Sunday, November 30, 2008

Random Thoughts For Sunday

1. In the car today, I was observing the snow and caught myself worrying about my father. I was thinking to myself "Well I hope he is careful so he doesn't slip and fall on the snow." He's been gone 6 months almost to the day and I still have trouble getting accustomed to the idea.

2. I am in Appleton, Wisconsin for work. I flew over this evening and will be here for two days. I always start to miss Curt about an hour after I arrive. Not sure if I express my love for him enough when I'm home, but I sure do think about it when I'm away. Need to work on this.

3. Today was a glorious day at the bird feeders. The thought crossed my mind about what to call the flocks of various birds that show up. So, I found this site with all kinds of animal group names. I learned that I may have had a charm of gold finches, a small descent of woodpeckers (two hairy woodpeckers to be precise, but I did see a monstrous pileated woodpecker on the cottonwood next door and nearly wet myself), and a dray of squirrels. Perhaps during the summer months, I might have a stray flamboyance of flamingos in the pond. Unlikely, but you just never know.

4. I need to lose weight. Yeah, I know. Whine, whine, whine. I know how to do it. I know a lot about it from watching all the right programs on TV. But will I just do it? Apparently not because my fat clothes have gotten tight. *sigh*

5. We saw the film 'Australia' on Wednesday night starring Nicole Kidman and sexiest man alive Hugh Jackman. Clearly the director knew exactly what he had in Hugh because there are many gratuitous shirtless Hugh scenes, scenes with Hugh in sweaty tight fitting shirts, wet Hugh scenes. Our friend Marina and I swear that the scene of soapy Hugh pouring a bucket of water over himself was in slow motion, but we're told by Curt it was not. I guess for Marina and I we were blessed with a time-stood-still moment when the bubbles were rinsing down Hugh's back. Perhaps I will buy this film on DVD just for these scenes. Oh, and Nicole Kidman did a nice job too if anyone cares.

A MNMom Meme

MNMom has tagged me. Now, if you're reading this you are tagged too. I haven't had a good tag in a long time, so this should be fun. Here goes.

1. Five names you go by
a) Michael
b) Mike
c) Mikey
d) Honey
e) Blubby- but only to my sisters. This is only one of many tortures they subjected me to. When I got my first pair of cowboy boots as a kid, sister #3 referred to me as Puss In Boots. Nice.

2. Three things you are wearing right now:
a) Jeans
b) Black t-shirt
c) Underpants

3. Two things you want very badly at the moment:
a) More down time
b) My upcoming bone marrow biopsy results to be negative

4. Three people who will probably fill this out:
a) Brenda @ This Too Shall Pass
b) SuzieQ @ Tomorrow is another day (once she figures out the technology)
c) Dale @ Passion of the Dale (please?)

5. Two things you did last night:
a) Had a nice visit with our dog sitter Pat
b) Played Cosmic Bingo

6. Two things you ate today:
a) Cheese blintz
b) Potato pancake

7. Two people you last talked to on the phone:
a) Marina
b) Pat the dog sitter

8. Two things you are going to do tomorrow:
a) Take a co-worker out for her first sushi dinner
b) Document our enterprise governance processes (yee haw)

9. Two longest car rides:
a) Iowa City to Tucson
b) Minneapolis to Madison (not the longest, but always feels the longest)

10. Two of your favorite beverages:
a) A really good latte
b) Fresh squeezed lemonade

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hours of Entertainment

Inspired by my aunt Liz and my friends Brenda & Mark, I recently committed to becoming a serious bird feeder. So, a small investment later, here is the result. If you look closely you can see the big Blue Jay that just scared away all the other birds at the feeder. You can also see the lovely little red bird feeder given to us by Brenda & Mark. It seems to be the most popular feeder since it is half full every time I turn around. For those of you who don't feed the birds, I highly recommend it. I have spent many hours on the weekend just watching the comings and goings . It seems to be on par with petting the dogs as far as bringing down the blood pressure a bit. Anyway, here are some observations about the life of birds and their friends, the squirrels:
1. Blue Jays will kill you for a peanut. It is best just to run.
2. Black Capped Chickadees are a squirrel's best friend. Since the squirrels are unable to reach the feeders, they hang out at the base waiting for scraps. When Mr. Chickadee comes to the feeder, he throws out whatever he doesn't like that is in the way of what he does want. This would be the human equivalent of going to a buffet and throwing the ribs on floor on your way to the General Tso chicken. Anyway, the squirrels get all excited when food drops from heaven above.
3. Fat is law in squirrel country. The fatter you are the scarier you are to other squirrels. The fattest squirrel wins all duels. Some days, I wish we could generalize this to human affairs. I hold great power in such a fantasy.
4. Speaking of fat squirrels, does anyone know what the maximum weight ever recorded for a squirrel is? I think we've got some two pounders out there. They've got big guts and fat asses. Am I related?
5. Dark Eyed Juncos are the squirrels of the bird world. They can certainly fly to the feeders but prefer to hop around on the ground with the squirrels. They don't get as much food as the other birds and they seem to make room when they see a large furry ass headed their way. This makes me feel sorry for them and go scatter seed on the ground. I'm a sucker. I'm sure this is all well thought out on their part and I'm just an easy target.
6. Nuthatches are cool. Not only are they pretty, they seem to spend most of their time upside down. I guess this behavior allows them to see bugs and other things most upright birds miss. Ingenious.

7. We can have up to a dozen Cardinals at any given time in our yard. They jump around between drinking at the pond and eating from the feeders. We have several pines and arborvitae nearby which is ideal cardinal habitat. I understand that some people really need to work at attracting cardinals to their feeders. This includes the owner of the wild bird store where I buy my food. It drives her crazy when I tell her about our cardinals. So, I do it every time I visit.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It Was More Than Sex, It Was Making Love

This report is from WCCO online today. Gotta love those Iowans going wild when they hit the big city and the Minnesotans who watched them. Classy. Very very classy. And do they know how filthy the Metrodome bathrooms are? I guess when passion comes a-knockin' you just have to answer the door.

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) ― Considering the state of the Minnesota Gophers' crippling loss against the Iowa Hawkeyes last weekend, one could reasonably assume some would have rather watched anything but the action on the field. That's precisely what police said approximately 15 people did when they observed the action going on inside a men's bathroom at the Metrodome last Saturday.
According to a report filed by University of Minnesota Police, the crowd had gathered to cheer on a couple "having relations" in one of the stalls. A security guard flagged down a police officer after he saw two sets of legs occupying the handicapped toilet stall, both with their pants and underwear around their ankles. The officer arrived and separated the two. The 38-year-old female and the 26-year-old male, both in town from Iowa, were cited for indecent conduct before being released, respectively, to their husband and girlfriend.
According to police, the woman may also be charged with providing a false name to police after attempting to give a fake middle name to the officer on scene (though she identified herself with the correct first and last names).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Two Quick Movie Picks

Two movies we've loved in recent weeks:

1. On DVD: Son of Rambow. One of the most charming little films we've seen in a long time. Two unlikely friends drawn together by a bootleg copy of Rambo First Blood. Very sweet.

2. In theaters: BOLT! Just really damn cute, especially if you have a furry little friend. You can even get over the fact that Miley Cyrus is the voice of the little girl because you never have to see her teeth.

Cookie Day at the MnMoms

Yesterday was cookie day at the MnMom's house in Northfield. When I entered, Twin #1 greeted me from the couch with a less than enthusiastic "hi" then went back to the TV. I encouraged her to work on her social graces because, who knows, she might one day aspire to be a hostess at the Taco Bell or something. But, I guess when you're like family you get the real 14 year old treatment. Okay, I know I don't get the full treatment that MnMom gets, but I got a taste of it. I did, at some point during the day, threaten all the kids with a spatula and/or a scraper. This was only to stop MnMom from ripping off the aerial on my car, which had just come from the body shop. I was simply helping to keep the kids in line. Helping.

Here are our little elf helpers. MnMom's youngest offspring on the left- who, by the way, still shows me how happy she is to have me there, Twin #1, eh hem- and her little friend Sophie. In this picture they are making a batch of cookies for which I failed to recognize the difference between baking powder and baking soda. They still tasted great, but were a little flatter than I had anticipated. Left to their own devices, these two would have made all manner of mutant cookies, mixing chocolate chip cookie dough with the chocolate dough, M&M's and red hots on everything, and would have been so covered with powdered sugar that they would have looked like eager super models at the coke factory sampling room. A few reminders to keep their hands out of their mouths and a looming spatula overhead, kept them on task. Spare the spatula, spoil the child, I've always said.

Here MnMom rescues what became our cookie mosaic. I guess they were a little too close on the parchment and all became entangled and intertwined. This is not unlike what will happen to 14 year old twins if they get too close to boys. Fortunately, MnMom has raised sensible twins who require very few spatula beatings. The girls were going to a "black and white" high school dance last night and had some cute black dresses picked out. These were nothing like the Gunne Sax dresses that were all the rage at high school dances in Iowa in the late 70's & early 80's. Only if you had a thing for Ma Ingalls would you have been hot for a girl in a Gunne Sax dress. Hmmmm. Let's start sewing for prom now, MnMom.
MnMom & Me

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Entry to the Knit a Hat for Mindy Challenge

The glorious and multi-talented Madame Leiderhosen is seeking ideas/patterns from which to knit a hat for Melinda June. Melinda June has just returned from 4+ years in balmy olde England to the blustery winters of Chicago. Here are my entries:
There are not many who could pull off this hat. I'm not even sure the model herself is convinced. However, I believe our fair Melinda June could do it. My preference would be to put an eyeball, a couple of teeth and some stray hairs onto the protuberances so they looked like parasitic twins. But, that's my hat, not Min's.

Knowing that Melinda June is a big Cap'n & Tenille fan, I thought this 70's inspired number might be appropriate for those cold afternoons lip synching "Love Will Keep Us Together" in her swank new apartment. If done in the right hue, Melinda June might also appear a bit nappy headed, which is likely a look she (wisely) hasn't tried yet.In this hat/scarf ensemble, Mindy could look just like this itty bitty witty kitty. Here knitty kitty! Who's the cutest kittiest critter in all the land? You are, kitty. You are.
I thought this was a smart little number though I'm not completely convinced of the plum color. Is that plum, or is it MAROOOON? For whatever reason, when I hear people describe things as being marooooon in color, I automatically assume they are describing something ugly. There are so many other color words out there people. Go pick up some paint chips at the Home Depot and get creative already.

Friday, November 21, 2008



OMG! Hugh Jackman has been named People Magazine's SEXIEST MAN ALIVE! You knew it! I knew it! Now everyone will know it! Fabulous!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Should Have Known All Along

This is Growing Out of My Butt Crack

I am a mutant. Yes. You've known it deep in your hearts, but have been too afraid to tell me. According to my hematologist, I have an acquired genetic mutation called a JAK2 mutation. (I've always preferred the original JAK, but if I have to have a sequel, JAK2 will have to do.) Apparently, she believes this is the cause of my funked up platelet levels for the last several years. She thinks the normal test that I reported on last month was a fluke. Nice. I guess it isn't that big a deal for now and I'll learn more about it at an upcoming appointment. In the mean time, I have to go get that mother @#*@#$ing bone marrow biopsy that I am so not cool with. They need to rule out a type of leukemia before they can say with certainty that the mutation is the sole cause of my bone marrow disorder. The risk is very low because the type of leukemia they look for isn't often seen with this particular mutation. But, keep your fingers crossed for me anyway.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I'm a Leg Man Myself

I know, I know. This picture has certainly made the rounds, but it is always worth seeing. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Granny Throw Down

The non-smoking section at the local casino is tiny and the competition for machines can sometimes be fierce. Last night, I noticed that one of my favorite games- Super Jackpot Party!- had just come open so I rushed over. At the same time that I got to the game, a late 80's something granny in her walker had also reached the game. Deferring to the fact that it probably took her 20 minutes to travel the 10 feet to get there, I gave her an opportunity to park her walker and have the game. However, she looked at the game for a moment and started to move on. Cool for me.

When she got about 5 feet away, she apparently changed her mind, turned around and came back. By that point I had already inserted my player's card and sat down. Seeing me in the chair when she arrived back at the game 30 minutes later (Okay, that is an exaggeration. It took her about 30 seconds to go the 5 feet, but it seemed that long because the turnaround was really, really slow.), she said "I was going to play this game." I responded "Oh...well, it was hard for me to discern that seeing as you walked away in the opposite direction." She muttered something about me being rude and stood there in her walker glaring at me. This pissed me off. I was thinking to myself "Granny, I can't take out many people , but I could take you." I wasn't completely sure of that but if provoked, I probably could have gotten enough adrenaline going to accomplish the task. I looked at the woman seated next to me. She could sense there was a throw down about to take place and gave me one of those looks that said "You're right, but if you throw down with a granny, I'm betting on the granny." I decided to take the high road, but did give granny a look that let her know she should watch her walker because I might be the kind of guy who would take the tennis balls off the front legs and laugh as the walker slides away from her and she goes down face first.

We eventually left the non-smoking section for greener pastures in the stinky section. I did find the only upgrade of Super Jackpot Party and played that. What could be better than Super Jackpot Party? Village People Party!! Yes indeed. Where ever you find Village People Party, you can be sure that there are gays aplenty bobbing their heads to "In the Navy" or "YMCA" during the bonus round. Fabulous.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A few random thoughts

1. If you're curious about seeing more of my El Salvador pics, you can click here. I started with over 1200 photos after compiling every one's digital images and narrowed it down to a measly 463 that were worth looking at. I have to stop looking at them because I've teared up no less than 3 times this week. I really miss the people we met while there. I'm a mess.

2. Surely, hell has to be at least a little cooler than usual. Why, you ask? I'll tell you why- because my little home town of Decorah, Iowa is having a pro same sex marriage rally on Saturday. I would never have guessed this could happen. However, I also never would have guessed that our little high school would have a GLBT group led by the head football coach. I should try harder not to look so dumbfounded at progress. It makes me look old and uncool.

3. Hooray to that other C state that actually is allowing gay marriages now. Ongoing boos and hisses to the Cult of Mormon that used their gazillions to fund the passage of Prop 8 in the big C state. Though the fact that this prompted list item #2 is not an all bad thing. When this gets overturned by the Supreme Court, we can all dance in the streets.

4. Speaking of weddings, I took my mother's wedding dress to have it restored. I started to blubber from the moment I put it in my car and managed to pull myself together a few blocks from the gown restoration place. Not sure exactly what hit me, but I guess I needed a good bawl. The dress itself is in pretty good shape- just some minor acid damage from the box it has been in for 50 years. What to do with it once I get it back is another question. And, no, it won't fit me. So I won't be trying it on even for dress up. My mother apparently was a size 2/4 on her wedding day. I think I would be about a size 22/24 if I'm lucky. Bridal Barn, here I come.

5. Eye candy. We all need it. This is so pretty it is just wrong in all the right ways. Hi, Hugh. Wink, wink.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Fabulous Night With the MnMoms

Last night we got the pleasure of spending a very athletic evening with the MnMom clan minus one of the twins. First, all seven of us descended on the Sports Pavillion, where we watched the 17th ranked UofM women's volleyball team beat 18th ranked Purdue in three games. The MnMom twin that came along plays volleyball so this was fun for her. I suggested that if she couldn't play volleyball, perhaps she should aspire to be one of the girls that runs out between plays to wipe sweat off the floor. I then found out what a disapproving look is like from a 14 year old. Hmmmm. On the ride back to our place, MnMom and I discussed Dawn Davenport parenting techniques, but it did nothing to scare the twin straight. Go figure.
Back at our place, we had a lovely rhubarb/apple crisp, then proceeded to the lower level for a head to head match of Dance Dance Revolution. MnMom and I kicked ass. Okay, that's not true. We might have kicked our own asses by mistake with our flailing feet, but that would have been about it. We had a lot of fun though. MnMom's youngest offspring quickly became addicted to the game and ended up being pretty good. I see Solid Gold Dancer in her future, or maybe even Soul Train. All in all another lovely evening.

Friday, November 7, 2008

UPDATE: The Birth of a Lesbian Folk Hero

Here she is! Our folk hero. Here is an even better account of the story from the Prescott Daily Courier.

You do not want to fuck with this woman. She is serious. Here's the story at this link:

Jogger runs mile with rabid fox locked on her arm
1 day ago
PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities in Arizona say a jogger attacked by a rabid fox ran a mile with the animal's jaws clamped on her arm and then drove herself to a hospital. The Yavapai County sheriff's office said the woman told deputies she was on a trail near Prescott on Monday when the fox attacked and bit her foot.
She said she grabbed the fox by the neck when it went for her leg but it bit her arm.
The woman wanted the animal tested for rabies so she ran a mile to her car with the fox still biting her arm, then pried it off and tossed it in her trunk and drove to the Prescott hospital.
The sheriff's office says the fox later bit an animal control officer. He and the woman are both receiving rabies vaccinations.

Scared Straight?

Yesterday I had my appointment with a hematologist about my funky platelet levels. First of all, it was a little weird because hematology is part of the oncology department. Everyone in the department and the lab workers who follow all treat you very kindly and look at you like "What a shame. Cut down in his prime." It was sort of sweet and deeply uncomfortable all at the same time.
Anyway, my hematologist was this fabulously beautiful woman with a thick South African accent. She was marvelous and took a lot of time to explain what might be going on with my blood. When we got around to next steps, the first thing she mentioned was that she wanted to schedule a bone marrow test along with a battery of blood work and genetic testing. Bone marrow testing??? OUCH! OUCH! She tried to reassure me that it isn't as horrible as it sounds and that the procedure would likely not be performed by a student doctor. How reassuring. So, she scheduled the bone marrow draw for a few weeks out and sent me to the lab where they extracted about 8 or 9 vials of blood for testing.
Within the hour, the fabulous Dr. Morton called me up and said "Well, we have an unexpected result." "OH SHIT! " I thought calmly to myself. "Your platelet levels have come back normal for the first time in 3 years. I'm going to cancel the bone marrow test for now and wait for the rest of the blood work to come in and let you know how I want to proceed." Hooray! No painful medical procedure! Could it be that my fear of minor discomfort sent some of my little platelets into hiding where they couldn't be counted? If this is true, I'm now going to work on scaring myself thin.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We Will Win... In Time

I had the honor of hearing Marilyn Carlson Nelson (Carlson Companies) speak today at work. She reminded me of a poem by Edwin Markham that made me think about the current environment with states passing gay marriage bans and such. The conviction that I must remind myself of is that love will win this fight eventually.
He drew a circle that shut me out--
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

Wooo Hoooo!

I am quite pleased with the presidential results! Woo hoooo! I thought McCain's concession speech was very thoughtful and supportive. It is apparent that even he is embarrassed by the booing and negativity that erupted in the first 10 seconds of his speech. I applaud his tone. Obama's acceptance speech was breath taking. I didn't think I would tear up, but I did. I'm quite proud.

On the down side, it appears, at least for the moment, that all the gay marriage bans that were on the ballots have passed, including Proposition 8 in California. Right now I'm thinking of CP and Poor George who were married a few weeks back. I have to trust that this will all get resolved. It likely won't be in my life time, but I do believe it will happen.

The race between Norm "Can I Feel You Up" Coleman and Al Franken is headed for a mandatory recount- less than 800 votes separate them. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Toes too.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Odd Conversation

Insurance Claims Adjuster: So, were you planning that these repairs will be covered by your insurance or that of the other party?

Me: I suppose mine since the deer ran off before I could get his insurance information.

Insurance Claims Adjuster: Yes, I suppose you're right.

Civic Duty? Check!

I voted today and I hope the rest of you did too. May the best man win- and we all know who that is!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Horrible Loss

I got a call from my dear friend Ruthie today. Unfortunately, the news was tragic. A great artist and human being, Tim Langholz, is no longer with us. I started collecting Tim's work several years ago and during that time got to know him on a more personal level. He was a tremedous guy who loved his family, had deep convictions, an amazing talent and a warm grin that always made you feel welcome. Sadly, Tim took his own life on Sunday. All I can say is that if you know anyone with untreated depression or other mental illness, please reach out to them. Also, please keep Tim's widow and beautiful daughter in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I'm Back

Holy smokes. What a week this has been. Re-entry from my trip doing charitable deeds was difficult. My first day back at work was spent wondering why these people were whining to me about their problems that seemed so insignificant. I forcibly had to remember my vow to come back a kinder, less judgemental individual. It worked in short spurts at first, but settled in after a while.

After work on Friday, I headed down to Iowa to see the family home for one last time before the new owners move in. I got to Decorah around 5:00 and spent about a half hour or so at the house. There frankly wasn't much to see. It was a house. On some levels it was very comforting that the memories of my parents aren't bound to the house or the things that once filled it. The memory of my folks, as it turns out are very, very portable and go with me every where I go. In that way I was relieved to see an empty house and not be crushed by it. I knew I was going to be back the next day with my sister, so didn't spend too much time.

After the house, I took off to Lansing, IA to my sister's cabin. On the way, I did my own brand of deer hunting- with the front of my car. Yes. I hit a deer. I was heading down the winding highway into the valley and caught sight of a fully adult deer in the left lane and hit my brakes pretty hard. Unfortunately, the deer panicked too and ran into my lane. I hit him/her on the back end on the passenger side of my car. I felt way worse for the deer than my car. Poor thing. I don't think the impact killed it immediately, which just pains me. Anyway, I was, of course, a little upset about the damage to my month old vehicle, but comforted by my super-preferred rates and a really low deductible.

After my dad's death, one of my sisters used a portion of her inheritance to buy an investment property that is nestled about a quarter mile into the woods near the Mississippi River. When I say cabin, I really mean fabulous 2000 sq ft, 4 bedroom, 2 bath home. A builder had built it in early 2007 and it had been just sitting there, going down, down, down in price until it was so ridiculously low she would have been a fool not to buy it. Let's just say that when she sells it in 5 years, if the housing market has gone up even a little, she will make a damn killing on this place and do far better than I will have done on my investments. Anyway, she is also a great person and I love to spend time with her. So the gorgeous surroundings are just icing on the cake.

On Saturday, my sister and I took off to spend the morning with our aunt. She is a lot of fun, too, so the morning just flew by. Later on my sisters two boys met us to go back down to Decorah to look at the house again.

After saying goodbye to the house again, we headed out to my friends Brenda and Marks place near Frankville, IA. Suzette was having her birthday today (Happy Birthday, Suzette! I can never remember if you're older or younger than me, so I'll choose to believe you are older. How's 43?) so she came over too. Brenda had a spread on of crackers, cheese, sweets and this frickin' killer olive dip that must have been laced with crack because we couldn't stop eating it. The only thing that restrained us was the embarrassment of lunging for the knife every few seconds. We laughed, cried a little and ate until we were stuffed, then had to head on our way. Before we left though we marveled at how darn handy and skilled Mark is at all things construction related. Brenda should seriously consider renting Mark out on weekends. She could make a mint. Mark might be a little tired, but Brenda would be RICH!

After a great night of sleep, I headed back to lovely Golden Valley, where my sweetness had done tons of yardwork and had on a pot of his mother's famous spaghetti sauce for dinner. I heart him.