Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Parade, County Fair, and Karaoke

The bank time and temperature sign across from Sauk Centre's post office showed 94 degrees when I parked. By the time I came out it was cooler: 93 degrees.

My father-in-law's recovery is in a rather tedious phase. His knees are about the same from one day to another, but there's improvement, week to week.

This week's Sauk Herald cleared up what the ambulance run after the Sinclair Lewis Days parade. A 7-year-old Melrose boy jumped off a float a little early as the parade units were going into the Stearns County Fair grounds.

The trailer rolled over his leg, giving him really bad road rash. He was taken to St. Mike's, then to St. Cloud hospital. Six days and three surgeries later, he's back home: and hoping to walk to school this fall.

Nothing that spectacular has happened to my family, happily.

The week after Sinclair Lewis Days, Stearns County Fair came to town. I didn't see as many folks Thursday afternoon as I expected, but maybe the severe thunderstorm warning had something to do that.

My son and a cousin went on the rides Friday afternoon, taking advantage of the one wristband / unlimited rides offer. Our oldest daughter and I were there, too, getting video of the fair (me) and seeing the exhibits (my daughter).

This year the fair had Karaoke night. It's a first for the Stearns County fair, I understand. I didn't go. I spent two hours of the evening calling numbers at the Knights of Columbus Bingo booth. Singing after that didn't seem like like the best use of my time. Our oldest daughter sang, though. Twice, I understand.

There isn't much left of the fair today, except for two or three trailers parked where the midway was.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Family and Computers

The other two computer-types in this family, my son and oldest daughter, are getting an older computer ready for use in its new location.

My wife and kids moved a computer into a more accessible spot in the house this morning, and about an hour ago my #1 daughter and son installed anti-malware software on the thing.

For the uninitiated, malware is stuff in a computer that gets picked up, generally on the Internet. Once this stuff gets into a computer, it causes trouble of one sort or another: very often, just by getting in the way.

Think of a big, none-too-bright, slow moving dolt in a busy factory or office, lumbering along aisles, peeping into cubicles, and leaning on equipment controls.

Back to my kids: So far, the new software has found 222 "Critical Objects:" things that could cause real trouble. And it's still running. The kids are impressed. So am I.

I like to think in goofy metaphors, and am about to write one down. This will be the last item in this blog entry, so feel free to skip it, if nonsense isn't quite your cup of tea.

The computer that my kids are working with is a little like a small town that had a police department that consisted of the man who ran the feed store and his dog.

The town grew into a small city, but still had the feed store owner and his dog as their entire police department. The only change was that the feed store was now a pet supply store.

Today, all that changed. A new Police Department building opened its doors, releasing 2nd-generation SWAT teams: wearing chrome armor, carrying Buck Rogers personal cannons, asking very polite but firm questions, and displaying all the warmth and humor of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator.

I think they'll be more effective than the old department in protecting the 'city.'

Exorcism, Yes - Catholic, No

I was going to make my first entry for the week upbeat, but there's something to get out of the way first.

"Fatal end to exorcism attempt"hit the news over the weekend. Someone named Ronald Marquez, a 48-year-old grandfather in Phoenix "whom authorities say was choking his 3-year-old granddaughter during an exorcism...." (Arizona Republic, July 20, 2007).

When police got to the house, they heard screams inside. They had a hard time getting in, because someone had pushed a bed against the door.

After forcing the door open a few inches, the police saw a shirtless Mr. Marquez, choking a bloody three-year-old girl, and a naked and bloody 19-year-old woman chanting what police characterized as "something of a religious nature."

Police officers had to use a Taser on Mr Marquez, after initial attempts to subdue him failed. He later stopped breathing and died.

The three-year-old is alive, as is the young woman, who seems to be her mother. Their condition hadn't been reported,the last time I looked.

Mr. Marquez was trying to squeeze demons out of the little girl. I suppose that would make it an "exorcism." That's certainly what it's been called in the news.

We've even seen footage, presumably inside the Marquez house, showing distinctly Catholic wall plaques.

What struck me about this tragic mess is that only one news service bothered to mention, briefly, that this half-naked/naked/choking/screaming/chanting/bloody event bears no resemblance to a Catholic exorcism: apart from human beings being involved.

And that's why I'm posting this entry. This fatal farce bears no resemblance to a Catholic exorcism. The Catholic Church doesn't operate this way.

It should be obvious: But growing up Protestant and converting to Catholicism as an adult has shown me how little many people know about Catholicism.

Is knowing whether or not this is a Catholic rite? I think so. "It AIN'T so much the things we don't know that get us into trouble. It's the things we know that just ain't so."

(Information from Arizona Republic and FOXNews.com)
(The "It AIN'T" quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, Artemus Ward, Kin Hubbard, Will Rogers. Others to whom it’s been credited include inventor Charles Kettering, pianist Eubie Blake, and, I'm not making this up, Yogi Berra.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Not Losing Sleep Over This: I Deliberately Ignored It

Sleep, that is.

Last night, and this morning, I finished getting about an hour of video ready for my Central Minnesota Theater. I'd taken video of Sauk Centre's Sinclair Lewis Days back on the 21st, and wanted it ready for my regular Sauk Centre Journal Wednesday entry.

(Am I shamelessly plugging my pages? You bet!)

The point is, I got about four hours of sleep last night, and didn't put in a full night's worth the night before.

I wouldn't be too surprised if my body lodges a formal complaint over this, but figure that a few good nights' sleep will bring me back to my usual level (or lack) of efficiency.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Stearns County Fair

Sauk Centre, the town I live in, is having its third big event in a week.

First, Charlie Company came home, on the 19th: just in time for Sinclair Lewis Days. Sinclair Lewis Days ended in a parade Saturday evening.

Now, the Stearns County Fair is starting. With a heat advisory for this afternoon.

The sunburn I earned getting video of the Charlie Company is still busily peeling, so I'm not sure how much time I'll be spending at the fair today. If any.

Which reminds me: There's something I need to finish for the Knights of Columbus Bingo booth!

Move Over Paris, Here Comes Lindsay

Looks like Lindsay Lohan is due for a third appointment at one of the better "rehab" spots: tears optional.

Just because she was chasing another vehicle in her SUV, with booze in her blood and snow in her pocket.

The real story, I think, is that the anklet that was supposed to check on her sobriety doesn't seem to have worked quite as well as hoped. In fact, the company that monitors the bracelet was surprised to learn that she had been arrested.

It is, of course, a sad day when one of this nation's leading citizens gets arrested for DUI and cocaine possession. Again.

Ms. Lohan apparently was chasing another vehicle in her SUV when authorities pulled her over and discovered that she wasn't driving so much as flying. To be fair, it's possible that she was in an enthusiastic caravan, headed from one party to another: although a interview with a police officer indicates that the lead vehicle called police for help, indicating that an unknown vehicle was chasing the lead vehicle. Also, that Ms. Lohan and the lead vehicle's driver were in a headed argument when police arrived.

It is an even sadder thought that Ms. Lohan, Ms. Hilton, Mr. Vick, and Mr. Kobe Bryant in fact are considered to be among this nation's leading citizens.

It's only a few hours after Ms. Lohan's arrest: I suspect that it will be a little later today, when commentators start discussing how disturbing it is when a role model and example for so many young people has exhibited behavior which may not be entirely appropriate.

Maybe this is bragging, but when I asked some of my kids whether Paris Hilton was a role model, I got very odd looks before being told what a dumb question it was.

I'm told that Lindsay Lohan has a decent singing voice, and has made recordings. At the very least, I hope she considers what booze and drugs are likely to do to her vocal cords.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Son of Sunburn

The photo shows why it's a bad idea for a bald guy to stand around in the sun without a cap.

That picture was taken yesterday, documenting what I did to myself last Thursday.

The dome started peeling last night.

And yes, I can feel it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Minnesota National Guard

I see that Camp Ripley's 851st Vertical Engineer Company is off for training, and then duty in Iraq.

The Minnesota National Guard's website says that they'll be "responsible for carpentry, concrete, plumbing, and electrical support of building projects in Iraq."

I'm enough of a historian to realize that deployments like this will be going on for a very long time: if all goes well.

Sinclair Lewis Days Parade

It takes a little over an hour to go by, it happens every year, and I enjoy it every time.

The Sinclair Lewis Days Parade is one of the events that wraps up Sauk Centre's Sinclair Lewis Days. There's a street dance, too, downtown, and the First Lutheran Church Pie Social: both kicked off about 45 minutes ago, if they were on schedule.

All in all, quite a celebration.

There's more at the Sauk Centre Chamber of Commerce website, on their Sinclair Lewis Days page.

The streets, around here anyway, are lined with folks: about one every for or five feet, on average, I'd say. What's amazing is how little litter is left afterward. This year there was less than usual.

My camera's stopped downloading video from the parade, so I'd better start working on that.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Minnesota National Guard Charlie Company: Home at Last

Yesterday was a very big day for folks living in and around Sauk Centre.

After about 22 months, Charlie Company is back. This has been a long deployment.

Two buses carrying the soldiers of Charlie Company were escorted into town by a (motley? diverse?) array of police cars, fire trucks, and other vehicles.

Also, on Ash street, one guy on a bicycle.

We're all glad to see them home, particularly the immediate families of the soldiers.

There's a little more information, plus pictures and a link to about a half-hour of videos at my Sauk Centre Journal entries for today and yesterday.

Why Does Sunburn Itch? A Burning Question

Barely conscious of an itch between my right cheek and eye this morning, extended a finger and itched it.

I was immediately reminded that I'd picked up a sunburn yesterday afternoon.

It could have been worse: The top of my head required oiling last night.

I've felt like the inside of my head needed lubrication from time to time, not so often with the outside.

Charlie Company came home yesterday, a little after noon. There was a not-exactly-brief ceremony at the fairgrounds. A grandstand-full of folks from around here got their soldiers back, and I got the top of my head zapped.

The hour or so wasn't a total loss: I learned that wearing a hat might be a good idea, and got about a half-hour of could-be-worse video.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Organ Donation and the People at BlogCatalog

And now, something completely different.

BlogCatalog.com, an online community that I recently joined, has been encouraged to make today the day for their "BlogCatalog Community Organ Donor Awareness Campaign."

The subject is a bit off-topic, but organ donation is an important issue. Think of this as a PSA (Public Service Announcement).

Organ transplants can save lives. The medical procedures for swapping out damaged organs for ones that work have been around for years.

One of the problems has been that there aren't enough organs available to meet the demand. And this has led to abuses that remind me of Larry Niven's "organlegger" stories. The problem is, this is real. There have been articles about this problem in Fox News and Slate Magazine. (The Slate article is much more dramatic.)

Black market or not, people's lives can be saved through organ donation. On the other hand, people's lives can be ended if critical organs are extracted.

As a Catholic, I needed to see what the rules are. In the current Catechism, paragraph 2296 says:
  • Organ transplants are not morally acceptable if the donor or those who legitimately speak for him have not given their informed consent.
  • Organ transplants conform with the moral law and can be meritorious if the physical an psychological dangers and risks incurred by the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient.
  • It is morally inadmissible directly to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons.
(From Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, English translation. Bullets added for clarity.)

So far, so good: as long as I know what I'm doing, and don't kill myself in the process, it's okay for me to donate organs.

Not that I'm terribly keen at the prospect.

However, I've made arrangements for me to be broken down for parts when I die. Assuming that anyone wants them, of course.

So: think about it. As for me, I think and believe that organ donation is a good idea.

The following is an excerpt from a blog post at blogcatalog.com. I have not checked any of the links, and am presenting them "as is," with no idea as to how reliable any of them are

If you live in the United States, all you have to do is link to
UNOS http://www.unos.org/ or

If your country has an online organ donation site, please add it to this bulletin so BlogCatalog members in your country can promote it too or visit the British Organ Donor Society for known worldwide links http://body.orpheusweb.co.uk/lnks.html

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Knee Surgery and the Fast Father-in-Law

Fast at recovering, that is. Compared to me, anyway.

My father-in-law abandoned his walker, and has driven around town, as of a day or so ago.

Not bad: at this point, I was working at getting out of bed by myself. Of course, we're comparing hips and knees, but I'm impressed.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

New Hips and the Incredible Collapsing Chair

One of my daughters observed that I got new hips just in time. In common with the other ladies of this household, she's probably right.

I was up late tonight, trying to wrap up enough tasks to make for a relaxing Sunday. I'd left my laptop running in the living room. The lights were off there, but there was plenty of illumination from the doorway. I crossed the room, turned, sat in the chair I've been using, and moved it back.

I've had that chair for quite a few years now. Almost ten, I think. It's one of those inexpensive stackable things you see in front of convenience stores during summer months. Quite comfortable.

The first sign of trouble was a distinct, sharp sound: emanating from where the right rear leg of the chair had been.

That chair leg was now pursuing an independent career as a sort of kinetic art project.

The rest of the chair, with me on top, toppled backwards into the southwest corner of the living room until we met the floor and, in my case, the south wall.

At that point my eldest daughter, whose current residence is in this house, and who at that point was the closest to me, asked me if I was all right.

A reasonable question, deserving a reasonable answer. I abandoned my contemplation of the dark living room's shadow-shrouded ceiling, and answered that I was okay, but could use some help.

My wife and second-eldest daughter arrived to view the wreckage not much more than a minute later than the oldest daughter. Someone (I suspect it was my wife) had the presence of mind to turn on the light.

The chair's three remaining legs, together with my flip-flop-clad feet, blocked direct access to me, although I could extend my arms far enough for them to grab. After a well-intentioned, but doomed, effort to hoist me out by using my seat as a fulcrum, I suggested an alternate plan.

My wife grabbed one ankle, my second-oldest daughter grabbed the other, and they hauled me and the chair out of the corner like an oversize grain sack on a pallet.

That left me with enough room to roll out of the chair and get to my feet.

My oldest daughter brightly observed that my movements resembled those of a beached walrus.

I love my family. They put up with me, and I appreciate that.

What do the new hips have to do with this? I was able to move after getting dragged out, and I didn't scream once.

Father-in-Law is on His Feet and Outside

Good news from the other side of Main, here in Sauk Centre. My father-in-law's recovery from double knee replacement is moving along.

And so is he.

I heard that he took a walk with a friend today, in the alley behind his place. Good news!

The recovery process brought a contingent from part of the extended family up to Sauk Centre. It's been a good chance for my wife and the kids to be with kinfolk.

I got asked how he was doing at Mass this evening, and realized that I hadn't updated this "Through One Dad's Eye." I still don't know whether he's still using a walker.

Friday, July 13, 2007

It's Friday Already!?

This week went fast, but I don't have much to show for it: a fairly common part of the human condition.

My father-in-law is still recovering from his knee replacement. As far as I can tell, he's doing pretty well. Just the same, it will be a while before he's up and back to his deaconly duties.

Meanwhile, part of my family is minding the shop over on Main, part of the extended family is at the same location, looking after my father-in-law.

There's a part of computer on the kitchen table that I don't recognize. My guess is that my son is going to be doing something with that 7/8 of a computer he's got in his room.

Now, I'd better get back to work. I may not have finished anything, but I've got a few projects-in-process.

Listening to Breakfast Cereal

Lately, my breakfast has involved yogurt mixed with something called Crispy Rice. It's not bad, actually.

The cereal resembles a much more famous breakfast food.

There are two major differences between what I eat and the well-advertised talking cereal.
  • What I eat costs less

  • In yogurt, my breakfast cereal says "snap, crackle, thunk"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Chiggers, the Sequel

To date, my son seems to be chigger-free.

In all the excitement of this week, and last, I'd neglected to get back to the tale of the lake, the boy, and the tiny pests.

Meanwhile, my father-in-law's recovery from double knee replacement is proceeding. He's got a contingent from another part of the family looking after him 24/7, and representatives from my family over during the day, minding the store. And, of course, visiting with kinfolk.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Care, Concern, and a Cold, Damp Nose

My family looks after me.

This afternoon, one of my daughters noticed that I seemed to be very tired and listless. Not surprising, considering how much sleep I've gotten over the last few days. She felt my forehead, which was warm: no surprise, since I'd been out in the sun.

Then she felt my nose. It was cold and damp.

If I was a dog, that would be fine.

Maybe I've just come down with an acute case of Monday.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A Cherry Tree, a Family, Birds and Bugs

Quite a few years ago, we planted a cherry tree. They're attractive, and we like cherries.

The first year, the tree blossomed, and a few cherries appeared around mid-summer. And were promptly sampled by birds. And bugs.

The next year, it was the same story.

And the next.

We've tried covering the tree in netting, but mostly succeeded in bending the tree's branches. I think we managed to break one.

The netting was a mish-mash of pieces of an old picnic tent we'd found in a shed. The tree and netting looked a bit like the modern art I grew up with. That, or a accident involving an upholsterer's delivery truck.

This year, we got a reasonable harvest from that tree. Two, actually.

At the rate the kids are eating these, they won't last long.

Even after two trips to the tree, there's enough for the birds and bugs. And us, if we're quick enough about it.

Fairy Lake, Chiggers, and Family

I've been outside twice today. There wasn't enough water in the air to make a joke about swimming or wading accurate: but the air felt thick.

My kids and the cousins are enjoying their time together. Several of them went up to Fairy Lake, north and west of town, for part of the afternoon. There used to be chiggers in that lake. I'll know soon if they're still a problem.

After his return, my son walked up to me and grinned. I asked him if he had a good time. He replied, "Yeah, I did: I nearly drowned!" The daughter of ours who was with the group pulled him out of the water at that point, I gather. I thanked the daughter involved later, and learned that he had exaggerated the situation.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Computers and a Small Town Family

My wife interned as a system analyst, and graduated from the computer program that I bombed out of. When she has an email to send, she writes out the message and gives it to one of our daughters to handle.

I've got half her formal training in the care and feeding of these digital wonders, and I'm the one that family members claim has to be surgically removed from a computer at the end of a day.

One of my daughters shares her mother's indifference to computers, another uses the things for her writing, email, browsing the Web and playing the occasional online game.

My son, as noted earlier today, is making a computer from a relic and a wreck, and my oldest daughter alternates between studying medical terminology, making pictures with a sort of combination of traditional drawing methods and digital painting, and giving me technical advice on Web pages that I'm developing.

Following up on part of Family Life: Unglamourous, Maybe; Boring, Never (June 27, 2007), our #1 daughter has worked the bugs out of her laptop and its operating system. It only took a few trans-continental phone calls, research on the Web, and climbing a steel learning curve.

Most of the bugs, that is. The point is, it works now.

That "#1 daughter" term may need explanation. I've found it easier, sometimes, to refer to the kids in terms of birth order. The oldest is #1 daughter, the next-oldest is #2 daughter, same with #3, and, from my half of humanity, #1 son.

Maybe it seems that I'm bragging about my family. Well, that's understandable. I'm very pleased with this bunch of folks, and all too ready to say so.

There's another reason I posted this blog, though. Two, actually.

1. The more things change, the more they stay the same. My son has a half-built computer standing in his room. A couple generations back, it would have been a hot rod or jalopy in the back yard. Before that, I'd guess that it would have been a special horse, or something of the sort. What hasn't changed is the way that children grow, learning skills that they'll use as adults: and the beliefs that determine what those skills mean.

2. These days, small towns are not longer isolated pockets of quaint and backward folk, if they ever were. Thanks to Information Age technology and a habit of learning, folks out here can, if they want, be nearly as connected with the world as someone living in one of the great cities. Perhaps more so, since we don't have the hour(s)-long commutes and other distractions of urban life.

A Computer for My Son 2

A week or so ago, a computer was found in an attic. I still don't know exactly how my son laid claim to it, but he did.

In A Computer for My Son (June 22, 2007), I told of his first attempts to revive this relic.

He and a cousin of his have swapped out parts from the old computer for the last week, using another old computer that is sincerely kaput, but still has some working parts. The result of their efforts is an open-sided box with cables spilling out here and there. The thing has no hard drive, yet, but still boots.

My son tells me he wants to be a "computer fixer" when he grows up. He's off to a good start.

Cousins, Convalescence, and Transitions

Over in Glenwood, about 20 miles west of here, it got up to 98. I'm glad to have stayed inside today. Except for grilling lunch. For that, I've been known to go out when a thunderstorm is coming.

My father-in-law's recovery brought a contingent of cousins up to Sauk Centre. The bulk of them will be leaving in a few days, but one will stay here to help. (The "cousins" here are actually a subset of my nieces and nephews, but since they socialize mostly with our kids, this family calls them "cousins".)

I'll say it now, if I haven't already: I married into a great family. There's enough expertise and manpower among my wife's six siblings and their progeny to handle most situations. And, at least as important, the willingness to help. ('Manpower?' I know - but people power? person power? hesheitpower? forget it.)

Folks coming and going, thinking about Independence Day, and a task or three, kept me away from this blog for the last few days.

Meanwhile, over in the Red River Valley, my father is making preparations to move into an assisted living center in town. He and my mother moved to her childhood home when he retired. Now, decades later, she has long since required a nursing home's care. I'm proud of my father's good sense and practicality, and the care he's taking to help prepare the family for the generational transitions that will come.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Rain and Dribbling: I Wouldn't Have Thought of This

It's a rainy day here. Quite rainy at times. My son came in a little while ago and said, "guess what guys? You can't dribble a ball in water."

Extended Family: Great to Have Around

My father-in-law is still recovering from his double-header knee replacement surgery. My wife called his home earlier this morning for a progress report.

There's a contingent from another part of the extended family staying there, and one of them reported how he slept, and how his recovery is going. He's still outdoing me, in terms of speedy recovery.

I understand that a therapist is with him now. My wife and at least some of the kids will go over, later this morning most likely. Between the two family units that are close enough, and have kids the right age, my father-in-law and his shop are taken care of 24/7.

It gets a little quiet around here when most of the folks are elsewhere, but that makes it easier to concentrate on my work.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Recovery From Knee Surgery: Determination and Family Help

My father-in-law is back home, having gotten both knees replaced on Tuesday. I understand that he was scheduled to come back Saturday, but was doing well enough to return Friday.

He's not about to dance around, but he's doing quite well, given the circumstances.

I think two factors are at work here: the sort of determination that I'm more inclined to expect in those born a few decades before me than those born more recently; and a large, loving, and cooperative family.

My wife and kids helped out by minding the shop in his absence, and now much of his home care is being done by a the kids of one of my sisters-in-law. Others in the family are either living farther away now, don't have children of an age to be able to help, or a combination of the two.

Large, cohesive families weren't part of the culture I grew up in, but I'm very glad to be in a family where my kids are part of an annual "cousins" photo in which the kids fill most of the branches of a large oak tree.

Good News for This Family

My father-in-law is back from the hospital, and has been since Friday afternoon. He's got a pair of new knee joints, and seems to be doing well.

Folks from my immediate family have been minding the shop in his absence, and a contingent from another town has come to help him get by, now that he's home.

That means that there are cousins in town, so there have been kids going back and forth between our two houses. Actually, the out-of-towners are some of my nieces and nephews, but they're "the cousins" in this household's dialect.
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