31 December 2010

(un)Happy New Year

It is New Year's Eve and I am at home, forced to sit out the normal festivities by 2 blizzards. And these are really blizzards, not just some snow flakes and a little wind. The 2 interstates were shut. The roads were horrible. The weather was and continues to be dreadful. There have been wind chill temperatures of -49 Fahrenheit in places. Funny how it was nearly 30 a few days ago.
The first storm arrived on Wednesday. I got stuck at work because there was no way to pass through the drifts on the sidewalks or streets with the ice bike.
I went out between storms today. Most places were closed. I needed to get the food for a New Year's Day evening meal. Indeed it was a difficult jaunt.
Well, I got home, I ripped my down vest, realized my camera was broken, then discovered the New Year's Eve party was postponed until the next day- the day I would be inviting many of the same people over for a dinner. So far 2011 is looking to be a real challenge and it hasn't even started yet.
Looking back, there were plenty of challenges for me in 2010- leading a canoe trip, a bike trip mostly into the wind, putting on the Christmas show, taking on new responsibilities at work, and I won't even delve into the challenges you encounter in relationships.
Well I hope your new year doesn't get drowned by difficulties and disappointments. Slan.

The Christmas cake

My brother in law made this incredible Christmas cake. It was big! It was good. 2 layers with some strawberries in the middle. I still have a part of it.

26 December 2010

The day after is still Christmas

It might be Boxing Day or St. Stephen's Day but in other parts of the world the Christmastide continues onward until Epiphany on January 6th. In Ireland, the Wren Boys might come out on December 26 in costume and sing and ask for small donations for the "Wren Dance." Not sure how prevalent it still is in Ireland. Sounds fun to me.
Here the snow lays heavy upon the ground. The wind whips it up in a fury making for dangerous yet awe inspiring landscape. 

25 December 2010

Tidings of Christmas Joy

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay.
For Jesus Christ our Savior,
Was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan’s power,
When we were gone astray.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
For Jesus Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day
 More on this older carol and how merry might not be about revelry is found here and here.
It certainly has joyful meter and is rather bright and cheery as opposed to some other carols speaking of the same theme. This one is certainly a song to be sung by carolers seeking the wassail. I think I will make wassail this year.

24 December 2010

Happy Christmas 2010

Happy Christmas everybody.

For some it is the most wonderful time of the year and for others the most stressful. Then there are others who just don't care. But we'll let them be that way.
It can be like the Frank Capra film It's A Wonderful Life- life events and circumstances can dictate who we are, what we are worth until we just want to escape the pressures that life presents.
It was fortunate that George did have Clarence- somebody who can look from the outside. Without the whole bridge and "George never existed" scenes, it would we a sad, sad film.
So what am I getting at?
We are not living for ourselves.
Just at its simplest Christmastime invites goodwill and peace to break out at least once a year. That's the magic of Christmas and how even if ones do not recognize the bigger thing which Christmas commemorates (Christ coming to the earth to die in order to free us.), it harmonizes and even points subtly to it. We just overlook it either because we don't care or do not know. George was fortunate, an angel was able to show him the bigger picture.

Upon this nativity I do behold

Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
You've probably heard this dozens of times if you watch Charlie Brown Christmas. Linus takes the spotlight and tells Charlie Brown (and everyone else) what Christmas is all about. I have seen it 3 times this year and it doesn't get boring. Hulu is still streaming it until the end of the year.  A Charlie Brown Christmas is short and to the point and doesn't follow too many rabbit trails. Short summary- Charlie Brown is stressed by Christmas. He seeks help which send him in a different direction. Linus sets it straight (or should we credit the King James Bible?) and Charlie Brown changes his viewpoint.
I like how Schulz was already contrasting the befuddled Charlie Brown with the "give me" attitude of some of the other characters- something that still rings true today about our celebrations in the West.
So should I bemoan the reality that much of the world around celebrates things which are symbols of Christmas?
Gifts, parties, Santa, and the like all fit into the celebration of Christmas but really are not what Christmas does commemorate. Throw in the whole Saturnalia  and yuletide stuff and you got a real misshaped holiday.
It does come to the question- did God come or was it an elaborate hoax?
The Jamestown (ND) College choir put on a real excellent program a few weeks ago. Their program drew upon the theme that before the Christ child came, the world was in darkness. The Finnish folk song "Lost in the Night" expresses that theme.

Lost in the night doth the heathen yet languish,
Longing for morning the darkness to vanquish,
Plaintively heaving a sigh full of anguish:
Will not day come soon? Will not day come soon?
Must he be vainly awaiting the morrow?
Shall we who have it no light let him borrow?
Giving no heed to his burden of sorrow:
Will you help us soon? Will you help us soon?
Sorrowing brother, in darkness yet dwelling,
Dawned hath the day of a radiance excelling,
Death’s dreaded darkness forever dispelling:
Christ is coming soon! Christ is coming soon!
Light o’er the land of the heathen is beaming,
Rivers of life through its deserts are streaming,
Millions yet sigh for the Savior redeeming:
Come and save us soon! Come and save us soon!
 The choir also performed a song we also did for the Christmas radio at HCC: Night of Silence. I did that song in high school as well.

May all the blessing of the nativity be yours.



How?

Winter drops

Winter had been dropping upon us like a a load of bricks since Thanksgiving. But now it is officially the winter.
The snow lay on the ground, thick and cold. This the most snow I can recall on the ground before the calendar said winter began.
And this winter attack on fall has kept me off the bike for more days than I recall from previous years.
I got my winter bike ready the day before the major snow arrived but did not think the studded tire would be necessary. Oh it was necessary. I was slip slipping around the snow swamped intersections and side streets.
Winter biking is a little crazy. The streets get less room and the sidewalks are dicey or inconsistently cleared. Plus it tough to gauge how many layers to put on since the physical exertion creates heat and sweat.
I went running outside a few nights ago. It was a rather good evening to do it. The temperatures was high enough and the sidewalks were mostly clear. I brought my camera with and captured some lights in the neighborhood. Nothing too elaborate around my neighborhood. Apparently the "suburbs" are where to find the big displays. I have yet to see one.

22 December 2010

It was 20 years ago today

That the first birthday assemblage ever was held. Maybe not the only one but the one that coincides with my particular DOB.
I came up with the assemblage because I did not like the word party. Yeah, that's right, a word snob. So I held this gathering, er assemblage, at Lehigh on my birthday or at least on the day nearest my birthday that was not a school night. The assemblage included games, including bingo, drawings, prizes, something dramatic, and food. I hardly recall much about them besides they were well attended. I printed tickets as invitations, so people felt obligated I assume. 
Here's a few pictures, but I don't think these are from the first one.  The Emmy winner Kevin Myers appears in most of these.
 Above I believe we are playing one of the many games which involved creativity and prizes.
 Here we are reading one of the many scripts I wrote for the assemblage. I think it was some sort of a musical comedy. I incinerated years ago.

 The birthday cake which my mom  baked and decorated. Sort of a Simpsonized version of myself.

A finally some guests enjoy the food. Well, at least some of them. One of the gals is my former GF.

16 December 2010

Make your sauna

Where I work we get packages from around the world and occasionally they are packed with newspapers from these places.
Just the other day I had a box with a Russian language news tabloid that had the story of Michael Jackson's death a few years ago.
But here we have an advertisement from a Finnish DIY store- Starkki (something of a cross between Home Depot and Menard's.)
But instead of loads of other krep which you would see in Home Depot ad, this one focuses on the most important one to Finns- the sauna. And it is important to note how it is pronounced- 'sow- nah.' This differentiates it from the 'saw-na', which is usually a dry heat contraption masquerading as the Finnish sauna.
I have heard it said that sometimes Finns have built their sauna before even having a home. In fact some have even lived in their sauna (without the steam of course.) This may be hyperbole.
Starkki has all a Finn would need to build or improve their sauna- doors, benches, cedar, the rocks to be heated. My MFG -mostly Finnish girlfriend- has seen some elaborate saunas when she visited Suomi (aka Finland.) For the less well to do Finns, they can shell out 39 Euros for an infrared heating element. Sounds a bit blasphemous since your can't pour water over it and get steam. The lady in the ad doesn't mind. She can't believe the price.
Hopefully this weekend I will enjoy a real sauna and perhaps take some pictures to share with my Finnish readers. I do have Finnish readers, right?

The "Ugly" Christmas Sweater

We've been on an ugly kick here this last year (remember ugly online ads) so it makes sense to look for the ugly Christmas sweaters. Think Bill Cosby getting run over by a reindeer and a dozen elves and throw in a random snowman. Actually these are rather quaint-snowflakes and stars. The one below I actually own and has appeared on the blog before. I got it for only a buck last year!
So perhaps these don't fall into the ugly category, but you can make your own and send them to me- http://www.thisisgrow.com/archive/officemax/myholidaysweater/955279d6.74941 

08 December 2010

Downloading into December

Man alive! It's December already. Once Thanksgiving come its a slippery slope to the end of year.
It has been a while since I've had time to post. I still don't have time, but I will anyway. But what this post needs is pictures!
 At left is my MFG (mostly Finnish girlfriend) holding a box of Lux flakes- a popular soap from yesteryear.
Lux used to sponsor a few radio shows- notably the Lux Radio Theater which produced radio adaptations of current films. For some unknown reason this box was found back at my parents home. I decided to use some and I think it worked out ok. Oh and by the way I am doing a radio show of sorts on December 11. You might want to come- more info here. You won't regret it.
Went swing dancing tonight. Only danced 3 times until it was over. I was just warming up by the 3rd time. There will be other times.
Here's the Thanksgiving feast my family devoured. Nearly all this food was prepared by my brother in law. It tasted fantastic. My FMG joined us this year. it was a real good time. Didn't have an internet connection so I did not get to blog at all or leave my usual Thanksgiving address. I'll need to do my Christmas one early since the 'net back home is pretty dang slow.
I have been reading a best seller as of late. One you might know about- The Purpose Driven Life. I am a little late to the party but the information in the book is as beneficial now as ever. I really experiencing some inner growth- and that's no tumor! At first I was a bit skeptical of the book but now I like it.
And finally, something about beer.
Its a Hamm's beer pull found on my MFG's farm. Nothing fancy about it. I think it dates from the 70s before Hamm's disappeared for a while. I think it may be for one of those spigots that comes out the side of a truck. Nonetheless it is short and stubby.
That's all for now. I hope you can make it to the radio show.
Slan.

19 November 2010

The retribution of ugly online ads

 The uglies keep on coming. I think the ad people have discovered that if you put something outlandish on any ad, related or not, somebody is likely to click through and ching that cash in the pocket. But of course this could backfire and unknowing create a negative brand identity. Still more the ugly ones really hide for whom they are working. And a lot of them are for this cut rate mortgages.
Well, what do we got today- a safe cracker older brother of Hulk Hogan. His problem is that he's always tear off his shirt before he's open the safe. It made the police's investigation pretty easy. Just look around town for the man without a shirt that looks like Hulk Hogan's older brother. Case closed.

The next one is genuinely ridiculous. A caveman? It seems to be an outtake from a photo shoot for a caveman costume. He drank 2 large glasses of the orange juice on the hospitality spread outside the studio while the photographer shot the couple with the matching cheese costumes - Jarlsberg and Munster. The man portraying the caveman is called in but has a suddenly bout of incontinence. The rest is history.
Finally, let's look at one you've probably seen all over the Nets in last 6 months: 1 simple tip.
In this example we have an ad attempting to lure us in to some weight loss re-discovery that is weird. Yes, a weird old tip will get your belly tiny! In fact the tip might be: eat less.
I am not going to look into the claim as much as what in the world in that an illustration of? Is it a cross section of a bone? I think they are trying to portray a big belly and a tiny belly. Failed.

17 November 2010

Soon this day of giving thanks

It is coming soon and the Great Pumpkin will probably run for his/her life lest the feasters plan to devour delicious pumpkin pies. Actually it is unlikely the at 1621 celebration, which our Thanksgiving looks to, there were any pies. This article from the Christian Science Monitor looks at that feast and debunk the myths we have attached to the holiday.
So perhaps this Thanksgiving it will not be about having the right food but being of the right mood- thankful and filled with gratitude.

09 November 2010

ugly online adverts vs ripped adverts

The economy takes a bumpy course and Republicans gain big in the election, however the ugly online ad is not going away. It disappears for a while but comes back full force to get you with the just plain odd images of people. Some of the ones I've reviewed before are making encore performances. The "One Simple Rule" ad and ads summoning men to get "ripped" have also been racking up clicks and impressions. Most of the Net's ads are beginning look like they were pulled from the back of a comic book.
But now the ads. First we have another very beardy man. So beardy it seems unreal. In fact with the sunglasses this guy looks like a wax figuire somebody decked out. I've seen a few guys like this in real life. I am not sure what inspires them to keep the look of an aging hippy or Methuselah. And then throw in a Hawaiian lei. Now we're treading on Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. One word can probably describe this- creepy.
Oh and this one has an animated pen for no apparent reason.
Now let's get ripped. Our first example must reveal the secret of how Al Roker and Billy Blanks are the same guy.
My guess the secret is a bunch of gut crunching exercises and lifting some weights and then taking some protein whey suppliment. Then you eat nothing but leafy green foods.
I have yet to meet anybody who has done this who had not already been ripped.

Finally the most sculpted guy with sea gull tattoos on the 'net. I'd guess this guy was a little weirded out when the the photographer told him to put his hands in the places you would not when in public. Fortunately the image is faded in those parts so it is left to the imagination- but are those really his hands and what on earth did he drop? It is an unusual pose to show off one's rippedness. It's more like- "Hmm let me check if my waist band is working because I'm not sure." Or perhaps even- "I wonder if it is still there. Yep. Good. Had me going there for a second."




01 November 2010

November descending

The maquerading season is over but I will bring a few more disguises before we descend into the turkey and gravy and mash potatoes days which loom ahead.
The night of Halloween was rather a no show. It was cooler that the previous 2 'weens and it also appeared downtown was not jumping. In fact whole blocks were alone and empty. What masqueaders I saw were minimal. They all kept indoors, if in fact they were indoors. Even the scary house display round the corner was completely gone by 11pm.  Apparently the 30th was the night to be out downtown. I excused myself from that business as I had other things I needed to do. So much of my coverage come from what I came up with or from the workplace costume thing.
So over to the right some of my former team-mates- Red Riding Hood and Corpse Bride. They get together and enjoy extravagant picnics.



But here we have the Captain who needs no costume, just a short salute and people honor him with prizes and drinks. And so the Captain salutes us into November and the Turkey Countdown.

Undercover Operative: scene 7

Ensign Palmer knows that he'll be placed in the line of fire. 3 times has he been left for dead only to rise up again to beam aboard the Enterprise. Being killed is one thing he failed at the academy. Everything else he did just fine. Although he works in engineering  he often gets assigned security detail by mistake. There is another Ensign Palmer aboard the vessel but she seems to always get assigned to the lunch room. Pretty unfair if you ask me. Palmer is an amicable lad and is passionately in love with bread. He has often given First Officer Spock a loaf of bread to convince him to re-assign him to more duties in engineering rather than security. It typically fails as Spock seems content to just go down the list and make assignments based on his judgment and no aptitude.

31 October 2010

Undercover Operative: scene 6

With just a little duct tape, a Swiss Army knife, and a little scientific know-how, McGjervold can lick any problem no matter how mundane or ludicrous.
Giant scallions? He'll do it.
Killer tomatoes? Gjervold will slice and dice them into salsa with a an old tin can.
Heartburn? He'll make you an organic nutrient rich beverage to ease the pain.
Working for the famous Phoenix Foundation, McGjervold begins where MacGyver left off. He travels the globe to scuttle espionage and scotch environmental dangers in nonviolent ways often employing humor.
A first rate thinker and speed reader, Magnus McGjevold won't use bullets or even bludgeons. A 2X4, yes. Brill cream-- not on your life.

Undercover Operative: scene 5

Katy Perry does not fight crime, at least that's what I've been told by a publicist. Sure she can get censored by Sesame Street but stopping bad guys and gals, she don't light a finger.
Here she is just after he SNL appearance with the Great Zavs.
Katy is content to hang out, have a good time, and sing a few songs.

Undercover Operative: scene 4

If the Google Doodle can have a Scooby Doo reference so can my blog.
Snaggy actually works with indirectly. We used to be on the same team until I changed what I do.
Snaggy doesn't eat much these days like he did in his earlier crime fighting days. He does like comics and such. Not sure how much crime he is preventing as Scooby has been stuffed for some time. Scooby was really the brains behind the operation. Sure Velma might lend a hand but it was Scooby who got the business done. Shaggy, well, he just hangs out at the crime scene and that's all. Perhaps he should team up with Poison Ivy and Marylin.

Undercover Operative: scene 3

 Marylin and Poison work together but once a year and at that only after drinking a pint of light beer. They met in Hollywood one autumn night while waiting in the make-up department. They have teamed up to fight crime this year since deciding that crime was so yesterday. Their plan is to stop a bank robbery or a terrorist threat. So far they have only helped an old lady rake leaves in her yard. It was quite the sight. On Wednesdays they take karate lessons. 

28 October 2010

Undercover Operative: Scene 2

The Dutch Master is neither from the Netherlands nor a master of anything worthwhile except precision weaponry from said low lands. He actually gets his name from the brand of cigar he prefers- Dutch Masters. Plus he dons a particular hair style and mustache and hat reminiscent of the said Dutch Masters.
He plays coy as he smokes a cigar and fires weapons. He seldom is seen before noon. The Dutch Master's colleagues have  included Louie the Lowlife Lounge Lizard of Lombardy and Mel Gibson. His favorite haunt is the Speakeasy where he eats a loaf of bread a bowl of pasta every Wednesday night. Once he assisted in a massive bread heist in Philadelphia where he commandeered a loaded bread truck and drove it to Ocean City, NJ to feed the birds and a few transients for Hector De Nada De Puesto. Today the Dutch Master prefers removing old books from the public library and solo salsa dancing on Saturdays.

26 October 2010

Undercover Operative: Scene 1

Since its the disguising time of year, I will inspire your imaginations with another daily disguise series.
Rubber Chicken Ambassador (RCA) is looking for his next victim to whack with a rubber chicken. Beware, it could be you!
RCA frequents fine hotels and fraternal halls. His hat is said to be made from a racoon he captured with the chicken. RCA is a ringleader of a crack team of divious bowling enthusists known collectively as Die Kegleri. Be forewarned if a rubber chicken does not do you in a misplaced bowling ball will.
He was last seen fleeing an international market where he possibly sought secrets to evolve his lasted weapon- nuclear meltdown chicken.

15 October 2010

Water and wine


A trifecta of Johnny Cash on Blog Action Day and throw in a reference to Jesus, too.
I was pondering how much of Jesus' ministry involved water. Let's list a few:
  1. Baptized
  2. Performed water into wine miracle
  3. Frequented boats
  4. Walked on water
  5. Claimed to be living water
  6. Spoke of springs of living water coming out of people
  7. Asks for a drink of water from a woman at a well
  8. Taught about blessing of giving a cup of water in his name
  9. Washed disciples feet with water
Wouldn't it be great if Jesus performed a miracle of turning poor water into clean water? Well he is actually doing that these days through his followers. Samaritans Purse is doing just that with their water projects. I will also plug Wine To Water efforts to get clean accessible water to One Billion People. They currently are working on getting water filters to Pakistan where flood have plagued that region recently.
In Israel and most of the Middle East, the main water source is precipitation which can be collected in cisterns. It seems run off would affect the water quality if there was not any filtration plus if it stands for any period of time it could become stagnant. Because of scarce water supplies access to water has become as important as crude oil in the region.

The next war in the Near East will not be about politics, but over water. -Former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali

It's hard to get over political hurdles. I guess that is why Samaritan's Purse does what they do in addition to the numerous NGOs and charities that are hoping to bring better life to those without clean water.

Back to wine, wine seems to have been an essential, a necessity, to the people of the Bible. Wine may have been drank instead of water probably because it wouldn't go bad (even though I have read the Israeli wine in those days wasn't that good.) This reminds me of why ships gave out rations of rum and beer- because on a long journey the water would go stagnant or get contaminated with salt water. So Jesus' turning water into wine could in fact be beneficial to the guests- especially since it seemed to be better wine.

Posted for Blog Action Day 2010

It rises, the water which floods

 

Johnny Cash once again sings for Blog Action Day 2010. 
And here we  talk about floods. I've lived through a few. Nashville flooded too. I blogged that. 
In this case water proves to be the threaten-er. People and property are harmed by rising waters. There were no flood fatalities in Fargo with caveat that 2 people died due to exertion during flood prevention. Millions in damage was accounted.
Flash floods appear to be killing more people that tornadoes as of late. Urbanization appears to be one of the culprits as water run-off has no place to pool up but on roads and in neighborhoods.
Floods also have the potential to contaminate water sources as run-off cannot be controlled as easily in a flood situation. Sewage systems could be overloaded and intermingle with water sources. 
Long term flooding in the Devil's Lake basin of North Dakota has been hotly debated. Even Canada is concerned because a potential outlet would send water into the Red River Basin and potentially create some environmental issues. I biked through the area this summer. Many roads were closed due to flooding. But the area is still popular with vacationers.

He drank the water

In the film Walk the Line, Joaquin Phoenix portraying Johnny Cash in the scene of the concert at Folsom Prison takes a glass of murky water and throws it to the ground before breaking in Cocaine Blues. In reality the scene did not happen that way. It seems that Cash did do a comic bit about the water at Folsom Prison in both morning and afternoon shows. I don't think he broke a glass like Joaquin did in the film but he made the a comment to the effect that the water looked like it ran off his guitar player's boots. Either scene made the water quality at the prison appear rather poor. In the video above Johnny does another water bit during the San Quentin concert.
Whether the water quality at Folsom Prison was as poor as Johnny Cash suggests, I can find no evidence. However, Folsom Prison is not without its water issues. Back in 2002 there was a sewage spill at the prison which may have contaminated water in the adjacent American River. Tests were made but none proved conclusively that there were higher levels of fecal coliform in water of the river and nearby Lake Folsom. Whew!
California is generally a water needy state and often needs to limit its citizens intake of water. The city of Folsom needed to do that in 2009 when Folsom Lake water levels lowered considerably. The condition was acerbated when a pipeline that carried water from the lake to storage tanks was flattened accidentally.

Posted for Blog Action Day 2010

Eble, a painter of St. Croix River watersheds

This water related story comes out of my alma mater, UMM.
Michael Eble, an UMM studio art professor, got to spend some time alone in a cabin along the St. Croix River this August. He was awarded the Artist at Pine Needles residency. So for three weeks he resided in a rustic cabin thanks to the St. Croix Watershed Research Station.
His task: create a project related to the environment.
The result: a series of 8 abstract paintings of the St. Croix watershed region.

Eble has previously painted aerial landscapes of coastal Louisiana which highlighted coastal erosion.

So what's the take away on this water related issue? I believe it is awareness and specifically awareness how interconnected the watershed is with the land. Artist representation aids in making the citizenry aware.

The St. Croix River watershed cover portions of Eastern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin including such towns as Stillwater, Hinckley, Cable, Spooner, Hayward, New Richmond, Hudson, River Falls. The river is designated a Wild and Scenic River.

For blog action day 2010: http://blogactionday.change.org/

12 October 2010

Conflaggeration

I usually cover floods and parades but yesterday evening I saw something else.
Great billows of smoke rising to the heavens could be seen miles away.
I just got done with work and was intending to go that all purpose store, Fleet Farm. The thick black smoke was coming from the direction of the store.
"This should be interesting." I thought, "Perhaps Fleet Farm is burning."
 The smoke billowed against the sunset making for an excitingly eerie photo. Couldn't you imagine four horsemen galloping out of that malstrom.

I got to Fleet Farm and could see the source of the conflaggeration more clearly. It looked to be approximately a half mile west of the store. I could tell it was an apartment complex from the roof which was engulfed in flames- flames which I could see clearly from by vantage point. You can just barely make them out in the image.
A media report: http://www.wday.com/event/article/id/39475/

06 October 2010

Water, the source

This year I will be participating in Blog Action Day. Topic of concern this year: water.
It is actually something I care about since I drink a lot of it and use it for recreation. Most of my blogging on water has been about flooding but I am not sure how to work that into this blog action day. I guess flooding has potential to contaminate clean water supplies.
Water is one of those essentials for having a healthy life and sadly many places around the globe don't have access to clean water.
Samaritan's Purse helps provide clean water to many communities.
But I'll write more about this and have photos for water.
The photo today is from the Sheyenne Grasslands at a windmill that pumps water into the large trough. Numerous troughs are located in the grasslands as it is a rather dry area. The water must be filtered or treated for human consumption. The cattle just drink it as it is. The Sheyenne River runs through the western part of the grasslands.

05 October 2010

Revenge of Ugly Online Adverts

 Here we go again. Just when you thought the economy was back on track and ad agencies would be hiring the better looking clients, they release these mugs upon the public. I found these all on weather.com, where I suspect most web traffic goes after they update their status.
First, at the top left, we have ugly zombie tooth visor man. Well, he forgot to put on his zombie but could be mistaken as a hillbilly. The ad actually references the images next to it. This is a first. Of course it is a derogatory statement that assumes the ugly zombie tooth visor man is dumb as a bag of rocks, zombie rocks. Surprisingly he looks like a high school classmate of mine named Kevin. He might be a composite of all the Kevins I knew.
Our next model appears to have come from a recent production of Rip Van Wrinkle at the Minneapolis Children's Theater. Either he has lazy eye or just got up on the wrong side of the bed. Of course I would if I needed to do 3 shows a day to unappreciative brats. With this gig all he needed to do was show up and get photographed. He must have image marketing rights. This ad also features an annoying moving pen. Moving parts were much more common a few years ago.

Old cowboy is somewhat respectable. He looks distinguishable but almost too much. He is no Lorne Green.  The nose is what over does it. Also he almost looks like he is blind. He may have strolled over after finishing another Lonesome Dove made for TV movie.

20 September 2010

A bike ride and a very good burger

Experienced the 2nd Streets Alive (http://www.fmstreetsalive.org/) event this weekend. I rode the entire route with my friend. I wasn't sure what to expect for an event of this type. However, I was surprised. The only drawback was the few kids who got in the way on Broadway otherwise Streets Alive was like a leisurely tour around the community.
Afterward, Cindy, my roommate, and I made the most delicious hamburgers I have ever made. They were the most delicious morsels we had ever had. The memory of them lingers on as does the roasted corn on the cob, guacamole, and beer.
So far on the blog, I am right in the beginning stages of detailing my annual bike trek. I just left off as I went to sleep in a park in Walhalla, ND. A real street party had been going on with a live band and it made trying to sleep a little harder. The next morning we would hit a remarkable natural feature that would prove challenging. But I'll leave that for the actual post about the trip.
However, if you want to read about bike trips, like one's across the United States, check out http://www.bikeacrosstheus.blogspot.com. My friend, Julie, actually caught up with the author while on her mountain hiking adventure in Colorado. She is actually alluded to in the blog ever so slightly. From what I've read I am hooked. 

17 September 2010

Twice is nice- RedHawks win back to back Northern League titles

It was a cool and slightly wet night in Fargo. But it didn't matter much to the home team. The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks again won the Northern League title defeating the Kansas City T-Bones 3-0 in the a 3 game sweep. Pitcher TJ Stanton (he has no beard in that linkage) had a 1 hit shutout and struck out the first 8 batters he faced.
The game was sort of unbelievable considering the last time I was at Newman Field. The RedHawks were also facing the T-Bones about a month ago and they got rocked big time. Nothing was clicking for the RedHawks that night. Tonight, however, was a pitcher's duel. The T-Bone's offense was cold and the RedHawks were not much better. Thankfully a few errors and masterful placed hits put Fargo on the scoreboard. Later Eric Campbell hit a solo home run.
It was chilly but fun to be with friends and also see The Champ. This was the only RedHawks game he's been to all season. At least he chose a good one.
After the game and a whole bunch of champagne being poured out upon the players,  fans were invited down onto the field. I was a bit hesitant but went with my roommate and friend Cindy. My roommate gave the winning pitcher, TJ Stanton, a pen to sign autographs. Not to be outdone, Cindy goes up to TJ and gives him a retractable Sharpie pen. We were all excited about that brush with fame.
Oh, yeah, TJ you can keep the Sharpie. I'm sure Cindy won't mind.

14 September 2010

Journey to the Center of North America: Part 3

The heat did not dissipate after leaving Hoople. Fortunately, I found a water spigot in Tatertown to refill my reservoir.
The 18 miles of long straight road into Cavalier was generally uneventful. It was mostly fields of potatoes and an occasional farm house and barn. The Man of 3 Names and I arrived in Cavalier pretty exhausted. 3 Names sat a spell in a gazebo on the edge of downtown while I sought out a grocery store. I couldn't find it and it may also be closed. Unfortunately, I have found small town North Dakota generally closes up around 5 or 6 with the exception of bars and maybe a convenience store. We found nourishment at a convenience store. I supplemented my 20 oz Mountain Dew Voltage with a burger from the nearby Pit Stop Diner. The Pit Stop appeared to be a locally owned eatery featuring burgers, dogs, fries, and ice cream that operated out of a property that may have been a Dairy Queen in the past. After a long day of biking anything tastes good and I gobbled down the burger.
The song for Cavalier- Duke of Earl by the O'Jays.
Re-energized, we biked out of town towards our final destination for the day- Walhalla, 23 miles North and West. Heat disappeared as we pedaled north. The traffic was fairly light on Pembina County Road 1. Further along we encountered our first hills of the trip.
As the 9 o' clock hour approached we got to the Walhalla turn where it was literally all downhill from there. The song for Walhalla- Ride of the Valkyries
by Richard Wagner.
A light rain welcomed us as we descended into town at speeds nearing 30 mph. The town was jumping and jiving at a street dance while random fireworks were exploding throughout the neighborhoods. We found our way to the city campground (Riverside Park), paid our fees, found a piece of ground and set up camp along the banks of the Pembina River as the sun set. After showering, I went to bed even though the street dance band played until 1 in the morning, which I could hear clearly. They played a pretty good selection. Still I was exhausted enough and fell asleep despite the music, exploding fireworks and four wheelers riding around the campgrounds.

13 September 2010

Journey to the center of North America: Part 2

Prairie Chicken WMA wasn't much to crow about. It just provided us with a small spot to camp. Not recommended but for the most hard core of bike tours. After eating one of the many oatmeal creme pies that the Man of 3 Names brought, I eagerly loaded up the bike to blow this WMA. It was almost blistering hot last night and the bugs were very thick. It was a pioneer experience.
We discovered just before we left that a majority of the flatland grass good to camp upon was on the other side of a "moat." that surrounded most of this land. We were on a slice of land a few feet from the "moat." At night the discovery of unexpected water makes one stop. For all we knew it was one large wetland. Tip: Do not camp on wetlands, you will regret it.
We hopped back on US 81 and pedaled north going through Ardoch, Minto and stopping in Grafton to eat and seek out the means to fix 3 Names' rack.
While traveling I thought of some songs to go with the towns and places we were going. For the Prairie Chicken WMA it was the "Chicken Dance." I had no inspiration for Ardoch or Minto. Perhaps Take Me Out to the Ball Game for Minto since they had quite a swell ball park (and city park for that matter.) You can see it on the left. We took a short break in Minto to eat a little more. It was mid-morning by this time and the sun was beginning to exert its radiant power. It would be a hot one for the rest of the day.
For Grafton, the Johnny Cash/ June Carter Cash duet "Jackson" kept going through my head. However I replaced Jackson with Grafton.
Grafton is the largest town in the area between the Canadian border and Grand Forks. I stopped at the market for some fresh fruit and then we were on our way to the hardware store downtown.
We did not need to go into the store because the Man with 3 Names developed a system using the available bungie cords we had. This greatly improved the rack's ability to hold the pannier bags secure. It also relieved 3 Names from carrying a large backpack in the heat of the day.
From Grafton we struck out toward Park River with the belief there was a missile silo museum there. Unfortunately I had mixed up Park River with Cooperstown, so we abandoned that plan and re-routed to Tater Town USA- a.k.a. Hoople. Just as we were turning north we were blessed by a cup of ice given to use by a passing vehicle. It's not was you may think. The car slowed down and handed me a glass filled with ice. 3 Names and I shared this unexpected and refreshing gift then continued on State Route 18.
It was along this road I finally saw fields of potatoes. We had seen plenty of potato business along US 81. I even recall seeing a few potatoes on the road that fell from trucks but I never encountered a field of taters. Since I was a kid, I remember being told in school that the Red River Valley was a fertile area that grew lots of potatoes. I moved to the Valley later in life and saw mostly sugar beets.
I am not sure why Hoople adopted the moniker- Tater-Town. True, Hoople is the heart of the potato belt of North Dakota but there was not much to endure me to Hoople except the sign calling it Tatertown USA. We stopped looking for place to get away from the scorching sun and found only the back side of the school gymnasium. I was expecting a potato themed city park. Nothing of the sort in Hoople. I'm not even sure there is much more to Hoople than a school, a few barns, some ball fields and about 50 homes. Later I discovered there was a park deeper inside of town. We stuck near the state road so didn't see it.
Oh and the song for Hoople- "Man on the Moon" by R.E.M.

11 September 2010

Patriot Day 2010

This day is not be confused with Patriots' Day, the day the Boston Marathon in run. No, today is Patriot Day. And a moment of silence will be observed at 8:46 AM EST. You probably know the rest of the story.
When the events of 9/11 transpired I was not even in the U.S.
Nope. I was in the safety of the Great North- Canada. Far removed from the actual events.
We were tenting at a KOA in next to the Olympic Park in Calgary. Early that morning we began to hear reports of a conflagration in New York. Later in the morning it got worse.
We ended up leaving that afternoon for home and kept hearing reports of border crossing security tightened and surges in gas prices. It was a long ride home.
From then on security would never be the same.

10 September 2010

Smoldering flames

More editorial stuff. Although this story continues to smolder and I suppose the news will look to other fires to talk about
Nonetheless, the burning of religious texts has been put on hold only after some deal to move a religious structure near Ground Zero was allegedly made. And get this, Donald Trump is also involved in some way!
Sounds like mis-information will be we everywhere. Even this religious structure isn't as close to Ground Zero or as religious oriented as media make it out to be. In fact I think no one is sure what happened. Maybe the texts will be burning in private. (Personally, I would have called for Snooki to be thrown in jail.)
Still, the huge reaction to the burn/not to burn debate has me wonder exactly what is important to those religions involved in the fray. So much value and emotion is placed in things which ultimately will fade away ( and even burn)- buildings and books. I thought religion would value the intangible- charity, perseverance in the the midst of difficulty or persecution, goodwill, character. Are these not the things that will stand the test of time?  I guess I am too idealistic.
Oh, here's some Johnny Cash.

09 September 2010

To burn or not to burn

A bit of an editorial slant today.
Did you know someone plans to burn a particular holy book in of all places, Florida? And get this: a certain government official wants to stop it.
To me the whole burning issue is a red herring. In particular how such an act by a few citizens could jeopardize foreign policy, really has me wondering how our government is picking its talking points. Thanks to the media attention this thing got (thanks CNN), it has turned into something bigger than it should have been. I guess it is just part of the time we live in.
Will it anger folks? Sure.
Will it lead to further killings and extremist recruitment ? Possibly but that's giving one event too much influence. Those things would probably have continued. There is ignorance on both sides. Altough I like the speech writer's choice of words- "recruitment bonanza." Which reminds me- the son of Laden apparently likes the television show. Too bad all the cast is dead. Pernell Roberts died earlier this year.
So what could can the government legitmately do? Declare a fire ban.
Of the course that action could have many undue repercussions- like suggest the government is overarching to control the speech of Americans.
Free speech lawyers are going to have a hay day with this one.
Speaking of fire, I've been on a Johnny Cash spree as of late. Picked up a CD of his songs, then I won the DVD Walk the Line, and now I scour the 'net at night for Cash interviews. And by the way Cash also burned down part of Los Padres National Forest in California. His Tennessee home burned down in 2007.
Something else I found last night. Before there was Bear Grylls there was Survival in the Bush. Made in the 50s this film even shows how to kill a bear. Thanks to the Canadian Film Board, there are lots of interesting documentaries from the past online about the wild lands in the Great North.

30 August 2010

Of rock paintings, Ewoks and Boba Fett the Evangelizer

Entries have bee sparse of late. 2 weeks ago I lead a expedition to the BWCA up the Nina Moose and into Lac La Croix. Then the weekend following I ended up painting an entire house and attending a picnic in the Grand Cities. Of course you could point the finger at me- as a blogger you should be writing about those things. And eventually I will. Just not all right now. In fact I've got to get the bike adventure finished before I begin the canoe voyage saga. But in this entry you will hear enough about those days to be satisfied.
While out in the wilderness we came across some pictographs which you see above. This are the pictographs you can find on Rocky Lake, which is accessible via the Little Sioux Indian or Moose River North entry points. They are nothing like the ones just a few miles away on Lac La Croix. No discernible figures here except for perhaps a representation of a deity (the crosses).
The set at Rocky Lake don't get much attention. I found very little even suggesting their existence. But sure enough they are there and don't even seem like pictographs if you have seen the ones on Hegman or Crooked or even Kawishiwi River. So here I am giving these a little attention.
Theories abound about the meaning of these paintings. Some say they represent dreams, others say they mark tribal territory, and even others suggest they describe constellations. Whatever they mean the sure a interesting to find out in the wilderness and ponder how these lakes were like hundreds of years ago.


 On the way back from painting a house, I ad libbed a rather funny conversation between 2 guys right after the 2nd Death Star was destroyed (We're talking Star Wars, Return of the Jedi.) They were glad the Empire had been defeated but questioned whether the Jedi or new Senate would be any better. These guys both happened to be followers of Jesus and felt the Jedi would just bring Buddhist ideals to the galaxy which made them a bit unhappy because they felt God was more powerful than that impersonal thing called "the force."
Their conversation then lead to discussing Christianity throughout the galaxy. To which one guy spoke about a break off group of Ewoks who became Christians and started a church on Dantuween. He visited the church once and enjoyed the special blend of coffee the Christian Ewoks crafted with a special bark additive.
This guy continues with a story of how Jabba's Gamorrean Guards survive the skiff accident and become Christians and start a monastery out of Jabba's Palace. Their ministry involves spamming the Gospel across the universe.
These same Gamorreans find a nearly dead Boba Fett and bring back to health. Boba has lost an arm and a leg but ends up giving his life to Christ and becoming an evangelist who speaks to googleplexes and reconciles with Han Solo.
Pretty strange stuff but highly imaginative.