Tuesday, September 30, 2014

howling wolves and suicidal moths

During the week that I took off from blogging, I spent a long weekend with Jerry and Tom up in the Minnesota north woods, four hours north of the Twin Cities, in a lake cabin belonging to a friend of Jerry's, and had a marvelous time.  It's good to occasionally get away from the city, out there in a sort of wilderness, hearing the soothing sounds of loons (it's sort of an On Golden Pond kind of lake) and the intimidating howling of wolves.

Sunday was unseasonably warm, especially considering that this cabin is in the far northeast corner of the state -- almost to Canada --, and we spent a great five hours or so out on a pontoon, giving me a rare late-September sunburn but enjoying the relaxation and peacefulness,  When the weather cooled, we built a fire in the fireplace and played cards and watched the Vikings game (they won!) and ate well.  I was disturbed when a crazy moth kamikazed into my glass of scotch (what a way to go!), but otherwise the weekend was drama-free and perfect.  Remind me to do it again sometime!

on Caribou Lake

view from the kitchen table

view from the pontoon

Monday, September 22, 2014

it's the first day of spring somewhere

.... but here in the Northern Hemisphere, it's the first day of fall, and I look wistfully at my back yard, still a beautiful green but soon to be brown and then white...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

yo, Adrian, part 2!

Admittedly, I spent more time watching football today than I should have (the Vikings look a bit anemic without Adrian Peterson) and then I just read a TIME  magazine cover story about "Is football worth it?" and then an NBCNEWS story about how 12 players suiting up today have at some point been arrested for domestic assault, so the National Football League (NFL) is on my mind more than usual... Hence, this blog post...

So I'm starting to sense that we are entering an era where it's going to become politically correct to be anti-football and especially anti-NFL..... I bet we will hear that even more loudly  here in Minnesota, where a billion-dollar stadium is being built -- still a touchy subject locally.

I can't get into the issue of traumatic brain injuries, the topic of the TIME article, but I have some more thoughts on the domestic violence issue.

When it comes to big-name celebrities here in the U.S., we've been in a guilt-by-accusation mindset for a while now.  We love to bring them down after we've built them up.  Right now any wife or lover can accuse a professional ball player of abuse, and the accusation will make a headline and maybe end a career, so the NFL has to walk the tightrope of neither under-reacting or over-reacting until the truth is known.  An arrest is not a conviction, and it's possible that an accusation is an act of revenge.

There are 32 NFL teams with 53 players on each, so that's 1696 suited-up individuals.  12 of those players have somewhere sometime been arrested.  That's 7/10ths of 1 percent.  I wonder what the domestic-violence arrest percentage is for the male population at large?  And could any of the 12 been victims of extortion?  All of the 1696 players are making lot of money, and money -- and the hangers-on it attracts -- are new to most of these guys.  They can make really bad mistakes.  The mistake the public can make is to typecast a whole profession.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

every day brings dead leaves

It's a beautiful, perfect sunny day until late afternoon and then suddenly the storm clouds take over... I leave the patio (where the music is wafting over the hostas), hunker down, things are feeling eerie.... autumn casts a shadow... I reach for a book...

suddenly, i remember that I have bookshelves...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

sláinte, Scotland!

By the time you read this, if you pay any attention to the news at all, you'll probably already know whether Scotland voted YES or NO today on whether the secede from the United Kingdom and be its own country.

the flag of Scotland
Scotland has been on my short list to visit ever since I became a scotch aficionado last year.  We want to do the distillery tours there -- plus Scotland just seems like a cool place to go.  Maybe we'll go next year, if I can rack up enough frequent-flyer points in the meantime.

But seceding from the UK?  I understand the national pride issue and the fact that the Scots want to distance themselves from the British Conservative Party, but seceding will cause more problems than it will solve -- so I say stay with the English and let them take care of the big things.  Look at the U.S.A. -- we left in 1776 and it's been downhill for us ever since! ...  Well, maybe not.  :-)

Plus, on a more personal level, I was reading that if Scotland secedes, scotch might become scarcer and more expensive.  Right now, I have about 15 different brands of scotch stashed away, but that won't last forever, will it?

Macallan 12 on the rocks

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

yo, Adrian!

As a Minnesota Vikings fan (unless they're playing the Philadelphia Eagles), it's easy to be conflicted about Adrian ("is he a child abuser?") Peterson.  We all want him back playing on the football field, but that would mean either ignoring the photos of the welts on the legs of his 4-year-old kid or saying that it's the result of normal discipline that went too far.

For somebody of my generation, it's a little harder to know where that line is.  A lot of us, back in the '40s and '50s, were used to corporal punishment.  My dad certainly used a tree switch to whip me more than once.  Sometimes it was a belt or a yardstick.  Jerry still has a scar on his leg from being whipped as a kid.  And we now would both say that we had wonderful dads who were not child abusers.

But this is 2014, and the word should have somehow gotten to Adrian Peterson that times have changed.  If kids get whipped now, they call the cops, and child abusers go to jail, but, again, where is that line?  My dad wasn't a child abuser.  Jerry's dad wasn't a child abuser.  Sometimes they would say, "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you!"  It all depends on what was going on in Adrian's mind when he inflicted those lashes.  If it was rage, then he is a child abuser.  If, in his head, it was reasonable discipline gone haywire, then he is mostly ignorant.

So he is scheduled to be back on the playing field Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, who are known for their brutality.  He can be brutal right back.  At least he will be picking on somebody his own size.

Added the next morning:   Never mind. The Vikings announced this morning that they've changed their minds and that Adrian has been de-activated again until the court thing is resolved.

Monday, September 15, 2014


I have all the basic Apple electronics -- iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV -- and they still baffle me sometimes, so when the new U2 album, Songs of Innocence, appeared on my iTunes playlist, I naturally assumed that I had pushed a wrong button somewhere and would be charged for music that I hadn't wanted.

But, no, my sister Joan clued me in that all of the iTunes customers -- all 500 million of us -- had received the album free of charge.

It turns out that I like the album, even thought I've always been just lukewarm about U2, but apparently there aren't 500 million other U2 fans out there, so people are complaining, so Apple just came out with a fix to dump it if you want to.

Free music sounds good to me.  It just scares me what the next one might be.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

the 6

What?  We've pre-ordered iPhone6's -- and they are free to us through Verizon?  I've never been this cutting-edge before!

Friday, September 12, 2014

you're overmatched, woman

Yesterday I totally went off on a client who totally deserved it.

I would have just taken her nasty insinuations if I were a nice Minnesota boy.

But I'm not a nice Minnesota boy.  I'm Jersey.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

'hello! my name is elder howard'

"And I would like to share with you the most amazing musical..."

OK, I'm loosely borrowing from the opening song ("Hello!") of the musical The Book of Mormon, which opened on Broadway in 2011 and which I finally saw in a touring production here in Minneapolis last night.  What a funny, totally irreverent show, over-the-top but right-on.  Not only does it make fun of Mormonism, it in effect skewers all religion by showing that it takes a bunch of shenanigans sometimes to get followers.  Highly recommended.  I'd see it again.

You might get a kick out of reading the lyrics to one of the better songs from Book of Mormon, "I Believe."  Click here for the lyrics to "I Believe"

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

moments that change everything

Right about now, 46 years ago.... a day of celebration.

I was the reluctant Army draftee, had just been through a sweaty four months of basic infantry training at Fort Bragg, NC, and then at Fort Polk, LA -- and being trained at Fort Polk, which was nicknamed "Little Vietnam" because of it's intense jungle training, meant that you could just assume that your next stop was Vietnam, and the Vietnam War was at its height then.  It was kind of a despondent time for me.  They already had us on malaria pills.

But my unexpected rescue from that fate of dying in a Vietnamese swamp came from an unexpected place -- the Russians! -- still the USSR back then -- who in August of 1968 did me the personal favor of invading Czechoslovakia to suppress some anti-Communist resistance, which made the U.S. military guys nervous that we needed to beef up the troops in Western Europe.  So our whole graduating week there in Fort Polk were sent off to Germany -- still known as West Germany at the time.  The thought of newly trained jungle fighters scared the hell out of the Russians, I'm sure, and they backed off the Czechs for a while.

But what a party we had there in Fort Polk when we found out that we weren't going to Vietnam!  It was a life-altering moment, and I'll never forget the feeling of relief and joy.

Life-altering moments.  I wonder when the next one will be.  They come unexpectedly.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Tom and pizza and football

Today was the first Sunday of the NFL football season.  My son Tom was here and we watched the Vikings win, ordered a pizza, had laughs.  He's so much fun to watch football with.  That's what enjoying football is about:  sharing it -- all the ups and downs -- with people you care about.  If your team wins, that's icing on the cake.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

some days inspire you

When a perfect-weather day happens in Minnesota, it can inspire.

Had breakfast at Papa's Cafe with Jerry, then spent the middle of the day in downtown Minneapolis just hanging out.  Bought tickets for tonight's Twins baseball game (perfect baseball weather, if there is such a thing).  Bought tickets for Tuesday night to see The Book of Mormon.  Sitting here on the patio at the Bird having a gin and tonic.

But the inspiration had nothing to do with the above.  It has to do with the dilemma that has been tormenting me lately.  I just need to take charge of it, rather than letting crap just happen.  There might be a great answer.

I hope tomorrow is as beautiful as today.

Friday, September 5, 2014

joan rivers, 1933 to 2014

Very sad to report the passing yesterday of Joan Rivers, a very funny lady who I've been a fan of for several decades.  Saw her most recently in 2009 at the Mall of America --  here is a link to my post that day.http://hrdfax.blogspot.com/2009/02/what-do-normal-folk-do.html .  I wish I could think of a funny Joan Rivers joke to mark this occasion.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

raising the trust standards

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
William Shakespeare, All's Well That Ends Well

Jon and Tom tell me that one of my major flaws is that I like everybody, which to them means that I have no standards.  Well, it's true that I like just about everybody, even strangers on the street, but, truth me told, there may be five or ten people that I don't like.

Trust, however, is a different story.  Trust goes much deeper, and I'm finding that as I get older -- and especially at this moment in my life -- the group of people that I trust would all fit into a very small circle.  People let you down and, when they do, they make you distrust even the people that have no intentions of ever doing you wrong.

And I feel that I do wrong to none, but I bet there are people who don't trust me either, and they should.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

today's 'golden girls' wisdom

Blanche:  "Oh, girls, I have writer's block!  It's the worst feeling in the world!"

Dorothy:  "Blanche, you have to have written to have writer's block.  Otherwise, we all have it!"

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

as we were chowing down on quarter pounders

Jon and I were discussing the calorie-counter diets vs. low-carb diets and came to the conclusion that they had the same basic effect.  He is just finishing up a low-carb diet as I start my probably-futile low calorie diet.  I hope I can be as diligent as he was, except for this one McDonald's misstep.

We and Tom were at McDonald's only because it is a tradition we have, to go to McDonald's for dinner on the first day of school even though neither Jon nor Tom have been in school in quite a few years.  Some traditions may be silly but die hard, especially when McDonald's fries, a guilty pleasure, are in any way involved.

Monday, September 1, 2014

it feels like fall

So the summer ends -- but not really.  It's Labor Day 2014, and it is probably only in the U.S. that everybody thinks of Labor Day -- the first Monday in September -- as the end of summer while the calendar tries to convince us that summer goes on for another three weeks.  Yeah right.  Try to convince the kids going back to school tomorrow that it's still summer.