headed up the mountain for a picnic lunch. A lovely park, lots of tall trees and good views, nobody there but us and a few chickens. Cannibal chickens, as we found out when Jerry tossed some leftover KFC chicken their way (By the way, it's very eerie eating chicken when there are a bunch of chickens standing next to you watching).

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

here we go, aloha-ing again

To me, the hard part about living in Hawaii would be the isolation way out here in the South Pacific, the fact that it is so far from the rest of the world.

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

sudden notice of the deficit

Believe it or not, I do try to keep my political rants to a minimum, since I know it sort of irritates some of my loyal readers... But sometimes I can't hold back.

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

hawaiian sunburn

No, I don't have a sunburn, a little pink maybe... When I go to the beach, I tend to mostly stay under this umbrella; otherwise, I'd be burned to a crisp, and that's not a pretty sight.
I actually spend more time on the extended patio outside the condo (in the shade, mostly) reading and/or listening to my iPod. A delightful existence -- and without sand between my toes. Jerry spends a lot more time at the beach than I do, snorkeling and developing a beautiful tan, of which I am envious but unable to attain.
The "Hawaiian sunburn", actually, was the name of a wonderful fruity drink I had last night at a place called Cheeseburger Waikiki... Vodka, raspberry, pineapple, I'm not sure what else -- all very Waikiki. Good cheeseburger too!
Back to the patio now, as the days dwindle down to a precious few.... After a stop-and-go start, I've really gotten into the book I'm reading now, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

end-of-the-month odds and ends

First of all, has John McCain lost whatever sanity he had left? He is saying, as North and South Korea edge perilously close to war, that we should be considering "regime change" for North Korea. We might all like to see regime change in that country, but "regime change" as a buzzword flashes us back to when that term was being used to overthrow Saddam Hussein and bring on the unnecessary and disastrous Iraq War. Sen. McCain surely must know that militarily North Korea is not the pipsqueak country that Iraq was, so such talk is reckless. In the meantime, as he anxiously awaits World War III, he is leading the charge in the Senate on a mission fighting the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" in the military even though more than 70% of the military when polled were okay with that stupid law being repealed. He's giving the appearance of a doddering old man, out of touch with the country, locking himself in a cage of his own making. Thank God this man isn't President.
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

warsaw concerto

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 New York Times every year come out with its list of 100 notable new books of the past year. Here is a link to its 2010 100 Notable Books:


(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

surfing is harder than you think

Jerry, always ready for a new adventure, had never been surfing, and surfing in Hawaii of course is a way of life, so he went, along with a new friend of ours named Steve, for a surfing lesson yesterday on the east coast of the island. They had a young, 25-ish, blond surfer for an instructor, who made it all look easy. It wasn't easy.

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

tryptophan hangover

It's kind of funny what the day after Thanksgiving has become: an almost-automatic extra day off from work, a shopper's dream and nightmare, a recovery day from excess food (Don't you love hearing in detail how miserable people are from overeating?).

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

the t-bolts

Thanksgiving 2010 -- our second one in Hawaii (the first was in 2007). We popped the turkey into the oven an hour and a half ago and walked over to the Wailana Coffee House for breakfast. (One thing we notice that's different here -- everything seems to be open -- grocery stores, restaurants, just about everything). My cousin Karen, who has lived in Hawaii for close to 40 years, and her husband Eric are coming over later for dinner.

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

will you still need me, will you still feed me?

When the Beatles came out with this song ("When I'm 64" from the Sgt. Pepper album, 1967)who'd a-thunk that I would have made it this far or that it would go so quickly?...Thanks to all for the birthday wishes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

opting for the pat-down

At the Tax Conference last week, I ran into a guy that I used to know, vaguely, years ago, and we chatted for a while. He started talking about how much he travels for work now, and we veered over to the topic of airport security, the new see-through scanners and all that. He told me he once opted for the "pat-down" instead of being subjected to the new machines, I assume because of the concern a lot of people have about the potential harmful effects and invasiveness of the new scanners, and was then appalled how thorough the TSA person had been in his search of his body. He felt he had been "groped" by the guy.

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

football for breakfast

Found a better place for breakfast -- a cool little Italian place two blocks from the condo -- so the Big City Diner might be history for us. oh well!

...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

2000 light years from home

My body is still on Central Time, so I was awake early jet-lagging. Since he's been here two weeks already, Jerry adjusted to Hawaiian Standard Time long ago, so he slept in while I went for a walk exploring the neighborhood. Walked over to Waikiki area, where I found a Starbucks and had coffee while I read my Keith Richards book, which I love.

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

back at the big city diner

First day of a two-week vacation in Hawaii, spending it so far just hangin' out, slowly recovering from the long trip, the four-hour time-zone change, a cold, and a stressful last few days at the office trying to be able to be gone for a whole two weeks.

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


The phone rings at 6 a.m., and our land-line phone has this weird music it plays instead of a normal ring, and I can't wake up enough to know that it's the phone and not the alarm (even though I knew I hadn't set the alarm).... So I played with the alarm, trying to turn it off, and when I finally woke up enough to realize it was the phone, it had stopped that annoying song and I worried about what the call might have been that I missed. It was Joan, my sister, and she called back a few minutes later... Her cat had not-being-able-to-pee issues and was in distress, and we needed to get him to the vet asap. So I headed to St. Paul, on a rescue mission, and I'm hoping that by now after was probably a very unpleasant experience for him, the cat is free-flowing once again.

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

lunch with Jon

My son Jon and I met for lunch today at Jersey Mike's, a place that had been "closed for renovation" or some such excuse for a couple months and which we assumed would never open again. Restaurants that close "temporarily" never seem to re-open. And this place even had the phone disconnected during the temporary close, an almost-sure sign of abandonment.

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

what not to wear to the humane society

I need to stop at the Animal Humane Society later today to pick up a prescription for my sister Joan's newly adopted cat (see November 7 post).

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

Monday morning wake-up

They say the Three Stooges are a male/female thing -- that women are shaking their heads and saying how stupid this is while the men are laughing their heads off.. We'll see.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

lessons in uncertainty

For the next two days, I'll be sitting in continuing education classes with a couple thousand other CPAs for the annual state Tax Conference (I know you're envious). It's the 27th year in a row that I've gone to this conference.

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

view from my laptop on a saturday morning

OK. So they were right, and it's still coming down. I must say I enjoyed trudging through the wet snow to the coffee shop a little while ago, the novelty of the first snow. It would just be nicer if it would snow and we could enjoy the beauty of it for a couple days and then it would go away until next year.
A good day to settle in and watch it all from the window. Tom and I will play some cards and enjoy the moment.
Wow, did we ever have a good time at the Timberwolves game last night -- the best Wolves game I've seen in years! Wolves 112, New York 103. Kevin Love (nephew of Mike Love of the Beach Boys, by the way -- your dose of trivia for the day) had a 30-30, the first in the NBA since 1982 (30+ points and 30+ rebounds in the same game, for you un-basketball readers).
As long as we have plenty of good indoor activities, winter isn't ALL bad... just MOSTLY. And the forecast for Honolulu next week is mid-80s and sunny.

Friday, November 12, 2010

a word before shutting down the office

It's not quite 4 p.m. on a Friday. The rest of the office is gone for the weekend. I'm thinking, can I really accomplish much more today? Should I just head out? Should I grumble-blog about the weather first?

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

veterans' day

Today is/was Veterans Day, a sort of "hug-a-veteran" day. There has been a lot of gushing today about "sacrifice" and "price of freedom" and such things, but a lot of people saying those kind of things are secretly just glad it was somebody else who went into the military and not themselves. All day I was trying to think of something profound to say about how the best thing any of us could do for veterans is to learn from their experiences; to save the future veterans from needless death and injury, mental and physical; to wage no unnecessary wars; to say No to the greed and bloodthirst of the military-industrial complex. But I just couldn't think of the right words to say, so I guess I won't.

... and I'm a veteran, you know (Vietnam-era draftee). I haven't been hugged yet.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

eventually there will be a last appointment

At my funeral (which I do hope isn't too awfully soon), I hope that somebody thinks of this and says it: "At least the poor dude won't have to go to the dentist anymore!"

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

late-night temptations

Monday evenings have become couch-potato time for Jerry and me. We have what we call "our shows". How did this happen?

... 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??

Sunday, November 7, 2010

joan's cat

My sister Joan is a cat person and has been grieving for her beloved cat Alex, who died this past summer. She needed some space, apparently, between the loss of Alex and getting another cat, but she said she would know when the moment was right.
Yesterday the moment was right. My son Tom and I drove her to the Animal Humane Society to find an adoptable cat, which turned out not to be as easy to do as we thought. She just couldn't pick just any ol' cat, of course -- there had to be good chemistry. We ended up going to three different animal shelters -- one in Golden Valley, one in St. Paul, and one in Woodbury -- before finding the right cat -- meaning one that was the right age (not a kitten) and the right temperament (a lap cat).
So last night was their first night together in Joan's apartment. I talked to Joan on the phone a few minutes ago. This cat (named Tony by previous owners but subject to change) is a very energetic cat and slept perhaps not a wink. My first thought is, "Good thing the Humane Society has a 30-day return policy!" But I know Joan well enough to know that she's already hooked on him.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

losses, real and potential

Ticket prices this year were dirt cheap and we've been Timberwolves fans since the team's inception and the arena (Target Center) is just several blocks away, so we have season tickets. That's about 40 home games. It will be interesting to see how many of those tickets we actually use.
As I heard somebody say sometime, here's a problem the NBA (National Basketball Association) has: No matter what game you see, you feel like you've seen it before. There isn't enough variety to keep enough people interested long-term.
That is true with the Timberwolves, who have been losers more years than not and particularly since Kevin Garnett was traded in 2007. We've seen every kind of loss more than once. Last year, their win-loss record was 15-67. This season, they are 1-5 so far.
Tom and I went to last night's game and were pleased that the Wolves only lost by 10 points; after all, earlier in the week they had lost a game by 42 points. I guess it's all only about expectations because he and I had a great time anyway.
What concerns me is that the NBA, because of overall financial problems and maybe because of the lack of enough exceptional players, has begun to discuss the possibility of contracting four teams (out of 30) into extinction. Minnesota would be an obvious consideration since it has the image of a failed franchise.
It would be sad to lose the Wolves, but I don't know what will save them. It won't be forty times this season, but I guess we'll just do our part by filling our paid-for seats when we can and hope that the current players can win more than fifteen games.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Another movie, another five bucks. Eight other people in this audience this time, and this wasn't the late show. And I almost bought some popcorn this time until I noticed that a small plain popcorn was $5.50, fifty cents more than the movie! I'm not cheap, but I'm no fool either.

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

so who's the jackass?

Fortunately I didn't see the 3D version of Jackass 3; I mean, do you really want to see a guy puke in 3D? The 2D version was what you would expect from a Jackass movie -- wasn't as good as Jackass 2 -- but I guess even sado-masochists run out of ideas eventually.

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

drowning our sorrows

Jerry made it to Honolulu. The condo where he will be living for the next month and where I will join him in two weeks is just a couple blocks from Waikiki. I was Facebook IMing him this morning (he was up early, thanks to jet lag), and he was loving being there, his favorite place in the world. We commiserated for a while about how the elections turned out, but he has the beach to console him and even an Aloha Sushi in his building.
Me, my way of drowning those sorrows, as I blog aimlessly, is to sit here treating myself to a Pepsi and thinking about going to see the movie Jackass 3 tonight. One of my Guilty Pleasures -- the Jackass movies. Well, and Pepsi too of course, but I ration my Pepsi intake as much as I can stand to.
... and isn't it one of Life's Dirty Tricks that Pepsi isn't a health drink -- That the more of it you drink, the better it is for you? Life really sucks sometimes, when you really stop and think about it.
Interesting factoids coming out of the election: 37 wimpy Democrats in Congress voted against the health-care bill; of these, only 12 were re-elected. The other 25 were voted out.
In exit polls, 47% of senior citizens voted for Tea Party candidates. It's kind of funny but also pathetic that so many seniors hate government involvement in providing health care but they sure do love their Medicare!
This from my friend Lee: "Here's a terrible thing. Voters in Iowa ousted the 3 judges that put in same-sex marriage. Time for another Pepsi..."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

don't forget to vote today....

..... even though we all know that our political system has become a total embarrassment.... and tonight we'll hear that the political party that destroyed the U.S. economy through 2008 and then over the last two years refused to cooperate to help fix it will be voted back into Congressional majority. Incredibly stupid.

... 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

packing for a month away in a distant time zone

Hawaii is five time zones away from Minnesota. It's an eight-hour plane ride from here IF you get a non-stop flight.

... 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

pitfalls of democracy, part three

I was just reading that the Tea Party woman who is running against Harry Reid for his Nevada U.S. Senate seat is predicting a major Republican victory on Tuesday, that they will re-take the House of Representatives and maybe the Senate, all of which will lead to the repeal of the Obama health care law, she says. I recognize that this might happen.

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

clearing a path

This morning I drove into the office parking ramp, and there was a guy at the gate with a box of candy and a big smile, saying "Happy Halloween!" That and the little bag of Peanut M & Ms made me smile too and shook me back into a reality of time and place. It set the tone for a good day at work catching up on the stuff that had piled up while I was gone -- unexpectedly -- for most of the week. Normalcy returns, but I think I have a renewed appreciation for extended family. We in our family are lucky to have each other.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Back home to much chillier temps than when we left...

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


My brother Davy arrived from Texas yesterday and my brother Ronnie lives here in South Jersey, so all six of us siblings were together last night for the viewing/visitation (In NJ, it seems to be a "viewing"; in Minnesota, it tends to be a "visitation"). It's not very often that we're all in the same place at the same time, and we enjoy it when it happens. We just wish it wasn't a funeral bringing us together.

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


My brother-in-law John was always kidding around, was a tease, loved making people laugh, so it's fitting that as we mourn his death, we also are doing a lot of laughing and enjoying each other as we remember "John stories". These days that we're spending with my sister Mary and with my other sisters, Joan and Nancy, and with Mary's daughter, son, and daughter-in-law will be days that we will always remember as precious. This is what family is for.

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

video monday again

click on the "x" to get rid of the ad at the bottom of the video...

Sunday, October 24, 2010


First of all -- Happy Birthday, Jerry! and that's all I'll say on that matter since he very rarely looks at my blog anyway.. :-) Sorry to miss his birthday, but I'm here in New Jersey and he's still in Minnesota and will arrive here tomorrow to join the rest of the family for John's funeral on Wednesday.

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


My brother-in-law John, after putting up an amazing fight against cancer, passed away this morning.
He came into our family in the early '70s, and he and my sister Mary were married in December 1973. This photo was taken somewhere around that time, and they stayed as happy during all those years as they look in this picture. It's hard to think of him being gone. I'll miss him a lot. He became a brother.
The family will gather in New Jersey within the next several days. I'll be leaving tomorrow for this sad trip.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

racquetball flashbacks

The U.S. Open Racquetball Championships are being held this week at my gym at Target Center. There are people and booths and bleachers everywhere, and all of the racquetball courts are being used (which never happens on a normal day). They even turned the basketball court into a racquetball court. So after my workout I watched some championship-level racquetball.

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

pitfalls of democracy, part two

Yesterday, I ranted a little about the Obama Administration's apparent decision to appeal 'don't ask, don't tell' being recently overturned by a federal judge.

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

pitfalls of democracy, part one

A federal judge has struck down the stupid "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military, so for a potentially brief moment gays can serve openly in the Armed Forces. Unfortunately, though, the Obama Administration will probably appeal the ruling, the reason being that they would rather that "don't ask, don't tell" be eliminated by Congress and not by a judge: in other words, that the "people" (theoretically represented by Congress) make the decision and not the judicial system. And any gays that "came out" in the interim will be discharged.

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

video monday

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

stones in the a.m., moss in the p.m.

When I walked into the coffee shop early this morning, "She's A Rainbow" was playing (1967, the Rolling Stones, from their album Their Satanic Majesties' Request).

"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

you know how i love the park

Some more gushing about the weather. Forgive me.
A gorgeous October Saturday afternoon. Another beautiful fall weekend that makes Minnesotans nervous: Is this the last one? And then there is the Minnesota guilt that maybe it's too nice: "But we really need some rain!"
After meeting Joan downtown for coffee, going home didn't seem like a good option, so I took my book with me and went over to one of the park benches at Loring Park, about a block from our condo. The fountains have been turned off until spring and it's a sweatshirt temperature, I guess, but I enjoyed sitting there reading and listening to the bells at the Basilica and watching the people walking and biking past me. Over on the other side of the lake, there was a wedding party taking photos. Definitely a good photo day. I took a few myself.
Just got an email from my son Tom. This afternoon in his bowling league, he got a 211, his highest score ever. Wow!

Friday, October 15, 2010

entertainment for a captive audience

My cousin Beverly (remember her? the ultimate Elvis fanatic? I told you about her August 16th) sent this email:
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

sports coming out our ears

Earlier this week, I had my car radio tuned to KFAN, the local sports-talk radio station, and part of that time as I listened I was wondering about the hosts and the callers-in, Do these people make sports their whole lives? How many times can you, for instance, analyze every detail of the Vikings-Jets game last Monday night?
But now I realize how full of sports my week is this week. Unusually so -- I might be setting a personal record! First, there I was watching the Vikings-Jets game on Monday Night Football; then I attended the pre-season home opener Tuesday for the Minnesota Timberwolves (basketball); tonight my son Tom and I are going to the Minnesota Wild regular-season home opener (hockey); Saturday I'll be watching the Phillies on TV as they continue in the playoffs to try to get to the World Series again (baseball); and Sunday, Jerry and I are going to the Vikings-Cowboys game at the Metrodome (football again).
I know it's just a short time when all four major professional sports games are going on at the same time, but as I am complaining that those KFAN listeners should be Getting A Life, I realize that this is a week when I had no life either!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

going underground

As I write this, the 33 Chilean mine workers that have been trapped 2,000 feet underground for 70 days are being brought to the surface, one by one (13 so far). The world, misty-eyed, is watching them being reunited with their families and friends. A feel-good story in the news, finally.

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

day in court

I worked in downtown St. Paul for almost twenty years. We moved the office over here to Minneapolis seven years ago, but I find that I still have a certain fondness for downtown St. Paul. I just don't get to stroll the skyways over there much anymore, where once it was part of the daily routine.

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

and now for something totally unexpected....

Turn on your sound and enjoy some music from 1980 (bad hair and all)...

(Actually, I'm just trying to figure out how to post a video)....

(click Play only once or you'll get double-exposure, and single-exposure is plenty)...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

ten ten ten

10/10/10. or 10.10.10. 10 October 2010 or October 10, 2010. Maybe a perfect 10 of a day? No, I guess the perfect "10" day was 10.10.1010, and I don't think that any of us remember that day, and did they even have calendars back then, and did anybody even have any idea what the date was? It was still the Dark Ages, you know.

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

it was seventy years ago today

It is hard to imagine what John Lennon would have been like at age 70. He was born seventy years ago today and was murdered thirty years ago December 8, and we were all cheated out of watching him grow older.
And in those forty years that he lived, what a difference he made. It's hard to imagine how our lives would have been different if there had been no Beatles, and, let's face it, John Lennon was the creative spark of the Beatles.
And it's also hard to imagine how our lives might have been different if he had still been with us the past thirty years, not only for his musical new directions but also as a voice and influence for peace and sanity.
Closer to home and on a more personal level, it was twenty-nine years ago today that my younger son Tom was born. I remember that day so well, and he has been a joy from Day One. We celebrated his birthday last night, had cake and ice cream up on the 21st-floor rooftop on a perfect evening, and in a few minutes I'm taking him out for a birthday breakfast. It's hard to imagine what life would have been without him the past almost-30 years!

Friday, October 8, 2010

i really don't want to get a flu shot

The office building sent emails about free flu shots yesterday, and then after work I walked over to the gym and there were signs at the front desk about free flu shots, and then there are of course signs over there at Walgreens and CVS.

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

favre to moss

It was a big sports-news day yesterday, so let's recap!

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

damn yankees

Today a lot of people here in downtown Minneapolis wore Minnesota Twins shirts to work. That's because, after work, a few blocks away, the baseball playoffs start. The Twins won their baseball division in impressive style. Reality, though, might hit them hard in the face now since the first (and maybe only) team they're meeting in the playoffs is their nemesis, the New York Yankees. In their last 18 meetings, Minnesota has won two games and the Yankees have won 16. Of course, everybody in the country other than Yankee fans hate the Yankees, so maybe all that hate flowing from around the U.S. will energize the Twins to victory.
Then, if somehow they get past the Yankees, the Twins will face either Texas or Tampa, and the winner of that match-up will go to the World Series to face the National League champ, which of course I'm hoping will be the Phillies. Philadelphia starts their playoffs tonight against Cincinnati. It's a lot of good teams to get past, but a Phillies-Twins World Series would be great, wouldn't it?
The Phillies were in the World Series last year, you know, but ended up losing to -- whoops, the Yankees. Damn!
Football note: I'm so glad I kept my Randy Moss Vikings jersey!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

facebook: the movie

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

hymn-singing with garrison keillor

OK, I wasn't quite "singing". I don't do that. But I do listen.

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

the heat is on

I hate myself for mentioning the weather again, but here it is.... and it's mostly all positive for the moment, so why not celebrate it? The past week has been one of the most beautiful early-autumn weeks that I have seen. The leaves are changing color, but the temperatures have been in the 70s for the most part. I have a friend Marty who says that his favorite weather is "shorts and sweatshirt" weather, so I know he is relishing these days.

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

my competitive brother

My brother Davy, who generally splits his time between San Antonio, Texas and Shanghai, China, called me on my cell phone yesterday from an Air Force base in Indiana, waiting for an Air Force military hop to Hawaii. He retired from the Air Force about twenty years ago and still has the benefit of getting cheap/free? military flights (as long as he doesn't mind no frills and being on standby indefinitely).

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

another downside of watching too much television

The political ads! They are mostly hideous, and the barrage will only get worse between now and November 2.

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

little red vw

Work is fine, the office is fine, my clients are fine, but there are just some days that shouldn't be spent there... As I was walking around downtown after lunch today, I had the greatest urge to just get into my little red GTI -- the best, most fun car I've ever had -- and drive lazily and aimlessly and see where I landed. I mean, it was such a perfect day, and I could have opened the sunroof and and turned up the music and headed away from the interstates and down some unknown country roads (making sure to avoid the ones that are closed due to flooding) and just smile, under the optimistic assumption that those back roads must all lead somewhere.

Instead, of course, I went back. After stopping to buy a lottery ticket.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

clean water

Tonight Jerry and I are hosting a fundraiser for Clean Water Action, a nationwide non-profit organization advocating responsible environmental policies. We're expecting a turnout of between 75 and 100 people.

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. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

red meat night

A long but productive day at work, followed by a hard-hat tour of a 42-unit residence being constructed for homeless youth. Then home to find Jerry firing up the patio grill for bone-in ribeyes and grilled squash. All non-connected events that add up to a good day.

Monday, September 27, 2010

limited prosperity

Another mega-church, another flamboyant gay-hating pastor who ends up in bed with "the enemy"! This time it's "Bishop" Eddie Long, who leads a 25,000-member flock in Atlanta and farther than that through the miracle of television praise-and-condemn evangelistic entertainment.

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

take comfort in rituals

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 can't sleep anymore, it's too much like death'

That's one of the best lines from my favorite movie, Moonstruck.

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

a taste of san juan

Way back when, Jerry lived in Puerto Rico for a year -- a year in which he rented out roller skates and organized a failed rock concert that almost got him killed (I'll let him tell that story sometime) -- but one thing that stayed with him from that year is his Puerto Rican cookbook. Tonight, we're attending a church-group pot-luck dinner to which everyone is supposed to bring an ethnic dish (other than your own ethnicity), so Jerry is making one of his signature dishes, Puerto Rican-style rice and beans. It's always quite good. Even you might like it, Ruthie! My concern, of course, is what will the other ethnic dishes there be? If I taste even a hint of cilantro in anything, I'm outta there!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

don't ask, do tell

The U.S. Senate a couple days ago nixed the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell", 17 years old now and one of the silliest laws of all time. It's still fine to be gay or lesbian in the military as long as you never say those words out loud about yourself ("Freedom of speech" and "bearing false witness", re-defined).

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

the bristol stomp

Last night I was waiting for Jerry in the condo lobby -- we needed to run over to St. Paul -- so I stopped in the condo office and chatted with Judy. In addition to all the security cameras she was watching, there on one of the screens was Dancing With the Stars, a show that I've never seen (I do have my limits, you know!), and there was Bristol Palin dancing with some partner. I'm not a pro at dance technique, so I don't know if she was any good or maybe a total klutz, but the idea of her current celebrity status still grates on me and it even annoys me that I'm writing about it. In addition to stints like this on TV, she now gets $15,000 - $30,000 per speaking engagement to advocate for "sexual abstinence". It's hard to see how she can have much credibility in those speeches, however. Pre-marital sex turned out to be the best career move she ever could have made. That and being born to a mother who became a big-mouthed governor of Alaska for about ten minutes.
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.