Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Courtesy Call from the Star Tribune

Hi All!

I will confess up front that I have sat on a past due billing from the Strib, procrastinating as I tried to justify paying about $60 for 13 weeks up from a $22.75 intro rate (ed. note: based on memory, will clarify when invoices are dug up.

I have procrastinated so long that I owe them north of $100 and they still deliver the bird cage liner that is irresistible to quit reading. And reading the paper on the web vs. sitting on the throne or at the breakfast table or at a restaurant or on the deck is a no brainer, except what the pleasure costs.

I have taken the Pioneer Press and Dispatch in it's various incarnations since I got moved from home, where the morning and evening papers were ingrained in my everyday life and were eagerly devoured since I learned to read. I am not ready to give the PiPress up.

I have taken the Strib on and off as promotions occur. Admittedly there is a lot more meat on it's bones than it's weaker competitor but the new management is starting to race that competitor to the bottom, to the point that they hired away key PP staff that was responsible for sinking THAT ship into mediocracy.

Well sir, the young fellow on the line was polite but firm. "Give me your Credit Card number and we won't cancel your subscription". Whoop dee DO and hot damn!

"So, what sort of customer retention deal you got running these days? "

"I cannot offer you any promotions, sir. I only need to have you pay your account to continue your service. You don't even have to call Customer Service."

"I think I'll call customer service."

"Let me talk to my supervisor (2 seconds pass). Sir, I must demand payment."

"So you are a collection agency?"

"No sir, this is the Star Tribune."

"Well, you can't have my credit card number or my bank account number. I am calling customer service. Thanks for reminding me to take care of this."

"Ah sir ....SIR?"

I clicked him off.

I am totally guilty of getting something and not paying for it, and I will settle up. But if I don't get a screaming deal from customer service, I shall reluctantly scan the rag on the web.

If I had an incontinent bird, I might still subscribe. But I ain't got no dirty bird.


Monday, June 25, 2007

And So It Goes

Hi All!

It is with a heart both heavy and light that I must report that I let the Mercedes get away. My neighbor broke his word at the same time that I was moving away from this "sure bet" investment.

My emotions have been on a Valley Fair roller coaster ride since Saturday when he yanked it away and sold it instantly.

It WAS a steal. A SCREAMING deal. I always wanted one. You only live once. I might not have much time to live, so why invest money I don't have that buys a 100% instant appreciation?

I guess I had a rare "mature" moment when I hesitated long enough to queer the deal. As a total car nut, I had to sell my first new car when the second son arrived. 12 years, 20,000 miles, perfectly preserved Scirocco Champagne Edition. Invested $10,000, realized $4000.

On my birthday the next year, what should I see when driving past Roseville Auto than my concours baby completely totalled and awaiting a the extaction of an intact 20,000 mile engine which was probably worth $2000.

That car would be worth quite a bit more today.......

So I tried to make up for it with the XR4ti Screamer. Bought it for my birthday, put 12 miles on it and if you have read this blog you will know what happened.

The 1974 MB 450SE was my last best chance to own a classic. I am feeling more and more relieved that I didn't take it on, given my circumstances. Dammit though, I am starting to become what I hated when I was young. One of my favorite lines from The Who is "Hope I die before I get old." Too painfully true.

Speaking of which, after a down week I have had an up week, energy wise. It's at times like this that I feel immortal again, and I reflect with satisfaction having survived several years of hearing "You have about six months..."

It's at a time like this that reminds that you have a mint 1972 Beetle in which you learned to drive at 15, passed the test at 16, racked up enough stories to fill a book that is begging to be written ... stories that continue to this day as I have almost convinced my 14-year-old baby girl to give it a whirl on the back roads of NW Wisconsin.

That cute little bug is a part of me and I cannot believe that I fathomed selling it. I think I may put a clause in my will that it will be kept in the family in perpetuity.

As to Cate, who is quite experienced with the Scorpio with automatic tranny, Vegas has prohibitive odds on whether she will pop the clutch and kill the engine for the first so many times. Over/Under? I'm pegging at 6 (which would be pretty good) I'm going over. You can place your bets via Paypal by visiting my family website and navigating to "donations." So far, in 4 years, no manna has fallen from heaven.

During the Carter years, I was one of those who worried that the monetary system was on the verge of collapse, so I bought 10 gold coins and a silver brick in case I needed to buy a loaf of bread to feed my family.

To finance the Benz, I sold the brick at a nice profit (well not so nice for having held it for
24 years -- only doubled my money) and was ready to pawn the coins. My rationale was that having held on to this at such a lousy return, I could swap it for an automatic profit. "You can't drive silver and gold" was my justificational excuse.

Now I say, "Gold doesn't cost noth'n to own". Sure, you can't drive it but it don't use gas, require maintenance and take up valuable driveway space, we being a 5 car family already, and on and on.

And on and on this went.

So it goes.

Watch for Part II.


Saturday, June 23, 2007


Hi All!

I am coming back to earth after a long and interesting week. What better way to relax than to mail this in with a band I am currently digg'n.

The Noisettes. Can't believe that name hasn't been taken before.

It feels like a visit to the Turf Club is in order tonight. Gotta unwind, y'know.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dining on My Whining

Hi All!

I have been singed by a few flamers regarding what they interpret as me feeling sorry for myself.

As I say at the top of my blog header, stealing from Eric Burdon and the Animals, "It's my mind and I'll think what I want. It's my blog, and I'll write what I want."

But part of me knows these anonymous flame throwers have a point. I shall try to be less self-pitying and more, "up beat."

I would share these types of "compliments" but I ain't into feeding no trolls.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Posthumous Post for a Long Draft?

Hi All!

Fear not. Unless I crap my liver out or get hit by a bus, I am very much invested in living as long a life as I can stretch it.

I don't know where to start about what a whipsaw last 10 days I have survived. Incredible coincidences, painful personal issues, health (as always) and all the rest.

Late last night and early this morning I started pouring out the true and detailed painful details of my misdeeds.

With uncharacteristic restraint, I saved it as a draft instead of pouncing on the "Publish Post" icon.

It is inspired by something I share with Senator Jim Metzen, President of the Minnesota Senate. His buddy lawyer got him off easy on a really obvious and stupid DWI (aren't they all?)
He is the best DWI lawyer in town -- doesn't even need to advertise - and is selective with referrals.

Metzen probably got pro bono advice from this certain DFL-activist lawyer, whose nickname rhymes with "Pogo." with a lot of Polish at the end of the real last name. I dare not say more for fear of getting hit with a libel suit.

My inheritance was hit for several thousands and I got not the slightest break from the harshest sentence prescribed by law. Total waste of money. For all his non-effort, I figured he made $1000/hour doing nothing to help me at all. I spend a year in hell and nearly lost everything precious to me.

In reading the draft, I am torn. Should I let it all hang out now or keep pecking away with instructions to my survivors to publish the stories or just let go? I know I should, but certain unbelievable incidents are permanently laser inscribed on my brain.

Funny how it is so much easier to remember the bad stuff and forget all the good stuff.

By starting to pour out the pain, I don't know if it will help or hurt, as I feel myself once again wildly careening down the road to Destiny. I never have been able to successfully negotiate the the sharp curve on the edge of the cliff, but like a bad penny, have always crawled away from the wreckage to sin another day.

This time I am determined to take a racer's line with proper braking, turning and acceleration out of that curve. I know I can do it, but I always think that.

I saw a commercial on cable last night that showed a grainy old film of a toddler carefully washing and waxing a kid-sized 70's era Mercedes SL convertible with silver paint and red interior.

Captivated, I waited for the punch line, which was, "You know you've always wanted one." Krikey! The Juneteenth synchronicity in the last 10 days. It was an ad for "pre-owned" Mercedes.

I am buying a near mint 1974 450SL sedan with silver paint and a red interior.

To pay for it, I have put my best friend in life, my 1972 Beetle, on eBay and expect to get more for that than I will steal this Benz for. A 36-year relationship that I am willing to walk away from. You only live once and you can't take it with you.

This will be my penultimate auto purchase after over 60+ cars I have owned during my life.

But I thought that about the "Arrest Me Red" supercar I drove for 2 days and twelve miles before it was seized 3 blocks from home. It ended up with a police auction buyer who let it rot. I still know where it is, but I will never sit in those racing seats with racing seatbelts, short shifter, turbo, fire extinguisher, $2000 of ghetto blaster audio ............. Ah, just go HERE if you haven't done so sooner. More gory details there. At least I had it long enough to immortalize it in photography!

Is that all the coincidence that has happened? No, almost a sidelight compared with some of the other good and bad shit that I have been hit with lately.

One of my closest friends messed himself up on a dirt bike several years ago. This past weekend, his guts blew out and he has had several abdominal surgeries and should, but might not make it.

And all I have is a lousy case of cirrhosis.

Will the I finally nail the line and whip through this curve? Destiny will dictate the answer.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Father's Day Gift to Myself?

Hi All!

There 99 reasons why I should avoid stretching my limited funds to acquire this fine machine.

The ONE reason I want it, is, well, at this stage in my life and given a lifetime of slavering lust for such a creature:

Ah wannit.

Far from done deal, in fact it is parked in my driveway to cool down 'cos it doesn't want to start hot.

I'll keep ya'll posted.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Whoop de Doo! I'm Published

Hi All!

There is feature of the Pioneer Press called Bulletin Board where readers tell their delightful stories about life in general.

I wrote them many times several years ago but stopped after never getting in.

Today, Thursday 6/14, I got in.

Not the greatest story, not my worst.

It is on page 7B under the title, "Accidents of Mirth."

Accidents of mirth

D.I.Y. Division (responsorial)

Wog of Falcon Heights: "I read with amusement the travails of The Old Woodchopper, who managed to screw up a shade-tree oil change. Many of us modestly gifted 'mechanics' share his pain.

"But there is something worse.

"I used to do the oil, change wipers and bulbs, even redo the brakes. I can still change wipers - one of the most difficult tasks this 10-left-thumber can perform. The lights are still no problem.

"I can also replace a battery - which, other than perhaps the awkwardness of the location and the weight of the battery, is really a no-brainer.

"My kid's car needed a battery. I purchased the appropriate replacement at a large discount store that rhymes with Wall Art. I had some other shopping to do, so, I naively thought, well, as long as it's free, I will let the Certified Automotive Technicians install the thing.

"After lots of info was gathered, from my birth date to the Vehicle Identification Number, and a second-guess on the battery I had plopped on the counter (gosh, I had the right one! Duh!), I was told the project would take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. Well, I could do it quicker, but why bruise my own knuckles and soil my own hands, let alone risk being bathed in battery acid?

"This was 11 in the morning. All the bays were empty, and I watched the car get driven in. Thus assured, I took to shopping - which is why they keep your car longer than necessary, knowing that you will buy more stuff than you came for.

"I bought more stuff than I came for, including things I didn't even realize I needed until I was drawn to the clearance signs scattered throughout the store.

"At 11:30, I hiked the half-mile back to the auto center to pick up the car.

"They hadn't gotten to it.

"I changed the waiting-room TV from infomercials to a golf tourney and settled into a less-than-comfy plastic chair.

"At noon, a Certified Automotive Technician entered the area and asked whose car was the 'Scorpion.' It's actually a weird German car called a 'Scorpio' and is somewhat exotic, but the battery replacement is pretty straightforward ... if one can get the hood open.

"The CAT had thrown in the towel. I was allowed into the shop to show him the release lever, which is bright red, 3 inches in width and located on the underside of the steering column.

"Having shown the CAT the procedure, I thought that my waiting time was almost over.

"I did some more shopping and returned at about 12:15. I gazed through the window to observe not one but two CATs huddled under the hood performing what seemed as complicated as a liver transplant.

"At 12:45, I was relieved to have paid, and the car cranked right over!

"Now, a day later, I might dare to open the hood and see how badly they mounted it.

"Moral: If you can D.I.Y., D.I.Y."


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Report from the Rosetown Legion Steak Fry

Hi All!

In addition to my blogging duties I have volunteered to help out with the Post 542 newsleter as a roving reporter. I know it's pretty lazy to plagiarize myself by using such filler in Wogsblog, but perhaps it might provide some simple entertainment for the masses who have stumbled across this courtesy of a link from Mitch Berg.

Here goes.

It’s a nice Saturday afternoon in June. I am perched at the corner of the bar – the busy corner by the pull tab booth.

Kenn is getting the big gas grill fired up. Tony and Jeremy are holding down the lightly attended bar – the steak crowd hasn’t started gathering yet.

The Fry is supposed to start in 15 minutes at 5:00. Surely once the prime beef flesh starts hitting the grill the aroma will attract customers like bees to honey.

There’s Olga running around like a spring chicken making the setting up the inside operation. Her surgeries would seem to be pretty well healed.

Here is Denise, always there when needed in the kitchen or wherever else she find something to volunteer for.

A large family group of a few generations are out on the patio with Grandpa, who had just attended the WWII Memorial Dedication and was proudly showing off his beautiful new commemorative medal. He served on what I think of as a hardware store but was once the name of proud and very dangerous ship to live on, the USS Menard.

I spent some time being regaled with war tales of the Menard, how the veteran had been on deck for both the commissioning and decommissioning. I think the ship was a transport for troops, tanks and landing craft and was quite vulnerable to being sunk with a torpedo hitting the right spot in the spine of the front and back heavy craft.

Alas, the details escaped me as well as this fine old soldier’s name, but perhaps some readers will know just who I am writing about.

I left him to be with his kids and grandkids and went inside to refresh my beverage. I’ll be darned if I didn’t see that my luck “Free Drink” number “1” was up. What a break, as I never remember to look up there.

I will pause here to note that I didn’t do a great job of scribbling down names and I have absolutely no talent for remembering them.

There was a familiar lady of the Auxiliary sharing stories at the bar. Curious about my scribbling in on my steno pad, I explained that I was a cub reporter for the “new” newsletter.

I heard that Donnie was buried that day. I’m not sure I ever met him, but he sounds as though he was a great man. I guess Donnie didn’t like to gamble because he said he only won every 14 years!
I also learned of a mystery recipe for am awesome marinated radish that appeared on the share-a-dish table. Everyone who tried it wants the recipe but to this day the mystery Chef remains just that. I will have to watch out for that dish this 4th and catch the culprit.

Stopped on my way back out to the patio to share a little chat with a couple of my better friends whose names I naturally can’t ever remember. It drives me crazy that everyone seems to call me Paul and all I can reply is “How’re ya doin’, you!”

Learned of a rare stand of virgin timber in North Central Minnesota called “The Last 40 (acres)” To get there you go through Deer River on Hwy 46 past Squaw Lake for 10 miles to Dora Lake. See? I CAN take notes!

The steak fry was going well and Kenn was supervising the grill so I ordered a couple of delicious frozen pizzas to go and prepared to head for the barn.

Kenn caught me trying to slink away and asked if I would man the grill while he picked up someone at the airport. So I got to be a big shot, giving sage cooking advice to the steak grillers, adjusting the flames and even cooking one for Jeremy. He gave it the thumbs up and I got my next cranberry juice in a tall glass at the small glass price.


The Return of Laura Billings?

Hi All!

Warning: a bit of mean-spirited and opinionated writing to follow. Sorry, sometimes a guy just has to vent.

A bit of local inside baseball here, so don't worry if you haven't a clue what I am writing about today.

In reading a column in Section B of the Incredible Shrinking Star Tribune, I was struck by it's resemblance to the screeds of Laura Billings, the best fire the Pioneer Press ever made. Well, they bribed her to quit anyway, and the readers rejoiced.

It's some self righteous blather about troglodyte Republicans plotting to get sex education out of the schools.

The subject, the hysteria, the condescending wise ass tone, the mediocre writing and the utter boringness of the piece had Billings all over it.

The only thing Un-Billings about it was the byline, husband NickBoy.

It seems that Chief Nicky let his Squaw mail one in for him. What a lazy ass.



Monday, June 11, 2007

Good News and A Simple Pleasure

Hi All!

The last of a battery of pre-listing tests before it is decided whether to transplant me was performed today and I passed. It was a "Right Heart Catheterization" and it involves getting a camera into my jugular, up through the heart and into the lungs. The concept was far scarier than the mild discomfort.

This afternoon I tackled a conversion of the shifter on my kids "new" 1988 Merkur Scorpio with a 5 speed stick -- the only way to go with European cars.

I replaced the regular long throw shifter with a racing-type short throw shifter. Best way to describe the difference is, instead of Row Row Row the stick you can Snick Snick Snick the stick in very short strokes like Dale Earnhardt Junior. Tricker to drive but once used to it you never will want to go back.

Despite my 10 left thumbs in all things mechanical and my ability to screw up a two car funeral, we managed to sweat it out in the 90 degree 90% humidity (heh, being from Minnesota I LOVE it compared to the cold.

Finishing touch was a nice radical looking chrome and leather shift knob. No I guess he won't let me borrow it anymore.

I used to mess around a lot with my dozens of cars. It was fun to get back in the game.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Bit of Housekeeping

Hi All!

I get bitched at a lot for embedding video in my posts.

My advice is, if you are still cursed with dial-up internet access, please DON'T click a video! Your PC might be tied up for hours as the databits saunter in single file over 100 year old copper phone lines.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Fear of G.O.D.

Hi All!

Well I've managed to sink to less than 20 hits a day (heck I don't even get trollers from China much anymore) but I know my writings will make my kids rich once unearthed and edited. I have even taken the precaution of mirroring Wogsblog on two different PCs and wasting money on overpriced HP INK (and the libs think the OIL Companies are screwing us) to make good old fashioned hard copies.

As I struggle with trying to do right by my three rebellious teens, I have resisted, pretty much, using my end-stage liver disease as a guilt cudgel.

However, I just receive a new book called "Dadditude" in time for Father's Day and on first review, I have been "right" with my kids more than half the time in past, more so now. Of course, our relationships are at a low ebb, but I take comfort in knowing that it is not too late for disabusing them of the false impression that life is a carefree breeze. Drill sergeants don't have any problem breaking even a 21-year -old down and building back up. And my eldest is but a tender 19.

Not that I am gonna be daddy drill sergeant, but I am leaning more in that direction.

So I came up with the concept of using my hopefully not but likely too premature demise to lay on a wee bit of guilt. It is an easy concept to grasp, but will be hard to flesh out in practice.

I am gonna put the fear of G.O.D. in those urchins.

Ghost of Dad.

Gosh it's so tempting to just wake them up early every day and say, "(short quick breaths) "I think the sudden acute liver failure is finally happening and before I lapse into my coma I just I want to say goodbye. I will return as G.O.D. (hee hee!)

To be honest, I was diagnosed a couple of years before my catastrophic second DWI as chronicled in the Archives (look for a gap in 2004-2005) that would be hospital , treatment, jail, threat of restraining order, still drank after that until a bit into '06. (My "just average" little brother is a sober millionaire).

So I keep telling everyone that I am like a worn out fan belt that can go at any time, but somehow I open my yellow eyes and stubbornly drag my very tired and failing grossly bloated body out of bed almost most days (sometimes I just can't).

'Cos I gotta live to do the best I can to start each day as a new beginning in child rearing and trying to get into their muddled heads how they need to get a good jump on adult life. So inspired, and with a bit of self treatment with an illegal herb for the physical manifestations of Liver Gone Bad, on I go.

Will learn if I will be accepted for the national transplant registry in July. I've heard many anecdotes of people on the list who get excited to hear about car crashes and murders and wonder if they are the right blood type! I am an O, which is the most common and in-demand, hence the longest wait.

Maybe I will turn my stats around by posting more frequently (I go thru stages of wanting to quit and wanting to tell the world my "Lifestory"). Who knows -- some day I will get back to 30 good hits a day! Cripes, I give almost that many to Mitch of www.shotinthedark.info, who is admittedly WAY better a thinker and writer as he still has most of his generous brain capacity left. And to think that way back, I was just as good, and even better, but I decided to make money and drink instead.

Now, why did I just leave the room and come back and where the hell did I put those keys, and what am I writing about?

No luck on rooms and keys but I remember to say that I will tell me kids that the G.O.D. will haunt them all their days as they regret ignore the lessons he imparted that fell on deaf ears.



Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Following Ancient Tradition

Hi All!

When I was about 12, my dad let me practice driving on the back roads of NW Wisconsin on our trips to the lake.

By the time I took the driver test, in a not-so-easy-to-drive VW Beetle, the evaluator thanked me for making his job easy!

The Beetle has long since been restored and spends most of its time in storage at the lake, coming out for show and parades and joy rides through the woods.

I trained the first born son starting at 15. Started with an easy automatic Merkur Scorpio and he graduated to a 5 speed Audi Turbo Quattro (gosh I miss that car). He passed his test in a 5 speed Trooper.

The second son received similar instruction and never cottoned to a manual shift, but he came to the test similarly prepared.

It's a shame, now that they have been driving awhile, that so many of my admonitions go ignored, like having the seat back up enough to see over the dash, hands at 10 and 2, no smoking in my cars, putting on the seatbelt before starting the car, driving safe-aggressive not just aggressive aggressive, ad nauseum.

Today it is time for my little girl to get behind the wheel. A perfect day to head north to the old practice courses.

Call me sexist, but I am pretty sure this will be a far greater challenge than teaching the boys. She will probably end up following the rules that my sons have ignored or forgotten, but she couldn't even figure out how to ride a bike until she was 10.

I've stocked up on plenty of anti-anxiety medication.

For any of you who want to engage in this illegal bonding experience and are city-bound, take your urchin to a big cemetery -- great practice grounds and a lesson to not drive in such a way that you will be under a gravestone.


PS. The training went well -- she is a right natural but is a bit shy of oncoming traffic, but took to driving easier than the boys! I guess that makes me sexist. But she still can't do sports without looking like a girrrlll.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Look Out the Goddamm Window!

Hi All!

Welly welly well. Yet another day of dire weather warnings and scary radar images. As is most often the case, particularly in Falcon Heights, the radar and the warnings were dead wrong.

We got a bit of distant thunder, a sprinkle, and later a light shower. On the TV and Web all is end-of-world hype.

Why does it bother me anymore? Such has been the case way back when Ray Christensen would breathlessly warn us over the static on 'CCO to get gramma in basement. NOW!

We have no life here in Minnesota. The REAL warnings should be issued from the Capitol when the inmates are running the asylum!

So, Ian Hunter, all of 68 years young has just pulled a fantastic album (CD?) out of his bum.

It's called "Shrunken Heads." The only way most people would slightly recognize this incredible performer would be to say, "All the Young Dudes." If that doesn't click, fergitaboutit.

The guy, as with my Kinks, are the most under appreciated artists in the history of R&R.

(The Kinks at least got in the Hall of Fame, but so did Blondie. Yech.)

Anyway, risking my precious computer by working in the middle of the Storm of the Century, I transcribed Ian's very firstest Country Song.

Some day I will figure out to attach an mp3. You can find it on the net if you want to hear the song.

The lyrics stand on their own. I SO MUCH feel like this.

I Am What I Hated When I Was Young

Words and music by Ian Hunter

Well I don't follow any trend

I don't sulk for hours on end

I don't wanna reach out and touch someone

I am what I hated when I was young

I don't wear designer clothes

I ain't got pins in my nose

I ain't got a tattoo on my bum

I am what I hated when I was young

Poverty was a wonderful thing everyone enjoyed

We were eat'n grass not smokin' it

Wasn't like this when I was a boy

Wasn't like this when I was a boy

I don't rob old peoples' homes

I don't steal no cellular phones

I kinda like my mom and dad

I am what I hated when I was young

I don't holler, I don't hoot

I don't act like a nincompoop

I don't hide when the police come

I am what I hated when I was young

I'm slowing down, I'm getting old 'n my back is getting bad

I just sit and moan all day

Wasn't like this when I was a lad

Wasn't like this when I was a lad

Comb my hair, brush my teeth, wash my feet more than once a week

N I never leave my flies undone

I am what I hated when I was young

I'm the original mixed-up kid

I ain't proud of what I did

Now I'm older, calmed down some

I hate what I used to be when I was young

I hate what I used to be when I was young

I hate what I used to be when I was young

As so many of my personal "Rock Gods" defy aging, it inspires me to keep on keeping on.