Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesday Attacks

(With apologies to Mars Attacks.for the title.)

Tuesdays seem to attract insane weather forecasts this time of year on the plains. Last week we had the spring blizzard, followed by warm weather so all the snow was gone in a day or two. Today it was cool all day and there was a nippy north wind making it feel even colder. I couldn't resist checking the weather forecast and it has snow tonight clearing to cold on Wednesday followed by a major wind and snow storm for the weekend. It must be close to April on the plains!

A while back I promised to revisit the lack of sexual searches landing people on this site. As I expected, writing about it caused a skew of the droppees toward the sex queries. I have been tempted to do a post featuring variants of "that certain part of the male anatomy" and its female counterpart just to see how it would drive traffic. Back a few years ago when I followed such things in detail, searches for things sex related were more than a third of all searches and appreciably more during certain hours of the day. I suspect it says more about the human condition than about the level of purience of the users of search. After all, there is a reason that the primal drives are usually listed as food, shelter, and sex. (And usually not necessarily in that order.) For those who are curious, the original post is here.

With out further ado, I give you the revised top ten query list  that drives traffic from Google to this site:
  • googlesex - What can I say? People that omit punctuation can end up in very unsatisfying places when they search. Google kindly deposited them here and here most often. Note that Google took the places where I had the phases like "Google, Sex" and "Google sex" and made them a hit for googlesex. For a good time, click here to see who owns the domain name googlesex.com. Nothing like being one of the 36,079 domains owned by Google. {*grin*} 
  • googlesex vedio - Not only do they omit the spaces, they can't spell video either. But they were all dumped here by Google. Note the overlap with the phrase in the number one position?
  • "comfort memories" - An old standby that moved up the ranks from last tme. 
  • "in retrospect, I wouldn't say" - A new riser on the list, related to this post.
  • "the course of high school" - Yet another riser from this post.
  • robert reed - One mention of him being a veteran author led to the legions of his fans finding my words. At least I assume it was due to this post.
  • art innocence death - What a strange juxtaposition! And how it got people to this post is a complete mystery to me.
  • art two bicycles love - Another puzzler. Google dumped the readers here, but why I don't know.
  • best sexi cartoon art - This seems to have come via the bogerella pointer back to this site from long ago. I think when they moved to their new how, the blasted all the past posts out in readers and that evidentally temporarily raise the rating of this site. That's the best guess I can come up with.
So how is your site being read from the search engines? What do your analytics tell you? Inquiring minds want to know.

Jenners has suggested via email that a post on how search engines work would be of interest. Is anyone else interested?

Off to bed to since I have to head for the radio show in the early in the morning.

Either Or

This is either a late post for Monday or an early post for Tuesday. You be the judge!

I post with but a single thought: this is clearly what we all need one of, the treadmill desk!
What more could you desire than this nifty Walkstation. Of course, I didn't bother to check out what the price might be. I'll leave that up to you.
More later.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Catching Up

As you may have noted, I have been remiss in writing much for the last few days. It has been an interesting week here abouts. Some of the things keeping me occupied include a spring blizzard, judging a contest, getting the notes for a committee to form an ambulance district done and ...

Tuesday was my last post and I was still a bit rushed. So here is where the time for the rest of the week went.

On Wednesday I did the radio show in the morning and then took care of some things between meetings. I still had the meeting notes from the preliminary meeting Monday of the EMS ambulance district campaign and finance group to put together and get distributed. (We are looking at forming a county wide EMS district. That effects us all and it in particular is something I can't be too involved with. The problem is that ambulance service is a responsibility of the county under the IGA's (Inter Governmental Agreements) between the city and the county. The county has been subsidizing a private ambulance service for years. The private service cannot survive on what the county can/will subsidize, so we need to form a county wide district that is a taxing entity to make sure we have the service.) The problem is that the county commissioners cannot be involved since they have to approve the operational plan before the ballot issue can even be considered for inclusion. Since the county would no longer be fulfilling a part of the IGAs, that drags the city in since we will have to set up new terms in the IGAs. Thus I have a secondary conflict of interest and cannot be heavily involved in the effort. So I agreed to chair the introductory meeting and then turn it over to whom ever was selected as chairperson.. That meeting was Monday night and I just today finally got through putting out the meeting notes and turning it all over to the new chairperson. (One item off the must do list.) And I also had to do some grocery shopping for Mom as well.

It turned cold and blowy here late Wednesday, and then went on to be a full scale blizzard Thursday. In fact it was a full scale spring blizzard that closed schools and roads throughout the region.  It snowed and blew for most of the day, so i didn't have to go out and shovel snow until Friday morning. It looked like this in the middle of the day (around noon) during the storm:
Needless to say, the days of 80 degrees we enjoyed less than a week prior were but a memory. It continued all day. Mom called and said don't bother coming over to bring in her paper and mail, just stay in out of he wind and snow. Another view out onto the back patio before we go:
At least it meant we got some much needed moisture at long last.

Friday I got up early and started shovelling the snow. I did our house, MIL's house, and Mom's house, then hurried home an got cleaned up for some more meetings. One meeting was with the parson from Prison Ministries because I am a panelist and speaker at their fund raising diner in April. He wanted to go over the questions that will be posed to the panelists so we can have our acts together. It should be an interesting panel since it will have the sheriff, the chief of police, the associate warden of the prison, myself, and a couple of ex-offenders. Maybe I'll post the questions here after the event. Then I had a meeting with our tax accountant to get our information turned over so it can be totalled. Along the way, I ran into the auditor doing the annual city audit and that took up a bit of time since the audit report is almost done and will be presented at a ouncil meeting in the next month. (I also had to tell him how cute his daughter was at the Girl Scout proclamation presentation from here. He reported that his daughter wanted to stay for the whole meeting and that they had come to the areement that his daughter could attend with him when he presents the audit report. We'll see if she finds it as interesting after sitting through the whole shebang. {*grin*})

In the mean time, I have been trying to get all the essays for the "If I Were Mayor" essay contest read. The Colorado Municipal League sponsors a statewide contest and we sponsor a local one with the winners going on to the state contest. Last year one of our students was a winner. We select the winner by panel. The panel consists of me, the city manager, and my writer friend. It is going slower for me this year since I don't perceive the same quality of writing that I saw last year. (You can read a bit more about our local version here.) Only about ten more essays  to go before we start comparing notes to home in on the winners. (BTW, the topic this year is:
Many youth are not aware of the valuable services that their municipalities (cities and towns) provide: bike paths, recreation centers, police officers, street lights,and crosswalks are all provided by municipal governement. If you were mayor, how would you explain the importance of municipal government to kids in your community?
The contest is for 7th graders and we have great participation here.)

So today I have been reading and pondering. I had to be tracked down by the Boy Scout Troop so I could issue the re-charter check. (I am on the committee and the treasurer.) Once that was handled, it was time to get cleaned up and head over to Mom's for supper and a round of "Can you get ...?" and "Can you move ...?" and ... Mom is feeling good and doing well - I have my doubts about how cantankerous she might be by the time she gets to go out in the world, but for right now it is going pretty well.

I promise to try to be more regular in the coming days. Thank you all for your emails and calls of concern. It's OK, I just had a bit too many things to do for a span there. I haven't even had time to do the Sunday New York Times Crossword Puzzle yet!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Windy Tuesday

If you saw the national news, you probably saw mention of the area out here. The winds came up yesterday and then got really strong last night and this morning. Coupled with a smattering of snow and rain and temperatures below freezing with wind chills near 0, it made for an interesting day. We lost some trees around town and had signs and other such things blow down as well. I took this picture of the ice hanging off the eves of the house from inside the kitchen.
You can see the big one in the corner out of the breeze. Note that contrary to the dull dark look of this picture, it was taken at noon with the wind howling and the temperature up to the 30s. It's just that the day stayed gray, dull, and overcast. Yet another view of the surviving icicle is given by this close up shot.

It calmed down a bit by this evening for the city council meeting where we had a marathon session. In retail sales it is Thanksgiving through Christmas tat is the make or break. In municipal government in cold climes, it is the March - June time frame that is make or break. If projects don't get started in time, they don't get finished before the possible arrival of winter. So we had a two page agenda of items and contracts to go through tonight, along with several public hearings. Made for a fun time for all. {*grin*}

We did have a first at the meeting. A citizen actually came to speak at the unscheduled block reserved for people not on the agenda, and he was not there to complain! He came to tell us thanks for the hard work and good job we are doing. It rare to be hearing it from one of the people we serve, especially in public like that. The council and I were deeply appreciative.

Finally, amidst the wind and the breeze, Mom got to go home today. It was challenging when the van brought her in her wheel chair to the house and the wind was so strong that it took two of us to hold the door open for the wheel chair lift to deposit her on the side walk. It was likewise fun as I loaded and unloaded her stuff from my truck. But in spite of the ugly weather, Mom is really happy to be back in her house, able to do the things she wants, and eat the food she wants.

Time to head for the bed so I can get up and mosey down to the radio station tomorrow morning. I only got a few hours sleep last night with the wind and crashing and ... so 6am is going to come early. After the show I'll head over to Mom's to get her grocery list since she can't get out and about for a while yet. She's learning that wheel chairs on thick carpets are very hard to push compared to the tiled floor at the nursing home. {*grin*}

Monday, March 23, 2009

I'm Still Here

I know! I didn't post yesterday, nor have I been able to comment on the blogs I follow for the last couple of days. When you replace the main interface machine, you can waste a lot of time trying to decide what to save and what to throw away to the bit bucket.

I finally decided (after booting 5 different linux distros) to go with openSUSE for the moment. (And I preserved at least some of my old XP environment by installing it into a VirtualBox VM.) So now that your eyes are glazing over and you are wondering what the blank the idiot is talking about, I'll mosey on into the real post. (See - patience is a virtue!)

Today was a day of massive weather shift. This weekend, L and I got to enjoy mid 70's both days, but then this morning the winds began howling and it spit a bit of rain. It never got above 45 all day and by afternoon it was below freezing with 50 to 80 mile and winds. I hate this kind of day because the windows rattle and anything outdoors feels like you are being chopped to death with little itty bitty blades. Needless to say, Molly was not overjoyed with the winds ruffling her coat amidst her mope over the departure of L early this morning for the mountains.

It was windy enough that Mom called from the nursing home and suggested I not bother to venture over to see her today. It wouldn't have been a problem; I only live about four blocks from the nursing home where she is. I think it really had more to do with the fact that I'll have to be packing all of her stuff up to bring over to her house tomorrow when she gets to escape back home. Although she'll be pretty much house bound for the next 6-8 weeks, she clearly can't wait to get back to *her* home. Can't say that I blame her.

In other pressing news, I'm sure you will all be overjoyed to note that the vote came out in favor of keeping the the dubious LinkWithin widget at the bottom of the posts. The end result was 66% in favor of keeping the widget, 33% didn't care, and no one voted to remove. So evidently some people like it and some don't care, but no one was annoyed enough to want to see it go away.

My own suspicion is that 90% of the readers of this blog read via a reader like Google Reader or Bloglines or ... and only click through to comment. That is backed up by the stats that say I get ~60 page views a day but closer to 150 subscriptions to the two feeds that come off this page. Thus they don't care about the widget since they only see it when they are interested enough to comment. What do you think?

Along those same lines you'll remember a while back I was disappointed about the paucity of sex searches landing visitors here at this site. Well, I may have interesting changes to report next time.  
(What A tease I am.) 

Well, off to get notes ready for the council meeting tomorrow night since it will be a long day tomorrow, what with getting move moved and settled.  

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Late Quicky

This will be a quick post since I am struggling to avoid strangling a computer that runs everything OS fine except for Windows XP. And then it just kicks up its heels and dies. Actually I suspect it is more the SATA disk controller than anything else. XP is old enough not to have deep grained support for SATA so it may be time to say goodbye to XP forever and start running one of my favorite Linux distributions on it.

Tomorrow evening is the annual city employee appreciation banquet. It's always interesting. Municipal employees tend to be somewhat clique driven by department. I.e. the sanitation people don't hang with the street people who don't hang with the water treatment people who ... So you end up with a lot of smaller groups that sort of ignore each other. And of course the temporary blips on the radar like the city council members are usually given a bit of a cold shoulder as well. (I suspect more from awe than from dislike. Just kidding!) It's interesting because we used to give awards and service pins and associated spiels, etc. The employees finally stood up and admitted they'd much rather just have a a good supper with casual dress and no hot air from the likes of me. So that is what we have done for the past several years and it really seems to work better and be considerably less boring.

It was close to 70 again today, so Molly and I took our walk later in the day to enjoy the twilight. Sometime in the next few days it is going to turn cold again. The forecast for Tuesday has a high of 40 and possible snow and rain. Of course that means believing the weather people are going to get it right; here in Colorado that is a rare occurrence. When L and I used lived in LA, we always joked about how it paid to be a weather person in an area where you could see all the weather coming at you from huge distances and the only question was sunny or real sunny. (It all came in from the Pacific Ocean with no land features to change it for hundreds of miles as it rolled in.) Made them look like paragons of accuracy. You don't get the same luxury when there are mountains and huge land masses that heat and cool to drive the vertical circulation.

Back to the recalcitrant computer. It was the last of the machines here running a Microsoft OS natively, but that may be over soon. Don't do anything I wouldn't.

Five Ordinary ...

Time once again for

Five Ordinary People From This Week I Admire

  • The 90 year old gentleman that was visiting at the nursing home. He just came to visit since it meant so much to his late wife when she was there when people came to visit. From what the staff said, he visits at least once a week and asks who hasn't had visitors to make sure he visits them. And he has been doing it for years now. (And a spry gent he was, too. He still drives truck to Omaha (~400 miles) and back at least twice a week because, as he put it, "... sitting in the house doing nothing would kill me.")
  • The young mother with a little one in a stroller and a toddler in hand who stopped to ask the elderly gentleman carrying a bag of groceries as he wobbled down the sidewalk if he needed a hand. As busy as she was, she still thought of the needs of others and offered to help.
  • The young man who pushed and talked to his young brother on the swing set for the entire two hours I was walking in the park. From the bits of conversation I overheard, he was home on leave after boot camp and had missed his little brother and vice verse.
  • The squirrel that likes to sit in front of the parlor window at the nursing home and entertain one and all with his (or her) amusing antics. Much better entertainment than TV. (Technically not a person, but an honorary one for the nonce.)
  • The lady of indeterminate age who was trying desperately to voice command train her Basset Hound in the park. (Our previous dog was a Basset and they are notorious for not listening.) This one didn't listen or obey, but the lady remained calm and was so obviously loving to her dog that you couldn't help but root for her. Maybe she'll get lucky some year.

Time to get back to the ailing computer that is trying to give up the ghost tonight. I hope it will survive!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday Quickie

I spend a lot of time here talking about our dog Molly. In the interest of giving equal time to others, I present the cat without a hat:

In other news, Mom gets to come home from the nursing home on Tuesday. She was pretty stoked about the news.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I Used To Think ...

I used to think ....

that growing older was mostly experiencing things in the same way as when I was younger, but just choosing a different balance of things to experience. That meant it wasn't necessary to savor the complete sensory fullness of each and every moment because it could and would happen again in the future. Now in late middle age, I have come to realize that growing older involves so much more than simple choice of what to experience in what proportion. It involves a complete change in how our senses react and are interpreted internally. And that has immense consequences for the whole idea of the repeatability of experience.

It seems that our very senses change in the way they respond to the world around us as we age. Some sights are not as vivid as they once were whereas others trigger new and powerful emotions by association with the past. Sounds have new and different timbres as the frequency response of our ears changes; music we once thought could not be improved upon now sounds so-so; music that we once deemed merely good now sounds great. The sensitivity of touch changes so that textures take on whole new meanings. A baby's skin still feels soft, but in a different way than it did in our youth. And the callouses that time and use have created on our fingers means that smooth is a different experience now than it was in younger days. In some ways aging leads to a mutability of experience much akin to the LSD trips popular in our youth.

So now I think that growing older consists of experiencing the world in new and different ways, even if it is the same objective experience from my younger years. And that has consequences in how I view and interact with the world and my possible experiences of it, both in the future and now in the present. It makes me realize there will never be another moment just like the current one in my experience. That in turn means that the current moment is important to savor in all it's fullness. There will never be another one just like it in my life because even if the same conditions were to recur, my sensory intrepretation of the experience will be at a minimum slightly different. That also implies one should not let life get in the way of fully experiencing all that happens. Now matter how dark or dim the present and future may seem, each experience should be enjoyed fully in the now; there will never be another like it.

That is what I used to think and what I now think. What do you think?

This is a response to Mama Kat's writers challenge for this week. Click on over and join in.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Short Report Tuesday

The temperature reached above 80 degrees here today, well above normal for this time of year. Everyone just keeps hoping we get some moisture. This has been an extremely dry and warm winter, making it hard when we don't get snow and it is warm enough that the mountains melt out early. That means that all the farmers around here will be hurting unless we get some rain timed just right and in sufficient amounts. Average annual precipitation here is less than 14 inches a year with half of it coming in the form of winter snow. Needless to say, this winter is at less than 0.5 inch. A worryingly dry year.

Taking advantage of the warm weather, Molly and I hit the park for our daily miles. (Molly was willing to join me today since the period of mourning L leaving was over at about noon when the squirrels got frisky.) I couldn't believe the number of young mothers and kids at the playground. A literal explosion out of the house and into the park with the warmer weather. Another month or so and the young ladies from the college will be out sunbathing in the parks. That is always an interesting time of the year since it serves to preview what the prevailing swimsuit styles will be this summer at the city pool. Somehow, the older one gets, the less enthusing following swimsuit fashion becomes. It's not like I spend a lot of time at the pool ogling like a slobbering teenage boy anymore. Besides, back then L was a lifeguard so there was something of interest for me to ogle!

Mom continues to do well and may be able to return home by the weekend depending on the therapists evaluation of the readiness of her house. She is starting to get antsy to be home. She got the surgical dressing changed and saw the orthopedic surgeon today. So it was a busy day for her, going over to the doctor's office and then having physical therapy. When I got over to the nursing home a bit after 5pm, she and a few friends were sitting outside, relaxing and visiting in the late day sun.  She will still be in a wheel chair and unable to put any weight at all on her leg for at least another 6 weeks, but at least she will be at home. That will make her happy.

Other than that, not a lot to report today. Time to get some real work done so I can get ready to mosey down to the radio station for the weekly show in the morning. 6am comes early, but at least it is light out since the spring to daylight savings time.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Miscellaneous Monday Once More

Mondays always seem to be the tag ends for me. It is the day that all kinds of little things come up and eat their share of the clock. Thus you get to suffer through my potpourri of things to blither on about.

In the Two Degrees of Dan, several readers came up with their own two degree comments. It is always interesting to see how people can be connected. One of the reasons for the Two Degrees thing was to get some low degree linkages with readers. Those can then be used to illustrate the social network property that any two people on the planet earth are seldom more that six degrees away from each other. For example:

Kris Loves ChocolateKris->Airline Passenger (aunt of Condoleezza)->Condoleezza Rice
One of the former ministers of our church, Beth, attended Denver University and her roommate was none other than Condoleezza Rice. So I am related to Kris by the fifth degree Dan->Beth->Condoleezza->AP(aunt)->Kris.

♥ Kathy:Kathy->Dad Dan->Gene Wilder
To which I connect via the following tidbit. Back in the days before the IBM PC, I bought a CP/M based computer from a small Hollywood company that sold a script editing and production system and had to manufacture their own computers to run the software. So they developed a sideline of selling these computers to techies like me. The company was so small that they only had one salesman, named Bill. Bill was very proud of the fact that he had dealt personally with Gene Wilder to sell the script system to his production company. Thus, we have Kathy->Dad Dan->Gene->Bill->Dan. The fifth degree strikes again.

Now here is a question that I have never seen an answer for: What is the relevance of the peoples age in the degree of the relationship between them? Obviously, newborns don't know anyone yet and so they get at least one extra link via their parents to anyone else. I.e. newborn1->mom1->mom2->newborn2. But at some point they meet enough other people unknown to their parents that they can link without first going through the parents. I.e. newborn1(older)->newborn2(older). So does that mean babies have longer link chains than they will have when they are older? You can tell that I am a scientist because I worry about such things. Anyone ever heard a good answer to this question?

In other things, it was warm here today, close to 80 degrees. It was so nice that I walked to city hall and then walked over to Mom's to collect some stuff and then walked out to the nursing home to deliver it. Mom is doing well and really hopes to get back home Friday. All depends on what the doctor has to say. So I got my seven miles in without Molly the dog today (she is busy moping since Laurie headed back to the mountains today).

One final random meandering and then I'll let you go. I have noticed that there are several ladies in the nursing home that have broken bones as the cause of their stay. In many cases they suffer from low bone density and the bones in question (hips, legs, ankles and even backs) just snapped while they were doing such mundane things as standing at the kitchen sink. I want to remind all women to make sure that they are having their bone density checked as they age. It's not something that anyone thinks of when they are younger, but beyond a certain age it can be a real problem. These are all alert and lively ladies that are now confined to wheel chairs. There are treatments that can help if the lowered bone density is caught in time. Please take care of yourself so that it is not you in their place in the coming years!

Last week I promised a poll to determine the fate of the LinkWithin widget at the bottom of each post, so here it is:
Note that you can vote as often as you like and this page will allow voting thru the 21st. Thus if you really have strong feelings, you can vote a lot. This is one election the *YOU* definitely can buy. Contact me if you want to bribe me to make the vote turn out in your favor - I'm open to any and all offers. {*grin*}

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Two Degrees of Relation

Everyone knows the old standby Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon Game. If you aren't familiar, go ahead and click the link - we'll wait. Good, now you understand the six degree thingy. What I am about to do is play a short round of Two Degrees of Dan. Here the goal is to get as famous as you can be by no more than two steps from me. I'll add another restriction just to keep the playing field level - I cannot have met the final object of the link myself. (Otherwise there are a lot of famous and semi-famous people I have meet in person and we would be playing One Degree of Dan. {*grin*})

First Round:
I once spend a very pleasant summer on the beaches of San Diego at the Scripps Institute. It was a special seminar on Quantum Chromodynamics that attracted a number of the young researchers in the field, including myself, to sit at the feet of the established gurus. That in and of itself has absolutely nothing to do with this round of two degrees, I just needed to reminisce and brag for a bit. The real key is that my roommate for the time in San Diego was also named Dan and he had a very famous mother. Yes, that's right, my roomie was non other than Daniel Friedan, son of Betty Friedan. You know, the feminist writer, author of "The Feminine Mystique", and primary founder of the National Organization for Women.

What did I learn from the experience? I learned that one might not desire such a famous parent if you were as shy and self-sufficient as he was. Not that Dan was any slouch since he went on to become a MacArthur Fellow (the so called genius award) and co-founded the high-energy theory group at Rutgers.

So for this round we have Dan -> Dan ->Betty for the two degrees of Dan.

Second Round:
During the course of my thesis work, there was one person who I ran into often at conferences and in meetings. He was based at Cal Tech at the time. We spent many a break arguing about parton physics versus constituent interchange physics. Can you guess who this person was and who his very famous sister is? Perhaps a hint - his name is Rick Field. Yes, that's right, his sister is non other than Sally Field, the famous actress. Need more evidence? Click here.

So for this round we have Dan->Rick->Sally for the two degrees of Dan. Note that if we remove the restriction that I can not have met the final link in person, we could pull another chain here since Rick was at Cal Tech to work with Richard Feynman, the Nobel laureate famed in his later years for heading the Challenger explosion investigation. Thus we would then have Dan -> Rick -> Richard or as it would have been put by anyone who spent and time around Feynman, Dan -> Rick -> Dick.

So what can you come up with for the two degrees of you? Remember that you can't have met the final link in person.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday Rambling

Yesterday was my MIL's birthday, which we celebrated tonight with the traditional cake and candles. I'd tell you how old she is, but a gentleman never discloses a lady's age.

L and I went over to MIL's house for the celebration and we spent the evening in conversation. I fixed a few things on her computer and then we played a new game we invented. I call the game "What does it look like now?" Basically, you go into Google Maps and put in addresses of places where you have lived in the past and then (if you are lucky and it exists) you chose "Street View" to look at what the place looks like now. So we looked at places in Minneapolis from MIL's younger days, followed by places in California and Colorado, etc. Then we decided to visit the pyramids at Giza (along with the Sphinx) and the Taj Mahal. We ended our tour with a trip to the infamous artifact claimed by the insane to be Atlantis. Of course we also watched some videos associated with places and had a blast navigating by hand between several of the places. (You can tell we are an easily amused bunch.)

What started this foray around the world was a discussion about the number of times we had each been to Washington, D.C. and what we had seen while there. That led us question if the underground tram from the senate to the senate office building is still open to guests of the senators since 9/11. Shortly (and after about 13 intervening topics) that led us to question where exactly was Camp David? (How's that for a wild careening ride down the old thought train?) That of course led to the old paper atlas and then on to Google Maps and then to all of the above.

It is amazing what a powerful tool a computer and the internet can be to keep a mind engaged and kill occupy a lot of time. For seniors living alone and not getting out much, it can serve as lifeline, communicator, amusement device, news source, etc. It can also serve as a source of reading material (with font sizings suitable to available visual acuity). Think of even 20 years ago when none of this was available and how cut off and disengaged from the world people could become. Those of us that spend our lives on computers often worry about the possibility of the computer leading to social isolation and a lack of people skills amidst users, but this is the other side of the same coin. The combo of computer and internet can make the world a much more social and engaging place, or it can be used to completely eliminate the normal human interactions. The choice and effect is yours to chose.

I'll leave you with the limerick from my MIL apropos my limericks  in response to a Mama Kat challenge. The background here is that I often tell people that they'll know I'm fed up with being mayor when they find me naked in front of the bar some Saturday night. She couldn't resist twitting me about it.

The MIL's Limerick

There is a mayor named Dan
Voted in by many a fan.
    But if he goes to a meeting nude
    We'll think he's very rude
And run away as fast as we can!


Friday, March 13, 2009

Blogversation - Show & Tell

Summer from Le Musings of Moi is hosting the Saturday Blogversation again this week. The topic is the rather open ended Show and Tell. The instructions are to pick something to show off to your friends just like the old days of grade school and vlog about it. So without further ado, here is the highly awaited video premier (on this blog anyway) of my bragging point for the day:

Before you ask why I have that rather dyspeptic expression on my face, realize that there was a group of people standing behind the camera making faces to see if they could make me laugh. I was never so happy to finish a spiel in my life. Good editing removed me sticking my tongue out at them.

I hope that this gives you a good idea of the area. Most of the video was taken in the late spring / early summer and was produced to promote the area. I encourage you to visit the Sterling web site  for further information and videos (the normal home of the above video is here.) By the way, the sculpture shown in the video is by local artist and sculptor Bradford Rhea.  He is the sculptor who was commissioned to create President Clinton's gift to His Holiness John Paul II in 1993. You can read about the experience here.

Friday Not So high Five

Once more the muse of odd things is sitting on my keyboard, threatening me with total giddiness unless I a complete a Friday High Five post. Given my undying fear of things giddy, the fact that my first meeting started at 7:30am and the last finished at 8:40pm, that today was the day we moved Mom from the hospital to the nursing home, and other oddities, here is a completely lame

Five Documents You Might Not Want to Read Too Closely Before Signing

  • Exhumation orders. I see about four of these a year asking that a body can be exhumed from the city cemetery. One doesn't want to look too closely since some actually list the reason they want to exhume. Reasons like "I want to sell the plot to XYZ for a lot of money. The north 40 pasture is good enough for dad." It's even worse when you know the applicant and recognize the reason as truthful. The only interesting ones come from the coroner every 5 years or so. 
  • Cemetery deeds. Do you really want to know who is planning on being buried where? Do you really care?
  • Columbarium deeds. See above. Not only that, some days there are 50+ to be signed after the council meeting. Columbarium spaces are a hot commodity.
  • FAA Airport Funding Acceptances. Three hundred pages of boilerplate requiring your notarized signature 27 times throughout the document. And you get to sign just as many times when certifying the project has been completed.
  • Old Hire Fire Pension Fund Board Notes. This board only meets when one of the beneficiaries dies and we need to assign survivors rights. The board consists of one beneficiary, the city clerk, and the mayor. Last I checked , there were less than 8 beneficiaries and survivors in the plan. I have to hold  a meeting next week to assign the survivors benefits to the widow of the beneficiary who was sitting on the board. So it will be the city clerk and myself. Pretty much guarantees any passing vote will be unanimous.

Hopefully, a better five will present itself later. Off to the land of nod.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Death of Innocence

I remember the day I lost the last vestiges of my childhood innocence about the world. I was sad and angry and confused and ... It was all due to a sequence of events that will remain in my memory as long as I live.

My grandpa and grandma served as hosts to a farmer from Africa one summer while I was in  junior high school. "Kip" was here to learn about our agricultural methods and then bring the best applicable methods back home. Over the course of his stay, Kip talked about his country and his life, usually over Sunday meals with the extended family. Kip was one of those happy optimistic people that always had a smile to brighten your day. He always made your day better for having smiled and said hello.
Kip had learned English in a colonial school while growing up and so spoke with a very refined British accent. The accent was coupled with occasional charming lapses into his native tongue when he couldn't find the equivalent word in English. (His native langue sounded to my untutored ears a lot like a woodchuck running amok in a snare drum shop.) All this was absolutely captivating to the teenage me who had never been more than 150 miles from our location in the mid-western US. 
Kip was shy at first, but he was a born story teller once you got him going. Kip told stories of his farm, of his wife, of his dreams and his hopes for his children. He told of his tribal mythology and of the natural wonders of his country. He talked of how he missed his wife and family dearly, but felt he needed to learn different farming methods if they were to have a better life. His fellow villagers could only afford to send one person on the program and Kip was it. He would share his new knowledge with his neighbors when he got home as part of the trade for their support. Kip and the other farmers from around his country came here and learned, supported in part under a department of agriculture program for developing nations. Keep in mind this was before cell phones and the breakup of the AT&T monopoly, so there was no way for Kip and the others to phone home. An international call like that would have cost more than Kip's annual income. So we became the family he couldn't talk to.
Kip felt like a part of the extended family for that summer stay. I hated to see him get ready to go. I knew I would miss the tales of far away Africa, the stiff British accent, and the beaming smile that Kip always seemed to wear. But it was time for him to return home to his real family and life. We made sure to exchange postal addresses and he invited us to come and stay with him if we were ever to journey to his country. That Sunday he met up with several of his countrymen and headed to Denver to begin the journey home. The whole group gathered in New York City and then boarded a plane for home.
During the time of their flight home, fate altered their lives forever. A coup occurred in their country, changing the accepted ideology of the leadership. When the airplane Kip and his fellow farmers were on landed, they were ordered off the plane, marched to the edge of the tarmac, accused of being "tainted" by their exposure to capitalism, and executed. Of course we didn't learn all of this immediately. It took a certain amount of time for what had really happened to leak out of the country. Eventually there were news photos of the executions, many by being hacked to death with a machete, smuggled out of the country. Definitely not pretty. There is nothing quite like the experience of looking at newspaper photos of an atrocity like that, hoping against hope that Kip wasn't one of the victims, and yet expecting to see him in every new picture.
When we finally learned for sure what had happened to Kip, I struggled to understand how any group of 'human' beings could do that to another person. How could anyone let ideology control them to the point that they could murder a person like Kip. It was this cold-blooded killing of an innocent man, a man with dreams so like my own, that killed my childhood innocence. If the universe would let  a person as nice as Kip be killed over something as unimportant as ideology, it clearly wasn't a nice place. It wasn't the innocent place that I had basked in as I grew up, safe with my family. Never again would I have that trust and faith in the fundamental goodness of the universe.

This has been a response to Mama Kat's writer's challenge. Go visit her for the prompts and links to the other writers.

Tuesday Trivia

Today was one of those days with odd weather. To start, it was snowy and cold this morning. It was a glorious 10 degrees and had made it up all the way to 18 around noon. We ended up with just a dusting of powder snow, so not enough moisture to measure. I spent much of the day in meetings or waiting for meetings that never happened. A development group was scheduled to fly in to meet about some city owned property, but they were prevented from making it this far north by the wind and snow in southern Colorado. Small planes don't do real well in snow and high winds. Scratch that meeting. Then about 3pm, the wind started howling here and adiabatic heating quickly took over. The temperature shot up to 50 degrees and the snow all disappeared. Lends credence to that old saying: "If you don't like the weather in Colorado right now, just wait 15 minutes."

Got over to visit Mom at the hospital around 6pm and then headed off to the city council meeting at 7pm. It was nice to have a relatively full chamber for the meeting. The exceptional attendance was explained by the presence of two groups, a church and the Girl Scouts.

Many of the attendees were from a local church that came to make a public offer to buy some city owned land for a church. Of course we could take no action on the offer since it wasn't on the agenda. But they had also supplied it in writing so it will be coming before the council in the future.

Then I got to present the Girl Scouts with a proclamation for Girl Scout Week (March 8-14) in the city. A group of seven Girl Scouts from all age groups were present (along with parents and leaders) to receive the proclamation and give the council some Girl Scout Cookies. Given that L sits on the statewide council, I have already had more than enough cookies, so I and several other council members gave our cookies to be placed in the city staff break room. (Not to mention, no one wants to fill out all the paperwork for accepting a gift. You wouldn't believe the kind of paperwork the state demands of elected officials to account for any and all gifts.) When I asked the assembled group who wanted to receive the proclamation after I read it, one little cutie piped right up and said she would. It is nice to see kids at that age with the confidence to pipe up and say yes in front of the crowd like that. Really reinforces how effective the organization is in helping the girls succeed in life. I suspect that I will be in the paper once more, this time surrounded by a group of Girl Scouts, most of whom stand barely as tall as my belt buckle. Maybe I'll get lucky and the photographer will have cut my head off.

Th meeting continued on with other business, and then B from this post used the unscheduled public appearance slot to address the council. A fair amount of time later, we removed the glaze from our eyes and continued on. Obviously the high light of our meeting. {*grin*} Most such appearances wouldn't be too bad if people had the facts right or even addressed the issue at hand, but that is often not the case.

After the council meeting was done, I headed over to Mom's to pick up the list of things she wanted that she had given me earlier. I'll have to take them up to the hospital after the radio show tomorrow morning. I can tell that many of the effects of the anesthetic are fading. She wanted her bag to work on some hand crafts and she was doing the crossword puzzle when I visited earlier in the evening. Both actions are symptoms that she may still be in pain but that her mind has cleared.

Time to head for the bed - 6am comes early.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Miscellaneous Monday

I'm running a tad short of time today so I'm taking the easy way out. Mama Kat and others have been touting the LinkWithin widget, so I decided to give it a try. The installation was easy. Just click on the "get this widget" link below and follow the bouncing two step ball.

Now being a techno geek at heart, my real goal was to see if it does a very good job of picking posts out of the archive to link with. Given that I often have a hard time finding the post I want to link to even when I know the wording of the post, this blog could be a challenge to the LinkWithin heuristics. (And see, you just knew I couldn't resist using heuristic, just like I had to use canonical the last time I talked about search.) By looking at what it does and what the LinkWithin site says, it's pretty clear that they do a crawl of your archives and then select matches to the current post from the archive posts. Since it takes them some finite amount of time to do that initial crawl, I'd expect that one would see changing selections with each refresh until the crawl was done. I'd also expect that there is some degree of randomness in the selection, so that each display of the blog might get a different set of links displayed.

When I installed the widget, I immediately started a series of refreshes in other browser windows. The earliest refreshes did indeed return pretty much random stuff, but later displays sometimes seemed a bit more on topic. I'm still undecided about the true effectiveness of the links suggested. My experience thus far is that the proverbial "10,000 monkeys typing on 10,000 typewriters for 1 million years will reproduce hamlet" type of randomness seems to be at the forefront in the selection process. If that indeed remains the case over the coming days,  the lifespan of the widget may very short here.

So that is where you all come in. I'm going to leave the widget enabled through the rest of this week and then post a poll to see whether it stays or goes. (Anyone with the widget installed interested in running a multi-site poll?) So pay attention and be prepared for a quiz after class! {*grin*}

Mom Update

For those who wanted to know:
Mom's surgery went fine and she is in her hospital room resting. Now for the healing.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Great Uncle Scott

Being part of a large extended family means that I met a number of odd relatives in my childhood. Last night as Mom was cleaning out some papers from her genealogy trove, the topic of great uncle Scott rose to the fore. It was actually funny, because for a while Mom and I carried on a conversation wherein I was talking about the interaction of great uncle Scott with my grandpa P (her dad) and she was talking about the interaction with her grandpa P (my great grandfather P). As it turned out, the reactions were similar in both cases.

My great grandpa P had a brother named Scott who I seem to remember had originally hailed from around Chicago. In any case, my great grandfather P died when I was in the early part of grade school and I have no real memories of great grandpa and great uncle Scott together. When I was somewhat older, great uncle Scott would come to visit grandma and grandpa while I was staying at the farm with them. He was a missionary in, as he put it, "Deepest Darkest Africa", and only came back on his annual leave. Before finding God and religion, he had been a character of sorts (with rumors of "ill repute") and a mortician. One of his boasts that really stuck in my mind was his claim that he could embalm someone with one hand and eat a sandwich with the other. That kind of a character.

I remember my grandpa looking a bit pained when it became clear that great uncle Scott's arrival was eminent. I can also remember my uncle J hinting "here it goes again." I suspect that the causes were many and varied, but at least part of was that great uncle Scott had the zeal of the late saved and was highly judgmental as well. A bit like a lot of the fundamentalists are today.

The normal routine on the farm in the summer was pretty regular. Up at sunrise, breakfast at 6am, discussion of who was going to do what work that morning by 7am, and then off to work. Everyone would return to the homestead shortly before noon, eat lunch, and then relax and read and talk until about 1:15 and then head back out to the fields. Sometime around 6 or 7pm it was back to the homestead for supper and then any remaining chores, followed by baths and maybe the TV news at 10pm and bed. If it was plowing or planting season or it was during harvest, work would continue on into the night. If there was a head of water being run, someone had to get up two or three times in the night to go out and change the water setting and reset the tubes.

But when great uncle Scott came to stay, the routine got bollixed quickly. He insisted on prayer before all meals. Not the normal short prayer either, but a hell and damnation full-bore sermon that often ran 50 minutes or more. In fact I can remember one time it actually ran on to 90 minutes when he was really fired up. You can  imagine how losing 50 minutes morning, noon, and evening was looked upon by all those that had work that *had* to be done on this day. And of course grandma would have already had all the food set on the table when Scott began his prayer, so she was going crazy watching everything turn cold in from of her. I can remember being out in the field with grandpa and him saying it was time to head back to the homestead for lunch, and then in his understated way, remarking that it was probably going to be yet another waste of warm food, valuable time, and hot air.

It was ironic, but the only times we ever ate in the fields were harvest and great uncle Scott's visit. I suspect grandpa just couldn't stand to burn that much more time while all that work was waiting. It was also funny that the only time grandpa took us kids to the Proctor filling station for a bottle of pop was during the visit of great uncle Scott. Other times, if we were irrigating and waiting to change water settings, our uncle J would head to Proctor with us to get a pop. But never grandpa - unless great uncle Scott was at hand.

The most important thing about the whole great uncle Scott experience was that it was the first time I saw how my grandfather treated with respect someone who he didn't agree with or like in general. Even though I know it bothered him immensely, he never tried to hurry great uncle Scott, never tried to argue with him, never treated him with anything but respect. That was a hint to all who knew grandpa well. If he wasn't willing to debate and argue a topic with you, you could be pretty sure he thought you were as worthless as teats on a bull and not worth the trouble. Great uncle Scott never seems to caught the hint.

Time to get back to work. Think good thoughts for Mom and her surgery tomorrow.

 (Proctor is now considered a ghost town, but if you click the link, you can see a picture of the filling station where we got bottles of pop from a big chest filled with ice, water, and pop sitting out in front under that awning.)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sometimes You're Just ....

Sometimes you're just so happy that you aren't at a certain stage in your life any longer. I was reminded of that tonight as Mom, Mom's friend R (who is 93 or more) and I ate supper at a local restaurant. The place was relatively deserted for a Saturday night since this is state basketball finals season. (The local school district has two high schools in its ~1,500 sq. mi. area. One is in one of the smaller athletic classifications and the other is a couple of rungs from the top classification. Both schools' teams are in their respective championship brackets.)

As we were visiting and waiting for our food to arrive, an extended family that had been at one of the playoff games came in and were seated a ways from us. The group consisted of grandpa and grandma, mom and dad, and three young boys all of whom appeared to be under the age of five. It had obviously been a long day and, from the fan paraphernalia they were wearing, they were from the school that is about 20 miles from here. That meant they probably had another 45 minutes of travel to get home. Thus they had stopped to eat since it was already past 7pm; the boys had obviously had a long day of cheering and excitement, etc. They were laying their heads on the table and trying to curl up into mom and dad and grandma's laps from the time they sat down.

When their food arrived, the boys perked up and dug in, but they were done eating in five minutes. After a few minutes for the food to sink in, it was clear they all desperately wanted to be home and in bed. That's when I spotted that haunted look of fear on mom and dad's faces. They knew that total melt-down was only a stray glance away. Mom and dad started eating fast, trying to get their food down before Armageddon broke out before their very eyes. I remember that feeling from when the Son was a little guy. And I was so happy that phase had come and gone. It was evident that Mom was having similar thoughts as well. We looked at each other and just grinned as we realized what that mom and dad were feeling.

You know that feeling. The one that comes over you when you know that despite your best efforts and well laid plans, your are going to have a screaming and utterly disconsolate piece of humanity on your hands with no possible solution in a few moments. Yes that one, the one where you have fantasies of the earth swallowing you whole just so you don't have to go through it again.

At the same time, grandpa and grandma are oblivious to the impending disaster. They are beaming with pride at the three little angels as they s-l-o-w-l-y eat their meals and try to engage mom and dad in conversation. Mom and dad are frantically exchanging looks with each other and then the tops of the boys heads. Dad has even taken to rolling his pancakes up like a burrito in order to get them down faster. Mom has her purse on her shoulder ready to bolt out the door at the first sign of friendly fire in the upcoming battle.

Then it happens. One of the boys slides to the floor from his chair, causing one of his brothers to knock over a water glass, and the wailing is on. Dad grabs one boy, mom the other, but nothing they can do quiets the banshee wails coming from the two. The third brother has decided to burnish his angel status a little and is calmly telling grandma that see, he is a good boy and should get to go home with grandma and grandpa, unlike his brothers. Which of course is designed to set the brothers off even more.

They all get up to leave, the two banshees still wailing. The restaurant owner comes up to the cash register with a big bucket of Tootsie Pops for the boys to pick one. Angel boy does so and says thanks, but the other two just wail louder at seeing the brother with a Tootsie Pop. When last seen, the whole group was wailing its way out the door.

I commented to Mom and R how that was not one of the things I suffered nostalgia about. There are many things from when the Son was young that I remember with great fondness and miss dearly. But the tiredness melt down is not one of them. So when I saw that mom and dad tonight, my heart went out to them. I knew what was going to happen, they knew what was going to happen. They were concerned about disturbing me. And me? I was trying really hard not to laugh since it was someone else's problem now.

So do you have anything in your life that you are happy you aren't at that stage anymore?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Five Hints You Are ...

Time once more for Friday High Five hosted by Angela.  

Five Hints You Are No Longer a Teenager
  • Spending hours discussing who is sweet on whom or who is sleeping with whom does not inspire that tittering interest it once did.
  • You prefer music that doesn't sound like a bull moose playing the accordion while a herd of elk are being strangled in the background. Dead and dying rabbits, OK, but the tortured elk are just a bit too much.
  • Your friends say "Huh? What'd you say?" a lot unless you speak up. Which leads to the classic faux pas of screaming loudly into sudden silence: "So how's the rash on that certain part of your male anatomy doing?" Suddenly everyone has perfect hearing (or so it seems).
  • You think longingly of bed after only 18 hours of hard labor. Getting off work, hitting the party and then just going straight to work for another day without sleep seems more than a bit like visiting Hades.
  • You have lost all fear of public speaking, no matter how small, large, friendly, or angry the audience. (You figure that by now you have already embarrassed yourself in every way possible. The challenge now is finding creative new ways of attaining embarrassment. After the time you drunkenly recited the Beer Prayer, nude, from the second story balcony, to an audience of thousands, everything else is simply anti-climatic.)

    For those who don't know the Beer Prayer:

    The Beer Prayer

    Our lager,
    Which art in barrels,
    Hallowed be thy drink.
    Thy will be drunk,
    At home as it is in the tavern.
    Give us this day our foamy head,
    And forgive us our spillage,
    As we forgive those who spill against us.
    And lead us not to incarceration,
    But deliver us from hangovers.
    For thine is the beer, the bitter, and the lager.

    (This version from Ted Guhl)

    Now head on over linky at Angela's and read on.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009

    Thursday for the Odd

    Today was an odd day out here on the plains. The wind was blowing and the temperature rose early and then began to drop in anticipation of possible snow on Saturday. The wind was especially noticeable at the museum as it drove the old windmills and wind powered farm equipment to clatter like demons. Made one heck of a lot of noise. I was at the museum for a meeting with a donor.The city owns and operates a very highly rated western museum, concentrating on the history of the area and the Overland Trail which passes along the edge of town. That makes us a bit unusual for a city of our size as not many cities own and operate a museum, and ours has a collection of the original buildings of many types and farm equipment and a one room school plus a lot of lore, artifacts, and history from the area. All spread out on a several acre campus by the river.

    The meeting at 2pm was at the request of the donor who wanted the mayor to accept his gift of the final issue of the Rocky Mountain News to go with the archive first issue of the Rocky Mountain News from 150 years ago. The museum also has one of the early news printing presses, so this adds a bit to the collection, putting a capstone on it in a sense. If you are really unlucky, you will see a picture of me with the donor, me sitting on an old printers stool (about 1 foot tall) with my knees about my ears in front of the early printing press, looking like we are examining the paper hot off the press. I say that because the reporter/photographer from one of the local papers was there covering the event. The donor spent many years with the Rocky, and I think this  also allowed him to cap off his association with the Rocky.

    After finishing up at the museum, I went home and changed and headed over to Mom's house. Mom is undergoing surgery next week that will confine her to a wheel chair for at least the next 6 weeks, so it was time to remove some doors and get the handicap accessories in place. Mom has been spending most of the week getting things arranged so that she can do everything she needs from a wheelchair. Along the way she has been creating a list of things for me to do when I came over today. It is interesting all the things you take for granted when you are up and about versus sitting in a wheelchair. So a bit later I had the list for today done and the doors stored away. Of course, I also had to get my plant watering lesson for the day since I will be watering Mom's virtual forest of indoor plants. I think Mom's afraid I will kill them - probably a reasonable worry!

    Once we got that done, we headed to a local diner to eat. A number of our relatives seemingly had the same idea. Some background: Mom's younger sister G died some years ago due to cancer. G's kids are somewhat younger than me (I was the oldest grandkid) and I used to babysit them from time to time as we were growing up and G was still here. Mom is the honorary grandmother to G's kids' kids. (Parse that Emily Post.) G's three kids all have names that begin with M and one of them follows this blog and all three live here. The one who reads the blog requested to be known herein as M, so I'll call her brothers M1 and M2 just to avoid any claims of originality. M and her two kids and M1 and his wife and two kids all showed up at various times while we were eating. I am known as Uncle Dan to M and M1's kids. Mom and I got to see and talk to them as they waited for their food to come out. They'd come over and sit and talk with us and then return to their tables to eat.

    It was nice to see the kids. M's oldest and M1's oldest are both 7th graders and seem to be shooting up like the proverbial weeds. There are all the signs of emergent teenager making an appearance. M1 described it as the 12 going on 16 age. I have read to some of the kids' school classes at various times for Reading Across America and other programs. You haven't seen excited until you get to their classroom and they get to introduce the mayor as their "Uncle" Dan. As everyone got ready to leave, Mom and I got hugs from the kids. It's been a while since L and I had a pre-teen threatening to turn into an teenager at any moment, so it's always good to be reminded of what they are like. Especially when one can then go home and not worry about it. (Just kidding!)

    Time to get ready for tomorrow. Someday I'll have to write about babysitting M, M1, and M2. M threatened to kill me if I wrote about it tonight, so I'll have to wait until later. {*grin*} Of course she also claimed it exposed how old I am too. I thought the white hair already did that.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    The L in Limerick

    Once more into the breach dear friends! It's time once more for Mama Kat's writing challenge.

    The Prompts:
    1.) Write a limerick.
    2.) Normal is...
    3.) Describe a memorable camping experience.
    4.) What's the best thing that has happened this week?
    5.) Did you have a childhood hideout? Where? Describe it.
    6.) Words that hurt me.
    So there is little choice for a dirty old man like me but to supply these limericks three!

    Limerick 1
    Danny the spammer sat on his fanny
    Spending his money paying Manny
       But plan out a scam
       You know that he can
    Leading to nothing but net tyranny

    Limerick 2
    There was an old man with a flute
    Who played a really mean jazz lute
      When both came together
      He was light as a feather
    But all of the time he had a hoot

    Limerick 3
    Lovely Linda played often with her cam
    Leading her to attempt a dark scam
      But then the exposure
      Led to her closure
    Putting a definite end to her sham

    Off to get ready for the morrow. Don't do anything I wouldn't. (Unless you send photos!) 

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Yet Another Tuesday

    Today was much closer to an acceptable day for me. The forecast winds did not appear even though the warmth did. (Never trust the weather people!) So Molly and I got a chance to get out in the sun and walk in the park. Hooray!

    Tonight's city council meeting ran long, mainly because we had so many things to go through in our special session and also a rather lengthy executive session for court and real estate matters. One of the fun things coming up and discussed is the 125th anniversary of the founding of the city. The question is whether to celebrate the 125th, and if so, how and when. The actual founding was December 13, 1884. So do you put it off until December, piggy back it on the 4th of July celebration and Heritage Festival, or choose another date? One of the council members pointed out that the 100th anniversary celebration was held in October to correspond with the harvest festivals. Any great ideas?

    There was a funny moment after the meeting as our newest council member asked if we had ever heard of B. The veterans were all just about rolling on the floor because B is infamously notorious, both to the city council and city staff. B is so hard to deal with and so irrational at times that speaking to B is considered a rite of passage. Every council member has had the pleasure of speaking to B at least several times and it is an experience they never forget. So when the new council member asked with the bewildered look of confusion if we had ever heard of someone named B, we were ready to hear the story. Once she told her contact story and had heard a few of our B stories, you could see the light come on as she realized that she was not alone.

    I suspect every the every entity that deals with the public, whether it be government, retail, service sector, or any other has their version of B. Most retail and service industries have the luxury of firing the customer - just flat out admitting that it costs more in aggravation, time, and morale to deal with that customer than it is worth to the business. Unfortunately, governments don't quite have the same freedom. So although B has been fired from some municipal services, there are others we are obligated by charter to provide. So each new generation gets to deal with the Bs of the world.

    The newest council member wanted to know why we couldn't have prepared a list of "beware of these numbers/people" for new council members to save her from the hours long barrage of her first contact with B. The answer I gave is straight forward: each council member must deal with all the people they represent, including B, in an unbiased and fair manner. And after all, there is always the hope that someday one of them will hit on the magical key to dealing with the constituent like B in a calm and rational manner. And in a paraphrase, just because you're outrageous doesn't mean you don't have a valid point. So we'll be forced to keep sacrificing virginal council members on the altar of first contact with the Bs of the world as long as we have representative government.

    Time to get to bed so I can mosey down to the radio station in the morning. Our town's benefactor (from here) has been at it again and made another $250,000 donation to help keep recreation fees down and additional park facilities. The director of Parks, Libraries, and Recreation will join me to acknowledge the gift. Like I said before, having great civic donors like he and his wife makes my job a lot easier. So thank you Frank and Gloria!

    Monday, March 2, 2009

    The S in Sucker

    Ever had one of those days that puts the s in sucker? Today was one of those days for me.

    It was beautiful outside, 72 degrees and calm. (And still no real winter here.) The forecast for the next few days is warm but extremely windy. So today was the day to be outside and catching some early spring rays. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out that way. Everybody in creation wanted to talk to me today. My first call came in at 8am and the last after 8pm. Everything from meetings to planning to important to bitching to just wanting to blither on. So Molly and I did not get to enjoy the warmth and sun together. (Molly at least got a nice nap laying in the backyard in the sun - I really wanted to join her.) At least it was a good celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday.

    I've always wondered in the back of my mind if political office isn't something more compatible with the female temperament than the male one (in a politically incorrect generaliztion). It seems that it can eat me alive when I am pelted with problem after problem and there isn't a thing I can do about them. Somehow the talk and talk until we all feel better method so popular amidst the women of my acquaintance just doesn't work for guys like me. When guys hear a problem, we want to fix it deep down in our guts. Many times the person with the problem doesn't actually want us to fix the problem or realizes that we can not fix it. They just want someone to listen and say "yes" and "I see" at the appropriate places. That can be very hard to do in a marriage and is even harder in politics. It is hard to shed that inner turmoil demanding that you fix the problem and then just let it go.

    Sometimes you just want to scream and then put your head in the sand. That doesn't seem like it would help much, but it certainly sounds attractive on a day like today. Oh well, hopefully tomorrow will be better.

    Sunday, March 1, 2009

    Help, I'm in trouble with my dog

    It's official. Molly is sure I have a spare mistress hidden in my office and is upset about it.

    This afternoon, I'm attempting to listen to the podcast of "Herding Vegetable Sheep" by Ekaterina Sedia as read by Kate Baker from the Clarkesworld site. Molly keeps running into the office barking and looking about. Ms Baker has one of those husky voices that sounds sexy even when emanating boredom while reading the phonebook and that triggered Molly's jealous streak. Every time I turned up the audio, Molly came sprinting into my office, barking and searching.

    When Molly couldn't find the lady so obviously speaking, she turned to me and gave me the look. You know, the one that says "this voice isn't L and yet it sounds like a young lady, so where is she? Huh? HUH? What are you hiding from me? Come on, I know you've hidden her somewhere." How do you respond to a look like this?

    I have to admit it was an effective look. I immediately felt guilty for listening to the reading. But then it hit me that I had nothing to feel guilty about, so why was I letting the dog make me feel that way. (It might be those big brown eyes. I don't know.) In the end, I outfoxed Molly by reading the printed version of the story. (So there!) After all, what Molly can't hear won't hurt her.

    It's now an hour or more later and Molly is still sitting here in my office looking at me very intently as if to say, "I know you hid that lady somewhere and I'm not leaving until she comes out." Wonder if she'll give it up when I go to make supper? It's a real shame when your dog thinks you're holding out on her.

    Anyway, for those of you that enjoy Sci-Fi and non-fiction about the field of science fiction, I highly recommend the Clarkesworld site. The ezine they publish has some very good short stories and audio readings. Given the collapsing market in short stories as the more traditional mags fold up shop, this is becoming one of the premiere places to see new authors cut their teeth. The addition to the mix of an occasional story by masters like Mike Resnick and Robert Reed adds just the right spice.

    Since I seem to be a bit book and author tracked at the moment, I'd also like to recommend the Robert Burton Robinson site. He has four of his Greg Tenorly series novels available for download and they are a very pleasant read; a combination of mystery, detective, and romance. He also has a couple of his other novels and a chapter serialization of his newest novel available on-line.

    Back to work. I still have to figure out how to convince Molly that there is no new mistress so we can return to normal.
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