26 May 2005

Archs of Rosserk Abbey near Ballina in County Mayo. Occupied and built during 13th or 14th century. It was a 3rd order Franciscan, so famlies were engaged in the work here. Had a bit of lunch there one evening. Posted by Hello

25 May 2005

Only changing jobs

Hopped on the Wells Fargo wagon for a 3rd tour of service at the operations center. It had been about a year and a half since I stepped foot into the place. Once again it is a migration project but I am working with a team of 8 other people from the agency.
Still quite a few familar faces. Some even recognized me. Others were probably thinking in their mind "Where has he been?"
Let me postulate on that last thought. Where have I been? I could tell the long and arduous tale of my flight from Wells Fargo in December of 2003 - about the time this blog started or I could spin a drama of having been moved to the farthest end of the building until now. Another option could be that I just woke up and found myself here, again.

Upon Down Patrick Head near Ballycastle, County Mayo. Winds were brisk and the sea churned.  Posted by Hello

24 May 2005

The revenge at stars end

Viewed the Revenge of the Sith this weekend. It was good but not incredible. Plenty of eye candle but still the lack of character cohesion. True, these movies are just to set up for Obi-Wan and Darth Vader but it still lacked a decent verbiage. The following are the my kudos for the this chapter:
  • Hayden does improve. More believable. Yet I sense a missing link in the characterization as he moves from Anakin to Darth Vader.
  • Ewan McGregor is still fantastic. His Obi-Wan is superb, again.
  • Light saber duels abounding. This is the what we wanted to see. Obi-Wan and Anakin's duel is incredible
  • Keeping the serial motiff. Although I could easily jeer (in chorus with a thousand others) the awkward romantic elements, Lucas knows how to lay the pipe and turn up the heat and leave us lurching for more. The Obi-Wan beast of burden chase was a bit over the top.

There are some sour points too that I will enumerate here:

  • Samuel L. Jackson's Mace Windu. Not as bad-ass jedi as in Clones. A blah performance notwithstanding the confrontation with Palapatine.
  • Clutter. So much eye candy it hurts at times. Give us stuff we have seen before. The Star Wars universe has been bloated.
  • Resolution that was fairly predictable. For almost 20 years my friends and I knew vaguely about how Anakin became Vader. This movie gave us brilliant visuals but nothing surprising. That's what it lacked- surprises. We are used to Palapatine's plans to play both sides. It happens again and again.

And there are a few questions:

  • What kind of relationship does Yoda have with the Wookies?
  • How come the Jedi council could not tell Padme and Anakin were married? Come on Jedis! Even I can tell when somebody is in love.
  • How did Obi-Wan get on the Jedi council? Probably answered in the book.
  • Was Anakin the chosen one? Not clear.

And my favorite moment- Obi-Wan last lines to Anakin : "You were the chosen one!"

17 May 2005

Cast me aside

Met up with one of the actors from Flowers for Algernon- see previous post. It was the girl who played Dr. Strauss. Apparently she works at Moorhead Hornbachers. She looks nothing like the character she played- must of been a whig. So I told here I'd cast here in Grease as Frenchie. She thought I must be some casting agent. "Nope." I said. "I'm just a dreamer."
Then the tea fiasco ensued...but that's a rather hopeless tale.

A night of trivial pursuits

Together with cohorts KT, Gjervold, and Tranasaurus, I returned to Moorhead High School to partake in an evening of trivia to benefit the debate team. Our team, of which I did not captain nor show much leadership initiative, was the smallest of the dozen or so participating. Fargo Dan and Phil had been unable to fulfill their commitment. So Trip Trotsky, as I secretly christened the team, began at a slight disadvantage. But not to fret, we held our own.
The contest of 5 rounds required each team to answer a series of questions in a alloted amount of time. There was no buzzer beating - just fill out the answer sheet and hand it in at the round's end. Our collective minds fused to create a combatting force contending for the evening's championship title - cash.
Along the way there were other contests and door prizes interspersed which KT won a few times. There was also food, not that we needed any because Tranasaurus made dinner for Gjervold and I.
Coming into the final round, we were in 5th place. However, in this round we were allowed to bid on the amounts of points we would get for correct answers for 15 catergories a la Final Jeopardy. Of these categories 2 were sure things- Musicals and Large Lizards (thanks to Gjervold). Now the strategizing began. Tranasaurus and KT did the math. We allocated our bids and then received the questions. Indeed, our strong points for Musicals and Large Lizards paid off. Our secondary strengths came through too. When all the points were calculated, Trip Trosky came in 2nd. Not much cheering for us. The 3rd place team got more. KT went up and accepted the $30 prize with a smile. We had a photo op and then donated the money back to the debate team (the coach is a friend of ours). Oh the thrill of victory.

16 May 2005

Famine feasting

I’ve been reading a lesson plan on the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1848) the last few days. It is quite moving and in depth. It uses quite a few primary resources to describe the time leading up to the famine. I am very impressed with it. It has really helped me to understand the deep seated animosity the Irish have toward the English. It is shocking to see how the Irish were viewed as an inferior race. The curriculum draws parallels between the black slaves and the Irish. The English saw each as no different except their skin pigmentation.
What is even more shocking is that Ireland exported enough food during the famine that would have fed 18 million people. Because of powerful interests in England and the underlining theories of free market economy, none of those food resources were used to improve the plight of the Irish.
Indeed, the English dominance of Ireland created protectionist policies that favored England. During the Industrial Revolution, England de-industrialized Ireland. Prior to the Great Famine, England repressed the native Irish by instituting strict statues that regulated ownership, work, and religion. No wonder there is such vigor in the Irish. It makes one want to stand up and fight with a righteous indignation.

15 May 2005

A jocular marathoner takes a moment to be enshrined near mile 12 Posted by Hello

Fargo Marathon report

Waking unexpectedly but necessarily I noticed snow on the windows. “Great, just great, the first Fargo Marathon and it snows. Can we ever break the arctic gulag stereotype?”

I had hope the other day when the sun began peak out of the west in the evening. Surely this will dry us off. Unfortunately it did not last. I prayed for better weather.

When I awoke at around 7AM to take up my volunteer traffic control post. It was cold. The temperature hovered somewhere below 40 yet definitely above freezing. A cool breeze and some light rain filled out the rest of the picture. Not ideal conditions but not arctic tundra.
Between 2000 and 3000 runners participated in the races and probably around 300 volunteers were assisting. [The results actually give a much smaller number, just under 1000 so maybe it was the combined count with half marathon and 5k]
This marked one of Fargo’s largest outdoor events.
I arrived at 2nd St S and 8th Ave at 8AM. I set up the barricade and bedecked myself in raincoat and a fluorescent green vest of power. I was positioned a few blocks from mile 12. The race started at 8AM and thus I had a bit of a wait. I ate my breakfast in the middle of the road.
The first runners started to trickle by at a little past 9AM. I was amazed to not see any Kenyans. If there ever were any Kenyans they probably dropped out of the race when they discovered the weather. This is what my friend Karen did (She is not from Kenya). There were other factors for her decision but the weather was what cinched it for her.
[However, Paul Brown, a noted marathoner ran today and finished 6th]
By 10AM the heart of the participants were passing by. The weather only improved slightly and sudden gusts if wind provided challenge to the runners. As I kept an eye on traffic I expressed some affirmation to the runners. Quite a few of them even thanked me for volunteering. That made it all the more fun. An acquaintance from college days even recognized me. Quite a feat I’d say going into mile 12. The toughest miles were yet to come- those at the top of Fargo coming out of Trollwood.
By 11AM most of the mass of humanity had passed and I was relieved of duty. I biked to downtown to the finish line to drop of my vest of power and watch some of the finishers. I was home by 12:30.
Despite the weather this was a very well put together event rivaling even Grandma’s in Duluth. I certainly hope it will continue to attract the numbers it did. Perhaps the Kenyans will come too.

12 May 2005

Running through my head

Fargo Marathon is just a day away so I decided two days ago that I'd volunteer. I "forewent" the running in this inaugral year mostly due to obligations in the Forky city to the north. Nonetheless I'll be controlling a little traffic between mile 11 and 12. Should be fun and familar. If any of you remember I was once hired to be a stop sign. I think there must be a post about that someplace on the blog.
This marathon is certainly emerging faster than anyone anticipated. At the traffic control meeting the other day, the race director said there would be upwards of 3000 runners (a record for any running event in this neck of the woods)! Now that's incredible. The inaugral Sioux City Marathon I ran in about 2 years ago had about 400 participants. What makes this town's race so much better? I'm not even sure. We have been a media darling as of late- the Today Show likes to feature us. Are we trendy, cool, irrestible? I guess that yet is to been seen. Hopefully the weather turns out better. There was some snow in the Dakotas today. I'd like to see some Kenyans running in the snow.

11 May 2005

U2ed in Ireland

No I did not see Bono or the Edge. They were on tour someplace. Of course I came to a better understanding of their music while in Ireland.
New meaning sprang forth for the song Where the Streets Have No Name. Because literally in parts of the country the streets have no name- the houses have names. Then in Dublin the streets are crazy. They change the name of the streetabout a half dozen times in the matter of 2 miles. Then the song I Still Haven't Found What I am Looking For came to mind as I searchedfor a Fish and Chips place in Dublin. We got directions a few times but just kept wandering around, wondering if we took a wrong turn. Then Walk On always come to mind- I did quite a bit of walking. Summer Rain also fit in too as I walked in the rain on numerous occasions and wondered where I was. I could probably apply quite a few U2 songs to the trip but I'll leave that for another time. Need I even mention With or Without You.

09 May 2005

Back in time

Added some backdated material that I have been keeping on the laptop.
Nothing incredibly new or amazing. Occasionally I have found myself sleepwalking. I believe the other day I was being hounded by some Irish parish priests and I just felt I needed to leave the room. I did this twice. Once going all the way down stairs. Now that's incredible!
On Sunday gave my Ireland presentation at the church meeting. I was up until 2:30 AM perfecting the slide show on power point. I think it was well received. I know I liked it.
One of these days I'll need to post some pictures I took. One of the things I regret about my trip to Ireland was I did not take enough photos. The battery on the camera went dead in the middle of the trip and I did not get it charged until 3 days later. Nevertheless I got some great shots. I am sad I did not get a photo of my comrades all together, but that leaves open the door for another adventure.
Slan lat.

06 May 2005

Along the coast road

It was a marvelous tour by automobile on the northern coast of County Mayo. The scenery was impressive. It seemed to be right out of a book or calendar. It featured incredible views of the Atlantic spotted with sheep on hills in and in vales.
Steep hills abound around Mayo. In addition to Croagh Patrick, a rather holy hill to some folks, there are numerous high hills around North Mayo. Nephim was one of the closer ones but I did not have the opportunity to climb it. We were at the base of Croagh Patrick in Westport but had not the time to hike up the 2000 plus feet. One acquaintance I met in Mayo, Ian O’Shea, has run up Croagh Patrick. That’s incredible! 2 of my other friends took four hours just to walk up.

Weathering it

When I returned from Ireland it was a balmy 86 degrees. Then a week later it snowed- three times. Fortunately there was no accumulation. The Fargo winds have been intense out of the north. Now the weather is beginning to improve. Only slightly
In Ireland there is a saying - “If you don’t like the weather wait five minutes.” It was generally true. The weather does change rather quickly. There were only 2 days of purely great weather where it did not rain during the day.
The rain can be soft or it can be soaking. Soft is very nice. I ran in the soft rain. Winds in Ireland were not as biting as they are on the Plains. They were occasionally the same speed but not as chilling.
For North Dakota we should say “If you don’t like the weather, either wait a few days or get out of town.”

05 May 2005

Running in Ireland

Not surprisingly I kept up my running regime while in Ireland. Should I attribute it to good discipline? Perhaps but I also had the time.
I felt a bit odd being the only runner in these parts (although my friend has claimed she runs sometimes) but the people appear friendly. Every driver waved at me.
The terrain is medium to difficult but provides a good workout. I just don’t get to run up that many hills back in ‘Go. I ran in the mornings and actually did part of my prayers while running. Occasionally it would be a little wet. It was never too cold. I only got soaked once because I kept running in a steady rain.
I only encountered problems twice: Once with an ornery border collie and another time with some maverick dairy cattle. Overall my running around Ballycastle was very enjoyable. I like it when there are empty roads because I do not need to be watching for traffic.

04 May 2005

Tasting it simple

My house became a taste testing centre for Tastefully Simple products today. There were some wonderful dips, wild rice soup, and that incredible beer bread. I first encountered the stuff a number of years a go. My father received some of their mixes as a gift. I found them to be very good indeed and simple. Oh simple indulgence.

03 May 2005

Soul searching

While in Ireland I had the opportunity to do quite a bit of soul searching. It can be retching at times, but catharsis, like a good cry, cleanses the soul. Fortunately I knew how to encourage myself lest I throw myself off one of the 300 foot cliffs into the Atlantic. It never got that far. Indeed it was something to overcome.
The fear in the back of my mind was that I would be spat out of Ireland like lukewarm water. I desire acceptance and I came to Ireland believing there to be a kinship with this land of my ancestors. Being “spat out” would only verify that I am one without a place of my own, a lonely wandering spirit, unwanted and unknown. Again that was something I needed to resist and let my emotions be put in the right place.
I am amazed at how God used me there. I think I had the some of the best fellowship with God than I have ever had. I prayed a lot. I also ended up prophesying quite a bit. To me it just sort of turned on and I could see things in the spirit. I just exercised faith to speak them. I could not believe it at times. I thought I just had guitar and few songs. Well, God wanted to surprise me.
There was this incredible meeting at St. Vincent de Paul in Ballina. I was asked to lead an evening of worship. I did and God was there too. I had some great back up guitarists too. They were very skilled. Afterward there was a little jam session that ended up morphing into Blues Night at SVP. Now that was some good craic!

Jots on Jaunting

Jaunted to Morris mostly because I made a promise I would to some dear friends.
It was May 1 and it was snowing. How incredibly wrong? The weather was dreary and unwelcoming. In Morris I visited the church and then proceeded to prepare lunch for my friends- a smattering of spaghetti, green beans, oranges, carrots, and garlic toast. Needless to say some of my assistants got sauce on the walls and ceiling. Goes to tell you that a good can opener is a cook’s best friend.

Inspiration for cooking came from Jim, a guy that was staying a Western Shore while I was in Ireland. Jim is a brilliant cook, a culinary genius who weaves a delicious meal each time takes to the kitchen. He was a real inspiration- both culinary and spiritually.

02 May 2005

Flowers for...

After a brief jaunt to the lonely hamlet of Morris (more on that later) I went to Moorhead High School’s presentation of Flowers for Algernon. I was floored by the acting and technical execution. This was perhaps the best play I have seen since my high school days. The acting was top notch. Not a single weak link in the cast. Technically I really like how video was fused with the live action. A poignant script realized with a brilliant collage of actors and technical verisimilitude. Bravo to Moorhead High.

Kudos deservedly go to Ben Gunderson for his portrayal of Charlie Gordon. It is a difficult role to pull off naturally with the various changes that need to be expressed in the character but Ben hit the mark. The technical crew also deserves much praise for their fine execution of transitions and brilliant use of video and sound.

So how did this show affect me? It reminded me of what I feel I have lost in the course of four years. I feel I have lost that jocularity and spontaneity I once had. I have become calculated and cold in addition to wise. I wonder if Charlie gained wisdom while his intellect expanded. I do know Charlie was haunted by his previous self- the slow, good spirited boy. The thing that haunts me now is if I let life march past.