Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lessons from the Air Force One Flyover

So what did we learn?

The bottom line is that the Federal Government does what it wants, regardless of the impact on its citizenry. Federal officials knew that this stunt would cause panic in New York, and they decided to move forward anyway. They also chose to keep it secret. For me details, check here

This isn’t one small decision made by a rouge administrator. This was a machine of layer upon layer of government doing what is most expedient for itself, consequences be damned. Literally hundreds of people had to be involved, and nobody really cared to speak up in the interest of the people.

And this is the group that we want to have in charge of delivery of our health care.

God help us all.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Turkeys 1, Hunters 0 (Wood Ticks 100)

I spent the weekend with my buddy Dave (he's the one at the base of the tree, trying to look like a bush) trying to fill his turkey permit, so we headed up to Glenwood and took our chances on landing a big bird. While we heard birds on the property on Saturday, we failed to bring them close and never even got a look at one.

Sunday had out hopes high, as we worked out a plan to get closer to the birds. Unfortunately, it appears that the turkeys moved off the property completely during the previous day.

While our bird hunting was unsuccessful, we were quite adapt at picking up wood ticks. Dave set the Saturday record at about 15, whereas I was strong on Sunday. Even the yellow dog got into the act, despite her use of tick medication.

Here's a photo of just one of Minnesota's finest...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Get the Point?

There is not much better than a dog on point, especially when that dog happens to be a yellow dog. Here's the yellow dog doing what she was born to do - pointing a bird at the base of that small tree. You can't see the bird (neither could the dog), but her awesome nose let us all know to get ready, because something was definitely there.

Pointing labs are not common. While there are breeders out there that try to breed for the trait, there are no guarantees that a lab will point. Likewise, even if that trait exists, some breeders see pointing in Labradors as something that eats away at their aggressiveness, and attempt to train it out of them.

Personally, I love a pointing lab. It affords the hunter the opportunity to get in the best position possible before the dog goes in for the flush. Likewise, there is something really fun about knowing that there is a bird just yards in front of the dog's nose.

I'm very lucky that both of my dogs were incredible pointers, and also incredible hunters. The fun I've had in the field via their work is immeasurable.

We close with the remnants of the last act of defiance of a flushed rooster. If you look at the yellow dog's coat in this photo, you'll see that, indeed, a flushing bird pooped on her before being shot and retrieved. While ultimately not an effective tactic, you have to admire the attitude of that bird.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Al Franken, a Minnesota Embarrassment

The Wall Street Journal has a excellent piece on what is really happening in the Minnesota Senate recount. You can read it here http://http//

This election has been an embarrassment for the state of Minnesota. At best, this election has been botched. At worst, fraud has been committed. Neither scenarios are good.

Al Franken is another in a long line of elected officials that make Minnesota a laughingstock of the rest of the country (Rod Grams, Mark Dayton, Jesse Ventura, Keith Ellison). He is a vitriolic, partisan hack. The only thing he brought to the table in this election (other than massive amounts on non-Minnesota campaign contributions) was a deep seeded and fanatical hatred of George W Bush. If there was ever a theme of the 2008 election, it was about abject hatred of Bush, and in Minnesota, nobody hated Bush more than Franken.

No, the 2008 election was not about who would do a better job. It was not about who's election was paid for via outside influences. It was not about qualifications. It was not about leadership. It was not about being penalized for being a tax cheat. It was about hate - pure, seething, undiluted hate - and that's all it was about.

In the height of the election, hate worked. Now, six months later, with the economy in free fall, some in Minnesota are waking up hung over from their hate stupor. It turns out it is not all about hate, and that who we elect to represent us can have massive consequences on day-to-day living. Our investments, our tax bills, and our jobs have all been massively impacted in the past year, and it is a direct result in the choices we've made in our leadership. Nobody is immune from this impact. All are suffering.

So Coleman continues to fight, much to this dismay of the Democrats. Howls of "sore loser" invoke ghosts of Bush/Gore and the Florida recount. And in the mean time, Minnesota remains in desperate need of having reasoned representation in Washington. Now, more than ever.

But all we're going to get is all we've been promised - leadership by hate. Franken has nothing more to offer beyond that.

How ironic that a comedian can turn our entire state into a political joke for the rest of the country.

But, hey, he's not our only embarrassment. For more Minnesota shame, check this out.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Music Review

It is rare that I'll download a full album from a given artist off of iTunes. It just doesn't make sense to do so - the full body of work is rarely worth it, and I usually end up just picking off the tracks that appeal to my tastes.

However, in the past month I've downloaded four full albums from four different artists. Here's a quick review of each:

  • U2, No Line on the Horizon - A fantastic work by my generation's version of the Stones. Their sound has matured, and the only real dog on this entire album is the track that was released as their single, Get On Your Boots (a pretty crappy song)
  • Tragically Hip, We Are the Same - I absolutely love this band, and have seen them at three incredible live shows throughout their career (best one was in the front row, by myself, at the Minnesota Zoo). Wildly popular in Canada, how they never made it in the States is beyond me.
  • Silversun Pickups, Swoon - The Pickups are a good band, but their previous work was spotty. I'd been waiting for this new release for a couple of weeks since my Sirius satellite radio stations had been playing a single ahead of the main release that sounded very good. When the album finally hit iTunes, I started selecting which songs I would download and could not find one to exclude. Keep an eye on this band - they're going to be big.
  • Kathleen Edwards, Asking for Flowers - I've covered her already here http://

While not everybody's cup of tea, these are four very worthwhile albums.

Keep on rockin' in the free world, my brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I have no idea if this is real or not. It is being touted as being "leaked" by the Humane Society of the United States. It may be a really good voice impersonator. It could be real. While the sentiments espoused by the speaker against dog fighting are something upon which all can agree, the Humane Society of the United States is not your local animal shelter. They have absolutely nothing to do with your local animal shelter. This is a radical animal rights organization that has brilliantly wrapped itself in a very universally appealing brand. I have personally fought these people in my job and I have personally fought these people at our state capitol. They are a well-funded and well-organized anti-hunting organization.

These hypocrites fail to recognize that it is sportsmen, through their license fees, conservation groups, and the aggregate effect of land stewards everywhere have literally saved millions of acres of habitat, which has resulted in the saving of countless numbers of individual numbers of animals, let alone entire species. They also fail to recognize that the world has changed, and without the responsible harvest of some species, their unchecked population growth would doom them to disease and horrific deaths. Don't believe me? Ever driven in the woods during the whitetail rut? How about that flock of Canada geese (a species nearly endangered in the 1960's and 70's and a conservation success story) that brought a jet to land in the Hudson? With no true predators anymore, those two species already wreak havoc to themselves and to us despite being hunted. But that doesn't fit within the HSUS' world view, where the only animals they know are either their pets or a Disney character. And it sure doesn't make for a reasoned sound bite.

Which takes us back to Limbaugh. I've personally listened to Rush on and off since the first Gulf War. He's bombastic, a blowhard, biting, and brilliant, all at different times. His was a lone voice for more than a decade, and he still posts numbers that are the envy of broadcasting. But if this sound bite truly is him, he's taken a side with an organization that is firmly against some things that I hold dear. As stated earlier, I've personally fought these people at their upper echelons. Theirs is an inherently wrong organization. If this is indeed Limbaugh, then I'm forced to join my liberal brethren in becoming yet another unhinged Rush hater.

I assume that there's still room on that bus...


This is confirmed as real. HSUS has the release on their site. I'd link to it, but there is no way I'm giving them the satisfaction. Google it if you need the confirmation.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Introducing Our Spring Vacation

Here is our latest addition to the household. The Thursday before the big Easter celebration at our house, our 9 year old fridge gave up the ghost. Our buddy John from the neighborhood appliance repair shop came over on Friday for an emergency repair. He tried his best but last rites were ultimately performed. Not a good Good Friday.

Vera asked John what we should buy that would last more than 10 years, to which he replied "Preferably something built in 1940." He was only half-kidding.

So our Easter with 11 people was salvaged by a big cooler on the deck and endless walking up and down the stairs to the beer fridge in the basement. I've often said "Thank God for the beer fridge," but that phrase has taken on a whole new meaning.

So for a mere $2,800 our spring vacation consists of a trip to Sears to pick up this lovely machine. We'll get delivery in two weeks. In the mean time, the yellow dog loves the fact that the beer fridge now suddenly smells REALLY good, and is always at my side "helping" me when I need to get in there.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Saturday, Pat Buddy

I spent the morning at the Wellstead seeing Dad this morning. It was a beautiful drive up - all of the lakes are now free of ice, the birds are in full courting mode, and the roads were filled with bikers, runners and walkers.

I arrived ahead of lunch, so I hung out with Dad while he ate. He hasn't lost his appetite in the least, and took care of lunch in short order. As he was eyeballing his neighbor's rhubarb crisp, I thought it best to get outside and have a little walk.

We headed to the courtyard to enjoy some sun and have a catch. I cannot believe how good Dad's coordination is with regard to throwing and catching. Not only is he good considering his condition, but I'd put him up against peers in his age group and in perfect health. Every throw to me was right at my chest, just like he taught me.

Unfortunately, the outdoor furniture still has not been set out, so we weren't out there too long, but we had a nice catch and some laughs. The laugh of the day was regarding the milk Dad's holding. I was standing next to him, and he took a sip and then looked down into the glass with a disappointed look on his face. I said "Boy, there's nothing good in there is there?" and he replied with a very appropriate and heartfelt "Uh-uh!" As a guy that's been on the wagon for Lent, I know whereof he speaks.

Vera sent me up there with a small chocolate bunny, so I got him situated in his nice new chair, turned on the Golf Channel's Masters coverage, and watched him kind of struggle with the bunny. The treat was somewhat of an odd one, as it had jellybeans and a chocolate basket attached, so it didn't look to Dad like something to eat. After breaking off an ear and getting him to eat that, all hesitation was gone.

The bunny had no chance. At least it was quick.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Welcome Back, Carter?

The hostage situation is quickly devolving into the Obama administration's version of the Iran hostage crisis. While the magnitudes of the two events are apples versus oranges, the approach bears similarities, and if the President is not careful, this has the opportunity to blow up to an event that does substantive damage to his international reputation.

Errors have been made throughout this engagement. I can't understand the following:

  • How is the Bainbridge (the US Destroyer on scene) still approximately a mile away? Why are we keeping our distance? We have a modern warship, and they have AK-47s.
  • Why are there not more assets at the scene? It has been three days, and we only have two ships in place.
  • Why are we accepting that other pirates in other hijacked ships are actively searching for the hostage lifeboat to offer reinforcements? These ships can and should be instantly disabled.
  • How can the kidnapped captain make a break for it, and we don't have SEALs in the water to support him? How can we also not have eyes on the ship, recognize the hostage was out of harm's way (even if for a couple of seconds) and completely light it up with .50 fire?

Obama is off to a very poor start diplomatically. He was ostensibly snubbed in his European quest for additional assets for Afghanistan. Measured and passive rhetoric with Iran has resulted in their flaunting of additional uranium centrifuge assets. North Korea literally launches a shot across Japan's bow with their missile test, despite our demands that they don't, and subsequent failures in our discussions with the UN have given them a free pass on this activity. Finally, the Russians successfully test launched their Topol ICBM today, obviously taking a page from Kim Jong Il's book.

The momentum here is scary. Our enemies are emboldened, and their actions more and more provocative. It will be interesting to see if (and if so, where) the administration eventually decides to draw a successful line in the sand, or they truly make like Carter and suffer setback after setback.

Let's hope it is the former, and also hope that it occurs quickly before something really tragic occurs.


Obama gives approval for an operation, and SEALs kill three, arrest one, and the captive is alive and well. I hand the Obama administration credit for its moxy, and extend my everlasting appreciation for the SEAL team in the work that they performed. They truly are the best of America, and have delivered a true Easter blessing for all of us. Well done - not sure it could have turned out better.

The next Somali pirate that thinks of taking a US flagged ship better remember that our leadership and our muscle mean business.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wednesday Morning Financial Haiku

A look at the monthly Fidelity statement and business section this morning inspires the following Haiku (for those that forgot the format of this lovely poetry style, here's a refresher

Years of savings - gone
Retire? Ha! That won't happen
"Dow" now rhymes with "Ouch"

Now, off to work...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Play Ball!

Today marks another opening day for baseball, and I'm visited by some wonderful memories of my youth. Baseball does that to a person. It is a constant - in our DNA. It's always been here and always will be.

I think back to spring mornings, and walking to our neighborhood convenience store on a beautiful spring day with my brother for baseball cards, and then walking home, talking about who we got in our packages, and attempting to chew the rock-hard gum that must have resulted in most of my childhood dental bills. I remember my grandmothers - both big baseball fans. They were incredibly knowledgeable in the game, followed their teams closely and with a passion, and in Grandma Peg's case, susceptible to cheering for a slug like Clint Hurdle because "he's good lookin'!"

Since smell is the sense most tied to memory, every time I smell a certain brand of cigarettes, I'm immediately taken back to the Met stadium, standing in line with my dad and my brother, waiting to get a Schweigert hot dog.

I'm visited by memories hundreds of games of baseball and softball in which I played - some organized, some pick up - and think of the friends and family with whom I played. I think of recent things, too, like the last game that my dad and I attended together on Father's Day, the road trips my wife and I have made to Chicago and Kansas City, and the summer ritual of having dinner in front of the TV and watching the Twins.

There's something inherently optimistic about Spring - it is a time where just about anything could happen, and so too is it with baseball. At the start of the season, any player could develop into a .300 hitter, any pitcher a winner of the Cy Young, any team a division champion, if only a few things break their way. It is a reason for hope, a sanguine outlook, and an understanding that warmer days, cold beer, hot dogs, radio broadcasts at the cabin, "circle me Bert" signs, and a Justin Morneau upper-deck shot are just a few days away.

James Earl Jones says it much better than I:

Play ball. Play ball, indeed.

Now if you would excuse me, I need to find some time to get up to Rogers and have a catch with my dad.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Monumental Visit

With our sales meeting completed, I had time to make my way to the heart of Washington DC and do a quick monument tour. The weather was marginal, but the cherry blossoms were near their peak, the mall was full of folks, and I was able to see all of those landmarks that I really wanted to see.

All of it was moving and inspiring in its own way, but I got a little choked up in a couple of areas. Lincoln was way more impressive than I expected, and upon reading the inscription of the Gettysburg Address on one of the walls and reflecting on the times and environment in which it was delivered, I was touched and moved.

The war memorials were incredible - each in their own way. WWII made me so proud of the shared sacrifice the county made during perhaps the darkest time in human history. It awes me to think of the sacrifices made by that generation, and I shamefully surmise that if history asked my generation to do the same, we'd come up woefully short.

The Korean memorial was haunting, with its images of soldiers on patrol. I was shocked to learn of not only the large losses suffered by the US during that war, but the magnitude of the UN losses above and beyond that. This was a bloody, bloody conflict, and one that feels like it is too often overlooked.

We ended with the most moving - the Vietnam memorial. I could not help but think of my family - the Lewis boys, my Louisiana cousins, my brothers-in-law, heck even my dad and uncle that either served in fighting, served but did not have to go, or did not serve but clearly know those that did and did not come home.
While at the monument, I checked the book, and did not find my surname in it.
The names - all the names - add a sobering magnitude to the country's loss. All of those young men, all so capable of infinite possibilities, all killed in a far away land in a war that was ill advised, poorly run, and dubious in its goals and necessity. On top of all of that, these troops were victims of a vitriol by some that was misguided and, at times, ghastly.

We close with the splendid cherry blossoms. Nature's handiwork, and a God-given gift among man-made things. The blossom offers hope for the coming spring - a promise of rebirth, growth, prosperity, and harvest. Hopefully it serves as a harbinger of such a future for ourselves as well.

A Too Quick Visit

With business to do in DC, I attempted to mix in some family time with my brother and his clan down in Charlottesville. Thanks to a conspiracy between the weather, Delta airlines, Hertz, and the horrific DC traffic, I arrived too late and missed seeing the kids before their bedtime. I was able to spend some decent guy time with Kev (in between work), and we ended the evening watching Charles Barkley nearly dislocate his shoulder while swinging a golf club.

Thankfully, I was able to see Coley in the morning. He was tired and shy, so I'll have to wait until later this year for a big bear hug. Sammy was sick, and I never got to see her at all.

I got to see Kev's renown wine cellar, and my photo totally does not do it justice. Its lighting is impeccable and creates an incredible space. If it weren't for me giving up the schweel for lent, I'm sure we would have hung out there, talking baseball, politics, and wine, well into the evening. Maybe next time.

Hopefully we land our business in DC, and I get to return some time when there's not such a rush (and I'm NOT on the wagon...)