Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday: A Day of Rest - and Grilling

It's been a quiet day. The family went to church, came back, I grilled lunch.

#2 daughter stayed here for the day. She spent most of her time talking with #3 daughter.

Our son had a friend over for the afternoon. They're both Bionicles fans, so part of the time they were on the main computer, checking out Bionicles websites, and discussing what they found.

I spent the day kicking back and relaxing. Toward the end of the day, I updated two other blogs, wrapped up a data analysis job, and got started on a monthly bulletin.

Did I say "relaxing?" If felt relaxed, at any rate.

Earlier this week, my wife was over at her father's. She recalled that we were married the day before the first Mercy Sunday here in Sauk Centre. Then she said: "Yeah, I realized that every day I should have prayed, 'Lord, have mercy!'"

He thought that was pretty funny. So did I, when I heard about it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday: The Family Easter Get-Together, and Catching Up

When my wife informed me that that she'd decided to have the family's Easter get-together here, I didn't say that I thought she'd lost it. But the thought crossed my mind.

Now that's it over, I'm glad she made the effort. We had a great time. I'll get back to that.

Thursday and Friday are something of a blur to me. Our son went back to school, with no unwanted side-effects. Whatever he had, he seems to be over it.

I spent most of the time, working on a project I'd agreed to do, processing several thousand records. Many of which weren't keyed in. With considerably less time to work with them than I expected.

It's been exciting.

I spent most of the time, re-creating a method I'd put together a year or so ago, which turns a spreadsheet into simple de-duping software. That reminded of how long software development takes.

Back to today. Two of my wife's siblings' families were able to come, so there weren't as many people as there could have been. We had a good time, though. As my wife put it, describing how our daughters and some of the cousins get along, "the girls had a good time. Of course, they're happy, wherever they get together."

One of the cousins is three. While I was sitting at the computer in the north room, I heard him singing the "A-B-C" song. He'd gotten up to about "L," when one of the young ladies started singing, too. Quite a natural thing to do.

He immediately stopped singing.

Later, as I was walking southward, I heard him again. He was sitting at the bottom of the stairs. As soon as I rounded the corner, he stopped singing again. I never did hear him get to "Z." His parents tell me that he does the song pretty well, although he tends to have trouble around "L," saying "K-K." I didn't catch that, myself.

He's three years old. Or, as he puts it, "thee." He also refers to the device I'm using now as a "compootah."

I missed some of the get-together. Around mid-afternoon, my body let me know that it needed rest from last night's marathon work session, so I took a nap.

Some of the younger members of the family had set up a Bionicle game on the hallway floor upstairs. Apparently, a SpongeBob SquarePants toy was playing the game with them. It was sitting at one of the players' positions.

The high point of the day was when we discovered that a trap door in the floor of the north room hadn't been nailed shut by previous owners. All that was holding it in place was some caulking.

We had it loose in short order.

This was the first look we'd had, into the old cistern. It's about five feet in diameter, and around nine feet deep. One of my brothers-in-law happened to have a fish-cam, its monitor, and battery, with him. He likes to go ice-fishing, and the gadget's handy for that sort of thing.

He showed us bite marks, where walleyes had defended their territory against it (or perhaps thought it was food).

Back to the cistern. He lowered the camera, and gave us a fairly good look at the inside. The camera had a infra-red light source on it, so it gave a pretty good view of the roots and cobwebs that were down there. We spotted what might be a brick, some pipes, and another brick - or maybe a bowl. With all those roots, it was hard to tell.

My brother-in-law said that he'd have jumped down there himself, if it weren't for the neck brace he's wearing.

Some of the younger kids were both excited and worried about the hole in the floor. One of them, the three-year-old, wanted to be sure that his daddy didn't fall in, so he took hold of daddy's shirt. His concern wasn't altogether unjustified. His daddy's the one who was eagerly paying out cable into the abyss.

The three-year-old wanted to see, too, so at one point he was leaning a little past his daddy.

Our son tells me that the three-year-old, after the trapdoor was back in place, noticed a piece of caulking that had been left on the floor, picked it up, and patted it back in place.

After the other families had gone home, we noticed that one of the youngsters had taken a cake decoration, and stuck it in the butter.

I doubt that any adult would think of doing that: From a decor point of view, it actually looks pretty good.

Probing the abyss: That trapdoor had been closed for over twenty years, at least.

Thanks to that camera, and its infra-red light, we could see roots. Lots of roots.

The youngster had been holding on to his daddy's shirt, to keep him from falling in. But, he wanted a look down there, too.

I confirmed that SpongeBob SquarePants had wanted to play, which explains the arrangement.

Nothing says "kids were here" quite like a strawberry cake decoration in butter.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday: Data Entry, Music Lessons, and a Rabbit

My wife and #3 daughter were off for most of the morning, learning to play violin (my wife), and getting groceries (both of the ladies). They may have visited the Sauk Centre grandpa, too.

Our son stayed home today: fever and a few other symptoms. There's a lot of that going around. I talked with someone who has been feeling okay for a few days, sick for a few days, and so on, for weeks. Most of the people who have it seem to have, ah, intestinal complaints. Unpleasant.

#1 daughter showed up this morning, as expected. She came over to help with data entry for that project I'm doing. She also brought Giol, her pet rabbit. He's a big thing, with the coloration of a wild rabbit and the big floppy ears of one some domesticated breed.

It took him a few hours to get used to the place, and us, but I think he's adjusted.

By late afternoon, he was relaxed enough to stretch out by the back door.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday: A Birthday

Our son had his 12th birthday today. He reminded me, several times, that in a year he'd be a teenager. One of his presents, a set of clothing and pads for Soo Bahk Do, was already too small for him. The boy has been growing quite a bit lately. He's still an inch or so shorter than I am, but that could change soon: in a month, at the rate he's gone at times.

Singing "Happy Birthday" this morning, and again this evening when he got the cake, blowing out candles: it was a good celebration.

I "Swiffered" and swept the floors again today. It's amazing, how much stuff accumulates. Now, at the tail end of the day, tomorrow's installment of fluff and grit is already in place.

#2 daughter checked in by phone, letting us know she'd arrived at college in good condition. That was a bit of a relief. There's no great reason for concern, but I'm a dad: I worry. So does my wife, I think.

#3 daughter took over part of a date-entry-and-analysis job I've got. It's the one that I have about half the time to work on as I expected. Between my efforts, and those of my kids, we'll make the deadline. I trust.

The day ended with me and our son reading "Garfield." As usual.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Monday: A Busy One

Our son had a friend over today, for most of the afternoon. Those two had a good time, and a noisy one. Since family members are helping me get a somewhat-rushed information processing job done, the two boys were banished to the basement.

A little after that, there was an impressive crash. They'd fallen into, off of, or onto a ping-pong table. I didn't find out exactly which. They're okay, and so is the table. That last is good, since we're giving it away - and I'd just as soon have it in one piece when it gets picked up.

#2 daughter spent her last full day here. She'll be going back to college tomorrow morning.

I spent part of the afternoon where I'd worked for 20 years. Today, I did some makee-learnee: teaching how to make changes on a website. Then it was off to Melrose, some ten miles up the road, for what should have been a quick stop, picking up medications. I don't know why, but the clinic kept me there for the rest of the afternoon. Oh, well: it was a wonderful opportunity to practice patience.

The rest of the evening was pretty routine, apart from data entry dominating the activities. Our son and I read Garfield, as usual, of course. He asked me what "reciprocation" means: the word was used in one of the strips.

That's one of the things I like about the "Garfield" reading. It guarantees that, at least once a day, our son and I will set down, do something together, and maybe talk.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sunday: Easter Sunday, 2008

This has been a good day. I went to church with our son and #1 daughter, sang with the choir, returned to grill lunch, and took a nap. After eating, of course.

#1 daughter, and her two sisters, and our son, spent part of the afternoon practicing a play that they'll be doing with cousins at next week's family get-together.

I still have trouble believing that my wife is actually hosting (hostessing?) that event here. It's going to be exciting. We have a motion detector ready to be set up on the attic stairs, to discourage the younger set from exploring up there.

#1 daughter woke me up, to say 'good bye,' when she left, about 3:00. A bit after that, I sauntered downstairs, enjoyed being with the family, and said "goodbye" as they left for Soo Bahk Do class.

That gave me the evening to myself. I worked on a blog post, and another project, goofed off a bit, and after some time they returned.

Our son and I read Garfield, of course, before he went to bed. We've starting another book tonight: the ninth one. We skipped from #8 to #10 before, because we hadn't been able to find #9. Our son and #1 daughter have been particularly fond of "Garfield," I seem to remember. More so than the other kids.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday

Christ is Risen!

After that, anything else seems trivial.

I'll be back later with another post, though, anyway.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday: Holy Saturday, and Grilling Lunch

And, a surprise visit from #1 daughter. She showed up this afternoon, a little after 5:00. A ride from someone in Alexandria gave her an opportunity to spend time with us until a little after lunch tomorrow.

I spent a relaxed morning, reading, and writing.

I grilled lunch, after shoveling out the pavement in front of the grill. The burgers came out less singed today. After lunch, I wrapped up what I was writing, took a nap, and went out to check out a 'photo op' that #3 daughter had told me about. She, #2 daughter, and my wife were out this morning, shopping.

My wife is getting a little ahead on food acquisition, to take advantage of Coborn's Easter season 'ham card' promotion. I think we'll be getting three hams this year, but I lost count. My wife would know.

After #1 daughter showed up, our son talked her into playing "Mousetrap" with him. It's been a recurring favorite in the family. I've got to admit that I enjoy watching the Rube Goldbergish contraption get assembled, and finally used.

My wife, #2 daughter, and #3 daughter, went to the Easter Vigil tonight. I stayed home with our son. And #1 daughter. I'm not convinced that I'm over that bug.

Saturday: Easter Weekend

This family calls today "Holy Saturday." Another name for it is Easter Eve, but not Easter Saturday.

It's the day when we remember and celebrate the time that Jesus spent being dead. Then, in the evening, after nightfall, we celebrate His resurrection. All in all, a pretty big day.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (631-637) goes into more detail about what this day means.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, a huge celebration.

Meanwhile, since it's well after nightfall now, I can say, "Christ is Risen!"

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday: Good Friday

Our son had an unpleasant surprise this morning. When he tried to log into his user on the main computer, it wouldn't respond. He's computer-savvy, so he restarted the thing, and got in. He thought I might have blocked access: we'd had a conversation last night, about what he is, and isn't allowed to do on the computer.

He had another interesting experience with the computer earlier this week. My wife has been re-arranging things in the north room, and accidentally shut off the surge protector that serves the main computer. No harm done, happily. Our son asked her to be very sure to tell me that she was the one who cut power.

Since it's Good Friday, the family went to church at noon. Or, rather, we planned to. My wife and #3 daughter were under the weather, and prudently decided to stay home. It was snowing, just above freezing: weather more closely associated with Christmas than Easter. But, that's Minnesota: weather that's anything but boring.

Each year, I get something more out of the dramatic dialog that makes up a large part of the service. This year, the conversation between Pilate and Jesus caught my attention.

After the three of us got back home, our son tried to call a friend of his. His hope was to have him come over, but all he got was the voice mail. He took the disappointment rather well. It didn't hurt, that he had two of his three sisters around.

He found something else to be upbeat about, too. #2 daughter has to get back to college Monday. His Easter break lasts longer than that. As he told us this evening, about the time that's passed since the break started: "I finally had a longer weekend than a college student."

#2 daughter and #3 daughter spent quite a bit of the day talking, and reading a book that #3 daughter is writing.

I spent most of my time working on a 3D modeling project. It's starting to be recognizable, which is progress.

As usual, I read "Garfield" with our son tonight. He was in a puckish mood, and hid the book behind me, in the chair I sat in.

California Outlaws Home Schooling: Yes, I'm Biased

California is 'saving the children' from parents who care enough about their education to home school their kids.

That's apparently why the Sunshine State now demands that parents who home school their children have official, government-certified, teaching degrees.

I have a teaching degree, and I'm not impressed.

"Teaching Degree" - Good Vibes, Dubious Value

Getting a teaching degree means that you've sat through at least four years' of college classes (not the worst way to spend your time), and gotten official indoctrination in what to call what groups - and how important it is to be politically correct.

That was my experience, and I've read nothing since to make me think that the situation has changed.

Save the Children From Home Schooling Brutes!

Advocates of the California restriction on home schooling parents say that it's to protect the children - according to a broadcast news interview. Sorry, no link available.

Fair enough. I don't doubt that there's a child who's been "hurt" by home schooling.

That doesn't necessarily mean that home schooling as a whole is dangerous. Any more than the public schools are dangerous.
Public Schools: a Good System, Apart From the Occasional Shooting?
That may not be the best comparison. It's been a few months since the last major event, but public schools don't have an exactly perfect record. Anyone remember Columbine? Heritage? Red Lake? (Virginia Tech doesn't count: that was a post-secondary shootathon.)

To stave off criticism that 'it's not the same thing,' I'll agree: people who have been turning public schools into shooting galleries are victims of bullies, victims of racism, victims of something else. (According to the news, public school administrators, and teachers' unions, certainly not victims of public education.)
Many Home Schoolers Walk Erect and Use Tools
I understand the concerns of those who pushed California's 'home schoolers must be college graduates with official teaching degrees' law through.

They 'know' what home schoolers are like:
  • Poor
  • Uneducated
  • Ignorant, superstitious, and religious
    (some people see these as symptoms of a single syndrome)
  • Afraid of science and knowledge
  • Trying to keep their children away from evolution, atheism, and fluoride
  • Gun owners
  • Dangerous
I don't doubt that there are home schoolers like that.

But I don't know any.

Official Numbers, Real Numbers

And, according to official Minnesota statistics from a few years back, my wife and I knew just about every home schooling parent in Minnesota. If you believe the official numbers, that is: which means that all Minnesota home schoolers live within a few miles of Sauk Centre!

I'm inclined to doubt those statistics. Particularly since, when I went to a home schoolers' convention in the Twin Cities, I met many more home schoolers, from all over the state.

Home Schooling and My Family

And yes, my wife and I home school our kids. Starting with the oldest, we've given each the choice of whether to go to seventh grade in the public school, or get home schooled.

They've opted out of the public school system.

Not because we're easy on them. They get assignments, tests, all the rest that public school students get. What's different is that they don't sit at a desk in one room for about fifty minutes, rush to another room to sit for another fifty minutes, and try to focus on what the teacher is saying, while tuning out what their classmates are doing.

I don't think we're abusing our kids, and I seriously doubt that California home schoolers are, either.

California Ban on Home Schooling: What's the Motive?

Besides: doesn't California already have laws against parents starving, beating, burning, shooting, or otherwise assaulting their kids? Minnesota does.

In a way, I don't blame California's state government for passing a law that effectively restricts home schooling to a minority of people who can afford the expense of a college degree (or second degree), and have the leisure to pursue that degree.

My guess is that home schooling has been draining the best and brightest kids out of the public school system, in numbers that threaten funding. Remember: public schools get government funding on the basis of how many warm bodies they collect each school day.
Related posts in other blogs: For further reading:
"Ed School Follies: The Miseducation of America's Teachers" 228 pages, 1991, Rita Kramer (available at
(Kramer found: "... A politicized and homogenized agenda is followed by prospective teachers, whose own educational backgrounds may be sparse. Kramer's tough-minded, much-needed critique is accompanied by constructive suggestions that offer grounds for optimism." - Publisher's Weekly review. That was 1991. Almost 2 decades later, it doesn't seem that much has changed.)

Thursday: Maundy Thursday, That is

It's been another good day. I got some work done, had opportunities to hear #2 daughter and #3 daughter talking, and went to church with the family.

I've assumed a few more household duties lately: sweeping and "Swiffering." It's already having an effect on my perceptions. Today, seeing some stuff tracked in from the back door, "I just swept that floor clean!" popped into my mind.

Yep, I'd say that could use a little cleaning.

My wife told me that it was time to clean an 'air purifier' (ozone-maker, actually) we have. I waited until she and #3 daughter were out of the house for a while, before doing the job. It involves ammonia: and they don't appreciate that odor.

It's amazing, how fast a floor needs cleaning again. Five people in the house, one of them a pre-teen boy, probably have something to do with that.

Springtime in Minnesota: Pretty, but not what most people imagine when they think "spring."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maundy Thursday, Holy Thursday:
Either Way, a Big Day

It's Maundy Thursday. People speaking American English, and growing up in homes where "Maundy Thursday" is part of their childhood, often think it's "Monday Thursday" for a few years.

"Maundy" comes from "mandatum," or "commandment." That refers to Jesus' mandate at the Last Supper on the original Holy Thursday to "Love one another, even as I have loved you" (John 13:34).

Jesus washed His disciples' feet at that meal, too. That, and establishing the Eucharist, make the celebrations of the Last Supper a very important day for the Catholic Church. And, because we're Catholic, for this family.

We didn't do the foot-washing at Our Lady of the Angels church this year: but it's a great symbol of how Jesus, despite his Father's position, came into the world as a servant. And, eventually, a sacrifice.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday: A Good Day

I tutored this morning; #1 daughter came over to meet someone, and stayed to help get the attic organized; #2 daughter came home this evening, for Easter; and I started a new set of household tasks.

I'm also running later than I should, so I'll sign off. For now.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday, Ice, Small Town Communications

My tutee (?) (the person I've been tutoring) called this morning. He drives into town, and learned it was very foggy. We postponed our session until tomorrow morning.

I thought that the re-scheduling was just as well, since my wife and I had a meeting this morning, and the timing would have been tight. As it turns out, we got there an hour early. There'd been some confusion about the time.

There was a funeral at St. Paul's church, so the parking lot we used was nearly full. I had to park in a spot where we'd be walking up a slight slope.

Normally, the slope would be no problem: these new hip joints make walking as easy as - a stroll in the park? Today, with temperatures just above freezing, the parking lot was surfaced with a mix of ice, slush, and water. On a slope.

On our way back to the van, my cane slipped, or one of my feet slipped, or maybe a little of both. A moment later, I was flat on my back, my head pointed roughly south by southwest.

My wife tells me I vocalized, rather loudly.

An older couple offered help: which I really didn't want. Partly just pride, partly because I didn't want to risk bringing one of them down, too. My wife and the gentleman overrode my objections, and helped me up.

No harm done, apart from getting shaken up a bit.

That was mid-morning. My wife and I went back at the right time, had the meeting, went home, and ate lunch. Early in the afternoon, my father-in-law called. He'd heard that I'd fallen, and wanted to know if I was okay.

I like living in this town. Like many small towns, 'if you've forgotten where you've been that day, ask someone: they'll know.' We don't have the "privacy" (anonymity would be a more accurate term) that so many people seem to crave, but I can live with that. What's remarkable is how many people care about their neighbors.

Routines occupied the rest of the day. Our son got home from school, we ate supper, after a while I read Garfield to our son, and now I've finished this entry.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday: Good Morning at Noon

My fever had gone below 100 over the weekend. Now, it's back up.

That would explain the way I feel, and why I slept until about 11:20. I don't suppose I can blame this on Monday.

I'll be back later.

One more thing: It's snowing. And, this would be St. Patrick's Day, except that it's also Holy Monday: so St. Patrick's Day happened on the 15th this year.

It kept snowing through the day: probably off and on, since there isn't much of an accumulation. About the only effect is that Sauk Centre's landscape has been touched up.

My wife and #3 daughter went to choir practice tonight. With the bug I'm playing host to, it didn't seem prudent for me to go. So, our son and I had some time with the house to ourselves. He spent part of the time practicing on an old electric typewriter. Apparently he has a typing class at school.

#1 daughter called, letting us know that there was a documentary on the Irish in America on the History Channel. Actually, she talked to my son. Then she called again, to make sure that the message had gotten through. It had, and the documentary was good viewing.

Now I've learned one of the distinctions among the Irish in America:
  • Scots-Irish Presbyterian / moderately-to-well-educated
  • Irish Catholic / barely educated at all
I've got a personal interest in this: Besides Norwegian, I've got Irish and Scots-Irish ancestry.

Some of my forebears don't seem to have believed in doing things the culturally-approved way.

For example, one of my ancestors made a famous-in-the-family remark. When a friend of hers had asked about the family of a young man who had shown an interest in her daughter, she explained that "he doesn't have family: he's Irish."

My wife and #2 daughter had a good talk this evening, quite a bit of it was about #2 daughter's roommate, I gather.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday: A Day of Rest and Grilling

My wife gave me a glass full of something green this morning. It has nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day: it's blue-green algae, in water: an all-round good-for-you drink. The taste is okay, too.

I grilled lunch again today: always a pleasant task. I think I did better this time. The burgers were only charred around the edges.

This was a relaxed, laid-back day. I noodled around in some old records of mine, wrote a little, read a little, and got re-acquainted with some software that I'd been ignoring. We got calls from #2 daughter and #1 daughter. Toward the end of the evening, I had a chance to talk to both.

#3 daughter, my wife, and our son went to Soo Bahk Do class again tonight. He's not willing to put on enough winter clothing. Granted, at about 38, it's practically balmy for the season: but we don't want him catching another cold.

And so the weekend ends.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday: Birthday, Grilling, and Minnesota Spring

So far, it's been a pretty good day.

#1 daughter is here, ready to celebrate her birthday and organize books in the attic.

She talked with me while I grilled lunch.

And, earlier this morning, I spilled quite a bit of apple juice on my right foot.
#1 daughter's birthday cake fell in the baking, creating a confection with a remarkable texture and taste. I liked it. It was gluten-free, so that #1 daughter could eat it. That might have something to do with its fall, and its taste.

I walked into the north room while getting ready to grill lunch, turned, and noticed smoke pouring out of the stove. That explained why my wife had the "exhaust" fan going. The smoke was winning. I got a window and a door open, #1 daughter opened another window, and started fanning the smoke detector. That way, it only screamed occasionally.

The smoke cleared, eventually. I'm told it was from soup that had spilled the other day. It gave the french fries that were in the stove a unique taste. I liked it, our son said they tasted like pancakes, but #3 daughter didn't like the taste.

Our son followed #1 daughter around this afternoon, until the two of them went to the basement and returned with a Go game. #1 daughter tried to figure out the rules, I think our son would have been happy to just play it, and make up rules as they went along.

#1 daughter and I got some talking done, too. And she helped me with a project I'm working on. She came up with a logo for S. Park's Computers, a fictional computer shop.

We gave #1 daughter her presents: a soap dispenser shaped like an old kerosene lantern, a bookmark, and an old book in Norwegian. The latter is a family item we brought back from the farm. I think she liked them: 'it's the thought that counts.'

Our son, #1 daughter, and I, went to Wal-Mart this afternoon. I picked up another bottle of test strips for my finger-pricking, #1 daughter and our son picked up a battery for his new-to-him digital organizer, and he bought a new Bionicle.

Our son got the Bionicle assembled before the afternoon was done, and has learned how to work several functions of the organizer. There's still data on it, telephone numbers for the most part: a surprise to both of us.

The family, minus #2 daughter, who's coming home next week for a few days, went to church this late afternoon: we're doing Palm Sunday a little early, to fill seats in the choir.

Later, after supper, our son and I read Garfield, and sang a song that the family calls "Bee Bye Boh." That's a nice family tradition.

Friday: Looking Forward to the Weekend

#1 daughter will probably be here tomorrow: It's her birthday. She's been subtly reminding us ("Did you remember: Saturday is my birthday?") for at least a week.

It'll be good to see her. My wife picked out something that I think and hope she'll appreciate.

Meanwhile, our son bound an old digital organizer in the basement: a little flip-top thing, about half as thick as a deck of cards. After identifying it as mine, he asked if he could have it. Well, sure: I hadn't used the thing in years, and the batteries had run out.

He was quite pleased with that.

My wife and #3 daughter got out today, to pick up groceries, and - aside from the routine reading of Garfield at the end of the day, that's about all that happened.

As far as I remember.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday: About the Ash Street Project,
and a Petition

One of my neighbors came over this morning, with a petition about how the Ash Street project in town is being handled.

He's none too happy: and that's putting it rather mildly.

Some background about the part of the Ash Street project that has this neighborhood's close attention is in "Friday: Sidewalks, Street Lighting, and Homeowners" (January 11, 2008).

I put a text copy of the petition on my Sauk Centre Journal.

I didn't sign the petition: not because I think it's inaccurate, but because I've got some rules for that sort of thing.
  • The current petition doesn't call for any action. It's an expression of displeasure over a decision made, and how the decision was made.
    • I'm willing to put my signature on a practical recommendation.
    • But, once a decision has been made, it's been made.
    • I might communicate on my own, about how it was made, but not as part of a group.
  • Although I am quite sure that the petition is factually correct, it does not accurately express my own emotional response to the Ash Street project's decision-making process.
As an example of the second point, the petition's identified as being from "The Disheartened People on the 900 block of Ash Street.

I was never "heartened," so I could hardly be "disheartened." It's been well over 35 years since I first tried to influence the decision of a city council, and I've been to quite a number of those 'citizen feedback' meetings since then.

My first encounter with 'city hall,' in another municipality, was educational. Someone had taken the trouble to do a great deal of research, clearly demonstrating that an industrial plant would require a substantial upgrade of the city's water and waste treatment system. Also, that although one of the reasons given for extending tax-free status to the plant was that it would provide jobs for the city's people, in fact there were relatively few jobs: and they would be filled by staff already working for the company.

At each step along the way, a council member would interrupt this flow of reason with "just what point are you trying to make?" - in a tone appropriate for an annoyed executive being interrupted by a third assistant under-flunky's interruption of a board meeting.

That time, the industrial plant went in, the water and sewer systems were upgraded, at the expense of property owners other than the industrial plant, and life went on.

'Citizen input meetings?' I've stopped going to them, unless there's a serious need to know what reasons and/or excuses are being used to explain some course of action.

Sorry if this sounds cynical.

I've decided that, however "democratic" and "responsive" this society's political institutions are, people in leadership positions tend to decide what they want to do, do it, and pass the bill on to the people who pay their salary.

The good news is that, these days, we have elections regularly, and can vote for some of the officials who decide how much we'll pay, and for what.

Thursday: Tutoring, and Spring

I did some tutoring this morning, got writing done, and that's about it.

This family has month left over at the end of its money, which isn't the most reassuring experience in the world. We've dug into reserves, but my wife has been going through records, and so have I, to see what's being spent on what. An interesting process.

Getting that floor work done in the living room was a good idea. Our son isn't having as much trouble breathing now. I think we're all feeling better, now that the old carpet and its unique personality are out of there.

Feeling better, considering that I've got some sort of bug, and my wife's got a cold. I'm getting over it, though, and she's taking care of herself.

Our son came home from school today, reporting that there are significant bodies of water blocking his usual route home. He's as excited about streams of water running down the gutters as I remember being.

He didn't want to wear a jacket tonight, but good sense prevailed.

My wife, our son, and #3 daughter went to Soo Bahk Do class again tonight. My wife tells me that she did well. Good news. I hope I'll be able to get started with that again, soon. We'll see.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wednesday: Minding the Shop, the Flu, and Rain

My wife and #3 daughter spent most of the day at my father-in-law's, minding the shop while he was away. We know why his hands are hurting so much now: he's got carpal tunnel syndrome, and needs surgery.

Dealing with carpal tunnel problems is part of of what kept me occupied, back in 2006. If all goes well, he's in for at least several weeks of being careful during recovery.

In my case, getting a working sense of touch back took a bit longer than usual. I can feel all five digits in my left hand now. My right hand's thumb and first two fingers still feel as if I'd been sleeping on them: which is quite an improvement. It's a good thing I learned the mis-named "touch typing" skill back in the sixties. After decades of using keyboards, I know where to put my fingers without having to feel the keys.

Enough of that.

Our son's school photos came back today. The proofs look pretty good. We gave him a choice, and he chose the cost-effective 12-small-photo set, if my memory serves.

#1 daughter was here until just before supper, talking with me and (more practically) getting the attic organized. She agreed with me, when I said that I might not recognize the place.

Under my wife's direction, #1 daughter and our son got a computer hutch moved from the north room, down to the basement. parts of it were a tight fit, going around the corner between the kitchen and the living room. My wife's setting up a work station down there, I understand.

It's been a warm (for March) day. I'm in what I hope are the final stages of shaking off that bug, so I stayed in. Probably just as well: It rained rather enthusiastically around supper time.

Wednesday: of Computers, Sons, and Possible Security Risks

I got a surprise this morning, when I tried using the main computer.

It was running, of course, since it's the device I use to run my "outside" webcam.

It would have been, anyway, since our son gets up well before he needs to, and likes to use that computer. It's a great deal faster than his laptop.

When I sat down at the keyboard, the main computer was logged into our son's user and - more to the point - quite insistent about being given a particular DVD.

I finally convinced it that I wasn't putting the DVD in place, and tried to log out.

"Tried to log out." Twice. Each time, one of those little announcements went up that a DVD movie launcher wasn't shutting down.

I could have spent hours, trying to figure out exactly what caused the problem, or I could just cut power to the computer.

Simple choice: I cut off power, restarted the thing, and no more problem.

Some good came of the annoyance: I
  • Got an opportunity to practice patience
  • Had to look up potential security problems for this sort of situation
    • ...and as a result found something I could use for a post on another blog
I doubt that anything unpleasant has happened to the computer as a result of its use as a DVD player, but I'm going to have a chat with our son, when he comes home from school.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday: Warm Day

It got to 40 degrees or so today: warm for Minnesota, this time of year.

My wife has had telephone chats with #2 daughter, at least in part about the situation with her young-man-correspondent.

Our son came home from school in good spirits: mostly due to the day's warmth, I take it.

#3 daughter got some more writing done, and I got a letter off to my father.

There must have been more to the day, but I don't remember at the moment.

Tuesday: Transitions, Sleep, and Sense

I got to sleep about 3:00 this morning. Not the smartest thing I've ever done.

It wasn't my idea, entirely: Around 2:00 a.m., I caught on to what one of those parts of my mind that operate in the background was up to.

It was remembering that, after I got a call about a significant change in my mother's condition, I decided to postpone going up to see her. Just by a day so: I had a trip already planned within a few days. By the next morning, she was dead.

Now, it noted that I'd gotten a phone call about a significant change in my father's condition. It was keeping me up, waiting for that after-midnight telephone call from the medical center.

My wife assures me that I didn't foul up when my mother died: the decision was made logically, using information available. Just the same, I doubt that I'll ever shake the feeling that I should have handled that decision better.

A letter from my father arrived in the mail today. Time to see what's in it.

Monday: Fever's Down (Sort of), Our Son's Growing Up

Our son reported that his voice has shifted from "soprano" to "tenor," according to something that happened at school. I believe it. His voice has been going down, the top of his head has been going up, at an almost visible rate recently. His fingers are longer than mine: He measured his against mine recently.

#1 daughter was over for most of the day, getting books organized in the attic. I’ve been helping: mostly in an advisory capacity.

#2 daughter had a long talk with my wife today. Twice, I think. I gather that she and a young man she's been corresponding with experienced a change in their relationship.

One possibility is that he found out what the weather in Minnesota is really like.

I'm sure that other things happened today, but all I remember at the moment is that our son and I read Garfield again, before bedtime.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Monday: More About Transition

I got a call from someone with Hospice again today. I really appreciate the way they keep in touch.

My father's struggling to breathe now. I'm told that he sends his love, and that we shouldn't feel obligated to come: since we were up there a weekend ago.

I'm also told that he's cheerful: Hardly a surprise.

That man is a hard act to follow, as a father.

I'm just as glad that he waved off a visit. With this bug I've got, I shouldn't be in a facility with older people - or anyone else with a less-than-fit immune system.

There should be some sort of philosophical insight here - but my brain seems to have molasses in the works.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday: Church, Grilling, and Sneezing Fits

There's no reasonable doubt about it. I've got a cold, or something pretty close. Just a minute.

Okay, it says here that if the runny nose, sneezing, and so forth, is accompanied by a fever, odds are that you've got the flu.

So, I've (probably) got the flu.

Not that it matters what it's called: the fact is that I'm 'way below par in efficiency.

Aside from that, it's been a great day. The family and I went to Mass, we met #1 daughter there, we all went home again, and I drove #1 daughter to Coborn's, to pick up some supplies for a friend of hers.

Grilling lunch was fun, as usual: and I didn't incinerate the burgers as badly as I did yesterday.

The afternoon was mostly a matter of hanging out with the family: including #1 daughter, until her ride showed up.

My wife, our son, and #3 daughter are at Soo Bahk Do class as I'm writing this. It'll be a while before I start up with that again: April, at least, my wife says. Aside from my own preparedness, there are some financial considerations.

That's it for today. I hope to be more with it tomorrow.

On a positive note, we had 'frostflowers' again this week.

And, I grilled Saturday and Sunday! It just doesn't get much better than that.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Saturday: Getting Caught Up, and Grilling Lunch

I've had a fraction of a night's sleep during the last 72 hours. I'm also coming down with something: whether it's a result of the lack of sleep, or not being able to sleep is a result of the bug, I don't know.

Either way, it's an interesting sensation.

Let's see. What's happened?

A friend of our son was over on Thursday. They had a good time, quite a bit of it spent in what they called a Bionicle war.

We've been finding Bionicle parts around the living room since then.

My wife's not feeling all that well either, so she asked me if I'd take our son to Soo Bahk Do Thursday night. When #3 daughter heard that I had agreed to go, she gave me a hug. Apparently, she was impressed.

I took some stuff along, got about two and a half folders-worth of papers organized, and some writing done, while Peter learned Soo Bah Doh - and broke one of those rebreakables: "boards" that can be put back together again.

I had a talk with one of the dons there: apparently the limitations that came with these replacement hips aren't a reason to not re-start my interest in Soo Bahk Do. He pointed out that there were black belts in wheelchairs.

Friday is a bit of a blur. I got postal paperwork done for that bulletin I handle, and got it to the post office. As long as I was out, I went to that publishing company I worked for (and still do - a few minutes a month, on average) and started sorting out an issue they're having with getting their website updated.

That, dropping off some letters and bills, and peddling an exerciser, seems to have been about it. It didn't take anywhere near as long to work up a sweat.

Which brings us back to today. I've grilled lunch, not quite incinerating the burgers. I started daydreaming after putting them on the grill: not a good idea.

It's 1:10 in the afternoon. Which reminds me: tonight we do that spring-forward part of daylight savings time.

If I don't fall asleep, there's a chance I'll post again today.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wednesday: Of Books, Music, and a Rabbit

#1 daughter came to Sauk Centre today, to help organize books in the attic. I haven't been up there since she left, but my educated guess is that she sorted and shelved in the neighborhood of three shelf-feet of books. Maybe more.

Our son is a happy camper. He and a friend of his have been trying to set up a time when the friend can come over here for about a month. Today, they set up a meeting for tomorrow, after school. I'm not entirely clear on why it took so long to do.

#3 daughter and my wife went to my wife's violin lesson this morning, and to the Sauk Centre grandpa's for a visit this morning. #3 daughter's guitar lesson didn't happen, since she's done something to her wrist. We're dealing with it, but it's not in shape for guitar playing. She's not happy about the situation.

#1 daughter called me tonight, after phone calls between #2 daughter and my wife, and #3 daughter and #1 daughter were over. #1 daughter had something to tell me about her rabbit.

The creature is named "Geol," is a domestic/wild mix, and seems to be a very appealing fur ball. Tonight, #1 daughter told me that Geol had moved an inside fence she's been using to contain him: enough for him to get through. She's re-arranged the fence, but is impressed by Geol's presumed intelligence.

Tuesday: Getting Back to Routines

Overnight, I remembered/realized that the bulletin that I'd 'finished' last night had a set of really big errors in it. It's amazing, what a person will remember at about 3:00 in the morning.

Later, after sunrise, I made corrections, and discovered that I'd have had to reprint the press-ready copy of the bulletin anyway. The printer's black ink cartridge had come to the end of its ink.

I tutored this morning, went to an appointment with my wife, picked up a fresh ink cartridge, made made sure the corrections on the bulletin were correct, and asked my wife to take the final printout to the press. By that time I was overdue for a nap.

As I am now.

Actually, overdue to get to bed.

I'll be back tomorrow, I trust.

Catching Up: Monday, March 3, 2008

I don't really remember all that much about Monday.

Our son was home from school: he was under the weather with a cough. Nothing serious, but we were being careful.

I spent the day, getting caught up with writing that I'd have been doing online over the weekend, working on a bulletin for the local Knights of Columbus, and napping.

Catching up: Sunday, March 2, 2008

I noticed a poem that my father wrote down, and taped to the computer cabinet:

Autumn Yard Work (II)
Life passing
Leaves falling
Birds flying
Clouds floating
I'm waiting

We (#2 daughter) packed the van. It took about an hour and a half. The two of us went into town, and visited with my father. #2 daughter played the violin: she's getting pretty good at that.

Next stop, Moorhead, where #2 daughter changed for church, then Mass at St. Mary's in Fargo, back to college to drop #2 daughter off, and so onto the Interstate, headed back to Sauk Centre.

I got to Fergus Falls about 5:15. By then, I'd seen about a half-dozen vehicles off the road: on its roof, another, by the Fergus Falls exit I used, on its side. The road was slick in spots, with a strong crosswind and blowing snow.

I just about had my own accident, by the Fergus Falls exit. The driver in front of me decided to use the exit too, and slowed down to well under 35 mph. On the Interstate. That's when I discovered that the road was slick. It's never a good sign, when the speedometer shows zero mph, and the landscape is still going by.

That was exciting.

I took a meal break in Fergus: Debbie's Home Style Kitchen (really nice place to eat). My nerves needed a rest. It had been white-knuckle driving to that point. Someone at Debbie's told me that she'd gotten a call from her husband, who was traveling in the Red River Valley. He'd been out of breath, from helping someone with a car. Between Fargo and Grand Forks, he'd counted about 35 vehicles off the road.

And so, at last, back to Sauk Centre and home. I was glad to be back.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Catching Up: Saturday, March 1, 2008

#2 daughter and I visited my father in the morning - some other folks were there before us. He's been getting a lot of visitors lately.

I asked people at the nursing home if I could get Internet access for a few minutes. They're nice folks, there. I made a very brief update on the two blogs I update daily, and then signed off: I'd said 'just a few minutes,' and wanted to have that be accurate.

Around noon, #2 daughter fixed the two of us a good meal. Then she recommended that I take a nap. This, despite a good 9 hours of sleep that I'd gotten. She whistled me awake just after 5:00. Looks like I needed that nap.

#2 daughter had visited my father while I napped: and I gather that the two of them had a good talk. I'm told that they mostly went through bills which had accumulated, and other paperwork.

After supper, #2 daughter and I watched "Federal Marshals." #2 daughter likes Tommy Lee Jones.

Observing clouds and a chance of snow, #2 daughter expressed the remote hope of being snowed in, and so not having to be back to college on Monday. Flattering: She prefers my company to college classes.

My wife called - talked with #2 daughter, although she did ask after me.

After supper, #2 daughter went through more boxes, while we talked. Then, another music lesson. I'm starting to learn chords, major-minor 7ths, and that sort of thing. What's amazing is that I'm actually retaining some of it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Catching Up: Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap day. We won't see another one for four years.

I set out for the Red River Valley, starting not too long after noon. I drove the family van, daughter #2 followed in her car. Actually, it's my wife's car that #2 daughter has been using while she's at college. We had left the car at college, in Moorhead, and the two of us drove up to Hillsboro.

After touching base at the house, the two of us visited my dad. He seemed better than he had sounded a week ago: hardly a surprise.

There were people there, talking with him, when we arrived. I gather that he's been heavily condolenced.

#2 daughter and I fixed supper, and put gas in the van, respectively. Gasoline is pricey up there: more so than in Sauk Centre. We watched "Men in Black:" That was fun. It was about then that I discovered that we didn't have a working Internet connection.

Later, #2 daughter taught me some chords on the piano, and some music theory. She also told me about the 'voice in the piano.' When you press one of the pedals and speak into the piano, you'll hear a voice inside. My father heard his brother, she told me. She heard #3 daughter, or my wife. The ladies in this family sound very much alike.

#2 daughter also sifted through a closet and some boxes, while we talked. Sitting on the floor, she found a bottle of Bay Rum in the closet. Being curious, she sniffed the Bay Rum: it was the first time she'd encountered the substance. Then she rolled back, making teeth-bared face. I've seen cats react a bit like that.

She tells me that Bay Rum has a very strong, very distinct odor. I'll take her word for that. If I saw as well as I smell, I'd be legally blind.
Now, I've got a bulletin to finish before turning in, so I'd better stop.

Getting Caught Up

I'm three days behind, four if you count today. Time to get caught up.

It's been quite a weekend. I drove up to the Red River Valley on Friday, expecting to take care of my daily updates through an old Internet connection at my folks' place.

Somehow, Internet service was removed, along with telephone service.


That left me high and dry, in terms of blogging, except for a few minutes on Saturday. The medical facility in Hillsboro let me use their connection, so at least I was able to get an "I'm not here" message up.

The computer they let me use was in the common area of the nursing home. That was an odd feeling. It was the first time I'd been in that room since my mother died. The places she usually sat seemed empty.

Well, I'd better start filling in the weekend's posts.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Saturday: A Day Late ...

This post is about a day late, and short on content.

Sorry about this: I'm getting some family business done, and don't have internet access where I am. I thought I would: but had a little surprise when I arrived.

So, right now I'm online through the courtesy of a medical facility in North Dakota - which will reasonably expect to have their connection back soon.

Thanks for your patience, and I hope to be back with more, sometime late Sunday or early Monday.
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