Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Official Ice Out On Burandt Lake; Lake Waconia Ice Out is Next

In working from home today, I was able to watch the ice go out on Burandt Lake. Lake Waconia will likely fall by the weekend.

Ice out is always a big deal for Minnesotans, as it marks in the clearest terms possible that winter is officially over, and soon around the corner is our beloved fishing season. For further proof and for more information, check out the Minnesota DNR's Ice Out page.

The weather this March has been truly remarkable, and makes up for a really cold and oppressive winter that was really merciless in its length and lack of reprieve. And it is even more remarkable to think that 30 days ago the Yellow Dog and I were walking on this very water, albeit in its solid form. Here we are looking back from the lake toward the house.

Adios, winter. I know we'll see you later this year, but until then, get your cold butt out of here.

History Channel and The Shroud of Turin: The Face of Jesus

The History Channel had an unbelievably fascinating special on the Shroud of Turin last night.

I've always marveled at the Shroud and what it could potentially mean, however with the Carbon-14 dating done some years back, I've been less enamored. This special changed all that for me.

The biggest findings for me were that:
  • For multiple reasons, the Carbon-14 test was very likely flawed
  • All of the best scientist still have no idea on how the image got there. It definitely was not printed or painted, and our current technology can't replicate anything like it.
  • The wounds of Jesus on the Shroud are remarkably detailed, and remarkably consistent with the crucifixion stories.
The show airs again on Saturday night. For believers and skeptics alike, I strongly encourage you to watch.

Monday, March 29, 2010

St. John's University Concert at St. Joseph's of Waconia

In my third concert in less than I week, I saw the St. John's University Men's Choir at my local church - St. Joseph's of Waconia. This is the fourth time I've seen these guys in the past five years, and I remain so impressed by their talents. Typically, these guys aren't music majors; they're just students across the entire spectrum, and they share a love a talent for singing.

I captured this video of them doing a beautiful rendition of Loch Lomond. I missed the introductory solo by the tenor (and it's too bad, because the kid hit it out of the park), but this little snippet gives you an indication of the talent these guys have.

You gotta love those Johnnies!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

LaGuardia and Thoughts of Capt. Sully

With my trip to New York last week, my flights took me in and out of LaGuardia airport. It was impossible for me to look out the window and see the sights of landing and take off and not think of Captain Sullenburger and US Airways flight 1549.

This was especially true as I had completed Sullenburger's book Highest Duty just a couple of months prior.

I had also got a tip from a buddy that showed a real time simulation of the crash. It is some really compelling video and I want to share it here.

Sullenburger may not think himself a hero, but the calm decision making he went through in an incredibly complex, deadly, and confusing environment is something to behold. Those passengers were incredibly lucky to have him on the flight deck that fateful day.

I strongly endorse Highest Duty - it's a great read.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Woodbury Alzheimer's Facility - StarTribune Prints My Letter

After I made my blog post on the subject, I fired off a copy to the StarTribune for consideration for one of their reader letters.  I'm happy to report that I made today's paper.  You can see the post on line by clicking here.

They did quite a bit of editing to it, but as long as the message got out there, I guess I don't care too much.

It also generated a very nice call from a stranger this morning that wanted to express her thanks for my message.  At least one person out there is agreeing with me...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Carnegie Deli and Death by Reuben

I stopped by the renowned Carnegie Deli yesterday for lunch - my first time at this New York landmark. I just love deli food, and getting into a Reuben from a place with such a long-standing reputation had me waiting with gastronomic desire.

That’s when the waiter brought this:

I tried to add something to the picture (via the pickle) to offer up some prospective of its size. The picture still doesn’t do it justice.  This sandwich covered a platter, and was piled about four inches high. It was Reuben enough for Charles Barkley and four of his fat buddies.

Despite its girth, I gave a run at it. I made it to just beyond the halfway point when I finally had to utter a Roberto Duran-like “no mas,” which was kind of foreshadowing, as that is exactly what my brain was telling my body in its quest for a nap at about 2:30.

At $22 for this monster, I still feel like I was ripping them off.

Woodbury Opposes Alzheimer's Facility in Their Town

The StarTribune reports today that there are widespread objections by Woodbury, Minnesota residents to a proposed Alzheimer's care facility in their midst. The ignorance and fear behind these objections are unfathomable.

It is 2010, and Alzheimer's as a disease is wide spread, and has touched millions of families. Yet Woodbury looks a proposed facility with the same distain reserved for jails, massage parlors, or X-rated video stores.

So, Woodbury, a couple of questions:
  • Do you really not want to add to your tax base in this recession?
  • Would you really like to have the proposed site continue to remain an ugly, idle and empty building?
  • Is your unemployment rate so strong that you can forgo the 100 or so jobs this facility would provide?
  • Have you ever been to a memory care facility?
  • What exactly is the source of your fear?
Alzheimer's continues to grow. Dozens and dozens of your citizens will need to depend on such a facility for their mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and themselves. As a child of a parent that spent 8 years in such a facility, trust me when I say that when this happens, you'll definitely want a high quality facility near you.

But I guess that is a lesson you'll need to learn on your own.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Donnas NYC Concert Review and Set List

Prior to coming to NYC for the Search Engine Strategies conference, I searched to see what bands were playing in town over the event. I was thrilled to see that The Donnas would be in town, cranking out their all-girl, in-your-face rock. Of course, I was quick to get some tickets to see the girls kick some ass.

We attended the show at a nice, intimate venue; the Highline Ballroom. Think of it as a very cozy 1st Avenue. The girls did not disappoint.

Here’s the set list, to the best of my recollection:

It’s Time to Rock
Friends Like Mine
Who Invited You
Smoke You Out
All Messed Up
Like an Animal
Fall Behind Me
Not the One
5 O’clock in the Morning
Take it Off

Random notes:

  • We caught the opening band, the Gorevettes; another girl band. Raw but good. Their guitar player was the linchpin, and seemed to have some significant chops.
  • Total crowd was probably 500. For the Donnas? In New York City? Give me a break! A band this big in a town this big should have had 10X the crowd.
  • Small crowd means great view, and we were about five people deep from the stage.  Simply incredible.
  • While I dis NYC for the total crowd, I give serious props for the fans there that night. They were much, much bigger than their numbers.
  • The song of the night? Strutter, the old Kiss standby. Knocked it out of the park.
  • I missed a couple of songs, especially Take Me to the Back Seat and Too Bad About Your Girl, and thought the band could have played a lot longer had they chosen to do so. They left a lot of material off the table, as you can clearly see by the short set list.
  • Allison Robertson, their guitarist, is hands down a rock star. Save for a couple of songs, she was incredible tonight.
Please come to see us in Minnesota, ladies. I think our numbers, and enthusiasm, can be on par with NYC.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hotel of Heroes - The Medal of Honor Recipients

I’m on business in New York this week, and the whole time I’ve been out here I’ve been seeing these older gentlemen running around with medals around their necks. Being a military buff, the medals to me looked very similar to the Medal of Honor, but given the amount of men in the hotel with them, I thought it just couldn’t be. You see, since WWII, 855 Medal of Honors have been awarded; 529 posthumously.  Even those who lived beyond their ordeal had now aged to the point where they were dying.

An extrovert buddy I was with couldn’t help himself, and walked up to one of the old soldiers and asked. They were, indeed, Medal of Honor recipients.

Sliding into the conversation, I shook the gentleman’s hand, thanking him for his service. I stated, “I’ve never met a Medal of Honor award winner before.” He quickly corrected me, “I’m a recipient, not a winner.” I kicked myself for this lack of sensitivity.

So what did these guys do to become bestowed with the award? I ask that you check out their stories here. Many days when I have a bad day at work, I bring up this site and read the stories of these heroes. Their sacrifice and focus on duty puts a lot of things in perspective for me.

I walked into the bar, and found these four gentlemen and their wives relaxing from their previous evening engagement. I called their waiter over and bought their round, and then slipped out before it was delivered - I did not want my meager gift to be recognized and preferred that it come from anonymous citizen that simply recognized them and was appreciative for their service.

That’s the best $150 bucks I’ve ever spent in my life.

God bless these heroes.

Rev. Al Sharpton on Why Votes Matter

There are many reasons why folks voted for Obama. He was the anti-Bush. He’s well spoken (right, Harry Reid?). He’s learned and elite. He was the salve to assuage that nagging white guilt. He looks good in a suit. Hope. Change.

Finally, Rev. Al lays out what all those good intentions mean. Votes matter, folks.

What your posterity has been stuck with via this one simple election can possibly change this country forever. Think about that the next time you go to the polls.


Monday, March 22, 2010

The Joe Mauer Contract - What it Means

Minnesota Twins Joe Mauer hits a double in the third inning against the New York Yankees in game 1 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium in New York
Congratulations to both the Twins and Joe Mauer in finding the common ground a working out a deal that appears to be a win-win. The eight-year, $184 million deal contains metrics that sound more like new government legislation than a contract for playing a game.  It shows a level of trust and dedication by both sides that should ripple throughout all of Twins Territory.

Here are the five biggest results and considerations of what this new deal really means:
  1. Mauer is clearly the most valuable player in the league, especially as an all-around player. His defense is nearly as strong as his bat, and in a position notorious for .250 hitters, having Joe there is a significant statistical advantage for the Twins. As long as he's catching, that advantage is worth the dough.
  2. I believe that Mauer still has upside to his hitting. Really. He's 27, and arguably has not hit his prime yet. As his power numbers continue to grow, he has the legitimate chance to be the first Triple Crow winner since Carl Yastrzemski.
  3. This deal locks the Twins down financially. Given their payroll, they'll need to get it all done with this lineup. As we've seen with the Nathan injury, that can be tenuous. Other injuries will render this team an also-ran, as there is no room to move.  We're all in with this line up.
  4. This deal paves the way to a George Brett-like engagement for Joe beyond his playing days. Given his love of the game and of this market, I hope that comes to fruition.
  5. While the contract will be debated as to who won and lost, the biggest winners in all of this remain the Twins' fans. We get to see the best player in baseball, live and in person, for the next eight years.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Alice In Chains - St. Paul Concert Review and Set List

I attended the Alice in Chains show last night at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul. This is my first time seeing the band, and was incredibly impressed. With the death of lead singer Layne Staley, I knew his replacement William DuVall could pull off the vocals on their studio album. I was curious to see if he could do it live. Consider me convinced. The band sounded terrific.

Set list is as follows, to the best of my recollection:

All Secrets Known
It Ain't Like That
Check My Brain
Them Bones
Dam That River
Rain When I Die
No Excuses
Your Decision
Got Me Wrong
We Die Young
Check My Brain
Acid Bubble
Angry Chair
Lesson Learned
A Looking In View
Man in the Box

Random thoughts on the night
  • I had been warned that acoustics at Roy Wilkins weren't good, but from my location center stage floor, they sounded just fine.
  • The high harmonies by this group are stunning. It is hard to believe that a band that rocks so hard can have vocal stylings that are so beautiful.  DuVall was totally up for the task
  • Jerry Cantrell is a really talented guitarist. I think he's way too underrated. He put on an outstanding show.
  • Nutshell was preceded by an introduction to the band, including a mention of Staley. Classy move.
  • I forgot what standing 30 people deep was like, as the temperature inside had to hit 80. Also, I got to stand directly behind a 5'9" version of Gimli from Lord of the Rings. He smelled like Gimli too.
  • Hard rock, alcohol, and youth can turn young men into absolute douche bags.
  • Cantrell mentioned a couple of times how important the crowd was to what they do, that we're "part of the family." He seemed really sincere in stating this.
  • Song of the night for me was Again.  It is my favorite, and it did not disappoint.  In fact, it tore the place down.
  • Middle Class Rut opened, and I was pretty darned impressed. I need to check out some of their work.
Thanks, Alice, for a heck of a show.  Hope to see you again sometime down the line.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Music Mayhem - A Game for Good

There was a nice feature article in this week's StarTribune that featured a gentleman from my mom's support group. His story is heart breaking, but the silver lining is that he's created something for good.

Music Mayhem is a game that he's designed, and it is getting some really great coverage.  You can check out the story here

I used to play a game very similar in my old neighborhood growing up, but the time between songs could never be fast forwarded as it can with MP3s. Hence, there was a awful lot of time spent listening to KDWB...


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Normally, I'd take at least a half day off and celebrate with my people. Unfortunately, I've been beset lately by a lot of time off to attend the doctor. My primary physician was very concerned about a test finding, and I've been battling against that for the past week.

The good news is that my final tests were completed yesterday, and I passed with flying colors. Hence, the blog will continue to be updated for the foreseeable future. The bad news is that I burned a lot of vacation in the process, hence my need to work a full day today.

My plan is to come home, pick up my wife, stop by the mausoleum where Dad is resting, say a few words, then head to Jake O'Connor's for some Guinness, Jameson, fish & chips, and associated revelry.

Compared to others, it will be a quiet St. Patrick's day. But one that will be celebrated with relief and thanks.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Top 10 Things I Learned Pheasant Hunting this Weekend

The Yellow Dog Patrol made its annual trek east to the bountiful Illinois hunting grounds this past weekend. 7 of my buddies went, and we hunted with a number of other friends and family of our generous host.

For the weekend, as usual, we wanted for nothing - the food was impeccable, the beer fridge constantly stocked, the ammunition plentiful, the birds unbelievable, and the laughs ceaseless.

Despite knowing these guys for the past 25 years, I learned some things from them this past weekend that I'd like to impart to posterity:

10) Naming your dog the same thing as one of your hunting buddies does nothing to ease the confusion of the "fog of war" when faced with a massive flight of inbound birds

9) "Eddie" is absolutely the best name one could choose if your dog's breed is a Munsterlander. Followed only by "Herman" and "Grandpa."

8) If you wear a coat inside for most of the day, expect people to ask if you're cold at least twice.

7) Two-fisting gin and scotch can lead to a beautiful green complexion the next day. And the day after that...

6) Witty banter is a lot less frequent during breakfast for some reason

5) When someone wakes up at five o'clock and is joined by someone else, consider the whole house awake within a half hour (except for Tommy)

4) Despite missing some members, the sound of their miracle shot of two years prior still echoed thick in the air like a blanket over Michael Jackson's kid's head

3) Even though one may miss out on hunting by spending the weekend on the couch, one makes up for it by conversing with listening to the cook talk for countless hours, mentally keeping a bird tally based on shots heard fired so that ome can win the bird harvest bet, and acquiring a really great new recipe for a scrumptious pheasant pate

2) The generosity of our host leaves me in awed appreciation. Thank you, Dr. Bill.

1) I have great friends. I guess I already knew that, though.

I can't wait to do it all again soon.Thanks for taking the time to rehash a ton of old memories and make some new ones. You guys are the best.

Monday, March 15, 2010

High of 64 Degrees in MN Yesterday

Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States, speaks at day 2 of the 2009 Clinton Global Initiiative at the Sheraton Hotel in New York City
Thank you, Al Gore!

If global warming is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Top Ten Cover Songs that Are Better than the Original

The Ike and Tina song from a couple of days ago got me to thinking about examples of covered songs that turned out much better than the original. So with no further adieu, here’s my list of the top ten cover songs that are better than the original version:

10) Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley over Leonard Cohen. Cohen’s version was very strong and stands so well on its own. Buckley, however, with a lone electric guitar turned in a haunting performance that sends chills up your spine. I never get tired of this beautiful song.

9) You Really Got Me, Van Halen over The Kinks. For its time, the Kinks’ version was a strong one, but once the 70’s arrived with Eddie’s amazing guitar and Diamond David Lee Roth’s screaming, this song got to a whole new level. It was also the background for one of my favorite commercials of all time. I love the look on Ken’s face during the “Oh no!” part.

8) I Heard it Through the Grapevine, Marvin Gaye over both Gladys Knight and the Pips and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Marvin beat out two Motown icons and completely made this song his own. CCR also did a version, but nobody could hold a candle to Marvin.  It would eventuay be the biggest song of an amazing body of work for Gaye.

7) Proud Mary, Ike and Tina Turner over Creedence Clearwater Revival – CCR’s version was a top 40 staple and was arguably their biggest hit. Ike and Tina’s funky version with huge tempo change remained a concert spectacle for their short lived combined careers.

6) Blinded by the Light, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band over Bruce Springsteen – Manfred Mann took two obscure Springsteen songs, this one and Spirit in the Night, and turned them into musical gold. With the song totally reworked, the Earth Band sewed a whole new song from Bruce’s cloth.

5) Take Me to the River, Talking Heads over Al Green. This one was hard as Al’s version was an up-tempo funky groove, whereas the Talking Heads leveraged their new wave sound to break into the mainstream with a low key version.  The vastness of the rework earns the Heads a top 5 mention.

4) Sweet Jane, The Cowboy Junkies over The Velvet Underground. This song launched the Cowboy Junkie’s career, and still sounds a fresh today as when it was recorded 25 years ago. The Velvet Underground’s version, in comparison, has aged poorly. Kind of like Lou Reed himself…

3) All Along the Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix over Bob Dylan. Dylan is probably the most covered artist of the past 50 years. Part of it is because he’s a prolific writer and has an incredible volume of work from which to draw. Part of it is because he can write a damn good song. Jimi gets the nod on this one with one of the most classic covers of all time. It still sounds as timeless today as when it was recorded 40 years ago.

2) Whiskey in the Jar, Metallica over Thin Lizzy. Lizzy’s version was a strong song, but it always sounded like it was finished about four takes too early. The band could have really polished it more. That’s where Metallica steps in. Their cranking guitars take this song where it originally needed to go. If not for Johnny Cash, this would be #1.

1) Hurt, Johnny Cash over Nine Inch Nails. NIN’s version is simply OK – an otherwise pretty good song in their portfolio. Cash, at the tail end of his life, takes it and completely makes it his own. Producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin pulled everything out of the aging star, and the result was a body of work that is timeless. There will never be another treasure like Johnny Cash.  So in honor of the #1 position, here’s the video. Enjoy:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

StarTribune: Twins' Target Field is Racist!

Hold on to your breakfast.  From the StarTribune this morning comes their editorial Letter of the Day:
I'm very excited to attend a baseball game at the new Target Field. Too bad the Twins didn't select an all-fans-friendly hot dog to serve at the stadium ("Wiener winner: Schweigert," March 8). With the exception of the all-beef dog served at portable grills and select concession stands, all of the other new dogs -- including those served by vendors in the stands -- will be a combination of pork and beef. My beef with that is that many people (Jews and Muslims, for example) who do not eat pork for religious reasons will not be able to enjoy the popular Dollar-A-Dog offering and will have to spend time searching for a hot dog they can eat. Count that as one strike against the new stadium.
Letter of the Day?  Seriously, LETTER OF THE DAY?

Practicing Muslims can't drink anything from the beer vendor, either.  I think we need to close down this bastion of prejudice before we even open the door, and offer reparations (via tax on the rich) to the parties that have been offended.

Political correctness continues to run amok...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Yellow Dog Patrol Upcoming Concert Schedule

The Yellow Dog Patrol will be getting its live music on coming up, with a total of 8 shows in the next 60 days. Here’s the schedule:
  • Alice in Chains March 21at Roy Wilkins Black Gives Way To Blue
  • The Donnas March 24 at the Highline Ballroom in New York  Greatest Hits Volume 16
  • St. John’s University Men’s Choir at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Waconia on March 27
  • Spoon at First Avenue on April 3  Transference
  • The XX at The Varstiy on April 9  XX
  • Rogue Wave at the Fine Line Music CafĂ© on April 15 Permalight
  • Mindy Smith and Mary Gauthier at The Cedar Cultural Center on May 6  Stupid Love
Look for reviews and set lists for all on this very spot. Rock on.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Latest Viking Turn Over - Vikings Lose Chester Taylor

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings lost back-up running back Chester Taylor in an expected free agency situation. While little could have been done to prevent this, the Taylor loss looms huge for the Purple next year. Given Peterson's propensity to put the ball on the floor, we no longer have a good means to spell him to keep him physically and mentally fresh.

 There are some high profile free agents out there in the form of LaDainian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook, but I'd consider both to be long shots - both have massive issues to resolve in performance, and both likely will command huge attention on the free agent market.

 Between the tougher schedule, potential loss of Favre, and now the loss of Taylor, the Vikings could have a really tough time next season.

 In the mean time, good for Chester. He's a talented back that deserves a starting spot, and Chicago is a perfect fit. Let's hope he doesn't come back to haunt us too much.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Audio Espresso

I'm exhausted after a long SMX conference in San Jose, and working on less than four hours a sleep.

Coffee is no help.

Ike and Tina to the rescue.  They don't make 'em like that anymore.

Happy Friday, everybody.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Three: "Puppy Troubles" Part 6

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

To put it bluntly, Blitz was psycho for bunnies. I'm not sure if she considered them something like hopping cats, or if she just liked them for their own set of circumstances, but she was crazy for rabbits.
Upon first seeing a bunny, she'd immediately freeze, akin to what she'd ultimately do when pointing birds when we were hunting. The rabbit responded similarly, as is their nature. So there'd we sit, dog eyeballing rabbit and vice versa. Ultimately someone would make a move, and then the game would be on. If Blitz happened to be on a lead at the time, it would require all strength one could muster to keep her under control and prevent her from choking on her own collar. If Blitz happened to be free, well that would be another adventure all together. The rabbit would immediately drop its speed into the highest gear possible, with the dog gamely keeping pace. Ultimately both would accelerate outside of view, with the dog eventually coming back empty-handed but happy as could be.

I always felt OK about the chase, as heck, this was a rabbit, right? She's a dog. There's no way she's going to run down and catch a rabbit. The speed differential made it impossible.

Uh, wrong.

Upon waking one morning and letting Blitz out to take care of business, she immediately got on the path of a running rabbit in the back yard. I stood there and watched, thinking this would be another futile bunny-chase, but respecting the effort. It was kind of like rooting for Charlie Brown to finally kick that football.

The two ultimately went out of view, and within seconds Blitz was returning, but this time she was carrying something in her mouth. I stood there, mouth agape, as my dog was coming back to me with a full grown and very alive rabbit in her mouth. I wondered aloud "What the hell am I going to do now?"

In the quiet early morning, the sounds really stood out, and the rabbit was voicing its displeasure about its predicament. At about 15 yards from me the rabbit must have pushed the panic button and decided to bite, as Blitz let out a muffled "yipe." Unfortunately for the rabbit, the "yipe" was immediately followed by a noticeable "crunch."

Hunting dogs are bred and trained to have "soft mouths;" to carry their game lightly back to the handler so that their canine teeth wouldn't tear or otherwise damage the meat of the retrieved game. Even with no training, Blitz always had a soft mouth (to which at least one robin can attest), but clearly the game got changed once the quarry started biting.

Though her life Blitz ran down about a dozen rabbits, and gave full chase to dozens more. She became quite adept at their capture, much to some gardeners' delight, and to horror of the more uninitiated. For example, upon moving to our new house, my wife was meeting the nice neighbor lady for the first time in our back yard whereupon up trotted Blitz with a bunny in her mouth. It made for a memorable first impression.

Blitz's last bad habit during "walkies" was her desire to chase cars. It was not every car; in fact she responded to very few cars. But every once and a while there would be something particular about the car or truck going past her that made her take off after it.

As I always had her on a lead when walking near vehicles, and since a dog that chases cars typically doesn't live to see a ripe, old age, I'd use these episodes to really correct her. I'd shout a massive "NO!" and would pull back on her lead, often pulling her off the ground doing so.

Despite these corrections, there would always be the random vehicle that set her off. I tried to ascertain what the common theme was that set her off - car vs. truck, music vs. quiet, windows down vs. up, etc. but never found a common theme. I felt it likely had something to do with sound, but I could never get a handle on what it ultimately was.

Hence, whenever there was a new situation that resulted in a new sound (e.g. construction equipment, garbage truck, etc.), I would prepare myself by gripping more tightly on the lead lest the yellow dog make a bolt for the offending vehicle.

One particular foggy morning put us to a test. We were out for our morning walk at 4:00 AM in the darkness, and the humidity and stillness of the morning conspired to create an incredibly thick fog.

As Blitz and I turned onto the main street, I heard the sound of a police siren turning on a couple of hundred yards away from us. Soon the lights came into view, and it was obvious that the sheriff would be driving right past us.

With the lights reflecting in the thick fog and the sound of the wailing siren, I said to myself, "This should be interesting," tightened my death-grip on the lead, and kept both eyes on the dog. Blitz came to a stop, ears perked, and immediately slammed her butt on the pavement in the sit position. "That's really odd," I thought. "I wonder if the dog thinks she's getting pulled over?"

With me still tight as a loaded spring and with the cop car 20 yards behind us, Blitz points her nose straight to the heavens a lets out this resounding "AAAAAAWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" that would have made Warren Zevon proud.

Up to this point, she'd never howled. She never did since. But for some reason that cop car, lights, sirens, and fog all conspired to push a button for her inner wolf to come out, and it immediately rendered me laughing uncontrollably.

I often wonder what that sheriff thought, driving at 4:00 in the morning to an emergency call, when suddenly out of the fog come this yellow labrador howling to the moon and her owner doubled over in laughter.

To go to the next chapter, click here

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Alice in Chains Cancels Concert with Class

Alice In Chains Kicks Off First National Tour In More Than A Decade
Alice in Chains posted the following on their Facebook page:

The flu bug has infiltrated the Alice In Chains camp and bit down hard. In light of this situation, tonight's show in Charlotte is postponed. AIC would like to sincerely apologize to all of their fans in Charlotte, particularly those that waited in the snow. The show is rescheduled for April 20 at the Uptown Amphitheater at the Music Factory, so if you have tickets, hold on to them. They will be honored.

Compare this to what The Tragically Hip did a couple of months ago.

It took someone from the AIC camp about 30 seconds to crank out this appropriate message.

The boys from Canada could learn something from this.

In the mean time, I have a date with Alice in a couple of weeks, and wish the boys a speedy recovery.  And if you haven't already, I suggest you check out their latest effort.  The new line up works well, and the tracks are quite tasty.  Highly endorsed.

California Cruising

Los Angeles Auto Show Previews Latest Car Models
In an effort to save my company $400 in airfare, I coordinated trip to San Jose to fly into LAX, then hop a commuter to the Monterey airport, then make the 1.5 hour drive to San Jose.

 As I was exhaustedly sitting in LAX last night as part of my 3 hour layover, I felt that my efforts to save money was a big mistake. As I boarded the baby-plane to Monterey and crammed myself into my seat, I continued to kick myself. And finally, as I dragged my sorry tail off of the tiny plane and steeled myself for a long drive, saving those dollars looked like just abject stupidity.

 As I got to the lonesome Hertz counter, you can imagine my amazement that my company had booked me for an economy car. Finally, I had reached my limit. When the friendly agent suggested an upgrade to a Nissan Altima, I was quick to accept the incremental $10 per day it would cost me. “It’s a hybrid,” she explained, and my face must have immediately dropped, as I must have been envisioning trying to get acceleration out of a weak battery. Seeing my demeanor, she quickly grinned and said, “Don’t worry, you’re going to like it.”

I loaded up the GPS to take me up famed California Highway 1, and then through the switches and turns on CA-17.

That hour and a half went by like 5 minutes. I drove the living hell out of that car. I mean, I drove the living hell out of that car.  The Altima not only had massive acceleration, but also a very big top end. What an awesome trip.

Here’s my route. If you zoom in, you can see all the twists:

Sometimes, when it appears we've reached our limit, the best stuff happens...

Terra Waconia Restaurant Review

While we were quite saddened by the demise of The Green Room, we were heartened to hear that the restaurant would soon reopen as "Terra Waconia," and would retain much of the staff and menu favorites that we've come to love.

We stopped in last Friday, and immediately noticed a number of subtle changes in room decor that really added to the ambiance of the place. The room just felt more warm.

We were put off a little that printed menus don't exist - the only accounting for the bill of fare was a chalkboard behind the bar. It was nice to see some old favorites (Brussels sprouts and mussels were just two examples), but were really put off that a seafood dish wasn't available. Hello - it's a Friday night during Lent, and there's a reason why McDonalds is running all of those Fillet-o-Fish ads. Because of this, we actually got our coats back on and headed for the door.

Prior to leaving, my wife stopped by to tell the waitress the reason behind our departure. She immediately sped over and apologized for no letting us know about the sole special, and that got us to remove our coats and sit back down.

My wife started with the fig salad and I did the mussels, and both were wonderful. The sole was indeed special, and the entire evening turned out to be a good one.

While they still appear to have some bugs to work out, it was nice to get back to getting a great meal in Waconia. We will continue our support, and wish them well.