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.