Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chris Matthews "Forgot Obama is Black"

Simply astonishing.

Finally the elite Left reveals, warts and all, their infactuation with the President.

They see him as "black."

I've never seen anything like this ever before. Matthews either is a racist, dinosaur, or has a physical/mental issue. Either way, he needs to resign. Immediately.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Twins Sign Thome!

Kansas City Royals vs. Chicago White Sox

The hot stove league is abuzz about the Twins’ interest in and ultimate signing of Jim Thome. Most “experts” seem to feel that the signing the slugger is an abject waste of resources: Kubel broke out last year in the DH role, and the Twins are already too heavily loaded with left-handed bats.


But consider the following reasons why Thome may make a lot of sense:

  • He’s a natural fit for spotting Morneau's infrequent days off.
  • With the loss of Gomez, any injury in the outfield will require Kubel take a spot in the field, thus opening up the DH spot. Without Thome, that spot goes to someone like Brendan Harris. Yuck.
  • Thome is a Twins killer, where he has hit 57 home runs, 142 RBI, and a .628 slugging percentage against us during his career. Having him on our bench instead of a place like Detroit will save us a dozen or two runs.
  • The Twins haven’t had a legit power hitter off the bench since, what, Don Baylor? Sheesh.
  • Given his heath, age, and status, offering an incentive-laden contract akin to what was offered Crede last year mitigates risk.

The Twins needed to make a move other than standing pat, especially with the launch of the new ballpark. While he’s past his prime, signing Jim Thome is something that can get the fans energized. Hats off to this franchise for being creative and signing this slugger.

Favre Post is's Blog of the Day

The day of my last post, I watched the traffic on my site absolutely explode. Using GoogleAnalytics, it was clearly evident where the traffic was originating - a site called

I headed out to their site and found that Yellow Dog Patrol had been recognized as the "Blog of the Day." Check it out on the right hand side:

In doing a post game search for a Minnesota based Vikings recap, one of their editors must have run across the site and felt the post worthy of being featured.

I've since established an affiliate relationship with them (you'll see their ad on my site, and they advertise YDP on their site), and have already been receiving additional traffic from this relationship.

It was nice to be recognized by someone that my rantings are worthy or broader distribution. I'll continue to work hard to make that recognition justified.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Plenty of Blame, Except for Favre

NFC Championship: Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints
The heartbreaking loss on Sunday will be dissected ad nauseam for the next 9 months, but one thing that should not be considered whatsoever is that Favre lost that game. First, Favre took a beating that has not been witnessed by a Vikings QB since Archie Manning took the massive amount of punishment he weathered in the early 80's. Second, the Vikings never would have been in the position to even be in this game without Favre's steadfast QB play all season.

The main reasons for the loss are, in order:

  • The Vikings inability to secure home field, despite multiple opportunities to do so. If yesterday's game was played at the Metrodome, the Vikes win in a rout.
  • 12 men in the huddle, coming out of a time out. A coach somewhere needs to be fired for that.
  • Two fumbles in the red zone. If just one of those turns into a field goal, overtime never happens.
  • Limited pressure on Brees by our defense.

So once again, like so many times before, the Vikings faithful are left wanting.

Want all you want, just don't blame Favre.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Paste Magazine Continues to Add Downloads

Paste continues to add new music as a fundraiser for Haitian relief. The song count is now above 400. There have been some great new additions. Here's just a sampling of the vast array that is available:

  • A strong new song from the Benjy Davis Project
  • A hauntingly addictive song by Alex Walker
  • A fun Devo-inspired submission by Maldroid
  • A simple but beautiful and meaningful song from Lynn Miles

Additional new artist finds for me that will require additional research include Skyline Circle, The Casanova Playboys, Rhett Frazier Inc., and Seabear.

If you've not been out there yet,
get going.

New Prince Song For Minnesota Vikings

I admit I'm a big Prince fan. I'm also a big Vikings fan.

However, just because I individually like things like sauerkraut and ice cream does not mean that you can mix the two.

Hence, this disaster:

In the mean time, the Saints have a badass song like this:

We deserve to get out butts kicked today just for this one song alone...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Vikings Vs. Saints - May the Best Team Win

I have strong affinity for New Orleans, and subsequently the Saints, for multiple reasons.
  • For my wife and me, New Orleans is probably the favorite city to visit. Between work and family events, we've been down there over a half dozen times. The music, food, culture, and people are unlike anything in the world, and we just love it.
  • I have close family that lives in Louisiana, and they love their Saints and Tigers.
  • Saints ownership are wonderful philanthropists, and believe strongly that they have an obligation toward aid of the less fortunate. These are good people.
  • The city is still feeling the effects from hurricane Katrina. I have a good friend that built a Habitat for Humanity house down there last summer, and he reports that there are still neighborhoods that are devastated.
  • Drew Brees is one of the classiest players that you will find in the NFL. He felt the calling to play for New Orleans as it would allow him to do work that would better the crippled city. His foundation has raised over $4.5 million to date. He walks a path that few others choose to take.

Given all this, my heart won't be completely broken if the Vikings come up short tomorrow. Don't get me wrong - I'll definitely be rooting them on, and remaining on watch for our elusive first Super Bowl championship. However if the Saints go on, consider me on that bandwagon. As a city and as a franchise, they deserve good things to come their way.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Coke Still Delivering Smiles

I've always been a Coke guy. Here's another reason why:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Largest Employer in Minnesota? The Government

Twin Cities Business is a periodical devoted to the business community in Minnesota and the upper Midwest. Every year they publish a Big Book and present rankings about Minnesota businesses in a Forbes-like fashion.

This past issue they published the top 25 largest employers in the state. For a state that is home to businesses such as Target, Best Buy, 3M, Hormel Foods, and Cargill, you’d expect to have these companies appearing high on the list.

You’d be wrong.

Government represents 4 spots out of the top 20 employers; 3 out of the top 5; two out of the top three; and at 54,900 employees the State of Minnesota is the greatest employer in the state, crushing the number 2 employer the Mayo Clinic which only employs a paltry 37,318. In fact, the State of Minnesota is 7 times larger than Best Buy; the US Federal Government is 5 times larger, the University of Minnesota is 4 times larger; and Hennepin County is roughly the same size.

What in the world do we do when the economy is dominated by organizations that are publicly funded? This is moving toward a massive Ponzi scheme, folks.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Paste Magazine's Downloads for Haiti

Paste Magazine has just released a fundraiser for Haiti. By making a donation to charity (either through their site or elsewhere) you'll get access to their vault of over 200 downloads.

There are some real gems out there - personally I found some cool new music from folks that were previously off my radar. I really enjoyed Vast, Stacie Rose, and the Sarah Mac Band, and will be digging deeper into their bodies of work.

Among the better songs are Ben Folds' The Bitch went Nutz, an incredible cover of Pink Floyd's Echoes by The Decemberists, and the Born Again Floozies' Up the River Fu#ker.

Great music and great cause. Get out there and get downloading.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brown Over Coakley: The Win and the Spin

I watched the election of Brown last night on MSNBC, not only for the schadenfreude, but more to see if they got it.

They didn't.

I saw the voters, the DNC, Coakley, tea partiers, Republicans, and even George W. Bush blamed for this loss. In all the analysis, it was someone else's fault.

Here's the deal. People are tired of ten percent unemployment and a broken economy. They don't care about global warming, they're tied of seeing their friends and families suffering in this recession, they're aghast at trillions being thrown around like monopoly money, and they're scared to death of the prospect of an out of control government taking over 1/6th of the economy.

People want some security. They want a paycheck. They want to see businesses opening. And they got absolutely none of that in the past year. None.

One party did its partisan bidding this past year; unabashed and with slogans like "we won," and "never let a good crisis go to waste." And the bills for that behavior are coming due.

The lesson in this election is that if Ted Kennedy's seat isn't safe, no seat is safe. Those politicians that get it need to put aside their partisan projects and fix the damned economy. Those that don't get it will likely see more Brown-like victories up close and personal this fall, in 2012, and beyond.

Top Ten Ways to Find New Music

I've been a music fan my entire life. Conservative estimates would have me owning over 4,000 albums across five formats - vinyl, 8 track, cassette, compact disc, and digital. I hate to think of the money that I've spent on music in my lifetime, especially for the same title purchased in multiple formats. Scary.

Before music went digital, I was in a horrible music rut. The Minneapolis radio scene was a complete disaster as it had a narrow focus on heavy rotation adult contemporary. The songs that were played were horrible, and there was no truly new music on the horizon. My massive CD collection of 3,500+ titles was a gaudy and dusty eyesore. My schedule and location prevented indulgences in live shows.

It was at this point where I literally felt my days as a huge music fan were over. I had finally got to the point where the CDs needed to go, and through a used music service, I boxed many of them off and shipped them off for a pretty penny. Really rare titles were sold on eBay - there were a number that I sold for over $75 each. I kept those titles that were the absolute most meaningful, and resigned myself to a future of talk radio and sports stations.

In the middle of this great sale, I won a just-released iPod at an ecommerce marketing industry event, and my life got turned upside down. The move to digital was revolutionary. Access to bands and genres was no longer limited to what the crappy radio play list provided. I was back to a music consumer, and in a big way.

Since then, I've been exposed music that was completely unimaginable to me 8 years ago. There is so much incredible music being made right now, and finding a way to effectively appreciate it at times feels like drinking from a fire hose. It can be completely overwhelming. That being said, there have been some incredible tools that have aided me, and I wanted to pass along my top ten methods of finding (and appreciating) new music:

10) iTunes' free single of the week - Every Tuesday iTunes releases one track for free. Usually these songs are pretty crappy, but this was where I first got exposed to Matthew Good. If for no other reason, this tool will forever be more than worth it.

9) Band websites - There are a lot of generous bands that make their material available for free on their websites. Kathleen Edwards is a great example of site that provides wonderful exposure to new music

8) Facebook - The "Fan" feature of Facebook allows the user access to communication streams of their favorite bands. Savvy bands are using it to announce free/discounted music, new releases, and tour dates. I'm currently following 46 bands via this method.

7) Pandora internet radio - With Pandora, users can create a "station" based on an artist or a song. Armed with that information, Pandora serves up music that "matches" the desired sound via their complex tagging and database system. And if it happens to serve up a song that really appeals, listeners are just one click away from purchasing it on iTunes.

6) Amazon's free music - Just like iTunes, every Tuesday Amazon makes about 20 songs available for free on their website. Some are crap, but there are other definitely some gems out there. I really enjoy seeing what they have available every Tuesday morning before I go to work.

5) iTunes' recommendation engine - Based on what I've previously purchased, iTunes serves up recommendations by using an algorithm of the purchase history of other users. It bats about .500 for me, but I've found some great bands by interfacing with this engine.

4) Shazam music finder - This is one of the most useful apps ever created for the iPhone. If you hear a song you like (on the radio, playing in the background at a restaurant, on TV, etc.) simply bring up this app, "tag" the song (basically, the app "listens" to the song and codes it into 1s and 0s), and the tag is sent to their database where the name, band, and album is instantly returned. If you really like what you heard, you can click a button and instantly buy it from iTunes.

3) iTunes' interface - iTunes has created the ability to dig deep on artists, identify songs and albums that are ranked highest by the community, and acquire what would be desired by one single mouse click. To date, I've spent $734 on single songs and albums through that addictive interface.

2) Sirius Satellite Radio - I will never listen to terrestrial radio again. With Sirius, I have access to every genera imaginable, and all commercial-free. My hands-down favorite station is Sirius/XM-U, a fabulous indy station. Exposure to that station alone has resulted in at least $300 in individual downloads.

1) Paste Magazine - My wife bought me a subscription to this magazine, and it opened a whole new world for me. It leans pretty heavily indy, but does cover a wide swath of genres. And with every issue come 20-25 new songs (either in CD or MP3), and while only about 50% of them strike a chord with me, some of my finds have been revolutionary. With a premium subscription, you're given access to multiple bonus albums and live recordings. The magazine comes out for me about the 15th of the month, and I act like a little kid around that time waiting for it to finally arrive in my mailbox.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vikings Defense Dominates Dallas

In their greatest game this season, the Vikings defense ended up completely dominating the Dallas offense to push the beloved Purple to the NFC Championship. While they started with a couple of uneasy “bend but don’t break” drives, eventually the D took the game completely over. Dallas QB Tony Romo was hounded, sacked over a half dozen times, and forced into mistakes. The performance of the defensive line alone harkened back to the days of Eller, Marshall, Page, and Larson.

Now the big question: How much did the noise provided by home field aid the defensive play? If the answer is “a lot,” next Sunday’s game could be a long one for the Vikings. Brees is twice the quarterback Romo is, and Reggie Bush appears to finally be peaking after a seemingly season-long slumber. However, if the answer is “not much,” things should bode well for our Norsemen.

It’s said that defense wins championships. Can the defense do it without their home crowd screaming at jet engine decibel levels? That will be the question.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Cry for Help from Haiti

My brother-in-law works for the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The Oblates travel the world bringing Christ's message to the poor and needy. In conjunction, the Oblates also do things like teach improved farming techniques, and establish medical clinics, schools, and radio communication centers. They physically and spiritually care for the orphaned, the elderly, and the oppressed.

Haiti has always been a focus of the Oblates, so when the earthquake hit, the Oblates were already there.

Many times when situations like this occur, you'll see communication passed along in emails as legitimate, yet the origin of the communication is usually not what it seems. Here is something altogether different: a letter from an Oblate priest in Haiti that was ultimately passed to my brother-in-law.

Report of Fr. Provincial to Fr. General (15/01/2010 - Haiti)
Port-au-Prince, 14 January 2010
Fr. Wilhelm Steckling, omi
Superior General

Good morning, Father General,

I am using what is left of the battery charge on my laptop to write you this message. You have certainly learned that on Tuesday, 12 January 2010, at 4:53 p.m., a violent earthquake (a magnitude of 7.3 on the Richter scale) passed through Haiti and has practically destroyed the city of Port-au-Prince.

Most of the big buildings have collapsed.

The provincial house was seriously damaged and the new construction (the annex) has collapsed.
The scholasticate has also caved in. The two formators (Frs. Muscadin and Almonor) as well as the two scholastics who were there (Ronel and Johnny), and Fr. Jean-François Printemps who was visiting there, are safe and sound.

The other scholastics were at a conference at CIFOR, being presented by a Brazilian doctor. The CIFOR building collapsed and the conference presenter died, as well as an Oblate scholastic, Weedy Alexis, and a Spiritan scholastic, Stéphane Dougé. Presently, the minibus of the Monfortain scholastics is blocked under the debris, with 14 passengers aboard, 9 of them Montfortains. They can do nothing, up to this point, to rescue them. One of them is alive for his voice can be heard and they are talking with him, but that is all that can be done.

It's a catastrophe, total devastation in Haiti. Since Wednesday evening, the inhabitants of Port-au-Prince have to sleep under the stars, as do we, for there are aftershocks from time to time. Everyone is afraid and we do what we can to take precautions.

There are no means of communication or of information. With a bit of luck, the telephone might work. I have not yet been able to communicate with our confreres in the province.

There is no electricity, no water at the provincial house, no internet. I imagine that it is the same situation just about everywhere in Port-au-Prince.

Yesterday, Father Loubeau and I were obliged to go out onto the streets to get to the scholasticate. Everywhere there is crying, weeping and wailing. The streets are piled high with dead bodies.

There were other collapsed buildings: the Port-au-Prince archbishop's residence, the National Palace, the Cathedral, Sacred Heart church, the Major Seminary at Turgeau, the Major Seminary for philosophy at Cazeau, the Episcopal church of the Holy Trinity and several other large churches and schools, Catholic and Protestant.

It was only yesterday morning that they were able to retrieve the remains of Mons. Joseph Serge Miot, Archbishop of Port-au-Prince. The Vicar General is still under the debris: they no longer hear his voice. A professor at the Major Seminary at Turgeau and three seminarians were trapped inside the seminary. No one can hear them.

Up to this point, they have named eight dead among the seminarians of Cazeau. (But the Oblates at Blanchard and Sibert have been spared).

Some aid arrived yesterday morning from the United States, France and the Dominican Republic. But they cannot do much because there are still the aftershocks. They are saying that the aftershocks should end by Friday evening.

The deceased Oblate scholastic had to be buried yesterday afternoon together with the Spiritan, in the courtyard of the Spiritans (their church and their house were also destroyed). There is no functioning morgue. There is still no help. This morning at 8 o'clock, we are going to have a funeral service together with the Spiritans.

You can understand, Fr. General, that the damages must be immense. One still cannot estimate them, even though the Prime Minister has spoken of about 100,000 deaths. The total is much worse than that for there are still the wounded, the disappeared and the material damages.

Several priests, brothers and religious women are unaccounted for.

Fr. General, this was simply an attempt to describe for you what we are experiencing. Because I must hurry so as not to use up the battery, you can understand that I am unable to tell you everything or respect formalities.

Thank you for your understanding and your solidarity.

We know that you are thinking of us and that you are lifting us up in prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, our helping mother.

Fr. Gasner Joint, omi

These words from Fr. Gasener speak for themselves. It is incumbent in these situations that those that have need to give, and the options are many. A great choice is to give to the Oblates themselves, and a link to give can be found here.

The suffering is immeasurable. Please give, and pray.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Met a Hero Today

I was doing some clean up through some files on the PC, and ran across the folder where I used to do some writing when the mood struck me. There's a lot of crap in there, but some are OK. Every once and a while I'll dust one off and plop it here for your perusal.

Since winter up here continues its depressing grind, here's one from the summer of 2006. It's got thunderstoms, heroes, and ice cream. What more could you want?

I hope you enjoy:

I’m pretty sure I met a hero today.

My wife and I stopped at the local ice cream shop for a Friday night cone. The skies had erupted, and the quick 10 foot sprint to the dry sanctuary of the store still rendered both of us soaking. That’s where I saw him.

I was first met with a broad smile that’s shared by human beings (but especially Minnesotans) anytime one of us encounters hardship brought on by the weather. The smile clearly said, “Man, you guys are wet!” The smile was broadly returned, just as it always is in any of these types of situations.

Shaking off, the next obvious thing in the shop was that our smiling greeter was standing on two brand new prosthetic legs.

We exchanged small talk and ordered our ice cream. My wife and I then retired to a table, while our greeter took a seat on the bench and began to read the paper. I wanted to say something, especially “Thank you for your service,” but a dozen doubts crossed my head. What if he lost his legs on a motorcycle, in a farm accident, or something other than the war? Judging by his age, his eyes that belied his chronological age, his high/tight haircut, and his physical conditioning, he had to be a vet. But what if my thanks caused him pain? That wouldn’t be good. So like so many others, I chose to do the easy thing and continued to sit on my ample rear end, did nothing, and ate my ice cream.

In the mean time, I watched the sights developing around me. Families and kids entered and ordered, making the scene something that a 2006 version on Norman Rockwell would relish. The picture evoked one that was a complete stereotype of America. Family. Security. Ice cream on a summer night. The kind of thing defines what our fighting forces are paying the ultimate prices to protect. And to the side sat our man, and I wondered what he thought as the din from the kids grew and the little shop filled up. I wondered if he was proud, or sad, or angry, or regretful, or…

Soon the rain let up, and it was time to leave. We got up the same time as our guy, and our eyes met again. Once more that big smile hit me, and we simultaneously nodded at each other, but I said nothing. We headed for the door and went our separate ways. On the drive home, I was struck by that smile, coming from someone that had obviously seen and been through so much. And I thought of how I frown so easily when pathetic little things happen to me in my little insignificant life. When it comes to honor and dealing with adversity, I’m unworthy to be in the same room with the likes of him, or any our veterans for that matter.

I’m pretty sure I met a hero today. And despite multiple opportunities, I failed to tell him, “thank you.”

At least I’m consistent.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

McGwire Used Steroids. In Other News, Pope Admits Being Catholic

The longest home run I ever personally witnessed was Cecil Fielder hitting one completely out of Tiger Stadium. Note: Cecil definitely WAS NOT on steroids. With a body like that, if he was on steroids, he should have asked for his money back. The picture at left was Cecil in his "skinny" days.

The second longest I ever personally witnessed was Mark McGwire smashing one against the upper plexiglass of a suite in the Metrodome. In left field. The same left field where the distance down the line is 344 and left-center is 385. He was about 10 feet away from an upper deck shot in left field. It had to be a minimum of 500 feet.

McGwire can cry all he wants, but the bottom line is that he's a cheater and a liar. That will forever taint everything else he did. He'll never make the Hall of Fame, and all of his statistical accomplishments with be served with the dreaded asterisk.

There is only one person to blame for this shame - Mark McGwire.

Monday, January 11, 2010

MacGruber's New Sidekick?

Instead of Darrel, maybe MacGruber needs to hang out with Harry "No Negro Dialect" Reid.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Trigeminal Neuralgia Update - Another Reason to Hate Minnesota Winters?

Over the past two weeks the pain has definitely kicked up a notch. I'm at a fairly constant low grade headache, with infrequent zaps. I'm wondering if the cold makes things worse (like I need another excuse to hate the cold). Likewise, stress levels at work are quite high right now.

With dinner the past two nights I've had wine, and that definitely helps. It likely magnifies the Carbamazepine, and I need to keep an eye on this. A number of folks with this malady self-medicate their pain with alcohol, and we don't need to go down that road.

As always, sleep turns it all off, and that's a nice respite. It's not much fun, though, when the first thought upon waking is to ask "I wonder if today will be a good day?" and immediately get your answer via a stab in the head.

At least things are ebbing and flowing for me. I can't imagine having the really bad stuff be a constant, like some suffers do. I hope we never get to that point.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Terrorist Successful? We Lose. Terrorists Unsuccessful? We Lose.

Over early morning coffee today, my wife and I were discussing the government's new move to conduct virtual strip searches on passengers (and if you've seen the photos, that is exactly what they are). We wondered aloud why it was that when terrorists struck (successfully or unsuccessfully), we lost freedoms and conveniences.

Isn't that the ultimate goal of the terrorists?

Then I bumped into this article from Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune, and he says basically the same thing. Worth the read.

It feels like we're in the early innings of a baseball game, and the opposition is slowly putting up runs on us.

I just hope that by the time we've reached nine innings we don't look up to the scoreboard and wonder how we lost.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Beware "The Vulcan of Justice"

A Prescription to 2010 Depression

After a crappy 2009, 2010 isn't starting any better. The economy remains in shambles. Our elected officials are absolutely clueless, regardless of their affiliation. We narrowly miss hundreds of our citizens being killed in a terrorist plot. It is depressingly cold. Hunting season is over. The Minnesota Wild stink. Christmas bills are coming due.

So what?

Ah, Rodney. I feel better already.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Three: "Puppy Troubles" Part 5

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

The first bad habit that Blitz exhibited on "walkies" was the habit of injuring my wife. While the dog never meant anything malicious, many times when out on a walk together Blitz would do something that would ultimately leave my wife on the ground. Most times it was the dog getting the leash wrapped around Vera's legs, but there were other episodes as well - things like pulling too hard when running down a hill, pulling too hard on ice - when it came to putting my wife on the ground, Blitz was quite creative.

Quite often the two of them would arrive home after talking a walk - one rambunctious and happy to see me, the other scraped and haggard, swearing to never take the dog on another walk.

While I sometimes joined Vera and Blitz on their walks, Vera usually did them as part of her exercise routine, and was often gone for 45 minutes to an hour. I like my exercise to be more active, so these walks were never all that appealing to me. I should also note that my wife is cold-blooded, so the more humid and hot the day, the more she loved it. She often walked when mad dogs and Englishmen were the only ones to stray outside, and my opt out in these conditions was usually assumed.

It wasn't always easy for Blitz, though, and she was at times enlisted for these tropical tromps. Hauling around under a blazing sun in that fur coat was tough on a little yellow lab, and Blitz employed techniques to manage the length of the walk on these hot days. First, she started to lag behind, a place where she never spent any time (unless she was trying to get a good smell on something you happened to be walking past). If that didn't provide my wife with the necessary hint that it was time to turn around, Blitz simply sat down, right there in the middle of the of the sidewalk as if to say, "That's it, mom, I'm not going a step further." This technique always brought about some sympathetic petting and a reverse in course, and the amazingly near-death dog would miraculously rejuvenate and would again be her old self on the way home.

While Blitz was always friendly to everyone she'd meet on her route, she did have a protective steak when she and Vera walked alone. With men that were met on the walk, Blitz always found a way to stay between them and my wife and would operate in a very protective mode. Women were fine. Kids were fine. But if you were a guy, you were only going to get so close. That made me feel very comfortable when they walked alone, although I often had to play M.A.S.H. unit on knees or elbows upon their return due to leash trips.

The second bad habit Blitz had was her insane infatuation with critters. Just about any kind of small animal would make her completely insane, but she saved her most irrational behavior for rabbits and chipmunks. I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised by this trait, as her behavior with the cat pretty much foretold of a dog that wanted to play with her smaller animal brethren.

Ever since we first brought her home, she had this craze. The first I encountered it came during her pre-meal trip outside. As part of our routine, upon rising or arriving home, I first let the dog outside to relieve herself, then she ate, then we went for "walkies" or a poop-sprint, depending on the situation. One beautiful early morning Blitz was in the back yard taking care of some business before breakfast when out of nowhere this fat robin comes out of the sky and lands right beside her. Blitz must have thought that the bird was some kind of retrieve toy, because in one fell swoop the bird was scooped up, settled in her mouth and was being quickly transported back to me via the Yellow Dog Express.

That sprint across the back yard felt like it lasted forever for me, as the whole time I'm standing there in my robe, looking at one very happy little dog and one very much alive and very scared fat robin, and wondering what I'm going to do when the dog finally comes to me. About ten yards away from me the robin must have found the eject button, because all at once he was free and on flying at a dead sprint for safer confines. Given his speed and trajectory, I figure he probably made Mexican airspace sometime that evening.

Despite our run-ins with birds, mice, and deer droppings, Blitz saved her best antics for her encounters with bunnies.

To go to the next chapter, click here

Monday, January 4, 2010

Christmas Gift from My Team

My team went out and created a bobblehead of yours truly as a Christmas gift. It's a good likeness, except the bobblehead is skinnier. Something to aspire to, I guess.

I thought it a cool gift, but then came the Photoshop:

I wonder what they're trying to tell me...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Food Stamp Usage Soars

Check out the interactive map. The numbers here are beyond astonishing, and things are way, way worse than what you're being led to believe.

One in four kids. In America.

When can we expect some accountability on fixing the economy? How bad does it need to get?

God help us.

Friday, January 1, 2010 - A Year in Review

I launched this blog on March 29, 2009 and thus far it has really been a labor of love for me. I enjoy the diverse writing I’m able to do (even thought I take shots about my haiku work), the platform it provides me to rant and vent, and the arena in which to mix it up with folks now and again (especially when it comes to our opinions on the esteemed Senator Al Franken).

Here are a couple of quick facts on the blog over the 2009 calendar year:
  • Total posts made were 192, with Politics being the majority topic, but with 30 widely aggregated topics being covered.
  • The blog has been visited by 2,552 visitors across 35 countries. The US makes up an obvious majority at 2,404 visits, but there are lots of surprises like Brazil (24 visits), Pakistan (3 visits), and Macedonia (1 visit).
  • The blog has also been visited by 47 states (including DC). Given the subject matter, Minnesota makes up the majority at 1,224 visits. There were also a good followings in California, Iowa, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin. States without a visitor were Alaska, West Virginia, Alabama, and Maine. Yes, the site had visits from Hawaii (2 visits), Delaware (1 visit) and Rhode Island (1 visit) this past year.
  • 27% of site traffic has been generated by search engines, with Google driving a vast majority of those visits.
  • About 25% of site traffic came from links on other sites.
  • Visitors spent an average of 2 minutes and 24 seconds on the site per visit.
    Mac users represented 8% of site visits, and over 2% of visits came via the iPhone. One visitor came to the site via the Playstation 3.

It has been a really fun year in blogging, and I appreciate the feedback and support that I’ve received. I look forward to conversing with you all in 2010.

2010 Resolutions

What would the new year be without some personal resolutions? While they may mean absolutely nothing to the readership of this blog, getting them down in a written (and reference-able format) will hopefully keep my feet to the fire.

Here we go:

  • Lose 20 Pounds (and keep it off) - I was actually making some pretty good progress on this until the holidays hit. With an impending vacation in the Bahamas later in February, I really need to knock this out quickly. It is bad enough being pasty-white, but fat and pasty-white really is a really off-putting combination.
  • Minimum of 1 Hour of Physical Activity Daily - Again, I have a good head start on this with my activity to this point, and despite the weight, I'm physically in OK shape. I just need that little bit of dedication to make this happen every day and take my conditioning to a new level.
  • Minimum of 10 Minutes of "Centering" Daily - As part of our new initiative at work, I've been introduced to a "sitting practice" that has me meditating for a 10 minute stretch. I find it does wonders for my stress level and in keeping me on a more even emotional keel, and I've also witnessed how Eastern practices have helped my sister (in her case, yoga). Again, I need some dedication to ensure this is done daily so that I can take things to the next plateau.
  • Get My Professional Life on More Firm Footing - I have a number of initiatives that I'm leveraging to shore up my professional standing. I need to get back to driving my career, as opposed to having it drive me.
  • Making Dedicated Contact - Over the past 15 years my world has gotten smaller. Back when we were first married I was much more social and had a lot more friends. I know that this is something that happens to all of us as we hit middle age, but I feel that's a bit of an excuse and that my world is just too damn small. With resources like Facebook, LinkedIn, and others, there is absolutely no reason why I can't be more overt in reaching out to friends, family and colleagues alike in a more structured fashion. I feel stupid when the only time I see some people that mean a lot to me is when somebody dies.
  • Smiling and Laughing More - I think the lack of many things listed above have contributed to a more melancholy me. Hopefully the natural result of taking care of some of these things results in me getting back to who I once was.

Wish me luck, and good luck to you as well on your areas for improvement.

Here's to good things in 2010.

Happy 2010 to Us All

I stayed up until midnight to make sure the past year was completely killed off and to welcome in the new one.

Adios, 2009. As years go, you pretty much sucked. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Hello, 2010. Boy am I glad to see you.

Here's wishing everyone better days in our brand New Year. Cheers.