Thursday, March 31, 2011

lebron james is a jerk

I typed "LeBron James is a jerk" as my post title because I'm sort of dreading the thought of seeing him tomorrow night when his Miami Heat team plays our lowly Minnesota Timberwolves.  Then I typed "LeBron James is a jerk" into a Google search and was amazed at how many links there were with that exact title.  So excuse me for being un-original, but if the guy weren't such a jerk people wouldn't be calling him a jerk...

... especially in Cleveland, the city that he betrayed last year by leaving their Cavaliers in a most insulting way.... and then remember how he (and the stupid sports media) made such a big deal about which other team would be graced with his presence?  ... anyway, I've already devoted too much space to the jerk...

... and the Timberwolves, who now have a conference-worst record of 17 wins and 58 losses, just seem to be riding out their few remaining games anxious to get to vacation and the college draft.  Jerry and I stopped at the Wolves-Chicago Bulls game last night, and it was so pathetic that we only stayed for about one quarter.  The place was packed with Bulls fans, and there is nothing more obnoxious in basketball than Bulls fans -- unless maybe it might be LeBron James fans.  We'll see how many of them show up tomorrow night.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

equal madness for women

Oh yeah -- that was MEN'S March Madness that I was referring to in the previous post.  It occurred to me afterward that there is also a WOMEN'S Basketball Final Four tournament, which I had heard nothing about this year (Not that I was listening!).  It took some doing, but I was able to find out who the Women's Final Four teams are:  University of Connecticut (of course! -- the one thing I know about women's college basketball is that UConn always wins), Notre Dame, Stanford, and Texas A & M.  Okay.  So there!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Let's take a look around...

"March Madness" (college basketball championships) has been going on, and I'm mostly oblivious to it because I never have time for it in March and because there are just too many teams... Starts with 64 of the best teams -- who can keep them straight? -- and gradually pares down to what is now "the Final Four", the champions to be decided next weekend.  I was just reading that this is the "most unlikely Final Four ever".  Why that is, I don't know.  Here are the 2011 Final Four teams:  University of Kentucky, University of Connecticut, Butler University, and Virginia Commonwealth University.  Enjoy it if you're into this.

what else..?

Well, Obama gave his "why we are in Libya" speech last night, and, although I mostly am a pro-Obama guy (primarily because who the potential alternatives might be), he has lost me on this particular issue.  Our answers always seem to be in our bombs.  He can maybe get away with this because Qaddafi is such a distasteful character, but what will he do when the Saudis start attacking their own protestors? Will we still have the same standards?

Monday, March 28, 2011

dutch boys singing in english and french

This quirky but catchy 1969 song was by a One-Hit-Wonder group named Tee Set, and I didn't realize until I saw this video that they were Dutch and didn't know anything else about them -- it was just a song you heard on the radio. How young they look. I wonder how they look 42 years later.

Speaking of Dutch and French, my son Jon is planning a two-week vacation to the Netherlands, Belgium and France in May... I wonder if he would mind if his dad tagged along.. (Just kidding, Jon!!)... :-)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

picking up pixy stix

Card games last night -- Hand and Foot (a Canasta variation), four teams of two, and somehow Jerry and I won the first game, even though our arch-rivals Tom and Ruthie were one of the other teams (They squeaked by to win the second game).

We ordered pizza, and everybody brought snacks and wine and Pepsi, and it was a nice relaxing but competitive evening that went late.  I was sipping Pepsi all evening (wasn't in a wine mood), already getting a sugar overload, and Mark, one of the other players, offered me some Pixy Stix, which I had never heard of and of course everybody yelled at me for not knowing what Pixy Stix are.  They are these straw-like things with colored sugar in them.  I tried one, and then everybody yelled at me for not knowing how to eat them.  You open one end and pour the sugar into your mouth, and it took me a while to figure that out and everybody thought I was a moron.  This is a tough crowd.

... Just what I needed.  More sugar.  Straight.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

hanging out with wookies

My son Jon, my longtime co-worker Theresa, and Theresa's daughter Naomi and I did a night at the theater last night -- Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale at the Guthrie Theater here in Minneapolis.  A good production of an odd play, all done very Guthrie-like, "modern" dress (actually the 1950s and the 1970s) -- and no, I don't understand the modern-dress thing either, but that's what they do these days.  And I don't want to go on again about Shakespeare too much since I just had my Ides of March rant last week and I don't want you to think I'm a total nerd (Renaissance man, yes)...

... but one of the major cool things about the Guthrie is the building itself.  Theresa had never been there, so it was fun showing her around.  One of the things I like about the place is a sort-of futuristic, hidden bar on the 4th floor, with a very low ceiling, that for some reason always reminds me of the "wookie bar" in the first Star Wars movie.  That's what Jerry and I call it, The Wookie Bar. I can almost picture Chewbacca on the other side of the bar....

Friday, March 25, 2011

oogling google in real time

Google is so impressive!  But I suppose you already know that.

Blogger (, the site I use to create this blog, is connected with Google (I'm not sure how this all works), and I'm impressed first of all by how the Google people recognize when I have posted one of these daily space-fillers.  I mean, if you were go to a few minutes after I publish this and type in "oogling google in real time", I bet that a link to this post will pop up.  So who did it?  Does somebody check to see if I've posted more words of wisdoms, or does it somehow automatically just know?

And you know that I like it when people post a "comment" about whatever I've droned on about.  But there are "spam comments" out there too that you never see but which come through to my email.  They sometimes are in Russian or have links to porn or some marketing link, and the reason you never see them is because Google somehow intercepts them before they actually get posted to my site.  It's all very cool, except for maybe that slight eeriness of "big brother" watching.
It's automatic, not a person checking.  As soon as I published this, I went to Google right away and there it was already.  Powerful!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

on a hot tin roof

Yeah, it would be really irritating if I said something like "they don't make movie stars like they used to"...

... I remember back when I was in my early teens -- which means that Elizabeth Taylor was still probably in her late twenties -- one night hearing on the radio that she was in the hospital and possibly near death.  Whatever it was that had her so ill, I don't remember, but she obviously survived that illness and other serious physical bouts over the year.  She, like a cat, may have had "nine lives" (one more than her number of marriages), but she just finished the last one of the nine, and people are genuinely sad over her passing.

My favorite Elizabeth Taylor film was Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, maybe followed by Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but her greatest performances may have been her very public personal life, especially those wonderful love-hate years of her affair with and then later her two marriages to Richard Burton.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

another mystical evening

It's a snowy day, and everybody is saying, "How can this be?", but it's March and Minnesota, so just accept it, guys.

It was another late night at the office for me last night, and I need a break, so Jerry and I are going to drive down to Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and use one of my free-hotel-stay coupons and be away from here for an overnight.  I wonder if that will be enough time for me to in any way unwind.  I need to come back in 24 hours very refreshed.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, my brother Davy in China is having a birthday today.  Or, with all these time zones between us, maybe it was yesterday?.. (or tomorrow?)...

Monday, March 21, 2011

running on empty

I'm not a workaholic by nature, so it's hard working long hours over a weekend and facing Monday morning after that. Had a good break last night, though, celebrating my son Jon's birthday at Saji-ya restaurant on Grand Avenue in St. Paul -- Jerry and me, my other son Tom, and my sister Joan. And, as we were eating our Japanese dinners, Spring 2011 arrived.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

i've looked at clouds from both sides now

Darn.  I was looking forward to seeing the moon last night.  You know I'm kind of a moon freak anyway, and last night's full moon was supposed to be the biggest and brightest of the last twenty years.  I've been reading some Facebook friends' comments this morning about how beautiful it was,  but they are obviously in another part of the country.  We went up to the condo's roof (22nd floor) to see it, and the sky was nothing but clouds all night.  No moon anywhere in sight.

If I have to wait another twenty years to see a moon like that ("as big as a house", as they say in the movie Moonstruck), I might be on the other side of the moon by then, or, if I still happen to be here, another cloudy night will probably in the forecast.  Some things aren't meant to be.
Stormclouds of a different kind on the other side of the world, as American and French airplanes are bombing Libya.  My friend Elke in Germany wrote me last night:  "... before night falls, I want to write an email to you, telling you that I am sad, so sad about this bloody kind of spreading democracy."  That makes two of us being sad.  Do as we say, Qaddafi, not as we do.  I wonder how many innocent people we will kill versus how many innocent people he will kill.  And I wonder what kind of government will eventually replace him.  Remember this -- In the '80s in Afghanistan, we were arming and supporting the rebels who became the Taliban.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

evil and ugly too

Libya's Colonel Qaddafi, who until recently we hadn't heard much about since the Reagan days, now gets the prize for the World's Least Attractive Dictator (definitely not aging well!) in addition to apparently being Pure Evil (We always need Pure Evil enemies, you know, and Saddam Hussein is dead and Obama bin Laden is hiding in an unreachable cave).

After all his dictatorial years, Qaddafi has lately been facing massive protests and uprisings from his people, as are other dictators in the Middle East and in North Africa, and he is in the process of squashing that resistance.  The world's leaders, led verbally by the U.S. and militarily by (so far) France and other countries and ostensibly fearing the coming bloodbath, are demanding that Qaddafi give up power to the rebels.

Without question, Qaddafi is a creep and deserves to lose power.  But I'm also thinking, if the United States or France were facing a major rebellion demanding that their governments step down, do you think they wouldn't be bombing the heck out of their own insurrections?

Friday, March 18, 2011

into the abyss

This morning I had to drive to a client meeting way out in an outer-ring suburb; in fact, this suburb is so "outer" that it is almost not a suburb.  A nice but unexciting drive.

... and what I notice, not for the first time, as I go from urban to rural --

--  It takes forever to get out of downtown Minneapolis.  Downtown Minneapolis is not all that big, but the traffic lights seem to be timed to stop you at every possible red light.  It took me almost as long to get out of downtown as it did to drive the rest of the 25 miles to the meeting.  Why purposely mis-coordinate traffic lights?  Just to irritate us? Think of all the time that is wasted, not to mention the gas that is wasted while we are idling at red lights!

--  The roads out in the outer burbs are in much better shape.  The potholes here downtown are vicious already, and my little car is very unhappy about that, having hit some monstrous crevices.

--  But, as I was driving through the sprawl to that outer ring, I'm thinking, wow!  whatever the urban problems might be, how can people live out here in the bland repetitiveness of the 'burbs?  (I guess it's a good thing some people do live out there -- there is already too much traffic here downtown, and having more would just give me something else to complain about)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

et tu, dudes?

wow!  How desperate for a post was I yesterday to resort to talking about my calculator blowing up?  (Not that I'm going to guarantee that this one will be any more worthwhile!)

... and that Ides of March thing!  Last night, we sat around at the office drinking wine and eating pizza, sort of celebrating that we had made it through the corporate tax deadline, and I mentioned something about it also being an Ides of March celebration.  My comment brought mostly blank reactions, like, Hey, what's an Ides of March?

"Didn't you people have to read Julius Caesar or any other Shakespeare plays in high school?" I ask, and the answers were mostly No.

"So what did you read in English class?"

Watership Down, one person answers. (!)  Another person says, "We didn't read Romeo and Juliet in English class, but we watched the movie."  --  the Leonardo deCaprio version!

oh help!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


...the Ides of March!"  It's one of those important dates -- March 15, the corporate tax deadline -- that has ruled my life for the past thirty-some years... so it is good to see it pass.  I should have listened to Shakespeare.

... and I somehow fried my calculator!  The adding-machine tape, as it was coming to its end, unbeknownst to me, was rolling back around the spool and jamming up, and the machine had a meltdown.  As it sizzled away, I wisely unplugged it and avoided burning the office down.

... so I'm getting used to a new calculator today, as this Ides fades into history.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cooler Hund bringt Baby zum lachen

Translates from German more or less as "Cool dog brings the baby some laughs".... It might make you at least crack a smile. Have a good week!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

knowing where to start

I wonder how you know, when your city is destroyed by an earthquake or tsunami, where to start in the re-building process. I mean, how do you put your grief aside -- especially if you have lost your home and all possessions and maybe even loved ones -- and begin picking up the debris? I wonder that too when I see photos or footage of whole cities destroyed during World War II and reduced to nothing but rubble, and somehow those cities didn't cease to exist.

It would be so tempting to run away and start life somewhere else when faced by monumental tasks like that.

I must say, though, that of all the countries that I've visited, Japan gives the impression of being the most organized and practical. These people will figure out how to manage this disaster and will learn from it and be a model for the rest of us when we face hard times. But nobody should have to go through such awfulness.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

springing forward

Tomorrow is one of the two days in the year when you realize how many clocks you have in your life -- unless all of your clocks are satellite-driven, of course. Otherwise you need to go from room to room and change each clock by one hour -- the bedroom clocks, the microwave, the oven, your computers, and then your car. It's not so bad when you get to move them back (in the fall) and gain an hour (that's kind of a good feeling), but this losing an hour stuff is kind of a downer. And it's too bad that it always has to come on a weekend.

But at least we, theoretically, gain an hour of daylight, and that might give some people hope of another summer somewhere out there in the future. A few minutes ago, I met my sister Joan for coffee, and she was feeling down, lamenting this "longest winter ever." She said that talking with me actually cheered her up. We wondered if that was a first! :-)

Friday, March 11, 2011

ronnie is home

Had a good long phone chat with my brother this morning. He went home from the hospital yesterday -- for a long stay this time, we all hope! -- is still very weak but improving and just happy to he home after all those weeks in the hospitals. His dog is ecstatic to have him home.

It should be a good day to kick back and watch CNN, Ronnie -- Busy news day in the world: an awful earthquake in Japan. Libya turmoil persists, and there are now even rumblings of protest in Saudi Arabia. All this news from outside our country's borders might even knock Charlie Sheen off the front pages for a few days.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

love is in the air

Kevin Love, that is. The star player on our generally star-lacking Minnesota Timberwolves.

We went over to the Wolves game last night because it was to be the game where Kevin could break the all-time (at least, modern times) NBA record for the most consecutive "double double" games by a player, a double double being at least 10 scored points and at least 10 rebounds in a single game. 52 games in a row. And he did it.

... and Timberwolves fans, looking at the Wolves' pathetic win-loss record, have so few reasons to cheer that Kevin got multiple standing ovations, and the atmosphere was fun. And then the Wolves even went on to win the game, trouncing the Indiana Pacers 101-75.

So how long will it be before some other team steals Kevin Love away from us? :-(

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

tuesday, wednesday, whatever...

When I left work late in the evening last night, I got home and dragged Jerry out to the bar. You know?, I just needed to be somewhere in the outside world, which I sometimes forget exists. And the bar, "the 19", was surprisingly busy, I thought, for a Tuesday night. There was no place to sit and I'm no good at standing around with a drink in my hand, so we went outside on the patio and sipped our drinks under the heat lamps, keeping our coats on in 30-degree temps out there, and we hung out with the smokers and it was a fun crowd.

Only later did it occur to me that it was Fat Tuesday -- the end of Mardi Gras and all the other names that pre-Lenten festival has in much of the world. I doubt that Fat Tuesday was the reason this particular bar was busy -- maybe Tuesday nights are always like that, but I'm kinda surprised I haven't heard anything about Mardi Gras this year (Katie didn't mention it).

And today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and I really have no idea what Ash Wednesday is all about except that I know that people overnight go from partying to having somber and reflective thoughts. I'm not feeling particularly somber. I want to go back to the bar.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

the cbs evening news with katie couric

Ruthie, my niece, thinks we're a little strange because we finally got a DVR on our cable TV, which she prodded us to do, and the program that we most consistently record and watch is the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

But hey, I'm working these late days, and there is something kind of weirdly comforting about getting home at 9 p.m. and watching the news that was on at 5:30 and skipping through all those pharmaceutical commercials and having Katie give us the news in that soft style that she has. It's just too bad that the only news lately seems to be Libya and Charlie Sheen, but apparently there isn't much else going on the world or she'd be telling us all about it, I'm sure. And the program always ends with a heart-warming, non-news wrap-up. Thanks, Katie.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

reality is overrated

Too many people that I know and care about are sick. Where did all this cancer come from? Was it always like this? Is it the environment, the food we eat? Are people just living longer, and the chances of cancer increase with age? Are certain cancers just detected earlier and treated earlier? -- and we know that sometimes the treatments can be worse than the disease...

Where are the cures? Is there a certain dollar amount -- a trillion dollars, maybe? -- that would ensure or speed up the necessary research? Or would the medical establishment collapse if there were no more cancers? (I guess that was a brutal thing to say, but wow, but they sure make a lot of money on this disease)

My thoughts are with my brother today as he continues to struggle in that Philadelphia hospital. He just wants to feel normal again.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

where did i put that extinguisher?

It's easy to get so lost in the trees that you forget you're in a forest and that a forest fire might be heading your way....

... step back. step back.

Get in the car, go for a drive.... The roads are clear.

...March is always such a hard month. Some more than others.

Friday, March 4, 2011

ho hum, it must be time for another invasion

Every day I wake up happy that Barack Obama is President and that George W. Bush or John McCain are not, but that doesn't mean I can't be frustrated with Obama. Not sure that I'd give him more than a "B-minus" grade overall at this time, made a "C-plus"....

... and one of my main frustrations is that we're still mired in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our continued involvement there currently isn't much different than it would be under Bush or McCain.

... But now here comes Libya. The Administration announced this week that "all options are on the table", including a possible invasion if necessary, to remove the evil Qaddafi from power and restore "peace". Oh and what a coincidence -- they happen to have oil there in Libya.

... Don't do it, dude.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

ignoring the freak shows

Another case of the more outrageous the rants, the more media attention you get --

-- the Westboro Baptist Church loonies in Topeka, Kansas, who have made a creepy name for themselves by picketing funerals across the country of AIDS victims and soldiers killed in Iraq. They carry signs with slogans like "Thank God for AIDS", "Thank God for Dead Soldiers", "God Hates fags", "God Hates America", etc. They won a case in the Supreme Court yesterday that gives them permission, protected by their free speech rights, to keep doing this. I say, who cares what they to? The important thing is for everyone to stop giving them attention.

Back in the mid-90s sometime, I joined a counter-protest at a church one Sunday morning in south Minneapolis that was quickly organized because the Topeka weirdos (all or most of whom are family members of Rev. Fred Phelps [the hateful pastor of the church]) were going to be picketing the church for being gay-friendly. Hundreds of people, including the mayor and other high-profile people, descended on the church, inside and outside, to show support for the church. Local news people were all over the place covering the story. And there turned out to be maybe six or seven of the Westboro people carrying their pathetic signs. So what were we there for? Calling attention to them, which is just what they wanted. Of course.

The way to make these Phelps people go away is to totally IGNORE them. Every time they get media coverage, there are other hateful people watching ready to write checks to their so-called Christian church.

If, because of this Supreme Court thing, they show up on the cover of Time magazine next week, I'm going to cancel my subscription.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

martin's boy, emilio's brother

If there is no such thing as bad publicity, can you imagine the value of all the news coverage that Charlie Sheen is getting these days? The more outrageous his behavior and his interview comments, the more he makes headlines, especially on the Internet, which then leads to more interviews, which leads to more outrageous rantings, which leads, well, you know.....

... and you already know all this, and everybody has Sheen-overload and still it keeps coming...

... But I'm thinking how cool it would be to be Charlie Sheen for one day -- to be able to say absolutely anything that pops in your f-'d-up brain, to be able to loudly badmouth anybody you want to badmouth...

... and, after all that, still have people (like, in Charlie's case, me) who want you to come back to your show.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

pacing the skyways

Some days are just kind of hyper, which works well if you happen to be surrounded in your office by too much work. Today was one of those days and turned out to be one of my most productive in a long time: 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. without a break -- with the adrenaline flowing.

But then you need to get out for a while, which is one of the great things about working in downtown Minneapolis. If you need to stretch your legs or get some mental perspective, there are miles of skyways snaking through downtown with never a need to go outside.

Today I could have run through the skyways to use up some of this excess energy, but I walked (briskly) for a few blocks and remembered what the outside world looked like and came back.

But now it's 4:15, and I'm back at the desk, and I need to maintain some of this momentum to work well into the evening.

Tomorrow, I'll crash. If I worked at this pace every day, I'd already be dead by now.