Sunday, October 30, 2011


I mentioned to Jerry that, even though it was #50 for me, Oregon may have entered my list of Five Favorite States -- meaning, I guess, the states that somehow feel right for me in some sort of indescribable way... which of course led to a discussion of what are the other four?  And here, in no particular order is the list:  New Jersey and Minnesota, the two states where I have lived the longest; Vermont, a beautiful quiet getaway place; Hawaii, which almost goes without saying (it's just a shame that it's so far away); and now Oregon.  Oregon just has the right feel to it -- the people, the attitude, the resources, even the granola/aging-hippie stuff.  And then there is Portland, which we are still discovering.  There is a bumper sticker Aunt Myrt was telling us about -- "Keep Portland Weird" -- and, as my son Jon says, "Weird is almost always good."

We visited Occupy Portland yesterday, and it is way different from Occupy Minnesota.  Tents and tarps and people cover two whole downtown blocks here (tents aren't allowed at the Minnesota encampment), and it is a lot grungier than its Minneapolis counterpart... But it feels like it is there to stay indefinitely.

This afternoon we fly home.  We'll come back here sometime, I know.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

occupying portland

We are staying in a downtown Portland hotel for two nights, flying back home tomorrow.

Today we explore Portland a little to get the feel of a city that we hear good things about, and we also get to spend some time with my niece Michelle (my sister Nancy's daughter) and Michelle's husband Josh and their two small kids who I haven't met before.

Also, we plan on visiting Occupy Portland, one of the more successful of the country's Occupy encampments, which is just a few blocks from our hotel.  We are hoping to take my Aunt Myrt to the protest later to show her that it isn't the icky thing that she thinks it is.  I saw part of the local news last night... The coverage of the Occupy was totally negative and distorted, so it's no wonder some people sitting in front of their televisions are scared of it.  I wonder who owns that TV station and which sponsors they are most dependent on.

Friday, October 28, 2011

moving on

We had two days of good weather here on the beautiful Oregon Coast (and good weather is definitely not a given in Oregon -- you plan that it will be rainy and then you're pleasantly surprised when it isn't)...  As I sit here this morning overlooking the ocean, the sun is shining, but I see in the forecast that rain is coming later in the day...

The timing is okay.  We are heading back to the city, back to Portland in a little while, after stopping at the coffee shop here for some breakfast. We loved our stay on the Coast and visiting with friends here.  My #50 state is living up to all my expectations.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

a little resort town on the ocean

I am sitting in the living room of my friend Mary W., looking out over the Pacific Ocean.  It's a beautiful morning here on the Oregon Coast.  We had a nice drive down here yesterday from Portland (about three hours drive), the leaves are turning, the scenery was good.  Today we go down the coast a few miles, might even hike a little (VERY little, that is)...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Greetings from Portland, Oregon, where I have accomplished a self-imposed goal.

If you go back to my August 3, 2008 post ("see the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet"), I was muttering about having been in all but 14 of the 50 states and that maybe I should make it a goal to see all 50 before I'm dead.  One of the reasons was that traveling to Europe became too expensive for us (the dollar vs. the euro and all that).  The other reason was, why not?  Since then, my sister Joan has told me that I stole the idea from her, but I have no recollection of that and, besides, is it such an original idea? and I hope she makes it too (she is 12 years younger -- she has more time than I did!).

So we hit 13 of those 14 states since August of 2008, and Oregon is #50, and this is one state I was really looking forward to visiting, for several reasons:  1) it's a blue state (usually); 2) it's supposed to be beautiful; 3) my Aunt Myrt lives here; 4) my niece Michelle & Family live here; 5) my friend Mary W. lives here (on the coast) and 6) everybody tells me how much I am going to love Portland.

We haven't seen much of Portland yet, are heading for the Pacific Coast today to visit Mary, then back to explore the city of Portland Friday through Sunday.

My next travel goal?  well, we'll see....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


We'll be flying to Portland, Oregon this afternoon and will be in Oregon until next Sunday.  I have relatives to visit in Portland (my Aunt Myrt and my niece Michelle and her family) and we'll also be driving out to the Oregon coast to spend some time with friends.  Should be a fun time!  I'll keep you up to date.

Monday, October 24, 2011

it's Jerry's birthday...

... which we mostly celebrated last night with the family, and then I took him out for lunch today.

Tonight, he, James and I are going to be extras (we think) in a low-budget movie.  Our role (we think) is to be in a theater audience while a play is being done on stage.  The scenes are being shot at the Theater in the Round, which is familiar territory for us.  It might be boring, or maybe not.

Tomorrow, we fly to Portland for five days in Oregon.  That won't be boring.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


My sister Joan and I were having coffee downtown at the Barnes and Noble coffeeshop and saw a gaggle of police cars, lights flashing, zipping past us down 8th Street.  We think, uh-oh. now what's going on?  As it turned out, nothing.  They were escorting first the Green Bay Packer team busses and then the Minnesota Vikings team busses down the street to the Metrodome for today's game.  I'm thinking, why the escort?  Is this a good use of police salary?

... and now I'm home sitting in front of the TV watching the game.  The Vikings are pathetic this season and the Packers are maybe the best team in the league.  The Vikings this week replaced veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb, who was having a terrible year, with our rookie quarterback Christian Ponder.  At the moment that I'm typing this, the Vikings are somehow in the lead, 14-10, but it's still the first half, and the Vikings this year play well in the first half and awful in the second half, so my expectations are low.  If this turns out to be the last year that the Vikings are in Minnesota, last place is a sad way for the team's history here to end.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

the warm daylight

I had to work a good part of today, a Saturday, which wasn't easy because it was a beautiful October day outside.  I did walk over to the Occupation a couple times and sat in the warm sun and had a great long discussion with two guys who were new to the site.  These are just normal guys, not radical at all like the public image the media tries to present of the Occupiers, and were excited by what they saw.  Over the past several days, I've been having good talks with Veterans for Peace members that are represented in the Occupy Minnesota encampment (I'm a veteran, you know, and I'm also for peace).  I'm finding that I also do well chatting with hard-core socialists.  I'm a believer in capitalism, of course -- after all, I'm a business owner -- but I'm a believer in socialism too.  They're both right and they're both wrong.  The answers are at neither extreme and are somewhere in the middle.  At least, that's the way I see it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

friday evening quadlocation

Jerry is in the living room tapping on his laptop, doing work-related stuff, and I'm quietly antsy thinking about what to do with a potentially lovely Friday evening that lies before us.  How often do we get a Friday evening with nothing planned?  James is working, so we are even childless tonight!

..  but, as I see Jerry working, I'm thinking, Maybe I should have stayed at the office.  I have a lot of work piled up, and he and I are leaving for Oregon on Tuesday, and there is no way I can finish all that work on Monday, so there is going to be some weekend office time, for sure, so probably it should have been now...

... but the weather is nice, and I'm thinking, Maybe we should go hang out at Occupy Minnesota for awhile, where they are celebrating two weeks of occupation, and I always find interesting conversations there.

...  but it's the last day we can use a free pass for the gym next door at the Hyatt Hotel, and we are thinking of joining there, so maybe we should take advantage of that.

...  but I know that Jerry is ready to have dinner, so we might have to plan around that.

...  and I know that the best bet is that we will do nothing at all.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

reality show on the shores of tripoli

Another evil dictator is dead, and people celebrate gruesome photos and videos of his bloody corpse.  Barbarism lives on, I guess -- Qaddafi taught his countrymen well.   Remember that old song by The Who -- "meet the new boss, same as the old boss"?  ...  we'll see what kind of changes will become the historical evolution of Libya...

[a side note that I can't resist:  In that debate the other night, did Michele Bachmann really not know that Libya is in Africa?]

... so Qaddafi is gone, and it's unfortunate that he got to live the good life as long as he did.

... but there are still plenty of evil dictatorships in the world, they just don't have household-name recognition yet.  I wonder which one we'll drop our bombs on next.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

cain is not able

It's sort of amusing that Herman Cain, pizza man and would-be motivational speaker, is the current flavor of the month with Republicans who are desperately searching for a decent presidential candidate for next year.  I could go on and on about how dumb his "9-9-9" tax is, but, since it has no chance of ever becoming law, why waste cyberspace on that topic?  But I do find one of his recent remarks even more telling of his mindset.  He said, to the Occupy Wall Street protestors: "Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks -- if you don't have a job and you are not rich, blame yourself!"

... Meaning, I guess, that everybody who is out of work should maybe start their own business and make their own fortune??...  I wonder what kind of business that would be, that 15 million unemployed people could start and make a living at?  Selling Amway?  To whom, each other?  Opening a retail store and competing with Walmart?  And who are they going to borrow money from to open these millions of new businesses?  Banks are doing very little lending these days, especially to unemployed persons!  I wish the dude would be a little more specific and then our economic problems would be over!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

a blog sibling may be coming

I'm toying with the idea of starting a second blog -- not daily, just occasional, focusing primarily on political stuff.  Right now, the whole Occupy Wall Street thing is going through my mind a lot -- I think the movement is the most interesting development politically that has happened in a long time -- but I can't be too political on this site without getting repetitious and annoying certain of my generally loyal readers.  I also want to respond more directly to the horror that is and will be the Presidential election of 2012 -- for instance, I'm gonna need to say something about Herman Cain's idiotic 9-9-9 tax plan.

... and it's not the first time I ran two blogs concurrently -- remember "The Hellish 28 Days", when I was going through a dietary detox in 2008?  It ran for, well, 28 days and is still sitting out there somewhere --

... so maybe I'll do that.  I'll decide soon.  "Et Maintenant" will always be occasionally political, of course, but just a more balanced rendering of my unbalanced mind.

Monday, October 17, 2011

my huckleberry friend, whatever that means

I was sitting at the kitchen table and looked up at the framed Audrey Hepburn poster that we have on the wall -- Audrey as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's.  Somebody gave it to us, I don't even know who.  But it occurred to me that I needed to post an Audrey Hepburn video sometime.  Today's the day.

And I do admit to liking the song "Moon River".  Audrey didn't have much of a singing voice, and this isn't my favorite version of the song, but it was Henry Mancini's favorite version -- and he wrote it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

hymn for a sunday evening

oh help me... James and his friend Emma are making dinner.  They are going through the refrigerator and the cupboards trying to find something (a) that they know how to cook and (b) that they can stand to eat.

It might be a good evening for me to go for a walk... maybe back over to the OccupyMinnesota site.  There are interesting conversations going on over there.  If I stay here, I'm a little nervous that another re-run of Glee will show up on the TV screen.

... another busy week at work coming up.... Do you ever get the Sunday night blues?  Did I tell you that we're flying to Portland, Oregon a week from Tuesday, staying for five days?  Another getaway coming up.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

more transatlantic eeriness

Referring to my post on 9.25.11 ("oh! i forgot to tell you the scott joplin story!") and my post on 10.11.11 ("1957-1959: underground in new jersey").... This isn't quite as weird as the Scott Joplin thing but sort of weird anyway:  My friend in Germany, Elke, again.  Neither of us have ever read a Stephen King book before or had any desire to, and we have never in our many emails discussed Stephen King before.  What are the odds of this happening?:  we both just happen to be reading the King non-fiction On Writing, a fairly obscure book that is eleven years old?  She and I have some sort of mental telepathy thing going on, I think.  What's next.

Friday, October 14, 2011


A guy joins a monastery and takes a vow of silence: he's allowed to say two words every seven years. After the first seven years, the elders bring him in and ask for his two words. "Cold floors," he says. They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him back in and ask for his two words. He clears his throats and says, "Bad food." They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him in for his two words. "I quit," he says. "That's not surprising," the elders say. "You've done nothing but complain since you got here."


[sorry, it's been a hard week at the office, and I was too tired to think for myself today. I'm heading to Happy Hour.  -- H.]

Thursday, October 13, 2011

blackout on my belt loop

I knew something had to be wrong. When I turned on my BlackBerry "smart" phone yesterday morning, there were no personal email updates since early the previous evening.  That never happens.  And I wear my phone on my belt all day while at work, and I'm usually getting phone vibrations and/or message sounds all during the day.  Yesterday, nothing all day.  It wasn't until later in the afternoon that I saw a news item -- BlackBerry had had a rolling blackout starting in Asia and Europe and hitting North America night before last.  It seems to be back now, but who's to say?

My left hip enjoyed the vibration-free day, though.  Most of the email messages that I get on my personal email tend to be political send-me-money pleas or $10-off coupons from Buca di Beppo or some such place anyway, so there's generally no urgency for me to read (and delete) them.  People that are dependent on their BlackBerry emails for business purposes must have had a tough day, though.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

the latest reason to love ben & jerry's ice cream

... their support for the Occupy Wall Street protestors, of course...Free ice cream, even!

But the movement is made up of many beliefs, many groups, many factions, and it's amusing that some protestors didn't like the idea of accepting corporate support...

...which, from my point of view, is silly.  The movement can't be against capitalism.  It needs to be against unbridled, unregulated, monopoly-crazy, "too big to fail" capitalism.  There's a big difference.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

1957-1959: underground in new jersey

I've never read a Stephen King novel, but I've seen several of the movie versions of his novels, enough to know that I probably don't need to read any of them.  But I'm now reading his non-fiction book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, which is a little bit autobiography and a lot about his thoughts on the creative process, about writing.  And I'm enjoying the book a lot, being a frustrated would-be writer all my life.

I wouldn't have expected to have much in common with Stephen King, horror story writer, but here's something:  When he was in elementary school, he and his brother had a sort of underground newspaper that they passed around school (and sometimes got in trouble with).  To print the copies, they used a hectograph, a gelatin printing process thing which most of you have never heard of and which I had sort of forgotten ever existed.  You can't imagine, thinking back, how primitive they were.

And how I know about them is that I used to have one.  I had an unauthorized newspaper back in school (which occasionally got me in minor trouble), 4th grade through 6th grade, when I was a student at the Vineland Christian School. My newspaper had the important-sounding name of the Cumberland County Press, and for the first few editions I used a hectograph, which my dad got for me somewhere, to print the copies.  He must have seen that I was struggling to come up with a quality product using that messy thing, so he found me a used mimeograph machine somewhere, which was messy in its own way (typing onto stencils, inking up the machine) but light-years beyond the capabilities of the hectograph.  My little newspaper, which I operated out of our dingy cellar,  became sort of a gritty alternative to the school newspaper, The Sunbeam.

Think what I (or Stephen King!) could have done with desktop publishing!

Monday, October 10, 2011

they are the champions

People generally don't hear much about women's sports, except maybe during the Olympics, and most people probably don't even know that there is a Women's National Basketball Associaton, but here in Minnesota we are excited that the Minnesota Lynx, sister team of the Minnesota Timberwolves, are the new 2011 WNBA champions.  The Lynx had the best record in the league during the regular season and beat the Atlanta Dream in the finals, three games to none.  This has been an otherwise bleak year for Minnesota pro sports teams (the Vikings, the Twins, the Timberwolves, and the Wild), and the Lynx have shown the men how to win -- with determination, skill and class.  Congrats.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

it's Tom's birthday

According to my laptop, it is 8:24 a.m.  It was at this exact minute thirty years ago that my son Tom was born.  I wish you a very Happy Birthday, Tom.  Let's have a great party tonight!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

coffee and tea

It was early this morning.  I stopped at the coffee shop, decided to take my coffee over to the Plaza to hang out some more with the OccupyMN people.  There wasn't a big crowd at that hour -- just the diehards and some people who had spent the night still asleep in their sleeping bags -- but the morning was beautiful and I sat there for a while reading my book and occuping some space.

Right-wingers and corporate apologists are looking for ways to generalize the protestors in some negative way -- anarchists, Communists, who knows what -- and of course there is no truth in those generalizations.  It was interesting for me, at least in this Minnesota group, to see the political diversity represented that didn't seem to fit in:  there were a few Ron Paul people with their "Audit the Federal Reserve signs", for instance; or Jesse Ventura, our one-time governor and ongoing conspiracy freak.

This of course is a protest that is yet to be totally defined.  It's sort of an un-Tea Party group of fed-up citizens, but, let's face it, the Tea Party probably can't be specifically pinpointed either.  Many think that Tea Partiers are racists, for example, and in reality I'm sure there are a few of them who are not.

Friday, October 7, 2011

occupation across the street

My 9.28.11 post ("billy clubs, tear gas, pepper spray") touched on the topic of the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York and how I was encouraged by the fact that such a protest was even happening.  Since then the demonstrations in Lower Manhattan have continued and grown larger and have spread to dozens of other cities around the country.  Today, Occupy Minnesota has begun here in downtown Minneapolis.  It's being held at the Government Plaza, adjacent to the Hennepin County Government Center, which happens to be right outside my office window.  So I get a front-row seat.

I've already walked over there to mingle with the demonstrators a couple times, and as of midday today there are probably about 300 people there, carrying signs that read slogans like "Human Need, Not Corporate Greed!" and chanting things like "This is what democracy looks like!"  Of course I love all of this.  Progressives are coming to life.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

it never rains in southern california

My niece Ruthie, who is in Los Angeles for a couple weeks (long story), made me laugh with her Facebook post yesterday:  "I think someone wants me to stop wanting to live in Cali one day. Cold and rainy here all day and sunny and hot in Minnesota?!?!?!? Los Angeles hasn't experienced a major rain event in months.....until the day after I arrive. *sigh

It's true -- our weather here in the Twin Cities this week has been spectacular and beautiful.

Meanwhile, on the other coast, my sister Joan is in New York City for her semi-annual Broadway visit.  She sees three shows in two days each time she goes and looks forward to her NYC trips more than anything else all year long -- not just for the shows, but to be in New York. It's her reward.  This trip, she first saw The Mountaintop, which she wasn't crazy about.  Last night, she saw The Book of Mormon, which she liked a lot (and we all know that she loves Mormon boys, fictional or real), and tonight she is seeing a revival of Follies, this time starring Bernadette Peters.  Tomorrow she flies home already and will be planning for her next visit, probably be in April.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

tragedy and death

After the play last night, we went down the hall at the Guthrie to what we call the Wookie  Bar (a/k/a the Target Lounge) and discussed it (The Burial at Thebes) with the bartender a little.  I'm no expert on Greek tragedy and maybe nobody is, and I noticed that most of our conversation was about the music, composed by local musician J.D. Steele, and not about the relevance of the story.  The play was good, the music was good (although I wasn't necessarily sure how the two fit together), the acting and the singing excellent.... and by the end of the show, dead bodies are strewn on the stage -- always a crowd-pleaser...

...and, in an ending like that, I, with my easily distracted mind, always wonder how the actors playing the dead characters can lie so motionless; after all, some of these scenes last a while!  And what if he or she needs to sneeze? -- that would certainly disrupt the moment, having a dead character sneeze!

Overall, an enjoyable evening for us, and we thank the Guthrie for the tickets.  Not a happy ending, though, for the children of Oedipus!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

bloggin' at the guthrie

The Guthrie Theater, world-reknown in the contemporary theater world, is on the other side of downtown Minneapolis from us, and we attend most of the plays being done there during the year.  We know we're lucky to have it as well as all the other choices of rich theater options in this metro area.

The Guthrie is also one of my "likes" on Facebook, and the other day they posted a status update on Facebook looking for bloggers to potentially see one of the current offerings, The Burial at Thebes by Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney, a re-working of the old Greek play Antigone by Sophocles.

I guess that I'm a blogger of sorts, so I responded to the post, and Jerry and I are invited guests at tonight's performance...

...which means that I probably should blog my thoughts about the play in the next day or two after we see it.  Since it's a play that I had zero familiarity with, I Googled my way into learning enough about it to be semi-coherent in my reactions, so I'll try to steer away from sentences like "It was Greek to me!" or "Jerry, wake up!"

a link to the Guthrie:

Monday, October 3, 2011

it's not exactly magic

One day last week, my son Jon was lamenting that he couldn't get a particular song out of his head -- "Magic" by Olivia Newton-John, and I'm sure he's not a fan of either Olivia or this song... But you know how that goes.... Songs sometimes just replay over and over in your mind, and it doesn't matter if you like them or not.

So this video is for Jon, and, if he actually watches it, he'll hate me for it.

(if a Google ad pops up at the bottom of the video, "x" out of it).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

1965: lost in south carolina

Having an 18-year-old college freshman in the house has me remembering the year long ago when I was a similar creature.  I, like James, moved pretty far away from home for college.  I, unlike James, knew nobody where I went, and, when I remember how naive I was, how incredibly sheltered I had been, and the weirdness of the school, it's a wonder I survived that phase of my life at all.  But when I see him and other people his age making what I think are not the best decisions or being less than motivated, I make myself remember what it was like.  It's hard to not try too hard to spare him any mistakes. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

waiting for the applesauce

It was way too nice a day to sit here at the laptop blogging or Facebooking.  It was one of those days they call a perfect autumn day.

Jerry and I started with breakfast at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, which has become one of my favorite breakfast spots, and after that Jerry wanted to stop and shop a little, and I gave it my best but finally said, Hey it's way too nice a day to be shopping.  We came home and sat out in the sun for a couple hours where I finished reading my book, A Thousand Splendid Suns (a mostly interesting story, oddly structured, not particularly well-written, but I'm glad I read it), then we took a walk through Loring Park and stopped at the Dunn Brothers coffee shop over there on the other side of the park and and sipped our drinks and enjoyed the moment.

Now the sun is down, and it's Saturday night.  Tom is here, Ruthie and Ryan are stopping over later.. Jerry is taking a power nap while I keep an eye on his applesauce as it cooks on the stove... and it smells good...

... and the Phillies won their first playoff game this evening.

My kind of day.