Monday, May 30, 2005

Something's Phishy

Hi All!

I damned near fell for this gem of deception-- Never be too careful:
"Dear Paypal Customer,

In accordance with our major database relocation, we are currently having
adjustments and updates of user accounts to verify that the
(sic) you have provided with us during the sign-up process
are true and

However, we have noticed some discrepancies regarding

your account at Paypal. Possible causes are inaccurate contact information
invalid logout process.

We require you to complete an account verification procedure as part of our
security measure.

You must click the link to complete the process.

Link deleted

Please Note

Unable to do so may result to abnormal account behavior during

We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Please understand
this is a security measure intended to help protect you
and your account.We apologize for any inconvenience.

PayPal Account Review Department
PayPal Email ID PP560"
The very NERVE!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Commie Russians and Red Chinese

Hi All!

My perfect wife has always been the political moderate of the family, which is why she keeps getting elected where I could only come close. I spent over $50K on my campaigns, she has paid $2 filing fees. 16 years of public service, 10 elected. She is truly a wonder in so many ways...

But here is what she said just a scant while ago, which made me glad I have kept my recap of the day's events hidden in the "drafts" folder.

As I narrated my day, she interrupted me to say, "Are we living in communist Russia?"

Holy Hanna's handgrenades!

What a blast from the past!

Growing up, two of the most common threatening admonitions we received from our parents at showing the least hint of rebellion were:

"You could have been born in communist Russia!" and;

"Scrape up and eat that leftover canned cream corn. You could have been born in red China where the children starving! then wash the dishes and go to bed and thank God you can eat with a fork instead of chopsticks!"

These were usually followed by the reassuring "You should pray and thank God every night that you were born in the United States of America."

That starving threat never quite made sense to me, even when the victims switched to "Africa" after Vatican II. Not that the events were linked, they just sort of happened at the same time. I think the Biafra pictures shifted it.

I would have been happy to bombard the starving red Chinese children with crates of Del Monte canned, cream corn. Perhaps it would have delayed the dominos falling should we lose Vietnam, after which it was only a matter of short time before the red Chinese and communist Russians would meet at the Mississippi and establish a new East/West World Order.

We St. Paulites would speak Russian and Mill Citians would coverse in Chinese. Something like that is really happening now, but it is a bit more subtle and gradual and involves more cultures.

Come to think of it, it was pretty scary to be a kid born in the mid 1950's. My uncle Gordy had a bomb shelter. There were tons of provisions under the bleachers of CST stadium which was the evacuation place for our neighborhood. They were still there when I matriculated in 1977.

I think the big drums of "potable water" were more like "dehydrated potable water" by then.

Well, so the thing is, you will have to wait for me to hunt n' peck down my story of today. It has been verbally related to Laura, so if the ultimate life's irony hits me by being killed on account of a drunk, she will have the "oral history" to pass down.

I recently dredged up a CD of the "Commandos Commit Suicide" concert recorded at the Longhorn in 1978.

"If you don't like it, BURN IT DOWN! BURN IT DOWN! If you really hate it, "BURN IT DOWN! BURN IT DOWN! You don't have to take it"....

The link has some audio clips if your inclined to sample some forbidden fruit from my youth.

Unfortunately the "Burn it Down" teaser fades out before the "good part"" but you will get the idea if you check it out. They also cover "It's My Life" by the Animals in a medley not listed, which is right up there with "I'm Not like Anybody Else" in my book.

If nothing else, check out "Emission Control." SOoooo late 70's with the wordplay on the energy crisis and an altogether more evergreen teenage crisis...

If I survive the weekend, I will resume on a calmer note. Thanks for reading.

By the way, I still AM filled with gratitude to God for having granted me His divine providence in sending me down to be "Born in the USA."


Welly, Well, Well.

Hi All!

Just got home and all is somewhat well. Bloody welly well well, me woggie droogs!

I don't want to incriminate myself or otherwise somehow violate my parole, so I will choose my words more carefully than usual -- but probably not carefully enough. I never do. I can't.

I had always felt that we born pessimists could never be depressed because we always anticipated and expected the worst and anything better would be great!

I have been fooling myself. Duh. I've duly suffered many deserved and less deserved and downright unfair slings and arrows and shotgun blasts to the chest during the past year, but never let it be said that it's over just because the calendar says so. Or just because a trusted fellow human or two in positions of authority say so as they rush to get out of the office for a long weekend.

No, t'aint over until it's over and it t'aint never over.

The big licensing rush is on, and the B-squad is on duty.

Where shall I begin? Let's start with the end. I am home, my affairs are in order and I am not drinking. The PC had one of it's frequent epileptic seizures just when I neared saving a several hundred word roll, but what the heck. It was vapor to start with and it's vapor now. No problems.

The drenched windbreaker is drying on the back of a dining room chair, I've cleaned up after the dogs who get literally homesick on dreary days like this. They won't go outside, they just hold everything in, trusting my promise to be back soon...

Maybe I should just leave it at that, but you know me....


Not for Cops

Click to enlarge, sit down, shut up and get out of the way!

The Boy or the Scorpio?

Hi All!

Which to bring home this weekend? The mini bike definitely stays, but the other two are just so cute! Guess I'll squeeze the boy into the back cargo bay with a bungee cord wrapped around his wrist to hold up the remainder of the exhaust.

We don't want to leave a trail of sparks on the highways from Hinkley to Falcon Heights, now do we? Don't worry, I'll give him asbestos gloves. Gotta remember to duck the acorns that fly out of the sagged headliner whenever we stop. That 8 year old gas should be good to go once we top 'er up with the fresh stuff. If we can make it the 100 miles home I have new fuel filters and injectors ready to install.

He'll inhale alot of exhaust, but that will be good for him, as it has always worked for me. I really miss that distinctive smell which sort of permanently hovered in the air anywhere near the major arteries. Ah. Now that I think of it, the sight and smell of burning leaves came around every fall to stimulate the senses. Burning trash? Well, I don't much miss THAT smell, but it sure was cool to throw in a spent can of mom's hairspray and wait for it to explode, hopefully up out of but sometimes right straight sideways thru the rusty side of the ashcan.

The split-open can innards looked like the colorful NBC peacock that the rich kids with expensive new TVs could experience. We didn't need color TV in those days, and we didn't need drugs...we just had to blow up aerosol cans and sniff the air.

Well, today is yet another "Big Day".

I am fully prepared to slice thru the DMV bureaucracy like a hot knife thru margarine. All ducks are in a row, after calls to DMV and my insurance agent. The only business I need to transact is transfer of title, getting new tabs and plates and be on my merry way.

All I need to grab before I go is the "Yellow Form" which you get when you apply for your drivers license. I took care of that in March, figuring the new card would arrive by today. come to find out that the introduction of the new and improved license is totally effed up, just like the last time they tried to change. Well, I can wait as long as I have the Yellow Form.

The Yellow Form. Not the receipt from Roseville Auto Repair. Not the copy of the insurance claim for the Infectious Diseases doctor visit. Not the "intent to forfeit vehicle" form.

What fool what lose track of THE Yellow Form? THIS FOOL!

I've been told that it is no problem...that the computer says I have a valid license as of today, but I should get something at the Roseville outlet while I'm there for the other business.

The Roseville license bureau is, shall we say, less polyglot than, for example, the Midway site. I realize that "Cabin Opener", formerly known as "Memorial Day Weekend" might not be the ideal time to transact my business, but I am mentally prepared to stand behind the fishing license applicants and the trailer and watercraft tab seekers.

Looks like a pretty nice, albeit cold day, and except for not having slept a wink last night in dread anticipation of something going wrong I am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and terrified and ready to roll! I hope the computers aren't overwhelmed with boat license applications. I'm sure the support staff is already "at the lake" like most everybody else who decided to hurry the holiday on Thursday.

Must really be exciting to look forward to being drenched and frozen to death. The weather of late puts me in mind of a cold Seattle winter. Frozen Omaha, cold Seattle. Gosh we love it here!

Well, gotta go. Will let y'all know how it comes out. Expecting the worst, deserving the less worse.


Kersten in the Crib, er, Strib

Hi All!

The rest of Thursday's commie ratcage liner ( I KEED, I KEED!) was relatively intact in the back of the 84H bus today. Generally you get both papers for free included in the soon to be raised Sack o' Jah Wee Ah + a State fare.

(That's a challenge folks, but read it a few times and it makes sense, perhaps. Okay, funky dollar plus funky quarter with reference to a tax-free Vatican City in my town. Go ahead and comment what a loser I am, at least I amuse myself in healthier ways than some)

Come July 1, those funny looking dollar coins wil need TWO states added off peak (that'd be six bits for you Nordeasters).

I have a bunch of New Hampshires and Delawares, but I'm coveting my Minnesotas. They are definitely cool looking. Good job, Commission! It only took years and countless bucks to do what my dear old dad could have sketched on a cocktail napkin at the Ramada after work for "The Mining" in that fancy new building out East on 12 in "the day".

He was in the Graphic Art department for years, and had a decent influence in the old 3M and Scotch branded art. I will never forget how he rued the fact that later management spent tons of money for outside consultants to come up with a plain, red 3M to replace the squarish one my dad had a hand in.

Did I digress? Yes.

It was windy with the window open, so the "A" section was strewn about, but I dug the editorial page out from it's lodging place under the divider behind the rear entrance stairwell divider.

Nothing much of interest there, except what was at best a dislodged bit of muck from the sole of an off-trodding mass transit patron or at worst, a bloody smeared-on booger (not mine, I put those on the crosswords for my wife to circumnavigate) distracted me from reading carefully the daily pearls of wisdom and truth cast from on high from gods of the Mill City editorial pantheon.

Maybe it was a solider bit of upchuck, not uncommon on the 16, but rare on the 84. If it was, it must have mostly missed, because it was only a little fingernail-sized crusty blog.

(Okay, only one last time. If you miss my subtle ironies, read something less purile)

Then I happened on a fairly intact Metro section in the row behind. Nicely creased and visibly cootie free.

Katie Kerstie? Columnist? Taking on the Archbishop? On 1B? With a jump to 9B?

Of all the myriad factors for begging 6 more weeks of therapy, this would certainly have been a deciding factor, if not for the fact that I read it on the 84H headed home.

Perhaps 12 more weeks might help.

Is the Strib really starting to get it? I sense a setup but Kersten is too smart to fall for that trap, ain't she? Have never met her, it seems that she has always written what I think much better than I can could, ever.

We shall see. That guy who runs the C4AmEx, "Pearljam" or something, was, after all, a Strib editorial bigshot in the day, so one must be en garde dost the acorn fallleth not distant from the oak.

Cheers and Take Care This Weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bloody Weather

Hi All!

I sent an urchin out to mow and actually didn't get much complaint. Sunny and breezy. Five minutes later, dark and downpouring. Just enough to settle the dust and get the lawn too wet to mow.

I had my liver-stomach stent revised this week and now, in addition to two Boston Scientific steel-braided hoses, I have a Gore-tex piece. Hey, whatever keeps me alive. That little length of tube probably cost more than a closet full of their outerwear!

Finished 18 weeks of outpatient and decided to tack on 6 more. Freedom is coming in waves (I get my license back tomorrow and will head straight to The Lake) and I've got to be extra guarded, so extra time in group is a wise choice, I think.

I've collected a couple of nasty "Anonymous Comments" and as much as I appreciate that coming with the territory, I still let it get to me, which is crazy. What I don't like is that it comes in my email and doesn't reference which post is being commented on. I went back a couple of months in the archives and can't tell which ones got this/these chickenshits so irked.

Well, when I start getting 3000 hits a day rather than 30, I will learn to blow it off. It's not as though I don't set out to get people thinking!

Politically, I am still trying to figure Pawlenty out. He really has some 'splain'n to do. Gas tax for road construction would have been the way to break his no tax pledge. Honest, understandble and livable -- even popular!

By vetoing the gas tax and turning around and riling up his friends while delighting his enemies by proposing a 75 cent/pack cancer stick "fee" is almost cause of fear for his sanity.

Well, we still don't have a transportation bill so there is time to make amends, but at this point it would stick him between a rock and a hard place. So what? Don't we elect these guys to do what's in the best interests of the public? Hypothetical question, I know.



Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Booze Newz from the Capitol

Hi All!

Channel 9 just aired a breathtaking expose' on having discovered, heaven forfend, wine bottles and beer cans in the Capitol trash -- er, recycling bins.

Meanwhile, billions of dollars and peoples' lives stand to be impacted by what is going on up there. Too boring to waste precious commerical time to do an in depth report on such trivia.

I'd like to hang out around the Channel 9 dumpster some night. Judge lest ye be...

While the report focused on Steve Sviggum (mispronounced by investigative babe Trish about 10 times -- its "Swig um") the only guys who got filmed running away from the camera were Senate democrats.

The way the story was slanted would have led you to believe it is a Republican problem.

No matter. Prudes rule in the Politcally Correct world of today. No wonder everybody is so crabby.


Pawlenty - What Was He Thinking?

Hi All!

Politics is (or at least used to be) the art of compromise.

If our young Governor "Palmetto" (as spell check recommends) wanted to pick a time to honestly "break" his no tax vow, the gas tax would have been the way to do it. The stars were in alignment for that one -- many of the thoughtful, and even some of the most clueless legislators were on board.

Instead he decided to stomp a burning bag of excrement left by some psycho on his front stoop.

The 75-cent per pack sin tax is fair insofar as it is the users that pay. Sin taxes are always an easy sell.

But the way Tim pirouetted around calling a tax a tax for something that doesn't raise much revenue in any case and is sure to alienate his base while never appeasing his foes is the most ham-handed thing I've seen in my years of observing Minnesota politics.

Was spokesmouth/advisor Brian McClung out sick that day? Has Dan McElroy been benched?

Some conspiracy buffs can make a tie-in with last week's selective reach-out to bloggers -- again, semi-smart. McClung was on old poster to the Minnesota Politics e-mail discussion group, but he is obviously not up to speed on the blogosphere.

Brian, Tim! I am available for consultation. As if ---

For this incredible waste of political capital, I assumed the Governor made a "deal of a lifetime" to get the Session closed with most of his agenda. The Session is not closed and I don't see any deals. Has this bright young man been duped or did a blogger sprinkle something on his slice of pizza?

As things look now, I don't think Jesse could have done worse. Brian Sullivan might emerge from the shadows after all, which would be cool, 'cos I still have his buttons and stickers.

Serious observers will make note of all the really hidden taxes that have gotten through this year -- the lack of outrage over the 20 percent ethanol mandate is a good starting point if you want to pick an iceberg to chip at.


Monday, May 23, 2005

Foto Funny - Cake Icing Industry Slow to Adopt Spell-check

by PK, early digital image ca.1996

Free Trial = Tribulation

Hi All!

Hopefully I am preaching to the converted, but for those who are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the ass masses (self included) I caution you to take exceptional care when confronting internet offers of "Free" and "Free Trial."

To keep this pithy, I will only offer an example of "Free Trial".

In-Laws are out of town which offers me opportunity to "tune up" their old rig.

They have been using a relative's education contact to use TIES.

TIES is a fine property-exempt squatter on prime Falcon Heights real estate on Larpenteur and Snelling -- the old big-time taxpaying Harvest States property.

TIES as an ISP was below market rate for a few years, (99.00 per year) but now there are other dial-ups as cheap or cheaper. Are they better?

I set out to learn. Started with "Enhanced" Netscape at 9.95 per 1/12 year with "accelerator".

Installed and benchmarked, it was truly not much better, even with Firefox vs. Explorer. How dial-up still exists is beyond my comprehending. Can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. (good grace, did I really have to resort to that old writer's bromide?)

Of course, when the 1200 baud modems started coming out in the late '70s no one could believe how 300 baud could hang on. But it did, until the 2400 baud generation vaulted the telecommunications world from 300/1200 to 300/1200/2400. Another long story. Pithy, Wog, pithy!

You can't cancel your 30-day "Free Trial" without calling or faxing. Not possible over internet.

Red Flag.

But they advertise on National TV!

Okay, I'm game.

Called proper number and got forwarded straight to India (I know because I make it a point to aks).

Long and short of it is that these poor souls who spent years of their lives learning computer support skills and every regional dialect of American English have to work the phones in the middle of the night trying to help masses of asses. Can you imagine support calls from Mussel Shoals? Ely? Ypsilanti? Da Bronx? South Minneapolis?

Worst of all, "Benanav", er, "Merriam" Park? No worries, that is the land of Libs with day-job free broadband and wildflower gardens. Wasn't like that when I "grew up" there but tempts many a story which I shall endeavor to parcel out for returning readers.

The "Flower Pot Gang" can't speak Common Sense, let alone "American English". Perhaps we need to float a neighborhood grant proposal to encourage basic communication skills for dealing with ESL sufferers.

If the randy "Smile'n Jay" can get $50K for solar panels to "cool?" Izzy's Ice Cream store, there's hope abundant for such worthy causes. "Global Warming Begets Local Cooling" reads the potential headline and you heard it here first!

These poor outsourcers must be living under the threat of being floated down the Ganges in a burning barge if they don't convince the distant dumbass Netscape tire-kicker to stay in the fold.

Their scripted politeness and earnestness wobbles when you start to slowly talk them out of it with words they can understand and intelligence they can appreciate.

It does somehow break down the barriers, but their is always the palpable guardedness of wasting time on impromptu human conversation.

But in the end they are no help at all.

I have been offered every financial incentive and technical fix that I already know about. I will prevail, but they have my credit card number and the answer to my secret question, as well as knowing where I live.

Lastly, they said I could cancel, but the 30-day "Trial" seems contingent on continuing the service.

Next lesson. Don't just click on "Agree" on those generic CYA installation screens.

This blog will only touch on technical matters for variety. Like Foto Funnies and Lyrical Interludes.

I feel that I just cheated Death again today, so I will try to put a post together that won't drive too many readers away.

I'm here posting this techno-drivel so I must still be alive. Funny way to celebrate, I know.


Postscript: I just got off the phone with "Roy" It wasn't easy to extract myself from the Netscape Free Trial (boy they got the "trial" part right.

As Roy was reading the ABC's of why I couldn't and shouldn't try to leave Netscape as a sane, sentient being, I interrupted him with alternative proof by crack'n wise about how I well understood his fate of being floated down the Ganges on a burning barge should he lose a valued tire kicker. And I thought mortage brokers are persistent!

"Listen politely and return to script." So it unfortunately goes.


Sunday, May 22, 2005

Wog at MOB Scene

Hi All!

I try to avoid "insider" posts... yeah, as IF..... but I felt privileged to have been welcomed to Saturday night's gathering of the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers in St Cloud.

It was a very low key and convivial "meet-up" (a little Move-On lingo there) of some very good writers and very interesting people.

The event was missing some of the Big Ticket bloggers but I guess that was a good thing because instead of slobbering over Superstars, this "Never Will be Famous" got to mingle with the "Not Quite Famous Yet but Will Be Soon."

(I have always been something of a jock sniffer and name dropper. My therapist says I'm insecure.)

Of particular note was having met with the only person who writes me with any frequency, Mr. Flash (namesake of the villian of the Kinks' "Preservation" Acts One and Two) a left-of-center blogger and a very nice man. Yes folks, we CAN all get along.

I was also surprised to see a long-time friend who showed up having discovered my whereabouts by reading King's SCSU Scholars blog!

Talked alot of Rock n' Roll with my chauffeur Mitch, which made the travel time fly, even though he drives like an old lady (The speed limit is 70 for chrissakes!). His coolant temperature gauge was flirting with "H" which added a bit of drama to the commute, but by running the heater at full blast on the way home, we managed to keep the needle from pegging.

Having experienced a couple of overheating incidents myself, I was half-expecting the head gasket to blow at any instant. Fords. Fix Or Repair Daily.

Added to my parent's 50th Anniversary bash at the Lex earlier in the day, the St. Cloud Conclave made it a memorable one and I came home, safe, sound, tired and very contented.

Tomorrow I will spend the day at St. Joe's getting my trans portal stent revised. This is a bit of stainless hose that directs blood from my liver to my stomach and reduces the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. Like any plumbing, it can clog, so my jugular will once again provide a pathway for the incredible micro-miniature drain cleaning snake.

Somewhat icky and they keep you awake because you have to breath for them, but it really doesn't hurt and it's a free anesthetic high, courtesy of Blue Cross.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I'm Not Like Everybody Else

Hi All!

Written by
: Ray Davies

I won't take all that they hand me down,

And make out a smile, though I wear a frown,
And I won't take it all lying down,
'Cause once I get started I go to town.

'Cause I'm not like everybody else,
I'm not like everybody else,
I'm not like everybody else,
I'm not like everybody else.

And I don't want to ball about like everybody else,
And I don't want to live my life like everybody else,
And I won't say that I feel fine like everybody else,
'Cause I'm not like everybody else,
I'm not like everybody else.


A Hurdle Vaulted and A Story Remembered

Hi All!

Well, sports fans, I've gained a fast footing on another slippery rock on the way across the stream to better health and longer life.

Let me say right off, it's almost never too late to quit drinking. As compromised as my poor liver is, it is functioning better than it was last October. Much better, in fact.

Reported to the transplant center and got my hand held throughout the day's schedule, which was mostly talk with nurses, Dr. Lake, a nutritionist and a social worker.

The long and short of it is that I have been evaluated and found to be worthy of further evaluation. The next appointment is when they poke and prod and x-ray and drain blood and hook me up to all manner of remarkable machine.

My liver is shot, but there is just enough function that should I remain stable or further improve, I will get on the list, alright, but I may not need to have the new part for years, if ever!

If that don't qualify as good news, I don't know what does.

Saw Dr. Najarian, a literal and figurative giant in UofM Transplant History. Still working, on the far side of 70. He was engaged in earnest conversation with another doc so I didn't interrupt, but it sure reminded me of a story!

In 1984 the U hosted the International Transplant Society Conference, which is a really big , every-four-year deal, and was awarded to Minneapolis primarily due to the reputation and arm twisting of Dr. Najarian. I was creating custom applications for Continuing Medical Education (in those days, everything had to be custom) on their Wang system.

The conference required a ground-up custom application that tracked abstract submittal and grading, registrations for various seminars and social events, billing and account receivable, name tags, posters, the whole shebang.

We even had to buy a very expensive Swedish "Facit" graphical printer to do the tags, banners and signs, and there was no handy clicking (clicking is what keys did in those days pre-rodent) on font, size, format... you get the picture. Had to be all hard-coded. For a business major who self-taught programming, I was pretty damned good!

Najarian was overseeing the project and he never ranted at me in person, but he did offer some "constructive criticism" from time to time via poor Dr. Bart, the CME coordinator. The worst of it was that the docs on the committee kept changing the way the wanted to grade the abstracts, which are summations of scholarly papers that are a big deal when chosen to be presented at the conference. I was billing $85/hr in those days, so I didn't mind burning some midnight oil.

Now, to me, Najarian is a household name, but I'm sure some of you need a a bit of background.

Never has their been a less-likely world famous, ground breaking transplant surgeon. He was a big, dark, swarthy, deep-voiced, back slapping linebacker-type guy who was very down to earth, overweight, the former owner of some deep-grease chicken franchises and the focus, some ten years after, of a world of scandal over research connected with a then-controversial anti rejection drug called ALG.

He was cleared, but a great deal of brutal and unfair damage was done.

Other than that good link to a Time article, all the details about this great man can be found if you Google "John Najarian Transplant"

He is an incredibly gifted surgeon who pushed the transplant envelope with his pork-hock hands.

Anaway, my perk for developing the most advanced International Transplant Society Conference software ever to that point in distant time, was a free ticket to one of the social events -- an Alabama concert at the State Fair.

The transplant group had a whole section reserved, front and center. I sat in front of Dr. John, a HUGE Alabama fan, who was enthusiastically enjoying the show. Not so, some fellow transplant surgeons, especialy the ones from overseas, if ya'll get my drift. The music was deafening being right in front like that and many a hand stayed cupped over many an ear. Many left early -- a bit too much American Cultural Immersion for them!

Of course, Alabama recognized their "Big Fan" and he almost toppled over my chair in jumping up to acknowledge the tribute.

Today he is smaller and grayer, but I recognized that basso profundo coming from down the hall before I ever saw him.

I'm sure we will run into each other during the course of my journey. Hope to tell him what an inspiration he was/is despite having his career forever tainted by administrators who hung him out to dry because they let him run his own fiefdom without proper administrative oversight and failed to cover his back when the excrement hit the whirling blades.

Well, hopefully that will be enough health news for awhile. There are great tales to be told, so stay tuned for me to honk some pearls.


Cover Me Boys, I'm Goin' In

Hi All!

I have a whole bunch of lengthly and excellent posts blowing around in my cerebral draft folder, but I haven't pulled them out, because I have been so distracted by this, yet another "Big Day" in a year of Big Days.

Shortly I will be heading to the Phillips Wangensteen Transplant Center for an all-day evaluation which will determine if I am eligible to go on the liver list.

If they send me home early, it will be because I don't really need, or I'm too far gone to transplant!

I selfishly solicit good thoughts from the readers as I walk this life altering path.


Sunday, May 15, 2005

Wish I'd Had a Camera

Hi All!

Spotted today at the Owner to Owner Auto Mart, taped to the windshield of a sorry looking Honda:

Good Car. CHIP!!!

Call Vladimir.


Headline Watch

Hi All!

Did a double-take when I read the following headline in the Pioneer Press this morning, regarding the approaching end of the legislative session:

As Capitol Clock Ticks, Anxiety Lifts

In my experience, the Capitol becomes a nut house in the final days of session as the consequences of 4 1/2 months of sitting on asses comes home to roost in a flood of last minute sausage making.

What the headline writer meant to say, of course, is that anxiety builds or increases, but in a tortured effort to make some sort not too clever rhyme, the meaning of the article is, um, "misrepresented." About 180 degree's worth.

Now I'm not a professional headline writer, but here are a few stabs at it.

Time Flies, Anxieties Rise
Lawmakers Play Beat the Clock
Lawmakers Wound Up as Clock Winds Down
As Clock Runs, Lawmakers Get Ticked
Time Flies, Bills Die
Tick, Tock, Reps Watch Clock

Ok Gang, your turn! Play the new hit game, "Headliners."

Submit your entries below.


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Glammin' in the 70's

Hi All!

I've really had the blues lately so haven't written in awhile -- not for lack of material!

For now, enjoy this pre-Bowie concert snapshot from about 1978 or '79.

That's me and Laura (she still looks that good!) with friends.

Went to see Ziggy, were very disappointed to witness the birth of the "Thin White Duke." What a crappy scene. Here we were all glammed up (with 18,000) others only to find out that Bowie had remade himself into a well-dressed and coiffed lounge singer.

There is a fellow in the photo who anyone familiar with the House of Representatives would know. He's been there at least 28 years and is almost always on camera. If I gave out his name he would kill me. He probably will anyway if he catches wind of this!


Friday, May 13, 2005

Vanishing Bride or Pioneer Press Ad Model?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Variety on the News?

Hi All!

I like to click, and have always been irked by the fact that the 10pm newscasts run commericals at the same time to keep us types from snatching some extra moments of information.

Tonight it was more than commericals. Both WCCO and KSTP ran sad human interest stories about sick kids at the same time.

WCCO aped KSTP's coverage of a reporter with cancer. This time it was the son of a reporter who is sick.

Don'tcha just love the variety? Oh, and what the heck happened to "news?" Oh yeah, KSTP dragged Dave Dahl out of his sickbed on his day off to breathlessly report on the very pedestrian thunderstorm we had tonight. The team coverage included a reporter who directed the camera to a downtown street and warned that, as we could see, it was still wet and slick. Then they ran footage of a car with the windshield wipers going, a shot of the sky with raindrops and flashes of lightning and a live traffic camera shot showing that, surprisingly, I guess, there were few accidents, although traffic was light so people were smart enough to stay home. On Sunday night of Mother's Day. Duh.

Finally, we learned the fascinating fact that it rained LAST Mothers day too!


In personal news, having crossed a finish line, I didn't watch where I was going on the cool down jog. More later. Or probably not. Turn 49 tomorrow. Still messing up like a teenager. That's a lost youth that should stay lost.


Saturday, May 07, 2005

Crossing a Finish Line

Hi All!

Well, I'm free in at least one respect.

Breathalizer Guy said he'd be here at 7am so I slept like a kid on Christmas Eve.

Good thing I didn't make any plans. Santa messed with me.

He called at about 11 and told me to unhook everything, cut off the Martha Stewart Fashion Accessory and put it all in a bag. He showed up, took the bag, thankyouverymuch and goodbye.

That's it.

So what am I doing with my new freedom? Blogging and eBaying. Would like to go to the White Bear Lake Superstore and see old pal Mitch and the North American Radio Network gang, but I still can't drive for a few more weeks.

I'll start to savor my new ambulatory possibilities little by little. I think today I'll just take a nap.


Thursday, May 05, 2005

My (Old) Kind of Jar Store

How Honest, How Brutally Honest.

The Odd Musings of Mrs. Nickboy

Hi All!

This is kind an "inside" post that might not make sense to alot of you, but I am stirred to write this morning by something I saw in the St Paul Pioneer Press.

The local blogging community makes great sport of pointing out the idiocies of Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman, who's eBay handle is "Nickboy." I know, because he outbid me on a 100-year-old brass VIP ticket to the Grand Opening of the State Capitol.

Hi wife, Laura Billings, writes for the St Paul Paper. Not as fun to tease as Nickboy, just a dreadful and annoying writer.

Today she opens her column with this literary gem:

"Our dental care is better. Our french fry technology is much improved. And, "American Idol" notwithstanding, so is our taste in pop music. (My italics.)


A shopworn cliche' followed by a strange comparison, ending with an incomprehensibly ridiculous conjecture.

As Bowie sang, "O god I could do better than that!"

Just for example, try "Our fries are better than their chips." Not the greatest prose not necessarily true, but better to her point.

But as subjective as musical taste is, I wonder where Laura has been for the last 4 decades? both sides of the pond have ruled the pop music world, but which continent gave us the British Invasion, Punk Rock, Combat Rock and U2? Many of the old bands are still productive and there is a new wave consisting of great song craftsmen like Blur.

We could all make our own lists -- I just scratched the surface to argue her contention.

It's moot anyway, because the charts tell us that current tastes in music are equally abysmal on both sides. Rap and Hip Hop, Hip Hop and Rap. Bloody 'orrible.

The rest of the piece made the good point about the British election cycle being much shorter and more substantive than our political marathons. But the opening paragraph subverted everything that followed.

Thank god she's on pregnancy leave half the time, so precious ink can be spilled on something worthwhile.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Crawling Toward a Finish Line

Hi All!

Three damned days to go until Breathalizer Guy takes one last sample. If the numbers add up to zero I will be done with the 90-day rental of my Martha Stewart Fashion accessory.

When I competed with my High School cross-country running team the two-mile races had three basic stages:

The thrill of the gun going off and the chase beginning - I let the jackrabbits go ahead. If I pace myself I will pass most of them in good time. Of course, the elite start in a sprint and soon disappear for good.

The agony of everything soon after the start and soon before the finish - once the lungs start burning and the legs start feeling heavy, the field establishes itself and I know that if I ever reach the finish, which seems ever so far away, I will be a middle-of-pack also ran at a bit over 12 minutes. The only satisfaction comes with overtaking the jackrabbits, the retchers and anyone else who is weaker than me.

The finish line in sight. Runners High. Second Wind. Invincibiliy. The last hundred yards are sprinted without pain or fatigue. They will return come once I come thru the finish chute and get my time. I use my last ounce of energy to drag myself aside so I don't get hit from behind by the next finisher.

I did it! I did it again! Fatigue ebbs, giving way to a warm sense of accomplishment on the cool-down jog. Yeah, I'm still fricken average. No sub 11-minutes for me. Not even sub 12. But I was always a game, yet never very good athlete and for me, this is pretty darn good.

I approach the 90 days on the electronic ball and chain as a sort of mini-marathon - like a cross country race. I am soon to learn that the stages are turned somewhat inside out.

The start is not exhilarating. It is cold and fearful. I turn myself in at the workhouse for some humiliating processing and get to spend some time finding out what dorm life is like there. When they call me to get back into my street clothes and buzz me out through the big electronic gate, I am momentarily relieved to have a few hours of freedom until Breathalizer Guy comes to shackle me up.

The long middle does not seem particularly endless or tedious. I adapt quickly and mostly don't even feel it or think about it. Changing, showering, wearing boxers reminds me, but the only time it is bothersome is during the 5-day hospital stay. Embarrassed at first, I grow weary of every new nurse and nurse assistant asking about it. I develop a pat answer: "I got convicted of stalking pretty nurses."

The last week - I have been warned by several people who have been through house arrest that the last few days are the hardest. I couldn't believe them. I do now. This week is the longest, scariest and most dangerous time. No Runners High. No Sprint to the Finish.

My sleep is haunted with worst-case nightmares about screwing up and starting my sentence over again. In fact, I could even go away for a year! In my dreams I am sneaking booze everywhere, driving without a license, going outside my electronic perimeter without permission. Blowing a .30 for Breathalizer Guy when he comes to release me.

Wakefulness is not alot better. I am crawling up the walls. My attention span is spastic. I sleep alot to make the time go faster and to deliver me from temptation. Yes, temptation. The old rebellious, insane self has easily survived the 7 months of mental, physical, emotional Hubs of Hell.

After a particularly long and scary nightmare I get out of bed today about 2pm and busy myself with email and eBay. I prepare the grill for supper. As I walk out on the deck to check the coals my wife is over at the fence chatting with the neighbor. On the patio table is her glass of Long-Island Tea. The feeling that comes over me is incredibly, perversely strong. I manage to apply my "live in the moment" psychology to stop and choose. And at first I make the wrong choice. But I withdraw for a second vote and sanity wins, barely.

Not five minutes later, Brethalizer Guy is at the door with his expensive little machine that can detect blood alcohol down to .001 -- I am actually fearful of blowing into it, as if even the thought I had recently had would somehow show up on that merciless machine.

Get my .000 and it's back to grilling, feeling that the end may well be in sight. What a strangely empty and unreal feeling.

Some fortunate readers will absolutely not be able to relate to what I have written. What is it that compels otherwise "normal" people, if there are such creatures, to blithely do things while denying or damning the probable consequences?

I don't believe in the "disease" concept. Dangerous copout. Bad excuse. ("I can't help it, I'm sick!")

Environmental? Learned behavior? Doesn't add up.

Heredity, biochemistry? Has to be. I believe that there is such a thing as the "Addictive Brain."

I also believe that addictions are complicated and personal. As deified as is AA is, there are alternatives that fit certain people better.

I'm gonna make it 'till Saturday. On Sunday comes Mother's Day, a niece's confirmation, a sister's birthday. Party time. On Monday comes my 49th time around the sun and my 24th wedding anniversary.

Conventional wisdom would fear for me going off like a compressed spring. I think it will be anticlimactic and serene with a warm sense of accomplishment.

Like a cool-down jog.


Sunday, May 01, 2005

Great Googlee Ooglee!

Hi All!

I thought I'd share a few tech tips with you. With so much tricky and screwed-up in the computer world there are some way cool things that are simple and work.

Who'd have thought just a few years ago that there was room in the market for another free search engine? Along came Google and blew everything else away, making gajillionaires out of the developers.

Now, Google is releasing all sorts of better mousetraps. This week I discovered two mind-blowing new applications.

It's an old trick that you can type a ten digit phone number into the normal Google search box and have it do a reverse directory coming up with name and address of the person with that number. But now, you can not only link to a very nice street map pinpointing the address but you can switch from that to a satellite picture of the same map! You can easily zoom in and out and move the mouse around to go anywhere. If you wanted to follow I-35 to Duluth you could do it. Try it and see!

Here is the link to the main mapping site if you want to key in a specific starting location.

Perhaps even niftier is a version of Google that indexes your own computer! It's a small download that puts a search field on your task bar. If you want to find something that has been lost to some obscure sub-sub directory, it will do it instantly. I found some emails and documents that I thought were long gone.

You can painlessly break free of Microsoft IE and Outlook Express by downloading the free Firefox and Thunderbird products from Mozilla.

They can coexist with the MS products but once you are used to them, you ain't nevah goin' back!

If you can't afford MS Office, there is something that, IMHO is better, perfectly compatible and best of all, free. It's called Open Office and it is perfectly compatible and coexistent with Word, Excel, etc.

Finally, there is a digital photo organizer/editor that is lightyears better than anything else I've used. It automatically finds and indexes all your images and is SO easy to use. Try Picasa -- don't cost nothin'.

I know this was off the beaten track, but these applications can really make your life easier, and I want to help because I care.

Almost forgot Wikipedia. An awesome on-line encyclopedia that evolves day by day as contributors from all over the world edit the entries.

Let me know if you try any of these and what you think, and feel free to suggest your own "finds."