Thursday, December 31, 2009

Waconia Christmas Lights - Big Publicity

My neighbor's house (two doors down) was featured on one of the local Minneapolis news station reports last night. The neighbor has done this kind of light show for 4 years. He puts out a massive amount of lights, synchronizes their flashing to music (he must use some kind of software to accomplish this), broadcasts the music on a low-level FM frequency, and welcomes all to the show.
Some shows are better than others, and I still believe year one to be his best. This year I'd grade him an Obama-like "good solid B+."

They have a website in support of this effort as well.

It draws a ton of traffic into the neighborhood. It hasn't really impacted us that much (although I keep closer tabs on the dog when she's out), but my neighbor across the street (aka "The Grinch") absolutely HATES it, although he has reason. The proximity of his driveway makes a great place to view the show, and he often has uninvited guests parking there. While that's usually not a problem, it can tick a guy off when you're coming home and "want to get in your own damn garage."

The show will be over soon, but with all of the publicity, I'm sure we'll be looking at a lot more traffic next year.

Just don't park in The Grinch's driveway...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Obama (and Society): Put On a Damn Tie!

Sorry, folks, but my hot button just got pushed. I'm going to show my age. Big time.

What the hell happened to dressing formally in important situations? This picture was taken on Monday at Obama's press conference on the botched terrorist attack. While I know that he's on vacation in Hawaii, it would seem to me if you're going to go to the trouble of addressing the American people (and those that would do us harm), you might want to take that extra step and throw on a tie. I'm sure they have them, even in Hawaii.

Humans are visual animals - we take our cues from hundreds of unspoken movements, gestures, facial changes, and hidden signals. We have done this through our entire existence. So when the President comes out to reassure the public and warn our enemies but just can't be troubled to make that extra fashion step, it sends a signal. And not a good one.

The bottom line is that we don't dress up (or down) for ourselves. We do it for others, and we do it out of respect and to set the appropriate tone. It would seem to me you'd want to respect those that sent you to Washington and are looking to you for assurances of safety, but it appeared it just wasn't that important.

Obama is not alone in this - it is amazing what you see walking around at weddings and funerals now. My biggest pet peeve is the job interview. Sure, we have a casual culture. But guess what, Einstein, you're not part of our culture yet. Wearing a suit shows me the respect that you're taking this opportunity seriously.

Respect and sending the appropriate signal is what it is all about, not your comfort.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Three: "Puppy Troubles" Part 4

For background on this serial, please click here. You can also start at the previous section

As it pertained to a command, the whole concept of "walkies" came from English dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse. For those not familiar with her, Ms. Woodhouse was an elderly dog trainer who was featured on PBS a number of times. She had a number of catch-phrase commands, and among these was the sing-song "walk-ies!" delivered in a beautiful, proper British accent. It was completely plagiarized by me, including the British accent and the high voice, as the command to let Blitz know that we were hitting the road. It was just too darn unique not to pick up and make my own. I guess all those years of watching Monty Python episodes in my youth really did warp me as my mother had warned.

From the minute we brought her home, Blitz was a constant bundle of energy. Part of it was due to how she was wired - she was born and bread to be an athlete, and athletes need to move. Part of it also had to do with the hours my wife and I worked. Blitz sat at home alone and bored all day, so when we were around, she wanted to go.

Going for walks was the one way I could burn enough energy off her to keep peace in the house, and we'd do two every day - once the in morning before work and once after work when I got home. We had developed a nice route through our neighborhood, around a small lake, and then back through the neighborhood to home, and we hit it rain or shine.

Beyond the benefits of getting the dog exercise, there were added benefits to our route. First, Blitz quickly established a designated "poop spot" in a wooded area on the route. That meant that her messes were kept off my yard and were confined to a spot where pick up with the inside-out baggie would not be necessary. Even though that technique of cleaning up after the dog is sanitary, it still isn't much fun. Trust me.

While the "poop spot" was a nice habit that was developed, it did have its challenges. There were a number of mornings where the need to visit the spot was "pressing," and on a number of occasions our neighbors were treated to Blitz and I in a dead sprint down the road to the woods. Ordinarily I didn't mind the run as Blitz pulled me most of the way, but there were a number of snowy mornings before the plow had come through when Blitz's snow tires worked much better than mine, and I'd end up in a prone position in the middle of the road while she continued her poop-sprint to the designated spot, leash flailing behind her like the tail on some kind of yellow dog kite.

The second benefit to our route was that in the evening there were lots of kids and dogs to meet along our way. Blitz's socialization was extremely important to me. She needed to be very comfortable with people (especially kids), and needed to enjoy being around other dogs. Since her earliest days as a puppy she interacted with both, and as she grew she usually met both with a smile and with her tail wagging.

Blitz was always an early riser, as was I, so often our morning walk came in the 4:00 am hour. Throughout my life, between my paper route, walking the dog, and duck hunting, I've seen some really incredible and really weird stuff out and about at 4am, and sharing some of those with Blitz made them more special. Examples include encountering all sorts of critters, witnessing fantastic meteor showers, meeting some really strange people, and enjoying some fabulous northern lights shows.

Perhaps the most poinent thing we witenessed on our early moringing walks came the morning of September 12, 2001. I didn't sleep very well that night, and judging by the amount of lights that were on in houses that Blitz and I passed on our early 3:00 AM walk, neither did most of my neighbors.

Many times on our previous walks, I'd admire the amount of planes that would be arriving into the Minneapolis airport, regardless of the hour of our walk. I'd often wonder where those flights originated to be arriving so early, and who might be aboard those airliners. However, on this morning the sky was completely quiet, save for one lone F-16 from the Minnesota Air National Guard that was patrolling in a wide arc from Minneapolis to our east then out to our west about 50 miles and then back again.

I was struck by the speed of the plane and by the massive noise that it made. I thought of the pilot who must have known that additional attacks or other airborne risks to us that night were beyond improbable, but still he (or she) kept watch, circling and circling. In my life, I've logically known that our military was actively protecting us, but never before had I seen it manifest itself so obviously and overtly. I think all Americans felt like we lost something in those attacks on 9/11, and that pilot gave some of those things back to me. It was a comforting and calming image to see that pilot on patrol, and it is one that I will never forget.

For the most part, Blitz was good on walks. She got along with the people and dogs that we'd encounter, she usually kept a good pace. But she did, however, have three bad habits that made "walkies" a pretty interesting time.

Go to the next section

The Minnesota Vikings - Clueless, Gutless, Hurting, and Doomed

What we've witnessed the past three out of four weeks seems to reveal the Vikings' souls, right to the core. This team is unable to take out a weaker opponent when on the road and when on national television. As such, our hopes for a Super Bowl run are dashed.

There are reasons we can point to this team's struggles:

  • The loss of EJ Henderson can't be understated. More and more it is clear that he was their best player on the defensive side of the ball, and his loss is incredibly apparent on the field.
  • Winfield is a far cry from the shutdown corner he was before his injury, and the defensive coaches now need to swing safety coverage his way. We're seeing way too much of the back of his jersey.
  • Pat Williams' loss was felt last night, especially in the first half when the Bears controlled the ball so well.
  • The coaching staff continues its clueless jaunt. It took us over a half to determine that a spread formation can overcome what the Bears had game planned. That was a good quarter too late.
  • But the trump card to all of this is simple, gutless perfomances. Winning teams in the NFL step on the necks of their lesser opponents. With the 2009 version of the Minnesota Vikings, we let them kick our ass, and we do it on national television so all the world can see.

I think the best the team will deliver is a Wild Card appearance, which is a shame as they could really use a bye week to lick their wounds. They'll have home field for that game, and given what the Vikes did against Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago, they'll likely win on their home turf. But beyond that, it all gets doubtful. A game outdoors in the cold at Philly will be an absolute drubbing, and a game at the Big Easy will likely have Drew Brees revealing early and often that Antione Winfield is still hurting and is easy to burn (as if the last two games didn't already reflect that). Regardless, we've seen the future, and ladies and gentlemen, it is damned ugly.

Those Kool-aid hangovers are the worst...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Senator Baucus - Drinking on the Job?

Good evening, problem. What's the officer?

If there was ever a "last call" for a political career, I think we just witnessed it.

Storm of the Century™ : It's Over

We got an additional inch of snow yesterday, which required more driveway work. You can see by this picture the snow bank that was created by the snow plow, my snow blower, and my shoveling. It is about 4 1/2 feet tall, and created quite a work out yesterday as I manually shoveled what the plow had left behind. It's tough to get a shovel full of heavy snow up 5 feet.

Snow banks of this size abound. I remember as a kid loving these things as they made great areas for snow forts. Now, as a curmudgeonly old adult, I have significantly less use for them.

This morning we were met by a coating of frost and this weird yellow thing in the sky. It is big, bright, and warm. I vaguely remember seeing it about a week ago, and we're hoping it stays around a while.

Thankfully, The Storm of the Century™ has come to an end. It wasn't as bad as was advertised, but it wasn't wimpy either - a good, old fashioned Minnesota snow storm.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Storm of the Century™ : Nature Wins

In a major come-back, Mother Nature finally delivered that knock-out blow that was promised. It has been snowing for about 9 hours straight, and looks like we're still hours away from a let up. Our planned travels to see family have been pushed back for later this week.

Here's a peek of what it is like:

Al-Qaeda Cat Destroys Christmas Tree

My wife and I returned after early mass yesterday, walked into our house, and found the Christmas tree in this condition. The floor was littered with needles, ornaments, and water from the stand. Presents were soaked. Quite a mess.

How it happened is a mystery, but the cat was pretty sheepish and has been giving the tree a wide berth ever since. Given my conviction that our cat is evil incarnate, it seems only natural that she conduct some form a sabotage as we were formally celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior.

Anyone want a cat?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I Wish it Was Christmas Today

Merry Christmas, everyone.


End of the 1st Period: Humanity 1, Storm of the Century™ 0

Looks like the storm petered out early this morning, so we're now looking at three different waves of precipitation. We got about 5" of the lovely stuff here; just SE of us about 10 miles it sounds like they got 9" so we're lucky.

With the break in the action the neighborhood got the snowblowers rolling right away. The break is perfect as the temperature is high (mid 20's) and there is very little wind. Snowblowing in wind is like drinking non-alcoholic beer - Oh, it can be done, you're just not going to have any fun doing it.

We're poised for the winds to come up and the snow to start again later this afternoon, so it is not over. Regardless, the pre-game hype doesn't appear to match the actual performance of the opponent.

Come on, Storm of the Century™, is that all you got?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Storm of the Century™ : Prep Complete

Took a quick 15 minutes at lunch and cleaned off the driveway down to the tar. If we get hit, it will make the snow blower easier to use. If we don't, I have a nice, clean driveway for the UPS man to walk up to bring me Christmas loot.

Either way, bring it on.

Storm of the Century™ On Its Way

Here's the latest from the National Weather Service:



God have mercy on us...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ralphie's Red Rider BB Gun Creates School Scare

Yet another example of how our haste to move our society to completely dependent sissies means that we need to throw all common sense out of the window.

From today's StarTribune:

An Eagan principal who let a parent shoot balloons with a BB gun in the school gym called his decision "unwise" on Monday after questions about the incident led to a school district investigation.

The balloon-popping took place after a ceremony held the evening of Dec. 8 for students graduating from a drug-awareness program at Red Pine Elementary. The kids got certificates, cake and helium balloons -- some of which floated up to the ceiling. To get the balloons down, Principal Gary Anger let a parent volunteer bring a BB gun from home to pop them while a few people finished cleaning up the gym.

The BB gun troubled some adults in the school district, where students caught with weapons have been expelled. After Star Tribune reporters learned of the incident and started asking questions on Monday, officials in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan District said they were investigating it.

"It's obviously not something that we condone," said district spokesman Tony Taschner.

You can read the entire article here.

Beyond the abject danger that this parent created by his wanton and bloodthirsty act, he also denied some janitor hours and hours of much needed overtime and the fun of using the district's state-of-the-art cherry picker.

Gun toting fascist...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Minnesota Pheasant Season - Late Season Report

Pheasant hunting has been pretty decent these past couple of weeks. With snow in the area the birds have congregated in the cattails, making them easier to find, and making them more predisposed to hold as opposed to running. A slow, steady pace, someone to block, and a good dog mean flushes in range.

For the season we're at 22 roosters - a good number considering that we still have two weekends left. That number also excludes any birds taken by my partner when I wasn't there, so I'm guessing that the actual harvest for our land to be close to 30. With a down year with regard to hatch, this is a really good indication of the value of habitat.

And it is amazing how the habitat is being used. Signs of deer, turkeys, rabbits, field mice, and other critters abound.

The season went by way too fast. Hard to believe that it is nearly over, but we look forward to planting season in four months.

Hope it gets here quick.

Trigeminal Neuralgia - That Was Quick

A stressful Sunday and stabs in the head. We're back up to 300 mg.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Trigeminal Neuralgia - Wishin' for Remission

It has been about three weeks since a bad episode, and even the minor ones have been extremely infrequent. This is despite a very stressful period (although I have been working on getting my sleep).

As such, I'm hopefully that I might be in a remission period, which is common in the early stages of this malady. I've started to back off on my Carbamazepine, and am now back to my original dose of 200mg. If things continue to go well for a week or two, I'll back off again and see what happens.

Fingers crossed...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Al Franken is an Embarrassment - Part 4?

Just the latest from our freshman Senator. We are so proud that he represents us so effectively.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Barry's Ballyhoo: "B+!"

Even Oprah, the biggest sycophant this guy has, seems amazed in his reply:

In my life, I have strong remembrances of eight Presidents. Of the eight, I would expect seven of them to answer Oprah’s question with something along the lines of “We’ll Oprah, that’s not for me to answer. The American people (or history) will ultimately be the judge.” Only one of them would have the "self-esteem" to give himself an “A-“ if he can get healthcare done.


The hubris of this man continues to amaze me. His citizens suffer: one in ten cannot find jobs, more like one in six don’t have them and in some instances have stopped looking altogether. And this egotistical narcissist has the testicles smile gleefully and grade himself a “B+” to a question that made him look woefully un-Presidential.

In the mean time, his approval as registered by Rasmussen’s poll of likely voters is crashing faster than a Tiger alibi for being out all night.

There is a shocking lack of reality going on with President that downright scary.

Global Warming? Now Here's Some Inconvenient Truth

Check this out - pretty incredible:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Great Story for Holiday Season

Just about the time when you lose your faith in your fellow man, a story like this comes along and restores it.

Tiger Woods: The Redemption Story Begins

In a virtuoso PR move, Tiger is going underground. This is the only path he can take in which he can still ultimately have it all, and in thinking about it appears to be the obvious choice.

Here's the future how I see it:

  • It is "leaked" that Tiger is a sexual addict and is receiving professional help for his addiction.

  • His marriage may or may not work. From a PR standpoint, it doesn't matter. The fact that Tiger has shown remorse and is working on his situation earns him a pass from the public.

  • Tiger stays away from golf about a half year longer than what the public would like in order to build anticipation up into a raging froth.

  • He finally comes back, hat in his hands and contrite, and the public (and sponsors) go completely wild.

  • To make the scenario perfect, he comes back for a major, wins, and after sinking the last putt he crumples on the 18th green in tearful heap.

  • He continues as he did before - all is forgiven.

There are two stories the public loves - we like to see the mighty fall, and we love redemption stories. Kobe Bryant, Bill Clinton, Robert Downey, Rob Lowe - all have captured the hearts of Americans despite their transgressions, and this is just a short list.

The only thing that stands in the way of this working is Tiger himself. He has one chance, and one chance only, hence his days of being a male slut are over. Given how he's conducted his life thus far, that's going to he a huge challenge. It is a lifestyle to which he's been accustomed, the stakes associated with a fall are greater, and every tramp seeking her 15 minutes will be gunning to be the one to take him off the path. Like Odysseus sailing past the Sirens, his temptations will be incredible.

He's shown in the past he's probably the most mentally tough athlete that sports has seen. He'll now need to prove it off the golf course.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Notre Dame Lands Coach Kelly

As an Irish fan, I'm not surprised in the naming of Brian Kelly to the post. He seemed the logical and safest pick.

I don't envy this job – he'll need to win over a following that grades you only on the performance of your last game, and he'll inherit a team that is undisciplined and fracturing.

Personally, he'll have my support as long as the program does three things:

  • Discipline – I am so tired of Irish mistakes due to lack of discipline. Score a TD? Then act like you've been there before and make an excessive celebration penalty a thing of the past. Take a stupid late hit out of bounds? Then expect to get your facemask grabbed and have a coach screaming in your face on national TV when you come to the bench.
  • Passion – Play with some emotion and pride. Select team captains based on their ability to inspire the troops and not on how they look on TV or based on their Heisman potential.
  • Intelligence – This goes to discipline, but applies to the coaches as well. Manage the clock effectively. Call time outs appropriately. Listen to the snap count, please.

If the Irish can do these things, they'll be a pleasure to watch every Saturday, win or lose.

Coach Kelly, welcome. Get busy and wake up those echoes.

Tiger, Brands, and Integrity

The next point on our personal awareness continuum is around integrity. Integrity has a simple definition – being consistent in thought, deeds and actions, and having that consistency align with the values that we have developed throughout our lives.

Given the whole Tiger Woods situation, I’ve been thinking a lot about this component lately. I don’t think Tiger is necessarily out of integrity – I think his alleged actions support and are aligned with his true values. Think about it, even if 10% of what is playing out is true, you can’t behave in those myriad alleged behaviors without it being ingrained in your value system that those activities are OK. But I do think some (in not all) of the brands he’s sponsored are way out of integrity, and that’s the exact reason why you’ve not seen a Tiger ad since this thing broke. What that will ultimately mean will play out in the days, and perhaps years, to come.

We all fall, and we make choices that fail to live up to the values that we set for ourselves. But when we do live up to our expectations, and especially when we do so in trying situations, the reward is dignity, clarity, peace, and the self-respect that comes from being true to who we really are.

As I get older, I see this and appreciate this more deeply.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"So, They Have the Internet on Computers Now..."

How big has the web become? Check out this astonishing graphic. You can click on it for additional detail.
The amount of information being exchanged is staggering, and for those of us that work in the industry, create good opportunities.

Toys for Tots - Semper Fi

Great Christmas commercial. Great cause.

Merrry Christmas.

Minnesota Weather Haiku

A litttle something in celebration of the great state we call home.

Rules of haiku are here

High today of 5
Three more months of cold and pain
Why do we live here?

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Truck is Dead, Long Live the Truck

I’ve been working on a number of big projects at work of late, and have been racking up some big hours. Last Thursday I left the office at 8:45 for a 60 mile commute back to home. I was greeted to a Minnesota winter; a cold front had hit and brought cold temps and light snow to the region.
I climbed into my cold 2003 Mercury Mountaineer, and was greeted with an outdoor temperature reading of 14. I pulled out of the office and pointed the rig north for my daily hour and ten minute drive home.

My commute crosses the Minnesota River, and moves up and down large bluffs a couple of times. As such, my transmission gets a work out. Unfortunately, the cold and hills conspired to kill the transmission, and while I could limp my vehicle home, the transmission was toast. Given the vehicle has 195,000 miles on it, replacing it made no sense. Thus, we headed to the dealer the following day.

Here’s the new rig.

It is not tricked out nearly as nice as my old ride, but there’s a recession on and upgrading any more than this seemed a luxury far too great. It does have integrated Microsoft Sync technology, which is really impressive. Sync makes calling, reading (actually, hearing) text messages, playing my iPod, and other such communications completely hands free. The voice activated technology associated with it is remarkable in its ability to understand my spoken words.

The old rig will be donated to the Disabled American Veterans, and will hopefully serve them well. It served me well for 7 years, two career changes, countless trips to northern Minnesota, and nearly 200,000 miles.
Great truck, and I’ll miss it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Tree Lotto

Seeking a Christmas tree, my wife and I went up to our local grocer where we had very good luck with a tree last year – it was incredibly fresh, and lasted well through the holiday.

This year the selection of our favored Frasier Firs was limited to a new batch of trees that were still frozen in their transported state. Despite bending, shaking, and plying, it was impossible to get an indication of how the trees were going to look once defrosted.

Given our luck of last year, we picked out one that seemed to have the appropriate configuration, and set it up. We’ll keep you posted on how “Christmas Tree Lotto” turns out.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chris Matthews Calls West Point "The Enemy Camp"

I guess we can be happy that he didn't call them "babykillers."

Even though he probably thought it.

Amazing how some on the Left continue to despise the military so much.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

First Class in Delta's 767

In travelling this past Thanksgiving vacation, I used some miles to upgrade our travel to first class. While the trip to Charleston is not a long one, the benefits of travelling first class during a busy travel weekend (easy boarding, lots of room, express security, cocktails, etc.) just make it a good use of those dusty miles.

As part of the leg back from ATL to MSP, we were aboard Delta’s 767. This is the first time I’ve been in first class in this big bird, and the amenities were awesome.

First, this plane is outfitted for oceanic crossings, and that means big reclines. The keypad for the chair provides some insight of all the aspects of comfort that are under your control.

All that recline means there needs to be space to accommodate, and while my picture came out poorly, this cabin configuration took legroom to a whole new arena.

Perhaps the best part was the personal video system. I personally enjoyed two partial movies and real-time flight tracking (altitude, location, speed, tailwind, ETA, etc.).

Not sure why this big bird was doing domestic duty – probably had something to do with getting it up to MSP for another flight – but for two very tired post-Thanksgiving travelers, it was a fabulously comfortable ride.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tiger Woods Improves His Lie

The Tiger Woods story continues to catch fire. Unfortunately, Tiger's official statement only makes things worse, and not better.

According to the highest paid athlete in human history:

This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.

Three big things here. 1) That billion bucks you got in the bank, Mr. Icewater-in-his-veins? Yeah, that billion. That’s the money that the public gave you, and you rapidly accepted, which no longer affords you any privacy. You are a public figure, and a damn well-paid one at that. Time to put your man pants on and suck it up.

2) – A buddy on Facebook wrote today that this was the only time he could ever accurately say that he had a better weekend than Tiger Woods. True, indeed.

3) – If South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford coined the latest great euphemism for infidelity (“hiking the Appalachian trail”), what could be the excuse that Tiger could use? Here are some thoughts:

“Playing a provisional”

“Teeing off from the tips”

“Improving his lie”

“Leaving a ball mark”

Please post up with any others…

Friday, November 27, 2009

Charleston Beach Thanksgiving

It was a great Thanksgiving Day here in South Carolia, as evidenced by this "South Carolina Snowman" that we watched getting constructed yesterday. We spent nearly two hours on the beach - walking, flying kites, learning to ride bikes, wading in the water, and overall enjoying the clear blue sky and 70 degree temps.

The videos add some additional insight.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"You know, you're lucky..."

It has become tradition at my family Thanksgiving dinner to go around the table and recite aloud to those present the reasons why you're thankful. I have been thinking a lot about this the past couple of weeks, as it has been a really hard year for my family and me this year. Since I'm good at worrying about stuff like this, I've been racking my brain this entire time as to what I'd say when it came my turn to speak.

Then the voice of my dad came to me.

Throughout my life - probably a half dozen times or more in total - he'd hit me with the comment of "You know, you're lucky." Sometimes he'd drop it on me when he had an obvious point to make, and sometimes it was in far more subtle situations. But every time he did it, he was effective of jarring me into an accurate accounting of my state relative to others.

He's right. Even despite a challenging year, I am lucky. Blessed even.

Consider this:

  • I'm healthy. Sure there are tweaks that could be made, but overall for someone my age, I have no complaints of any significance. Physically and mentally, I have a sound foundation.
  • I want for nothing. Yes, a new truck, a boat, and a European trip for my wife and I would be great, and are not forthcoming anytime soon. But give me a break. We live a comfortable life; one that's not opulent, but one that is not frugal either.
  • I'm surrounded by friends and family that love me. There's really not much more to add to this.

Indeed, I am lucky, and I apologize if my tone here sometimes doesn't take that perspective into account.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

And thank you, dad.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How Bad is it Getting for Obama?

When SNL leads off with this, you know the base is turning.

Big time.

Global Warming - A Political Hoax (One of Many)

You've being lied to.

Hackers have proved that there is an abject conspiracy afoot to propagate the myth of "man-made global warming." More details, with multiple links can be found here.

Considering the vast societal changes, economic impacts, and massive transference of billions that is tied to this conspiracy, you'd think that coverage of the lies and cover-up to be a massive news story.

And you're wrong.

This is another in a long line of left policies that is nothing but a massive fraud, and one that is committed under the air cover of a media that chooses to simply ignore the story. The "stimulus," heath care, cap and trade - nearly every major left initiative - is nothing but a colossal west-loathing transference of wealth.

Even small projects like "cash for clunkers" and breast cancer screening recommendations are fraught with massive amounts of fraud and ignorance of simple concepts.

And, finally, the American people are starting to get it, despite a complicit media.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Joe Mauer? MVP. Twins? .500

Congratulations to Joe Mauer, the 2009 American League MVP. He was the clear choice, as with Justin Morneau out for the stretch, Mauer was the guy that picked this team up and carried them to a post-season appearance.

Now the big question comes: will we keep him?

I fear that either way we'll lose. The Yankees and Red Sox would gladly pay whatever it takes to land Mauer. Their catching corps would be massively upgraded with a bat and defense Mauer would give them, and whoever would land him surely would be the odds-on favorite for the championship. Mauer is that good, and their current solution is that bad.

If the Twins somehow find a way to pay Mauer, they'll need to be at least close to market value, which will mean zero, and I mean zero money gets spent on anyone else. Basically we'd be left with Mauer, Morneau, and a bunch of guys like Nick Punto. Ugh.

With a new Twins stadium launching this season, the decision will not be an easy one either way. Unfortunately, I fear the outcomes will be similar - the Twins will be about .500

Regardless of what happens, it has been fun to watch the M&M boys these past years. Who would have thought we'd be talking about two Twins MVPs in the past four years? Incredible.

Monday, November 23, 2009

2009 Minnesota Duck Season - Week Eight

Do you see anything in the sky? That's right, loyal reader, there is nothing.

Unfortunately, this last week of waterfowl hunting was spent looking at sky that looked exactly like this.

While the season technically remains open, it is over for me as I spend Thanksgiving with my family. Numerically, it was a good season, despite the worst opener of my life, and despite a complete bust the last weekend. Viewing it in retrospect, though, I guess this last weekend seems a fitting bookend to an otherwise enjoyable season.

Our results were unfortunate, as we had a Yellow Dog Patrol (plus two others) just waiting to do their part.

No more duck hunting until the annual Yankee invasion of our beloved Tallulah in later January.

It will be here before we know it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Terror at the Duck Camp

The old farm house that serves as our duck camp can best be described as "rustic." It was built about the turn of the century (no, the other century) and hasn't really housed people on a full-time basis since the early 1970's.

Its owners now consist of three partner groups made up of guys' guys. We're way into hunting, sports, dogs, and dirt. We're definitely not into comforts or cleaning.

As such, the house is stricken with vermin. Fly infestations right out of The Amityville Horror, hornets nesting in the walls, Box Elder bugs, Asian Beetles, rats, bats, and just about every type of mouse, mole, and shrew has plagued our humble abode.

So when I was awaken in the middle of the night last week by something in my room, I assumed (as had been the case a number of times before) that a mouse had made its way into my room, and by my simply making a noise to announce my presence to the critter, he'd recognize that he was not alone and would skedaddle right out. So I groggily rapped my hand against the bed frame, expecting the next sound I would hear to be scampering little feet.

Wrong. Couldn't have been more wrong.

The next sound was not of a small mouse, but of something big. Damn big.

I opened my eyes, and silhouetted against the window in the pitch black of the room, I could see the figure of an animal atop the empty bed across the room.

I gave myself a second to verify what I was seeing: it was indeed an animal, it was big (like raccoon size), and it was moving. And it slinked off the bed.

At this point I did what any macho, alpha-male, great white hunter would have done. I bolted out of bed, screaming a the top of my lungs "WHAT THE F---! WHAT THE F---!" and reached for the light switch.

In the dark, my aim was true as my hand hit the switch right on the button, and with a quick snap the room filled with light. I looked down, fully expecting to deal with a raccoon or giant swap rat, and instead, sitting right next to me, was this:

My partner's young dog had left her crate in the middle of the night, and had decided the spare bed in my room would make a good place to finish out the night, especially since my open door appeared to be such a welcoming invitation.

As I let out vile spew of profanity, half of me was relived that I didn't end up fighting a vile beast, and half of me was ticked off that a tiny little lab pup could cause so much abject terror in a grown man.

While the pup headed into her master's room, I quickly made haste downstairs as all of that excitement required an immediate trip to the bathroom.

It's kind of hard to pee with your knees shaking.

I Think The Yellow Dog Wants to go Hunting

I wish that I could love going to my job this much...

2009 Minnesota Pheasant Season - Late November Update

Pheasant hunting was difficult this weekend. First, my partner was off work all last week and was up here hunting, and the pheasants were extremely anxious from being hunted so hard. Second, there was a huge wind. The wind makes things tough as pheasants get nervous in big wind and will flush at the first sign of trouble in the area, and wind also makes it tough on the dog to pick up and hold a scent.

Below is a video of the Yellow Dog giving off the body language that a bird is near. Ordinarily, one pays really close attention when she starts wiggling her butt, but since I'd seen her do it at least a dozen times without flushing a bird, I thought by videotaping it our luck might change.

See for yourself what happened...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tom Petters or the Federal Goverment - Who is the Biggest Crook?

The money that Tom Petters is accused of bilking from investors in a Ponzi scheme, when compared to the government stimulus money that was sent to districts that don't exist and is now missing, is chump change.

Yet the prior is daily front page news, and the latter is buried in the B section.

Why is that?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Free Pixies Downloads In Celebration of Doolittle 20th Anniversary

It is hard to believe, but the Pixies' album Doolittle has turned 20. In celebration, the band is offering 4 free downloads. Check out below, and get your late 80's on.

Trigeminal Neuralgia - Better and Worse

I have kind of a strange update to report. Pain from last couple of weeks was just OK with a lot of minor aching, but no significant stabbing – the levels were definitely tolerable. I’m finding a very high correlation between my stress level and my amount of sleep and my pain. The higher the stress, and the less sleep I have the worse I’ll be. In fact, on Sunday I had 9 hours of sleep and spent the day hunting, and had zero symptoms. None! I went so far as to think maybe I had stumbled into a period of remission.


Back to the working week, and no special stress at all – just the usual stuff, and I’ve had four really horrible stab episodes.

This whole thing just sucks.

2009 Minnesota Duck Season - Week Seven

Where are our birds? They're either north or south of us, but they're clearly not here.

We met Sunday with a beautiful frost which was covering everything, including the decoys that we were too lazy to take in the night before. No matter, as they worked good enough to lure in a big greenhead and a pair of ringnecks.

Next week is my last week of duck hunting in Minnesota - while the season remains open, we'll be headed down to South Carolina to enjoy a much deserved family vacation and will thus miss the last weekend.

Given the long term weather projected for this week, I doubt things will get appreciably better. I'll still go duck hunting anyway.

Nobody said duck hunters were smart...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Honesty and Me

What happens when we’re not really honest? With me, the answer is pretty easy. I’m the world’s worst liar, as my wife will readily attest. The fact that I’m able to play some descent poker despite this “tell” is a wonder to me – I’m not sure of the difference between the game and the rest of my life for me, but there obviously is one.

The bottom line is that, as healthy, functioning adults, we’re not in the business of lying. We convey what we know to be so. But sometimes we choose not to convey everything. That isn’t necessarily a lie, but choosing to withhold something of which we are aware.

At the end of the day, it’s just as bad.

We all have examples of times in which we got sunshine blown up our skirts, and ended up getting hurt because of it. Contrarily, we also have friends or loved ones in our lives that we know will always give us the straight dope, and when we really need to hear it like it is, we seek those people out.

So why do we withhold? A quick answer would be “I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.” But if you really think about, whose feelings are really being spared? I think if deeper analysis is conducted, the feelings that are being protected are our own. Ultimately, withholding is selfish, counter-productive, and potentially hurtful.

Think back to those people that give us the straight dope. Do we love them less because of their candor? No. To the contrary, their unbiased counsel is exactly why we love them.

So curtailing my withholding is a new concept I’m trying to apply to my life. Note that this does not necessarily need to be solely an external exercise. For me, personally, my bigger issue is around what I withhold from myself.

This one will require a lot more work, but hopefully I’m on the path that will allow me to address this appropriately.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans' Day - Do We Really Honor Our Vets?

Today we honor our veterans, and in the shadow of the Ft. Hood massacre, I think we need to ask ourselves if we really, truly do honor them. When institutionalized political correctness and abject ignorance of multiple red flags can lead to over a dozen dead, and twice more injured, can we really celebrate this day with our heads held high?

The fact is we failed in Ft. Hood. Not the military. Not the police. Not anyone else. Our sissified, impotent, and politically correct culture did.

Let's truly honor our brothers and sisters in the military by at least protecting them from the political whims that put them into harms way; especially those that impact them on our soil.

Thank you, veterans, for your service, regardless of its capacity. You are owed a debt that cannot be paid, and there's at least one American that recognizes and appreciates it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Matthew Good - Vancouver Is Outstanding

Matthew Good is probably my most favorite artist right now. He is currently on tour in Canada, and his closest stop is Winnipeg. I'm really seriously considering making the 7 hour drive up there - he's that fabulous a singer/songwriter.

He's recently released a new album, Vancouver, and it is spectacular from start to finish. You can check it out in its entirety at iTunes. If you are a fan of this type of music, I beseech you to buy it, digest it, and then go and dig into his vast library of earlier works. Your iTunes bill will be massive, but your ears are going to love you for it.

In the mean time, here's Matthew from a recent engagement with a cut from Vancouver, "Last Parade."

2009 Minnesota Pheasant Season Update

Pheasant hunting remains incredibly tough in the state and the corn harvest has just now begun. At our farm, we were blanked two weekends ago, and if not for this guy running down the driveway at me on a suicide mission as I was leaving, I would have been blanked again last weekend.

As it happened, though, I saw him about the time he saw me, and instead of flying into the safety of 80 acres of standing corn, Einstein here opted for the switch grass; cover that is in play for a yellow dog patrol.

And as I pulled my vehicle over, I just so happened to have one of those yellow dogs in the back of my rig. A quick gun load, a release of the hound, a thirty yard walk, a flush, a shot, a retrieve, and presto – dinner is delivered.

Clearly he was not the brightest bird in the farm. Glad the yellow dog and I got to him before the fox or coyotes did. I don’t think he would have been a good match for them.

Despite his intelligence, you can’t argue with his beauty. There’s not much prettier in nature than the rooster pheasant.

Monday, November 9, 2009

2009 Minnesota Duck Season - Week Six

People ask me how I can do the things I do to hunt ducks - e.g. how do you get out of a perfectly warm and comfortable bed at an unholy hour, suffer (if not revel in) horrific weather conditions, fight though temperamental outboard motors, choke down coffee that wouldn't pass for toilet water in a local Starbuk's, and otherwise endure a series of trials and curses worthy of the Book of Job.

Simple. Duck hunters are the only ones that are up and able to see stuff like the picture above. In this year alone I've seen an incredible asteroid shower reflected over a pitch black lake, watched bald eagles as they hunted and played together, seen tired Tundra Swans at the end of one leg of their migration looking for a place to rest, and watched the passing migration of thousands and thousands of birds; waterfowl and otherwise. It is a grand and beautiful story that gets painted for me every morning, and one that is basically shared by a small fraternity of those of us stupid enough to leave a perfectly good bed at an unholy hour.

God bless the duck hunter.

Birds are still around, but with temps back up in the 50's, there isn't a lot of need for movement. Three of us scratched out 9 on Gucci point on Saturday, while Sunday was pretty much a blank. A blank, that is, except for this glorious sunrise.

God does indeed bless the duck hunter.

Steely Dan Minneapolis Concert Review and Setlist

I attended Rock and Roll Hall of Fame act Steely Dan's latest concert in Minneapolis. This tour, they're focusing on two classic albums played in their entity - Aja and The Royal Scam. While both are classics, Aja is a top 10 album of all time for me, and to get a chance to hear them play it in order sounded like a real treat.

Sam Yahel's trio opened. I'm not a big Hammond organ guy - it all sounds like Booker T and the MG's to me (and don't get me wrong - I like Booker). While the trio was tight, this jazz based organ was lost on me.

As you can tell I had great seats again (6th row) so I was able to get a good look at the band. Donald Fagen looked like he had gained a ton of weight, whereas Walter Becker looked more fit than he's looked in the past. The rest of the band appeared quite young, with the exception of a few.

Onto the review and the setlist


Black Cow - an all time favorite, played well by the band, but Fagen forgot words. This ticked me off, and was not a good way to start.

Aja - A beautiful song, and their rendering did it justice. Wonderful.

Deacon Blues - Another huge favorite, and again Fagen forgets words. By this time I'm pissed and wondering if he's drunk, senile, or doesn't care. He's only been playing that song for about 30 years or so. For the first time ever at a concert, I heckle. I can't believe that I shelled out $125 to hear Fagen stumble through songs that everyone else in the audience can sing just fine.

Peg - A good rendition, and Fagen is noticeably into the lyrics sheet on his organ.

Home At Last - The band killed this song. Ordinarily this is not a favorite, but Fagen's interplay with the backup vocalists (who were impeccable) hit this out of the park

I Got The News - Another huge surprise at how well this sounded. Again, the backup vocalists carry this one.

Josie - Funky treatment. Fagen finally appears into it.

With Aja completed, we now moved into some other favorites. Here they are, to the best of my recollection:

Time Out of Mind - Very well executed. Gaucho is another album they could have done, and this is a classic off of that.

Bodhisattva - Another classic. It is now uncomfortable for me as Becker has resigned himself to playing basically just rhythm guitar. That's OK as John Harrington is an incredible guitarist, and actually takes these songs to a new level.

Daddy Don't Live in That NY City - Becker on lead vocals. Ugh. A total throw away. Band hated it, audience hated it, not good at all.

Babylon Sisters - Slight tweak in the chorus made this really special. Outstanding.

Hey 19 - Great rap by Becker in the late part of the song to introduce "the Cuervo Gold."

Black Friday - Just OK rendition of OK song.

Show Business Kids - Really original rework of a classic. Tough to recognize as the same song. Really, really good.

Dirty Work - Background singers take lead on this one. Very nicely done.

Don't Take Me Alive - Feels weird without Becker cranking the guitar.

My Old School - Standard treatment. Not much here.

Kid Charlemagne - Same as above

Reeling In the Years - The encore, and a version that is very true to the original. Really fun to hear, and had the place rocking.

While the start was slow, that was the part that I was there to see, so I'm still not overjoyed. I literally spent most of Aja watching Fagen and looking for him to screw up. I was so ticked with Deacon Blues that I seriously thought about leaving at that point and asking for my money back. Thankfully Fagan pulled it together, and I was so incredibly impressed by the job the band did. What an outstanding group of musicians.

At the end, I'm glad I went, but I think it is fair to say I've seen my last Steely Dan show.
Thanks, guys, for decades of musical genious.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lord, I Hate Lefty Hypocrisy

Per the StarTribune today

Let me preface this by saying in now way am I some big anti-abortion person. However, I can't avoid noticing that the exact same crowd that demands that a woman have a right to do whatever she wants with her fetus is now telling you what procedures can and can not be performed on her family pet.

Minnesota Vikings Schedule - A Cake Walk

As we come out of the bye, looking at the remainder of the schedule has our beloved Purple as finishing with a record of 15-1. Don't believe me? Fool!

Check out the following:

Detroit at home - It's Detroit. Hello...
Seattle at home - A better team than you'd expect, but still not a challenge.
Chicago at home - This once-fearsome team is now beset by poor play on multiple fronts.
At Arizona - Warner will be destroyed in this game, especially with Winfield back. Not an issue.
Cincinnati at home - It's Cincinnati. Hello...
At Carolina - Jake Delhome will be destroyed.
At Chicago - See post on Chicago above
Giants at home - The one scary game. It will all boil down on who has what to play for. I think the Vikes will have a shot at home field for the playoffs (New Orleans will lose to New England, and as the Miami game showed, are susceptible to disaster) hence I see a post-bye table-run.

Oh, I've drunk the Kool-Aid, and drunk deeply my friends. I even have the purple moustache.

Go Vikes!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Working from Home Rocks

On Fridays I work from home. This is the view outside my office window this morning.

The view is better. The coffee is better. The music is better. My productivity is better.

Working from home indeed rocks.

Ft. Hood Massacre and the Consistent Themes

I'm really at a loss on the Ft. Hood massacre. We're going to learn a lot in the next couple of days, but some very consisten themes stand out:
  • A violent man commits a heinous act that was, at least partly, driven by his religion. Despicable.
  • The actions of the victims and the first responders reflect that which is uniquely American - we're a nation that is made up of common folks that routinely engage in uncommon actions when faced with disasters; natural, man-made, or otherwise.

What heartens me is that the latter far outweighs the prior. While some don't like to admit it, that's part of our American Exceptionalism, folks. We are different, and we are better.

In the days to come, we'll find out a lot more. But in the mean time, the fact that this piece of human excrement is still alive goes a long way in terms of telling the story of who we are as a country and what we hold dear.

For now, we pray for those killed and impacted, we roll up our sleeves, and we go back to work.

Like we always do.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

All of Life is a Choice. Really.

Perhaps the biggest revelation of all of this analysis is the concept of choice. My entire adult life, and much of my adolescent life, consisted of stuff I “had to do.” I was mired into a path in which I had very little control over my life. The result of this view was one of increased stress, feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy, and at times abject dread.

In reality, I always had a choice. In fact, I am the result of choices I’ve made in my past, and my path forward will be a result of the choices I make in the future. The challenge is in seeing that EVERYTHING is a choice. What a difference it makes to consider that “I choose to work on my personal relationships” instead of “I have to work on my personal relationships,” or “I choose to wake up early and work out” instead of “I have to wake up early…”

I recognize that this is somewhat a game of semantics, but if you consider the mindset shift required to get there, the result is so empowering. It has meant so very much to me to have my eyes opened in this way, and I’m a calmer, happier, and more optimistic person because of it.

I know I can’t control what life throws at me – that’s life, right? But I always can control what I choose to do with it. And that, to me, is a real gift.

2009 Minnesota Duck Season - Week Five

The entire weekend was made by a hunt on Friday in the snow where we were beset with flock after flock of committed blue wing teal. What they were doing there, so late in the migration and flying in the snow, was anyone's guess. But they augmented the bag nicely and made for a fabulous gumbo.

There are still ample numbers of birds around, and the coot have migrated, making the decoy sets much more effective. Combine that with the hunters that will be pursuing deer this weekend, and perhaps some farmers harvesting corn, and I'm hopeful for a good mallard shoot this weekend. We'll see.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tragically Hip Cancel Minneapolis Concert

I should have a concert review of the great Tragically Hip here this morning, but a couple of days ago I received a nondescript message from our good friends at Ticketmaster stating thusly:

Hello, this is Ticketmaster Customer Service with an important alert for your upcoming event. The Tragically Hip scheduled at The O'Shaughnessy on Tuesday, November 03, 2009, at 7:30 pm, has been cancelled.

Your credit card will automatically be credited the ticket price and convenience charges, and should post to your account within 7 to 10 business days. Please note, the $4.25 per order processing fee, any ticketFast, or UPS delivery charges and in-store pick up charges are non-refundable.

So I go to The Hip's website, and here's what I get:

Due to the Flu, the shows in Denver, CO. and Saint Paul, MN have been canceled. The band expects to resume touring on Friday as scheduled.

A couple of things that tick me off:

1) I have to go on to their site to find out that the band has been struck with the flu and has cancelled Minneapolis and Denver. Not much beyond that. Certainly no "sorry" and absolutely no word on a potential reschedule, or that they're even working on it. The communication here was poor at best. I recognize that there's a lot going on when a show gets cancelled, but come on. As a marketer, this kind of stuff makes me cringe.

2) Since I bought 3 tickets, I'm out $12.75. For absolutely nothing. Someday, someday, Ticketmaster will get what it deserves. This is just one more reason why I absolutely despise that entity.

Don't get me wrong - I still love the Hip; they remain in my top 10 of favorite bands. If they come back, I'll be first in line to get tickets. But this experience leaves me a little cold.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

2009 Minnesota Pheasant Season - Week Three

Corn harvest continues to really hamper our activity. It even ended up being a featured article in the StarTribune this week.

Despite this challenge, we're still at 9 total birds harvested off the farm - incredible. Hat's off to the food plot that was plated by my partner. It has been a bird magnet, and to pull birds into it when there is standing corn less than 300 yards away is a real trick.

We'll see how we do this weekend when the southern contingent arrives. I can't wait, and will be reporting all of our exploits in this space. Stay tuned. It is never dull.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trigeminal Neuralgia - Mayo Follow Up

I finally got a call from the neurologist at Mayo on the two follow up items. The mass in my left sinus is completely benign, and the med levels in my blood sample can afford a pretty good upgrade in dose.

I see this as bad news, good news. I was kind of hoping that the sinus thing would be a smoking gun, as that is a heck of a lot more treatable than breaking the back of my skull open, finding the Trigeminal nerve, hopefully finding the cause of its agitation, and hopefully being able to treat it.

The good news is that I have a lot of runway with the meds. Unfortunately, it has been a really tough couple of weeks with regard to the pain, even despite upping my dose, and that worries me. I'm chalking it up to stressful times at work, harried business travel, and lack of sleep. Hopefully things will calm down at work and my head return to normal. I'll keep you posted.

In the mean time, I have an appointment with a neurosurgeon in a couple of weeks to establish a file and discuss options, and I intend on keeping that appointment.

For the first time since this thing hit, I'm scared.

But I have good support, the best doctors in the world, and a lot of faith. Optimism is winning. I hope that continues.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You Think You Had a Monday Yesterday?

These are the pants I wore at work yesterday, and the split that they incurred. I found the split about 2:00 - Lord knows how long it was there.

I luckily had a long-tailed shirt, but also had a ton of meetings, requiring me to walk up stairs and through busy hallways. I used my planner as a shield and moved as strategically as possible, but I have the sneaking suspicion that I was the butt of multiple comments and jokes yesterday.

Sorry for the pun.

I think it is probably high time for one of my semi-annual shopping trips to maybe buy some new clothes, no?

Good thing I'm boodelicious.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

2009 Minnesota Duck Season - Week Four

The good news? Birds are still around. The bad news? They've seen our stuff, and our junk ain't working like it used to.

We had limited bags this weekend, despite good weather. We still haven't seen the northern mallards yet, despite already having seen bufflehead, goldeneye, and tundra swans; three of the very last migrating bird species.

Weird year.

We still have tons of coot (or, as my Cajun cousins call them, "pouldeau"), and we still have tons of bald eagles harassing them - really fun to watch.

Hopefully we still have some birds that hold on for the southern invasion which will occur this week - three cousins from the Creole state cross the Mason-Dixon and join their northern kin for the annual trek north later this week. Watch the weather, because by Thursday night, it looks like a drunk front could be brewing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Three: "Puppy Troubles" Part 3

For background on this serial, please click here. You can also start at the previous section

As I closed the garaged door and entered the house, I was not met with the usual "Hey, I'm down here, come feed me dinner!" bark that met me each and every other night. What I heard was a whimper and a cry, and one that told me something was very wrong.

I flew down the stairs and around the corner to encounter Blitz in front of her gate, with a dual treble hooked fishing lure hanging from her mouth. In scanning quickly behind her, it was obvious that she had dug her way through the sheetrock and into adjoining closet where that amazing nose of hers pointed her to the lure, which at the time was attached to a fishing pole. She evidently got hooked and thrashed around the room, tearing the lure off the pole and leaving blood stains all over her puppy pads and the floor.

For the first time since I took her into my life, when I looked at her I didn't see a rascally yellow dog. The brown eyes staring back at me reflected pain and hurt. I had failed her in the promise I made at the gas station on the first day I picked her up. Failing in spades.

A quick examination showed that one hook had passed through both her top and lower lip, preventing her from opening her mouth very wide. It was obvious that this was a situation that required immediate medical resources, so I scooped her up in my arms and we flew up the stairs to make the run the to vet.

Luck was on our side for as the garage door raised to allow us to go, I noticed my wife driving into the neighborhood on her way home from work. I held on to Blitz and met her at the end of the driveway. "What happened?" she asked with shocked concern. "JUST DRIVE TO THE VET," I yelled as I climbed into her car, cradling the dog the best I could.

Our luck continued as we arrived just as the vet was closing, and the doctor on call agreed to immediately address Blitz's injury. Given how the treble hooks had embedded themselves into her mouth, it was obvious that the only way these were going to be removed would be to put the dog under. After a little anesthesia and a couple of clips of the pliers, the bad part was over. The doctor warned that she'd be groggy and likely very sore for the next couple of days, and to go easy on her. She'd likely also be fussy about food as her mouth would be hurting her. From my perspective, I knew she'd have some physical recuperation. But my concern was about her mental recuperation. Would she trust me again? Would she still be that yellow ball of energy? As I tucked her into her crate that night, I kissed her groggy little yellow head and wondered what I'd find in the morning.

Mornings always stared in the same way since Blitz came to live with us: the minute she heard me up in the morning she started barking her head off. Part of it was due to the expectation of getting breakfast, and part of it was just being able to see me again. The racket she made would raise the dead, and it made for a accelerated trip to the bathroom in the morning. Likewise, on those mornings when I would be suffering from a big evening the night before, it really made for a tough way to start the day.

Despite her surgery the day before, the sound Blitz was making from the basement belied nothing wrong - nothing at all. As I entered the laundry room and turned to her crate, I expected to see a sore little dog. Instead, I was met with a tail-wagging, butt shaking, grinning yellow bundle of energy that seemed to say to me, "Hey! Good to see you! When do I eat? I'm STARVING!"

She showed no ill effects. None. This would be the first example she would give me for her tolerance for pain. There would soon be others.

Meal time usually came with a routine. First, I'd start with a song. I had songs for a bunch of things for the dog. They usually were an alteration of a existing song which was modified to talk about the dog. My favorite was a modification of the old Sweet song, which came out "It's, it's a dog named Blitz - YEAH IT'S A DOG NAMED BLITZ!" Kenneling up at night was done to Camptown Races - "It's time for dogs to go to bed, doo-dah, doo-dah." There were about a dozen more.

The song for meal time was a modification of Hank Williams Jr.'s song for Monday Night Football. The first stains I'd kick out of "Are you ready for some breakfast?!" resulted in an anticipatory frenzy. I'd then make her sit, as I had done since her earliest days with me. As she grew and learned, upon command she'd actually slam her little yellow butt so quickly on the floor that it'd be audible. Then the magic command of "OK" was given, and the feast was on.

Blitz still owns the land speed record for devouring a bowl of Eckanuba. Ten seconds was literally her average, along with the requisite hunt for any kibble that my have escaped the bowl or were dropped by me. A robust belch meant the hunt was over, and heading off for "walkies" was next. And for the both of us, walkies was rarely boring.

To go to the next chapter, click here

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Minnesota Wild - The Worst Team in the NHL

Here are the top five reasons why they flat out suck:

  1. We have an arena that is the envy of the league, and has sold out every night, yes every night, since the team came into existence, but we still can't find the money to put a quality product on the ice.
  2. We have a team in which our best players would be 2nd line (at best) or 3rd line (at worst) for most other NHL teams, and a flat refusal by ownership to field the team with quality pro players. We do have the best goon in the league in Derek Boogaard, so at least the team is not a total bust.
  3. We have ownership that would rather launch another jersey design to cull even more merchandise income from the fans instead of putting a quality product on the ice. You heard me right. Tonight the team unveiled their fourth jersey design in nine seasons. Fourth jersey design. When your NHL team has more jersey designs than playoff appearances, you officially suck.
  4. Former coach Jacque Lemaire was run out of town last year - accused of playing a boring brand of defensive-minded hockey. Todd Richards was welcomed into the head coaching position with great fanfare, as he was going to bring offense back to Minnesota hockey. The result? A paltry 2.1 goals per game average; among the worst in the league. Again. And a record that is way worse than anything Jacque ever put up.
  5. The team plays the same organ riffs and music snippets played at every stoppage in play ever since the team started. The exact same. It makes me cringe even during televised games. How hard is it to find a new song to play when we take a penalty? If I hear the organist play a lame-ass version of Genesis' "Misunderstanding" one more time when we take a penalty, I will puke. It was cute until about the 253rd time I heard it...

Finally, tonight, the "team of 18,000" took off their rose colored glasses and gave the franchise something it has only rarely had - a rousing chorus of boos. Oh, yeah, the Wild eventually landed an overtime win. However, the way this season is continuing, those boos might get softer, but it won't be because the fans are happier. It will be because the arena that owns the consecutive games sold-out record will finally develop a raging case of empty seats.

It is only a matter of time.

2009 Minnesota Pheasant Season - Week Two

Week two of the Minnesota pheasant hunting season continued to be better than expected. The North Point yielded no birds this time, but the new food plot put in by my partner generated two roosters, and one of our young hunters' first rooster.

We got a number of birds up again this week, and had good luck finding them in the set aside adjacent to the standing corn. The harvest on corn still has not begun, so the total bag of three roosters is pretty remarkable.

We're up to seven roosters off the property thus far, and the best is yet to come.

Trigeminal Neuralgia - A Trip to the Mayo Clinic

Yesterday I headed down to Rochester, MN to head to the world-renown Mayo Clinic to get an evaluation on the Trigeminal Neuralgia with one of their great neurologists. I met with the same doctor that worked with us all of the while with dad's Pick's disease. He's an incredibly learned, personable, and kind man, and I was lucky to get in to see him.

He concurs with the diagnosis of Trigeminal Neuralgia, and recommended an increase in my dosage of Carbamazepine. I have been having pains of late, especially in highly stressful situations. I was in a pretty tough meeting on Monday, and it really let me have it, so getting this advice is probably good timing. I still have quite a bit of runway with the dosage of my meds, so this makes me feel good. Had I been closer to the end, I think I'd opt to just take the pain.

He also reviewed my MRI from August, and pointed out a mass in my left sinus (he called it a polyp). It could be a ton of things, but given its location, it is worthy of a lot more analysis. He sent the MRI off to their folks for their interpretation, and I expect to hear back on next steps shortly. Also, we have teed up an appointment with a neural surgeon in the event that this thing ever gets bad enough to require surgery sometime in the future. I pray we'll not get to that point, but it is nice to have things in place should it become a necessity.

Overall, it was a positive visit, and I'm happy to be in such great hands.

Mayo itself is absolutely incredible. The facility, people, and experience are so atypical from the standard trip to the hospital that it is almost impossible to reconcile. It compares to the most classy and luxurious experience one can have - flying first class, staying at the Four Seasons, buying a Lexus, and eating at Manny's all rolled into one. The facility itself is a beautiful marvel. It keeps its art deco theme throughout, but is entirely modern. Floors are marble, artwork is everywhere, and even little things like the restrooms or examination rooms are so substantially nicer than anything you've ever seen that you just wonder at them.

Here are just a couple of photos to give you the tone:

While I wish no one ill, seeing Mayo first hand is something that one needs to do sometime. It is a beautiful jewel, and I am so lucky to have it right here in my back yard. It is easy to see why people come from all over the world to go here.