Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 as history

For most of you, when you read this, it will already be 2013.  For me, as I write this, 2012 is still hanging in there, limping into the history books.

Dick Clark is gone, and, to tell the truth, we've been ringing in the new year the past few years with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin on CNN anyway, live from Times Square, and don't you just love the way she makes him laugh?

And 2012?  Well, it was a year.  It was even a leap year, so we had an extra day of it. Okay at times (Romney lost), rough at times (the Sandys).  It's unclear, even at this eleventh-plus hour, whether we're going over a fiscal cliff, whatever that is.


Regrets?  I've had a few, but then again too few to mention.

Resolutions?  I've got more than usual.  Some things need to change.

Good luck making your changes too, but don't wait too long.  Years last about ten minutes.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

the man with the handicap tag

If you ever have a temporary or permanent disability that affects walking or just getting around, you will be very thankful for Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, which mandates public places to be handicap-accessible.  You'll be grateful for ramps, for elevators, for curb cuts, etc.

Jerry, now stuck with that scooter for a number of weeks, is paying attention.  He also went to the license center to get a tag so that he can park his car in handicap parking spots, which is another major help.

Occasionally, Congress does something right.  On the other hand, 1990 was 22 years ago.  That Congress is long gone.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

it's worse than a sprain

Jerry went to an orthopedic doctor today and found out that his foot injury is worse than expected.  Instead of a sprain, he has what is called lisfranc (click on that word for more info), which means as many as 12 weeks not bearing weight on his left foot and after that who knows.  This is not going to be easy, dudes.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

oh, to be back in mile high stadium!

I was tempted to write something about Tim Tebow, the mediocre quarterback who was so good at exploiting the way-too-easy-to-exploit evangelical community last year while having a couple of amazing but apparently flukey games with the Denver Broncos, and how he has bombed this season playing (or mostly not playing) for the New York Jets, and how satisfying it is to see him crashing down to earth.  But I resisted the temptation, as you can see.

By the way, my temporary hearing loss from that bad cold seems to be almost gone and I'm so glad about that, of course, but the experience left me with a whole new appreciation for the difficulties of the hearing-impaired.  It also made me appreciate silence, and now that I can hear, you'd be surprised how annoying the sounds of the television are.  Meanwhile, Jerry, since he has that sprainted foot, sits in front of that TV whenever he is at home, and I can understand that.... But it doesn't make for a great match-up right now.  Sort of like Tebow and the Jets.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

not as quiet as you might think

Downtown Minneapolis, usually bustling on a Wednesday, is pretty darn quiet today.  That's what happens when Christmas falls on a Tuesday.  Nobody wants to go back to work the next day, and people find a way to use vacation days.

Not me, though.  Here I am, working, and this is never a slow week for me.  It's the last week of the year, and this is a big last-minute tax-planning time for clients.  What makes this year particularly difficult is that we don't know what rules we are playing by, thanks to a do-nothing Congress, and the best advice we can offer has a lot to do with guesswork.

One thing that will get people's attention next month (meaning next week), if they get a paycheck, barring some breakthrough among legislators, is that the payroll-tax reduction has not been renewed, and folks will find 2% less in their net pay.  I wonder how loud people will squawk.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

miserable ones on christmas

Actually, it was a lovely Christmas, nothing miserable about it.  Just a little out of the ordinary for me, and maybe that's partly because of Jerry's foot injury and my temporary hearing impairment, which actually was quite a bit better today.

James and Joan went with Jerry and me to see the movie version of Les Misérables.  Today was the day the film opened.  We liked it.  Of course.

And then, rather than spend Christmas in the kitchen, we all went out for dinner with Jon and Tom.  And gifts were relatively limited.

Less traditional, yes.  Less stressful, definitely.  I recommend it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

'sickening', I say

I got a kick out of the New York Daily News cover yesterday, referring to NRA bigwig Wayne LaPierre's press conference on Friday.

In my post on December 14 ("'unfathomable', he said"), the day of the Newtown massacre of children, I predicted that the craziest of the gun nuts would say the answer to the gun problem is more guns.  LaPierre proved my point.

While it is heartening to see people talking about finding a way to a sane gun policy -- at least a ban on military-style weapons in civilian hands -- we all know that the discussions won't get us far.  There are too many weapons already out there, and there are too many NRA members who have been convinced that restrictions on the deadliest killing machines will somehow lead to the government confiscating their hunting rifles.

Political decisions that could have prevented these mass murderers should have been made long ago and weren't, and now we are stuck with the consequences.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

he got the boot

Okay, so the world didn't end yesterday after all, but that doesn't mean there was no disaster anywhere.

Consider Jerry's day, for instance.  While buying a Christmas tree, he tripped over a pallet at Home Depot and sprained his foot (My first response:  "What the heck were you doing at Home Depot?").  In such pain that he thought his foot was broken, James and Dave rushed him to the Emergency Room, where the hospital people took Xrays to confirm, to everyone's relief, that the foot was not broken.  A sprain is no picnic, though, and the ER people put Jerry's foot in a boot and he may have several weeks of recovery.  In the meantime, he can't put any weight on his left foot and has one of those scooters to get around, and he has taken the experience, other than the continuing pain, in stride.

Maybe that was what the Mayans had in mind.  Jerry's foot.

Friday, December 21, 2012

mary o.'s special request for today

As I write this, it's only 10:30 a.m. Central Standard Time, and I'm not sure what time of day the Mayans forecast The End to happen, but let me squeeze this in just in case...  My friend Mary's request --

"The End of the World as We Know It" by REM.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

apocalypse now or then

Assuming that the ancient Mayans have credibility and the world really does end tomorrow, 12/21/12, look on the bright side:  At least we won't have to hear any more about "the fisal cliff" that might be coming the first of January!

And if you attend one of the "End of the World" parties, at least you won't have to worry about having a hangover the next day!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

one shade of grey

As I look back, evaluating 2012 on a personal level, one thing I can't deny is that this was the year that grey hair became much more abundant on my mostly still-full head of hair.  I don't know why it surprises me.  Reality isn't my strong suit.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

i had a burger and coffee

Maybe it's my stuffed-up head talking, but I'm pretty sure that my daily blog streak (not missing a day since August 2010) is nearing an end, and I'll just go back to something more occasional or something more than occasional, just not a daily requirement.  It's not that I don't have anything more to say, because I never had anything to say in the first place.  Maybe it's just the world has become overblogged and everybody's bored with it.  It's like the title of a book Jon gave me once -- Nobody Cares What You Had For Lunch.

Monday, December 17, 2012

underwater with a Nyquil hangover

You know that feeling?  It describes how my head feels mornings when I wake up the past few days.  I guess I can't tell people anymore how "I never get a cold..."  And I hope I get my hearing back soon.  Asking people to repeat everything they just said, I feel like the old grandpa in the rocking chair, saying, "Heh, what's that you say??"

Oh well, I know people have much worse problems.

Jerry is making me some chicken soup and a tunafish sandwich.... (He hates it when I say "tunafish", thinking it's a redundant term, which of course makes me like saying it)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

the NRA sucks

I was just listening to Bob Schieffer (of CBS News) saying that the National Rifle Association is tbe most feared lobbying force in Washington DC, which is why no gun control measures -- even minor restrictions on assault weapons -- can ever get to the floor of Congress.  It's a sad fact for our country that our so-called 2nd Amendment rights have become so distorted, and it's embarrassing as we face the rest of the world.

Nobody needs to own an assault weapon, unless you're just waiting for your own chance to be a mass murderer.

Friday, December 14, 2012

'unfathomable', he said

The count continues.  This time it's today, it's in Newtown, Connecticut, and this time it's 20 very young children and six adults who have been murdered by a mad gunman.  And the elected officials who refuse to ban assault weapons have even more innocent blood on their hands.  And the craziest of their supporters will be saying, "The answer to guns is more guns.  Those 5-year-old kids should have been armed to protect themselves."  And the un-crazy among us are much too quiet.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

transposing the numbers buys us another week

You know that Mayan calendar thing, that supposedly predicts that the world will end this month?  Well, a lot of people were confused about which day of this month it's going to happen, thinking it was supposed to be 12/12/12 -- in other words, yesterday.  Even Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last night got it wrong.  No, no, no... The prediction is for the 21st of this month.... We've got a whole 'nother week before the end-of-the-world parties happen... followed by what?  --  the 22nd, maybe?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

my ear is lame

I still have this stupid cold, which is not common for me, and I find that wishing it away isn't helping any, and now it seems to have settled in my right ear, which is causing my hearing to be undependable.  I'm asking people to repeat things, and I'm getting better at reading lips, and it has left me mostly exhausted and without blog inspiration (very unusual for me, right?).

So I thought it would be a good day to post a video, maybe something in the spirit of the holidays and also related to how I feel right now... Was tempted to post a version of "Do You Hear What I Hear?", but I owe you better than that, so No.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

what a 'hipster' is or isn't

Somebody made a comment that my new glasses looked a bit "hipster"-like, and, except for knowing that I'm too old to be a hipster, I wasn't sure whether that was a positive or negative comment.  So I went to the authority -- -- (which I love) -- to get some background on the subject.  Please click on the link below and have a few laughs on the description of "hipster" --

urban dictionary definitions of "hipster"

-- (although the definitions left me still wondering whether it was a positive or negative comment!)

Also, if you feel like hanging around urbandictionary for a while, check out "New Jersey".  :-)

Monday, December 10, 2012

being not stuck in bad-weather traffic

The downtown streets were snowy and icy, so I walked to work.  Okay, it's only eleven blocks, but it felt good to be able to walk past the congestion, and it made me realize I should walk to work more often.  Remind me.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

smells like snow

The only thing I brought back from New Orleans was a cold, and I nursed it all day on the sofa under a blanket that we once stole from Northwest Airlines, watching football and occasionally napping, while outside the snow fell and piled up.... up to fourteen inches before it stops, they say.  The roads are terrible and the temperatures are dropping fast.  We need groceries but who wants to go out, sniffling and hacking, trudging through this stuff even though the grocery store is only two blocks away?.... the heck with it.  Feels like we're home, pass the hot chocolate.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


While it may be hard to get on a plane where it's 74 and sunny and go home to a place where it's snowing and 50 degrees colder, I have to say this has been an unexpectedly great vacation, and I'm grateful that we got to do it.  Sometimes the relatively unplanned and spontaneous vacations turn out to be the best.

As for Louisiana, it made some amends for my traumatic summer of '68 in this state, and New Orleans turned out to be one of those It's-a-fun-city-to-visit-but-I-sure-wouldn't-want-to-live-there places.  Now back to a reality of sorts -- and a diet for sure.

Friday, December 7, 2012

it may be big, but it ain't easy

In my ongoing educational endeavors, I was going to tell you why New Orleans is nicknamed the Big Easy, but apparently there isn't a clear-cut answer to that question.  It might be that jazz musicians used to find it easy to find work in this music-driven city.... Or it might be something else entirely.  I doubt that anything here is easy anymore.

Before you visit here, friends will warn you about crime, pickpockets, drunks, dirt, and there may be some truth to everything they say, but there is an unmistakable charm and good energy too.

I got up early, while Jerry sleeps in, and have been wandering the early-morning neighborhoods.  At the moment, I'm sitting at a Starbucks on busy Canal Street, which seems to be the dividing line between the central business district and the French Quarter.  That's enough sitting and blogging for now.... I'm off.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

the ride back to NOLA

I found it to be sad leaving the Mississippi Gulf Coast, partly because I liked the area way more than I expected to and partly because we drove along the coast, in daylight this time, the eighty-some miles from Biloxi back here to New Orleans and we could see the lasting damage that Hurricane Katrina did seven years ago.  Waterfront development has been slow to shake off storm fears -- empty blocks where something used to be, building-less foundations and twisted trees all too common now.

We've checked into our hotel in New Orleans, just a couple blocks off Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, where we'll say for two nights.  An exploration of a different kind begins.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


We're day-tripping out of Biloxi and, as I write this, we're getting to know Mobile, Alabama, the only part of Alabama on a coast.  It's an okay city, as far as I can tell in spending just a couple hours here, with some nice tree-lined historic neighborhoods and a sleepy manageable downtown.  We had a good barbecue lunch at a dive named the Brick Pit (You know I love dive eating establishments with graffiti all over the walls and ceilings).  And now we're heading a few miles east to Pensacola, Florida, then back to our hotel in Biloxi.

The only hard part of these road trips is how we make each other nuts with our driving styles.  He says I'm too cautious (which, of course, I'm not), and I say he's way too aggressive (which he somehow disputes).  Either way, we're somehow still surviving.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

life, as viewed from the Waffle House

Greetings from downtown Biloxi, Mississippi, where we are having breakfast at the Waffle House, a Southern breakfast chain that I can never resist even though it blows my calorie count for a week or more.

The Southern accents in this part of the Deep South are at their most extreme but purposely charming when they want to be.  Coming down in the hotel elevator this morning, a young woman started chattering to us about the gun tattoo she had on her right arm and then she had to show us the "huntin'" tattoo on her leg, and she blamed both tattoos on a wild night she doesn't remember at age 16.  Fellow elevator-riders from central Florida loved them.

We're off to explore downtown Biloxi, hoping that all the guns here are just tattooed.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Why "MSY", you ask?

The official name is the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, so how did they get an airport code of MSY out of that?

Since this is a blog site chock full of valuable yet worthless trivia, I looked it up for you.

The original name of the airport was Moisant Field, named after some long-ago aviator named Moisant, and the airport was near stockyards.... So MSY stands for "Moisant Stock Yards"...

And we land there today.  I just hope we don't run over any runaway cows.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

packing for katrinaland

Path of Hurricane Katrina, 2005. Map: Jim McMahon

Remember Katrina, that hurricane in 2005 that did terrible damage to the Gulf Coast, particularly Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama?

See on the map where the hurricane hit the coast?  Well, that's exactly where we will be spending the next few days, flying out of Minneapolis tomorrow afternoon, staying a couple nights in Biloxi, Mississippi (which is right next to Gulfport), a couple nights in New Orleans, maybe a day trip over to Mobile, Alabama.

It's been seven years since Katrina.  Much has been reconstructed, and much will never be the same there, I'm sure.  We'll check it out.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

it's gonna be a hard december

Chances are that we are going to hear about the "fiscal cliff" debates in Washington all month.  Congress will, I'm guessing, go right to the brink on the hard decisions to be made, which means December 31, and how it all turns out affects my work very directly.  It's impossible to plan when you don't know what the rules are.