Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Ghoulish Goodnight to All

Happy Halloween!

The turnout here tonight was lighter than in previous years. I suspect that the weather and the earlier events coupled with a Saturday date cut down on the crowds. I also have a suspicion that the Saturday date led to a lot more parties hosted by moms and dads. What makes it strange is that after the blizzard of Thursday/Friday, the warm winds have already melted all the snow and it is still warm out this evening. Most years it is damp and freezing on Halloween, sometimes snowing and icy. Of course, some years it in the 60s and dry too.

I had 33 little tricksters tonight, compared to last years tally of 45. One of the things I noticed was a paucity of male tricksters. Out of the 33 tricksters, only 8 of them were male. Usually it is close a 50/50 mix. I wonder if the fact that there were four good college football games and a World Series game tonight had anything to do with the lack of male tricksters? I know it certainly seemed to skew the number of dads versus the number of moms doing escort duty tonight.

I had a little charmer and his sister show up late. He might have been 4 and his sister was probably 2+. He wanted to know if I had any kids and I told him that the son was off to a college party. So then he wanted to know if I wanted some kids to come play with me, 'cause he and his sister would be happy to. His sister just stood quaking in fear of my flashing hat and nodding when I asked her if she wanted a treat. Their dad was cracking up out on the curb, trying not to laugh too loud. I think they may be from down the street a bit. He thanked me as they walked off and you could hear the smile in his voice.

I answered the door wearing the Son's old Mickey Mouse Wizard hat with flashing lights. The fact that it makes me look to be eight feet tall was a bit much for some of the kids. It was a real hit with the 5-8 year old crowd, a bit scary for the 3-5 crowd, and ignored entirely in favor of examining the loot by the 8-12 year old crowd. It was neat to hear the kids comments as they walked away. The only teens I saw this year were older siblings escorting the youngsters. They were amazingly polite and said no thank you to offers of a treat for them as well. Is the younger generation suddenly turning more polite or is this an anomalous data point?

Tomorrow is the start date for NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month. The goal is to post a blog entry every day for 30 days. I did it last year and figured why not give it a go this year as well. It can be fun and if you sign up and actually post everyday, you are eligible for prizes. Check out the NaBloPoMo site for details.

Time to go bag up some treats to give to L and the son (and so I won't snarf them).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ahoy Yon Blizzard

Time once more for

Five Things To Do During A Blizzard
  • Answer the phone to hear all the meeting cancellations pour in. 
  • Stare at the wall of white visible out of the windows.
  • Call the MIL to tell her I'd be over tomorrow when the worst is past to clean her sidewalk.
  • Try to explain to Molly the dog that pacing the house growling won't make the wind outside stop howling.
  • Be thankful that the total snowfall isn't measured in feet rather than inches.

For the curious, here is the warning from the NWS that came out late in the afternoon for this area:
Issued by The National Weather Service
Denver/Boulder, CO
6:07 pm MDT, Thu., Oct. 29, 2009






My Favorite Costume

More fun from Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge.  This week I am writing about
5.) Describe a favorite Halloween costume or moment you wish you had on video.

but you should head over to Mama Kat's to check out all the topics.

My Favorite Halloween Costume

I have just one favorite Halloween costume, which is amazing for several reasons. By all logic it should have been one of my least favorite costumes and instead it is the one that sticks in my mind with the most emotional impact all these years later. The story begins ...

It was Halloween and I was in the first grade. We were living in a small town in Nebraska, a town with a population of less than 350 including the dogs, pigs, and cats. That kind of a small town. But, being that small had its advantages. The only restaurant in town hosted an annual Halloween event, Hot Chocolate and Treats, on the eve of Halloween. Not only could a kid collect the loot from one place, drink hot cocoa, and see everyone's costumes, there was a contest with actual prizes!

In anticipation of the evening, I worked hard on the costume of my dreams. I was fascinated by robots, so a robot I was to be. You'd be amazed what one can do with oodles of cardboard boxes, buttons, paint, tape and imagination. In my mind I pictured the costume as looking a bit like this picture, sans the cigar and engineering refinements.

I lacked the foresight to use flexible arms like the costume in the picture. I used two cardboard boxes on each arm, leaving me with almost no motion in the arms. The box on top of my head made sure I had no peripheral vision as well. (But it did hide my glasses!) So motion of any form was lacking in grace and flexibility.

On the eve of the contest i was excited. All my friends from school were there and we were all anxious to see what each others costumes were like. It was a period when cowboy costumes were all the rage, so there were a heck of a lot of cowboys present. Likewise princesses. Astronauts were still new in the pantheon of heroes; I don't remember a single astronaut in the crowd.

After the excitement of collecting loot and the costume judging (I didn't win), it was time to gather up a cup of hot chocolate and sit down at a booth to drink it. It was at that point it became clear that neither activity was going to be possible in my costume. In no way, shape, or form could I carry a cup of hot chocolate in costume without spilling it. And even if I could, there was no possibility of folding my boxed form into a booth. To make things even trickier, I had taped my costume on in a one way entry configuration. The only way to take it off meant it was off for good and that it was not an easy task to remove it.

I waffled about for a bit and finally decided that it was worth it to rip off the arms and torso so I could sit down and have that wonderfully aromatic hot chocolate. Did I mention that the diner was quite crowded with all of us munchkins running loose? Did I also mention that the diner used glass cups stacked high on trays for serving the cocoa? Have you figured out what happened next?

That's right. Rip, wing, crash. Pretty much in that order and suddenly there were literally what seemed to me to be hundreds of broken cups all over the floor. You can see why I said that it defied all logic as to why I regarded this as my favorite costume. Most favorite costumes do not star in a disaster of such proportions.

But the chaos of the disaster was quickly forgotten because of the wonderful way the incident was handled by the restaurant owners (whose son was in my class and at the contest as well) and their staff. No recriminations, no scolding, no blame: only a kindly helping hand in removing the costume, getting me some coca, and getting me sat down. I often think back to that evening and have a wonderful warm glow because of the way the adults around me handled the situation. It makes me wonder what my memories and feelings would have been had the adults reacted in the fashion I see so often: with recrimination and blame.

So there you have it, my favorite costume. It is my favorite not because it was a great costume, not because I especially liked it, but because I have some really great memories of kindness associated with it.

P.S. For those who read yesterday's post, I was almost right. It rained until about 2pm and then started snowing. It has been snowing off and on all night and is predicted to really kick in tomorrow with 50 mph winds. Nothing like early blizzard white-out conditions to make sure you think winter is really on its way.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tawdry Tuesday

The great debate is on. Time for one and all to pick the weather predictor they are going to put their faith in and hang on tight. I have heard predictions for snowfall ranging from 0" to 25" out here on the plains for the winter storm blowing in. Similarly the predictors are split from 20 mph winds all the way up to 80 mph winds. So pick your poison and see which one you get. It might make the mosey down to the radio station in the morning a brisk affair. It might also cancel the meeting I have scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. It all depends! {*grin*}

Tonight the city council meeting was a juggernaut of straight line motion. You can tell that half of us are lame ducks - there is no sense of "we must fight unto death over this trivial item" left in anyone. It is more lets get done as much as we can before those poor newbie suckers get here and get swamped under all that is coming up. We passed the budget for next year and other sundry things, raised the city manager's signature authority, modified the zoning code, held five public hearings, did the appropriation ordinance for next year, and generally got on with business. All of us that are term limited out of office have one more official meeting (on the 10th) and then we are done. Of course we also have some meetings that are not "official" even later, right up until the 24th when the new council will be seated. I think we are all looking forward to that day.

It will be interesting to see how the meeting on the 10th will go. One of the longstanding traditions here is that outgoing members, especially those term limited out, are given a few minutes to talk about anything they choose. So I warned the two other term limited council members to be ready to speak if they had any remarks to offer. For my part, I'm still not sure what I'm going to say. I have been blessed with a consistent council with the same members (except for one who was transfered) for most of my three terms. That kind of stability has let us get some great stuff done and meant that we have come to understand one another in a way that lets us get things done without undue friction. It'll be interesting to see haw the new council comes to terms and continues on (or not).

Well, time to head for bed so I can journey through the unknown weather in the morning to the radio station. My own personal bet is on rain until tomorrow night, but don't tell anyone you heard it here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fun and Curses

This weekend was interesting, in the sense of "May you live in interesting times" form of the old Chinese proverb.

(If you are really curious, that phrase is reputed to be the mildest of three canonical Chinese curses. In order of increasing severity:
  • May you live in interesting times
  • May you come to the attention of those in authority
  • May you find what you are looking for
For the convoluted history, check out "May you live in interesting times" from Wikipedia.)

Saturday night was the Ninth Annual Community Caring Hands Trivia Contest. Our team was the defending champion and we won going away again Saturday. That makes if 3 out of the last 3 years and 6 of the last 8. Proof positive that we are indeed trivial. Our team consists of a CPA, lawyer, surgeon, a home schooled jack of all trades, a school teacher, and myself. The school teacher was a sub for our retired librarian - she was off at a family reunion in Lincoln and so couldn't join us this year.

The contest is always fun and is a fund raising event for Community Caring Hands, a local group formed when we were informed that we we too small an area to support a Habitat for Humanity branch. A retired professor from the local community college presides in full academic robes. (He has written a newspaper trivia column for the last 20 years, so he has an amazing amount of trivia to hand.)  There are between 15 and 25 teams each year with each team consisting of 6 members. The master of ceremonies reads each question aloud and the teams have 30 seconds to write their answers on a slip of paper and give them to the runners when time is called. The contest is divided into 9 groups of 8 questions each, with each group concentrating on a specific broad areas. Some of the groups are Science, Entertainment, Literature, Geography, TV, etc. Prizes are also awarded for the most amusing (and incorrect) answers in each group.

To give a flavor of the questions, here are a couple that stuck with me form this years contest:
  • What was the given name of the Joker from Batman Comics?
  • What geographic feature known to the Lakota as the Six Grandfathers was renamed after a lawyer as punishment to the Lakota?
  • What astronaut flew in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs?
  • The travelers in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales were served by someone with the same title as a U.S. Navy rank. What is that rank?
(The answers are in the first comment - no peeking!)

That was the fun part of weekend. The cursed interesting part is that the dryer quit heating on Sunday. So that means that today I have it disassembled all over the laundry room to see if it is one of the thermostats or the heating element that has departed these earthly realms. Fortunately it warmed up a bit outside today and is windy and in the fifties so I could hang all the damp and wet clothes out to dry in the breeze.

Which in turn reminded me of my childhood. I can remember hanging bedding out to dry in the winter when I was a kid and letting it freeze dry. I always thought that was neat, especially going out and bringing in the sheets as the sun went down. They'd be these big stiff crackly things that expired their last bit of moisture as they thawed entering the warm house. Now that I am no longer a kid, the whole thing seems no where near as neat now.

So what was your weekend like?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Five Words Of Questionable Desirability ...

It's time once more for

Five Words Of Questionable Desirability To Hear While In The Dentist's Chair

  • Dermatologist
  • Appointment
  • Rash
  • Hole
  • Run

Today was my normal cleaning and checkup at the dentist. As the hygienist was cleaning my teeth, she said she wasn't sure if Doc would get a chance to look at my teeth before he had to be off to his appointment. (Leaving me wondering what appointment? I usually have a pretty good idea of who is meeting with whom about what, but I had no clue.) Doc hurried in and told her to hold off on the polishing so he can do my exam before he has to go.

Doc is an old acquaintance, so he explains that he is rushed since he has an appointment with the dermatologist. He adds that since he likes his patients to be on time, he wants to be on time for his appointment. Fair enough. So after giving the OK on my teeth, we visit for a few moments and then he looks at his watch and says "Gotta run, I've got an appointment with the dermatologist about the rash and hole in the skin on my ankle. Gotta run."

I'm still wondering if that wasn't TMI? I'm also wondering if he remembered to take his mask and gloves off before he walked into the dermatologists office?

Yes, We Have No Bananas

Just to allay the fears of those who emailed wondering about the lack of a Writer's Challenge posting today:
  • I am fine.
  • I chose not to respond to the Motherhood (the movie) specific Writer's Challenge.
  • I was short of time yesterday evening.
  • I will be posting my normal Friday high Five this evening.
Thank you for the concern. I have not been abducted by Venusians or Martians (as yet). Mad ravaging mobs of disgruntled (or even gruntled) citizens have not arrived to tar and feather me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Unsettled Tuesday

Today was full of ifs, buts, and maybes. And it must not have just been here that it was that way. How do I know?

First off, all morning and most of the afternoon, my iGoogle home page looked like it had been redesigned by a crazed color blind Tibetan monk. No info, no listing of my RSS feeds (all those lovely blog posts - ignored), no news, no anything like normal. Only a lonely search box begging forlornly for me to type at it. Worst of all, the problem seemed to be mainly affecting Firefox. Opera looked almost normal. Of course my internal ordering of browsers runs Firefox, Opera, and finally if life is nearing an end, Internet Explorer. So I was just one step away from the universe as I know and love it coming to an end.

I might have figured it was just me and my machines, but then on the Google developer forums there were confirmatory messages mentioning the same problems. So it must have been either Mozilla or Google having a bad day. Now this evening, all is back to normal and I am so happy to return to the news of Balloon Boy and all the coulda-shoulda-wanna-be sports stories written by the mid-week wound licking losers. (Anyone else notice how the Google news feeds seem to have a real emphasis on the negative slanted stories? Why is that? Have they joined the Fox News Network and I just didn't notice?)

Then to add insult to injury, it was overcast and dark here all day. The sun seemed to run off and hide, afraid that the brown and gold and orange colors of fall just weren't enough. It looked like a snow storm was eminent all day long. By late afternoon is was misting - you know, the billions of wanna-be snow flakes unable to make it in the real world and falling to the earth like a living fog bank. So it was damp and cool and breezy and dark all day. Weather ultimately conductive to lifting the spirit and making one happy to be alive - *not*. It was bad enough that by noon the normally chipper Molly had retreated to her bed and wasn't going to pull her nose out from under her paws for anything short of Armageddon.

It seems that the gloom of the day must have infected others. Every call I got today had a note of gloom and doom and rant and rave in it. I can't wait for the weather to turn sunny again.

Oh well, I have beans soaking to make soup tomorrow and Molly has decided she should come to life. So I leave you with Molly and the chew toy of death. Let the battle begin!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Football Monday

I was busy watching the Broncos game when it struck me that there was something I forgot ot do today - post my blog entry!

I spent much of yesterday being a house drudge. You know, vacuuming, washing, and cleaning. Finally got around to cleaning up the Son's room so one can see the floor and close the closet doors. (Remember it was a month or more ago that we sold the bunk bed from the room in the garage sale.)

One of the things I had to do was wash a couple of quilts that had been on the bunk bed for a while. So I washed them first and then took advantage of the fact that the day was near 80 degrees (probably the only one for a week or more either side since there is a chance of snow again on Wednesday) and hung them outside to dry in the warm breeze.

As I was doing that, my mind drifted to the thought of how fortunate we have been to have all the handmade quilts throughout our life.  We have quilts from my grandmother and my mom, all of which we use in day to day living. For those of you gasping in horror at the idea of heirlooms like hand sewn quilts being in day to day use, I'll just point out the many of them were given with the proviso that we use them precisely that way. The people who put the hours of labor and love into them weren't doing it to create a burdensome thing that needed to be handled with kid gloves and stored away. They made them to be used and for us to remember them fondly each time we use them.

In any case, that led me to the thought that we may be the last generation to be so fortunate. The concept of creating goods of enduring value and usefulness for kith and kin seems to be fading with each succeeding generation. In our generation, the handmade quilts have given way to machine sewn quilts. In the Son's generation, I suspect that even that will begin to fade. So my question to you is: what is replacing it? There must be something?

On a somewhat different note, Molly continues to function as furball extraordinary. Vacuuming the house yielded at least 2 gallons of Molly fur. It's one of the reason we have a Hoover WindTunnel vacuum cleaner - one can simply dump the chamber full of fur and continue on. I suspect a standard bagging model would eat us out of house and home in bags with a dog like Molly. On the other hand, having a continuously shedding long haired dog means you get used to finding hair everywhere. The wearing of black clothes is particularly challenging. The other day as I was walking out of a meeting, one of the other attendees turned to me and asked if I had a white long haired dog. i said I did and inquired as to how she knew. She pointed out the hair around my cuffs where Molly rubbed on me as I left for the meeting. She thought it was funny since she used to have a similar dog with the same hair everywhere problem a few years ago.

Finally, it is mom's birthday tomorrow and I know she reads this blog regularly. So this is an appropriate place to say:
Happy Birthday Mom

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Things Not To Do

It's time once more for

Last night I attended a candidate forum for the city council races. I probably should not have done so since I heard at least one candidate tell a lie, another expose their ignorance of science and facts, and yet another state projected actions in direct violation of the city charter. It was hard to sit still and not stand up and play the anti-stupid card. Thus I bring you:

Five Reasons Not To Attend A Candidate Forum As You Leave Office

  • Candidates may expose their lack of knowledge in painful ways.
  • There is a strong temptation to stand up and ask the candidates to stop telling lies.
  • There is a desire to insist they actually attend a council meeting and/or read the public engineering reports before making really stupid statements.
  • The idiot in the audience unable to comprehend any answer in any form. He/she will still waste the time of the entire audience by asking the exact same question 40 times before being escorted from the room by their nurse.
  • Realizing that some candidates you thought might be capable lack even a basic understanding of the form of government spelled out by the city charter.

Out Of The Ordinary

More fun from Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge this week! I am going to concentrate on
4.) Describe a moment when you realized your mom was more than just a mom.

My take on this prompt is probably a bit skewed - I gradually learned growing up that other mom's just weren't up to the standard of my mom. So I don't know that there was ever a moment that I realized that my mom was more than a mom. It was more the realization that other moms were so much less than my mom.

Growing up, it seemed to me that there was nothing my mom couldn't do and very few things that she didn't know or at least know how to find out. I can remember my shock in first grade when I realized that my friends' moms didn't know how to cook just about anything - from catfish fresh from the creek to pheasants newly shot to that unknown cut of beef on special at the grocery store without consulting a cookbook. My confusion was compounded when I also learned that some of those same mothers didn't know how to sew and make clothes and costumes. I realize now that at least some of those skills were part of survival for our family. But they seemed normal to my brother and I. I honestly have to admit that I was high school before i realized that we lived on the wrong side of the tracks. Mom and dad did such a good job of presenting life as normal that I never questioned it.

At the same time, it seemed that mom always had good books to suggest we read; books that always seemed to be just right for the maturity level we had. It was another shock when I found that most of my friends mothers made no reading suggestions and in fact seemed not to always have a book or two they themselves were reading. Even more bewildering was when I discovered that they didn't have a library card and their moms didn't take them to the library regularly. And that there was seldom any of what I would later learn was the Socratic method practiced every day in their homes. Some of that I attribute to the fact my friends had TV and we did not.

In spite of all this, I think the time I truly came to the realization that my mom was something out of the ordinary in the realm of momhood was in high school. As I had been growing up, I had noticed that many family members seemed to come and talk to mom about their life and problems. I assumed that was just part of being family. When I reached adolescence, my friends (and even enemies {*grin*}) started coming to the house, not to visit me, but to talk with mom.

Amazingly, I understood exactly why they did that. Mom has the gift of being able to listen absolutely and non-judgmentally. She will listen and not rise to the bait of provocation. But best of all, after listening and eliciting the full story, she is able to guide and help you to make good decisions, decisions that are good for *you*, decisions that she might not personally agree with, but decisions that are the best for you. And I found that no other mom I knew seemed to have that ability.

So in case you haven't guessed, I think my mom is pretty special. Compared to the other moms I knew, it seemed to me that my mom was never just a mom. Or perhaps, the definition of mom was just different for us.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Busy Tuesday

I just got done doing a quick crossword puzzle to unwind after a long day and I figured you would enjoy the lead off word of the day: vapid - meaning uninspired. Think there might be a resemblance between the word and I?

First, for those of you who could not guess the answer to yesterday's question of the day. Bob Dylan composed "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" for the movie film Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid in 1973. As I responded to one commenter, the acoustic version from the movie bears only a passing resemblance to the Guns N' Roses cover I used.

Today was a busy day. It started with a coffee meeting downtown to pull a surprise on the benefactor who has donated parks, the water park, and the cancer center to this town. In general, he and his wife have not allowed us to name anything after them or even acknowledge their gifts. I had to jump through hoops just to get them to let us put up a 2" x 5" plaque on the the fence around the water park acknowledging them. A group of us finally came up with a way to acknowledge them that we hoped they would find acceptable and amusing.

Last week we made up a fake street sign, put it up over the real street sign at the corner of a donated park and across the street from the donated water park. Then we took a photo and arranged to have coffee with the benefactor this morning. I'm sure he thought we going to hit him up for a gift. {*grin*} Instead we talked and visited and then sprang this picture on him.

Since the picture is small and poor quality (I had to scan a printed page), here is what the sign we are pointing to said:
Walsh Parkway

in honor of Frank and Gloria Walsh who have literally given millions to this community.

Frank was both touched and amused at our presentation. He and Gloria agreed we could rename West Elm Street to Walsh Parkway. So in a few weeks, the sign(s) will be real. It's the small ways of saying thank you to the unassuming nice people like Frank and Gloria that has made this job rewarding.

This afternoon I was the speaker at the Humanities Club to talk about the water issue on the ballot for just about the last time. (The mail ballots are being sent out by Friday and this is a mail only election this year.) Thursday at the Board of Realtors meeting will be the last speaking engagement on the topic.

I followed that with the city council meeting tonight. The city budget was presented and the public hearing scheduled two weeks hence. One of the last things I will do as mayor is guide next year's budget to adoption. Only two more "regular" council meetings left and I'm out of office.

Well, time to get my notes together for the radio show in the morning. 6am comes early.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Moody Monday

L headed back to the mountains this morning, only to report that it was warmer there than here. She also noted that there was no snow on the ground like here. Keep in mind that her location in the mountains is ~5000 feet higher in altitude and the other side of the continental divide from here. Made me jealous when she reported it was in the 50s there - it never got much above 35 here today.

Molly and I spent the afternoon moping and missing L. Not too surprising sincewe both miss her. So in honor of the melancholy mood of the afternoon and the drear and cold, I present the following mood altering and indulging set.

First up, Foreigner with "I Want To Know What Love Is":

Followed by Boston with "More Than A Feeling":

And then to begin the transition out of melancholy and into feel good, The Beatles with "While My Guitar Gently Weeps":

With the motor starting to crank up now, it is time for some AC/DC with "T.N.T."

And finally, now that we are back in the realm of the living, Guns N' Roses covering Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"

The extra credit question of the day - for what movie did Bob Dylan compose "Knockin On Heaven's Door"? No fair using Google to look it up!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Last night, as the temperature dropped, that strange wet and white stuff magically appeared. By morning it was a winter wonderland.

This is the view out the back door from my workbench:

This is the view looking across the little patio:

Last, but not least, this is the view out the front door towards the driveway (which you might note I hadn't shoveled yet):

It had warmed up to a blazing 25 degrees by noon today. Will the Rockies game in Denver (about 125 miles further west and 900 feet higher elevation) be played today? Do many baseball teams have a snow removal plan? Inquiring minds want to know. Of course, I also wonder how long it will take the weeping willow to drop its leaves now that it has frozen hard.

After shoveling a few walks and driveways, I feel perfectly content to watch a college football game. The only question is which one. So as I make my decision, I leave you with the following:
What did it look like in your yard today?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Five Things I Learned In Prison ...

It's time once more for

This evening I was the guest lecturer at a class on public speaking - in prison. It was part of a college curriculum for selected inmates under a program developed and funded by a now deceased local benefactor who believed strongly in the power of education to change the course of the convicts future life. I started with a 45 minute explanation of the current water situation with a Q&A session as an example of a typical speech. Then I talked about how I had gone from being absolutely scared of public speaking in my teens to the current state of being able to talk to any group any time without qualm. All in all a lively class with bright and inquisitive students. And like any class room experience, the teacher often learns a lot as well. Thus I bring you

Five Things I Learned In Prison Tonight

  • The rabbits are going wild. I must have seen 20 rabbits running across the exercise yard on the way to the education annex. In the snow and rain and freezing temperatures no less.
  • Never forget to tell the invisible guard you are clear of the door he has remotely unlocked for you. He might threaten to leave you there permanently.
  • Students are really avid for these classes. When the cell block gets the call for the education program, the student-inmates literally run to make sure they miss no part of the class.
  • Walking back across the exercise yard after dark during the last exercise period makes one feel very alone - even though a stream of higher security inmates and their guards are scattered around the area.
  • The questions and concerns of the inmates differ little from the community as a whole, especially on the water issue.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Spitting Image of the Bear

Some more fun topics for Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge this week!
1.) What's cooking in YOUR crockpot?
(inspired by Joss from My Irish Twins)

2.) Find your one very favorite picture of Summer and write a poem about it.
(inspired by me)

3.) Pay tribute to a favorite blogger! (And while you're at it link up and enter to win an adorable pettiskirt. I want it.)
(inspired by Kacey and Fran from Mayhem And Moxie)

4.) When I look in the mirror...
(inspired by Liz from Loving Mom 2 Boys)

5.) The top ten things I'd rather be doing than having sex with David Letterman
(inspired by Happy Hour Sue from Happy Meals & Happy Hour)

With a hey-nony-nony and a hi-dee-ho, it off to the races we go. (Nothing like a misquote of Jeeves to give a lively start!)

#1 - - Nothing at the moment, but sometime in the near future there will be a pot of bean soup simmering away. Nothing like a mixture of beans and spices and  tomatoes, simmering for hours, to make a cold house feel like a warm home. I think I even have a ham bone in the freezer I can throw in for that extra bit of flavor.

#2 -- When I first read this, I had a lively debate with myself over why Mama Kat wanted us to dig up a picture of Summer from Le Musings Of Moi and then write a poem about it. Then I realized it was a bit like that canonical grammar book title - Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach To Punctuation. I suspect that Mama really meant to use summer as in the season rather than the proper noun Summer as I first thought. In any case, my mental confusion is probably more amusing that any  poem I might crank out.

#3 -- This is one where taste comes to the fore. I am an uber fan of Matt Springer and his blog Built on Facts. Matt is a graduate student in physics at Texas A&M and writes great reality and mathematics based vignettes for the lay and student audience. (My description sounds really boring, but the actual writing is anything but boring.) My favorite part of his blog is the Sunday Function every week. You should really visit to see if it tickles your blog reading funny bone.

#4 -- When I look in the mirror I hear my mirror screaming out for me to clean its dirty face. Once I am able to tune the mirror and the streaks out, what I see is a function of the time of day and mood of the moment. If I have my glasses on so that I can actually see anything at all, then I generally see the me I see in my mind's eye but with gray hair and less of a hairline than I remember inside my head. Unfortunately, comparison to pictures from yesteryear shows that I never did look like Robert Redford in his heyday. Heck, even in my younger days I would have been lucky to pass as Bob "the bear" Hite from Canned Heat. A bit like this;

Bob "the bear" Hite

#5 -- As a heterosexual male, I think that *anything* would be better than contemplating sex with Mr. Letterman. That said, here is my quick list:
  • Chew glass while listening to Oprah
  • Stand naked in the snow in subzero weather
  • Watch commercial TV
  • Undergo a root canal
  • ...without anesthetic
  • Eat roly-poly bugs
  • Walk on a bed of coals
  • Speak before an audience of thousands armed with projectiles
  • ... in my skivies
  • Get ready for a colonoscopy

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Flailing Thru Tuesday

True fall is close to arriving here in the flatlands. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the 70s due to the adiabatic heating as the cold front sweeps in. Then the temperature will start falling with lows in the 20s for the rest of the week with snow showers and a high for Sunday right at freezing.

Why the weather report? Because it will be cold enough that i am gong to have to move all the squash and onions in the shed into the back porches, etc. What fun. This is evidently not going to be one of those Octobers with nice warm days all the way into November. Drat!

It also means that tomorrow I need to shut off mom's, MIL's, and my lawn sprinkler systems. It sounds like it may be a bit of a busy day. Coupled with several scheduled meetings and a possible community relations impromptu meeting and photo, it might be close to schizophrenic. (You know - How can you be two places at once when you're not anywhere at all? - from "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers" by Firesign Theater.)

In other not-so-oddities, I can definitely spot that I am getting further along the decrepit curve. I needed to move an old laser printer from my office to the shop at the other end of the house. Ten years ago, lifting the 170-lbs-in-an-ungainly-cube printer would have caused only a small grunt and a bit of strain. Now the lift from the floor to standing position with the beast cradled in my arms seemed endless. Not to mention the staggering journey to the shop. No loud groans, popping, or dropping, but it was clearly a more memorable experience than it was a few years ago. I can remember earning my keep over a college break by carrying 320 lbs boiler plates up three flights of stairs all by my lonesome and it seemed to require no where near the effort exerted on the printer today. Of course, that was 35+ years ago. That might explain many things. {*grin*}

I was visited tonight by a little leprechaun dressed in blue. Yes, that's right, it is time for the annual Boy and Cub Scout popcorn sale. The little guy at my door was really broken hearted when I had to tell him the I had ties to a Boy Scout Troop and needed to order from the boys there. In a last ditch sales effort, he noted that maybe the bigger boys wouldn't have trail mix for sale and I could buy that from him. I had to tell him the sad truth that it is the same product line for both groups. To make up for my grinchiness, I pointed him in the direction of a couple of soft-hearted neighbors who are usually good for a popcorn touch.

On with the regularly scheduled disaster already in progress.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Quickie

Today the sun appeared for at least part of the day. then this afternoon it clouded up and drizzled and rained. I had originally planned on walking to the Boy Scout committee meeting this evening, but the cold wet drizzle convinced me not to. Maybe if my rain coat didn't leak around its neck, but with the leaky neck it can be downright miserable to walk in cold rain. (And yes, yet another hat I wear is as treasurer of the troop committee for scouts.)

One of the side topics in the meeting was how long before the flu has finished its swath through the local schools. The hope was expressed that the kids would have been through the exposure and illness cycle by the end of the month when another camp out scheduled. The numbers seem to work out with the reported absence rate in the schools, so maybe our guess will be reasonable. Is the flu running through your schools yet?

My evenings for the next few days are pretty well taken up. Wednesday has the EMS Authority committee meeting, Thursday it is time to be the guest lecturer for a public speaking class. Friday morning has the Physicians recruitment committee meeting to do the dog and pony show for a new physician we hope to recruit for the medical center. At least I get breakfast for attending that meeting! There would also have been a special city council meeting thrown in there as well, but the consultant doing the study will not have the information ready for presentation this week.

In a lighter vein, Molly has been developing distinct patterns of dealing with wet. If she gets to the door, all excited to go out, and it is pouring rain, she thinks it is great and sprints out to get soaked and track mud throughout the house when she comes back in. But, if it is just misting or drizzling, she will sprint out the door, come to a screeching halt, look to see if the door is still open, and then run like mad back into the house. Explain that one to me if you can. It used to be just the reverse little more than a year ago.

Time to call it a night. Don't do anything I wouldn't.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Day That Wasn't

It was a dull and dreary day here today. In a rarity for the region, it was cloudy and overcast all day, making it look like it was twilight even at noon. It finally even broke down and drizzled a little late in the day. So of course, the thermometer hung at a lowly 42 all day and didn't get energized at all. A perfect day to watch football on TV and take a walk in the dark breeze.

Molly thought it was dreary as well - after getting up this morning when I did, she quickly snuck back into the master bedroom and curled up in the corner to sleep for another few hours. Seeing her curled up there brought to mind one of the questions I have been pondering: Do dogs tell time by the amount of light? I suspect that dogs do indeed tell time by degree of lightness. As evidence, consider the following. I normally give Molly her doggie treat at around 8pm. All summer was not a problem and Molly was very good at knowing the right time to appear with baited breath. Now as it is been getting dark earlier and earlier, Molly has begun nudging me when it is about the same degree of darkness as 8 in the summer (meaning as early as 5:45 now). Then she repairs to the laundry room and sits and stares at the cabinet with the treats. Every time I tell her "No, it is too early.", she goes and lays down for 15 minutes and then repeats the process. Finally, when it reaches 8pm or I get tired of the game (which ever comes first) I give her her treat and literally make her day. It will be interesting to see if the process reverses itself when spring rolls around.

At least the Broncos won today. I was about to give up after the first half when it looked like the Broncos were clueless. But the second half was a much better game and I was glad I watched. I tend not to be a rabid rooter for any one team, but instead applaud the team that is playing really good football. That goes for college as well as pro games. I tend to like college football a bit more since there is more uncertainty and the level of play depends greatly on the motivational skills of the coach with all the hormones floating around at that age. Enough ranting about that.

It is time to clean up the kitchen since I cooked egg plant tonight and made a bit of a mess. It was an interesting meal - salad, egg plant sliced and dipped in egg and seasoned breading and then fried, and some plain steamed brown rice. It was tasty, but I wasn't motivated to get it all cleaned up earlier, so now I need to get to it so I can head for the bed.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Proof I Have No Life ...

or perhaps just a really boring one. Yesterday mom and I picked the squash and peppers and tomatoes in preparation for the freeze last night. Nothing like a shed full of various squash and onions to say Fall Is Here. Mom's house is stuffed to the gills with tomatoes and peppers and onions.

When I got home, after stopping to get some materials from the fire chief, I went for all the excitement I could stand and took down the curtains in my office to wash them. The coming of the freeze also generally signals the end of the open window season, so it is time to get all the summer dust out of them. Besides, a couple of the plastic carriers in the drapery rod suffered sun death this summer, so it was a good time to replace them as well. One of the hazards of a south facing window in an area that gets 335+ days of sunshine every year is the sun death of certain plastic objects. Thus I spent my Friday night doing laundry and re-hanging curtains. Sounds like a real hot night doesn't it? Just Molly the dog and me listening to sixties music and doing housework.

L and the Son are in the mountains in the final throes of moving. They moved to a town about 15 miles closer to where they both work, so winter may not involve quite such a hairy commute. In any case, it means L won't be home this weekend and wasn't last weekend in preparation for the move. Makes the old homestead seem rather empty for the nonce. L and the Son actually moved Thursday/Friday, but when I spoke to L earlier today, they were still unpacking and searching for things. I suspect that they will both spend tonight collapsed on the couch watching the Rockies game.

Today I made spaghetti sauce. Nothing like the smell of Italian sausage, tomatoes, peppers, and onions all simmering away for hours with some oregano and basil , etc. But the real secret is a touch of brown sugar added in the final few hours of simmer. Needless to say, I had spaghetti for supper and then froze the rest of the sauce for fast microwave dinners later on. By the time the spaghetti is cooked, the sauce can be defrosted and heated in the microwave and supper is ready. Given that I cut up some really hot peppers when I made the sauce, I have faith that no one will snitch it from the freezer. {*grin*}

As further proof that there is a distinct lack of excitement at the old abode, every football team I rooted for today either lost or is losing. Maybe tomorrow's Bronco game will be better. After all it can't be much worse than today. Back to rubbing the dog's head and seeing if Oklahoma can finally play some real football.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Send-Off

It's time once more for

This evening was the Colorado Municipal League (CML) District 1 meeting, hosted by the city up the road. I am the current president, so I was obligated to brave the wind and attend. Since I am also term limited out of office as mayor in November, it also means I will no longer be a CML member and so needed to find my replacement as president and hold the election *NOW*. I couldn't get even with the mayor of the city up the road who railroaded me into this office (as described here) because he is also term limited out this year. Sam Mamet, the executive director of the CML attended and gave Jack (the mayor of the town up the road) and I a very heartfelt and lauditory send-off. That was really nice of Sam. He even stopped crowing about the Rockies clinching a berth in the play-offs today. But that didn't stop Sam from waving his Rocky rally towel all night. In honor of the send-off and my final CML meeting, tonight I give you:

Five Reactions By Officials From Other Municipalities To The End of My Term(s)
  • Gosh, it's been *that* long!
  • Boy, I wish I  my term was already over. Our elections are in April and I can't wait!
  • Did you find any candidates to run for your office?
  • Are you going to miss it?
  • Were you serious that 3 of the 7 on your council are term limited off this November and a 4th is running to retain her seat? And if the election goes the way you think, it will happen again in 2 years? How do you get any stability? Why haven't the voters removed the term limits?
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